Ash Wednesday! You’re not a failure because you fail: Trials + Errors in writing, and how to grow from your mistakes.
In my Senior year of high school I took a creative writing class, to my legit surprise it wasn’t as creative as I thought. I call false advertising! The teacher looked like she was melting into the floor, and she smelled like mothballs and her former husband’s pension. Now that I think of it I am not sure she had anything that she actually published before 1978. The end result was this: I got an A, but so did everyone else in the class, I made some really great friends, who I ended up going to college with, and I got called into the office almost every other week. Hey they said creative, so I went with it and ran! It’s Senior year, cut me some slack.
Since then, not only do I not get called into the school's office anymore, instead, I have been met with praise for my view points, and creative efforts. (for real this time) That's a much better outcome. Some days when I am lacking inspiration, I'll look back on a few of those stories. I both get inspired, and cringe, 'cause some of them are written pretty poorly. Just because you are not good at something does not mean you are a failure. Failure is a mindset, it does not for one minute define who a person is. I believe it's better to have tried something and it flops, than to be too scared to do anything at all. Which is worse?
You can always try again, I tend to jump around to A LOT of projects, whether its in writing, art, my career, whatever. I like to do a variety of things because I'll be damned if I am bored or have a stagnant life. That is the worst thing for me is to be complacent in life. It’s too short so by all means do that creative project you always wanted to do. You’re going to grow so much even if you fail, you know for next time.
I wasn’t always the best at cooking, my mom never taught me how to cook, but it was something I always wanted to pursue. I remember going to the library at school, and looking at cook books, this was way before Pinterest, too. In college I was disgusted with the food on campus, I begged my mom to get me off the meal plan, and learned to cook for myself. Now, I am much more confident in my cooking skills, but what stands out more is all my “failed” dinner ideas. You just brush it off and now you know that you cannot sub out pasta sauce for tomato soup. Don’t be an idiot, just follow the recipe. Now I am finishing the process of creating my first Digital Cookbook. Things change.
With writing, or even with anything—Lets just say for example music—you need to practice, and for awhile, you’re gonna suck. Your composition is going to suck. You’re going to want to get frustrated, and just when you want to give up and quit it all clicks, you finally understand music theory and composition. You get out of your bedroom, join a band, you really have an opportunity to get out and hone your passions and craft.
It's better to try then to not try at all. Not trying is the real failure if you ask me. I see people that have potential, like real potential- I do not tend to surround myself with lame ass people. It always frustrates me that people just sit there and waste their talents, that's failure. Having no direction or no clue what you want to do, that's failure. Just do something, anything as long as you are putting out some sort of creative content. It is a mistake not to be true to yourself, that is the real failure.
See ya next week!
Ash Wednesday! Abandoned America: Why are some people attracted to decaying buildings?
Why are we so attracted to abandoned places? Why does it fascinate use so much? Of course, most people wouldn’t give these places a seconded thought, they’re irrelevant[. T]hey are like an iPhone 4s when you have the iPhone 11. It was a good phone for the time but it's been surpassed by several other models.
If you’re like me, though, you still rock the shit out of your 4s sometimes, and if you are like me, you are also hella drawn to abandoned buildings like a magnet. So what the heck is so attractive or alluring about some piece of junk? Like anything in life, why someone likes something is usually very much based on their subjective perspectives, and as always this shits personal. While you may have absolute no interest in visiting a half collapsed building in East Kensington, there are a few select people who live and breathe that stuff.
Some things I like about going to abandoned places is that each one is different. I try not to go to the same places more than once or twice, it is very cool to see how these places change and transform over time. Sure the grass maybe more overgrown, or there maybe more tags or graffiti then the last time, but to me these places are suspended in time, but still have so much potential to transform, and change. Like yea[h] it’s clearly left to decay until it’s last dying day, or until there is a government order to bulldoze it, but to me I eat this shit up.
I have even been driving somewhere and pull off just to go into a house, or a mill, or whatever chalk it up to pure unadulterated curiosity. Many peeps who love to visit these places do so for the pure enjoyment. I always like to imagine who lived here, or is currently living there, why did they leave, what forced them out? I love to figure out how things work, why trains are just left for dead basically if we still use them. What are all those knobs and doo dads for? You know just common questions.
I think these places are also in some way eerily beautiful, I am not sure if it is my background in art, and art history that has a much overstated appreciation for architecture but I just find something so beautiful about the aesthetics of something that looks so broken but still has so much potential.
All those kids who were obsessed with haunted houses as a kid, yup, you best believe they are going out all over, and exploring abandoned places in America, or they religiously watch all that drone porn showing off these huge abandoned institutions. I am a sucker for some good spots too, there is this abandoned hospital that has been turned into a park that just begs to be explored in. Some other places, like abandoned hotels in the Poconos with heart tubs, sign me the the fuck up. I've lost count of how many places I have explored, but I value each and everyone of those experiences.
I love that there are these places everywhere, anywhere you go there is usually something that has been left behind whether it was due to economic collapse, which I have a feeling if this pandemic is going the way that it is going to, I am gonna be exploring my local abandoned Plant Fitness sometime soon. Some time it was a natural disaster, there was a semi famous restaurant near where I grew up that mysteriously caught fire, I am calling bull on that one, I think it was arson but hey what do I know.
Around the world there are many different places all ranging from castles, to hospitals, houses, and hotels, that haunted and macabre are is something that has always insanely fascinated me. They seem to be [encapsulated] in time and as a visual person there is simply no better way to learn about something than being there in person to learn about it in person, yes I am that idiot that stops at every historical plaque I can find sorry not sorry.
I just like abandoned shit. See ya next Wednesday!
People like Dom Coccaro are why I wanted to start a publishing house in the first place. He's the kind of writer who has specific passions and his own style that everyone might not understand but everyone who “gets” is wholly endeared to. When I had my (first) mental breakdown since starting this company, he called me just about every day to check up on me. He's one of the people who can make me laugh like a child hearing a fart every single time we talk, no matter what kind of mood I'm in. He's one of the top writers I'd love to poach for our company. I intended to write this article tomorrow but I met up with Maureen tonight and was quoting one of his best roasts of me and got inspired. He's been running Random Reviews Incorporated since before I can even remember, probably longer than I've known him. Living up to his name, he reviews everything from horror movies to flavors of Mountain Dew. It's been a staple of my life since he's entered it. I implore anyone with a dick, balls, or clit to check it out.
As I mentioned earlier, the site ranges from book reviews to Matches That Time Forgot, which highlights some of Dom's favorite WWF/WWE throwdowns. It's all written in his irreverent, charmingly-archaic tone. He has his own rating systems. Instead of stars, he grades moves out of four Z'Dars (like the B-movie actor). Music is rated out of Abbaths (which is someone in metal music, I'm guessing?). Books are rated out of Verill's, like Stephen King's timeless performance of Jordy Verill in the film Creepshow. It has something for everyone and everything with taste.
So, that's my pitch for you to check out this awesome site in the flavor of Dinosaur Dracula and The Flesh Farm. I'm gonna stop sucking Dom's dick for a bit and end this on an anecdote about the time we met. He used to moderate a V-Bulletin message board on the JoBlo website. (I guess that site's still open, for some reason?) I opened a thread to review Dario Argento's Three Mothers trilogy, starting with Suspiria. He, operating under the username, Count Chocula, closed my thread and immediately opened his own in which he gave Suspiria a review that didn't result in at least a 10/10. Unbelievable. So, Count Chocula was my internet nemesis. I spent a lot of time on internet forums in high school and would regularly bring various usernames up in conversation with classmates. Due to this great offense, there was at least one full day of the eighth grade where Count Chocula was my mortal enemy (long before I got to know Dom as a person). Two years ago, I was talking to a friend I had gone to high school with (another person I would run a marathon to sign onto our label) and mentioned Dom in passing. He replied, “Count Chocula!? You still talk to that guy!?” Check out his site. I'll drop links below. Dom, write us a fucking manuscript!!
Random Reviews Incorporated: https://rrincorporated.blogspot.com/
Ash Wednesday! Pandramatic: What Almost 2 Months In Self Isolation Have Taught Me About Myself And I.
In the words of the late, very much still alive, and great artist, Justin Timberlake, yes my dudes it is indeed May. That means that we are all approaching our 2 month isolationversery! Happy happy right? Long are the days forgotten when all we now say in reference to life before the Covid- 19 pandemic by simply saying " Before all this happened'' so here is what I learned about myself ( so far) the past two months being single in this new germ order:
The past few month, or so I began to really dive deep back into some of my passions. I am not just talking the typical reading all the books on my bucket list kinda thing either, I am talking the things I have not done in a The past few month, or so I began to really dive deep back into some of my passions. I am not just talking the typical reading all the books on my bucket list kinda thing either, I am talking the things I have not done in a freakin' long ass time. Whether it was due to constantly putting others before me, or simply being to bogged down with a rigid work schedule, it has been refreshing to say the least this uncertain times can bring such a creative spark. This pandemic has taught me to not only value myself over everyone else, but everything that I have done in the past few months has brought fourth a new resurgence of Ashness, is that even a thing? long ass time. Whether it was due to constantly putting others before me, or simply being to bogged down with a rigid work schedule, it has been refreshing to say the least this uncertain times can bring such a creative spark. This pandemic has taught me to not only value myself over everyone else, but everything that I have done in the past few months has brought fourth a new resurgence of Ashness, is that even a thing?
I started incorporating daily practices, and activities that bring out the best in myself. AKA I am meditating every morning, I got to say at first it was a bitch, now I fuckin love it. Essentially after 2 solid months of self love, care, and improvement ya best watch out when I do actually feel comfortable to come out of my hermit mode, and finally decide to socialize again. I'll be honest with you I am simply having a bit too much fun with this. I think it is a super healthy thing to be able to sit with yourself, and really do a deep dive into your “Youness”.
While everyone is binge watching Netflix, and Disney + and venmoing their significant others for take out food, I bought myself a bike, and started cooking all of my meals again. I go for 10 mile runs, three times a week, in addition to writing these weekly article/ blog jawns, I am also hosting evening art classes, and daily discussions via zoom. It is certainly a transition, and I miss my art job like a mother. However this is just going to have to do for now. Needless to say I can’t wait to get back into the studio.
Recently I have had in influx of freelance, and musicians come to me to do album art for them, this has been a great outlet for my creativity. Not only have I had some really great opportunities due to this pandemic, I have also found a new found love for painting again. I finally finished some long term painting projects, and I even have one going into a summer show at my local art center in the area that I live in. Needless to say I am taking this summer in stride.
I find that art, and writing especially hold a lot of comfort for me in times of stress, and mass world panic, oddly enough these past two months have been super abundant, and successful. I ain't complaining one bit it's just a bitch, and a half to go to the grocery store, but I am just more choosey with food so it's really not to much of a bother. While the whole world seems to be turning on its head I am just sitting here in silence plugging away on my Mac. Go figure right, who would have thought? Maybe it is because I am usually dealing with a certain amount of chaos, which I am sure like many people like myself thrive in, it's just another typical day. I go to work, I come home, make an instagramable meal, and then I go to my second job online at home which is great, and super convenient. I am hoping that these next few months things keep moving forward, and continue to be prosperous, and abundant.
I am, in a very weird way thankful for this time to have worked out all these kinks that I have been ignoring, and in some ways been in denial about. The world is healing it's self, and along with it so am I in a stupid sense. I personally feel that things were not working in this world, people were not as grateful, and thankful for the essentials, and one another. I am not just talking about toilet paper either, I am talking about the illusive concept of genuine human connection. People seem to be showing more kindness towards one another. I don't know if it's just me, or the amount of spiritual shifting, and collective consciousness, I have been undergoing this past year but I am feeling strangely optimistic about the next half of 2020. Thanks for listening to my weekly rambles as always. Until Next Wednesday....
Our shit-post of a bio states when Todd and I were registering our company we were torn between two names and ultimately decided on a coin toss. Those names were Long Shot Books and Hot Seat Books.
I bring up this up because the name Long Shot was semi-based on a term a seasoned horse racing fanatic I know once explained to me - which I thought was kind of cool and could be fitting to our company.
I'm told there are three types of horses in any race:
Favorites: horses most likely to win. The ones with the good stats.
Logicals: the runners up.
Long Shots: the guys who run dead last. The unlikely candidates. Typically a 20 to 1 shot. Occasionally, that horse who starts off dead last and runs its way up to the front and takes the win.
The person I know never bets favorites. I'm sure if you asked them you'd get a more detailed explanation, but the short of it is – just because they're in the spotlight doesn't mean they'll win. They always bet the long shots with no hesitation or regret. Despite what they odds are, they have faith in the long shots.
In the words of Shane Koyczan, “We grew up learning to cheer for the underdog because we see ourselves in them.” I don't think you can bet on a long shot if you don't fully believe in this.
Back when Todd and I started LSB in 2018, I was having a shit time in life. Sparing details, I knew it probably wasn't a good time to start a company. I did it anyway, and struggled like hell. I wasn't ready for the huge undertaking that is starting/running a business. I was content to just melt into the floor rather than deal with researching, budgeting, or preparing for LSB, let alone life. The odds weren't in my favor. I had no confidence in my competence as a writer, artist, business owner, or functional adult.
I took a gamble with what energy I did have and bet on this company. LSB is my long shot. No regrets. Just faith. Once I placed my bet, it became real. I had an author who was waiting on my interview questions. I had an article to write. I had events to plan. I didn't have energy to dwell in that pit again – I was too preoccupied with all the authors we wanted to work with and how much I believe in what LSB stands for.
Each time I’ve bet, I've won. Through LSB, we've met a plethora writers, artists, and creative folk with fascinating ideas and great work – that alone makes it worth it. We put out a kick-ass book. We've got more ideas in the works in all different forms. We're growing and learning every step of the way.
At LSB we work with wild dreams, so let's see it. We want to see your passion project that pulled you through the tough times. We want to read the piece you're excited about so we can get excited about it too. We're interested in the kind of work only people with serious imagination can see through.
We're betting on you, long shot.
I am by no means a graffiti artist, the closest thing I have ever gotten to that was slapping up some "Hello my name is” stickers, up in around Asbury Park, and in/around Philly. I do have an photography account, after a year its finally getting some traction, but if I could do a little graffiti, or street art here or there I would be all about that. Heavily considering doing some wheat paste boys in the near future. A brief history on the graffiti art movement: The first drawings on walls appeared in caves thousands of years ago. Think back to your first philosophy class in community college the whole Plato’s cave thing. Later the Ancient Romans, and Greeks wrote their names, and protest poems on buildings. Super rowdy boys! Modern graffiti seems to have appeared in Philadelphia in the early 1960s, and by the late sixties it had reached New York. All that Brooklyn train good good. Graffiti has been closely linked to mid 80s and 90s skate culture and now it’s in most modern art galleries, the evolution of this movement has rapidly progressed needless to say the least.
I am friendly with a few self proclaimed artist, all deck out their social media with their tags, and their friends. It has become a mini microcosm on its own. Most artists choose to remain anonymous, which is perfectly understandable, I myself have several of these “ghost” accounts, my most recent being snapshots of doors in the current town I am residing in. Do graffiti artists get a bad rap? What, what what's that all about? Is there a fine line between tagging and vandalism? In my personal opinion its all fucking art man.
What the hell is it with humans and wanting to write their names on wall, and shit? Aside from cities and most train yards, there is one other place in PA that I am all fucking about when it comes to graffiti art, and if you know me you prob know where I am gonna say….. okay, yeah, it’s Centralia, PA. Let me tell you this shit is fire literally there is a fire underneath the town, and it’s loosely based on the Silent Hill movies and games, which is a plus. Give me all the spookies.
I've been to this abandoned coal mine town more times then I can count. I even spent my birthday there last year…. In fact I am pretty sure I have spent most of my recent birthdays there. It's a pretty dead place, and yet it’s usually pretty busy there is even someone who sells T-shirts and hot dogs during the week. As a safe haven for Jeep enthusiasts, musicians have shot music videos there, this place has been a pretty monumental place for being a 1.5 mile parking lot, that looks like Pinterest and tumblr had a rainbow baby. There is just so many freaking pictures and colors. If you have OCD it’s a fucking nightmare for you. But I really like it. To date there are only 7 residents, two homes, and a municipal building. There is no postal service anymore, and hasn’t been for some time. They need to go all the way to Ashland PA, to get their mail. Yea, no thank you. It is however one of the most surreal places you can find in PA.
Recently with the Covid-19 Virus outbreak, the government all of a sudden decided it would be in everyone's best interest if they began to fill in the Tumblr made famous Graffiti Highway. I, and many others have photographed this highway in every month of the year, in every kind of weather, even in a snow storm. Fuck the god damn government. They ruined like a 7 year long photography project I have been working on. That is 7 years of tags, pictures, social media tags, that's a lot of paint! I am forever butt hurt about this. It’s just a road. Leave the highway alone, it literally goes nowhere. If I can’t go anywhere then neither can my highway.
A few years ago, (I want to say 2017?) I went to the premiere of a recent documentary on The history of Centralia in Pottstown Pa. Super bummed the Yuengling brewery was closed that day but it was still pretty neat. I got to meet the mayor at the time of the height of the mine fires; she is a sweet sassy old lady with a matching pant suit, I loved her immediately. I would even go as far to say that’s pretty progressive having a lady baby mayor back in the 70s. Pretty happening, I was also 99.99% sure I was the only out of towner at that documentary premier that night, because everyone seemed to know everyone. I was happy to see that people can preserve through so much, their town maybe gone but I really felt the love and sense of community that night. It was pretty cool. Dare I say rad.
The recent filling in of the graffiti highway seemed like a huge cop out. It has basically just become an oversaturated concrete canvas filled with memes, pot leafs, Epstein didn’t kill himself, and I am ready to bet my left lady nut there is a plethora of Covid -19 stuff now. That's why they’re covering the highway! I am convinced. It just goes to show you I am going to have to start working on my Centralia tattoo to over compensate. So yea, isolation's been fun, I am dying to travel, and get a tattoo clearly. Until then guys ill see you next Wednesday!