Author Archives: Chad

Save a Child, Change the World

So, last year, my parents and sister went for a few weeks a remote village in Uganda on a ministry trip.  It was quite a thing for them to do.  My dad, in case you don’t know, is a family practice doctor, so he spent much of the time he was there basically seeing patients.  

There’s a picture, and I don’t have it on my computer unfortunately, of him seeing one of the women in the village, and there was literally not enough space inside the room, so he’s actually standing outside, examining some wound on her arm through an open window. 

Now, if you know my dad, Dr. German, this is not acceptable.  He is an unrepentant fanboy of infrastructure.  The folks on the trip decided to do some research, and discovered that it would cost about $60,000 to build a full blown medical clinic in this village.  They’ve been working for months to put together what promises to be a successful fundraiser this weekend.  

Anywhoo, Erica and I were asked to contribute some music, and here it is for your consideration.  I’ll embed it without further ado, and then make a little commentary after you’re done listening.  Or skimming.  

save-a-child-change-the-world.mp3

Welcome back! I found it terribly challenging to write a religiously ecumenical song, “We Are The World,” type song, especially as the name of the fundraiser is “Save a Child, Change the World,” and it was requested that I use this phrase in the song. This is not my cup of tea.

With that said, I feel pretty proud of the lyrics. I was actually trying to speak about such things without the usual utopian hogwash that typically sinks into a song like this. I was trying to convey the reality that when something like this happens, it’s not magic, it’s not some massive awakening. It’s just one good person trying to step outside their own skin and selfishness long enough to do an act of kindness for a stranger. I’m especially proud of the lyrics in the second half of the second verse. I find them terribly hopeful.

Now, I am not a guitar player, and the budget for this was $0.00. There was to be no Corey Witt love for me, this time, because Corey Witt won’t work for free because he hates Africans. He’s from Texas. That’s not true, people. I actually didn’t ask him, because I’m pretty stupid and didn’t plan ahead, instead using my usual technique of procrastination and then frantic creation.

So, anyways, I was searching for ways to make this feel more organic, and I am proud of my Ukulele debut. The cool thing was that, if you listen again, you’ll hear a distorted loop that emerges in the mix during the 2nd chorus, giving the mix a bit more mid-range energy. This is actually my ukulele parts fed through several delays and distortion and a 16th note tremelo. I think it’s a nice, original sound, and that it doesn’t sound like samples. I think the other thing I’m most excited about is the bridge. It just slams. I did a fair amount of manipulating and tweakage to get all the elements to sit down as well as they do, and it’s a very rewarding moment for me.

I was laboring hard for this to not sound like a home studio creation, and I think we got to about 90%. The cool thing is that with another day of edits and tweaks, I feel like I could get it to 100%. However, I’m out of time, so that’s that. But, it’s still cool for me as I listen back to old home recordings and hear how far we’ve come with our Dailies experiences.

Anyways, if this song has inspired anyone to do something generous, you can check out Embrace Uganda and make a donation. They’re good folks, and their cause is just.

Requiem for a Dog

As has been well publicized, we lost a special friend yesterday.  

I met him three days before 9/11, a few hours after he had been born.  He was to be a gift to us, figuratively and literally.  The office manager at the church where I was employed at the time gave him to us.  Copland was a purebred Labrador Retriever, a deep, rich chocolate color.  I’ve always thought it would be cool to name dogs after famous composers, and one of my all time favorites is the great American composer Aaron Copland, whose Appalachian Spring is one of the great masterworks of the 20th century.  If we ever have an English Bulldog, I want to name it Vaughan Williams, even if it’s a girl.  

I remember the day we brought him home.  It was a Sunday, after church, and the whole family came, including Gramma Harriet, who would only be with us for another 18 months.  We had prepped our little 400 square foot studio apartment for his arrival.  We had read all the books, bought the XL kennel, the chew toys, and all the trimmings.  We were first time parents.

coplandasapup

Those first few weeks were hard on me.  I don’t like change, and I liked it even less when I was 23 and thought the world was still my oyster.  I actually remember verbalizing one time that I thought we should give him back, that he was just going to be too much dog for our compact life.  

But the weeks passed, and he learned to poop outside, and all was well.  In fact, I have two lingering memories of his first year.  The first was getting up in the middle of the night, freezing my tail off while he decided whether or not he was going to validate my interrupted slumber with a little piddle.  The second was taking him to a community doggy obedience class, which was the smartest move we ever made.  We learned, together, how to sit, lie down, stay, come, and heel.  Once you and your dog understand how to do that together, the bond between man and beast is permanently etched in stone.  

onthebed

Some months later, we were sitting around the fire pit with Bryan and Aly and we heard a little splash in the pool, followed by the unmistakable sounds of doggy distress.  Bryan was actually the first to make it over to Copland, who was furiously treading water.  He pulled Copland out of the water, soaking himself in the process.  Now, since that day, Copland has been known to charge headlong into turbulent surf up to his neck, so long as he could touch the bottom, but he would not ever go in that pool again.

It was around this time that Copland discovered his love language, and that was fetching a ball.  I did a little math yesterday, and here’s what I concluded.  I took him out to play, without fail, at least five times a week, often more.  He lived seven years and eight months, which is about 400 weeks, for the sake of landing on a round number.  400 x 5 means about 2000 playdates with Copland.  Erica would take him from time to time, but once we had kids, it was definitely my gig.  I’d throw the ball 15-20x per session, before he’d start to foam at the mouth from perspiration.   So, on the conservative end, I threw that ball 30,000 times.  I became one with the Chuck-It.  I am a Chuck-It ninja.  I can kill a man at 30 yards with a wet tennis ball.  

Every day, without fail, at around 3pm, he would give me this look:

coplandsface

The arched eyebrows, the tongue hanging out, the look that said, “You know what time it is, fool!”  If, God forbid, I allowed a day to go by without a playtime, it would increase twofold the next day.  When we would return from a trip, he would assault me until we went out to play fetch.  

And what a player he was.  Copland could have played center field for the Yankees.  In fact, I remember playing with him at our little neighborhood park one day, and adjacent to us was a baseball field where a little league team was having their afternoon practice.  Copland must have been three or four, in his prime, and he was in rare form that day, charging the ball with his muscles rippling and the wind in his face.  You could throw a line drive at him as hard as you liked, and he would simply pluck it from the air.  The sound of the wet tennis ball hitting his mouth was as satisfying as a fastball hitting the catcher’s mitt.  

Anyways, after about 15 minutes, I actually heard the coach dressing down one of his players, and I swear to you, he said, “That dog would make a better outfielder than you!  Show some hustle!”  One part of me was saddened that this coach was giving his player a hard time.  The other side of me knew it was an absolutely accurate statement.

For all his enthusiasm, Copland was a gentle soul.  I remember the day we brought Ella home from the hospital, and Erica sat down with her on the couch to meet her big brother.  He spent five minutes sniffing her from head to toe, curious, but not threatening.  When Erica would get up in the middle of the night to nurse her, Copland would get up, too, and sit at the door of her room, facing out, a stoic  centurion.  When she was done, and the baby back to sleep, he would return as well.  He did this, night after night, without fail, while both of our kids were nursing.    

coplandella

Copland had a baritone bark that could freeze grown men in their tracks, but never in his life bit a human being.  He would let both of our kids actually attempt to ride him.  They would pull on his ears and his tail, and he would just sort of shrug them off, roll over onto his back, and show them how to love on a pooch.  

zionridingcopland

On nights where I was up late, working in our home studio, he would sleep on my side of the bed.  I’d come in, tired, and he’d dutifully move and take his spot on the floor.  Erica has told me that this is the thing she will miss the most, her night time cuddles.

I don’t really have a good segue into these next photos, but for some reason it sums up everything I loved about this dog.  These was taken in February of 2008, on a short trip up to the snow with our friends, The Retichs, and their kids and their dog, Bailey.  We found a great hill for sledding, and Copland spent the entire day chasing us down the hill…inthesnow2… and then charging right back up.

inthesnow

He did this for hours.  Labs will literally play themselves to death, I’ve heard.  I have no patience for the unenthusiastic, which is why I’ll never be a cat person.  This dog was more enthusiastic about life than any other creature I’ve known.  In the snow, at the park, in the yard, on a hike, or just hanging out at home, he lived his life to the fullest.

……………..

It was about five months ago that the bumps started showing up.  The vet told us that they were normal, just fatty polyps that develop on dogs his age.  Most people, he said, don’t bother with them unless they don’t like the cosmetic effect.  

Around the new year, we noticed a bigger bump on his hind quarters.  This one did not look like a fatty polyp.  We took him in, and the vet told us the bad news.  It’s a tumor, and malignant.  What do you want to do?  Well, we ended up running a few tests and an x-ray or two, and it turned out that the tumor hadn’t spread.  Not only that, but the vet told us that he had rarely seen a large lab of Copland’s age with such a vigorous heart and large lungs, and that he was in tremendous physical condition.  

He was blunt about the risks, but he also told us that he thought we might be able to get the tumor out and have him around for a few more years.  We weighed our options, and decided it was worth it.  On February 5th of this year, Copland had major surgery.  My studio, which has the greatest amount of unused floor space, was tarped and fenced and turned into a doggy recovery zone.  I’ll spare you the photos of the tumor itself, which the vet produced like a prize winning seabass, but I will tell you that my sweet dog’s backside looked like the bride of Frankenstein.  

conehead

Now, he had surgery in the morning, and that afternoon, was looking at me with the arched eyebrows and the tongue hanging out, with that absurd cone on his head, his rear end stapled and bleeding, and was ready to go play ball. 

He recovered beautifully.  His fur never quite fully re-grew itself, but he was back outside within two weeks, as if nothing had ever happened.  During this time, we started noticing a limp on his right, front let.  Another trip to the vet, and this time he said that it was most likely arthritis, and prescribed some anti-inflammatories.  Those seemed to resolve the problem, for a short while.  

These few final weeks passed without much incident, although the limp lingered.  Even slightly hobbled, all he wanted to do was play, and cuddle, eat our food from the table, and generally be glad to be on board.  Last Saturday, we took him to the park, but this time in the car.  I didn’t want him to have to walk there and back.  We took it easy, throwing the ball just a few feet, and but a few times.

That night, he was whimpering and crying, and we decided that we had to take him back…  yet again… to the vet, and see what was up.  

On Monday, he had another x-ray taken, and the sad truth was revealed.  An unrelated cancer, a bone cancer, was rapidly spreading through his body, and he had already developed a hairline fracture from the deterioration, thus causing the limp.  After the fact, the vet told me that he want back to our round of X-rays from late January, and there was no indication of bone cancer in that comprehensive (and expensive) workup.  It was aggressive, and it was the end for him.  

As I paid yet another bill, and walked him out to the car, I lost it for the first time.  I didn’t even make it to the car before deep, guttural sobs overwhelmed me.  For some reason, the tumor removal in February, as serious as it was, never connected me with the fact that he was going to leave this earth well before I was.  But Monday afternoon, when I heard the phrase, “Well… the only treatment is to remove the leg, and that’s only going to buy him about three months,” that did it.  He had to put him to sleep, and we needed to do it as soon as possible.  There was nothing left for him but deterioration, and suffering.  

We told the kids.  Ella broke down with mommy.  Zion, still in his three year old bubble, remained generally blissfully oblivious.    That night, we decided that Tuesday was going to be a special day.  

Copland had ham and eggs for breakfast on Tuesday.  Instead of going to school, and work, we went to the beach.  We actually doped him up with tylenol and his anti-inflammatories, and between that and his ham and egg breakfast, he was feeling no pain.  

I had a silly ritual with him.  When it was time to play, I’d look at him and he’d lock his eyes on mine.  I’d say… “Do you wanna go…. to the park?” and he’d leap up into the air, wagging his tail.  I could do this a dozen times and it never ceased to amuse me or the kids.  Just for grins, I did it again, and even on his fractured leg, he wagged and smiled and barked, “YES!”

It was a stunning day, warm and bright, despite predictions of rain.  He charged, as he always would, into the water.  He dug in the sand.  He chased the ball.  We tried not to cry, and failed miserably.  It will go down as one of the sweetest days I can remember.  

 

atthebeach

atthebeach2

withthekids

When we got home, a dear friend named Deva, who has hosted Copland several times as a dog sitter came over and fed him a steak.  He spent his final afternoon doing what he loved to do, sitting by the screen door in the living room, surveying his yard.  

looking-out

My only regret in all this is that when it came time to actually put him to sleep, we had to go back to the vet’s office.  He got all anxious and nervous.  We just lay down with him on the blanket and scratched his belly and whispered into his ears.  We stayed with him until the end.  I’ve never been through that before.  I anticipated a long process, but the contents of the shot work very quickly.  In the end, he actually made a sound that sounded like his happy grunt, and then went to sleep.  He was a good dog.

………………

I think that one of the reasons I’ve been so emotional over this process is because his passing precedes our 10th wedding anniversary by only two weeks.  I’ve already been keenly aware of the closing of a chapter in our lives, and the beginning of another.  Our kids are out of diapers, and speaking in nearly complete sentences.  We aren’t planning on having any more, although if The Good Lord sees fit to circumvent our contraceptive strategies, that’s certainly His prerogative.  

Copland will forever be intertwined with my memories of this first decade of our home, our new civilization.  He taught me that I had to be firm and patient, gentle and unconditional in my love.  He taught me how to be a little less selfish, and a little more generous.  I have said many times that raising a puppy for its year is outstanding preparation for an infant.  

I think that, beyond that, they teach you about the entire cycle of parenting.  You feed and bathe them, then you teach them a few tricks, and if you do your job right, you get to enjoy their company for a season.  By God’s grace, I pray that I’ll never have to go through the agony of losing a child, but there are parallels nonetheless.  They are not mine.  Of their lives, I am but a steward.  I will eventually have to let them go.  

I can’t say I’ve let Copland go quite yet.  I am simply not used to the rhythm of not having him around.  I guess that even in death, that dog still has a few things to teach this human about living my life.    

In an attempt to not leave this long note on a total downer, I’ll share one more story.  Yesterday, after we returned from the vet after putting him to sleep, Zion was playing outside with his Papa, my dad.  Zion looked straight at us and said, “Did you drop Copland off to heaven?”

“Yup, pal… we did.”  

“Cool!  Wanna play?”

“Sure, pal.”

………….

Ok, I swear after this I’ll stop adding to this epic post, but I just found two more shots that are awesome beyond words, and since I’ve already been this self-indulgent, what’s a little more?

headshake1headshake2

Home is Where Your Stuff Is

They say it’s where your heart is, but they’re wrong, as they so often are.  

I learned this in college.  In college, you move 4 times a year, or at least I did.  You move in at the beginning of the semester, you move home for the month long winter break, you move back at the beginning of the 2nd semester, and then you move again at the end of the year.  When I was in college, I’d pack my entire music & computer rig wherever I was going.  This alone taught me this truth: home is where your stuff is.

Our stuff gets a bad rap.  The problem is that we Americans typically have too much stuff, and that tends to overshadow all the good stuff that we do have and use.    Your stuff is not just shallow material possessions.  You use your stuff to slice bread and cook meals.  Your sit on your stuff.  You have large pieces of stuff where you can organize smaller stuff.  Some people need their stuff to earn a living.  Your stuff is the very fabric of your everyday life.  

I could not help but ponder this as I helped Mike and Gretchen with the middle to ending stages of their move yesterday.  I say middle to ending, because it’s often tough to gauge exactly where you are in a move.  Just when you think you have all your stuff accounted for and put on the truck, you realize that there’s more stuff hiding behind it.  My contribution to the Lee family move was not going to be made in the fixer-upper department.  I’m more of a breaker-downer when it comes to tools, so I volunteered to be a grunt on truck day.  I still managed to put an edge-of-a-filing-cabinet-drawer sized ding in a freshly painted wall, because that’s how I roll.    

Now, I know Mike and Gretchen pretty well.  We have over a decade of history together, and we consider them good, close friends… good enough friends for me to schlep through L.A. traffic on a rainy Wednesday with work gloves, anyways.  And I tell ya, I put my work-gloved hands all over their stuff yesterday.  For example, I carried a dresser drawer full of Mike’s shirts up a flight of stairs.  I’ve seen him wear these shirts, but never given them much thought, and yet, because of a move, here I am staring at what is essentially one of the most private places in his life.   Not private in a titillating or scandalous way, just private.  There are but a few situations where a man need examine another man’s shirt drawer.   But yesterday several of us, friends and family, were manhandling the fabric of Mike and Gretchen’s everyday existence, meaning well, and sometimes dinging the freshly painted walls.  

Moving is messy, dirty business.  Hiding behind and underneath the appliances and dresser drawers is dirt and dust that we never see until we pack everything into a box and pull our stuff away from the walls.  Cherrios and toys and grime and unknown funk are wily things, sneaking off to the corners of your world, trying to evade your disinfectant wielding hands.  I remembered so clearly yesterday, from when we moved two years ago, thinking, “How can we live with all this filth in here just inches away from our sight and thoughts?”  Mike and Gretchen maintain a perfectly clean and sanitary household, so this is not any sort of reflection on them.  Life is just… messy.  Life with young children is especially messy.  

I hadn’t seen the new house yet.  For all the excellent decisions that Mike and Gretchen have made over the years, I must again level my protest at their choice to add twelve whole miles to the distance we must travel to visit them.  Twelve miles on an L.A. freeway is no small matter.  Anyways… I hadn’t seen the new house.  

It’s a great place.  You’ve seen pictures, but it’s really quite a special house once you’re actually there.  My first thought was, “They’re gonna spend a long time here.”  This is a family raising house, with character and possibility.  It’s in a great neighborhood, close to work and play, safe and quiet, with lots of street parking, unlike Burbank.  

There’s something so appealing about an empty house, all fresh paint, open space, and the smell of possibility.  In an instant, you leave behind the dust and junk from your old existence, and you get a new chance to organize your life, hopefully with a little bit more square footage.  Of course, all your worldly stuff is in a truck parked out front, and it wants in.  

But that’s ok.  Home is where your stuff is, after all.

Mixing Metaphors on iTunes

Well, the fruit of our labor is available for general consumption.  

I invite any and all of you who cannot come to the CD release show on March 7th to go and invest your $9.90 in our record.  It’s a really good work, and we’re proud of it, and we think it’s worthy of your dollars and your listening attention.  

If you do like it, how about a review?  

Blessings to all of you.

Faith = Doubt

Without doubt, there can be no faith.

Webster’s defines the word “Faith,” as follows:

1a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1): fidelity to one’s promises (2): sincerity of intentions 2a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b(1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust 3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction ; especially : a system of religious beliefs

I hadn’t looked up this definition when I started crafting this post in my head. I was hoping against hope that there would be something like the, “Firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” statement. I was immensely gratified to read it, as it props up my little thesis.

Without doubt, there can be no faith.

Near the very end of the last Gospel, in John chapter 20, we find the story of Doubting Thomas. Thomas was the Apostle who wasn’t buying the news that Jesus had been resurrected. He was rational, cool, and frankly, pretty well reasoned in his statements.

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

Downright reasonable, if you ask me.

A week later, Jesus shows up, and has Thomas go ahead and get a nice, long feel on those scars. Thomas falls to his knees and exclaims, ”My Lord and my God!” Jesus, being Jesus, has this awesome little zinger for him.

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I haven’t seen Jesus. I haven’t put my hands on his scars. I didn’t see Him forming the foundation of the earth. I don’t know how it will all shake out in an end times scenario. I am not certain that every Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Atheist, and Democrat will all burn in eternal damnation. I have a sneaking suspicion that God is greater and kinder than our little, offensive value judgements. I have also, in my darkest moments, been terrified that this whole Jesus thing is just a big sham, a human construct to give some meaning to our random, miniscule existence.

But still … I believe.

At the end of the day, I cannot shake the feeling loose that the words and teachings of this Jewish carpenter are not from this world. At the end of the day, I calculate my doubts, and I calculate the evidence, and realize that this equation will simply not balance out, and I take a deep breath, and make a choice to hold some things in a state of unresolved tension, and I simply… believe.

Jesus of Nazareth, The Lion of Judah, the Alpha and Omega, said that I will be blessed in the presence of my fully reasonable doubts, for I am a man of faith.

The Ongoing Dailies Production Blogging Experience

Still at it!  

Go read it.  This one’s kinda cool, I think.

Also, in case you’re not someone whose in my Facebook or MySpace loop, and if you’d like to be, feel free to email us at thedailiesmusic@gmail.com, we’re excited to announce our official CD release show has been booked at The Hotel Cafe on February 28th @ 11pm.  We’re over the moon at the invitation to play there.  Hope you can come if you’re in the greater L.A. area.  Come see Mike and Corey (and Dana and Rosy) ripping it up with us.  

I know this is a bit desperate, but seriously go read it, or at least follow the link and then don’t read it.  I want to make sure we’re top ranked on Google, as I’ve started to work the intertubes in earnest, emailing music blogs and media sites.  

Thanks, roadies.

Three Cheers for Sully

Forgive me for jumping on this bandwagon, but I want to post my praise for Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III.  

This dude landed a crippled jetliner in a near freezing river in the middle of the most populous city in America, and everyone walked away.  Everyone.  

I get all charged up watching people who are good at their job.  I know nothing about the man.  He may be a terrible father, husband, co-worker, or human being.  What I do know is that he’s damn good at his job, and that meant that 155 people get to go home with a hell of a story to tell, and a new lease on life.

America needed a hero yesterday.  We really did.  I needed a hero.  It’s all crap and doom and gloom and who will save us and pooh pooh this and blame that.   Half the country is betting the farm that Obama can save them and the other half is terrified that he’s going to throw the throttle full speed ahead into that iceberg.  

Obama’s not the solution, kids.  Sully is.  Sully and every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, Janie, and Nancy who are just out there doing their thing, and doing it well.  Sully makes me want to say, without a hint of irony, that I am ecstatic about being an American today.  Sully makes me want to be better at my job.  

HIP HIP!!!!

(go on… say it… don’t be shy.  say it out loud.  dude landed in a river.)

HOOORAY!!!  Repeat 2x.  

Thanks, Sully.

The Dailies – Continued Blogging on Songwriting and Production

So, I’ve quietly continued my series on the writing and creation of our new record, so tastefully reviewed by our own Zackiepoo.  

I put up another edition, but it seems like the traffic is diminished if I don’t link to it from here.  All hail the power of Addison Road.  Or something.  If you dug the first two posts, head on over to www.thedailiesmusic.com from time to time and see what we’re cooking.  This one is actually pretty interesting, as it talks about a near arranging disaster that had to be averted in the 11th hour.  

We’re getting some traction on gigs, so if you live in the L.A. area and want to hear us with the band, your time is coming.  The first of these is happening on Feb 7th, at 10pm, at Room 5 on La Brea.  Hope to see you there!

P.S.  Something you should know about Zack:  I’ve discovered more music because of him than any of my other friends.  He has a nose for good stuff, and he’s a true lover of music.  While he is a friend, he’s not a sunshine-blowing sorta friend.  If he didn’t like the record, he would have remained politely silent.  Actually, he might have trashed it.  He’s a tough nut, that Zack.

Signal Chain :: Evolution of a Song

Hey all, and a happy new year.  

I have to tell you that I fear that Facebook and iPhones and the holidays and offspring are sucking the life from Addison Road.  We need a mobile app, Mike!!!!  

In the spirit of the new year, and new starts, I wanted to let you all know that I’m starting a new series of posts over at The Dailies’ Website, journaling the evolution of each of the songs from our new record.  I had a lot of fun putting this together this morning, and I wanted to share it with you.  

Hope 2009 is treating you all well, thus far, and we look forward to opening up our musical heads for you all now that the Christmas Miracles are all done.  

Here!  Click me!  Click right here!  Yeah!  This one!  With the little blue line under it!  CLICK IT!!

Audio Christmas Card 2008 – Jingle Bells

So, this is our little family Christmas Miracle for 2008.  We’ve done this for the past few years, but this year we felt like we were only going to have time for one track, instead of the 2-3 we’ve done before.   So… we decided to get the whole family involved.  I have perhaps the most hilarious video ever of Zion, our almost three year old, tracking vocals on this one.  It’s priceless.  I’ll YouTube it and get it embedded here ASAP.  

In the meantime, Merry Christmas from Chad, Erica, Ella, and Zion Reisser 

jinglebells_mix.mp3

Mike’s Hottness, or Why Young Bohemians Need Dudes with Mortgages in Their Band

Ladies and Gentlepersons,

Last Saturday night, We witnessed an hour of great music. There have been offhanded references over the years to our friend Chris Steffen, who is the house engineer at El Dorado Recording studios. His girlfriend is named Abby Miller, who with her friend Jen Trani form Jen And Abby.

Chris helped them record their album, working his magic at El Dorado. He invited Mike to come and participate in the recording process sometime early last summer, and all went well, as reported by all parties.

Several weeks ago, Mike played a gig with them at a place called The Hotel Cafe. The Hotel Cafe has become something of a flashpoint in Los Angeles, a throwback to the days where playing a good set at the right joint could actually launch your career. Several well known acts, like Sara Bareilles, and The Weepies, and Ingrid Michaelson, and Meiko, have been broken in part because of their exposure there.

It’s the kind of joint that I thought didn’t exist anymore.  One where you can show up on any given night and catch not one but several good sets of music.  A joint where the audience has come to actually hear music, remains quiet and focused, and is self-regulating.  A place where the food and spirits are actually reasonably priced.  Hotel Cafe has become a brand of sorts.  You might think of music that could be played over an iPod commercial, and that’s sort of the sound.  It’s a place that The Dailies will play in 2009.  I’m word faithing, here.

Anywhoo, back to Jen and Abby, and Mike.  I actually don’t know how old the ladies are, but let’s face it… they look younger than us.  Mike and I are both keenly aware of the fact that we’re no longer in our 20′s.  We’re also growing keenly aware that cruel, cruel father time didn’t see fit to allow us to hit pause at 30.

Mike tells a story of the 1st time he sat in with Jen and Abby.  He told me that as he was leaving the stage, and passing through the crowd, Abby said something like, “Let’s give it up for Mike Lee, wasn’t he wonderful,” just as Mike passed what looked to be a tragically hip young lady in her early 20′s who, at that moment, looked right at him and said… “Meh.”

Aaaah, youth.  The freedom to be a total a-hole and not feel even remotely remorseful.

So, back to last Saturday.  Erica, Gretchen and I sidle up to the very front of the room as the sets are swapping out and people are making potty and beer runs.  We were mere feet from the performers as the set began.  The other band members all had that tragically hip vibe, all looking to be in their mid to late 20s, all cool and stuff.  Lemme put it this way, there was exactly one pair of hands on that stage who looked to be regularly wiping poop off of toddler’s bottoms, and that person was Mike.

I’m convinced that having kids ages you.  People who are my same age but don’t have kids seem younger to me, and I in no way mean this in a derogatory fashion.  It’s not even a physical appearance or beauty thing, either.  It’s just…  intangible.  Kids, should you choose to actually raise them, make you grow up.  I think and hope that Mike won’t be offended if I say that he looked a little out of place on stage at The Hotel Cafe, at least on the surface.

But then the set began.

First, a little bit about the rest of the band.  Abby is a great frontwoman, a delightful mixture of vulnerability, cute-girl-giddiness, and strong-willed assertiveness.  Jen sticks with her Martin acoustic most of the time, standing at all of about 5 feet with her strong features and straight hair, with that dreadnaught looking almost too big for her to handle.  Of course, it takes but a few strums for her to show you that she’s fully in charge of her instrument, thank you very much.  The bass player was a girl that I’d never met, but did a great job doing what the bass player is supposed to do, which is groove to death and never, ever miss a note.  The drummer was wonderful, tasty and tight, moving between mallets and sticks for effect and throwing a shaker into the mix when appropriate.

And then there’s Mike.  Within the space of a few bars of music, dear friends, our humble professorial hero transformed into a churning, hemi-powered, fuel-injected, tricked-out, hipped-out force to be reckoned with.  You have to understand that Mike is fully incapable of keeping his ass planted on the seat when he’s feeling it.  Oh, he might be sitting at the beginning of the phrase, but then by the end he’s halfway up and hunched up and over the keys.  Then, he’ll get out right as the 2nd verse drops, sit back down, and exchange one of those, “Oh hell yeah that chorus was happenin’” look with the drummer, who himself is wearing the unfaked grin of a musician who’s got his own mojo workin’.

Mike’s energy should in no way insinuate that he was out of control, or overstepping his musical bounds.  Quite the opposite, which is why it was so damn fun to watch.  For 7 1/2 bars, lets say, getting through a prechorus or something, he’d just be perfectly content to lay out, or comp chords that blend into the picture.  Then, in the last 2 beats, just as the drums start to fill and the chorus is a-comin’, he’d just go ahead and drop a little tasty treat into the whole mix, which would then just lift the whole enterprise up another few percentage points.

Again, this isn’t a story about how my buddy totally saved the day for this band that didn’t know what the hell they were doing.  This is a story about how things aren’t always as they seem.  This is a story about a couple of artists who already have a great band and great songs and a great vibe who have stumbled across a great sideman, and I can tell you from my own experiences that truly great sidemen are hard to find, and are even harder to get along with.

Anyways.  It was a great night of music, and I knew Mike wasn’t gonna brag on himself… at least this time.  Congrats, Jen & Abby, on your success.  It deserves to continue.  Also, if you try and steal Mike from The Dailies, I will totally fight you both in a dark alley.

“Sir, Your Pain is Scheduled for 10:30am.”

“Thanks Maggie. Please hold all calls until lunch, ok?”

I had impromptu coffee with Ash yesterday. He was in town, called me, asked if I wanted to hang, and when Ash wants to hang, you just hang. That’s how it is.

Of course, things went deep. How’s the wife? How are the kids? How’s work? How’s not working? What is the meaning of time and space? Who is God? Does She have a personal assistant?

Like that.

At some point, the conversation turned to the nature of pain, physical and emotional. What is it? How does it affect us? I said something in the course of the conversation that made some sense, and Ash looked at me and said… “You need to write that down!”

Here I am, doing that. Here’s what I said, in a nutshell.

Life is pain. The very act of living is painful. We’re born into pain, and we die in pain. If you’re in pain, you know you’re alive. The question is this: do you want your pain working for you, or do you want to be its slave?

See… I was fat. Really fat. Like 320 pounds fat. Now, I am fit. I’ve lost nearly 100 pounds. I have muscles, and I can run 7 miles without stopping, and I can touch my toes. I do pilates and yoga and eat salad and have become a regular hippie. This process has been ongoing for 2.8 years thus far, and will never stop.

I got fit through a process of deliberately causing pain to my body. The body doesn’t like pain, doesn’t like the feeling of aching muscles. So, it gets all bent out of shape, goes in, and rebuilds the tissue… stronger, leaner, more equipped. This process burns calories, and fat. Then, of course, you have to do it again, and again. You literally incinerate your fat from the inside out.

It hurts. It hurts like hell. At first, when you start walk / jogging, your lungs feel like they’re gonna fall out of your chest. Your feet hurt. Your back hurts. Your knees hurt. Heck, your butt hurts. Most people stop because it hurts. Oh, also, you have to starve your body of calories, which also hurts. You have to purposefully and, of course, healthily, deny your body external food, so that it has to go to the resources it can get to, namely the resources that jiggle on your tummy. Being hungry doesn’t “Hurt” in the same way, but it is uncomfortable, and you get grumpy, and it all sucks.

So… why do it? Well, here’s something to consider: life is pain, and pain is life. Do you want your pain working for you, or do you want to be its slave? When I weighed 320+ pounds, my back hurt all the time. My knees were sore, all the time. My spine was crooked near the top, and slouched forward, causing chronic pain in my shoulders. I would sweat while sitting still. Airplane rides and shopping for pants were exercises in humiliation and discomfort. I couldn’t tie my shoes standing up. I was not likely to drop to the floor and play with my young daughter. I didn’t like going to the beach, or the pool. I had a chip on my shoulder, because I thought everyone was judging me because of my weight. I was a slave to my pain.

But now, (and this is, I think, what Ash reacted to) my pain is scheduled. I manage it. I make it work for me. I do not have back pain. I do not have a curved back. I do not sweat until I say so. I love shopping for pants. I can do a pull up. I am confident. I enjoy being on stage when we’re singing. I don’t fear people’s judgement… well, at least in the area of physical appearance.

Being fit has not solved all my problems, but having been both morbidly obese and a model for healthy living, I am prepared to make a value discernment and tell you that I experience less personal pain when it’s scheduled and maintained.

Schedule your pain. Make it work for you, instead of against you.

The Dailies on MySpace

Hey all.

So… look. We all despise MySpace. I understand. I’ve avoided it for 2 years after we set it up after the 1st record. However, for us indies, it’s a part of the landscape.

We’ve been updating our Myspace page with new tunes, including “The Tempest,” which none of ya’ll have heard, so I’d love to welcome you to do 2 things:

1. Please go enjoy the tunes. We’re really, really proud of them.
2. If you have a MySpace account, let’s be friends!

Thus concludes today’s shameless self-promotion.

Final Mixes from The Dailies

So, in honor of our cool gig last night,  we decided to put up final mixes of two of our new tunes on our Myspace page.   We’re going to post more in the near future, and keep in mind they’re still not mastered, but we still think they sound pretty good.  

The first tune is “All In,” and the second is “She Goes.”  The other 4 tunes are from our old record.

Enjoy!

What is The Community Reinvestment Act?

So…  I’m gonna get political here.  Sorry.  This video got my attention in a big way today, and I think it’s worth talking about.  I’d really like to hear from both conservatives and liberals on this, because I’m trying to sort it out.  

I am an undecided voter.  Honest.  I like Barack Obama.  I like how he speaks.  I like that he acts presidential.  I feel that one of the most important things right now is that the country needs a psychological lift.  I was an early Bush apologist, but I have a hard time with him now.  I think leadership needs to be able to explain itself eloquently.  I get really testy when people attempt to dismiss the important of the perception of the masses, dismissing the masses as unwashed and uneducated.  The masses may indeed be unwashed and uneducated, but they’re our masses nonetheless, and if you don’t want to lead them effectively, go get a real job. (This from the musician… yikes.)  

In the past, I have liked John McCain.  I’m struggling with him right now.  It seems like he’s running a three ring circus.  Lions, Tigers, Bears, Oh My!  While Sarah Palin is certainly entertaining, I am really looking for people with conservative values that can raise the level of discourse in explaining and articulating the benefits of conservatism, because, frankly, conservatives pretty much suck at it, and then get all pissy when one points that out.  With all due respect to the governor, she has (in my opinion) failed to do so, and she’s the big rock star right now.  

So… here I am feeling like the conservatives have made a pretty huge mess of things in the past 8 years, and I’m getting ready to cast my first Democratic vote, ever, and then I run across this little video.  Now, it becomes a McCain propaganda piece towards the end, but the first 6 minutes or so raised my eyebrows.

Discuss.