The pleasure principles of adult behavior


Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last week at 70. During his lifetime, he had drawn up a list called Principles of Adult Behavior. They are:

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

Admittedly, Barlow didn’t claim to perfect this list. He used them as a sort of guideline. Kind of Ten Commandment-y, but better.

My favorites (and ones I struggle with): 1, 2, 4, 7, 10 (<—this!), 14, 16(!), 18, 23, and 24.

Number 24, love yourself, is something my therapists likes to impress on me. Self compassion. Self forgiveness. It’s not narcissism, it’s letting go of baggage, or negativity or shame or regret.

Number 10, I’m constantly wrong about everything and anything. I feel like I live in a state of being wrong. And that’s okay.

Number 16. I’ve been meditating on this one. Reduce the use of the personal pronoun. Wow. I I I I I I I I I. I this. I that. I did. I didn’t. Especially in conversation, it reminds you to ask more questions than talk. And when you encounter those assholes who only I as often as the day is long, just enjoy it. Or let ’em. Maybe they need the selfishness. You’ve got real friends to care about you, and they’ll be the ones who actually mean a good goddamn.

 

 

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Terry Crews sings the hits


800px-Terry_Crews_by_Gage_Skidmore_5.jpgAs you may already know, I read Tim Ferriss’ book Tribe of Mentors last month and I have been sharing different quotes I highlighted throughout the book. These come from former football player and actor Terry Crews.

When asked about book recommendations, he answered (emphasis mine):

The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I have read hundreds of personal development books, but this is the one that clearly showed me how to visualize, contemplate, and focus on what it was I truly wanted. It revealed to me that we only get what we desire most, and to apply myself with a laserlike focus upon a goal, task, or project. That in order to “have” you must “do,” and in order to “do” you must “be”—and this process is immediate.

Focus is such a beautiful and evasive concept. I love it. And I hate it.

More below the jump Continue reading

How to fail at being a hater and a lover


The ingredients you need to be critical are laziness, an overactive criticism muscle, a desperate need for acceptance, a buffer between you and the thing or being that you’re criticizing.

Et voila, vous êtes un asshole! 

I’ve battled a haters attitude for too long. It’s not constant. It’s not every day even. But sometimes, I see other photographers work and I pick it apart, like I’m some badass with no blemishes.

Sometimes I do it to other people. What with their stupid religious proclivities or their personality traits that bug. Bug me so much that I have to tell you about it.

Being critical is not always a pejorative. It takes a sharp mind to create, to identify weaknesses and to succeed.

And there’s a form of criticism that is just plain evil. I’m not talking Satan evil. That guy just gets a bad wrap. I mean, the entirety of the Biblical tradition comes from the standpoint that the guy who wrote the sixty six books of the Bible is the greatest, most untouchably perfect hero of all heroes and the little guy in the red suit with a pitchfork is the asshole. I’d like Lucifer to have his day in court. Until then, I don’t trust either of those fellas. It’s just not fair to take a one-sided approach to who’s bad and who’s good? Right?

It’s like thinking Trump is the creator of the universe, he loves you and he sent his son Don Jr. to us through Trump’s first wife to live, die and live again for the sake of eternity. And the only person we’re hearing from that all news organizations are fake are from, well, the creator of the universe.

No no no. I’m talking Ted Bundy evil. Donald Henry Gaskins malevolent. Stephen Paddock rotten. Dylann Roof gnarly. These guys feature(d) one strong idiosyncrasy; you can practically touch their dirty, rotten, evil. If you happened on any one of their crime scenes, you’d know deep down, as the compassionate sentient being you are, that they were evil. And no matter what evil you did, cheated on a mate, lied, stole, defaced property, badmouthed your friends, you still wouldn’t amount to the level of shit that those guys have reached.

For whatever reason, for whenever it started to affect me, for whoever the soul of my being thought, “Man, enough is enough,” that’s how long I’ve been thinking, it’s time to be positive about things. It’s time to fulfill the clichéd prophecy from the bumper sticker engrained in the back of your mind after being stuck in traffic that day: “Be the change you want to be in the world.”

I point my morality and purpose compass at that direction and am aiming this ship toward it.

I read yesterday that “Hate is Fear.”

That means something to me.

Hate is fear.

What I fear, what makes me insecure, what makes my inner being shutter and wince, that’s what I hate. What I fear is other people succeeding while I perceive myself as a failure.

It’s that Failureanitis that gets into the blood stream. It’s a cancer. A brain cancer. And it’s strengthened by boredom, by lack of productivity, by constant self critical examination rather than freedom to self love, give self compassion, and harness artistic endeavor.

Happy Saturday, you azizis.

 

 

 

The paths to artistry are many


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As mentioned, I’m reading Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking.

Reading the book is coinciding with lots of goings on. We’re still doing the Whole30 diet. I’m concentrating on being a positive presence in my world. Maybe just my little bubble. In that vain, I’m reaching out to more people purposefully. In turn, they’re reaching out to me.

Palmer’s book feels a little long at times. Or perhaps I want to get through it faster, and I am not directly connecting with her story at this point in my trips around the sun.

But a quote hit me yesterday that I had to share:

There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to art school, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.

I’ve been mentioning lately that it took me forever to land on the Moon of Artistry, finally jab a flag its surface and declare, “I’m an artist!” Maybe I regret taking so fucking long.

But I got there. So that counts.

Sometimes I think the flag was already sunk in the dirt before I got there, I just pushed it a little further down.

Part of why I dragged my feet was because I thought artistry was unachievable. Musicians and famous painters are artists. Authors of multiple best sellers = artists. Weird people that dress funny are artists.

I create new work almost every day. I get paid to do it. It’s been that way for at least 16 years. Twenty years if you count my freelancing from the beginning.

One day I decided, “It’s time.” And I scribbled on a little blue and white “Hello, my name is:” sticker with the word, “Artist” and I peeled it off the little white part and slapped it on my chest.

I’m handing a “Hello, my name is sticker” to Tina. Time to sign it. Shit or get off … 

Tina and I have worked together since we first met 18 years ago here in Chicago. I pulled her onboard with my company around 2007, and her transition to freelancing with me was scary for her.

She hasn’t been able to identify exactly how she fits into the scenario of our business. Like me, she wears many different hats. In the Adam & Eve since of the word, it angers and belittles her to think of herself as Jeremy’s Support. The Bible calls it a Help Meet. Damn, that pisses her off.

Frequently, I’m seen as “the Photographer” therefore, I’m somehow superior, if only in Tina’s mind. While it’s not a competition, it creates a hierarchy when people say, “What do you do? … Oh, so you assist.”

So you assist. Period. Not question mark.

That’s some bullshit. 

In so many ways, she’s so much more talented than I am. She art directs practically every shoot we do. She also art directs my photo retouching and video editing. I don’t think she realizes how much she does that. But there’s so many times when she makes decisions on video edit or photo delivery that I would never have done personally.

If her hand is in the art, it’s hers, too. Art is, and will always be, collaborative. It’s time for Tina to recognize her role in that level of the partnership.

She’s amazing with people. That alone is an art. She manages business for our company and stuck by her guns when people tried to undercut us or attempt to negotiate lower rates.

She’s got an eye for design and fashion. She has a distinct vision. Every time I turn around, she’s studying some magazine spread, watching a documentary on fashion, or staring at interiors on the internet.  While I would spent every last dime on new gear, she would spent every last dime re-desiging our home.

She’s even more amazing with me. When she see me fighting a light on set, and the client is standing near by, she’s a magician of distraction. When I break something or, just the other day, I plugged in a cord that didn’t belong in a light and it blew my flash tube, smoke bellowed out everywhere from the face of my light, she immediately goes into rescue the situation mode. I love that.

At some point, we have to say, “Damn, Tina, you’re not the support system. You own this company. You have a vision and an artistic eye. You make it what it is. Without you, we do not exist.”

I’ve been meditating on it, and I feel like between owning our company and being a creative force on it, we are blinded by a form of ignorance. There are major roles in business and art that she’s fulfilling on a daily basis.

If I had to give her a title or titles now, I would say that first we’re equal partners in our company. Second, I would call her Art Director. She manages the look and feel of almost everything we do, from style and function of a film to the look and design of a set. And thirdly, she could own the title Producer or even Executive Producer. Producers are, quite possibly, an instrumental and integral part of any photo shoot or video production. Without them, it would be absolute chaos.

She, like me, wears many hats. At one point she is wielding a camera taking photos. Then she’s shooting behind the scenes video. Then she’s consulting the client on where to put the chair, what flowers to add or remove from a scene, what books to put in or take out, etc. etc. etc. etc.

A photography and film company is not all glitz. While we do a lot of photo shoots and film production, there’s a bunch of non-creative stuff involved. Just like I couldn’t call myself an artist for so long, we are having trouble calling ourselves, say, an agency. Or something more than a photography studio. Our talents extend only as far as the fence we build around our capabilities.

I look forward to how Tina’s search for her identity unfolds, literally right before us. I feel it’s only a matter of time before she reaches

Show your work, you big dork!


 

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 8.22.25 AM.pngThe last couple of days, I read and finished a book by Austin Kleon called Show Your Work! 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered.

The only thing I read when I borrowed the ebook from my local public library was “Show Your Work.” The little subtitle about getting discovered didn’t appeal to me.

But as I sit here self deprecating about borrowing a book about getting discovered, which seems very “sell-out-y” to me, I think, “So what?”

It’s a fast read. And if you read it, it’s an encouragement to basically either do what you’re already doing or to maybe do more of what you’re already doing.

It encourages you to chip away at your own art. To share something every day. To start documenting your own process and when you’re ready, share that. These are things I already try to do.

He presents the idea of hanging with like-minded people from an idea stemming from Brian Eno’s concept called, “Scenius.” It’s a derivative (in a way) of “Genius”. It’s basically the idea that if you are associating and hanging with artists, you’ll pass ideas, steal from each other, do more and essentially succeed at creation because of the ricocheting encouragement.

I should remind everyone that “genius” is comes from the Latin verb genui, genitus, “to bring into being, create, produce”, as well as to the Greek word for birth.[4]

So any time you’re creating, you’re practicing the art of genius. And, I feel at the moment, even though I scoff at people who I think are hacks and they’re creating their asses off … they are creating their asses off … so get out there and do it too!

There were two quotes or moments in the book that gave me the holy shits!

One was from the author Annie Dillard, who writes a lot of religious oriented books that my mom and sister read. One of my first production jobs ever was that I interned for this videographer who interviewed Anne Graham Lott about writer Annie Dillard.

The quote I took from this book was:

“The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

BAM! POW! ZING!

Isn’t that nuts?

I completely whole heartedly agree with that quote. And it makes me want to go out and create something now. It makes me want to help someone else. It makes me want to be better. Work harder. Be more productive.

The second quote I wanted to share is a passage from the book:

People need to eat and pay the rent. “An amateur is an artist who supports himself with outside jobs which enable him to paint,” said artist Ben Shahn. “A professional is someone whose wife works to enable him to paint.” Whether an artist makes money off his work or not, money has to come from somewhere, be it a day job, a wealthy spouse, a trust fund, an arts grant, or a patron.

This quote means a lot to me. Because over the past 20 years of my career, I’ve had jobs I hate. I have had to supply my own art with capital from jobs. At first, I worked for the man. I had two “big-boy” jobs. One was for a newspaper and the other as a graphic designer for a large trade show producer.

Then I went on my own in 2002. But for the majority of my career, I’ve had to make a transition from supplying my own capital to create my own work. Fortunately, the past five years or so, I’ve made the transition to — let’s say — 80% exactly what I want to do and around 20% what I need to do to supply my passion, which is interiors and architecture as well as making cool videos.

The struggle as an artist is how much do you talk about, promote, show work from your (my) other jobs? Those jobs have contributed to my whole being?

But over the past few years, I’ve basically hid the fact that I shoot events. I shoot less and less of them per year. But I still use them as a means to an end.

Secrecy, I’ve found, is destructive behavior.

But if Tina were working to help me do my art, I’d have to admit it. If I took out a loan, to pursue my passion, I might have to admit it. But if I do work that I don’t want to do, hide it?

It’s still a conundrum, but I’m starting to think, why hide who I am? Why?

Any advice you have, I’m all ears.

From zero to light speed


Star Wars IV came out in May of 1977. I was a little over a year and a half.

It came on HBO when I was five, and my mom subscribed to cable around that time and that’s when we — my brother and I — watched Star Wars just shy of 8 billion times.

When Empire came out in 1980, I’m not sure how, but I’m pretty sure our parents took us to see it in the theater. I was five. Our imaginations soared. We were buying the toys and the figurines as fast as we could.

In ’83, Return of the Jedi came out, and I was old enough to see it alone with a friend. I saw it before my brother. And I was DYING to give away the secrets.

Then we all sat around and waited for the next series to come out. The Prequels. Which, in all honesty, I happened to like. Well, I enjoyed large parts of I and II. Number III was neither here nor there.

So many hated it.

Then we had to wait for these new ones to come out. But the galaxy has turned on its head and we’ve got Star Wars movies releasing everywhere like a family with the diarrhea vomits. They are frequent and everywhere!

Barf.

But it’s good!

I really didn’t LOVE Rogue One. I enjoyed it. But this Solo movie, I think I’m going to enjoy.

Full disclosure, I was “too busy” when the Last Jedi came out, so I haven’t even seen it yet. I didn’t want to feel rushed or cheated by anxiety when I saw it. So I’m waiting for it to release via Amazon or whatever streaming option. That’s okay. I’d rather watch it on my little screen and savor it, than any other option.

Enjoy the trailer and the thrills!

 

Is there a good time for your refrigerator to die?


On Sunday morning, I woke up, zombie walked into the kitchen and could hear the refrigerator straining a little harder to keep itself cool.

I walked closer, thought, “Something is wrong.” I double checked the doors. They seemed to be shut. So I thought, crisis averted.

I peered back into the door and up at the temperature reading, and it was in the high 40s. It’s supposed to read 37 or so.

The freezer was reading well into the 30s. This sucks!

“Somebody left the door open. Probably Tina! And now we’re screwed!” I thought. Obviously the only culprit in the house for leaving open the door is her. But all will be okay, now.

So I went about my routine. Brewed a French Press of coffee. Did my morning mediation and stretch. Followed that with a warm cup of coffee and my journaling session. Mentally prepared for my Sunday work out.

Throughout the day, the refrigerator didn’t cool down. The temperatures rose. The ice melted. Everything defrosted. All our fridge items were souring. Not only is this bad timing in general, but we’re on the Whole30 diet which centers itself around pre-preparing parts or entire meals, so our entire freezer and fridge are dedicated to Whole30 success.

Around 8:30 that night, we panicked.

“Our refrigerator is dead. We need a new one. Our whole30 is at stake!” We exclaimed in bizarre unison.

Before bed, I filled drawers with snow from our porch and put in some of our more delicate groceries. I left as much as I could on the porch to freeze in the 10 degree temps.

In bed, we ordered a new $2000 refrigerator from Home Depot. The earliest delivery was Thursday or Friday. We chose Friday because we had an interiors job on Thursday. Tina had one of those “I’m a psychic. Thursday will postpone. I just know it.” I doubted her. “We can’t bank on your special powers of intuition.” So we went with Friday (a full five nights away!).

I’m a skeptic and she’s the damn goddess of prediction. 

Monday morning, our nightmare was still reality. We got a text that our thursday job postponed (Tina did the “I was right!” dance). I called my dad to ask him for advice. “Should I call a repairman or do you think this thing is dead?”

“If you can get it repaired,” he said, ” You could get another few years of life out of the thing, and not spend $1500 or more bucks, the better…”

I couldn’t help but feel guilty about throwing a 500lb piece of Millennium Falcon junk out because it happened to stop working and might be fixable. Tina and I went back and forth and thought, “This thing has been on the fritz. It’s dead. No dice. Let’s buy a new one.”

NEW STUFF IS FUN!

Tina went online to find a retailer with an earlier delivery date. I jumped in the car to pick up our studio mini fridge to use in the interim and run some other errands.

A text showed up while I was out that said, “I think the refrigerator is cooling off again. Am I crazy?”

I called. Sure enough, we were looking at the rough, metallic equivalent of a technological resurrection. Our fridge was Jesus’ing a Lazarus. Or vice versa.

It looks like we had  left a door open and it froze up its coils. The fridge shut itself down for 24 hours to thaw.

So for about 24 hours, Tina and I wasted a bunch of time troubleshooting a broken fridge that wasn’t broken. We’d like to thank the academy for our performance of freaking out. And for all your support during this time of stress and need, we appreciated your incessant prayers and positive vibes.

Oh, you didn’t send prayers? that’s weird. How did this fridge start working again, then?

What kind of Twilight Zone do we live in!?!