Looking Back at 2017 Accomplishments
As a chronic perfectionist and self-critic, I am my own worst enemy. I’m one of those people that tends to look at the half empty glass instead of the half that is full. It’s just the way I’m wired. Blame it on my being a solitary only child or my parent’s separation when I was 4 years old, or some of the subsequent events that unfolded after this. Or, maybe it has nothing to do with any of this and I just enjoy wallowing in self-pity and flirt with the dark side of life. It’s no accident that my favorite authors are Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens. I grew up reading many of their writings and also loved C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia book series and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. (So excited to see the new movie coming out!)
Last Breath Single and Music Video
So instead of dwelling on all of the things I didn’t get to do last year, I’ve decided to be grateful and focus on the things that I did accomplish. For example, I put out a single called “Last Breath” and wrote/directed a music video for it with the camera and editing help of Julian Brüggemann. This also wasn’t just any single, but a rewrite of an old song that I always felt had excellent lyrics but wasn’t quite working in the format that I had it in. Thanks to the help of a co-writer, David Mambach of Macrosound Studios, who had the brilliant idea to switch the verse and chorus chords around, I was able to improve the song and finally record something that sounded good. He helped me fix the arrangement and assisted with recording, mixing and playing bass and additional guitars on the track, and drummer Will Kramer recorded drums for the final version.
5-Song E.P. with Dollar Store Riot and Two Music Videos
In addition to this single, the band, Dollar Store Riot that I have been in for the past five years, playing rhythm and lead guitar for, as well as singing, finally released a 5 song E.P. Tiny Dirty Houses along with two music videos that I initiated the direction and production of. We previously released a single called, “Proof of Us” that I co-wrote with the band from a rough demo that Brian Boehm brought in for us to work on. It was chosen to be featured in The Rent Party CD 5th Anniversary Collection which was a compilation of tracks from a selection of the bands that played at Rent Party shows since Rent Party’s inception. You can read more about Rent Party here including the great things they are doing to help fight hunger in my local area.
My Son “E” Is Back In-District!
Another BIG SUCCESS this past year for me personally was working diligently to get my son “E” back into his school district and rescue him from the out-of-district school that he should never have been sent to in the first place. Unfortunately, the public school district in our town is having growing pains from the influx of people that have fled NYC to live in a more suburban setting so close to NYC. The district schools are just not equipped to deal with smart kids that just don’t fit the traditional regimented mold of endless worksheets and testing. He’s more of a creative type and just didn’t do well with this drudgery.
Luckily, after fighting to get him back into the local middle school, he is doing much better and thriving with the motivation to stay in his home school and the added independence of moving from classroom to classroom instead of being stuck in one classroom all day doing worksheets. As he puts it, “in middle school the kids are mean, but the teachers are nice. In elementary school, the teachers were mean, but the kids were nice.” I guess the former works better for him although he is having trouble getting used to the endless fighting and horseplay in the hallways, gym locker rooms and cafeteria caused by the surge or prepubescent hormones and the painful transition to adulthood that the middle schoolers are undertaking.
Although this took the better part of my year with endless calls, school tours, research and meetings, paperwork and navigation of two different school districts it was all worth it to see my son be so much happier to be back in the same district with his younger brother “K.” I could go into more details of why this was so stressful with the last minute change of plans and him being part-time at two different schools for the first two months of school and not even knowing where he was going until late July, but most people reading this probably won’t care to know those details, so I will leave it at that.
Web Site and Hiatus from Dollar Store Riot
I also managed to update my music web site and do more soul-searching for this new year of 2018. Although it feels like I have nothing to show for it, I think all of the hard work that I did in 2017 will start to show fruition in 2018.
I’ve also made the brave decision to take an indefinite hiatus from Dollar Store Riot to concentrate on my solo artist efforts and finally finish writing and recording my sophomore release. I plan to put out a full length album of songs, at least 10 or 11, but I refuse to rush things like I did with my first release (partly done because I thought I might die back in 2004 when I had my first major surgery) but that is also another story for another time. I plan to do things the right way this time. It will be ready when it’s ready and not before, so some singles may be in order until I can finish this full album. Tentative title, Companions In The Landfill.