Wake Up Time

It's been almost a year since my last post here. A lot has changed, not only in my life but in this country. I'm not writing to update about all the things I've done in the past year, I'll save that for another time. But the events of yesterday have left me with a heavy heart and I can't help but to take a moment to reflect. 

Just over a week ago, I returned from my trip to Italy. A place I've dreamed of going for as long as I can remember. I was surrounded by family and loved ones and felt so far removed from the craziness of not only this country, but the world. It was a little bit of heaven, and certainly a trip I will never forget. But the high from Italy didn't last long as the events of yesterday quickly reminded me of the realities of the world we live in. 

Music has always been my life. It's the one thing that has lifted me and and at the same time kept me grounded. There's nothing like it. I worked in the industry for a long time. I've seen thousands of shows and met probably even more people. My heart breaks not only for the attendees of the concert, but also the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to make these concerts happen. This should be a place of happiness and love, not fear and hate. And on top of the tragic events in Las Vegas, we lost one of the great ambassadors of music. I man who believed that music should be just those things. There was no one like Tom Petty. And any time I hear him it immediately brings me back to my childhood and remembering that feeling of coming into my own. 

I don't have all the answers, and anyone who says they do is probably just lying. Yes, we need gun reform in this county. Yes, we have a narcissistic, incompetent fuckhead as a president. But beyond the obvious discussions that need to take place, the events of yesterday just serve as a reminder to tell the people you love just how much you love them. Life is short. Never take anyone or anything for granted. 

Mike

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Why I Don't Vote

Today marks the 57th Presidential Election in the history of the United States. And as I sit here drinking my coffee this morning trying to avoid the likes of social media, all I can think about it how much I just want this day to be over. After months and months of a bludgeoning campaign season, I’m left here feeling tired, frustrated, betrayed, and embarrassed about where we are as a country. How did we end up here? Where do we even go from here? This is the third election in which I have been old enough to participate in, as well as the third election in which I have not voted. And this election, more so than any that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, demonstrates exactly why I don’t exercise my right to vote. I usually try to avoid any conversation about politics because we live in a world now where those who preach inclusion and understanding, are the first ones to jump down your throat if your viewpoint differs from theirs. Believe in whatever you want to believe, but please don’t try to lecture me on your misguided politics or tell me that I’m just throwing my vote away.

To be chosen as the leader of the free world is the highest honor that any American citizen can have. But we’ve diminished this great honor and made a mockery of the process by turning the Presidential Election into a reality TV show. One based on ratings, fiction, fear and hate. I can’t tell you exactly how we got to this point, but the illusion of choice is so laughable, that we’re now left with two people who are so obsessed with power, money, and their own legacy in the history books, that they put aside any sort of descent human empathy or compassion. This campaign has brought out the worst in so many people and divided the country even further.

I’ll live with whatever decision is handed down to me by the powers that be and won’t complain on way or the other. Because the reality is I’ve traveled all over the world, and this is by far the greatest country in which you could ever live in. Every day, people from all walks of life, from different countries and religious beliefs sacrifice everything they have just for a chance to come to this country and make a life. This is truly the place where you can be anything you want. The American dream is alive and well, even if it may be a little misguided and skewed.

I hope that one day I get to experience a revolution; led by the people for the people. But if that day does ever come, the revolution won’t be televised. It’ll be in the hearts of people who truly want to make this world a better place. I just hope we haven’t gone too far off the cliff by then.

Artwork by Rolland Berry

Artwork by Rolland Berry

Mike

The Paradox of Marfa

I traveled to Marfa, TX a little over a month ago now and since then have tried my best to articulate my experience. I wrote the piece below and was initially published last week over at Vulkan Magazine.

When you mention Marfa, Texas to someone, the response usually tends to be one of two things. Either they’ve never heard of the town, or it tops their list of destinations to visit. For the past few years now, I’ve found myself in the latter group. I’d heard wonderful stories from friends who had ventured there, and read countless articles articulating every detail about the cultural oasis in the middle of nowhere. But for those of you who fall into the first category and have no idea where I’m talking about, Marfa is a quiet town situated in the high desert of West Texas, in an area known as Trans-Pecos. It’s three hours away from the closest airport and has a population that hovers right around 2,000. Marfa gained its notoriety in the 70s, when minimalist artist Donald Judd exited the bustling streets of New York City to permanently set up shop in the desert landscape. Judd eventually ended up purchasing over 60,000 acres of land, where his work would be on permanent display. Since then, the town has continued to grow and attract creative individuals, as well as cultured city dwellers looking to escape and just slow down for a bit.

From what I had gathered, Marfa seemed like a place that was too good to be true – a place that wasn’t concerned with modern society or trends and filled with all sorts of creative individuals. A place so uniquely its own that it had to be experienced to be understood. As I dug deeper and deeper, I hoped that going to Marfa would some how help me find something in myself, or gain understanding in some way. I wanted to have an experience. But buried within my excitement was the fear that this magical place had already hit its peak, and the town, already exposed to too much outside influence. With all the publicity and fame that Marfa has garnered, I worried that it had become a place bombarded by annoying hipsters trying to out hipster each other, families popping in on their way to Big Bend, and tourists taking pictures of Prada Marfa just so they could post them on Instagram. The town has become so well known now, that in the past few years, even big name celebrities like Beyonce and Robert Pattinson have vacationed there. I’m not from Marfa, or even the state of Texas, which does in fact, make me an outsider, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something in this town that would resonate with me. Something that felt as if it had always been there for me. After talking about it for years, I finally decided to make the trip and discover Marfa for myself.

My girlfriend and I decided to drive from Los Angeles and turn it into a good old-fashioned road trip. After hitting El Paso, which is the closest city to Marfa, it’s about 3 more hours of nothingness until you reach town. We took the I-10 West and then picked up Route 90 at Van Horn. From there, it’s another hour on an empty two-lane road, which takes you right into the heart of Marfa. Driving in, the first thing you’ll see is arguably the most popular attraction, Prada Marfa, which technically isn’t even located in Marfa, but a tiny town called Valentine about 25 minutes northwest. Sculpture artists Elmgreen and Dragset permanently installed the storefront building in 2005. The nonprofit Ballroom Marfa curates the exhibit, which is filled with actual pieces hand-picked by Miuccia Prada herself, from the fall/winter 2005 collection. Yes, like any other good tourists we took dozens of pictures here. There’s something magical about seeing the element of high fashion placed in the barren desert. It’s the perfect backdrop. There’s nothing out here. Just dirt, cows, and a rickety old train that passes by every so often.

Driving into town, the speed limit abruptly drops from 80 to 35, as it does in many parts of Texas, and Route 90 then turns into San Antonio Street. As you enter into Marfa, the Thunderbird Hotel sets the tone. Originally built in 1959, it’s an old school hotel that’s been reinvigorated to meet the needs of the modern traveler. It seemed like a jazzed up place, but we didn’t stay there, so I honestly can’t say much about it. As you continue down San Antonio, you’ll run into the main intersection and the only stop light in town. Drive 3 minutes in any direction and you’ll no longer be in Marfa. The town is that small. We made a right hand turn on Highland, and in less than a quarter of a mile we found our place of residence for the next few days…El Cosmico.

Aside from Prada Marfa, El Cosmico may be the second most well known destination in Marfa. The boutique campground is owned and operated by the Bunk House Group, which owns a number of properties throughout Texas. Spread out over the 8 acres of land is a number of trailers, yurts, teepees, and tents. There’s even space where you can pitch your own tent. The grounds are also home to the Trans-Pecos Festival, which is now in its 11th year and has grown substantially since its humble beginning. We opted to stay in a tent while we were there, as it was the cheapest option, but we were roughing it by no means. Many would call this “glamping.” The office was appropriately designed and featured free wifi, plenty of Texas and craft beers, and a store with an assortment of overpriced, perfectly curated knickknacks. There was a communal kitchen on the grounds, as well as 2 sets of outdoor showers/bathrooms that were absolutely wonderful. There’s nothing quite like sex under the stars in an outdoor shower. To my surprise, most of our camping neighbors were young couples from Austin away for the weekend, or families passing through, their little kids running around. This is typically a “slower” time of the year for Marfa, particularly during the beginning of the week, which is when we happened to be there.

Having never stepped foot in Marfa, I imagined that venturing into town would find us running into cowboys wearing worn down leather boots and riding horses, or eclectic and eccentric personalities donning handlebar mustaches and high-waisted trousers. But to my surprise, both of those archetypes were pretty much non-existent. What I did find were groups of old people with fanny packs around their waists and random people passing through who had heard from a friend that they should check out the funky little town. The town is so small that we kept running into the same families that were camping next to us. All of this made me feel as if my fears about Marfa were true. How could some stiff from the suburbs know about this wonderful town full of art and design? How could these little kids possibly appreciate the pace of this place? Why is everyone here on their damn phones? I was frustrated in some ways, but I felt as if there was still more to uncover.

We spent a day just riding bikes from one end of town to the other, exploring everything we could. We saw high-end hotels next to abandoned buildings. There were silos for storing grain and bulk materials down the street from galleries storing fine art. We discovered hidden works and messages in the oddest locations. We met locals who have spent their entire lives in the town. I found that there’s a certain charm to Marfa that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. Sure, getting off the grid for a bit is always nice, and the fresh air is always a welcomed joy to my lungs. And of course, the people who have been in a town forever always have a way of making you feel welcomed, but that wasn’t quite all of it. One of the first things I said was how much I felt like this could be some little town in a movie. I found out later that Hollywood has actually had a love affair with Marfa since the 1950s. The last film that James Dean made before he died was filmed there, as well No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Marfa has a way of feeling like a place you know so well, even if you’ve never been there.

You can read countless articles that describe every detail in Marfa, including where to eat and which galleries are the best. You can talk to plenty of people who have been through town and know it like the back of their hand. But at the end of the day, Marfa is a place that you just have to experience for yourself. I thought it would be some Mecca for creative individuals – a place where you could have some sort of existential experience or find profound meaning. But that’s not what I found there. Maybe it can be that. It can also be a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere filled with over priced restaurants, tourists, hipsters, and anyone else looking for something a little different. But if you dig deep enough, it really can be whatever you want it to be, and that’s the beauty of Marfa. Somewhere along the way, I realized it’s a place that existed long before James Dean and Donald Judd and it will continue to exist long after the hipsters and celebrities stop retreating there. Marfa doesn’t care what your agenda is. It’s a town that’s uninterested in who you are or what you’re doing. It’s like the girl that doesn’t pay any attention to you no matter how hard you try; and somehow that makes you want her even more. Marfa feels like it’s a place of your own, but you can’t quite have it. You can only hope that maybe she gives you a glance along the way.

Mike

Meat Loaf, Voodoo, and The Sazerac

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road. I’m certainly no truck driver, but I’ve made my mark all over this land, weather it was touring with pop punk bands as a teenager, moving across country, exploring with friends, or just simply getting out of town for a good old fashioned road trip. I believe my state tally is now up to 44 out of 50. I think it’s possible to spend multiple lifetimes traveling this country and still not see all that it has to offer, but I’m certainly trying to make a dent. I’ve gotten to the point now whenever I head out and venture on the road, I have my favorite cities and places I like to stop, and the things that I love to do when in those places. We’re very much creatures of habit, and even my travels now represent that.

Following our stop in West Texas, we continued to venture east to Austin and eventually ending up in New Orleans. Austin is a town that I love to visit, one that many years ago I thought about setting up roots in, but ultimately decided against it. There was a moment when I had a lot of friends, very close friends at that, who lived in Austin. But time has a way or changing all of that, and many of those friends are no longer there or we’ve now simply lost touch. However, the places that I’ve grown to love in Austin over the years are still there, and almost like clockwork I feel back into my routine. Breakfast at Magnolia on South Congress, lunch at Whole Foods, and of course then running across the street to check out records at Waterloo. What did surprise me about this trip was that even in the midst of doing what I always do and hitting my spots, I found new experiences and adventures. And that’s what makes me fall in love with the road again and again. While we were at Waterloo Records, I saw a sign on the door that said Meat Loaf was going to be in visiting the store for a signing. After looking around and noticing a small line forming, I realized that it was the very afternoon we were there. We had been jamming meat tunes all throughout the trip, so we had to stick around and say hello. He told Lauren to “go get in some trouble” and of course we had to oblige. Our 36 hour stop in Austin then included getting tattoos at Rock Of Ages (thanks Donnie), dinner at Salt Lick (best BBQ in the land), and more bars, hot dogs and bands than we could count. As if we didn’t already cram enough into our Austin trip already, we had to stop by The Cloak Room, a bar that some friends had told me about. People might describe it as a “speakeasy”, but it’s much more that than. The bar has been around since the 70s and is situated in a non-discrete basement, just steps from the Capitol building. It’s dimly lit and cozy in a certain type of way and the first thing you’ll notice is Beverly or “Bev” working the bar. She’s been there since the late 80s and still rocking the same hairstyle since that time. She’s the sort of character that you hear stories about but now seem to be a dying breed. She makes the bar. Pop in there, order a drink, and you’ll see what I mean. Just don’t order anything with more than 3 ingredients.

After our way-too-short stop in Austin, we packed up our rental Nissan and made our final drive east on the I-10 to New Orleans. Summertime in the south wouldn’t be complete without a few scattered thunderstorms, but for the most part it was hot and sticky. I think New Orleans may be my favorite city in America and I could write on and on about why. We stayed in the warehouse district and spent the majority of our time eating and drinking our way through the French Quarter. If you even happen to be in New Orleans, my “must hit” bar recommendations would include The Sazerac Bar, Tujague’s, Pat O’Brien’s, Old Absinthe House, Lafitte In Exile, and Blacksmith Shop Bar. Aside from hitting all the great bars, we rounded out our trip with a ride on the Steamboat Natchez, visiting the Louisiana Museum and Katrina Exhibit, late night eats at Clover Grill, jazz on Frenchman Street, Satchmo Festival, Muffuletta sandwiches, and something I’ve always wanted to do in New Orleans, a show at Preservation Hall. This historic room, a room with no air conditioning and about the size of your living room, has been sacred ground for jazz musicians all over the world. We caught the last show of the night, a show that featured the Preservation Hall Jazz Band All Stars. I can’t quite fully describe in words what it was like to be in that room, but it was some of the most beautiful sounds my ears have ever heard. If you’re ever in New Orleans, take the time to catch a show at Preservation Hall.

Back in Los Angeles now, the last week seems almost like a distant memory. We crammed 2,000 miles, 3 cities, countless deserts, and more hot dogs than I’d like to admit into one heck of a trip. I enjoy writing about the places I’ve been because no matter how many times I go back, I always seem to find new experiences there and that’s an amazing thing to me. So here are some photos from the trip. Maybe they’ll inspire someone else to make a trip of their own.

Mike

 

 

 

24 Hours East, in the Dunes with Shai Hulud

Almost a year ago to the day, I set off on a cross-country trip from Los Angeles to Pennsylvania, trying to get my fill of the road. It was one of those existential, “try to find myself again” trips, which as at the time was very necessary. What I was looking for, I was not quite sure, but I had grown tired of the collective bullshit that is inescapable living in Los Angeles, and of an industry that has its head so far up its ass that they all proudly wear the smell as a cologne. The trip itself ended up being fruitful for a lot of reasons. I met some amazing new people and created lifelong friends, as well as catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in years. Did I ultimately find what I was looking for? I can’t quite answer that, but for me, being on the road somehow has a way of rejuvenating my soul. I can never fully describe it, only smile in full content as I follow the hum of the pavement.

So a year later, I set off on another road trip, albeit under much different circumstances. I’m in a much better place mentally and financially. And this time I have a traveling companion (not 9 years old or the child of my first marriage). But the sprit of needing to get out and get back to what I love doing is still very much alive. I’m excited for this trip because I’m hitting some of my favorite spots, as well as some new ones that I’ve been dying to get to.

We took off Sunday night with plans to drive straight to New Mexico. Our first destination was White Sands National Monument. It’s a place I had no idea existed until about two months ago, but once I heard about it we had to make a stop. White Sands is located about 45 minutes northeast of Las Cruces, New Mexico. It’s the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. Basically, millions of years ago this area was a shallow salt-water basin. After the waters receded and evaporated, these gypsum pillars were left standing. Over the years the gypsum broke down, and created these wave-like dunes of sand that have engulfed 275 square miles of desert. It’s absolutely incredible to see, and no picture could ever do it justice. In the middle of this barren desert, all you can see for miles is beautiful white sand dunes. The sand is warm and soft for the most part, nicer than almost any beach I’ve been to. Standing on a dune, you almost feel as if you’re the only person on earth. It’s almost uncomfortable how quiet it is, with only the wind to keep your ears company. It truly serves as a reminder of just how random and beautiful this earth is. If you are anywhere near southern New Mexico, the park is a must see.

After leaving White Sands National Monument we made our way south to Marfa, TX, which is where we currently reside. I feel like this town needs a separate post in its own to explore everything that the town is and isn’t. But the first 24 hours were as good as anyone could ask for and I’m sure there’s only more to come. For now, I’m going to sit on a porch outside, drink a Lone Star, and enjoy the west Texas evening.

 

Mike

 

Contributing to Vulkan

In my constant quest for new and exiting creative outlets, my friends over at Vulkan have allowed me to contribute to their fantastic magazine as a writer. Vulkan is anchored in the fashion world, but as the magazine continues to grow and branch out, I'm excited to be a part of that growth. I thoroughly enjoy talking to people and figuring out what makes them tick.

The first two pieces I wrote for the magazine were just realized. The first being a piece I did on my friend and artist, Bryce Vine. And the second on the actor Charlie Webber. Below are link to the magazine if you'd like to check them out. Be on the lookout for more from Vulkan. (www.vulkanmagazine.com)

 

Bryce Vine

Photographed by Monica Baddar

http://www.vulkanmagazine.com/who-the-f-is-bryce-vine/

 

Charlie Weber

Photographed by MadPics

http://www.vulkanmagazine.com/charlie-weber-by-madpics/

Cute Without the "E"

I posted this for some friends and thought I would share it here. Music has always been a big part of my life. I'm sure there are others out there who share my same sentiments.

In the past month I've seen Poison The Well, Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Saosin, and Brand New. 5 bands that got me into the music scene as a kid and have now been listening to for 15 years. Looking back, I guess I never thought these bands would still be around when I was signing along and head-walking all those years ago. But now as a 30 year old idiot, who's been on TV and constantly prances around in his underwear, I feel lucky to have been part of a scene that somehow stood the test of time. I think in a way it's helped shape who I am today. So here's a proper Cali Mike throwback.

"Never too old, never too young. For moshing it up, and signing along"

Mike

Summertime Reads

Growing up, the only way you could get me to open up a book was if it earned me a few points with the Pizza Hut Book It program. But that was then. These days there’s nothing quite like cracking open a book on a nice summer day and digging in. So for any avid readers out there, here’s my list of summer reads.

 

Scale  by Keith Buckley

Keith Buckley is the lead singer of the band Every Time I Die. The metalcore/rock outfit has been one of my favorite bands for the past 15 years and Buckley, one of my favorite lyricists. He has a unique grasp on the language and given his vernacular, you can tell he studied English while in college. With his songs, Buckley creates a world where the underdog strives and savagery rules. And in his first novel, this sort of chaos exists as well. Scale chronicles the dysfunctional life of Ray Goldman, a 31-year-old indie rock musician as he searches for truth and happiness. The book is loosely based off of events in Buckley’s life and is a must read for any music fan, and those who seek the human existence.

 

But What If We’re Wrong: Thinking about the Present as if it were the Past  by Chuck Klosterman

I got introduced to the writing of Chuck Klosterman during his days with Spin and GQ. Although he can certainly be that pompous rock critic at times, Klosterman’s columns and essays always have always had a unique perspective on music, but it’s his take on pop culture that made him stand apart. But What If We’re Wrong is Klosterman’s newest book and is a take on our current world and how those in the future will perceive it. The book is built on interviews with a variety of creative thinkers including David Byrne, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Junot Díaz, Amanda Petrusich, Ryan Adams, Nick Bostrom, Dan Carlin, and Richard Linklater, and of course is intermitted with Klosterman’s unique humor and perspective.

 

On The Road  by Jack Kerouac

On The Road has become one of those cult classic books, one that people either love or have oddly somehow never even heard about. The book, originally published in 1957, unwillingly launched Kerouac into fame as the unabashed leader of the beat and counterculture generations. It’s based off the life of Kerouac and his friends as they travel across America. Anyone who’s ever longed for more out of life, to explore the unknown, or just wanted to hit the open road for an adventure can relate to the book. Kerouac’s style is frantic and chaotic; fueled by copious amounts of booze and drugs. But within that world, he strikes a nerve with what many of us are feeling. On The Road is one of my all time favorite books, and an essential summertime read.

 

Mike

 

Maybe I Do, Maybe I Don't

Sometimes I feel as if every other update I write here is an update apologizing for the lack of updates I’m not writing. I guess like any other creative outlet for me, it comes in waves. There are times when I can sit for hours and things just flow right out, and there are times when I don’t even want to think about writing anything. It almost seems like a chore. Sometimes the chore is necessary, but I do want to keep this authentic and fun. And sometimes I just get caught in the every day ruts of life. The last month or so has been consumed with work. Not the fun kind of work that you want to brag about to your friends and family, but the day in and day out work to pay the bills. However, there have been some highlights over the past month or so including working with Beyonce, Joe Walsh, and the Lighting In A Bottle Festival.

Mike

20 Things You Must Do In Your 20s, From Someone Who's Done Them All

I wrote this piece awhile back, on the eve on my 30th birthday. After numerous attempts to get it published, I decided to say "fuck it" and push it out myself. It's a bit of a long read, but I felt it was worth sharing.

As I enter my 30s, I look back on the past decade with a slew of different emotions. In these past 10 years, I’ve been through some amazing highs and some absolutely devastating lows, but all these experiences have helped shape and mold me into the person I am today. Am I where I thought I would be when I was a teenager? No, not even close. Am I mad or frustrated with that fact? Hell no. The truth is, I’ve learned so much about life from just from getting out there and experiencing it - the good, the bad, and everything in between. I’ve been all over the world, done things I never thought I’d do, and met more people that I can even remember. In some ways I feel I’ve lived multiple lifetimes just in the past decade, yet at the same time I have this burning desire to experience more. I’m excited to get out of bed every morning and see what the new day has to offer. Don’t ever take this time for granted. Your 20s are an exciting and crucial time in your life. And while I know just how fun it can be, I know that at the same time they’re incredibly challenging. So I write this not to tell you how to live your life, but to let you know that we all go through the same shit. No one gives you a roadmap for your 20s. You need to figure a lot out on your own. So stop worrying about the pressures from your family, friends and society. This is your time to explore everything wonderful about life. Take it from someone who has been through it all.

 

Be Selfish

Most of us are taught from a very young age to look out for others and treat them with respect. And by all means, we should continue to carry on those lessons as we grow up. But sometimes people get so caught up in looking out for others, that they forget to look out for themselves. Our lives start to take a back seat to everyone else’s life. It can happen within our families, at work, or in social circles. For reasons good and bad, we push aside the things that we really want and feel because we think that we’re ultimately contributing to the better good. But what you don’t realize is that you truly can’t help others until you know how to help yourself.  Figuring out who you are takes time and a lot of trial and error. Your 20s are the time to be selfish and figure it out. Make plans, break plans, date a lot of people, work different jobs, explore, eat, drink, laugh, cry, have great loves, have great fights – do what you want to do. Nothing is finite. Experience it all now and use the lessons you learn to become the best possible you.

Fall In Love

I think The Beatles were on to something when they famously sang, “Love is all you need.” Love is an absolutely beautiful thing. It affects us deeper than any other emotion. And yet as much as we talk about it, it’s still a very difficult thing to describe. What is true love? How do you measure it? How do you really know when it’s there? There are so many questions that we really can’t answer. But here’s what I can tell you. I do believe in true love. When it’s real, you just know it. But I will also tell you that it’s possible to fall out of love. And that fear of falling out of love, or not receiving love, or a past love, scares people so much that they don’t even open themselves up to fall in love. We start to close ourselves off to new and wonderful people. It’s a defense; we never allow ourselves to experience love because don’t want to experience the pain that sometimes comes along with it. But avoiding the potential lows means you never get to experience the highs. Opening yourself up to another person and sharing your life with them on a deeper level, not only enriches their life, but yours as well. Allow yourself to fall in love. It may work out, it may not, but either way you continue to grow as a person.

Work Many Jobs

When I was a kid I wanted to be a professional hockey player. Once I got a guitar, I wanted to be a rock star. Those are the only 2 things that I have ever wanted to be. Even now, I’m still not sure what I want to be. I know there are people are who doctors and layers, and from a young age knew that’s what they wanted to do and followed through with it. But I don’t think that’s the majority of us. You don’t have to have it all figured out in you’re 20’s. Now is the time for trial and error. Working a lot of different jobs offers you a chance to gain a wide variety of skills and learn a business on someone else’s dime. It also gives you a chance to figure out what you’re good at. Act like a sponge and soak up the vital information from everywhere you go. Then use that information to be success in whatever you do later on in life. 

Go Skinny-dipping

Go by yourself. Go with a lover. Go with a group of friends. Go in the ocean. Go in a pool. It really doesn’t matter, just take your clothes off and get in the water. Push yourself to experience things that scare you. And trust me, there’s nothing as freeing and fun as swimming around with no clothes on.

Get To Know Your Parents Better

I was having dinner with my parents one night, and they somehow started telling me a story about when they first met, a story I had never heard before. And as I was sitting there enjoying the story, I wondered what else I didn’t know about my parents. I started asking questions because I wanted to talk to them and get to know them more. We all question at some point whether we’re actually the spawn of our parents because our ideas and views seem so far apart that there’s no possible way we could be related. We think that our parents don’t get where we’re coming from, and they’ll never understand us. But that changes as you get into your 20s, and you grow into the person you are and start talking to your parents as adults. And sure it may be a different time, but your parents do get where you’re coming. The more I talk to my parents, the more I see both of them in me, and the more I realize how much we do have in common. It’s brought us closer together and helped us grow even more as people.

Fail At Something

By now you’ve heard the classic stories of failure about Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey and countless others who were knocked down and had the odds stacked against them, yet found a way to become successful. Failure will very much be a part of any success. The problem is that most of us are so crippled by the thought of failure, that we never even take the risk. We think that if we play it safe, or stick to what we know, that we never have to experience failure in our lives. And while that may be true in some sense, if you never experience failure, you will never experience great success. This can be success in career, relationships or personal growth. Learn to embrace failure in your 20s and grow from it, because no matter what you do to fight it, failure is always lurking around the corner. Make failure your friend and grow together.

Travel Abroad

Traveling for me is like food for my soul. There are over 7 billion people on this planet, and yet for how biologically similar we all are, each and every one of us is truly unique. Just traveling through this country, you wouldn’t believe how diverse we are. But traveling abroad gives you a whole new perspective on life. Not only do you learn about other geography, cultures, traditions, and languages, but also through your travels and experiences you learn humility and compassion. When you travel abroad, even for a brief time, you experience life as someone else would. And through that you get a better understanding of your fellow man. We may think that other cultures and traditions are strange, but people there may think the same thing about us here in the states. I’ve been to places where not a single person spoke the same language as me, yet we were somehow able to communicate and share things with each other. The reality is we’re all connected in some way. So take the time in your 20s, before you have too many responsibilities, and travel abroad.

Experiment With Drugs

I know I’ll catch flak for this one, so let me lead off by saying this: yes, (some) drugs are illegal. They are addictive, and they can absolutely devastate your life and the lives of your loved one. I’ve personally lost good friends because of drugs and have had plenty of other friends and family go through rehab. Drugs are dangerous and should never be taken lightly. It’s been my experience, though, that in the right context, drugs can be a fucking blast and self-exploratory in lot of ways. But, don’t be an idiot. I didn’t try a single drug until I was 24. By that time, I understood my body and knew how it could handle certain things. I would experiment with people who have already tried the drug and can explain it you and put you in a safe environment. Before you dive in, know your limits or what you’d feel confortable with. If anyone tries to push you to try something you don’t want to try, walk away and find a better crowd to spend your time with. Be smart, and have some fun.

Don’t Stress Too Much About Money

Easier said than done, of course. My biggest stresses in life always revolve around money. It can be a struggle in your 20s; I can’t think of how much ramen and pasta I’ve eaten over the years. But looking back on it, it helps develop resolve and character. You’ll learn the value of a dollar, and what it means to work for it. You can get by in your 20s with just getting by. Be smart, treat yourself once and awhile, and just keep working hard. The money will follow.

Go on a Cross-Country Trip

When I was a baby, my parents used to get me to go to sleep by driving me around in the car for a while. And since then I’ve always found being on the road to be comforting and calming, while at the same time restorative. There’s nothing quite like being out on the open road. And I’m not talking about sitting in LA traffic wanting to rip your hair out. I’m talking about getting out there and going on an adventure. Cruising with the windows down and the music blasting. I’ve driven across this country more times than I can count. I’ve done it by myself, with friends, with family members, even with random strangers a few times. And I can honestly say that each trip has been unique in its own way. They all carry their own stories, challenges, friends, women and music. This country is massive and so different everywhere you go. And that’s what still makes driving across the country exciting to me. The open road feels like its own world with its own rules and truths. You learn so much about yourself, as well as the people you travel with. So take the time now to make a cross-country trip happen.

Reconnect With Old Friends

On my most recent road trip, I was cruising through Iowa and somewhere in the back of my brain I had recalled the fact that my old band mate, Pete, was now living there. I hadn’t seen Pete in close to 10 years and hadn’t even talked to him in a year or two. I called the number I had, hoping it still worked, and to my delight Pete answered the phone. He was living in Iowa City, about an hour from where I was. So I decided to pop in and have dinner. We ended up just talking for an hour, chatting as if no time had passed at all. And I realized that by the time you’ve hit your 20s, you’ve already met thousands of people. Some of them stick, some of them don’t. As you get older, it gets harder and harder to keep up with a wide circle of friends. If you get the chance to reconnect with an old friend, take it.

Let Yourself Get Rundown

The human body is a pretty amazing thing. We don’t think about breathing or walking or other basic things we do, but every second, there are millions of tiny reactions happening within our bodies, unaware to us, that make us work. We’re capable of doing so many fantastic things, but we don’t know just what we can do unless we push ourselves. In my 20s living in Pennsylvania, I would work a 10-hour day, go home and shower then drive almost 2 hours to New York City. There I would go to concerts and hang with friends. We’d be drinking all night, I’d crash for a few hours, and then wake up super early and drive back home for work. It was almost as if I was training my body to work how I need it to work. Learn to let yourself get rundown in your 20s because you’re only going to have more responsibilities as you get older. You and your body will recover just fine. Stay late and put in the extra hours at work, go party the night away, or stay up all night just for the hell of it.

Go To Music Festivals

Music festivals may seem like a new cultural fad, but they’ve been happening almost as long as popular music has been around. There’s something very powerful about bringing people together through music, and each generation does it in their own way. We happen to live in a time now where there are so many great festivals to experience and go to; festivals with all sorts of diverse lineups and backdrops. You can truly find a festival for whatever you’re in to. To me, nothing affects you deeper than music, and nothing also connects me to people more than music. You get a chance to be a place with so many like-minded people and experience the power of music together. It’s something you really can’t experience anywhere else.

Date A Lot Of People

I love meeting people’s parents who were high school sweethearts, got married, and are still together today. If you find your soulmate and you’re happy, then I’m happy. But on the flipside, there are many benefits to not getting married when you’re young. We grow so much as people from the time we’re teenagers, to our early 20s, and then into our late 20s. Dating a lot of people in your 20s helps you figure out what you like, and maybe even more importantly, what you don’t like. Even though many of these relationships won’t work out, I guarantee you’ll learn something from each of them. You will continue to grow, and then hopefully you’ll meet someone that you want to grow old with.

Read More Books

Reading was not my thing in high school; I hated it. I didn’t think I would ever get enjoyment out of reading, until a girl I was dating forced me to open a book. We would have designated reading time. And when she did that, I realized that I had been neglecting my mind and imagination for far too long. I started to read all types of books, by all types of authors. I started to become a better conversationalist and was able to express my emotions better. I felt creative energies that I didn’t realized I had before. There is a book out there for anything you are in to. In your 20s, dedicate time to reading, even just a little, and begin open up your world.

Get To Know A Complete Stranger

I was out with some friends one night at a bar when a girl comes up to me and says “You look like someone I want to have a conversation with on a bench at 4 o’clock in the morning.” So I decided to do just that. I left my friends, and spent the rest of the night chatting and getting to know this person. We sat on a bench in the park and watched the sun come up. We shared things that I don’t think I’ve shared with anyone. Why? I’m not really sure. But in that moment, I took the risk of allowing a complete stranger to get to know me, and I got to know her in return. You never know who you’re going to meet in life and how they’re going to impact you. Some of my closest friends I’ve met by pure coincidence. Give people a chance. Some will surprise you. You’ll never know unless you put yourself out there. 

Learn To Let Go

I’m not sure why, but when we’re younger we seem to hold on to grudges longer. We fight harder for control of things in our life. The things we seem to control hold so much clout. But when you look back at your life, the things you used to hold so tight to don’t seem quite as important as they once did. We tend to cling to certain things, whether it’s out of fear, sadness, comfort, or something else that we just can’t explain. But regardless of what we do, the world will continue to go on. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn to go with the flow a little more in your 20s, and I think you’ll realize that it opens you up even more.

Live in Different Places

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain! This country truly is diverse as the song goes. From what I’ve experienced, every city, town, and backwoods country I’ve ever been to and lived in has been unique in it’s own way. Especially in a city, there’s a certain pulse that city has and each one resonates a little differently. There are some places you will go, and immediately you know that you don’t vibe there. Other places you’ll connect with right away. Living by the beach is amazing, but the mountains are beautiful as well. There’s so much diversity in this country, not just with people and cultures, but with geography and weather as well. Take the time in your 20s to live in and experience different places. You’ll have plenty of time to put down roots somewhere.

Stop Acting Like You’re Old

Everyone in their 20s is at some point guilty of saying they’re old. It blows my mind. Sure when you’re in high school, even a year difference in age is a big deal. You see people who are older than you, whether they’re friends, co-workers, or classmates, and you want the things that they have. We crave the idea of being an adult. Then you enter your 20s with a bang. After a few years maybe you’re done with school, maybe you’ve settled into a job, either way all the fun you had out of the gate is gone and now you really feel you’ve become an adult. All of a sudden being an adult means you can’t have fun anymore. Wake up! Go out drinking, go to a concert, go to dinner, go to a comedy show, hop a fence somewhere, go on a spur-of-the-moment trip. You’ll recover just fine. I’ve never once looked back and remembered a night a spent on the couch, and I’ve never once regretted a night that I went out and enjoyed myself.

Get To Know Yourself

This may be the hardest one. I’m 30 now, and I still feel like I’m getting to know myself. We’re constantly growing and evolving as people, but that’s what makes each of us so interesting and unique. Sometimes I feel like we’re at constant battle with ourselves, with who we want to be and where we’re going with our lives. Learn to set aside time to work on you. Unplug for a moment and spend some time with your thoughts, without all the distractions of life. Figure out what really makes you tick, what truly makes you happy. And once you figure it out, embrace it and don’t apologize for anything. You only get one life, so make it what you want it to be.

 

 

Cheers.

Mike

 

Life As A Model

It’s mid-March in Los Angeles, which means the days are warm and sunny and at night the air grows just crisp enough that you need a light jacket or sweater. Perfect weather for an east coast transplant like myself. It also means that it’s once again time for Fashion Week in Los Angeles. It happens twice a year here, as it does in other markets. And while designers, models and agents are all working at a frantic pace this time of year, the reality is most of the industry looks at LAFW as the forgotten step-kid of the fashion world. You never hear about LAFW in the news, and there’s never any big models walking in the shows. Occasionally you’ll get a somewhat big name designer to grace the stage or a Clippers player will show up in the audience and take a few pictures for the press, but that’s about as big of a celebrity as you get here. I’m not trying to take away anything from the organizers who work around the clock to put the events together or the designers who pour their souls into hours and hours of hard work, but the fact is unless you’re in New York, London, Paris, or Milan the fashion world, or the general public for that matter, really doesn’t pay attention. With that said, I’m sure I’ll still be out hitting different events (I can’t pass up an open bar, can I?) and saying hi to friends, but I thought I would take this time to fill people in on what it’s really like to be a working model.

First off, you need to realize that there are thousands of other pretty people out there who are trying to do the same thing as you. You may be the prettiest person in your hometown, but come to a major market, and you’re just another name and face getting lost in the concrete jungle. The competition is stiff, and rejection looms around every corner. Being a model, I face rejection every single day. Even the biggest models in the world don’t book every job they go out for (except maybe Gisele). If you want to become a model, you need to learn how to handle rejection. And unless your parents are loaded, you need to have another job. I have about six other jobs. Modeling gigs are so sporadic that you need some sort of consistent income coming in to survive. I’m constantly chasing down money from all over the place, but that’s the life of freelance work. Things can get very hectic so you need to learn how to properly manage your time. I try to plan out my days as best as possible, but my schedule changes by the hour sometimes. It’s a constant juggling act, and it can be a little overwhelming at times, but you work your way through it like anything else. The last thing I’ll say is that you need to realize that this is a completely subjective industry, and you can’t take things personally. Your job is to be a vessel or canvas for the clothing that you’re wearing and when someone tells you to lose weight or change your hair, it has nothing to do with you as a person, that’s just the canvas that they’re looking for. Sometimes people can be cruel and harsh, but that’s part of the gig. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin and learn to handle sexuality. The fashion world is driven by sex. As a model, you have to make people want to be you, or make them want to fuck you. If you can grasp all of that, then you’ll be just fine.

I think any time someone tries to pursue a dream; they do it because of a genuine passion that they have. Fashion is art, and like any good art, it connects with us on a deep level. The harsh reality comes when you try and take your passion and make a living off it. The business of fashion, and the business of entertainment aren’t driven by the pursuit of passion; they’re driven by money and the bottom line. I grew up in the music business, which is a pretty shallow, cruel, backstabbing world, so even though the world of modeling is still relatively new to me, it’s the same sort of bullshit that thrives in the music space, and that helped me as I ventured into the world of fashion. The public perception that life as a model is all glitz and glamour and parties with pretty people is very much a mirage. I think most people who get into the fashion world and want to be models aren’t prepared for the realities of what it’s really like. And despite that, at the end of the day, I get to be creative and have fun with what I’m doing, and that’s what’s important to me.

 Mike

Miami

One of my favorite things to do when I get to a new city is to sort of roam around aimlessly for a while. I like not having any particular place to go; instead just taking my time and getting my own feel for the city. I like to have a sense of where I’m at and what makes that place tick. I had been to Miami in the past, but I would only be there for a day for work and then I was out. I never got to truly explore Miami on my own so I was excited to get there and have some time to myself. I could write a book on the different neighborhoods and everything there is to do, but here’s my brief rundown.

I’ll start by saying this, there is no way in hell I would live in Miami, or Florida in general for that matter, full time. I can’t deal with the humidity it’s a strange place to begin with. But in terms of visiting for a bit, I’m all for it. Miami is truly the only place in the United States that feels like a tropical city and it has an identity all its own. Sure, most people think about the superficial world of South Beach, with all its skin, cars, and drugs. That certainly exists, and is fun in it’s own right. But Miami has much more to offer than that. The beaches are gorgeous and people are always out and about. The Art Deco buildings of South Beach and the surrounding areas fit perfectly against the coastal backdrop. And the recent art movement in Wynwood is really cool to see. Reminds me of DTLA a few years ago. It’s already becoming a tourist destination, but you still have to check out the all the art the area has to offer. Stop by the Wynwood Walls for an Instagram worthy pic and then pop into Gab Studios and say hi to Bridges. Swing by Little Havana for some killer Cuban food and entertainment. Brickell has exploded with the new youth movement and there’s always something going on. And of course cruise through a picturesque canopy of topical trees in Coconut Grove, Miami’s oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood. Having some grouper is a must and if the stone crabs are in season you have to order them at least once. Seems there’s always some event and something going on in Miami. But watch out on the road, people drive like fucking savages there. And you may get discriminated against for being a white person, but it’s all just part of what makes Miami, Miami.

The modeling scene is much different than Los Angeles. It’s a different style and a much smaller market, but still a lot of great talent there. Shout out to my agency MP Mega for looking after me. Hoping I get to spend some more time in Miami moving forward. I will be there for Model Volleyball next year. And apparently I don’t take many pictures, but this is what I got.

Mike

Key Weird

 

I spent the past few days in Key West Florida, the southern-most city in the United States. I had been kicking it in Miami for a week prior, but I’ll get back to that on my next post. My parents and brother still live back in Pennsylvania, and they’ll take any chance they get to escape the northeast winter. So it didn’t take much convincing to have them come meet me down here for a week of fun in the sun. They flew in to Miami and from there we made the drive to mile marker 0 in Key West. In all my travels, I had never ventured to the Florida Keys, and it had been about 40 years or so since my parents’ last trip down here. They had told me stories of how crazy and funky the town was, which of course perked my interest. I even heard a few of the locals here refer to the town as “Key Weird.”

Down in the Keys, you very much feel like you’re on a tropical island. The water is a beautiful blue and there always seems to be a constant breeze. Key West is the final stop on a string of islands that make up the Florida Keys, lying roughly 90 miles north of Cuba. Downtown Key West revolves around Duval Street and at all times of the day you can find it buzzing with some kind of action. The street is lined with bars, restaurants, shops, strip clubs, street vendors and eclectic characters. It seems daily you can find at least one cruise ship docked in town and hoards of tourists flooding the streets. It’s certainly a tourist destination. You have the original Margaritaville, Fat Tuesday, Hard Rock Café, and countless other places that I personally want to avoid at all times. But between all the tourist traps, Key West is a place where you can stumble into a funky little bar at all times of the day, see a band playing, strike up a conversation with someone and just enjoy yourself. I met a number of people who come back here every year because it’s a place where they can get away and cut loose. There’s also some history to the city. It’s most famous resident was Ernest Hemingway, and you can tour the house the he lived in. There’s also the Mel Fisher Museum where I learned all about the famous treasure hunter. Key West has a little to offer for everyone and if you’ve never been certainly a town worth checking out at least once. Here are a few shots from the trip.

Mike

Whiskey, Titties, and a Muffuletta

I woke up from a nap in the middle seat on my Southwest flight to see a little kid, probably about a year old, smiling me at me. That two-hour nap would be the most sleep I got for about 2 days. I decided to make some silly faces at the kid, who then answered with some silly faces of his own. I tried to high five him, but I don’t think he understood the concept and instead tried to put my hand in his mouth. This was the start of a whirlwind 24 hours in New Orleans. The plane touched down and I grabbed a cab to head into the city. I was suppose to pick up a rental car, but apparently they do road construction on Saturdays in New Orleans and the traffic on my 16 mile trip was absolutely brutal. So by the time I got to the rental car company it was closed and after sitting in traffic for an hour and a half, a driver who didn’t know where he was going, and quickly realizing I’m already out of money for my trip, I had a brief meltdown.

I collected myself, met up with the bossman Rifko, checked into the hotel, and met the rest of the guys I was working with that night. I had worked with my buddy Eljah before, but the rest we’re new to me. Turns out that one of the guys, Adam, was celebrating his 21st birthday. Needless to say, we all got a little more pumped for the evening. We had a little down time before our event, so Elijah and I snuck off to grab a drink. In New Orleans they serve alcohol 24/7 and you can drink in the streets. It’s kind of like the Vegas of the south in a way, except with more culture, better food, good music, and all around just way cooler. After pouring a few tequila drinks, my frustration and exhaustion subsided and was replaced by that joyous feeling you get from a good buzz. After a few drinks, some food, and good conversation we all got ready for the event.

I work a lot of different jobs. It’s a constant juggling act between everything I do. But one of my favorite gigs is working for a company called Oysters XO. My boss and friend Rifko devised the company, and what we do is walk around parties and events and shuck fresh oysters for people. It’s essentially a mobile raw bar. It’s all about the interaction with the guests and giving them a great experience. It’s a lot of fun and I get to work some pretty spectacular events. This one happened to be a wedding at the New Orleans Country Club. It was am absolutely gorgeous night. The bride and groom we’re a young couple and everyone there was so nice. After a few hours of sharing oysters and drinks we were done.

The chef at the country club suggested we go to dinner at a local spot in the French Quarter and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We’re a pretty fun, lively group who likes to have a good time and mix it up, and aside from having phenomenal food the staff at the restaurant was much the same way. We bonded over bullet rye, rapey mustaches, and all around savagery. I love going cities, talking to people, going off the beaten path and mixing it up with local characters. And New Orleans is the perfect place to do just that. There’s really no place like it in this country. It has it’s own identity; it’s own pulse, more than any other city. The mixture of history, culture, food, music, and people combine in such a way that just celebrates life. You can’t help but feel your soul come alive there.

After dinner we went to some local bar that the chef also suggested. He was there when we showed up and bought us a round. I’m not sure if it was the drinking or the lack of sleep in the past two days, but I started to feel it. But I got another wind when the bartender gave us all coupons for free entry to a strip club on Bourbon Street. So it was off to see some titties! True fact, I have ended up at a strip club every single time I’ve been in New Orleans. We got it, hit the ATM, and positioned ourselves accordingly. This is where things start to get fuzzy for me. Not even some titties in my face could fight off the exhaustion anymore. In my drunken state I somehow wondered back to the hotel and managed to take my pants off before I passed out on top of the bed.

I woke up shortly before check out and somehow managed to get in the shower. At this point I’m pretty sure I was still drunk from the night before. I parted ways with the rest of the guys and stopped by Central Grocery on Decatur for one of their muffuletta sandwiches. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to eat and no one makes it better then them. I finally then picked up my rental car and hit the road. Ten hours later I made it to Tampa, my destination for the night. I’m now in Miami for two weeks to work and check out the modeling market here. I’ll update more as things start to unfold.

Mike

Time Spent In Los Angeles

I’ve been living in southern California on and off for over 10 years now. About half of that time has been spent in Los Angeles. Back in 2009, I feel on some hard financial times and begrudgingly moved home to Pennsylvania. The move was suppose to be temporary, just until I could get back on my feet, but I ended up staying there for almost 3 years. In life we sometimes fall into ruts or patterns that we just can’t seem to get out of. During my time back in Pennsylvania, the only thing I could think about was getting back to Los Angeles. Finally, one day I woke up and said, “That’s it.” A week later I packed up my car once again and made the move to California.

People often ask me what it’s like living in Los Angeles. I tend to tell them that it’s everything you think it is, and it’s nothing like you think it is. I’ve lived here for years and still have a hard time trying to describe this city. Yes, the weather is amazing. It’s one of the main draws. The geography is unique in that you can go surfing and snowboarding all the same day. There are so many things to do all the time and so many different parts of town, each eclectic and diverse as the next. And since I’ve moved back to Los Angeles, I’ve developed a really close circle of friends and industry allies, something that was missing when I was here earlier in life. Los Angeles has become my home. Things are good for me here, but over the past few months I’ve wanted to get way from LA more and more. The connection that I had with the city when I was younger doesn’t quite resonate the same with me.

Los Angeles is a town that is driven by entertainment, that’s no secret, but most people don’t have a clue what it’s like to be fully immersed in it. This is the place where people from all over the world come to “make it.” This city can eat you up and beat you down. Every day is a constant juggling act for me between castings, work, meetings, and trying to keep my head afloat. Just getting around becomes tiresome and dreadful after awhile. I feel frustrated creatively because connecting with people can be such a chore. People think Los Angels is so laid back, but you don’t realize how exhausting this city can be until you take a step back and reflect.

So this is me reflecting and rambling as I sit at LAX, not having slept in a day, awaiting a flight. Los Angeles will always be a part of my life, there’s no escaping that. And it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. But it’s time to explore other horizons. So I’m off to New Orleans, Miami, and a few other stops along the way. I’m excited to see where the future takes me, and I’ll keep you posted along the way.

Mike

The Dirty 30

Yesterday was my 30th birthday. I’m not typically one to put much thought into birthdays, but this was a big one so I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on it. Growing up, I thought that by the age of 30 I would have most of my life figured out. Things like financial stability and success in career would be solid and maybe even talk of a family on the horizon. And while I really don’t have much of that figured out, I look back and realize that I live a pretty amazing life. I feel incredibly grateful that I have a great relationship with my family and we’re all in good health. I feel overwhelmed by the love and support I get from all of the friends in my life. I’ve been able to travel the world, meet some incredible people, and experience some amazing things. And I think most importantly, I’m happy with whom I am. I like the person I’ve become, and continue to grow in to. So cheers to 30 and hopefully many more!

Mike

A Rainy Morning In Early 2016

It’s a rainy morning in Los Angeles. These types of mornings are rare it seems, but El Nino has finally reared its head and brought us some much needed rain. Lying in bed, I hear the sound of rain coming down in the alley behind my room; acting as my soundtrack this morning. It’s a comforting feeling; one that I haven’t felt in quite some time here, but also one that perfectly sets the tone for a morning of reflection. I open up my computer to get my thoughts out, and realize that I haven’t made a bog post in almost 2 months. Time flies as they say. So with that, I’m going to take this time to reflect on the past year and the year that lies ahead.

People love to take the New Year as a chance to reset the clock. To start over. To get it right. To try something new. But in reality, it’s just another day. The clock continues to tick forward weather we want it to or not. But for arguments sake, 2015 as a whole turned out to be a very self-exploratory year for myself. I didn’t plan on it happening that way.  My career didn’t quite develop the way I wanted it to this past year, but sometimes you have to take a step back and re-evaluate. I’m almost 30 years old and like to think that I’ve got it all figured out. I’ve got it all together. Not even close. I continue to evolve as a person and in the past year I grew and learned so much more than I thought was possible. I discovered things in myself; I awoke new feelings and emotions, and realized that only I can hold myself back from achieving the things that I want to achieve. I traveled a lot in 2015. I went on a much needed road trip. I met people who deeply impacted my life. I reconnected with old friends. I made new experiences and memories that will stick with me forever. That’s what I’m taking away from 2015.

And that leads me to 2016. A year in which I turn the calendar on another decade of my life. In just under a month I will turn 30. I think about it because it is a big moment in my life, but I’m not really nervous about it. Time only goes in one direction and there’s no sense worrying about things you can’t control. Society likes to tell us and dictate that we should accomplish certain things by a certain age. It’s something I certainly thought of when I was younger. If you were to ask me 10 years ago where I’d be at 30, I would have told you that I’d be married and kicking ass in my career. That’s what I thought I should do because that’s what everyone tells you to do. Fuck that. If I stand for one thing, it’s that you should live the life you want to live. We all get such a brief amount of time on this planet, so lets enjoy it. I feel like I’ve lived multiple lifetimes in the past 10 years, and I wouldn’t change anything. Stick to your guns. Trust your heart. Know who you are and just own it.

I’ve decided that I’m dedicating 2016 to working my ass off. Working to become a better person. Working to build a career. Working to get into the best shape possible. Working to grow my relationships with people. That’s what I’m about this year. More traveling lies ahead, hopefully more than ever. And I promise to update this blog as much as possible. Like I said when I launched it, I will keep this as open and honest as possible. If you guys would like to see anything here or have any suggestions let me know. Lets take this fun journey together.

 

Mike

Paris

I’ve never been to Paris. I don’t know anyone in Paris. I can’t say that I even think about Paris that often. However, the events that took place just over a day ago have me thinking, not only about Paris, but also about the world we live in. I can’t begin to fathom how someone could commit the absolutely devastating acts that were committed. And I can’t begin to fathom what the victims and their loved ones are going through. And as tragic and heartbreaking as these events were, the reality is that things like this happen all the time and unfortunately will continue to happen. As I sit here writing this now, it’s a little difficult to articulate the things that I’m feeling. But I just wanted to say a few words if anyone happens to read this. See this isn’t a time to call for world peace or to talk about gun control, or infuse religion into everything we do. As long as we’re on this planet, people will find something to fight about. It could be money, or power, or religion, or land, or women; it doesn’t matter. Hate will always exist and there will always be those who use that hate to spread fear. These people will use that hate and fear to try and control our lives. The best thing we can do as people is to live the life we want. Sure it’s easier said than done sometimes, I know the struggles that exist. But we’re given just a brief moment of time on this planet, so make the most of it. Love, laugh, cry, explore, eat, drink, succeed, fail, experience everything there is to experience. Tell your friends and family that you love them and don’t take anything for granted.

Much love,

Mike

It's Not Me, It's You

I’m part of a new web series called It’s Not Me, It’s You. The show is an irreverent comedy that follows Felix Nola, a delirious Latin-American Angeleno coming to terms with her dysfunctional love life and financial predicaments. She struggles to get out of her own way while offending her eclectic group of friends, family and suitors. The show was created and co-written by my friend Jessica Valle. It’s always and amazing feeling getting to work with friends. If you’d like to help support the project, go to the link below and get involved. Much appreciated.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/it-s-not-me-it-s-you--2#/

Mike