Wednesday, January 11, 2012


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


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

"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.