Wednesday, January 11, 2012

BUILD A ROCKET


After I became a dad, my hearing changed. Rather, I should say my listening changed. I wanted less noise, less aggression, and less demand. This isn't to say I'm totally against feedback or angst--it's just that sappiness resonates with me more than it ever has.

I've always sensed a resistance to that change, as if becoming more empathetic made you weaker or uncool. And I would be lying if I said I didn't judge the safe choices of fathers from the distance of childlessness, but I now see the mistake in that.

My shift in cultural taste is simply a shifting of priorities. I'm looking to invest more time into the things that inspire me to connect with other people, as opposed to spending time on those things inspired by alienation and confusion. One of my favorite songs since Steven was born has been Elbow's "Lippy Kids" (this is the live version posted above), and at times, at the right moment, it's really moved me in a profound way. It's stark in its beauty, humble in its heroism, and mountainous in its motivation. It's the sort of song I want Steven listening to and feeling inspired by, as if he could in fact "build a rocket" and fly anywhere in it. It's the sort of song that makes me want to hug someone.

The self-aware me knows the eye rolling these sentiments inspire, but the self-aware me also reminds me of the childless me. The concentrated comfort of having a child and starting a family is that there's much less need to impress others, and more of a want to embrace what feels most comfortable. Detractors would call that "settling" but settling can also be about resolve and reconciliation. And I've reconciled with myself to not be so cool. At least as far as my listening goes. Everything else though...? Still pretty cool.

Friday, January 06, 2012

OFF THE RECORD

This is rapper Azealia Banks with her hype-man sidekick Lamb Chopz.

A few months back, I met with the supremely talented but then virtually unknown rapper Azealia Banks. I conducted an interview with her in her Hudson Hotel room which ended, forty-five minutes in, somewhat awkwardly and abruptly. So I asked for a follow-up. I got that follow up as requested but that too ended awkwardly and abruptly, so we promised one another to continue the interview via email. I sent my questions to Banks, but whatever the reasoning was, never received the answers.

And now in 2012, her fame is bursting like a July 4th firecracker (loudly). The story I wrote has been making the rounds on the web these days because of some "controversial" things Azealia said. And despite the unpleasantness associated with the assignment, it turned out to be one of the most interesting, and more insightful interview I've ever been a part of. It's taken me over a decade to truly understand and appreciate the insight, but a few years back, I read in a Chuck Klosterman interview that too many journalists try to be friends with their subjects, he griped. It may not be intentional or conscious, but the atmosphere between the two tends to remain staid and polite when there is too much caution. But thanks to Azealia, I realized that there's more to be gained from a conversation when it's nothing personal.

In many of her recent interviews since then, she's complained about nosey or prying journalists. I'm not sure if she's talking about me or not, but I kind of hope she is.

- Azealia Banks website


Thursday, January 05, 2012

GROAN
"My name is Kanye, and I do not have an office job."

The first week back from vacation is always a very difficult transition. One would think that after being away from a job for so long you would be refreshed and revived. One would be completely wrong.

The thing about freedom, about not having meetings, and about being home is that this is when you feel most human. Like you have control over your own actions. Like you have the capacity to make decisions. Paradoxically, as a cog in the machine, you are stripped of all that. Corporate America, and all jobs, for that matter, is about the resignation of your ego and free will. This isn't a bad thing or a good thing. Nor is it profound. It just is.

And yet, we subject ourselves to this. We all have goals and aspirations, specifically this time of year, and how disappointed are we in ourselves when we can't quite fulfill or meet those expectations. Ask me about the promise I made to myself on January 1st to write two pages a day on my book. Go ahead. Ask me.

Better yet, don't. But I've been spending the better part of the past four days trying to figure out my inability to find the self-control. And it's not like the other things I'm doing to distract myself from this project are worthwhile. Do you think I needed to watch two episodes of the Big Bang Theory? Did I really need to go to sleep last night at 10:15? Why am I compulsively checking blogs about shoes? One answer is the fear of failure. Complete my project and it's bad and then what. I've wasted all that time.
Another reason is that I'm having a hard time finding passion in just about anything I do. I'm the Tin Man with a bit of the Cowardly Lion (sure, give me pigtails and I'll be Dorothy, too). I've been conditioned to lose heart after years and years of being at the bottom of a hierarchy. When your opinion is just the ground floor of a skyscraper, maybe you're acclimated to the temperature of the lobby?

Whatever it ultimately is--this self-imposed creative paralysis--it's my hope in 2012 to find it. This past weekend, I read about the Christopher Paolini the writer of Eragon and how he wrote his first book in 2003 when he was 18, and he's written four books since then which have all gone on to sell 25 million copies total. I wish I had his discipline.
He also has a sword. I wish I had his sword.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MORE FREE THAN LANCE, PART II


Freelancers can't afford a cleaning lady.

Just the other week -- to bring you back to the present day -- I had two interesting freelance experiences. The first one, an outlet that I had contributed with frequent regularity, reconnected with me after an internal staff restructuring caused us to lose touch. Being that most of my words, if not all of them, appear on the web, the prospect of writing for a print magazine again excited me. It's strange, right? Years ago, you could walk into any newsstand and you would inevitably find one or two magazines at any given time with my name printed in it. Usually it would be spelled incorrectly.
Now, with Heeb focusing exclusively on our website, and DIW's phoenix-like resurrection into self-titled magazine, contributing to a print magazine is an old folk's coveted opportunity. Only the select few get to do it, and those poor bastards have to hustle and contribute to multiple outlets in an effort to scrounge a decent salary together. That being said, if they were still paying, there's a chance I would love it. There's something so non-blogger about print. But alas, the aforementioned magazine, like all of them, really, wants me to pitch them and them write for free.

The story with the second outlet is exponentially more frustrating. This is a casual friend who is also an editor. We have talked multiple times over the last half-year about me contributing to her outlet and judging by her enthusiastic response, this is really something she would like to see happen. Yet every time I respond, there is a ghost town-like disappearance. I'll hear back weeks later and then I'll write back. And again, another disappearance. This is the norm. Maybe she's been kidnapped. Probably not.

Now, idealistic writer, why would you want to do this to yourself? If you had asked me today whether you should be a freelance writer, I would tell you, sure. Just make sure you have a great full time job. After years and years of service, I've finally allowed for my disenchantment to take over. Yeah, writing is amazing. But it will never be your best friend.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

MORE FREE THAN LANCE



This morning, I read a truly heartbreaking article on The Awl titled Seven Years as a Freelance Writer. Richard Morgan, an impressively motivated former freelancer, spent seven years in New York pitching stories to editors and magazines and tried to make a living by doing something he loved. His story would have motivated me had I still been an idealistic and eager recent Journalism grad, but instead it brought back a ton of memories for me from my life as a freelancer, mostly bad ones.

But first, my experience as a freelancer is one of the motivating factors behind my decision to go back into advertising. After September 11th, when the ad industry first felt both uncertain and unnecessary--who was buying anything then? The world was coming to an end--I decided to give the freelance world a serious chance. Besides, this was right before the blogosphere practically consumed the newsstand to only then regurgitate it back onto the Internet--People were reading magazines still.

The first outlet I pitched to was Time Out New York. I had a connection through a connection and boldly emailed Elizabeth Vincentelli, the Arts and Entertainment Editor at the time, with some pitches and some sample reviews that I had written for a few indie zines. She wrote back telling me that my reviews read more like press releases. Her response was critical, nonconstructive, and ultimately, discouraging.
Six years later, a story I wrote was included in DeCapo's Best Music Writing compilation alongside one of Vincentelli's. In fact, one night at a DeCapo reading event at the Housing Works, she read an excerpt from her piece right after I had. I didn't introduce myself that night.

[To be continued]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MOVING



If you're coming to this site still, well then I thank you for keeping up with me. No excuses for the lack of creativity because--GUESS WHAT--we're still being creative.

1. Yes, BRING BACK SINCERITY will still exist just as it has since February 2003 (before blogs became all the rage) but with less frequency. This site will exist for long form opinions. However, I am posting with more regularity at BBS II: THE BRINGING BACK CONTINUES.
That is my new Tumblr blog which is fancier looking and way easier to use than the ole' Blogger format. So once again, come visit me all the time at BBS II. I am there.

2. This is a link for my latest mix, MIX FOR FRIENDS X: A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO BO DEREK.
It's getting rave reviews from the people with ears.
This is the tracklisting:

1. “Teenage Whore” by Dinosaur Feathers, 2. “Cranberry” by the Ruby Suns, 3. “C.L.U.B.” by MNDR, 4. “Rollerskate” by Matias Aguayo, 5. “Excuses” by the Morning Benders, 6. “Harmony To My Heartbeat” by Sally Seltmann, 7. “You’d Be Surprised” by Bobby Birdman, 8. “When I’m With You” by Best Coast, 9. “Albatross” by Besnard Lakes, 10. “Evil Son” by the Rumour Said Fire, 11. “Hurtful” by Erik Hassle, 12. “Dance The Way I Feel” by Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, 13. “Terminally Chill” by Neon Indian, 14. “Stylo” by Gorillaz, 15. “I Can Make The Pain Disappear” by Fear of Tigers, 16. “Rocket” by Goldfrapp, 17. “Caeser” by I Blame Coco (featuring Robyn), 18. “Something I’m Not” by Penguin Prison, 19. “Giving Up The Gun” by Vampire Weekend, 20. “Daisy” by Fang Island.

Okay, that is all for the time being. But like I said, come see me and BBS II and tell them Arye sent you.

What?

Yes, that's me.

What?

Uh huh. I'm over there, too.

It was a joke.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

FOOD, INC. WILL EFF YOU UP



Give him a hard time for over-employing his literary twee, sure, but Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals is some serious real talk. Read it and wrestle with your conscience over something as simple as buying eggs. I have no idea how it became so trendy to be aware of the awfulness out there in the food industry but a) 'bout time and b) it is really freaking me the eff out. Did you know that there is hamburger meat filler that's washed with ammonia to defeat E. Coli? Filler. I know this now because the documentary Food, Inc. which we watched last night. Did you know that corn was our enemy? Corn wants us dead. And it is winning with diabetes. Corn, you're an a-hole.

Mom says, well, don't get carried away. I think she's worried I'll become a vegetarian and won't eat her food. But honestly, I watched a man cut the neck of a chicken last night and I considered becoming a vegetarian for a second. Maybe I should have not watched that movie. I love meat.
What can I do? What should I do? I have no idea. Because on the one hand I'm thinking what will my personal dietetic choices make in the grand scheme of things? But maybe choosing to change your eating habits isn't about affecting the food industry but about feeling better about the food on your plate.
WHO KNOWS?
All I know is that the food industry is really upsetting me. In a very serious way. This world is so effed up. Looking at you, Perdue.

A Primer, Food For Thought:

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Monday, December 07, 2009

THE NEED TO TWIT


"I am waiting for the B train and Mr. Anderson won't stop me."

First I spotted Keanu Reeves on the subway. It was pretty exciting. More exciting than you actually might think it would be. He's tall, and heroic-looking. Like if the train had started speeding up SUDDENLY and a terrorist threatened to blow the train up TO HELL if it slowed down at all, Ken (I call him "Ken") would have run up to the front of the train and would have definitely taken care of things. Unless, of course, this happened on the 1 train which would make it very difficult to walk through to the conductor's car because some of those doors are locked. But anyway, I saw Ken (remember, I call him that). And it was cool.

Then I spotted that guy Chris from The Sopranos which I didn't really care about because I never really liked the show. And besides, he was with his kids so it wasn't like he was a celebrity. He was a dad and some guy walking on the street who's TV I never cared for. Or he was both.

Okay, so then a couple of days later, I saw Bernadette Peters who has not aged a day in 300 hundred years outside of the JCC. Seriously. I remember her from childhood, probably from a cameo on The Muppet Show or something (is that accurate? Holy moley! It is!) and she looks exactly the same as she did then, it's UNCANNY. Like she is a) a vampire, or b) someone who has a plastic surgeon. A) is probably the more popular choice but B) is probably more likely.

And then a few days after that, I was walking down my block--you know, the one I own. Not!--and there's this garbage truck blocking the street because garbage men are nice guys when you're chatting them up about garbage and football but when you're in a car and you're honking, they're all about the "do you hear something? I don't hear anything. I'm taking my time. Ladidah-dadi-dah! Garbage! I pick you up piece-by-piece." So one guy gets out of his car to see what the hold-up was all about, and it's Kevin Kline. Yes, him! From A Fish Called Wanda and...um....some other movies.

After all of this had happened, I realized that I had no one to share this with. I mean, Shana is my wife but she's in school. And they don't get reception ever. So I need to share it with someone....

And so I got a Twitter account. So i can share this nonsense with random people. There it is. I am now in the future, aka, the past for everyone else but the future for me. I'm at twitter.com/aryedworken.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WELL, HEY GUY. WHAT'S THAT YOU SAY?



I do miss the Internet. I genuinely do. There are time when I'm sitting at my desk and I think about writing on a blog, but then I resort to looking at pictures of sneakers that won't be out for another seven months. It's weird. To not be productive, to invest so much time in wasting so much time. And to be honest, whenever I do feel this genuine spurt of creativity, the need to write, I wonder aloud, Twitter.

There are so many people updating their Twitter, their blogs, their Facebook feeds that quite frankly it seems selfish of me to contribute to that mass noise. Jerry mentioned to me that information is made up of atoms and one day we'll have so much out there that we may run out of atoms. An extreme outcome, or more likely an episode of The Twilight Zone (TZ, totes miss you! Pouring some out for you, homey), but think of this constant flow of more. A water faucet pouring at full force. This weeks New York Magazine features a Johnny-come-lately cover devoted to this Brooklyn music scene, maybe you've heard of it, but this is not another exhausting attempt at canonizing the Dirty Projectors (one, because I don't like them), rather, a side bar devoted to Brooklyn's digital tastemakers. One specific comment by one of these influential voices resonated with me not for the reason she intended:

"“There were eight to ten really big music blogs when I started. Now there are probably a hundred. Everything seems over saturated and overwhelming.”

Granted this quote in response to "The problem with Brooklyn is:" is solely in reference to music but the thing about this comment that poked me in my proverbial brain/eye is not that there are a lot of blogs out there. There are. But rather, everyone thinks that theirs is important. Theirs is the one of the first eight to ten that started this whole blog explosion. We were here first. We did it. Flag of ME planted here. Count it. But that's not the case. Everyone was doing it. We all did it. 2003 (when I first got it) was the year of YES LET'S GET A BLOG ASAP NOW GET IT REGISTER NOW!!!! And now, what, six years later there are exponentially more blogs out there. Everything seems over saturated and overwhelming. What's the point, NY Mag?

And here is the difference. I ask myself, did I start this to write to people? Am I writing to you? Yes. However....
But am I foremost writing to write? To put words out there? Yes too. Why not a journal? I hate writing with a pen. Why not write in Microsoft Word? That's a memoir. I'm writing here in the massive ocean of bloggityblogs because, danrnitt, I love you, Internet. You've been good to me. I want to be good back.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

LOL....NOT!



Hey, kids! Do you remember "original?" You don't? Oh, snap. It's 2009. Original [insert hot model German accent here] iz either in or eet's out.

So, do you know what stopped being funny? The Simpsons. You know what continues to be funny. "Your mom" jokes. That will never, ever not be funny. Impossible. Your mom is impossible. Ha. See? Hilarious.

Sunday night's episode of The Simpsons was so unfunny that I found myself frowning at the end credits. For emoticon users, this is what I looked like: ): except I have a "strong" nose situated somewhere in there.
So yeah, what about that 20-year old cartoon...the jokes aren't fresh, the plot lines are out-dated (Ultimate Fighting? Really?), and worst of all, there's nothing even remotely provocative about the plot lines. And this is in a time when just about every animated series on television--including (The Backyardigans does in fact address homelessness) is provocative.

But even more bothersome than Groening's lame attempt to stir it up is Seth McFarlane's Sunday night domination. I feel like his three shows-- Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and American Dad -- aren't even coy about being the same show for three episodes in a row. I mean, the Griffin fam is totes lol with those mad-cap pop culture references, but really, can we please mix it up? Throw in a talking bear for diversity for God's sake?
Wait, what?
You mean there already is one?

Sunday nights suck.