Thursday, January 20, 2011


Hey hey!

Ahhh, the life of a blogger. I'm sitting in front of my crackling fire, waiting for the water to boil for the potato pasta. Snazzy! However, it IS the 50th anniversary of JFK's inaugural address, so the pressure's on!

Hey, I've noticed something this week....The ground isn't the only thing that's been frozen lately. People's perceptions of their potential they are seem to be at a standstill, too. My clients have been grumbling "hey man, I can't play that", and I've been grumbling about finances, name it!

It's funny how powerful language can be. I expounded on my views of external language in the las t post - that is, how we need to watch what we say to others, but how about internal language? What we say to, or about, ourselves?

My mom has taught me some things about what she calls "the victim mode." She'll ask "are you being a victim, Josh?" if I start acting like life is happening to me, and there's nothing I can do.

I've been stuck squarely in the victim mode this week, and let me tell you, life has been bugging me, and it's no way to get things done.

I really got frustrated today, and then I happened to listen to myself teaching a lesson, and at least one person in the room was helped - probably just me.

If we put the word "yet" after a seemingly pessimistic assessment of a given situation, it changes it around in a dramatic way.

"I can't play that scale at that speed - yet."

"I can't afford that MiG-15 - yet."

"I'm not good at alternate picking - yet."

It's cool! It turns a statement of failure, frustration, and lack into one of hope, potential, and resolution.

I'm less grouchy now, and personally, I'm working towards that MiG 15. I can't wait to ask my yacht-owning buddies "oh, you're still boating?

Ask not what your country can do for you...yet,

- Josh
P.S. Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country? Two words, JFK. "Sup, COMRADE?" Haha!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

There's no font for sarcasm, and no tone for a megaphone

'Sup, Comrades?

I was lazing around on Saturday, heckling my dad by showing him videos of Stephen Colbert and generally having a good time...When I heard about the massacre in Tuscon.

Holy smokes, what a shame. I immediately went political, thinking of all the overheated jabber that's been choking the airwaves. Having had a few days to reflect, and some of the news stories to emerge, it looks like the shooter wasn't politically motivated, just way gone mentally. (Perhaps new evidence will appear, as this is a developing story.)

But - regardless of this maniac's motivation, the murder of so many innocent people has made me think of a few things lately:

1. The responsibility of entertainers

We spend so much time, effort, and money to reach a platform from which the world can hear us. This includes not only musicians, but also politicians, pundits, writers, and anyone else who has the people's ear. It seems we then forget that there's a real audience behind those TV cameras and stage lights, and we say whatever we please. From "surveyors symbols" over congressional districts to violent lyrics, we often act like we're still obscure, and nobody is listening. We stamp our feet when people are not, and feign astonishment when people actually take our word and run with it. Sure, you can't know how a maniac will interpret something, but come on, we should be able to figure out when singing about shooting cops, or suggesting a second amendment solution might be in order if the ballot box doesn't win might blur that line between words and actions just a bit too much. People say it's just lyrics, or figures of speech, but I think it does affect us. Maybe I'm just impressionable - OK, that's a given, but hey, some tunes have made me think hitmen were glamorous. I've seen people close to me warped by video games. What we put in our head matters.

And, I think, those of us with the stage have a grave responsibility to realize that.

There's no font for sarcasm, and there's no tone on that megaphone to say "oh man, I was just kiddin'!"

Of course, one of my students made the point that metal musicians really don't have anything to worry about, because nobody can understand the words to the songs anyway.

Hey, I'm certainly not for censorship - only personal responsibility. I'm using this opportunity to make sure that I assume full responsibility of what I put out into the world, as an entertainer, and general bigmouth, which brings me to...

2. Shades of Gray It's rare to find an issue that doesn't have another valid point of view. I had the privilege of seeing Tom Chapin in concert a few days ago, and he had a song that made a point by telling kids to "forget rational discourse, because it's not on the test." In this charged political climate, I often mask my ignorance of an issue by literally skimming the information, and latching on to a sound-bite for my position in debate. I have a pretty good guess that the other side will be doing the same. It's a lot easier to call someone a loon than say "well, I understand your concern with the deficit, but still, how do you think we should get out of the recession? And where did you get that hat?"

Complex problems usually don't have simple answers. But man, I'm telling you, I've been training myself to streamline my words (believe it or not), and perfect my elevator pitch when I'm booking my show. Well, while all the world's a stage, it's not my show. So, I'm gonna be giving up the sound-bites, and going to go subtle in the hopes of getting to the truth of the moment.

Two things to honor the victims, and do my part to make the world a little better: Be very aware of what I put into the world, and a dedication to the truth over winning a battle of...I guess you'd have to say phrases, because it's certainly not wit.

Won't you join me?