My Dearest Mack and Tosh,
I hope this finds you well. I’m writing to catch you up in more detail on some of what has been going on here with me over the past few months. I’m going to dive right in. There’s some candid content here, be forewarned.
As you know, this past April I had a major mental health emergency, and was hospitalized in a voluntary inpatient unit for several days. I was discharged quickly, with a new meds regimen, which everyone, including me, thought would solve the issues recurrent prior to my admission. Unfortunately it did the opposite, amplifying my symptoms to the point where I was basically existing in what I might describe as high-crazy mode most of the time. Long story short, the situation culminated with my readmitting myself into hospital, and spending another stint in a mental health inpatient unit.
I was, eventually, discharged again, with a different meds regimen, a different therapeutic model, and a different, more fitting, diagnosis. I am, clinically speaking, more or less stable, but the combination of symptoms make it difficult to take anything for granted. Along with the bipolar disorder, which I still have, I meet sufficient criteria to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which, as we know, is simply delightful—in addition to which, I have a combination of anxiety symptoms, which express themselves most frequently in the form of panic attacks, which are severe and can strike at any time, as well as something residing in a ballpark very nearby to obsessive compulsive disorder. Together, it’s a tricky situation to manage, to say the least.
Even as I’ve recovered considerably over the past two and a half months, I still experience my symptoms considerably, especially those related to OCD. I’ll be going about my business, when suddenly I start noticing something, for example, a spot on the wall. Then, I cannot stop noticing it. I t takes up all my attention. If I try to fight—in order to stop noticing it—the symptom (i.e. the obsession about the spot) only gets worse. The only way to stop noticing it is to somehow “accept” that my mind is obsession about the spot, but this is not always easy, or possible, to do.
In these moments it’s very easy to be overwhelmed be feelings of hopelessness and darkness. The other day I had some intense dark thoughts, as a bi-product of unprocessed symptomatology. Before long I found myself questioning why I was alive, and wondering if the alternative might not be a more preferable state of affairs: a chilling place, indeed. Thankfully, with even my meager practice of coping skills, plus some help from the new meds regimen, I was able to get through these thoughts, and make it safely to the other side.
I’m realizing how important it is for me to find a way to stay connect to people, and avoid isolatory situations as far as is possible (barring writing, which, for better or worse, is typically done alone). Feelings of hopelessness can metastasize in isolation (for me, anyway). I’m looking to stay on the side of light and lightness.
If you’ve read this far, thank you, and I appreciate it. Will look forward to when our paths next cross.
Travel safe. Talk soon.
This year, on April 30th, I had what’s commonly referred to nowadays as a mental health crisis. This sterilized, sanitary term has—in true Carlin-esque fashion—sounded at once more dramatic and more serious in days past, with the phrase “nervous breakdown” warranting (and justifiably so, I can now attest, have been through one) the terrifying vision of a mental *snap*, followed by a period of complete inability to keep up with normal day-to-day activities: work, family care, relationships, and so forth. The brain is fried, or deep-friend, rather, and no amount of coaxing can get it to see itself as otherwise, at least at first.
(This first paragraph took me two weeks to write, thirteen days of which were preparation, and failed attempts.)
Because I am human and prone to distorted thinking (not saying those are necessarily linked… necessarily) my initial thought was that of: Why? (Truthfully there are days when I still think this.) Why did this happen? Was I being punished for something? Was there something I had forgotten that I had done wrong, that I still needed to atone for? And for that matter, did my life still work that way—pinned, inexorable, to the wheel of karma? Where were grace and compassion? Where was enlightened equanimity?
Thankfully this “control fallacy,” when it lasts, doesn’t last long. *Phew*—as it were. The bottom line is that it happened because, well, it happened. At least, so far as goes the philosophy of it all. As for the logistics, bridgestorecovery.com speaks of a nervous breakdown occuring: “when a person is no longer able to cope with stress or pressure. Stressful like events may trigger a breakdown, but underlying mental illness may also cause it.”
(Again, I can attest to this. I’ll spare you in detail as to all of what the stress was; notwithstanding, it was a combination of work and personal factors.)
I spent a little over a week in an inpatient unit, under close watch for safety as well as diagnosis. I graduated to what is known as a “partial program,” living out in the “real world” while attending a bevvy of a groups and classes, on tools and information generally designed to help the subject remain both in the real world and living. Now, it’s more or less back to reality.
Except, the way I remember it, reality was once a collaborative adventure, not a cruel exercise in smackdown economics, featuring humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat, as I struggle merely to remember vocabulary and simple items on a to-do list. I’ve been told that the real recovery, the one that begins well after the groups, well after the classes, can take months, if not months upon months, a grueling Everestian climb, which, if these first weeks are to be judged by, I can once again attest to.
But enough about that. What concerns me now is recovery. How do I get better, so that I can cease being a burden on my lovely wife, a true dedicated superhero if ever there was one, and start getting out there back to the world of creative badassery and cosmic avenging that so much more suits me than passive victimhood ever could.
I am forcing myself to write this blog. The mental strain is near unbearable. With each word search the side of my brain feels like it’s being seared on a skillet. But I will persevere, and I will complete it. Because if there is any sense of give-uppery in me, lingering, lurking, what better way to find it, and show it exactly how it can go fuck itself, whenceforth will I move myself into a space—bulldozing my way there if I have to—where things are the way they should be: where my creativity is back in charge.
AF Thoughts from May 5th 2019.
We discuss guilt and shame. Rich, the facilitator (real name altered), wears casual jeans and an open flannel shirt, wearing his grey head of hardly receding hair neither short nor unkempt. He has one of those faces where when he is gone you are unsure whether or not he has a mustache and beard, or rather, you are absolutely certain he does, but would hate to have to stake your life on it. He is friendly, but more to the point in this case he embodies a state of gentle authority: knowledgable, and firm in his understanding of how to convey said knowledge. We begin:
Guilt and shame are established as two forms of conscience, developed specifically to determine scope of behavior, or, in other words, to limit it. Don’t go outside the cave after dark! is the rule and you are to follow it. Whereas in reality, the reason for this rule is both sound and based in logic i.e. you will in all likelihood be eaten by a large, long-toothed prehistoric feline if you do (go outside the cave), the forces of peril employed in teaching this lesson are far more immediate, and, in many respects, far more threatening i.e. because I, your parent, told you so, and if you disobey me I will become angry!
Shame can be understood as the fear of disconnection. It develops at a relatively young age. Children are conditioned to join the herd, and to do so no matter what it takes—it is often said that children will take bad attention over no attention at all, such is the pull of the herd. Shame intersects with a fear of abandonment, or exile, two of the most basic disconnection-based consequences a tribe can put on individuals.
Guilt is slightly different. Guilt develops at a later stage, when the mind can abstract, particularly when it can create for itself its own set of personal rules—its personal code. When an individual violates their own personal code, a feeling of guilt may be the result.
3) The Brain(s)
We can consider the various “brains” i.e. the various stages of human cognitive development, and how they relate to guilt and shame.
First, the “reptile” brain. This part of the human brain deal with the basic functions: eating, sleeping, defacating, etc.
Next, we can observe the “mammal” brain. Via the mammal brain, babies learn to label their emotions. They learn how to express, and how to connect. Also, it is worth noting, shame lives here.
FInally, there is the “human” brain. The human brain begins to come into play at around 3 years of age, developing from 3 years until about 6 years old. The human brain, a marvel, can share information, thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It can read Aristotle and Shakespeare. It is worth noting that most herd animals will, at most, join three (3) herds, whereas humans will join hundreds of "herds" in one lifetime (i.e. social circles, professional circles, and so forth).
It is this—the human—part of the brain that learns to navigate all of these different rules. Often times, rules which apply in one place, do not apply in another. Humans can navigate this, humans can modify the rules at will. Rules, for humans, are what we create, and rules are negotiable.
Rich now leans back in his chair. We are given space to wander and explore.
It is easy to see in the world how children who are treated differently can become children who are wired differently. The question is asked: why do some children have such a large shame conscience? We ponder. Nature? Nurture? Excess punishment... child neglect... bad treatment? If a child is aggressively punished every time they are taught a "lesson," do they learn the underlying lesson, or is the lesson they learn that their parents will get mad and will yell at them?
To the group, it stands to reason that any and all of these factors would have an impact on the developing mind, teaching it how to move through the world.
The discussion segues briefly onto the subject of depression. Depression: it is different from sadness, it is a pane of glass between you and your life, that get thicker and darker as its power grows. You know they're out there (your supports, your *tribe*) but you just don't feel them.
After a few more minutes of discussion, Rich interjects, with some grist for the mill. A too-high shame-o-meter can, he proposed, can elicit the feeling of “I am pretending” in children: “I feel like I am pretending all the time.”
He goes on to say: We accept the love we think we deserve.
For those with too high shame-o-meter, the beliefs are often:
They WILL remember the criticisms.
And they will disconnect from the good things.
As the session winds down, Rich offers us some some final impressions to mull over.
There is a watchtower, he says, in the upper mind, whose purpose is to ask: “What do I think about my feelings?” Guilt lives up here. It's a rational place.
As for shame? Just because a feeling is real, he says, doesn't mean it is true.
He leaves us, as the minute-hand on the clock passes ten signifying the end of the period, with the following, on the off chance, he says, that it is useful. It is a set of questions that one might ask oneself during the guilt/shame response process, as follows:
We all carry around guilt, as well as shame, he concludes. Hopefully this mode of inquiry during periods of distress might free us from some of the toxic effects of our unprocessed shame, and allow us a greater sense freedom, to know that we are writing our own rules, and charting our own course.
Travel safe. Talk soon. -AF
AF Thoughts from April 8th 2019.
My Dearest Mack and Tosh,
Thought it would do to be back in touch. These are in all likelihood going to look a little different moving forward. How? No clue. Just a hunch. In any case, the end (i.e. the entirety) of last year was quite hectic, what with the worsening health issues, and also the move. We’re settled now, here in Concord MA, where, fingers crossed, we’ve found ourselves in a situation with a little more stability. (*spoiler alert*: We did not.)
BlueDorian continues its step-by-step march to bringing new and awesome things into the world, its current focus being steeled on the Daughters of Time story project, which mostly involves a lot of typing. I never thought the notion of tens-of-thousands of words would be appealing as an aspect of professional practice, but the reality of it has very much grown on me, and, until we find adequate means of creating anything more complex, say an illustrated novel, comic book, or animated series, it seems that eBooks are an honest and smart bed for successful project completion, at least in a way that is manageable and satisfying, in addition to feasible, for the team.
- Daughters of Time -
I do miss the creative jamming that comes with ensemble work (AFO went on medical leave (mine, not theirs) starting September of last year. To that end, one of our goals is to reform one or more version of a “new” AFO, later this year. Last year the ensemble repertoire diverged into two distinct sets: a more “traditional” rock-pop set, and an experimental electro-pop one, which was very exciting, but also tricky to sustain, as, being an entirely new type of beast, no one knew exactly how to communicate with it—with only a handful of songs (pieces, really) in the repertoire, and no scores per se, there was scarce material with which to populate rehearsals, leading to feelings of positivity, but, when it came down to it, very little productivity.
Still, I in many ways preferred performing in such an ensemble, as it side-stepped the aspect(s) of performance that give me greatest pause, which is lead vocal work—which has always been a source of great anxiety and ongoing trauma, and to which I find great peace and satisfaction in my recent decision to adopt of a stance of acceptance towards it, rather than continuing to spend the rest of my life trying to fight through. Also, the AFO, being a “rock band” in the more traditional sense, requires of it a “front-man” approach, to which I find myself more and more ill-suited (as can be judged by the style of this writing, which, frankly, is much more “me” than, to wit, “Hellooo Cincinatti!!!”).
As a point of nostalgia—if you can call it that—I was made to give a lot of speeches when I was younger, suffice it to say I grew accustomed to the “talkie-talkie” that being a singer-songwriter, and then, later, front a band, necessitated. But I’ve always hated it lol; I much prefer the role of playmaker and occasional featured soloist—preferably keyboards, my first love—to anything else.
Anyway, the thing that holds me/us back is the fact that we will not realistically be able to embark on any such project without at least two additional members of personnel, one to be the project’s manager (coordination of various aspects and logistics), and the other to be its artistic director (facilitating rehearsals and coordinating audio/visuals). Not having these roles filled while trying to produce the scope of project worthy of the time it would take to do it (might be a bit circular there—getting up earlier and, while perfectly alert, still not entirely used to it) will without a doubt result in major burnout for all parties in the current team; none of us are willing to put both health or the quality and success of any at such risk ever again.
So, we’ll be keeping a sharp eye out for people who are able and willing to do this sort of project in those capacities. And I suppose, my dear friends, if any one you know might fit the bill, or if you yourself are motivated by life and ready to be part of something awesome, I believe there’s probably a contact form somewhere around this site—you are most welcome to employ it to that and any other worthwhile purpose: you never know what conversations can lead to what.
In the meantime, our to-do list remains full and fulfilling, with a happy dose of self-competitive pressure as we intensify and accelerate towards our first eBook release for Daughters of Time (DoT). Yes, did I forget to mention that earlier? I probably intended to ;) I am so, so excited about sharing these characters, this universe, and the opening steps of this story, with you; after four years of development (granted, not just of this story, but pretty much the entire universe and cadre of easily a dozen stories that go with it—see, I’m tantalizing, sorry, marketing) and what has felt like eons of chasing away demons, it finds fixed form in the magic of .epub. This is the culmination of years of people telling me I would never achieve anything in this field, that, as a musician, I should know my place and leave the writing to the writers, and me, somehow, finding either the will or sheer bolshery to summon the words of everyone’s favorite “Dude” and say:
From the twisted weirdness of my warped mind, to you lovely people. Enjoy.
And a final shout-out to the fine musicians, artists, and practitioners who made up last year’s AFO. Please check out their links and show them some love; they are just brilliant people and fantastic musicians to boot: Tom Appleman (bass, vocals); Renée Dupuis (keys, vocals); Andrew Jones (drums); Dave Lieb (guitars, vocals); Elizabeth Lorrey (management & coordination); Elizabeth Geuss (producer).
Travel safe and talk soon.
This was a tricky year for me, I’ll be the first to admit; attacks of both the blues and the reds began with unprecedented frequency, then accelerated, in such heedless fashion as to imply a sense of vengeful purpose, to the point where the potential for full emotional meltdown became threateningly present on a daily basis, no matter what discipline, regime, or medication I was applying at the time.
On the upside, this has given me a great sense of empathy for the world in its current state. #topical
But seriously, it got to the point where I even began to feel a sense of envy for people whose moody “bad days” are as turbulent as it gets. Now, this is something I avoid doing at all costs: I’ve been on the receiving end of the “oh, it can’t be that bad for you” game, and the whole situation is both awful as well as fallacious. So I really hate that this is where my mind went at times this year, however, and unfortunately, it was probably the clearest, if least optimal, indicator of the nature and scope of obstacle that I was—that we were—facing.
Still, as the song goes (per image above):
There are so many fabulous faraway places to see...
The question is: Will we get there?
I was told this year was to be a year both of and for innovation and new directions; for better or for worse both of these things would have to, and were going to, happen. I can vouch for this having been accurate (I think we all can!), in a year that appears to have tested the limits of our collective souls.
Some similar things can be said for the adventures of TeamPeh Enterprises in 2017. We’ve said hello and welcome not only to new life experiences, but new paradigms. We’ve said goodbye to an entire wing of our business, and have drastically altered, repurposed, and/or reconfigured several others. I personally have said goodbye to friends, in some cases entire groups, and have expressed tacit farewells to yet more family, in a continuing and thus far successful effort to release old relationships that are no longer working, and initiate, cultivate, or revive ones more aligned with who I am and what I value now.
Without further ado, here’s the summary:
The bulk of the operations of TeamPeh Enterprises for the past five years was taken up by TeamPeh Properties. This was a company involved in the purchase, sale, and leasing, as well as administration, of real estate. It was an exciting venture that we began in 2012, by purchasing a mixed-use property in Harwich Port, on Cape Cod. Another property on Cape was added soon after, and eventually the company grew to a burgeoning (for us, anyway!) four and a half properties: the mixed-use; a vacation rental and an office building condo, both on Cape; and an apartment building in Boston Metro—the half was a 50% interest we had in an another apartment building, also in Boston Metro.
Robert Kiyosaki would have been proud. And it was fun for us, in a way. We were learning a lot about real estate, about property management, in some cases even about law, specifically agreements. But after a few years the interest just wore off. Here’s some humble advice from us. A lot of people will tell you you have to go into real estate: You don’t. Go into real estate if you want to, if it really excites you. We have friends who are in the real estate game, and you can tell it suits them. They’re just really into it. And that’s awesome. But real estate is no panacea. It’s like anything else. If you like it, you will love doing it. If you’re not into it, well, like anything, there might still be reasons for checking it out, but in my humble opinion it’s really more important to know what it is you love to do and go and do that.
I’ve read the books. You know, the ones that say real estate will help you get rich for reasons a, b, c? It might. But it will also take up a LOT of your time. So, if you literally have no other passions or interests in life, then, sure, give it a whirl. Maybe that’s the dealio with all these “get rich quick” type authors: they’re not really interested in anything and all they want to do is play gorf.
Oh wait, I meant golf. Pity.
Anyway. All good. No harm no foul. For us, there is a LOT that we are passionate about, and I think I speak for the whole family when I say we might rather take our chances doing what really drives us and gets us going than, well, than just about anything else. So, after five years of walking this path, TeamPeh Properties is winding down. We’ve divested our interests from the Boston Metro area, and will likely be rationalizing all but one property on Cape (more to follow). Despite my little kvetch-fest there, parts of it were a lot of fun. I enjoyed learning various things, mostly on the subject of law, for example how to construct a lease agreement from scratch, random things that actually have had some applicability in other arenas (like I said, there are still reasons for trying this kind of stuff out, if it piques your curiosity). We’ve met some cool people as well, some of whom we continue to work with. So, much gratitude for all who came into contact with TeamPeh Properties; it has been an engaging and illuminative ride.
BlueDorian Media Entertainment
BlueDorian began the year with two goals: one, to solidify the AFO as an entity more integrated and aligned with the BlueDorian curriculum; and two, to take substantive steps to move the “Daughters of Time” line further to the forefront of its operations, both of which were achieved, though, as usual, not in the way that was at first predicted. The AFO’s uneasy relationship with the rest of BlueDorian stemmed from its reliance on me as both facilitator and frontperson, thus pulling a chief creative resource away from other areas, such as “Faerworld” or sound recording. This year, this was examined and reconfigured so that the AFO’s repertoire supported BlueDorian’s exhibit at the 2017 TeamPeh Expo (more to follow); rather than exclusively playing “AFO” material, it presented a varied selection, with tracks from other BlueDorian work in development, including: Open Mic; Continuity; and even Daughters of Time, with an original theme based on one of the story’s main characters.
AFO 2017 (from left to right): Andrew Jones, Joe Cardoza, Renée Dupuis, Elizabeth Lorrey, Adam Farouk
As for Daughters of Time, the illustration work planned this time last year was completed in full, with a round of immaculately drawn and rendered sketches of the four main characters: Gwen; Cameron; Roya; and Anneka, which were presented in a DoT featured exhibit at the TeamPeh Expo. The original designs were created by BlueDorian, and artwork was generated and rendered by the able hands of: the Limetown Studios; and independent artist Kurt Chang. Also presented was costume design work, again developed in-house at BlueDorian, with sketches rendered and executed by Laurie Bramhall. The artwork will be curated properly over the first quarter of this year, and final selections will be displayed on the BlueDorian website.
Artwork credit: JSherman Studio (logos); Kurt Chang (characters)
Artisanal began its year with an cosmetic restructuring, changing the name of its primary legal entity, the effect of which being to clarify its two major brands (Artisanal Being, and Artisanal Healing) as existing under one administrative roof: Artisanal Innovations. The summer season was a banner period for Artisanal Being (AB); featured events included: an artist trunk-show featuring MKC Photography; and the much anticipated and highly successful “Christmas in July” extravaganza, as well as their annual BlueDorian artist-in-residence partnership, and presence and collaborations with local businesses Cake & Islands and the Chatham Candy Manor, during the Harwich Port Summer Music Strolls.
Artisanal Being ends the year with a larger restructuring, moving its principal operations away from the Cape in order to focus more acutely on other areas of the business, including the online store, educational program development, and potential brick-and-mortar expansion on the mainland. The Harwich Port AB store may, pending analysis, may return next year, in limited fashion, but in its original location (hence keeping the one building.)
the Haven III Farmstead
By far the most unexpected development of 2017 was the purchase of what is tentatively being referred to as the “Haven III Farmstead,” a 57-acre “gentleman’s” farm and surrounded woodland, in Ashburnham, MA (a by-product, in part, of rationalizing our Boston Metro properties). The word “gentleman” here seems to mean that the farm was previously used for recreation, as opposed to actual farming activities. And while that particular source of value, as a kind of rural vacation guest house, is evident from first glance, well, as mentioned, we simply aren’t in the property game anymore, at least not right now.
We saw ourselves heading farm-wards as early as the late-aughts, we just never knew how to really make it happen. As such, February was a leap-of-faith sort of month, wherein we found ourselves gaining a real admiration for people who keep horses. We came across the “H3F” on our second viewing adventure, and it more or less had us at hello, even though we were probably a little overwhelmed by the acreage, and filled with no small amount of trepidation over what we would do with such a space this extensive (we have a bit of a thing about responsible use; it’s not just about the having). Within about a day, however, we had ideas, ideas that have gone on a mental (and, at some point, probably by necessity, an actual) list of maybe-do’s. The idea for now is to get to know the place—for starters, perhaps, where the effing boundaries are—and learn some of what makes it tick and what it might need from a steward and responsible owner.
Oh, and also, the dogs go literally apeshit when they are there. It’s hilarious.
But, just for kicks, here are some of the thoughts we’ve had. First, upon the northern hillock (yup, there’s a northern hillock), there are a mass of wild (heirloom, it’s suggested?) blueberry bushes. Yes, you heard me. There is, indeed, on this farm, a Blueberry Hill. We tested the blueberries from the bushes from this season’s harvest and they’re pretty decent, typically as per wild: small, and relatively strong flavored, though not too sweet. One thing we noticed is they keep their shape really well, which can be a good or bad thing depending on what the goal is; it will be interesting to see how, or if, they jam. Numbers were small; we might consider populating the entire hill with bushes, if we can get a interesting variety, to up the quantity of production. Either way, we’re likely looking at secondary application, as opposed to raw blueberry production.
Secondly, on the south pasture (uh huh) there is a dale with a large field. In this field there are a number of mixed grasses, but also, wild strawberries. Indeed, once again, you heard me. There is, on this farm, a collection of Strawberry Fields. We’re not thinking about anything here; just thought I’d mention :) Next to it, however, is a little apple orchard that’s been untended to since at least the Nixon administration. Thirteen trees (one per... original colony?) but with room for the same number again, this was a feature that really caught our eye. I have been a massive “apple” fan ever since I was told on good authority (Grover, from Sesame St.) that they would ward off unecessary medical visits. Since then, I have taken to cider (from what I have no idea), which I’m sure counteracts any benefits I derive from my once-daily regimen of the fruit unprocessed. Ah well. Still, even with a lot of help the crop was meager both in size and aesthetic. We are told by our apple-man (not to be confused by AFO’s Appleman) that the time-frame for getting these “not-a-crook” specimens back to any kind of shape could be three or so years. This sounds like a worthwhile process, so we’re committed to seeing how to mend the orchard, so to speak. Should be fun.
Finally, a melange of different projects. North of the barn there is a plot of land with seemingly no purpose whatsover; one that appears as though it might do well supporting crops of some sort, of which our interest, in this case, might lie in herbs. For both AB and AH there is a call for such light farming, with in-house herbs creating the potential for a variety of different secondary applications, from infused oils, to soaps, to teas, to various tinctures, balms, and unguents (which is basically the same as a balm, I’ve just always wanted to use the word unguent in practice). Birch trees abound about the property. That’s all I am qualified to say on the subject, but I am so told that birch trees contain a veritable cornucopia of natural remedies, so check out the Artisanal Being and Healing websites, as I’m sure they will have more to say on the subject, if not now then in the future!
So, indeed, a big year of moving forward, shifting around, and shaking up. One thing I haven’t mentioned, rather conspicuously I might add, is a project upon which our focus was trained for the better part of the year; in fact, it is what motivated us, determined much of our decision-making on which initiatives we would focus on, and finally, drove us forward as we redoubled our efforts to complete each one of them in necessary sequence from day one. I’m, of course, talking about the TeamPeh Expo. The reason I’m speaking scantily about this rather major happening is that there will be a comprehensive overview and report on the event, on the TeamPeh website next year. We are currently in the process of gathering all the materials generated (images, sound files, screencaps etc.) from the evening, and will be putting together something that represents fully the event that took place on November 18th. We’ll do the rounds on social media as well, so there’s be coverage, for anyone who’s interested in hearing more about TeamPeh’s inaugural expo event: watch this space!
TPE Expo 2017 Production Team (full company listing @ teampeh.com)
What a circus, what a show, indeed.
You know, with this new theory that aliens, if out there, might well be viewing from a distance, observing humanity as a gamekeeper would an animal in the wild (or, as has been suggested, a mollusk in the ocean!) I personally find myself experiencing the following: Firstly, I’m relieved. It’s easy for me to feel an inflated sense of responsibility, as though I “should” be doing something super important, at all times, and if I’m not, my life is abject failure. If I am an oyster in the ocean, then I’m somehow absolved on that, aren’t I? And yet, at the same time, I’m creating a pearl, a thing of beauty, singular beauty some might say. So, I am grateful for that notion. I’m just an oyster. I don’t have to invent a means to sustainable energy single-handedly in my lifetime. Instead, I can create my pearl, so I fully intend to do that.
Secondly, and speaking of empathy, there’s a sense of forgiveness. The image of us, with all our perceived grandeur and sense of achievement, as seven-point-six billion, or so, adorably tiny aquatic gastropods, crawling around, just trying to find enough to consume until we reproduce and then die, really gives a sense of context, and puts into perspective just how “big” any of us, including the latest misinformed, bloated political provocateur, is, whoever it happens to be at the time. Tiny snails. We’re just tiny snails. Or clams. Or squids. And we’re just trying to figure out how to be alive. I can no more judge a process as fundamental as that as I can the exploding stars and colliding galaxies that made up this world in the first place.
I can, however, create a life that's as beautiful an adventure as I can possibly envision.
I can, and will, create my pearl.
Travel safe. Talk soon. -AF
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I started BlueDorian almost thirteen years ago. At present, my work has yet to truly capture the attention of even my own local community, let alone stand a chance with the zeitgeist.
...ARE AT A TEN. I'M GONNA NEED YOU AT SOMEWHERE BETWEEN FOUR AND SEVEN.
I have gone from being a young upstart in my mid-twenties,
to a struggling "responsible" adult in his early thirties,
to a man pushing forty with Reed Richards-style sides of grey.
I can think of a handful of people who would either brand me a failure (sadly, these include some of my family), or else who’d offer some sort of condolence for the fact that I haven’t “made it” yet, or (the implication would be) that I’m unlikely to make it at all. In fact, I chuckle as I write this, as I remember distinctly once being told by a musical “big wig” that it was “ok” that I was thirty three, because I “looked” “twenty three”, which was a more respectable age in the world of entertainment, and it was a boon that I could pull that off rather than actually appear my age.
I remember at the time I sat quietly, as I tend to do, at least at first, when I’m in such a situation, listening to a person who has more experience than I do, holding my tongue no matter what I might be thinking, and being willing to do my best to really see their point of view; after all, a full cup never did any good to anyone wanting to learning anything. But I’ve had a few years to consider this attitude that I encountered, and I’ve come to the distinct conclusion that the thoughts I remember myself thinking at the time, but suppressing, were a relevant, if not appropriate, rejoinder to the situation I was experiencing: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for that backhanded compliment, and while I’m at it, I am thirty-three, and proudly so, so go eat a dick.
I’d call this person a douchebag, but it seems insulting to such a useful and medically beneficial device.
I will thus have to reach back through time, into the recesses of my teenage mind (the ones that weren’t saturated with nudity) during my days in the United Kingdom—land of the origin of some of the greatest and most colorful (or is it colourful?) insults—to find the perfect term for this occasion; ah, yes, there it is:
Recommendation to readers: DON'T BE A TOSSER.
Note to self: SEE RECOMMENDATION TO READERS.
I admit, though, there are times when I believe the tossers of the world, when I would look upon where I stand and call myself a failure. Why haven’t I built my house yet? Why am I having a hard time with this corner of the foundation? More practically, why did that artist bail on me, or that director? What could I have done better?
The reason I do this is precisely because I was directed, in my youth, that Adam not only “has” a problem, but “is” a problem. So I, very easily, internalize anything negative that might happen to BlueDorian or anything I do. Sadly, I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world who does this.
My “friends” in the past (remember them?) would corroborate that:
If it weren’t for that, I bet you’d have won a <insert award here> by now, I mean, you’re so #talented!
But the problem with you is that you should just go to <insert big city e.g. New York City/Los Angeles> and get serious about having your #talent recognized!
And I would think to myself: the problem with you, arsehole, is my foot has yet to make contact with your throat.
For the record, that particular solution (#kickinthethroat) has never been administered.
And also for the record, I’m not saying that there’s an inevitable correlation between “anything,” and “anything else,” if you get my drift (if you don’t, it really doesn’t matter; I’m not entirely sure I do either). What I AM saying is that I’ve experienced in too many friends and colleagues a strange obsession with “gatekeepers,” whether people, places, or organizations, and this obsession has, frankly, been kind of a dick to my personal choices, values, and interest in cultivating integrity and positive connectivity, in life, as well as through art and business. Whether or not I needed anything external to make me stand by my values and choices any more than I already have been: I certainly stand by them now.
I’m finishing up, I promise. The bottom line is, yeah, they’re probably right, these tossers, at least about some of these things. Because of my programming as child, I do indeed have incredibly low self esteem, crippling anxiety, and to boot, though unlikely related, I also live in a tenuous state where uncontrollable inner turmoil is just one trigger away, a state that, while treatable, will likely stick with me like luggage.
What I acknowledge is that these things may never change.
What I also acknowledge is that these things are not failures. They are not problems.
I am not a problem.
And so aren’t you.
All of these are things I can find solutions for, or else find teams to help me find solutions for. I have low self-esteem? How does that manifest? Obviously not in expressing myself in blog form #circumlocutory, but perhaps in certain kinds of face-to-face negotiations or even just conversations. It’s known at this point that I would rather stick a fork in my eye than attend a formal social gathering. I would in fact probably rather eat raw suet than even have a one-on-one social conversation on any given occasion with anyone, that’s how anxious I feel before them and how drained I feel after (the exception is anything to do with work i.e. creative projects). So how do I deal? Well, create a team. That’s not easy to do, but there are people out there who revel in dialogue, conversation, sharing information in that way—I’m just not one of them. And the same things applies in all aspects and arenas. Find the people.
You are not the problem. Thinking that you are is.
* * *
Whew. Alright, I’m done. And all this from “one day I went jogging.” As always, I mean what I say, and I believe this principle applies to others as much as to myself: any and all problems are temporary obstacles for which solutions are either available or somewhere out there, and so far as is implied to mean inherent, immutable, and inextricable, the problem is not you.
You know, for years I’ve rambled on and written these end-of-year sum ups; I’m still clueless as to whether anyone benefits from them.
The truth is: the mission needs help. We--I--need help. I’ll dig into this a little more, probably, in a later blog, but just so you know it’s coming. I also meant what I said when I said I felt tired, frayed, jaded, by this decades-long process of assembling this organization and this mission from scratch—all the while seeing the idiocy of gatekeeper culture flourish and, in spectacular fashion, fall, while onlookers stood questioning why there wasn’t something different, something better even, that might exist in its stead. So consider this the preamble to a call to action. Without action, without participation, we, the mission, will likely stall. And if we do, quite frankly, I will probably have few choices available to me (in terms of what I can mentally stomach) than to return to Greenbow, AL, and settle down in Mama’s house: those lawns won’t mow themselves after all, y’know...
The mission needs help. And while I may feel that I am nearing the end of my rope, so much so at the close of this year that I am explicitly, and repeatedly, bringing it up, I’m not willing to throw in the towel just yet. BlueDorian just soft-launched its new website (#BDW3), and over the next quarter we’ll be working step-by-step to begin populating and curating its basic framework with awesome content in a way that feels both authentic and experientially satisfying. If you believe in this organization, if you believe in what we are doing: check in, visit, reach out, communicate with us—let’s explore how we can work together, to forward this mission, to create and develop conscious art that is as illuminating and empowering as it is entertaining, to participate in the transformation of the world into a more luminous, more enlivened place.
In time: light, and the magic will follow. For now, it’s just this:
I'm ready to find solutions.
Who's with me?
Travel safe. Talk soon. -AF
I like to imagine, when for whatever reason over the holiday season I come upon a track by “Il Divo,” that, unlike the Armani-clad troop of caterwauling haircuts that presents itself to us (take that as you will), this band of quasi-operatic artistes-du-jour is actually a quartet of highly committed cosplayer-vocalists, dressed with impeccably deliberate specificity as principal characters from various Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals (with, perhaps, the singular exclusion of what inner circle-types commonly refer to as “J.C.S.,” lest the repertoire’s lyrics come to feel a bit self-gratifying), and putting on a command performance of “Christmas & Other Holiday Songs,” at, perhaps, the Royal Albert Hall, where an eager-hearted music-theater loving eight-year-old me is present, in full regalia (them) (also me, I suppose, probably).
HELPING MAKE THE MUSIC OF THE NIGHT SINCE 1986.
Honestly, the image, albeit one fabricated in the wispy, warped corridors of my John Dorian-like imagination, of--oh, I don't know, not that I've given too much thought to it--Rusty the Steam Train (deep cut); Che Guevara (obviously); some sort of Cat... let's say, just to be topical: Bustopher Jones (the St. James St.—or, as he'd be known today, the “1%,” cat), and, of course, Monsieur le Phantom de l’Opera himself, is... is...
from 2018's upcoming "Passegiari Come Intendi" ("Saunter Like You Mean It")
Well, it’s an antidote, really, is what it is.
Ora questo è come lo "Il Divo," vero, Paolo?
Ah jk :) I don't mind those guys... But I tell you this, I’ve actually been on the development end of that sort of “packaged act”—on three separate occasions as it happens; this is something I’m probably not supposed to be particularly proud of, but whatever—anyway, so yeah, I’ve been at that table, and... well, let’s just say it’s a bit like “asparagus water” (#food.amazon.com): hard to take seriously, assuming you have the wherewithal to realize the whole thing is a bit of a ruse.
Anyway, enough of this opening act. Welcome to adamfarouk.com’s 2017 blog season. (See what I did? I only ever seem to blog at the end of the year for some reason, so I’m calling it a “season”: Marketing. #marketing)
*actual body of blog post begins here...* :)
I started a run this summer. That is to say, "One day, I started jogging," not, "Over the summer I organized and sponsored an athletic event bringing awareness to an important cause," although, now that I mention it, that seems like a really good idea #AdamsSummerFunRun2018. Anyway, at some point along the way, I remember thinking to myself: I could keep going. I had just hit pace such that it gave enough back to me without seeming to sap any strength or endurance in any noticeable way #slowmo #vangelis. I figured it was illusion; of course I never fully tested it out, so who knows; had I followed through the world might now be graced with the presence of a "Malaysian Forrest Gump." (insert ANY joke about Malaysians here, seriously you don’t even have to try...)
It is important that your tableware be slaughtered and processed in the correct manner.
translation: "One Way."
But I eventually returned home and realized, yes, it was an illusion and now my shins hurt and I can’t get off the floor even though my dogs are threatening to slowly smother me with slobbery kisses, which are adorable, but seriously Terry I can’t breathe.
I JUMPED ON YOUR LAP WHILE YOU WERE DRINKING HOT TEA
BECAUSE I LOVE YOU.
Anyway, betwixt the puffs of salmon-kibble dog breath that were slowly fumigating my brain, I started to think about the last decade or so, especially as pertains to me as a musician, and to the organization of BlueDorian. And it dawned on me that there was a lot that wasn’t working. I was—I am—starting to get tired, frayed, jaded, and starting not to care anymore about this mission that has come to define me and all I do. Unlike the stride I had found on my jog, this ground was sucking the energy from me, reminding me of all the reasons I had been told I should quit my creative aspirations, for I would never amount to anything. #hopeless
And when I start believing these old voices, well let’s just say there are problems.
Speaking of problems, that idea—that I would never amount to much, if anything at all—seems to have been a cornerstone of my family’s belief paradigm about me, that I offered (I use the past tense generously) little other than what might make them look good, improve their status, or validate them, usually with a strange combination of academics and appearances at the country club. I was never very good at the latter, and I was ok at the former but my heart lay in other, more fanciful areas: to me life wasn’t life if I was too far from either pen or piano.
My family would say, and say often: “the problem with Adam...”
the problem with Adam is this...
the problem with Adam is that...
And there was a distinct whiff of the word “failure” implied in the use of the word “problem.” Adam can’t ride a horse very well on first (or, if we’re being honest, second, or ninth) attempt, therefore he is a failure as a son, and probably a human being (I know, right? You think I’m kidding). In contrast, I have through the years (with difficulty, and with a long way to go) come to view problems as being something quite different: not so much inherent, immutable flaws or shortcomings, but rather temporary obstacles to be overcome.
Now this is someone who readily accepts the possibility that he may suffer from severe depression for the rest of his life, so, I suppose, one could say: what the hell does he know about it? What license does he have to talk about seeing problems as temporary obstacles? I get it. Take it with a grain of salt. All I can say is, perhaps, that my grapples with mental illness, in this case, are like the weather, whereas this new understanding of the nature of problems is more akin to climate. The ups and downs of my uncooperative brain mean I will have days when I am ok, and I will, more often, have days when the only thing stopping me from secretly going somewhere secluded and quietly ending my life is the fact that, in today’s world, doing that in as responsible, clean, and likely-to-succeed a way as possible, is actually—perhaps fortunately—really quite difficult to do.
But through all this, and I mean all of it—the ups and the downs, this newer and hard-fought understanding of problems as temporary obstacles persists. It’s weird. It doesn’t make any sense. But maybe that’s why I mention it. Me and my addled psyche’s ability to understand this notion at all has to mean that others have a chance of doing so as well, in some cases, possibly even with some amount of ease. In other words, there’s, well, I don’t typically use the word “hope,” but there’s certainly...
I was once told that my inability to “work with the system” was a problem i.e. a failing of mine. This one was not from family, rather some “friends” (I keep better company now) who themselves were achieving success in their various careers and endeavors, and saw what they understood to be my “failure” to do the same. So, of course, the problem with me was a... b... c. I simply needed to be better at “working with the system” and I would, like them, succeed.
I could list the psycho-spiritual reasons-to-dismiss, as well as the logical fallacies, that are involved in this sort of assumption-making, but the point of this writing is to acknowledge that, in this case, my “problem” wasn’t so much solvable through efforts to stop being myself as it was through being willing to understand what that meant (i.e. being yourself), as well as the consequences that might come with it. Being an outsider, as I’m sure both Susan Hinton and the Brat Pack could tell you, comes fraught with elements of peril, sometimes life-lasting ones. But it doesn’t mean that it’s the incorrect choice.
Some of these choices, however... (#notmyrob)
To be fair, it was 1983, which, for context, means...
But I digress.
I do not accept that the fact that my work (the quality of which I firmly stand behind) has yet to receive much public attention has anything to do with any sort of failure, even though on my darker days, the thought does occur to me. Firstly, my choice to build from scratch a network of business models and affiliated companies that distributes and represents my work and my mission in a way that is authentic to who I am and what I believe, while a difficult endeavor, is one I will cherish until the day, should it come, I make like Forrest Gump and just stop running.
Secondly, my measure of success, I’m realizing, is at this point so far from accolade that I can barely remember how it felt to be flattered, let alone validated, by the prospect of any sort of external commendation. While I can appreciate there being benefits to such laurels and prizes and the like, such as exposure to the public of what might be an important message, the sheen brought on by the glamour of such pageantry is, to me, greatly diminished. What, I suppose, matters is the solving of the puzzle: the good science, if you will. How do I build a good house? One that is strong, one that emanates light into the world just by existing, and one that I’m happy with, that, when entered into, I feel at home, and filled with a sense of wellness. No one can judge that but me. That’s what’s important to me; that’s how I will feel I have succeeded.
Finally, and this I owe a lot to my ever-optimist wife, Elizabeth, who helps me, daily, shake off the bonds of the rigid and, I might hazard, tyrannical doctrines governing the families of my birth. If it is established that a problem is not a failure but a temporary obstacle, it must be recognized that the temporary obstacle is not you. It may be some thing you have yet to learn. It may be an aspect of yourself that challenges or undermines your efforts. But those are different from it being something fundamental about you. Rather, I wager that these temporary obstacles that we experience are always a collection of things that you can: i) solve; ii) create a methodology for solving; iii) or create of a good team of worthy people (key word: worthy) who will help you find solutions.
To be continued in Part 2...
Song: WHY CAN'T THIS BE LOVE (Van Halen, Van Halen, Anthony, Hagar)
Artist: VAN HALEN
This year was always going to be about big drama. From its early days it had the feeling of one of those “end of a cycle” years, like, as someone recently remarked to me, that point in the semester when all you’ve been preparing for comes to a head and must be resolved, reconciled, and in some way brought to a conclusion. No, 2016 was not going to be a sit-back-and-watch year. The big question that was running through my mind, as time made light work of the early weeks of January, was: how was I going to respond?
Harrumph. Make the bed... easy for you to say...
The last time a big-drama period took place (this was, for me, 2007), I all but collapsed. Response-ability and proactivity went out the window; made a plethora of bad calls that took me years to extricate myself from. Could I avoid a repeat experience, could I make more of this year, and of years to come? Actually, forget all that. First of all: could I just survive? And if so, how?
All I had was a sliver of an inkling, that the key to even making it through the year at all in one piece would lie in staying on a particular side of a particular threshold. There isn’t really a name for this, at least that I know of, but it’s what could be termed the participation/commentary axis. Action/reaction is a simpler form of this idea, encapsulated by but not fully conveying what it means; in the recesses of my memory I can remember the terms “spheres of influence” and “spheres of concern,” which feel as though they relate to what’s going on here as well.
But it was no more than a theory, if that. Stay proactive, focus on what you have direct influence over, eliminate the sphere of concern from your mind: you have no control over it, and do do do. Visions and intentions are no longer enough. Take action. Participate. This was the hunch, and it was all I had to follow. So we did, knowing full well that, in life, as in both history and daytime television...
Elizabeth and I both somehow knew that to stand a chance of survival, we’d have to dive deep, make major changes, and many of them, to our lives. It was one of those ideas we’d seen countless times on old episodes of star trek: flying into the killer energy beam without shields (That’s SUICIDE, Data!!!), so dive we did, and here at year’s end, is at least some perspective from what was sown.
Overview & Artisanal Being
Some of you may already know this, but BlueDorian exists within the context of a loose affiliation of other initiatives and businesses termed TeamPeh Enterprises. The idea of creating inner-directed creative businesses, social enterprises that would inspire and help empower conscious minds, is one that Elizabeth and I started vibing with about a decade ago and one that still stands strong within us today, despite years of ups and (often) downs.
BlueDorian Media Entertainment
Daughters of Time
After last year’s cryptic “sum up” (if you could call it that) of this project’s progress, I’m happy to report there has been forward motion sufficient as to be able to share with you at least a few parts of the process of development that has been taking place.
This year was very exciting for DoT, and for BlueDorian’s visual art and multimedia initiatives in general. We began the year with big zeros lining the x-axes: no work product, no network of collaborators to help produce it, and no experience or knowledge as to how to go about creating or finding either. After several months, and no small amount of elbow grease i.e. the seemingly endless trolling of sites such as deviantart and behance (still can’t pronounce that, please advise), we managed to put together a small yet growing list of artists, character designers, and illustrators, all of whom we hope to explore working with in the future. Currently, we are actively working with three, in various contexts:
What we’re doing right now is, using the story scripts created last year, developing concept art for the main character(s) of the story. This is a pretty typical process—I don’t mean to make a “big whoop” out of it; in perspective, if we were developing a motion picture and in a major studio, this would probably take a matter of a couple of weeks, as opposed to the near year-long process we went through figuring out the basics. Still, I’m very excited about the progress we made learning to do this from scratch and am looking forward to when we can share some of what came out of this process with you. We’re not exactly sure how that’s going to happen, but will be sending out blasts and updates accordingly.
I’m beyond stoked about this project. It’s a story that gets me jazzed every time I work on it, and I hope you will enjoy these characters and this universe as much as we do. We’ll be keeping you posted. In the meantime, do check out and spread the word of the websites of the artists listed; there’s some wonderful art there and we’re happy to help provide some exposure any way we can (we’ll post other links as we establish professional relationships ongoing enough so as to be considered collaborative).
AFO 2015 @ Showcase Event & Recording Session: "DIRECTIONS" 11/21/15, JamSpot, Somerville MA. From left to right: Adam Farouk, Tom Appleman, Elizabeth Lorrey, Andrew Goldin, Elizabeth Geuss, Greg Pratt.
From 2015 one main idea emerged regarding the AFO, which was to create a larger squad—all of whom would be familiar with the same set of core AF material via a set of precisely notated scores—from which could be drawn rosters of various size and combination, depending on what a particular performance demanded.
Sounds simple enough ;)
In many ways it was. It some ways it wasn’t. Though, I’ve already started to forget those instances that made up the latter. Some things work out, some things don’t; what matters—at least so far as I currently understand—is to keep moving forward. We set out with this goal of building a master squad of talented and like-minded musicians at the beginning of the year, tapping into every source, every contact we thought we knew we had, cold-calling at times, reaching out every which way to see who’d call back, who might be interested in helping bring this music to life in this unconventional way. We'd hoped by starting early, in view of the myriad other projects waiting in the wings, that we might be done by the end of the first quarter.
It took until early December, which might have been predictable. Still: we did it. We found, at least for now—and by that I mean that schedules are precarious things, especially for musicians, a wonderful cadre of artists willing and able (and in some cases, it seems, genuinely pleased) to work together in this way, focusing primarily on development, and reading and learning with great accuracy, deliberately and precisely notated scores.
This year’s primary starters, dubbed “Delta Squad," saw the culmination of their efforts at this year’s showcase event, this time a performance at the Lilypad, in Cambridge MA. We look forward to continuing to build the squad, and to bringing newer members up to speed, in the new year. Notation continues to be an important part of the process, and will continue to be so in 2017; the capable hands of Ray Tarantola and his able team now man the music preparation console.
The AFO does have its own page on this site, but here is the current complete squad list as of the date of this writing. Please do check out their websites (as usual, orange type means a link); this really is a group of "heavy hitters" (as Steve Latanision recently put it), solid folks with whom it is truly a privilege to make great music. Onward!
And this year's production superstars:
AFO 2016 "Delta Squad" @ Showcase Event: "UNDIVIDED" 11/12/16, Lilypad Inman, Cambridge MA. From left to right: Steve Latanision, Elizabeth Lorrey, Richard Gates, Jeff Berlin, Adam Farouk, Renée Dupuis.
Other ("New") Projects
I’m aiming to talk about these more at the start of next year, but I’ve been so excited about them that I wanted to share in a sort of preview fashion.
The first of the new projects technically already exists, in the form of a mostly unknown website and a bit of social media. So, I suppose, for those diehards among you, the term SymGastro may not come as new information. SymGastro, from the original “Symphonie Gastronomique” (yes, it is a play on Berlioz because I am just that much of a #nerd) which was an annual recipe book Elizabeth and I gave out to loved ones during the holiday season. The web presence isn’t much now, but our goal is to convert it into a bona fide hub for our “foodie adventures:” anything from recipes we adore to awesome products we might come across, to who knows what? We look forward to you joining us on this growing adventure.
The second new project, again, is not really new at all. This is an idea we’ve had for years, since the first time we put an ugly sweater on our dog and pressed click on the camera (it was an actual camera, and the sweater was not ugly so much as two sizes too tight). The amount of joy we derived from that image—admittedly at her expense, but I believe she’s forgiven us—cemented my already solid understanding that dogs are natural anti-depressants and that both the blues and the reds (take that as you will) can be warded off by even the most benign images of their merry antics. So basically, a photoblog with pictures of our four dogs (Australian Shepherds, who come with the motto: What, there's no official weirdest animal on the planet? Challenge accepted!)
Our little "Masshole" :)
We’re currently doing very serious round table brainstorm-thinktanking on all of this, involving (as it should) no subtle amount of good cheese and prosecco. We’ll be posting more in the new year when things become more clear, or we become less befuddled, whatever comes last. Therein ends the update :)
Big drama indeed. In the end the “hunch” proved to be more or less correct. It was the moments we fully engaged and focused on who we were and the direct impact we were having that we saw most success; conversely, the moments we slipped into reactive commentator mode were the ones that yielded the least. Challenges and demons surfaced regardless; it seems not to have mattered so much how were we feeling as it did our willingness to face these obstacles and be decisive in our action in response to them.
I saw a headline recently that read: “Slouching Towards 2017.” Clever… is I’m sure what the writer would like me to think. But no. Sorry. #Fail. That is no more incisive political satire than it is the choice I am making in the dying embers of a year that has been a whirlwind dynamo of epic proportions. I shall make like Le Bon (that’s not a misspelling) and “dance into the fire” that at times threatens to engulf me. For I cannot fear the fire. Because I am the fire. I am the sun that lights the world of my being. I do not fear what is me all along.
And, for anyone who might find my $0.02 helpful, let me make this recommendation. Ignore them, those armchair reactionary commentators. Instead: go, make your decisions, live by your conscience, grab your life by the lapels and take this opportunity to make it the most beautiful adventure you can. If you’re mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore, go do something to make your life better; chances are the opportunity exists.
I don’t go to war with people or things—it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me—but I know when I no longer have time for something, when something has served its purpose and needs to be gone from my consciousness. So I say goodbye to these people, these armchair reactionary commentators, so self-righteous in their cynicism who, just because the world didn’t live up to their every expectation, decide they’re entitled to stop trying, to stop getting up every morning and saying I am here, and I am willing to do my best, and who then demand that their opinion and approach be force fed to the point that it clogs the mindspace of others, who are actually trying, who do do their best, day in day out, and who might need a little pep, a little affirmation for the hard and noble work that they do despite whatever challenges and fears they might be facing.
So to those cynics, and on behalf of anyone who would wish me to speak as such, I say this: We understand where you are coming from. We understand you have frustrations, and that you have emotions and feelings that you feel. And we have compassion for you. And also, your voice is more destructive than you realize, more destructive, in fact, than all the happenstances about which you bemoan over your cups of hipster coffee, because nothing comes so close to extinguishing the human spirit as do cynicism and complacency. So please, kindly take both a step back from the edge as well as a deep breath, and let me direct you to a quiet corner of the room, where you can feel free to go fuck yourself.
That's what I'm talking about.
On that note, let’s give ‘em hell next year. Who? No, not the cynics. They have their orders and I don’t really care to go to that corner of the room until I figure out who’s on custodial duty. I’m saying things like fear and doubt: let’s show ‘em who’s boss, and conversely, let’s take those dreams and positive intentions and show them that we care, and that we mean business. No more “Om,” now we drive it home. Let’s get up and shout at the top of our lungs that we are here, whatever it is that we are and want to be and want to achieve, and what impact we want to have on the world, and all that glorious stuff that fills our lives with meaning. Then, let’s, together, pick up that pen, or tablet, or keyboard, and one step at a time, make it real.
And if it sucks for the first decade…
You’re on the right path.
I believe in you.
Previously on the Adam Farouk Blog...
Large energetic shifts cause the old compass to go kaput...
It was like this all year.
I felt like my idiocy knew no bounds. And yet still there I was, there BlueDorian was, persisting. But at some point, the voices, they started up again: Okay. I love you, you’re perfect, now change and go back to something safer. Be quieter. Stop believing you have something positive and worthwhile to offer to the world. Be what you were taught to be by your schools, your family: a small, quiet, obedient child-person. There is a “Chinese” (a hideously vague word when referring to the language, I know; I think in this case, but can’t be sure that, it’s Cantonese) word I heard a lot growing up and into my young adulthood. The way I heard it it was pronounced “kwai” (as in the bridge over the river). Transliterations in Chinese are odious, especially given the numerous dialects—in Mandarin I believe it would be “gui” (pronounced like “grey,” if you were a member of the British Royal Family; I’m kidding, it’s “gway”).
In any case, it means good (specifically, precious), but it's a compliment given under the condition of obedience, but not only obedience, for the whole culture surrounding it requires in being "precious" the quality of being “docile” or tame. That’s what good means, often, in “Tiger” families (never read that silly book, so use of the word is admittedly cooptive), and in my experience I’ve seen vibrant, colorful person after vibrant, colorful person succumb to the power of that word, and give up all but all that makes them interesting, in an effort to seem “kwai” to some mother, some grandfather, some institution so threatened by non-conformance it would rather break a person’s spirit to keep its membership compliant than ever think about supporting something extra-ordinary.
This is what I learned. Why am I talking about this? How dare I say this? This culture of which you speak is ancient and wonderful. This is slander. Nah. It’s the rantings of one human being, who frankly you could easily write off as not being entirely there in the head. Hey, this guy has bipolar disorder, maybe he’s just having one of those episodes they talked about in that musical I saw on Broadway once; that was accurate, right? Right?! Yeah, exactly, it’s that. So don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, capisci? (<- actual spelling)
And, yes, ancient cultures are fascinating, but I’m not talking about ancient cultures. I’m talking about static belief systems that seek to keep people in their place by the systematic suppression of their creativity. Go fish.
Give up. Give up. Give up. You are small. What you’re doing will never be worthwhile. You will never be as big as we. We recruit people and make them ours and we own them. They become our servants, do our bidding, and their toil becomes our success. You will fail. You are a bad apple. A black sheep. And you are certainly not kwai. So those voices say. And before, it was the old compass that would guide me: Don’t worry about them, it would say. Be on your path, it would say. Not there now. I remember a lyric from a show I obsessed about as a young adult: “I raise my eyes to see the heavens, but only the moon looks down.” So it seems. And so as one more madman barks at the moon, the realization, this terrifying realization, starts to occur to me: you know what, maybe I'll just “be” the biggest fucking idiot I can be. Maybe I keep apologizing, keep being over-polite, keep dithering, keep worrying, keep doing every single one of those things, keep being laughed at for it all; anything, just don’t give up.
As I mentioned, I’ve been this me before. He is laughed at, not taken seriously, is made a pariah by groups and communities of which he ostensibly is a part. He hates himself, is embarrassed by himself, doesn’t believe in his own ability to create and manifest anything worthwhile. He falls on his face time and again, and is mocked every time he does by people who claim to be his friends. I was this person on and off for the better part of thirty years, during the first thirty five of my life. I pried myself away from this hideous slave persona through sheer effort, force of will, and no small amount of help from at least one key person in my life who as far as I’m concerned is part angel. I do not want to go back.
But to not go back is to choose from two options, neither of which I can now stomach. The first, as we’ve talked about, is to give up completely. Sell the farm. Or buy it, I suppose, in another manner of speaking. Just become small, as small small small as you can be. Hide from the world, hide from the universe, bury your head in the sand so much that you don’t notice when the weather changes. Then you stop feeling pain, you stop feeling anything. I’ve seen this. I know people who do this. And it’s tempting. But ultimately not for me.
The second option is a subtler, more pernicious version of the first one: to posture. Take all you feel and think and are aware of, any pain, any doubt… and go and do cross-fit until you are so buff they can’t help but think you’re hot. What? No, I’m not talking about personal alchemy, which is a beautiful process, but one that in my experience requires a compass; it’s when the compass is gone and you’re in the doldrums trying to rebuild it, that’s what I’m talking about.
Posturing is something I’ve never been able to do. You know those people who run marathons and casually drop into conversation at the first chance they get the fact that they just ran the Reykjavik marathon or whatever? (A friend of mine claims it’s “all” marathon runners, but I’m willing to give some the benefit of the doubt) In any case: posturing. If I’m so buff, so hot, so hip, so cool, so able to run twenty-six-miles-and- change so many times, then I can pretend to the world, and thus, hopefully, myself, that there’s nothing bothering me, that I don’t have doubt, have fear, have moments when I want to fly to San Francisco just so the bridge I jump off can be a beautiful one.
Psych! This one is in Sydney (and, at the risk of being overly-macabre, not likely a fatal jump.)
I’m realizing as I’m writing this that this is as open as I’ve ever been in a blog post, probably more so by some stretch.
There is a chance this pattern may continue in future entries.
I acknowledge that this type of open exploration may offend some people. It is what it is. It is certainly not my intention to do so. But I’ve offended so many people in my life for so many reasons, all of which stem from me simply being who I am:
And this really is just the start. So I’m not sure if I’m super bothered by that kind of thing any more. Or rather, if it bothers you that I’m the way I am, you can feel free to carry that for yourself.
But more importantly: it’s okay. I’m not a victim. These are, for the most part, just stories; well, they’re true, but they’re in my past. In fact I realize all this judgment that came my way from others (and I haven’t even mentioned my parents lol) was just a mirror of all the judgment that I either was placing or would eventually place upon myself. Someone very recently pointed out to me that everyone thinks about how idiotic they are, only for some reason I seem to actually say it. It is true, I talk pretty openly, generally speaking, about the parts of my life that I’m working on, the parts I don’t prefer, and the parts I flat out can’t stand. I talk and I say I’m embarrassed and stupid when most would just pretend it never happened, whatever it was. I discuss. I analyze. I look for answers in my inner crazy. That’s just the idiot that I am. That’s the madness, the madness within.
And that might just be what makes me sane.
In the end, this me is really all I’ve got. Whether or not I like it, whether or not I make sense: I am who I am.
So I will make it work.
Thanks for sticking with me :) -AF
And before we go...
You rock, Carrie Fisher. Thank you for lending us your voice. May the force be with you. #RIP
I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but I recently came across a “Top 5 Obscure Beatles Songs” list that for some reason thought to include such iconic blockbusters as “Penny Lane” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” so it occurred to me that it might be worthwhile to chime in with my two cents, even if to an audience who needs no educating on the subject! :) But perhaps fun fodder for discussion (I’d be curious to hear your alternatives if you disagree with my choices)… and, as we approach the heart of the festive season, these might provide some ideas for stocking stuffers or gifts to those friends and kin who also happen to be enthusiasts!
Track #3 on the album “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Flying” is distinct, and wonderfully so, in the fact that the song is difficult to identify as a Beatles track, even by context and with deep knowledge of their style, without prior familiarity with the album and its listing. For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure, the song is a trippy instrumental jam composed together by all four members, following a basic 12-bar blues pattern, that builds with each head from bare-bones rock instrumentation to a multi-layered feast of retro analog sounds and strangely EQ-ed, vaguely choral vocalizations.
To this listener it’s a fantastic track in its unexpectedness. I love and still can’t get over the fact that it just "doesn’t feel" like a Beatles song. Yes, I could get really nerdy and talk about little giveaway Beatle-y things like guitar tone, how the snare drum is being mic-ed, and the general Ringo-ness of the 8-beat that’s being played, but why? It’s fun, refreshing, and light; a sort of Beatles “back to basics” before launching into the belle melange of the next two albums (more on that later, perhaps): indeed well worth a listen.
A quick note… Since these songs are a little more obscure, it’s been tricky to find even a sample or clip of them on youtube. I’m historically a pretty awful searcher, though, so you might have better luck, or else it’s already on your iPod and you love it as much as I do. Or not. Either way is peachy keen. I’ll leave basic wiki info for strategic reading purposes, and album cover art as I can find it as well.
2) SHE'S A WOMAN
The B-side on the “I Feel Fine” single, this song is one that many—even seasoned Beatles fans—may not be familiar with, or else may not have encountered at all; for some reason it slips under the radar, possibly for both being a B-side, and not having any album presence. This is a favorite of mine to perform live, partly as it’s just a boatload of fun, but also because the vocal writing is top notch: it’s that kind of melody that not only makes you want to sing it, it makes you hard pressed to be able to stop singing it once you’ve started.
A Paul McCartney effort for the most part, the original (sung a good deal higher than where I’m able to reasonably attempt it) is another showcase of his early-days rock n roll vocal capability, echoing performers like Little Richard and, to a lesser degree but still, James Brown; I’ve always thought of “She’s a Woman” as a sort of follow up to his more-than-respectable turn on the Beatles version of “Long Tall Sally;” in addition the album “For Sale” which came out around the same time showed him off similarly with the “medley” of “Kansas City” and “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey”—admittedly another favorite of mine to perform in the cover circuit (I guess I just like to scream like I’m Paul McCartney; evidence as to its effectiveness is thus far inconclusive).
The singles are easier to find now (I remember it being a wee bit tricky back when I was a fifteen year old trying to round out his collection), and this one is well worth the ticket to ride (sorry, just had to).
3) ANY TIME AT ALL
I love this song. I’m just a total sucker for it. I think, though, or rather I’m realizing, that I might just be a sucker for that class of John Lennon songs. It seems to me that Lennon consciously used similar chord progressions—even ones he had developed that were unique enough that you’d recognize them if repeated—multiple times in order to explore specific emotional or narrative effects, or else to mimic specific styles. This particular “ilk” was (and I’m using my own term now) the “vi-I” riff, i.e. the “6 minor to 1 major” riff, which may be of no more help, I realize. This song’s opening riff is something of a twin to an earlier counterpart called “It Won’t Be Long” (another good lesser known song, just not on the list). The way the two move from 6 minor to 1 major in their respective openings is evocative of each other, using this characteristic, and fairly unique, harmonic device.
But enough nerding out. There’s just some great stuff going on here. This is for sure worth many listens, as it grows with time and as details become more clear and obvious with repeated exposure. John and Paul trading riffs on the choruses is a first standout moment; ostensibly done because the second half of the melody was out of John’s vocal range, but the effect ends up feeling much more profound, reminding the listener (as least, certainly, this one) that this is a group with a powerful vocal bench, not constrained to one lead singer or one set of timbres. In the early days, John and Paul often sang together, in both harmony and unison, on the lead lines (She Loves You; Please Please Me etc.); by now this was less of a signature feature, so this moment stands out as a cool demonstration of their growing vocal individuality while still presenting them effectively together.
The orchestration work is brilliant too for an early pop tune that wouldn’t have required it, with some fantastic bridge riff work doubling piano and 12-string guitar, devised by George Martin, and executed by McCartney and George Harrison. It’s just a super team effort, which stands to reason given its appearance on without a doubt the strongest Beatles album of the early era: “A Hard Days Night,” which might also explain why the track sometimes has a tough time standing out against the iconic powerhouses that surround it (A Hard Day’s Night; Ticket to Ride etc.). But underestimate this track at your peril. It’s jolly good craic and highly recommended by this fab four nut.
4) BABY, YOU'RE A RICH MAN
Another selection from Magical Mystery Tour, Baby You’re a Rich Man is another oddball track that might be difficult for the casual or recently initiated listener to identify as a Beatles tune, though its recent inclusion in the film “The Social Network” might have increased its range of exposure beyond die hard Beatle fans. The song itself is an interesting animal, a portmanteau sort of thing, mashing together two snippets: John’s “one of the beautiful people” riff with Paul’s “Baby, you’re a rich man” chorus idea. They don’t really cohere super well, but that, to me, is the charm of the song. It’s very much the opposite of Flying, instead providing a window, a sneak peek into what lies in store when works like “The Beatles” (aka the White Album) and especially “Yellow Submarine” stylistically take full root.
I’ve always just found this song super cool. The psychedelic vibe that’s almost over-conscious in its application just feels like an overindulgence of singular flavor, but in the right way, like one of those death-by-chocolate cakes, covered in more molten chocolate. I’ll take it. The song just sort of spins itself slowly into oblivion, similar in ways to something like “Tomorrow Never Knows” (ridiculously awesome song: too well known to be on this list) but with a little less to prove. That might in fact be the key to what speaks to me in this song, a certain lack of concern that I aspire to. And finally, one word: Ringo. Just take it in and feel the love. Incredible performance, similar—and this is apparently an opinion Beatles expert Ian McDonald and I share—to his unparalled rocking out on “Rain” (again, great song; maybe too well known at this point for this list). Have fun with this one!
5) I'LL FOLLOW THE SUN
And finally returning to Paul McCartney. This track is on the album “For Sale,” which itself is not terribly well known. It’s an oddball album, coming after the megahit that was “A Hard Days Night” and, from what I understand, reflecting the growing tiredness of the Beatles as pop “product” act and instead finding them looking to venture into new creative territory. (something I’m sure all artists can identify with in some way or other!) I’ve always found it a bit of a hit and miss album, but I’ve consistently been a fan of McCartney’s brisk ballad “I’ll Follow the Sun.”
There’s that bit of Paul McCartney that by all evidence resides firmly in the West End stage of the early twentieth century. It’s used well in pastiche in a song like “Honey Pie,” and, vocally, can be effectively brought to bear in something as solidly showtune as “Til There Was You.” Even “I Will” and “Martha My Dear” are encrusted with fragments of this kind of style. What I like in particular about “I’ll Follow The Sun” is how all these different aspects of the “vaudeville” Paul are brought together in a song that sounds nothing like a stage piece at all yet evokes it—specifically the bond between the song’s emotional strength and its narrative imagery—and encapsulates it in a style that would eventually come to characterize the McCartney Beatles ballad for the rest of the group’s existence (see examples, also “The Long and Winding Road,” “Golden Slumbers,” and, in a funny sort of way, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”)
It’s a beautiful tune with lyrics that are lovely and simple and uplifting and sad and hopeful and bittersweet (and there are so few of them, a wonderful display of economy), all the while never unclear. McCartney at some of his best, really. (George Martin apparently thought so too lol!)
Note: I've done some scouring, and have come to the conclusion that I would suggest avoiding the versions currently on youtube (as of December 21st 2016); none really capture what's on the album; there's a BBC live recording that has a nice feel except for one key chord change that alters the entire timbre of the hook lol, not sure what happened there (lapse in concentration perhaps). Get a hold of the actual version from "For Sale:" your patience will be rewarded :)
It’s funny; I just noticed the lack of George Harrison songs on this list, which seems odd given any list of "my favorite Beatles tracks" I seem to make have always included a "Harrisong" in the top five. Though that might be it, I realize in this moment. George went very quickly from underdog writer-in-training, to sitar-enthusiast-transcendental-world-music composer, to master of the near instant and bound to be ubiquitous hit: his later portfolio littered with household-name songs like Something and Here Comes the Sun etc. There's a decent chance even any future unseen hit lists that I create may struggle to include his work. Ah well. Too many good and famous songs? Not a bad problem to have :)
Anyway, not a conclusive list. There are a bunch of great lesser known songs out there. It’s hard to know exactly who knows what—it’s possible that songs I think are obscure are actually very well known (which would be a hilarious irony given my impetus to write this entry). Just think of this piece as a fun thought exercise, an opportunity to laud some awesome tunes and, for those of you who weren’t familiar, shine some light on some songs well worth listening. I hope you have a lot of fun adding some or all of these to your playlists this holiday season, or else sharing them with your friends and dear ones!
Some contenders that didn’t quite make this list (ones I suspected would be too well known), but I might write about anyway at a later date: Rain; Mother Nature’s Son; I’ve Just Seen a Face; You Can’t Do That, and many others I'm sure. Feel free to look them up.
Happy Holidays :) -AF
at a glance
Adam Farouk (born April 6, 1978) is a Malaysian musician, producer, writer, and entrepreneur, currently based in the United States. He is known for his integrative approach to the creative arts, and frequently infuses his works with unlikely combinations of style, influence, and genre.
Learn more about Adam's other creative projects at bluedorian.com!
adamfarouk.com © 2004-2016 Adam Ismail Farouk / BlueDorian® Media Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.