All in All I’m Probably Just Another Brick in The Wall

I'm the brick on the 3rd from top row, right where the K intersects.

In 1994, I was 18 and really into Pink Floyd.  Meddle, Animals, Wish You Were Here, The Wall—I loved them all.  Their songs were elegant, harmonic distillations of my disgust with the world.

Everyone was wrong.  Everyone was a brick in the wall.  No one knew why they were living.  They went to work, ate, drank, married, reproduced because they had been told to do so by the machine.  I had integrity (or at least as much integrity as someone can have while his parents pay rent and stock the refrigerator).  I would never be another brick in the wall.  No one would welcome me into any machine.

When I heard about their concert at Mile High Stadium in June, I made sure I had a ticket.  It would be the summer’s climax.

The day of the concert was a typically beautiful Colorado summer day—dry heat, sun with a little cloud-cover, a late afternoon sprinkle to cool things off.  Before heading down from Boulder, my friends and I ate some mushrooms.  To ensure the full experience of Pink Floyd’s insouciance, I ate a quarter ounce.

I had never been to a stadium show.  It didn’t seem like the best place to experience a concert, but I had faith in the Floyd to maintain their integrity.  Tickets were $80 after all.  How could an $80 show be bad?

My friends and I tailgated before the show, bringing a keg of beer to ease us into our mushroom trips.  Everything was going great until I entered the stadium.  The large spaces, the massive crowds of very brick-like characters, the hawking of t-shirts, the concession stands selling overpriced Coors and cheese-whizzed nachos.  I became immediately disturbed.  Then I found my seat.  It was on the first level, in the last row next to the exit.  Because the seat was deep under the first balcony, I had only a partial view of stage (apparently a large inflated pig came out of the top of the stage, but I didn’t see anything).  Florescent lights flickered overhead.  I couldn’t smoke weed because cops stood next to me throughout the show. Continue reading “All in All I’m Probably Just Another Brick in The Wall”

I Could Have Been the Next Zoolander

Gratuitous modeling contact sheet.

Shortly after moving to New York City, I decided to pursue a modeling career.  I was 25 years-old, tall, in good shape, directionless, and longing for affirmation.  The decision was a no-brainer.  I had some snapshots taken and used contacts from some gay men who’d taken a liking to me to get in with the top agencies—Ford, IMG, Boss, etc.  Most of the agents said the same thing:  “We like you, but you’re too commercial.”  This is agent-speak for you don’t have what it takes.

Despite narcissistic tendencies that say otherwise, I don’t think I was ever meant to be a model.  I could never warm up to the camera.  There was always a waft of fraudulence in my expressions—like I didn’t know why my picture was being taken.  The other problem was that most top models—male and female—have slim, photograph-friendly facial features.  I have a jawline as soft and narrow as an aircraft carrier.

Despite my physical deformities, one agency, Wilhelmina, did bite.  They asked me to test.  For those not in the know, a test is a professional shoot unrelated to a paid gig.  Some people test to have fresh shots in their portfolios.  I was testing so Wilhelmina could see how I’d look through a professional lens.

Interest by one of the world’s top agencies played into my fantasies.  I saw my life unfold—I would get the contract, I would travel around the world to exotic shoots, get a young, model girlfriend (probably French), wear awesome model clothes, swap workout tips with my model buddies.

And then Wilhelmina didn’t bite after seeing my test shots.  No exotic locales, no girlfriend, same clothes, same homely buddies.

A friend told me that many models cater-waiter between jobs as many catering clients like pretty boys to staff their parties.  Though I wasn’t pretty enough to model Diesel jeans, I was pretty enough to pass trays of champagne and caviar-topped blinis. Continue reading “I Could Have Been the Next Zoolander”

Defragment Your World


What are the gaps in your life? Any why are you still using a PC?

About 3 years ago I made a determination to stop doing work that was inconsistent with my values.  I was 31 years-old, had recently finished my undergraduate degree and was squandering my vital juices on well-paid, but meaningless work.  I wanted something more from my life.  I figured the first step to doing meaningful work was to stop doing the meaningless stuff.

The quick backstory of my late graduation is that I dropped out of school when I was 23 to get sober.  After floundering through much of my 20’s, I found myself 27 years old, bereft of direction, with access to an education trust set up by my grandparents.  The choice to return to school seemed obvious.

While in school, I continued to work 20-30 hours a week as a cater-waiter captain—essentially the head waiter or maitre’d of an event.  The job paid between $30-50 an hour.  Because my tuition and living expenses were paid for by the trust, most of the money I made from that job was saved.  I finished school flush with cash.

I got my degree in creative writing and literature.  I wanted to write for a living, but ideas about how to do that were not forthcoming, so I continued to cater in the meantime.

But catering created a huge internal inconsistency.  While it was fun and easy, I saw its net impact on the world was somewhere between zero and negative 1000.  Most events created mountains of waste, which completely ran counter to what I knew about what was going on with the environment.

Destroying the environment would have been tolerable if the work seemed important.  Instead, my principle duty was idealizing the artificial.  Most events were product launches and other PR events or posh dinner and cocktail parties hosted by the ridiculously-rich and mostly gay.  I directed staffs of male models and actors to create fantasy worlds—ones littered with chiseled features; ones that precluded ugliness, age, poverty or any other unseemly aspect of reality.  I felt like I was responsible for arranging human parsley sprigs on cardboard steaks. Continue reading “Defragment Your World”

I’ll Do It, But I’m Not Going to Like It

Dan and the cart in warmer days.
Dan and the cart in warmer days.

Yesterday, I was playing Battleship with my cousin’s 5 year-old son. The game started well enough but as soon as I started getting ahead (I’ve got 29 years of strategic thinking on him), he started whining.  He wanted to play, but apparently didn’t want to do it if it meant losing.  His whining got me thinking about my own recent behavior.

My friend Dan Paluska started an art/media project called “Brooklyn Mobile.”  It’s a cart he takes around downtown Brooklyn, asking people if they would like to make Youtube videos.  The intention of the project is to create a case-study in democratized news; the cart allows people on the street to be news-creators as opposed to the questionably motivated Fox News, CNN, CNBC and others.  The reality of Brooklyn Mobile is a lot of teenagers giving shout-outs to their peeps.

I often help Dan schlep the cart around Brooklyn.  The two of us hawk passerby’s asking, “Would you like to make a free Youtube video?”  We make a funny pair:  two tall white dudes with a ramshackle cart asking a primarily black and latino downtown Brooklyn population is they’d like to be on the internet.  It’s a blast.

Anyway, a film company took interest in Brooklyn Mobile and wanted to film it as part of some lame public relations campaign for a behemoth multinational corporation.  Dan is in Costa Rica, so he asked me if I wanted to do it.  Because working the cart is fun and I’m vain, I said I would. Continue reading “I’ll Do It, But I’m Not Going to Like It”