I see a lot of unhappy people. Living in America, it’s hard not to walk down the street and not see or hear about someone who is fed up and depressed. It sucks. I don’t like seeing people unhappy when they technically don’t need to be.

I wrote this over the course of a few days. I hope it helps someone. I can only credit the countless people who have spent a lot more than a few days helping me to continue to figure out life.

Top ten ways to not be a mope.

1. Move around.

Our bodies are not designed for standing still. Some people move slower or faster than others but moving needs to happen nonetheless. For me, exercising has benefitted me more mentally than physically at this point. It took me a while to realize it, but once I stopped and started again, it was more than clear. Go outside. Ride, run, jump, walk or swim. It really doesn’t matter. The biggest reason most people don’t get moving is that they think they all have to meet some kind of standard in order for it to be effective. One of the only times I’ve ever seen Stanley “the manly” Hudson from The Office smile, was when he was taking the stairs instead of the elevator in the weight loss episode. (Wait, he smiles on pretzel day too. Never mind) Start small, and go from there. You’ll be hooked on the endorphins.

2. Smile at people you normally wouldn’t smile at, even if it sucks.

I know, this sounds like a crock. It is, kind of. Coming from me especially. It’s literally not in my nature to smile at people and be friendly. I have to seriously go out of my way in order to do this but once I did, I saw the difference and understood the need. Say good morning. Say good night. Say hello. Say please. Say thank you. Ask people how their day is going and actually try to give a shit. Odds are they’ll just be happy someone is asking about them that day and I guarantee you’re the only one asking. You’ll be remembered, rewarded and respected. I promise.

3. Surround yourself with somewhat positive people.

Again, it sounds cheesy, but it works. I noticed that when I hung around people that were constantly down on themselves, others and life in general, I would start to follow suit. Don’t let this happen! For some, it’s easy to fall into a pattern set by others in a social circle. Unfortunately sometimes that trend is literally depression incarnate. I’ve seen too many spiral out of control. Find those people in your life with a positive outlook and take note on how they try and see the world. Ask them what they do to stay in such a positive spirit. They will undoubtably tell you it’s a challenge. But you’ll pick up a few tricks and be able to try it yourself.

4. Keep things in perspective. You’re not the only one.

Whenever a shitty situation comes up, I say to myself, “OK, I’m definitely not the first person this has happened to, so I’m sure I’ll get through it.” Seriously, nine out of ten bad things that will happen to you this year is run of the mill stuff. You’ll be fine. I also think of people that have it worse than me. I’ve me a lot of people over the years that have told me their stories that have completely floored me. I think about those stories when I’m making the comparison to my situation and it always helps.

5. You are in charge of your brain.

This is a concept that took me a long time to figure out, but it’s the simplest. Your brain is inside your head. You have complete control over that brain whether you realize it or not. It may not sink in at first, because a lot of us (think we) cannot control our thoughts or emotions but it is true. Allowing yourself, or giving yourself permission to be happy is something that some people work on for years. Don’t fall into that hole. It’s you brain, stay in charge.

6. Establish a routine.

If you work a regular job (you probably do), start your day early enough to have time for yourself in the morning. It’s hard for most people but those who do make it happen rave about it’s benefits. If you have trouble getting up in the morning or sleeping in general there’s a great article with sound advice here: (http://www.squidoo.com/tips-to-fall-asleep-fast) Going to bed at a decent hour and getting up 7 hours later is key to making time for yourself. Eat breakfast, walk the dog or do the dishes. Do anything. Establish the routine that is relatively the same Monday through Friday. Locking in that routine will help you sleep better alone. After the routine is set in motion you’ll find it easier each week. After a while you won’t even notice because it’s now second nature.

7. Don’t drink alcohol for a little while.

Me of all people loves a stiff drink. But it’s also the first thing people grab when feeling blue (or drugs, I don’t even think I need to suggest that doing drugs is always a bad idea). When you’re trying to bring yourself up, don’t drink something that fundamentally brings you down. Alcohol is powerful and if you’re not in a the state of mind to enjoy it in a healthy way, leave it alone. I see so many people drink themselves through their week because they’re unhappy with themselves and their lives. The sad thing is, is that It’s pretty normal. Not everyone tailspins and crashes, but it can be a recipe for disaster. Give it a rest of a while and enjoy a few when you have the guts for it.

8. Find one simple joy and enjoy the crap out of it.

The thought of enjoying the little things is probably one of the most cliche motivators. I’m sick of hearing it and so is everyone else. But, it’s true. My entire morning routine is the little thing that gets me through the day. Eating breakfast, running at the gym, stopping for coffee and taking that shower is something I look forward to. Without it and my day has not officially started. It can literally be anything, find a part of your routine and genuinely enjoy it. It’ll boost your day form the start and give you a good foundation to build on through out the day. It could even be walking to the water cooler at your office, start somewhere.

9. Make friends.

Just like that? Yes, just like that. Make friends. Humans are a gregarious species. We need social interactions as a basic survival need. You will never find a happy hermit and if they are happy, they’re lying. The more friends you have around, the more you’ll have going on in your life filling your days with tons of stuff to make it more enjoyable. Making friends is a huge topic, but start with basic conversation. Treat people you just meet as if you’ve known them just as long as your other friends. Soon you’ll both be asking each other if you hadn’t already met before.

10. Confide in people you look up to and seek their opinions but not necessarily their approval.
Everyone has a short list of people that they admire and look up to. Some list celebrities as their role models but most of us have an older brother/sister friend or relative how has had a major influence on us. Seek their opinion and sincerely listen to them. If they’re playing that role of a key influencer, that shouldn’t be too hard. Listen to what they have to say and how they may handle whatever issue you’re talking about. Sometimes (most times) a third party valued opinion can be the difference in making a huge mistake!

I’m sure there could be twenty more on this list. Don’t sweat the small stuff and stand back and seek the larger picture. The alternative is much worse.


url11So, today I was invited to a listening party for Alice in Chains’ new record “Black Gives Way to Blue” out on Virgin Records. It’s their first record since 1995. I have to say, it was one of the most awkward experiences I’ve ever professionally been involved in. Located in the (new) New York Times building on the west side, it was creepily non-rock n’ roll. Upon entering I immediately felt like I was in a giant kitchen with no appliances.

Anyway, a young cute interny girl checked to make sure we were among the privileged few to get in. After a few more steps we were REQUIRED to check “any electric devices” which, for 999% of the crowd meant their iPhones or Blackberries. WHAT!

Side note: Officially the furthest away I’ve been from my iPhone unsupervised since I got this new one.

Apparently there were sweet hors d’oeuvre’s which I missed. Almost as bad as giving up my iPhone but there was an open bar. After a brief announcement we were all shuffled inside. There were journalists, other label dudes and other taste maker heavy hitters (shout out Bino and Alicia) in the crowd. I said to Seth W “This is the kind of place Andy Kaufman would perform in.” With little delay, Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney came out and introduced the record. They tried to be funny and everyone offered up courtesy laughs. You’re welcome guys.

For the next half hour or so, there we were, about a hundred of us sitting there listening to the first Alice in Chains record since 95′. Pretty cool for a guy that grew up with more than one flannel shirt in the closet. I’ll say this about the record, and I hope I’m not the only one calling them out on this, but did they have Lane Stanley sound-a-like try outs? Because this new guy obviously won that contest. The record is awesome. I’ll leave it there because I want to bring up how OLD SCHOOL this thing was! It reminded me of the handfuls of corporate listening sessions I’ve had in my life where the old dudes tap their knee out of sync whom were represented well in the crowd.

Seriously. Wouldn’t it have proven more effective to let us in with our mobile devises? Wouldn’t it have proven more effective to provide track titles? What about some twitter hash-tags so that all these journalists could tweet their favorite track (Seth W‘s idea) or just get some buzz started online? Because of the archaic nature of this event, I leave with “The record is great, track two and the single was my favorite.” Horrible digital marketing skills Virgin, sorry.

Aside from hoards of people ushering in and out between songs escaping for a break, aside from having to pinch myself to stay awake and aside from the 1999 thought process behind marketing this event, it was AWESOME. I love this band and this record. Can’t wait to get it for free somehow…

IMG_0103I saw two 18 year old kids eating pot brownies (assumed) while I was waiting on line to get into the Paul McCartney show this past Friday. It’s amazing when an artist can transcend generations like that. Other than Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash or the like, no one does it like Sir Paul McCartney. Citi Field played a great host to the crowd full of rabid widespread fans of Wings, Beatles and Sgt Pepper. The only snag in the entire evening was a twenty minute delay due to a ticket scanner malfunction. Don’t rattle their cages, folks. Even a short delay caused a woman behind me to nearly blow an o-ring.

Random act of awesomeness: A guy came up to me after I had waited on line for almost an hour at the Shake Shack. He wanted to buy me my meal in order to avoid waiting on the same line. Absolutely, thanks bud.

Anyway, Paul was really appreciative. He mentioned how horrible the sound system was when the Beatles played Shea Stadium back in 69′. Way interesting! I never thought of that part of it like that and probably should have being a musician myself. The video montage matched each song that was played the best it could. Images of Russian culture during “Back in the USSR”, a myriad of memories of his former band mates for each song dedicated to their name and even a quick digital portrait of Obama during “Give Peace a Chance”.

He walked the tight rope of pleasing all fans alike with all the hits, my favorites where Beatles singles. He even plugged in a brief cover of Jimmi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” which was a nice touch.

I felt like I WAS seeing history. History in that he is likely one of the last of the great rock stars. A dying breed. The kind of rock star that may never exist again going forward. History in the fact that it was the first concert at Citi Field, all the while the Mets were getting KILLED in Atlanta. It was one of those times that I’ll look back in 50 years and cherish knowing I participated. Glad I went!

PS. His drummer looked like Albert Pujols.
PPS. I managed to record a few clips on my iPhone, you can hear them here.

broken recordBaldwin, NY – I spent a large part of my childhood there. There was Artie’s Deli, The Corner Store where I played Street Fighter and ate pizza bagels for $1 and stole atomic warhead candy. The bike shop, the baseball card store, the bodega where we bought smoke and stink bombs (all of which are gone now). Anyway, the one thing missing was a decent record store. There was one next to Arties deli, but it sucked. I remember seeing posters for Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and some G&R ads, but they were never open. In order for me to purchase a record, I had to be driven to Valley Stream to a place called Slipped Disc. Yes. I had to be driven 30 minutes by my mother to a store, not even knowing what I would want to buy until I got there. Sounds crazy now huh.

Check out this time line. Band creates music. Band records music, label pays for that recording. Label sits on master while marketing and promotion kick into gear. Band plays new songs on tour, talks about new record with the press. Everyone is gearing up to one day where it gets unleashed to the world, THE RELEASE DAY. (cue angel music). Yeah, that’s dead. Let’s re-write that time line. Ahem.

Band creates music. Band records music on their own digital studio. Band uploads full record inclusive of album artwork to their server and posts a download link on their website which they’re all savvy enough to moderate and update daily. They already have a few hundred people following them on Twitter so their small core fan base finds out immediately. Half those people are blown out of the water and tell their friends via aim, Facebook, SMS and Twitter. The other half say “meh” and move on. Each true fan has a copy of the record on their hard drive and swaps it for 10 other records with their friends. Would you rather have ten thousand people know about your band via advertising or a thousand fans willing to buy anything you peep?

Wait, what happened to the release date?

The release date has served the public well. It’s been with us since music has been sold. (Oh wait, music is barely sold now. No wonder release dates are dead. ) The release date is dead! Disassembled and discontinued. When was the last time you had to wait until the release date to get a record? Did you ask your friend who either knows the band or is tech savvy enough to grab it off the Pirate Bay? Yeah, that’s how I get my records too.

PS. I’m not talking about special editions and or special package deals. If you’re selling a record packaged with a trip to the moon with the drummer, you’re selling a trip to the moon, not music.

RIP release dates. You had a long run.

newspapersripThink about how the evolution of news distribution has changed. Without going into the entire history of print, the basic method of news distribution has been unchanged from the middle ages (kinda) until the dawn of radio (distribution changed, but methods remained the same). That was huge. The introduction of television, even bigger. Then think about the impact the internet has had. Radio did not kill print. TV did not kill print. In fact, print continued to grow with the inclusion of both medias.

The internet has taken 20 years to figure out how to kill print media, and it’s almost done.

The NY times has the best article , listing the top 10 news papers that are on the endangered spieces list.

The key is the way we receive news. Circulations and subscription sales are down. I have a hard time believing readership is down. People are still getting the news. People are just getting the news differently. Even if you’re not a RSS junkie like myself, between watching Good Morning America and checking Yahoo and or CNN.com at work and you have your bases covered.

This isn’t including Twitter coming into fold. Newspapers were doomed before you started tweeting. Let’s be real though, Twitter will be the nail in the coffin. As outdated as reading a physical newspaper is, the information flow stayed the same: source, journalist, public. It’s been like that since the beginning. Twitter changes that. It removes the journalist all together and delivers info the public right from the source. Uh oh.

This makes the timeframe INSANELY short. If a story appears in a paper or magazine, it might be days old or even weeks old in a magazine case. With Twitter its instantaneous. This might be why magazines are also going out of business. You can now find out what Sean Combs, Oprah , Dwight from the Office and Trent Reznor are having for lunch (if they tweet it). Who needs Rolling Stone or Spin magazine now?

So where does it all go? I think we’ll continue to see physical media fail. At this point it’s a matter of who has enough money to stay above water as the weight of running a company that loses money takes them under. The ones with money will last the longest.

Am I pointing out the obvious, or?

roadrageI purchased a car alarm and pepper spray today. After driving/owning a SMART car for 5 months now, I’ve noticed a few things. The car handles and acts like any car I’ve ever had. The steering is slightly more sensitive because of the smaller wheel base, but not much else. It goes as fast as any other compact car on the road. It can park anywhere. It’s insane on gas mileage. It turns heads. It’s easy to wash (all though the whole +$2 at the car wash for SUV’s doesn’t work the other way on tiny cars, jerks).

What they won’t tell you in the SMART pamphlets is how other drivers will treat you on the road and every day in general. Since it’s a small car, people assume you are slow. If NY drivers think you are too slow, they will overtake you any chance they can get. We all do it. The blue haired lady peeking over the steering wheel. The hockey mom simultaneously applying makeup and smacking her six year old. They all get overtaken. Laughing, pointing, middle fingers, yelling and insults I wasn’t prepared for. I can take all of this, my fuse is longer than most.

Here’s what I can’t take: A few weeks ago I was driving my mother home from the doctors office. After I pulled out of the parking lot into a line up traffic stopping at a red light, a van pulled up really close to my bumper. I stopped along with the traffic, brushing it off. After I made a right, the van miss my front bumper with a cut off, pulled out in front of me and stopped. He got out and came at my car yelling and screaming. Having the even keel I do, I immediately called 911 and called in the tag and location. Mr intelligent was pulled over shortly after, not sure what happened to him.

Three days after I got the car I was down at the local spot playing pool and having a beer. The car was parked right out side. The bar tender told me I should go outside, that some dudes were standing near my car. I looked outside to find three of long island’s finest trying to pick up my car. I ran outside with a pool cue and chased them off. What the hell did I get myself into?

Typical American behavior if you ask me. If it’s different and unfamiliar either embrace it or destroy it. Other than that, great experience so far!

prague_street2Some friends of mine and I always try and look at life in chapters. They could be anything. The “high school” chapter where I had long hair and wore boots. The “fundamentalist” chapter where I protested everything and wore spikes and the “sweatpants” chapter where I… well you get it. I knew going to Prague for X amount of time would turn into another chapter. Like any good book the story as a whole gets better and better with each chapter. Life is no different if you know how to cultivate it that way.

Going to Prague I literally had zero Idea what I was in for. My first night there was one of the scariest nights I’ve ever had. Fear of the unknown won again. After some introductions and routine days things became more familiar and I felt safe again. Happens every time.

Traveling the globe puts things into perspective This morning I was at Home Depot with my mother. After finding out that the thing we went there for was on the other side of the building she stressed “Argh, now we have to walk allll the way over there”. I immediately told her about a story I read about genocide in central Africa. A little extreme, I know, but these things start to come to mind once you experience different cultures outside your own. Living in a first world country leads to first world problems which are generally small and completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

The people I met in Prague were the hardest to leave behind. The friendships you make over the course of short periods of time are sometimes the most intense relationships you can have. Commonality, familiarity and the sense of home can bring people together like you wouldn’t imagine.

My experience in the the Czech Republic and the people I’ve met will ultimately be the reason I go back one day. It’ll also be the reason I try and replicate the experience elsewhere as many times over as I can.

I can’t help but bring up the American tourists and study abroad students in Prague. Expecting a culture to cater to you is not the way to go. You must cater yourself to the culture. That’s when you’ll truly experience visiting/living in another country. Let yourself go and leave the Ugg boots home, please.