"How can I help you?"
"If there's anything you need..."
These are all amazing sentiments, and I've been hearing them so often lately from people in my life, big and small, near and far. But the fact is this.
You don't owe me anything.
|Can you help me replace all my Lionel Richie albums? I don't think so...|
I broke out of my shell as an adult - being in bands and working in the radio industry played their part. Being with women did, as well. Confidence doesn't just show up at your doorstep - you build it, block by block and person by person. Without an audience, it's super easy to be shy and withdrawn.
But in the post-Sandy world, I still don't know how to ask for help.
Because there is so much I need right now. So much. I'm gonna take a big ol' bath on this severely damaged Divorce House when this is all over, never mind all that I have lost inside of it. In a lot of ways, I have to help myself. I have to get better, to stay strong. And when it comes to the things most important to me no matter where I call home - the love of a woman, good health, money in the bank - there is probably some help from above needed, not to mention a little luck. Excuse me for not feeling incredibly lucky right now. Some things, to an extent, are out of your hands. Like my house in Staten Island, I am not completely ruined but I require some serious renovation.
|That's what helping people is all about, Charlie Brown.|
I have angels. My parents are angels. The friends housing me, sleeping on the level below me as I type this, are angels. My radio boss is an angel. There are more, there are the people who have gotten me out of the mud and helped me bury all my stuff. There are some who probably haven't even revealed their wings yet. I used to tell my ex-wife that I was her guardian angel, it became a running joke between us - that her life was fucked up and being with me would be what kept her saved. It was an unfair thing for me to even joke about, I suppose. But she often - unfairly - looked at me as more devil than angel. So I had to start over without her. I wasn't her angel, maybe I'm not anyone's - but I'll never be ungrateful. Now I am starting over again, and surviving thanks to the love that surrounds me.
At my birthday gathering this past Friday, I lost it a few times. When my radio boss and his boyfriend walked in, I was just plain blown away. But I couldn't cry yet - it was too early - so I swallowed the lump in my throat. I introduced him to my family for the first time. I told my mother this was my George Bailey moment and joked that she should have brought along a collection plate.
My boss and I aren't super tight. I've never questioned why as much as I've accepted that people have their own lives and when you're popular and powerful, you really have to be selective about your time and your company while still making it a priority to make sure you're happy yourself. Elvis was the first person I confided in about my divorce because even tho we are not built the same, I knew he understood. He has always understood despite the little time we spend together on a daily basis, and he has always been super generous. So when he and Alex were the first of many to arrive to spend a little time with me, I was genuinely moved. I've never been around someone who has helped more people in all walks of life, and in so many different ways, than my boss, Elvis Duran.
|Z100 Christmas Party at the piano bar at the top of the World Trade Center, a lifetime ago.|
Denise's parents have been displaced from their home in Manhattan Beach, and have been staying here, as well. It's a regular ol' Brooklyn Smollar refugee camp, complete with two female rugrats of their own to deal with. Denise lost a friend recently, another young mother. They have been through quite a lot even if their power stayed on and their house is still in one piece. Sandy has affected a lot of people - a lot of our friends and relatives - even if the waves didn't hit every shore. For two weeks, Jason spent his days in Manhattan Beach and I in Staten Island, heading up our own salvaging efforts, and because of that I never really had the chance to thank him for the help he and his wife have offered. I did on Friday. I hope I didn't ruin his shirt.
My father isn't a sentimental guy, although I've seen more of that in him as he's gotten older. Losing important people in his own life has probably softened him, but I'd like to think a lot of it has to do with the growing relationship he's had with my mother, my sister and I. We are blessedly close even if there has been a physical distance between us for the past decade.
My parents have been married for 38 years - they've recently endured the back-to-back divorces of their children, some health scares, my Mom losing her job, and now this. After my uncle died in a car wreck four years ago, I saw even more of a change in my father. It was my Mom's brother who passed, but also my Dad's good friend and confidante, a key player in his youth, a big reminder of his mortality. After that happened, my father and I never stopped telling each other that we love each other, in person, in e-mails. All the time. I'm 38 and my parents don't owe me anything. They did their work and they did it well. But they still go to bat for me every time. I owe my parents a lot, but the only way I can truly repay them is to conquer all this bullshit I've dealt with and bounce back as a happy, stronger middle-aged man while they're both still around.
|That '70s Show|
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
Inside the card were a bunch of gift cards. Another woman I used to work with sent me money over the Internet. My parents' Pennsylvania neighbors, who I met briefly once, also gifted me. Another co-worker sent me a care package for my displaced dog. He called and asked those words - "How can I help you?" - and all I could think of was my poor traumatized dog getting fuzzier, without his medications or any of his toys, without his home.
Because I don't know how to ask for help. I'm not gonna tell you "I need a new Blu Ray player" or "Take me to a Knicks game"- not when I see what my neighbors on Staten Island have lost, when I see pictures of the destruction in other areas. Help them. My house is fucked, but it's still standing. Help people with children, help elderly and disabled people affected by this tragic storm. Help the families of those who lost a loved one to the floods. How can I ask for anything when I read stories like this? I'm alive, man. I'm okay. I survived the floods and I will survive the aftermath. I already have my angels.
|This is one way to sell out all your inventory.|
MUSIC has always been what's defined me. I have released five albums in two very different bands, and I signed another band a few years ago that I really loved. None of these bands ever really made it big, for whatever reasons. I don't even think about why anymore, not after all this.
But I am so fucking proud of all this music I've made and the acts that I've signed. I take satisfaction knowing that I haven't given up, even after the floods. My piano will be okay and nearby soon. I am going to make another album, my Hurricane Album. If you like what you're reading here, you're bound to like these new songs - they are raw and passionate and emotional. They are from the heart. They were born from the hardest years of my adult life. Support that. Believe in my passion. Help me. Without an audience, it's super easy to be shy and withdrawn, and I can no longer afford to be either of those things.
I don't need to sell myself as a musician - as a product - anymore. There's nothing left to sell, no mail to bring to the post office, no mailers, no packing tape. No postage scale to weigh it all, no computer to log sales or inventory. No funds to pay a staff. And that's all somehow very liberating. The music lives on digitally and I invite you to give it another listen just as you've invited yourself to enjoy my writing here (thank you, by the way). I'd feel ten times better knowing you treated yourself to my art than treated me to dinner, and it'll put a little money in my pocket too. Spread it around - now more than ever, recommendations mean as much as purchases in this fucked up industry otherwise known as "the music business."
If you like dancy electro-rock with a quirky romantic spirit and an 80s vibe, try Q*Ball
If you like progressive hard rock and hearing me scream, try Return To Earth
If you like vintage modern rock with awe-inspiring vocals, try The Head Set
So many people know me and know nothing about my music, about my label, about my trials and tribulations in the music industry. I expected bigger things from all these projects, but I always felt like I never had to sell them, even before the hurricane - before this blog turned into my Sandy Soapbox instead of a forum to promote my music, which was its original intent. If I didn't truly believe this music was awesome, I would never have released any of it in the first place.
If you don't believe that this is what I'm all about, that music is tantamount in my life - the melodies, the process, the brotherhood - and you have another ten minutes to kill, then read this.
Help me help you help me. This is my legacy. If you love music, you will find something here to like, even if you only like one album or one song. If you're a musician yourself, I, as always, invite you to make music with me, maybe even get on a stage with me. Supporting this fractured, waterlogged part of my life is one way you can help me, to make me feel like I'm not a charity case. You don't have to ask how anymore. Or you can just buy me some ice cream (this is my favorite). The rest is up to me. I'm ready to ask where the taco sauce is. I'm ready for whatever comes next.