Friday, August 9, 2013

I'm 36 years old. Here's some thoughts of stuff I have learned thus far....

1. There's nothing advantageous to self-flagellation

2. Boredom is caused by many things, but it isn't what you are doing with your time, whatever that is.

3. People come and go in your life and that's OK.

4. It's fine to be angry. Just use that energy productively and let it go.

5. Failing is more important than success if something is learned.

6. My time on Earth is limited and I'd rather enjoy myself with anything I'm doing, rather than
worrying about the future.

7. I'm through with being cool (DEVO!) and it's a waste of time because what is cool is always changing.

8. Being generous feels good.

9. Not a single person can provide you with an answer to any problem, most of the time.

10. Sleep is the best. Too much of it though is a bad thing.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Another Daddy post

When I lived in NYC, I was a member of an upscale gym. I assure you this was not because I was rolling in cheese, but because I had this thing called "benefits" that came along with my job at the time. Upon registering my name there, they asked if I was "Michael Maslansky", or someone related. For a second I shuddered: it was as if I was in the twilight zone. That was my father's name and he has been dead for over 10 years. Maslansky is a very rare name and for a second I entertained the idea that my father was a member of this gym in the 1970s.  But being that he was about as athletically inclined as a fire hydrant, I quickly dismissed that notion and assented to the idea there was another Michael Maslansky out there. It turns out, it was this guy (see video). I found out later he is indeed a family member, but distantly. I tried emailing him on twitter, but received no reply. He's apparently an expert at communications, but not so much when the son of his long-dead doppleganger comes knocking?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An incomplete Thought

My late father, in the late 1970's, in a checkered NYC cab, with his nose broken. It's bleeding on his designer suit and he's angry at the driver.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another another 9/11 post

In July I was in NY for an old friend's wedding. The ceremony was to take place upstate. Like Voltron, all the boys from the old clique gathered together in NYC, and got in a van to drive there.
Those hours in the van were naturally filled with hilarious time-filling chatter. One idea, I pitched to the group, was to write a book entitled "What About Me? The Silver Lining of 9/11". Unlike my previous post, it would not contain ruminations about life or the military industrial complex, or how the human spirit shone through the WTC dust. It would be more of the selfish, Larry David variety: how a terrible thing can work in your favor. I had experienced that very thing on 9/11. Before the book idea popped in my head in the van, I told them a story of how on the night 9/11 I was supposed to play drums with a band called Million.
We were going to headline that night at the now defunct Brownies venue in the East Village.

I had joined Million simply out of the need to do something creative. I had the repugnant, golden handcuff job, but no creative outlet. I had not yet decided (or felt brave enough?) to fully reboot my art studio practice. I was still lost in the cloudy haze of post-undergrad adolescence. Since I had played a lot of drums in high school and college, it seemed to be the logical choice, given that I 'auditioned' for the group and 'passed' with flying colors.

After a number of practices, however, it dawned on me that I was not a very good drummer. I think I had the technical framework and experience to become one with determination, but by the time our show was set on 9/11, this determination had yet to fruit. I could not, for the life of me, remember how many bars I had to play in the long, Stereolab-eque grooves, or when the changes came. I also tended to 'drag' the beat. This key skill makes the work of "unflashy" drummers like the Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts deceptively simple. In order to avoid dragging, a drummer has to have an unerring, in-built metronome. Despite my years of experience, I was never committed enough to find it. Without this skill, I was essentially a sitting duck in a live performance. I was simply too fearful to remember anything. There were practices I would nail it effortlessly, but many others in which I felt like my instincts had been wiped clean. Thus, it naturally follows that when my band mate Jameson called to tell me on the night of 9/11 that our 'big', 'headlining' gig had been cancelled, and that all of the band's followers, and local music scenesters would be denied the opportunity to see us alight the stage, I was SO FUCKING HAPPY!

I felt like an inevitable, public embarrassment had been thwarted by the Axis of evil and that in some fucked up way, God or whatever entity saved me by causing the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history. On 9/11 I was holding two extreme poles in my mind simultaneously: "THANK GOD!" and "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS GOD"?

9/11, of course, was terrible. It was my generations's Pearl Harbor. It led to countless deaths of innocent peoples in the ensuing years and drained our economy. It led to the airport being more annoying, and to unnecessary, racist 'background checks'. It caused infinite heartbreak for countless families who lost someone that day, including my own mother, who had a friend on the first plane that hit the WTC, who I had known since I was a child, and whose death had orphaned her own children. But 9/11 also saved me. It saved me from a public embarrassment. So I pervertedly thank 9/11.

Million and I played a final show about a month later at another venue. As predicted, I could not remember anything, let alone hear my band mates' instruments due to bad PA systems. It was a terrible show. The band broke up a day later. I never played music again.

Setbacks make us stronger in life. I probably would have gotten over that public embarrassment eventually, if 9/11 never happened. But when you somehow are saved from an inevitable disaster, it's hard to not thank something out there for making it happen, even when knowing your own self-interest is a microbe compared to how it affects the rest of the world.

Another 9/11 post

I can't believe I'm posting about 9/11. Unlike most other days in my life, though, I can remember it well, which is sort of an executive excuse to write about it.

It had been just over a year since I had moved to NYC from Los Angeles. I had been working at HarperCollins Publishers for a little less than that. I was 25 years old and was already a jaded New Yorker—and then some. I hated my job, felt little connection with my co-workers, and had just excised myself from a collective of college friends, having lived with them in a dank warehouse in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I opted instead to live in a proper apartment with an affable pothead acquaintance, at least 10 years my senior, in Astoria Queens.

My office was an negatively exotic place. It was very corporate and beige and entailed endless meetings that felt like public floggings. And almost everyone was older by at least 10 years. I was hired as a design assistant for children's books and as the office's 'on call' computer tech. I knew next to nothing about computers. It had been a humiliating and rough first year, surviving a co-worker's plot to get me fired, among other indignities. Thankfully my boss was indifferent to my ineptitude and took my bumbling efforts to be charming, if frustrating, to the rest.

The vindictive co-worker had just quit not long before the planes hit, but on that morning I had arrived to work with the exhausted, beaten spirit of a skinny pup, as the improvements of my life had yet to take hold.

The first plane must have hit on my walk from the train to the 6th floor. When I got through the glass doors, a few people were gathered around the conference room TV, watching the footage of a gaping hole in the WTC tower. Without question, I assumed an idiot had crashed a small propeller plane into it. In the grand narrative of NY, it seemed like a "Whoops" kind of moment and I proceeded to my office to work on my breakfast. More people gathered around the TV. Having finished my breakfast, and having nothing else to do, I joined in. About two minutes later, the other plane hit on live television. Hushed gasps enveloped the room. It was at that moment we all knew.
Then, the news cut to the Pentagon. Then, the crash site in Pennsylvania. I felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone.

Until the first building collapsed, the possibility of that happening seemed impossible. Modern man, (Americans!) could not build something like that and let it fall. It sounds creepily jingoistic to say that, but it must have been my core belief, because when the building did go down, I immediately intuited that our world was never to be the same again. It was as if a heroin-soaked gauze was ripped from my eyeballs. My life seemed stable only occasionally, but until that day, at least those buildings would always be.

Security announced that we should all leave, but would have to go by foot, since all the subways had closed. I walked 7 miles home, over the Queens Bridge with a co-worker I did not know that well yet. I don't remember talking much on our long walk back to Queens, but I remember her awkwardly breaking the silence here and there by remarking on the obvious: "This is surreal". And boy, it was. Thousands of NYC'ers, some covered head to toe in soot and dust, were trudging home together, smoke billowing from lower Manhattan. I occasionally stopped to take pictures.

Out of some kind of determination for things to be 'normal'. I went to work the next day, even though most did not. On the way to work, the train made a very sudden jerky stop. Everyone in the car gasped and clutched their chests. It had been the everyday jerky stop and the train quickly moved on. Everyone in the train laughed uncomfortably and breathed again.
Never before had I felt so embedded in a collective emotion. It felt good, even if I knew the world would not be the same, or that the gravitas of this moment might not repeat itself, for better or worse.