Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just a few thoughts on the election (Stolen from Rob Thomas)


Obama/Biden vs McCain/Palin, what if things were switched around?

.......think about it.

Would the country's collective point of view be different? Could racism be
the culprit?

Ponder the following:

What if the Obama had paraded five children across the stage, including a
three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain had only married once and Obama was a divorcee?

What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe
disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while
he was still married?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain
killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five?
(The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in
1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and
Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

What if Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included
discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many
occasions, a serious anger management problem?

What if Michelle Obama's family had made their money from beer distribution?

What if the Obama's had adopted a white child?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected reality, do
you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive
qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when
there is a color difference.

Educational Background:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study University of Idaho -
2 semesters - journalism Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester University
of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

Education isn't everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the
land as well as our standing in the world. It saddens me to think that this
is the America (Every one is created equal, land of the free, and home of
the brave.) that we live in but it is sadly reality.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"look at us all grown up"

Those were the words out of Matt Nathanson's mouth at the Berklee Performance Center last night. From afterHOURS at Northeastern to free concerts in Copley Park, back to Northeastern to Tufts, and back again, Matt Nathanson has been a local favorite of mine. Originally from Lexington, MA and since transplanting to San Francisco he has been a constant part of the Boston music scene. For years he lived just under the radar. Putting out nearly a dozen CDs and getting rave reviews, but never quite breaking. This year was his year. He's all grown up. A feature on VH1, a single, a sellout crowd, and FINALLY a tour bus. My good friend Megan has moved up from Merch Girl to Tour Manager and things are going really well. Some people would be annoyed that 'their' band isn't their band anymore, but I can't be more excited for Matt. He deserves it (no matter what the Globe says) and he still took the time to meet fans out by the bus after and signed almost everything that everyone had.

Although I was shadowing for work, I did see the majority of the show. From Car Crash and Come On Get Higher to I Saw and Suspended, Matt's words ring true for almost everyone. He ended the night with one of my favorite songs 'Answering Machine' which as my co-worker pointed out shows how long he's been playing/writing music.

If you don't know him. Check him out

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why I Still Love John Silveria

So freshmen year I was broke. I had work-study so I went to Student Activities and got a job. It was awful, but it was beer money (I didn't drink freshmen year mom this is all lies). The next semester there was an empty office that they had us man a phone in. Something called LEGO was starting (NOTE: Lego toys has recently contacted the university with an order to stop using said name) and they needed people to answer questions. Then they hired some guy named John and instead of hiring new people he kindly took us on as his staff and saved us from the hell hole that was Student Activities. For the next couple years John was not only a boss, but a mentor and a friend. In my interview for my current job, they asked me about an experience where I learned something about myself and how I improved my work habits. I remember it like yesterday. It was 8:15am and I had been the dumb kid who signed up for the 8am shift in the office. My phone rang and the voice on the other end was non-judgmental and simply said, "Wolf G, dust off the cobwebs, jump in the shower, grab a bottle of water and get your ass in here." I don't think I've been late for a job since that day (now I only take jobs that start at 10am or later). He truly someone who I tried to be like. After college he had done some work in the music industry with bands like Blink-182 and went back to school and jumped around a bit. He made me realize it was okay to not know what you wanted to do for the rest of your life the first 1, 5, 10 years. As a fraternity adviser, he was an outside voice who had similar experience being a young leader and the pressures from alumni and friends and all the shit that comes with it. Most of all he was no BS and all reality. He told it how it was whether you wanted to hear it or not. And I am truly grateful for that.

Jump ahead a few years. While I was home co-oping before MTV and Australia, I got word that John had accepted a position at Suffolk University and would be leaving Northeastern. I was devasted. In fact I took a day off to drive out to Boston to make sure I was at his goodbye party to let him know I was pissed. (And who doesn't love free food) So every once and a while I shoot him an email and I read his blog (Thoughts From A Train) to catch tidbits of how the kids and his life are. Yesterday I got an email offering me tickets the Jason Mraz show at Suffolk from non other than John Silveria. I jumped on the chance because not only was I not working, but I also love Mraz and have never had the opportunity to see him live. So I show up tonight not sure if John was working and walk through the door and there he is. Smiling as always and not only did I get comp tickets but I got a VIP pass and got to hang up on the balcony level and see another awesome show.

Mraz is laid back and played some new and some old songs. All of which made me wish I was on a beach somewhere (Australia?) with my rainbows (they were on) and the bright sun. He had planned to play Lucky (originally with Colbie Caillat) with opener Lisa Hannigan, but at the last minute bailed. The only other down was he didn't play Geek In The Pink or Details in the Fabric, but overall great show. The crowd was awfully chatty at the beginning and the sound system seemed a little quiet, but by the second half people caught on that they were at a concert and started paying attention.

So thank you John. For the hook up and for everything. Glad to know things are going well and if I get my marathon number in a couple weeks I'll be calling for some more advice, even though at this point I know I owe you a really nice dinner and drinks.

Tomorrow night Matt Nathanson!!


"And It's our God-forsaken right to be loved" - JM

Toby Lightman/Lucy Woodward/Rachel Platten

Here is my review from the show on Tuesday. I have had quite the week in music and it doesn't stop here. Tonight I'm going to the Roxy for the Jason Mraz performance and tomorrow night is Matt Nathanson/Jessie Baylin. Look for those reviews coming up.

Let me tell you. I went into this night expecting it to be a great show. These three ladies exceeded all expectations. Although the crowd at 939 chose to spend the majority of the night sitting on the floor, the ladies plowed through 3 hours of rocking music. Rachel, a Newton native, opened the show with a strong set. Her catchy tunes and playful attitude encourage a few adventurous patrons to stand and dance along. Lucy came up next and mixed some soulful originals with a cover from the Jungle Book that definitely brought me back and got me on my feet grooving along. And last but certainly not least was Toby Lightman. Two years ago (the last time she was in Boston) I saw Toby open for Rob Thomas and Jewel and was blown away. Tonight as a headliner she did it again. With a simple set-up of bass, drums and her on guitar she played some old songs, some new songs, and some 'alter-ego' songs that she isn't really quite sure where they came from. She gave the boys a rest on a couple and it was just her and her guitar and some "love, love, love." To close the night she sang one last solo song dedicated to those in the 'Front Row'. These girls deserve all the praise they get and if you missed the show make sure to get out and see them. Or check them out in our friends on MySpace. Buy a CD (Lucy's being distributed by Barnes & Noble or listen for Toby on HSN) go to a show and you will definitely ENJOY THE MUSIC.

Why Obama...

I'm not very political and I probably would have voted for Obama anyways, because McCain/Palin just scares the hell out of me (can you picture her jumping out of a helicopter and shooting rabbits on the front lawn of the white house?). This speech given by Bruce I think sums up what America is feeling. I don't believe that American's should be swayed by Bruce or any celebrity for that matter because of who they are, but they are entitled to their opinions as is everyone. I just happen to agree with this particular opinion:

"I've spent 35 yrs writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence.

These are the things that give our lives hope, shape, and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.

I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities, the distance between that promise, and that reality, has never been greater or more painful.

I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I think he understands in his heart the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning.

After the disastrous administration of the past eight years, we need somebody to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel around the world, and I occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I've continued to find, whereever I go, that America remains a repository of peoples' hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain for many, many people this house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.

They will, however, be leaving office -- that's the good news. The bad news is that they'll be leaving office dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, it's been looted, and it's been left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs a citizenry with strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again.

But most importantly, it needs you. And me. It needs us, to rebuild our house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. Because that is where our future lies. We will rise or we will fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I know that I want my house back, I want my America back, and I want my country back.

So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising."

The time is now for a change. PLEASE get out and vote.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"We'll never stop this train..."

Today I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in on a clinic at Berklee. Clinics give students the opportunity to sit before some world renown musicians and hear them talk about their craft and their experiences and do some Q&A. If they are lucky even get a short performance. So not being a musician (yet) and not having been to a clinic I didn't really know what to expect. What I got was a year's worth of advice and an awesome show.

So at this point I'll divulge that the artist giving the clinic was John Mayer a former Berklee student (are you an alum after only 2 semesters?). There is this perception that he is an arrogant prick, based on media coverage and what not, but I am happy to report that he is anything but. The two and a half hours that he spent with us, the Berklee community, were deep, well thought out, well received, and anything but arrogant. I had even heard from people at Berklee that he had somewhat turned his back on the college and was almost ashamed of his affiliation, but today he spoke highly and we even discovered it was he who reached out to come for the week (that's right he's been sitting in on classes and jamming with students all week.)

I walked out of the clinic not only inspired, but in many ways happier than I have been in a while. To realize that you can be as big (read rich and famous, which he confirmed for all of us) as John Mayer and still be real, still be grounded, and still have a real sense of who you are and where you came from.

So let me share a little about what I took away from John today.

Define expectation. If you ever expect to be satisfied in life, to feel like you reach your goals, you have to define your goal. You can go out and sell 2 million records and not feel accomplished if you never set the bar. But if you set the bar at 5000 copies sold and you sell 5000 then you can take yourself out to dinner because its real and you did what you wanted to and now you can set more goals. I guess you hear that over and over that you have to set goals. Realistic goals and long and short term goals. But you never really see the application of it. John Mayer is someone who has set clear goals and accomplished them. He wasn't a factory produced star, he as he says wasn't rich because he is famous, he earned both because he worked hard, set goals, and is talented.

Information feeds inspiration. You have to know the basics and the facts before you can take it and create something. If you don’t know the basics to songwriting you can’t build off it. Inspiration doesn’t exist in the ether. The ether isn’t real, it isn't something you can grasp. The same thing goes about the internet. John touched on how he used to read blogs about himself and even write a blog, but he quickly came to a new conclusion. If it happened on the internet, it didn’t happen. You can’t GO somewhere on the internet, your ass is in a chair. If you want to go somewhere you have to get up and go.

Feel it. Along the lines of knowing the information, you have to feel the inspiration and know both your ceiling/boundaries and understand it. He is able to make a connection because he doesn't write songs for other people. He puts himself in other peoples shoes and writes the song for himself. I think that is what makes him relate able and genuine. He talked a little bit about how you do have to make some sacrifices to be successful. You have to learn to compromise on things that can be compromised and hold strong on others. His song Stop This Train was an example on something he wouldn't compromise because every aspect of that craft was essential to the meaning and vision of that song. As opposed to say another song that may be able to stand on its own for a radio edit if you take out the second verse. From a life standpoint I think this is extremely important to realize that you do have to make sacrifices and compromise on things to move forward and to really succeed. If you are unwilling to do so you are closing the door on a million opportunities, because you were afraid of give up a little part of yourself. But be true.

Solitary refinement. John joked a little about how he used to at 23 be able to dumb himself down to impress or hang with younger girls. He would use his songs to get what he wanted. But he had reached a time in his life where he couldn't justify pretending to be immature than he was. He talked about a time in your life, when your insides come screaming out and say hey, I’m down here. This idea of self discovery. The idea that we all will eventually grow up. We spend a month or two away from mom and dad and our friends and we meet new people and really enjoy freshmen year. But then the reality sets in and you wake up one day and are like WHERE AM I? WHAT AM I DOING? When he wrote Stop This Train, he had gotten diagnosed with double kidney stones and was medicated and almost bed-ridden. It was a time when solitary confinement allowed him to dig deep and tap into that inner self. When this happens don't run home. Go for a walk. Go explore Boston and leave the axis of evil (Mass Ave and Boylston the main part of campus). It isn't solitary confiment, it's more solitary refinement.

I think this was the part that hit home the most. I thought I had done that discovery part freshmen year, but when I got to Australia, way farther from home and friends than I had ever been that voice inside totally took over. John talked about how its a scary and sometimes dark voice/feeling. In Australia it totally was a really dark part of my life. A lot of self-discovery and inner thoughts questioning what I had done to that point. What I was going to be doing the next part of my life and really asking who I was? I wrote a lot here about some of it, but some of it was more private and more important for me to know and not necessarily share with everyone. I still keep it and look back (and think this will be a great song someday) and think about how important that time was. I believe this is why John is so grounded and so real and personal, because he has gone through this. He was able to pull himself away and really discover himself, the true self, not the media portrayed self. If you look at some of these stars who came of age in the spotlight their image of self is that image that is portrayed because that is all they know. They are never alone to really see the real them. Or by the time they are alone after failed marriages or dipping careers it's darker and scarier than if they had experienced it normally.

The fact that John Mayer stayed with friends, not at the Four Seasons. The fact that he doesn't have an assistant or security or an entourage allows him to stay connected to reality. He mentioned Chris Rock and how he is so successful because even though he may have a house outside the city in a gated community, he stills goes into the village once a week, shows up at the Comedy Cellar and tries out his new material. He reads it from a paper or from his blackberry and he nails some and he bombs some. But it's an experience he can't get being holed up away from everyone.

Perhaps that's why John's relationships with these uber celebrities don't work. He doesn't like the spotlight. He doesn't like having to travel in Black SUV's and to fight away the constant surveillance. He understands the balance between personal and private and although he may have had a connection with Jennifer or Jessica, he couldn't maintain his identity by being with them. He had to stay true to himself.

I have a new respect for John Mayer and it gives hope that there are musicians in it for the music. It also inspires me to set goals for myself and to get out there and do it. Because "if you start something today, in two weeks you will be two weeks better at it."


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Please Don't Vote