Stop cajolling me into owning a home

 

2006 Pico-Union :

I was making $8 an hr. All i wanted to do was make enough money to buy a house in Los Angeles. I walked across Hoover St. into the Food 4 Less parking lot, passed the abandoned shopping carts in favor of the 25 cent-a-gallon  water refill station. I remember thinking to myself I’d at least $200,000 as a down payment for a decent home in Los Angeles. I felt defeated.

2013 San Fernando Valley

In a pool in the valley when someone asked me my plans. Mentioned I was in the process of saving $120,000 so i can rent a mansion for one year at $10,000 a month. I was interrupted by a gentleman who explained what a horrible idea that was. I’d be “throwing money away”, because for just three times my hypothetical $120,000 war chest I’d have a downpayment on a decent home in the hills with a view. In addition, i could sell the home in the future for a profit!

Horseshit. I asked this knucklehead what he did for a living. Turns out he was a Realtor. The water in the pool was also wet in case you’re wondering. I asked this guy if he could, in writing, personally guarantee a profitable sale in the future. He clammed up clammier than a clam.

2017 Los Angeles

I find myself cruising Zillow.com looking for homes, until I snap myself back to reality. Lets see some numbers..

If i want to have a TOTAL mortgage (including taxes and insurance) that of my current rent, I’d have to put down $100,000 in cold hard CASH.

I can think of much better uses for $100,000.

After thinking of follow up points, raw data, tax info, earthquake repair estimates etc.. I realized those don’t matter…because i can think of much better uses for $100,000.

 

 

 

 

 

GAINESVILLE GOOD OLE DAYS

 

I never thought much of the “good ole days”.  I’m sure the days were good, but they’re also OLD, as in the past. It’s fun to remember the past every once in a while but i always gave the side eye to people who seemed to relish days gone by.

Back in October we went to a music festival in Gainesville called The Fest. 2016 marked the 15th year of the festival. I went to the inaugural Fest in 2002 when i was working at Fueled By Ramen for $25 a week. Now i can afford the luxuries a full time job provides, which is a kings ransom when paired with the cheap cost of living in North Central Florida.

Pushing down 8th Ave in a Maserati felt a little strange, but the destination was Leonardo’s Pizza so i was focused on pizza and garlic rolls. However my excitement turned into mourning when presented with news that Leonardo’s would be shutting down imminently. Out comes the video camera, record and eat. Eat and record.

The generation before me had Skeeters. I went there once when i was 8 but that’s all i remember of it. I believe there’s a Caribbean place that’s all the rage with the present UF population. A Cuban place as well, I’m not sure. I guess I’ll check it out next time I’m in town.

I remember how angry the local population was when the Bike store adjacent to Burrito Bros was renovated into a Starbucks. Now the entire block which housed the Starbucks/Burrito Bros juxtaposition is now a luxury housing complex. I’d complain that I couldn’t afford a unit in the complex but that would be a lie (i looked into it).

The current plan is to rent a home in Gainesville for football season, call it the Winter  Whitehouse, and hire the owner of Burrito Bros to cook burritos on game day. Best laid plans go to waste so I’m going to stop thinking about that until summer.

The Fest was great as always. They had Mexican wrestling at the local cowboy club, the same club that hosted Knapsack. Below is a partial list of bands I like from the Fest 15.

Small Brown Bike

Iron Chic

Latterman

Less Than Jake

The Menzingers

Knapsack

Radon

Leatherface (just kidding they didn’t play The Fest 15 but they’re amazing)

 

Kaskade Event – Masterpass #ThankTheFans House

 

Grammy week in Los Angeles. I find myself at the nexus of where creativity and corporate sponsorships meet, the old Tower Records building on Sunset Blvd. It’s now a Gibson Guitars-sponsored event space.

Since Deckstar represents the host of the event, KCRW’s Jason Bentley, we all scored passes. Most people were excited because it had an open bar. I was excited because it would give me something interesting to FILM.

I was at this venue last week for the Chris Cuffaro photography exhibit and didn’t bring my camera. I had one thought on my mind as I walked in the door : CINEMATIC REDEMPTION.

The event had a recording studio where guests can record a song and print a vinyl record of said song. I thought it took weeks of planning and set-up to print vinyl. Turns out it only takes 15 minutes!!

A few of the Deckstar cats and I hit up the mobile recording studio and did some spectacularly awful music. It was FUN though and that’s what matters!! They left me with the vinyl recording, going to make some synth patches out of the cacophony.

The most unexpected part of the night was meeting Brian Kelly AKA The Points Guy. I just nabbed myself 100,000 Chase Rewards Points by reading his blog. I’m using them on a lie-flat seat to Europe this spring.

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The first Grammy nominated act i caught was Sofi Tukker, a cool sounding duo with some sort of tree looking sculpture that doubled as a drum machine (check the video above for reference). They danced around on stage and in the crowd while demonstrating proficiency on their respective instruments.

Kaskade hit the stage for his performance after a brief convo with Jason Bentley. Kaskade was nominated for the “Best Remix” Grammy, an award that was eventually taken by RAC (woo hoo!).

Before leaving i ran into Jane Zhang, a Chinese pop star and Deckstar artist was also in the house. She most recently released a song here in the USA featuring Timbaland. Was cool to meet her and her team in person!!

 

After i left i got Taco Bell.

 

 

 

Jam Night

 

Gary’s “Jam Night”. A bunch of industry people invade a Valley dive bar. The regulars and biker gang hanging outside didn’t look to stoked. Fuck em. Packed inside, huge line at the bar. Liquor store next door, back and forth.

I showed up with my camera and a bunch of new John Fulford hoodies. In other words i left a bunch of hoodies in the trunk of my car and brought two inside the bar. Both gone within 1 minute. Someone accused my free hoodies of being “payola”. If only it were that easy.

Shake hands, hug, catch up repeat. Repeat what you said it’s super loud in here. Ubers lined up down Woodman Avenue to carriage patrons to the next event. No Lyfts. Us savages didn’t remember we’re supposed to use Lyft instead.

1:20AM. Alone, watching Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. John Debney score. Sounds like the Dramedy cues i do for Kardashians, only better. Currently under contract do deliver over 3 hours of music. Over an hours worth of songs. Full vocal arrangements, great lyrics etc.. ears ringing too loud from earlier to do anything productive. For now i can watch Drew Barrymore try to nail her toe back on.

I’m going to Dunkin Donuts tomorrow.

 

Hong Kong – Queen Knucklehead

Our Hong Kong trip in a nutshell. Don’t forget to subscribe!!

 

 

Every time i think about Hong Kong i get hungry. It’s a “hungry” place. Money hungry, food hungry, life hungry. It’s Los Angeles on Meth. NYC on steroids. Blade Runner. My kind of place.

I was there in June 2016 hanging out, writing music, doing deals etc.. I never thought I’d be back in Hong Kong again just a few months later.

Queen Knucklehead wanted to see Asia for the first time. Friends mentioned Thailand, Bali etc.. Both great places but the only place I’D be interested in traveling was Hong Kong. Jokes on me since I ended up going to Thailand on this trip anyway (sorry QK).

I’ve been to Hong Kong more times than i can count. Going with someone who’d never been there before was super cool since I could see their reactions to the city. I’ve always hated that cliche “where east meets west” although it’s a great way to sum up the city.

Instead of writing some long form hullaballoo here’s my pros and cons of Hong Kong.

PROS

  1. Tin Ho Wan – Michelin starred restaurant that’s very easy on the wallet.
  2. Steamed Buns – Buy some plain buns at the store, cook them on medium till they turn tan/brown. Pour some condensed milk over them. My favorite junk food.
  3. Simpson Sin – My tailor.
  4. Victoria Harbour – Cool lights and buildings
  5. Chunking Mansions – It’s like Hollywood & Highland mixed Times Square stuffed into a giant slum-adjacent type building. You can eat a nice dinner, buy some copy watches, gold bars, a gun and some drugs. All for a low, negotiable price!

CONS

1.  Radiation – There were reports of a nuclear “event” in Hong Kong while we were there. Sure enough the radiation levels were FAR above normal. The Government was mum. I got my radiation levels checked when i left. All clear.

2. Geo-gating. A lot of American TV show clips were geo-gated. I couldn’t watch Alec Baldwin’s Trump impersonations without spoofing my location.

3. Crowds – Metropolitan Hong Kong is crowded. NYC and LA are desolate in comparison.

4. Pollution – You can feel the pollution in the air. It gets stronger as you travel north west towards Shenzhen.

5.  Construction around the Walk of Fame – The Bruce Lee statue is out of service until 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CUBA

My life and times in Havana. Video below. Subscribe to the YouTube channel for updates!!

CUBA. Growing up in South Florida I learned a lot about Cuba. For instance if a Cuban citizen made it from Cuba to the shore of Florida, they were welcomed. However if they were stopped by the US Coast Guard before they touched land they were sent back to Castro.

I went to school with the sons and daughters of Cuban refugees who would smuggle food and medicine back to Cuba during humanitarian family visits. An Advil bottle sewn into a dress, a little Tylenol stitched into some pants etc.. etc..

Everyone says it’s 90 miles from Cuba to the US. Actually it’s 90 miles from the Northern most point of Cuba to Key West, FL. To continental Florida it’s just over 200 miles. 200 miles of open ocean to a time capsule from the 1950s. Godfather II. Hyman Roth. I had to check this place out.

The idea of going to Cuba was born from a meeting in which a major publisher said I should wait 10 years before I traveled out of the country specifically to record music. If you look up “failing upwards” in the dictionary you’d see this guys picture. I generally listen carefully to what these knuckleheads say, then do the exact and total opposite having booked a ticket to Cuba the minute i got home.

The flight from Miami only took 45 minutes and the Cuban border agents were nice and friendly. As an American I was charged $100 for an “instant visa” in addition to a 13% conversion fee on my American Dollars. Good thing I had a bunch of a Euros and Canadian Dollars on hand from earlier in the year. The authorities didn’t have to ask where i was staying or who i was staying with because they already knew. Dictatorships can be efficient!

After a 90 minute car trip from Varadero to Havana I found myself at the Cuban Ministry of Culture. It was an old, sturdy building with a large entrance way and bright courtyards with cool looking sculptures. The good folks there explained since I was American, I’d need clearance from some Government office in Washington DC to work with any “official” recording studio in Havana. This became a mute point since I met some musicians later that night by the Hotel Cohiba that set me up with a recording studio in a Havana apartment.

We recorded for two days straight. I’m happy to say I got exactly what I was looking for in terms of sound and performance. The next couple of days were spent checking out things like historical monuments and art galleries. They definitely had some cool stuff in the art galleries but the paintings and sculptures were too big to carry back to Miami and Los Angeles.

After the first day of recording I ran into the Justin Trudeau (the prime minister of Canada) at the Hotel Cohiba. I hope he wasn’t there to use the wifi since it’s alot cheaper at the hotel Grand Caribe across the street. Surprisingly he didn’t have a huge entourage of security guards so when he walked past I got some great video footage.

A definite highlight of the trip was Lano, the coolest Horn player in Havana. Of course I didn’t have my video camera with me, only my cell phone but I managed to record some video of him playing in the street. He pied-pipered about 10 people to come watch him perform with just a solo trumpet.

It was definitely a fun time, although I’d like to learn Spanish before I head back. Maybe take a camera crew with me?? Lets hope!!