Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Big Math Bad Numbers #3

The drive back to Minneapolis is swift- swift in the sense I only make one stop for gas, and another for Wendy’s. Really wanted to nab a sandwich in town before I left, but the length of the street seemed to be consumed with avant garde delis, $10 sandwiches I could make at home (sidenote: $10 omelettes and sandwiches better be some shit you cannot concoct in the homestead. If it’s something you coulda whipped together with a hangover… it’s not worth $10), and sushi joints. My appetite is in a constant state of sushi-willingness… but for some reason, eating sushi while the sun is out just doesn’t feel right (unless it’s Miami). But yes, the ride was swift.

My ears are buzzing. Buzzing not from a high pitch overdosage of wheel screetches, mic checks gone wrong, or simply neglecting to wear ear protection while on-stage… my ears are thumping/throbbing/searching for the bass in everything. Since Honda’s manifold and muffler have gone on strike, the low level resonance that pulses through the car, builds for a drive that sounds like the acoustics of Tuba’s innards.

It’s all worth it (unless Honda breaks down), I’ve successfully violated the privacy of 300+ freshmen at the University of Northern Iowa. Just as any commercial, billboard, spam email, or online viral video has kidnapped attention… I have just done the same, but a little cooler. Hitting three giant dormitories with a backpack slung over my shoulder, and a box full of demos (3 tracks of mixtape music, 1 track of public service announcement for this Thursday’s upcoming show) w/ a flier attached to slide under resident’s door… it builds character, to say the least. No, I don’t feel old, I don’t feel tired- I feel responsible. It’s the very few moments that you take accountability for booking a show, that you go above and damn-far-beyond to promote it that makes you feel… responsible. Hmm, but did I really go “above and damn-far-beyond”? Not really, I actually did what I was supposed to, but driving 4 hours to Cedar Falls in the middle of the week to drop 300+ demos with fliers to immediate doorsteps is daunting. F--- this, burning m-----f-----ng 300+ demos is daunting.

From burning the first disc to showing up to the dorm… there’s just too much time and space to start doubting what the hell you’re doing. You have to block all that shit out, and run with “Yes, I need to do this. I must do this. If I don’t do this now, then what the hell’s the next show worth?”.

Passing out the last 20 demos by hand, I realize it has nothing to do with “will this work” or “garsh, I really hope everybody listens to what I have to say on these discs and gives a dog gone good minute to considerin’ goin’ to the show”. It comes down to how much you’re willing to work for what you want. Practicing going straight trillville on everything you do, means when it comes down to the moves that absolutely count, you’ll most definitely follow thru on them.

The crash course trip wasn’t really for the show, it was more to see if I was willing to actually drive to Iowa just to go gangbusters on a freshmen dorm with demos. I am.

Back to Minneapolis, it’s a fine grind of standing outside the Yelawolf concert with 1000+ fliers for April 9th’s Bight Club, DJ Fundo, Larva Ink, & The Blend’s show at The Varsity. Fundo is playing with Prof at Yelawolf, so the fliers will have a little more presence than the average for this one. Dave & I are gonna go in like thoughtless apes on this, and shovel out as much as we can. There’s one more show this weekend to hit for Bight Club, and then we’re a wrap- straight to the net for the online grind of slappin’ the promo vid to fbook walls, emailing, status updating, and being overall obnoxious assholes about getting the word out. Success = 500 at April 9th’s show. The past few Urban Home Companion shindigs have been virtual successes, but not feasible enough to keep bank rolling the operation. Hence, this one needs to yank are pants up… I think it will.
Urban Home Companion’s past several months of riders, headliners, and damn good shows…
July 31, The Varsity, Headliner: CECIL OTTER
Nov. 19, The Varsity, Headliner: PROF
Dec. 17, Triple Rock, Headliner: TOUSSAINT MORRISON
Jan. 21, Cabooze, Headliners: MARIA ISA & CECIL OTTER
Feb. 27, The Varsity, Headliner: TOKI WRIGHT
March 3, 7th St. Entry, Headliners: Homeless, K. Raydio, Don Royal
upcoming
April 9, The Varsity, Headliner: BIGHT CLUB
April 29, Loring Theater, Headliners: NAOMI MARIE & LIZ AKHAVAN
April 30, Cabooze, Headliner: ROCKY DIAMONDS, TOUSSAINT MORRISON, & CRUNCHY KIDS

And of course, to add to the shameless promotion for April 9th, I have to put it out there, seeing I grew a f----ng beard for a month, was told by my employers that I had to shave it to a goatee or go home- I was going for a handlebar mustache, goatee worked in my favour, no itchy cheeks ( say “that’s what she said” here).

Anyways, grew a handlebar mustache, here’s what we do for this shiz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpelq32V6sM

Advanced Tix:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Big Math Bad Numbers #2

You have music, you want people to know your name, you want people to follow your tweets/ tumblr/ online word vomit- ok, let’s go. Here’s what I’ll do: I’m going to burn off several hundred copies of your EP, graphic design a poster of your mug w/your name on it and all the info for the show I’m about to book for you and then hand out those burned EPs to every attending audience member so they have a name with the face with the sound. I’m going to print fliers and posters, and sweep the cities with the lot of them. I’m also going to have people attend your show that’ve never ever ever seen you before, let alone heard of your name. I’m going to charge these folks 8 bones to get in, and we’re going to throw this shindig at the 7th St. Entry. Does it get any better than that? No, because the 7th St. Entry is so dark, you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was at capacity or 20 in attendance. It’s dark enough to film the next Sin City in the damn place, it’s relevant enough to be revered as a historical landmark, and it has sound that’ll put a venue in business for decades above the average Mpls downtown shelf-life of 2 years. We coo? Great, I’m on it… Oh, oh, and don’t let me forget: money. You were thinking about it- weren’t you?- of course you were- don’t lie- you have a job, you have a car nicer than my mother’s, your rent ain’t holdin’ you back, you graduated from an Midwest-average university, but you’ll be damned if you’re gonna let your aspirations and talent go to fiscal waste! Of course not, well- here, let me introduce myself-  I work with kids with EBD (emotional behavior disorder, autism, and an array of other medical brands) for 3 hours a day,  4 days a week. I then work at the Old Spaghetti Factory on Sundays- meh, kinda sorta every other week… when I feel like it. So, “No”, I don’t have a day job. I do music, music does me, we like it, we’re goin’ steady, and I’m sure as shit not lettin’ a cubicle come between me and my mistress. Morning, afternoon, and deep-deep evening, I’m either writing, photoshopping, booking, or marketing something in the vein of music, sound, and tour. Gah, here I am ranting about myself, let’s get back to this show money, right? Ok, so here’s the plan: The 7th St. Entry does a 75/25 split, in the artist’s favor. Don’t let anyone get you below 70/30 (unless they’re the Varsity, special venue, special people, love ya’ll). If someone tries to 50/50 your ass, you tell’em “Then let me rent it, cos you’ll basically be making more than enough off liquor sales”. Anyways, back to this money thing (notice how I keep going off on tangents?). Ok, end deal: I take the first 100 people that walk through the door, you take everything else after. In short, I take the first 600 bucks, and you take the next 1500 split between you and the other 2 artists (500). Coo? Great- can’t be any worse than the past shows you’ve been playing (empty, 20 people in the audience, menial exposure for even driving to the venue). Or, perhaps your past few shows have been totally fuggin’ awesome and you’ve been kickin’ ass and takin’ names, either way take it or leave it: the opportunity to put your music into the hands of people that’ve never seen you before, potentially make 500 bucks, and not have to worry about any aspect of the event except showing up- grabbing the mic- and doin’ what you do.

That is the long winded version of what I had planned for 3 artists' triple album release at the 7th St. Entry. Again, I still went flabbergasted at the number of paying audience members that walked through the door (97). The 3 artists that performed that March 3rd night are extremely talented and have been for some time. However, at the sight of 97 people showing up to a Thursday night of free music, a music vid premiere, and a damn good time (which is a total given)... it looked damn accomplished, just not on paper. Either way, the DJ & I were the only ones who walked away with cash that night. Again, the agreement: I take the first 100 paying folks that walk through the door, you take the next 250 (7th St. Entry capacity 300-350).

These kinds of circumstances can boil a man’s blood, let alone drive the long known fact of not mixing business with your friends, into your social coffin.

We’ll call him Kid. Kid, who had performed that night at the Entry… was pissed. I had booked him for the past four shows with Toki, Maria Isa & Cecil Otter, the Prof show, and the first show we did back in July at The Varsity with Cecil Otter- and with each show, he’d hint at how much money I was making off him Which we should be clear. The amount of money I’ve made off of Kid is a whopping big fat 0. Kid has draw, Kid deserves to be paid, BUT you cannot (I repeat) absolutely cannot address one without the other. Lastly in this sidenote, please never ever ever f’ng ever marginalize the work of a promoter. It’s classless, a cheap shot, and a quick way to cut your legs out from under you. It’s easy to point the finger at the guy who’s making money from a show he never had to step on stage for, but it sure as shit isn’t easy to fill every waking day with a new means of promoting that one singular night of music to draw as large an audience as possible. We orchestrate graphic design, dates, & bargaining with venue owners… for one night of music. If you’re in this, please appreciate the time & energy it takes to build these fragile foundations that rarely bear cash.

In the realm of music & show, it is almost imperative to act a higher fiscal worth than what you actually are… but when it comes to negotiating a show artist to artist, as they say “don’t try and bullshit a bullshitter”. I respect Kid, love Kid, but when it comes to working with Kid… shit is tough. He’s extremely driven, talented, and on point, but simply doesn’t have a draw large enough to spit in a promoter’s face. Sadly, we’ve arrived at the fork in the road where Kid is unsigned and Flo Rida sells out international tours. Talent will only get you so far in a capitalist community where money seems to talk more than the mic.

Kid, with two other artists on a damn good Thursday night of free music and special occasion pulls 97 in paying attendance. What does this say? It says it’s damn tough to be an artist that can draw 100. Kid isn’t there yet, but will be if he continues to push his music and name… basically, he needs to be marketed. With marketing comes a price, and in music that price is sometimes not making a dime at a show and relishing the fact that 50 more people know your name and sound. Speaking with Rocky Diamonds manager about booking an upcoming show with him April 30th at The Cabooze, I parlayed our plan to promote the show. Rocky’s manager, Rico, replies, “Coo, just make sure you hit the campus, cos’ we’ll be fliering there in the next two weeks with 10,000 book marks with Rocky’s name on’em”. I resisted from dropping my jaw through the table, but almost came to the happy-ending that tangibles are no longer dead. Yes, online marketing has turned most us traveling musicians into Youtube-Fame lusting lazies, but I’ll be damned if it’s become a lost art to put a flier or demo into someone’s hand anymore. 10,000 book marks will come with a cost, but clearly Rocky’s manager sees the payback in consumer interest and name recognition as a higher worth than his cost of business.

The payment isn’t always in cash, but comes in recognition, longevity, and the currency to step into the next show with a larger crowd than last. I’ve paid dues… nasty, grueling, southern-tour-sweat-through-the-shirt-no-shower-for-5-days-sleep-in-a-short-bus dues. This isn’t to say that I’ve endured more than Kid, but it goes so far to say I can truly appreciate someone attending a show, allowing us to perform at their venue, willing to work with me… than a buck in my hand. In the end, money is expendable, not people. It takes cash to run the damn thang, but it takes people as well. Finding that balance is excruciatingly painful, testing, and dangerous. I’ve lost friends, relationships, time, energy, and ass-loads of cash in the process… would I do it all over again?… you bet your fuckin’ ass I would.

Another stick in the spokes between Kid and I, is the fact I’ve totally failed to pay him in full for the past few shows. The bickering of being worth more than what we’d worked out in the beginning, kinda got to me. I’m only half-Irish, and can easily be guilted into damn near anything (also voted Most Gullible by my senior class in high school). I decided to start paying Kid for these larger shows with Maria Isa & Cecil Otter, and Toki Wright… in short, the cost was not worth the turnout. My mantra had unofficially become “ The more I spend on talent, the bigger the turnout… right?”. “Absolutely fucking not”, replied the universe. I bit it hard, and luckily Kid was the only one that suffered… financially. He’s still alive, living well in his apartment, up to date on car payments, and far from starving… however, I am still at fault for failing to pay him in full (officially 312 bones in the gutter), but have setup a date to have it all hemmed up and paid out by mid-April.

I understand how not-classy it may be to discuss numbers in a blog, but I feel it’s damn important for any on-lookers, outsiders, and those in the game that they learn from the mistakes & success I’ve accrued in the process. For me, the payoff is sometimes in cash (which usually goes to more cost of business, savings, and groceries), but more so towards the fact I love doing this. I love reaching out to other artists (for a change) and making connects across the globe to plot out tour after tour, and promotional scheme after print.

Since then, I’ve put together something called the “Tuesday Surprise”. We release a new video and free music upload every Tuesday. Keeps the pulse of things going lively, and folks get the opportunity to see what we’re up to every week. Ricky TV, you ask? Aww shucks, I’ll explain that later (if the show isn’t already self explanatory). You can check out the Tuesday Surprise Video, every Tuesday 12am at www.youtube.com/UrbanHomeCompanion and download a new free track of music at www.facebook.com/ToussaintMorrisonMusic by clicking on the “Music” section.

Aight, upcoming dates you should flash your fangs for:

The Blend, Lazlo Supreme, and Me… on tour:

Thursday, March 31st - The Hub – Cedar Falls, IA
I’m spending the week prior in Cedar Falls, passing out fliers and demos for 3 days leading up to the show. Should be interesting to see what the turnout is.
Saturday, April 9th – The Varsity  - Mpls, MN
Bight Club, DJ Fundo, Larva Ink, The Blend, Phonetic One, and a break dance show case by New Heist Crew. Adv. Tix available here http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/30623
Thursday, April 14th – Project 20/20 – Ames, IA
The Blend & Lazlo Supreme will be plugging into the old Bali Satay for a VEISHEA invasion and putting on a dance party.
Friday, April 15th – Project 20/20 – Ames, IA
Just me, doin’ a solo set during a huge dance party at Project 20/20 for another night of VEISHEA insanity.
Saturday, April 16th – Pub Crawl – Oshkosh, WI
Not really a musical performance as much as it is simply an appearance at the Oshkosh pub crawl, where we’ll be taking to the streets as Team Shut Up & Swallow. The town triples in population for this one, you should bring your cousins and help it quadruple.
Friday, April 29th – Spring Jam– Mpls, MN
Yeah yeah yeah, so we’re playin’ at a house party- what of it!? We’ll be throwin’ down at Delta Chi and handing out free music.
Saturday, April 30th – The Cabooze – Mpls, MN
This is the big one. In another attempt to sell out the Cabooze, we have ROCKY DIAMONDS (aka YOUNG ROCKY), DON ROYAL, CRUNCHY KIDS, and MORE for my final MIXTAPE RELEASE PERFORMANCE. At this one, we’ll be giving out t-shirts, the mixtape with 6+ bonus tracks, and potentially a new Blend single. A m-----f-----ng must-see.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big Math Bad Numbers #1

Remember that time I said we were “working with an empire, here”, before the Maria Isa & Cecil Otter show was set to blast off? Remember that time I said I was going to sell out The Cabooze, a 1000+ venue on a cold day in Minnesota (“cold” is relative to “fucking deadly freeze over” anywhere south of Rochester, MN in the US)? Remember that time I booked the show the same date at The Current’s 5th annual existence bash? … Yeah, I wish I didn’t either. I put the cost of business through the cat walk and paid only in time. Broke even, walked away without a spec of dust on the shoulders, but the bout easily left me sitting in a coffeeshop befuddled, staring out the window, forgetting my phone was ringing, day-jobless (and still lovin’ it), and basically pensive enough to exercise telekinesis on my silverware (almost worked).

At the Locale, the night after the Maria Isa & Cecil Otter show, having recently visited More Than Lights sold out CD release show at the Fine Line, my better half wanted to own it and say, “Alright, fine, fuck it, we lost.” The voices in my head rarely agree, but this one damn near ran a Salem Witch Hunt on any preachers advocating such a big music bill again. Yes, I totally bit off more than I could chew, and when less than 500 paying people attended the Maria Isa & Cecil Otter  show, I took the fiscal knee to the groin and picked up several shifts at the Old Spaghetti Factory. A woman and her bartender friend eyed me down the Locale’s lengthy bar and tall ceiling. Possibly entertaining themselves with a more fortunate being at the moment, or wondering what the hell a frustrated entrepreneur  was doing out the night after his biggest fiscal failure… na, I had it in me (as always) to take it upon myself and say something.

The initial on-looking gal said her bartender friend wanted to speak to me, I deflected it and just went with talking about why she comes to a bar alone to visit her friend in the middle of work. We discuss, and somehow get around to the show from last night. “You put that show together last night, how was it?” Reluctantly, still beat up about it, “Umm, around 500 came out, but a shit ton less than that paid”. (Say “ick” here, for lack of better word to your disgust that Toussaint has become so knee-deep in music that he takes the numbers personally). The on-looking gal half raises an eyebrow, “Wow, that’s a lot of people”. We exchange numbers, and I trek back home to keep hitting rewind of her one-sentence praise of the show she never attended. I like it- made me feel human for a second in beleaguering process of calculating hard numbers and immovable math. “Yeah, it was a lot of people, wasn’t it?” thinking to myself.

Looking back at the pictures of the show, the Cabooze looked damn packed. I didn’t even recognize the f’ng place, but from the sights of Mr. Drew Carlson’s badass photography, I noticed it was definitely the Jan. 21st show. Christ, I’d pay Cecil Otter the same amount to play at a house party- the kid’s easily one of my favorite people/performers. I try to hide it, play it cool, but always end up laughing at something that wasn’t meant to be a joke, weirding the dude out, or simply overstaying my welcome. We didn’t sell it out, didn’t even come close to selling it out, but hot damn did we make it look like it almost sold out. By no means satisfactory in my book, but a definite lesson to chalk up under the “Been There, Done That” column.

Moving on, getting back to this “empire” business- fast forward a month later to the Toki Wright show. Making amends with a long-cemented animosity with Mr. Wright, the show (before a single person stepped through the door) was already a success. We’d promoted the show for 2 months, blurring posters all over the city, and handing out fliers… everywhere. Fifth Element took the last two weeks of promotion and blasted 1000 fliers through the city, and hit the internet running. In the end, the same result: breaking even. The Toki show, however, was an entirely different beast altogether than the Maria Isa & Cecil Otter show, so breaking even on it wasn’t as cardiac-arresting as the previous.

Keep in mind, at this point, over 800 people had funneled through the entrances and exits of these shows. You say, “Yea yea, who f----n cares, Prof or Atmosphere or P.O.S. or Solid Gold can bring in twice that in one night.” To that I say, “And I’m neither any of those people, I’m only one person carrying the load of an entire brand, label, and think tank. Jea, tons of people help out, but not without a price.” The beautiful thing about watching Prof or Atmosphere or P.O.S. or Solid Gold is spectating their teamwork. Mike Campbell would sell a Prof embroidered rosary in a mosque if he had to, Doomtree would take a bullet for anyone in their family (let alone Steph “P.O.S”), and pretty much any Rhymesayers affiliate would easily dole out their time and energy for the livelihood of Atmosphere. To walk into Fifth Element and see Felipe constantly folding, stacking, organizing, molding something- puts a smile on my face. These people never stop their continual flow of work and forward administration towards achieving their goals. I like it. I likes it a lot. Eh, getting back to the point though- I’d brought a lot of people through the Varsity and Cabooze’s gates, but had my sights set on far more than that. The next week, I had scheduled a triple album release betwixt Don Royal, K. Raydio and Homeless Ryan K; an event far far from the past several I’d put on (Cecil Otter, Prof, Maria Isa, Toki). Don, K and Homeless are no where within the same pull or midst of the former headliners- but (and a big BUT), putting the three of them in the 7th St. Entry for a night of delivering free music… they had a chance at selling it out.

By the end of the Triple Album Release, again thinking more people came through that door than actually did, I was a bit flabbergasted at the number of paying participants. To Be Continued…

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rawr

Awhile ago...

Hanging up the phone, and just leaving St. Paul, my brain couldn't bring itself to complain a string of anything else but what I told her. I told her to have patience- told her I'd come around at some point- told her this thing could be great if she just gave it time. Fostering a relationship from friendship was the long-term goal, and I was set to get there. Problem with these things, is "set to get there" doesn't get it done- an in-progress late bloomer like myself rarely falls into the lap and ease of a relationship to the chord of a smooth transition. I've been muscled, coerced, conned, and hoodwinked into commitment before I can spell "monogamous". Sometimes it's worked, sometimes. But fuck it, I'm not bein' strong-armed into another woman trap.

Shit, if she just had the patience... this could work out.

Meanwhile, back on the road...
Christ, who the hell drives 30mph from downtown St. Paul onto 94 West? The car in front of me, that's f----ng who. Sweet mother of lucifer and Agatha Christie, I will side swipe this vehicle like a deleted scene from Death Race if it doesn't move it's ass above at least 45mph.

Laying on the horn repeatedly, passing the drowsy-foot driver. I wanted to open my non-existenet sun roof, toss a brick thru it to the left, and hope it hit their windshield to successfully oust them off the road from ever producing such a road rage I feel in my veins at this very moment. Still laying on the horn, finally passing the slow-motion mobile, I looked into the eyes of a woman terrified beyond course of action & word. The look in the woman's eyes that I had just honked at repeatedly and wanted to rear-end so badly, looked to be the most innocent old woman the planet had ever given birth too.

Guilt. Utter-failing pride, and deep seeded guilt struck every fiber of my heart and artery. I felt so bad for the old lady. Who the fuck am I to be honking at a 60-somethin' gal just trying to get to Minneapolis and escape the dull of St. Paul. Who the hell am I to be so anxious that I had to lay on the horn for half the entrance from downtown St. Paul to 94 West.

Perhaps, I could practice some patience in the meantime... too...

5 Days Bights

I work at the Old Spaghetti Factory once every two weeks. Along with collecting tips, I hand out fliers to most of the servers I work with. Tell’em I can get them into the show for free if they bring friends… It works- even better, it networks.

“Hey Ellie, you ever heard of a group called Bight Club”, accosting the nearest gal in a server uniform. Give fliers to women, give fliers to attractive women, give fliers to hoards and masses of women… the rest will follow. Ellie creased a faint smile… “I saw a guy at the beach this past summer- long dreads, mustache- I had just had to approach’em and ask him who he was- guy had “NUTZ” tattooed across his stomach- had to ask”. Already, I like it. She continued, “He said he’d been trying to get sober. I asked how long he’d been sober for- said he’d been sober for 5 days… but he’d only quit alcohol and weed he said. I tracked his band down online and bought some of the music”. She laughed and then b-lined for the kitchen to plug in the next order. I would hand her a flier later on, and reluctantly fall a tad more magnetized to the enigma of Jeremy Nutzman aka Spyder Baybie.

After Big Zach had to respectively cancel the Varsity show for April 9th, I sent out a bat signal for an act worthy of replacing the slot. Tommy, from Party House, got back to me with a name… “Bight Club”. The rest is history. I just hope these guys are alive by April 9th.

Bight Club has a massive pull, an attractive pull, a suicide-girls-tattooed-sleeves kind of pull. I get facebook friend suggestions every evening with female names that have less than 2 friends in common, but more familiar… a page in common… “Bight Club”. It seems Bight’s audience consists a majority of party-going, drug-induced, strikingly-beautiful, dark-hair, pale-skinned, red-lipped women potentially fitting unofficial clones of Amy Winehouse- or better yet, the original mold of Amy Winehouse. I like it. I like it a lot, and the bill couldn’t be more volatile.

Still, Jeremy Nutzman weighs on me- I stew more and more over his mpls.tv appearance with 2% Muck and his blue-collar rockstar status… all I can say in the presence of it all is “I’m a fan”.

I can also say… “I’m scared”. This show just might put me out of the graces with the Varsity, but somehow in the eschillon of most memorable evening since the Gophers won the Frozen Four and we took to burning the streets, throwing beer cans at SWAT police, and completely destroying every phone booth from highway 280 to Riverside Plaza. Well, here goes nothin’…

Do us a favor and click “SHARE” on this event: 

Do yourself a favor and watch Jeremy Nutzman:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Prelude For A Dream

Remember the scene from Aliens. Ripley and the crew are streamlining from space to crash land on a planet that’s failed to send a radio signal from the headquarters for the past several days. They coast the zero-gravity frontier, tightly locked into their seat, huge gun in hands (which could only be handled for two hands)... and shhhhhhhhkoooooom! Their pod disengages with the coasting ship as they fall faster, and faster, to plunge into the alien infested planet.

Call me conceptual… or just think about calling me conceptual, but that’s how I feel the past 20 minutes just went down. Traffic-ridden streets of downtown Milwaukee, rain spilling from the winter sky, and headlights speeding through space with no sight of the vehicle steering them, we land in the beloved city and nest to the most bars per-capita in the U.S. The downpour covers moving vehicles out of sight, which you could only tell their momentum from headlamps and street lights bouncing off the windshield. I’m dropped off at Rochambo, a favorite coffeeshop, founded unbeknownst a few years ago during a morning-after-show-walk-of-shame-hangover-coffee-now-or-else-hulk-smash kinda fix. Place has always been the filing grounds for landing in Mil. The show’s in River West, and would’ve loved to get dropped there… not without a switch blade, six-shooter, and nothin’ to lose in my back pocket. Rochambo will do, for now.

I can’t get the kid’s eyes outta my head. Just several days ago, I started a new day-job as a paraprofessional at an early childhood center. I won’t use his real name, I won’t even use the city’s name I’m working in, however- let's call him Sid… and Sid can read a face like Ray Lewis eyeing a shitty offense. He pierces bs, baby-talk, tonality, eyebrow shifts, and any small muscle tinge or movement in his radius of sight & peripheral. The school’s asked me to accompany him for the rest of the school year, as things haven’t gone this well with him for the entire year... until this past week of working one-on-one with me (Says his teacher. Absolute amazing woman. Her method of dealing and conducting a classroom is relative to using the force for good (ref: Star Wars). I’d pat myself on the back, but youth work is a career of constants, not a means of “hey, we made it” celebration for the na├»ve. Youth is a crackpot war ground where kids give no f--- to reset the smile they just gave you and throw you against the wall for the shooting squad. Kids could give a s--- less what your agenda is for the day, you’re on their time- and the only cats that might be able to garner respect is their parents (and/or grandparents). This isn’t to say kids are shitheads, it is to say that adults have absolutely lost a grasp on what it means to not only respect youth, but open themselves up to letting a youthful imagination spark their own… again.

Our brains get hardened over the course of academia bullshit, American over-dreamt cubicle pay checks, and the here-all end-all of “what we do for our living”. Seldom do we step aside and ask ourselves, “I am living. What am I doing about it?” Sid’s turned to me several times in the past week, and pointed out details in a room I’d never pick up on otherwise. He’s tuned to an angle of life that I’d never privy my better senses to, had I not met him.

With Sid’s perspective face-smack and kickass progress since we’ve met, I’ve run into a quandary of taking the job to work with him for the rest of the school year, or take a job in the same district (more hours) dealing with truancy. One of those questions I’ll file in the “figure it out later” bin. Commitment… word of the week, weekend, and on.

Our first Ricky TV episode... Hmm, I'll explain more about this later: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl1w_Vth1a8