Thursday, January 26, 2017

Notes from the studio: On "Killing Your Darlings"

Hey AllOne Family,
     I hope this finds you well... I don't know if "Notes From The Studio" will be a recurring series but I wanted to do a little more talking about the craft and details/decisions behind what I do because I do put a lot of time and effort and mental energy into my creative process and I do love "talking shop" so much that I had this experience and I thought to write about it and invite you into this little window of my world and perhaps you could get something out of it, either as a creator yourself or just perhaps a nugget of information to satisfy any generous curiosity you might have.

A few weeks ago, I tracked a new verse for a guest spot on a song from DRENT and Kleen Kut's next "Illiterate Wordsmiths" project "Edgar Allens Ave".  The song is about bullying, suicide and loss and each rapper on the song plays a different character and role in the drama.  The incredible Ceschi of Fake Four Inc. is also featured on the song as the person who discovers the body.  Chris "Kleen Kut" plays the friend of the bullied boy who kills himself (played by Drent) and I get the role of the bully.  My experience with writing this was laborious to say the least.  Almost every time I get assigned to do a simple 16 bar verse I write a full song or two of material and crop down from there.  This song was no exception. , although this time I wrote several verses and thought I was done and then I ended up revamping most of my "finalized" verse while in the studio (sorry Frank).  

My initial issues were A. imagining the words and lines and B. taking on the stance or perspective I wanted to take. 

      I first went the route of the kid who learns abuse from his family life, and while true, it is also a cliche and too-explored trope.  I don't mean to trivialize the importance of showing compassion and understanding to those who lash out in hurt or find those antecedents of bullies and want to help, but I thought there were other stories to tell.  I decided to explore the other perspective of a bully type who is a little more aloof and/or unassuming about the maliciousness of their actions.  They didn't get abused, they're just bored and it seems funny to call people names and just goof off.  In their perspective, people are weird you point it out because it's something to do.  Everyone is an extra in your movie, a tool to enhance the entertainment of your experience (all of this is in this character's eyes).  When the tragedy of the song unfolds, he is forced to reconcile with the idea that his actions actually affect people.  As it turns out, his offhand off-color remarks actually were huge and hugely harmful brush strokes on the canvas and themes of this other person's life.

     The other phase of rewriting was a painful realization of "killing your darlings." (above my laptop I have a handwritten post-it-note that reads "Killing your darlings may be killing you darling!")  I deciding that the devices and ideas that I had come up with for my finalized set of lyrics that I walked happily into the studio actually took up too much space and although hard-won, they weren't serving the emotional needs of the verse and therefore the song.  I took a long time and developed a new rhyme pattern approach utilizing a drum rudiment as a model and it sounded really interested and the use of words and the delivery and rhyme placement was incredibly clever and inventive but I had to admit to myself that this wasn't the best place for me to exercise that approach.

     I am happy with the results of my verse, it is very harsh emotional and in-character.  I know it is perhaps silly to bring up when talking about writing raps because of the term's rampant use in the genre, but I use the word "faggot" in the song.  I made sure to establish in the verse is very much the character speaking, I chose this because Owen alludes to being called it in his verse (As the character of the boy who is bullied) and so it served for consistency of the story within the song.

     This is just a reflective reminder to me that when writing we have creative choices and ideas we need to explore, what is our approach? How do we frame our verse and does it serve the song?  Sacrifices must be made.  Your writing can be strong but if it doesn't serve the overall piece then it wasn't a strong CONTRIBUTION.  Remember, especially as a person featuring or being a guest on another's project, it is not your job to solo the whole time and steal the show, it is to serve the piece.  They say the best Jazz players (or players in general) know when NOT to play.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this or similar experiences?  If so, please share them! I know I'm saying nothing new here but I'd like to share my experiences all the same as I go through these processes on my projects.  After much thinking, I decidedly will NOT share the final lyrics here, which will make it all the more exciting when I can share the final product with you!  That being said (or written at least), thank you for your time and be on the look out for the "Edgar Allen's Ave" project later this year!

-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo

Repping my R.Eye.P shirt for Micheal "Eyedea" Larsen.  For the sake of
transparency, this is actually a photo from a different recording session,
when I was tracking vocals for Rapologues,
but it is clearer than the phone cam flick from that day!

Friday, January 20, 2017

AllOne NovEmbark Tour 2016: 12/2-12/4 Syracuse and Rochester, NY Concluding A Modest Odyssey

AllOne NovEmbark Tour 2016: 12/2-12/4 Syracuse and Rochester, NY Conclude A Journey

My Dearest AllWonderers (AllWanderers),

As I write this I am listening to Bad Religion's "The Dissent Of Man" and getting in this last rush of writing before I go to host an open mic night at the incredible House Of Brews in Port Jefferson (the revived and reinvented husk of what used to be Lulu's!)  If you're on Long Island and looking for places to perform, you'll want to visit the VOX POPULI open mic series, run by Mike Perlmutter, genius bassist and former Velvet Lounge open mic host of 3+ years.  The sound system and stage and the overall quality of the venue is unmatched in terms of open mics, plus Port Jeff is a dazzling charming little town to explore before and after!  My friend NOX is the feature and he and I got together to film a cypher which contributed a segment to Episode two of my new series Spontaneous Sundays with AllOne.  Click here to watch Episode 2.  If you recall when last we spoke, I had departed from Albany further North into Upstate NY for the final weekend stretch of the trip...lets get into it....

Friday 12/2 A Hip-Hop show in a Rare Famous Waffle Haven

I drove up to Syracuse finishing up listening to Revealed podcast and Tell Me Something I Don't Know.  When I drove into Syracuse I was really excited to see my friend Evan "Attaboy" Bujold (a quirky and charismatic multi-faceted mega human whose talents seem to know no bounds, a graphic designer, lyricist, singer, guitar player, comic book writer and illustrator among many other things. I've known Evan since my days at Oswego, He did the album artwork for "The Inevitable Effort", "We'll Make It Together" and my newest AllOne offering "I've Been Thinking...".  When Evan and I met, it was at a random performance night with my friend Sam Katz at the open mic and Evan and I meshed really well and kept in touch after he mentioned me in a nice article! 
   It was freezing cold when I arrived and I visited Evan at his job to pick up some show tickets in this cool art museum// "technology garden" of sorts where space was granted to start-ups (one of which Evan works for).  They had an art display to commemorate David Bowie that was up.  I wandered around town for a while, went and got myself wings and sweet potato fries (at a greek spot of all places?!) I was feeling hungry and impulsive as much as my rule is generally "no spending money on food while traveling".  Evan was kind enough when I reached out to him to use his connections as the newly hired music director at Funk N Waffles.  Although we'd

Wrote for a few hours in my car and caught up on some things trying to stay warm.  Funk N Waffles is just wayyy too cool a venue.  There are two in Syracuse now, the one I played is in the downtown area, you have to walk downstairs to get to it, there is an abundance of art and community.  The Funk N Waffles claim to fame is that it was on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives"  . Did I mention that their inventive waffle selection is absurdly delicious?!  I set up my merch table and caught up with Evan while people filled in.  The panorama is just incredible between the paintings and the decoration and the tables and artful menus was just such a good vibe.  They made the mistake of comping me free coffee as a performer and I got their Jersey Shore waffle for irony's sake (and frankly because a simple waffle with ice cream sounded incredible.  It was here that I started regretting having spent money on food earlier when getting my late lunch considering I got half off the food that was arguably more interesting.  I performed alongside Evan (as Attamizk, and a couple hip-hop cats ADVICE & Skateboard, Wyze Guys, and K.B.). I found myself getting antsy, I performed last and watching rappers perform always just makes me want to freestyle and "get open" and get performing.  Seeing Evan perform is always astonishing between his guitar playing, his lyricism and its topics as well as his uncanny delivery between rapping and singing and being able to do all of this at once is just incredible! I had a fun time at the show and will be returning there Wednesday Febuary 8th.  Here are some photos from the night!  Evan's Aunt and Uncle  were kind enough to allow me to stay with them and I tried their homemade pumpkin raisin, nut chocolate chip bread which was a wonderful way to start the day!  Evan and I caught up a bit, talking about the highs and lows of the year prior and how we planned on digging ourselves out of it or already had. I always find it helpful on these travels to run ideas by people as they all come from so many different backgrounds and perspectives.  Hearing and seeing how other people react to certain circumstances either "good" or "bad", "mundane" or "magical" gives me an alternative lens through which to try out processing my own experiences.  This is a benefit of the hard-earned (For me) practice of listening and communicative vulnerability.
Funk N Waffles interior Panorama
Evan "Attamizk" playing at Funk N Waffles

The only "Jersey Shore"
I will be able to stomach!

Saturday 12/3 Visiting Oswego for nostalgic coffee & comics and Rochester Return!

Before heading over to Rochester to visit the Beshures brothers and spend time with them for the house concert, I stopped about 45 minutes north of Syracuse in Oswego, NY of which many of you know I have a history.  SUNY Oswego is my ...Almost Mater... and it was there that I filmed a series of videos ( "I couldn't Stay" with Sam Katz" and "Revealed (Universal)" by AllOne & The Room and my song "Zoom In (There's Life Here)" is inspired by my life there and Tyler Edic filmed a video on location for that song).

     For nearly 30 years Oswego has been the landlord for one of my favorite places ever since I came to school here six years ago, Coffee Connection is a homely place that has somehow operated in this gray-scale, dilapidated fossil of industry's locale that from its hundred-plus-year-old windows overlooks the chill choppy waters that thrash nonchalantly under the town from Lake Ontario. I have written many songs here including "Zoom In (There's Life Here)" which describes its fellow small towns over a menagerie of mugs and a fueled by a stomach full of delicious treats in the creaky old boards of its familial hospitable environment in old complaining chairs that reside within the flamboyantly decorated and local art adorned walls that make this place so beloved and unique… Needless to say I had to take a detour here from Syracuse to Rochester to grab a coffee, take in all of the sights and smells and get a bag of their addictive "buzz bombs" which are chocolate and candy covered espresso beans that I can never get enough five, so it is a good thing that I live eight hours away!  After indulging on buzz bombs and a delivious latte I also stopped into one of my other favorite businesses, the local comic store.  It makes me happy to see that these places are still open in a place in such a down-on-its-luck area.  I picked up a copy of Will Eisner's "Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative" for a comic project I'm embarking on this year with some friends.  

Mike Beshures looks pretty serious, but he's likely
improvising absurd ballads about genitals or politics
     After taking in some of these sights I headed off to Rochester to meet the Beshures.  To my surprise both Rob AND Mike were there (Mike had recently moved to Plattsburgh to teach) and we just had such goofy fun.  They cleared out a space in their basement for a sort of performance/hang out area and had invited people to come over later that night.  We listened to a Shel Silverstein album of performances of poems from "Where The Sidewalk Ends" that was inventive and inspiring in its fearless whimsy and bizarre expression from song to song.  I had no idea this album existed!  Rob and Mike are both talented multi-instrumentalists and yet don't take themselves or their skills seriously at all and throughout the whole evening we were improvising nonsense songs and comedy bits!  We stopped over at their friend Cait's house and had some delicious food she made.  My friend Miles who I met two years ago and performs under the name Cu-Cu came and performed some guitar and piano songs in an intimate fun setting while we ate snacks, drank sweet homemade dandelion wine and sat on the floor.  I love the lack of barriers and pretension in a house-show/party music setting where there are no walls between the person sharing their work and those taking it in, except for the courtesy of lending your ears and eyes politely.  We did a CD trade as well and I met a bunch of friends and even got to see Tyler Edic and his lady!
I performed two full sets and had a great time doing so, to be able to have everyone's attention and just have the focus set entirely enraptured on the words and really get to deliver what I'm saying to ears that are taking it in and brains that are processing it and people that are reacting to me in real time with no distractions is such a joy and a pleasure! There was such a feeling of fun and family, no pressure or judgement and people talking art and animation and music together just hanging out.  We all jumped on different instruments (I was even on the drums at some point for a jam!)  We ended up performing and hanging out until 3:30AM!  It was a genuinely great time and the perfect "show" and event on which to end the trip.
From Left to Right: Mike, Miles, Sally, Cait,
 Mike Reynolds, Rob and myself!
Miles "Cu-Cu" George sharing honest songs
born of poems he'd written many moons ago.

Mikes regales us with piano ballads and storytelling
in the dining room of the Beshures' Rochester home

12/4 Sunday. Spirited Away, A farewell to friends and the road and the promise of returning

I enjoyed the rare luxury of sleeping in and the even more rare luxury of waking up to the smell of eggs and potato breakfast that Mike was preparing for everyone.  We talked about the night and about future hangouts and travels.  Rob ended up treating me to seeing a showing of Miyazaki's Spirited Away, which I'd never seen (and never seen any of his films) and I absolutely loved it and feel bad for having missed any of them!  Such odd and artful presentation and intrigue, it was a wonderful story and mystified and enthused me in a way that felt apt at the conclusion of the tour with all of its complications and beauties.  Rob and I talked music and agreed to collaborate on a song (the final piece to my forever-discussed album Rapologues) which as of the time of writing this, we are in the throes of!  On the way home I did get a crippling speeding ticket in Cayuga county and the officer was irritatingly condescending, suspicious and yet somehow warm and courteous as well.  On the way home I listened to Marc Maron's Podcast, Reveal and a Waking Up with Sam Harris episode about the abysmal and horrific creature that is Donald Trump and all that has gone on recently.  Terrifying and eye opening, but also level headed and fair in its discussion.

Upon getting home, despite any moments of failure or any stresses of preparing this journey or maintaining it I felt immensely grateful for the travels.  In a way, this tour was an experiment for how plausible this type of autonomous travel in my car would go both mentally, practically and financially.  I would say overall it was a huge success and gives me a lot of hope for what adventures and tours I have to look forward to in 2017, whether long or short.  I'm very indebted to everyone who supported me on this trip and made it so enriching and fulfilling.  This sort of trip and change of scenery was exactly what I needed artistically and deep in myself to be inspired and motivated.
I'm going to be on tour again in February, returning to many of those locations including the following:
If anyone has any advice or venues or house shows they want to throw in these dates I'm still trying to fill.. please Email me at  ASAP so we can get it set up !! Thank you!!
1/28 The Basement in Port Jefferson with SAD MAGIC, Alexa Dexa, Paris Yates, I Dreamt The Sea, Pozy and Noise Quintet
2/1 House Of Brews, Port Jefferson Hosting
2/2 Stella Blues in New Haven, CT with Zak G, Dope KNife, Sketch Tha Cataclysm and more
2/3 Open Mic Feature at Everett in Rhode Island with Drent and Kleen Kutt
2/4 Video Shoot // Writing Day with Drent//Kleen Kut//Jesse Ramos
2/5 Alchemy in Providence Rhode Island with Drent and Kleen Kut
2/6 Madcap Monday feature in Providence Rhode Island
2/7 Inspired Word NYC at Parkside Lounge, Lower East Side
2/9 Hudson River Coffee House Albany, NY
2/10 Caleb Grippin House Show in Knox, NY
2/11 Beshures House Show 
2/15 Broadway Arts Spoken Word (open mic) Kingston, NY 

 Never stop moving, never stop growing!  
I hope to see you all again soon and see even more people as well!
 Thank you for reading my story and being a part of it!
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

AllOne NovEmbark Tour 2016: 11/29-12/1 Family Rescue During A Traveler's Crisis (Massachusetts to NYC to Albany)

AllOne NovEmbark Tour 2016: 11/29-12/1 Family Rescue During A Traveler's Crisis (Massachusetts to NYC to Albany)

Welcome back AllOne family,
I am still catching up with my NovEmbark travelogues and now am jumping between writing these tour stories (stouries?) and editing episode two of my new weekly improv rap series "Spontaneous Sundays with AllOne" which you can check out at my Youtube Page.  Episode 1 features Hi-Q of Kill The Inventors and this second episode I'm editing features Nox. For now, let us return to the road, when last we were on my lone NovEmbark journey, I was leaving the Drent manor of the Lefebvre family on a precipitous night to visit my family in Saugus, MA.

11/29-11/30 Calm conversation in the small grey town of Saugus, MA
The night of Tuesday the 11/29th after saying goodbye and thanks to Drent and Libby, post-video-shoot, I drove to Saugus. It took me about an hour and a half through the rain and traffic to get there.  I listened to a few enriching and fascinating podcast episodes including
Tim Ferriss: Josh Waitzkin Distilled
Criminal Episodes: "Melinda and Judy", "Melinda and Clarence" "The Shell Game"

Tim Ferris has become one of my favorite people and his actionable and inspiring interviews have helped me shape a lot of positive habits and routines in my life and clean up a lot of different foibles and inefficiencies of mine.  Criminal is one of my favorite podcast series as of last year, beautifully produced and very human stories that concern themselves with intriguing examples in history both distant and recent of the grey areas of the law or simply odd and fascinating legal events and struggles.  The series has succinct episodes with great narration and conversational interviews that span the emotional spectrum of hilarious to tragic.  Extremely recommended, click the links above for the examples!

When I arrived in the small town of Saugus, coasting up to Uncle Ken and Aunt Pat's small house built in 1912 in the cliche New England rain, I was greeted by Aunt Pat and Skye and Josie who are small wild dogs that act (and are treated like) small bratty children.  They are overprotective and bark incessantly with an insane insistence.  Aunt Pat had been through a lot of medical issues this past few years and she was humbled by them as well as insightful and hopeful.  She and my Uncle Ken (who works overnights so he was asleep when I arrived) put so much love into family and their dogs are now the avatars for their children they lost a decade ago so that helps to explain why they spoil their beloved canine children in a such a human way.

Over homemade cookies and milk, Aunt Pat and I spoke a long time of the importance of family, friends and community (and how those ideally are all synonyms).  She speaks with a sweet Boston accent in a calm patient tone, meandering with long pauses and no trace of profanity (a stark contrast to my Uncle who has a wildly shall we say colorful sailor's parlance? In Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" talking about good salespeople, he remarks on research that shows that people in just a few short minutes meet somewhere in the middle conversationally through cadence and micro-expressions.  I thought of this as my typically high energy, spastic and zany parenthetical mode of speaking slowed down to appreciate Pat's long pauses, to draw images and conjure thoughts in those breaths and let the stretches of speech settle into my head and to simply WAIT.  It was a good reminder to relax myself and appreciate more in conversation, which was paired well with my conversational lesson that morning with Libby at IHOP (what luck I have with delicious foods and good conversation with older generous women in my life!).

It's funny to think that the last time I slept in their guest room was almost five years ago in January of 2012 on my small open mic tour.  In that very bed I wrote lyrics that would be come the songs "The Inevitable Effort" as well as the first verse of "Work In Progress".  To lull myself to sleep I finally finished reading Isaac Asimov's "The Currents Of Space" which I enjoyed rather a lot (and only recently realized it was the second in a Space opera trilogy!).

Wednesday 11/30 A Pleasant Day's Indulgence becomes a Spontaneous Jaunt Gone Awry

I woke, showered and started reading the fascinating celebrated travelogue "Sailing Alone Around The World" by Captain Joshua Slocum in which the author recounts his unbelievable excursions in an unprecedented 3 year journey circumnavigating the globe in a 31 foot sailboat he build called The Spray.  I wanted the travel and first-person writing inspiration, and for all of the reading I've done of it thus far, I'm getting it in droves!  I jumped out of my bed and dashed over to Kane's Donuts which just celebrated 55 years being owned and operated by a family and even recently opened a second location in Boston!  This gourmet Doughnut shop is bright and colorful, smelling sweet and delicious with an overwhelming display of decorated pastries.  I got myself an apple cider doughnut and a mini-coffee roll (which is bigger than your average DD coffee roll) and picked up some eats for my aunt and uncle.

Aunt Pat and I indulged in the massive, sugary and gluttonous pastry rings over dark bitter coffee, Uncle Ken came home and we caught up over breakfast before he passed out.  He is hilarious and as I mentioned earlier he is feisty and vulgar, although debilitated recently by breathing issues brought on by years of consistent smoking, he is full of character.  Uncle Ken collects coins and rare currency, he survived four tours in Vietnam.  I asked him about this experience, which he told me enlisting was a decision based largely on the fact that he felt he needed to leave home and his town.  He found himself getting into a lot of trouble and prior generations in his family had signed up (a motivation I get into in "Desert Diaries").  He saw this opportunity to serve as an exactly that, an opportunity to do some good, to learn some things, discipline himself and have an escape from a dark circle and cycle he found himself running in.  He remarks that he is astounded that he got through all four tours, as he defied all advice and would volunteer for missions and extra assignments and work before he even knew what the work was.  There was a desperate need for change and an extreme form of dedication and discipline, as well as reckless abandon that was really fascinating to me.  What an incredible guy and story.

On a spontaneous whim, I drove into Boston and went into this small comic shop Comicopia and picked up a couple of issues of Brian K. Vaughan's "Paper Girls" after far too much perusing.  The series is a riveting sci-fi mystery period piece with four female protagonist, paper girls who time travel into a weird dystopia.  Highly recommended especially if you liked the Netflix Special "Stranger Things".  When I came home I started watching The Martian, which was a blast and we ordered from a family owned Italian place, Victor's which had been open for 8 years and had a great reputation in the area.  Based on my experience of Veal Parm over Wild Mushroom Raviolis, I can confirm that the reputation for deliciousness was well-deserved!  A month and a half later as I'm writing this I can actually still call up the tastes of that meal (during which we were all quiet in our ravenous feasting).  If you're ever in the area and have a hankering for Italian but don't trust it outside of NY, I'd say head to Victor's!

Succumbing To Self-Desctructive Magnets In Panicked Mind-Shadows
That night I initially planned to perform at an open mic in Salem, MA but my absurdly talented, altruistic and deservedly internationally celebrated Beatboxer/rapper/singer/multi-instrumentalist/performer friend Kaila Mullady invited me to play an event at Le Poisson Rouge with her group The Beatbox House which made for a very sudden late-night journey to New York City to perform with that incredible group, as it was a better opportunity.  I gave my hugs and kisses to my Aunt and Uncle and started on the road to NYC.  I had just a few hours to get into the city and attend the show and so time was against me.  Traffic was against me too!  Pretty soon, I would be against me as well!  Hours went by listening to podcasts and music that I did not record in the neurotic mess of what was to come.  Thanks to the miracle of the GPS system on all phones, I have been able to maneuver literally and figuratively around my abysmal sense of direction.  For all my imagination I have a terrible time abstracting direction and geography in my mind and so I am so prone to getting lost that it is a recurring joke among anyone who knows me even a little bit (or at least one relied on my ability to arrive somewhere).

      I managed to make it to the city just as the show was scheduled to start.  Anyone who lives inside or outside of the city will tell you that driving through the dizzying, ornery technicolor maximalist metropolis is a nightmare.  Now I was doing so in a rush. This is a recipe for a psychological meltdown.   All of a sudden my fuse was shorter.  I seemed to have sponged up the angry attitude of the cliche New York driver.  The rain poured down, the cars honked loudly, I had to shut off my radio in that seemingly silly way to avoid distraction of one sense so that my other unrelated sense could concentrate on simple turns and directions.  I found the venue finally!  I couldn't find a parking spot.  I started flashing back to all troubles I had a year or so ago when I couldn't find parking spots at shows and nearly missed them or actually missed them and then why I boycotted the city out of need to maintain my own fragile sanity.  I dove dark into my head.  All my insecurities were dredged up.  Some of my inner diatribe looked like this:

 "You're not good enough to perform with these legends-in-the-flesh!" 

"they do fun and impressive organic talents, your style is overwrought, no fun and forced."  

"You're going to show up late and people will be mad at you" 

"What if you don't have enough money for the parking garage and your car gets stuck?"

"You're showing up to plug in a laptop to play beats when you're in a room of professional mouth-musicians?!"

Then it stopped being just about the logistics of the show and moved into more personal territory...

"Kaila is just doing you a favor, no one really wants you on this bill, or cares"

"Why are you on this tour? You're a joke"

"You're nearly 30 years old,  you're traveling around playing open mics, you're a loser."

"How presumptuous and selfish of you to make a life of sharing creations, so self indulgent to make yourself into a commodity"

"your work is pretentious and derivative nonsense, you take yourself too seriously"

Meanwhile my head ached, my chest felt tight and my stomach churned while my anger seethed. My self loathing took on all sorts of shapes and sizes.  The rain seemed to try coming down harder than I was on myself while parking spaces and lots were more evasive than my self esteem.  Then I started critiquing myself for critiquing myself.

"Oh jeez are you really having some sort of breakdown right now?"

"You have it so easy you are privileged and have no problems in life, you're driving into the best city in the world to do what you love with people you love and you're freaking out?"

"Are you really so stupid as to not be able to just find a spot?"

"Oh wow mister publicly uplifting and positive is having a big hypocritical (and hyper critical) breakdown, now THAT is poetry!"

"You big baby, you know and love people with anxiety and depression and real problems, fighting illnesses and poverty and here you are, trivializing their issues freaking out dramatically about a parking spot and being tardy to an amazing opportunity?"

"You know how many people would PAY money for this chance, harder working people who are hungrier than you and you're just going to blow it?"

I did my best to muster up some psychological fortification against these maligning specters of self-doubt.  I tried reminding myself that I decide all my emotions and I AM NOT MY EMOTIONS, I just have them and they are fleeting reactions that can be controlled, but this did not help.  The effects of this brutal barrage of self-flagellation seemed to build off one another exponentially.  I started rethinking my entire life and feeling foolish about this creative independent path I'd chosen.  Clearly I wasn't cut out for it, I thought.  I am ashamed to admit that I texted Kaila and let her know that I was having a sort of bizarre personal crisis and could not make it, that I'm so sorry and I hope her night goes well and I'm really grateful for the opportunity despite what my pathetic retraction and resignation would seem to imply.  I drove back home, exhausted, now 7 hours in the car, fatigued, defeated, crying and feeling deeply isolated and shameful.
     I arrived at my house finally, my roommates were surprised to see me and I was evasive and had few words to say (for once in my life), no perspective to articulately present these ideas from and no energy with which to explain myself or engage much.  I mumbled vagueness and apologies.  I sauntered off to my room. I too was bewildered that just that afternoon I was happy in little Saugus with my aunt and Uncle, and how far I had come just to go nowhere at all.  On a "tour" I was yet again back to Long Island.  I felt like a failure, I felt physically heavy and yet emotionally drained.  I was useless and overwhelmed.  I collapsed in my bed, not caring when or if I woke up.  I had no plans for the next day and laughed at the prospect that I could possibly execute them or would be deserving of any positive experience.  I fell asleep into fever dreams, nauseous at the drama and the thought of my own perpetuation of it.

Thursday 12/1: Waking Up Figuratively and literally, the fortitude of family and a return to Albany

I woke up in my house bewildered from the emotional hurricane of last night.  I intentionally slept through my roommates schedules so I could avoid them.  I decided I needed good energy and I needed to keep moving and doing things otherwise I'd fall into the trap of self-perpetuated stagnation.  An emotional quicksand pit where every grain is a sediment of saddened sentiment.  I called my grandmother up, who lives out by the city (yes, chiding myself for having driven an hour past her last night) and asked if she was free for lunch.  She would be a loving presence to be around, a friend, a non-judgmental ear should I choose to expand on my issues or fine company if I chose to keep my low moment to myself.  We agreed to meet, I showered, I swapped out some clean clothes and got myself feeling fresh, making external changes in hopes to inwardly reflect that too.  Seems hokey right?  Well, I'd rather be cheesy and hokey than feel like shit wouldn't you?  I met my Grandma for a brunch, she is so funny and gentle and loving.  We went to try the spanish restaurant in the strip mall adjacent to her house and clumsily ordered with no understanding of what we were getting and saying.  There was a humbling and embarrassing language barrier.  Grandma and I caught up over the delicious and strange food and I began to feel better.  I realized that it was thursday, meaning that the Hudson River Coffee House that I played at on my Onederlust tour had an open mic still.  My cousin Erica who I love but rarely get to spend a lot of time with now lives in Albany.  Suddenly another adventure opportunity presented itself to me.  Grandma laughed at my excitement and capriciousness as I called Erica and told her my idea, she said that she'd be happy to host me and would meet me at the coffeehouse.  Just like that, I had an opportunity, a purpose, a mission and something to work forward to!  It was that easy. Adventuring and plan making is always that easy if you choose it to be!

Grandma packed me up with all sorts of snack vittles for traveling, as is the nature of her and all generously maternal grandmothers probably since there was a third generation in existence.  With lunch had, conversation volleyed then  kisses and well wishes I was on my way.  I was off!  I drove for a few hours listening to Steven Dubner's Tell Me Something I Don't Know podcast as well as the investigative journalism podcast Revealed on my way up, two sources of knowledge from the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, TMSIDK is whimsical trivia information with charming personalities and a game show sort of set up and then Revealed is a very stern and informative reporting program that is very sobering and eye opening in the shocking subjects of its presentations.  In it a learned about some of the wild things that occur in the ridiculous set up of Welfare systems.   On my drive at lights (dubiously advisable I know) I penned a bit of a verse that will probably end up in a song at some point, reflective of my travels, both the joy, the cynicism, the strangeness that being alone on the road induces...(by the way, if you read this blog, thank you...I was obviously full of doubt and not talking about you when I wrote this...)

"Groggy and weary, I start talking to Siri,
arguing weirdly serious, obviously delirious
oddly concocting preposterous theories
logging my thoughts for a blog ya'll are not really reading
chicken scratch in a moleskine
in a lap with one hand jotting and steering,
eyes irritated.
I irritable.
thank you cruise control.
no thanks ruthless tolls!
Content to contend with two bridge trolls
as opposed to spending tender to bridge tolls
shit, who would know?!
The miles amalgamate,
as does every calendar date,
but smiles, towns and faces,
all enrich me to a grounded state
when I'm out of state, I'm proud to say..." 

                I arrived at the venue feeling nostalgic and in disbelief that it had been two and a half years since I last visited.  The artsy bohemian vibe of the garden level cafe that doubles as a performance space and an art gallery of sorts for various mediums was blessedly still intact!  This cafe is a gem.  Anton is a young man who owns the place, he is encouraging, kindhearted and surprisingly young!  I learned that this open mic was the 301st consecutive weekly open mic they had thrown there... how incredible!!  Poets, comedians and musicians of all styles were performing originals, covers and jamming!  Erica met me with a friend and we hung out by my little makeshift merch table.  I performed "Zoned Out" and "Travel Baggage (Carry On)" to which the impressively crammed and jam-packed room of folks both young and old responded to very very well!  A lot of people came up to me after with questions and bought albums and tapes and took stickers.  It was a great feeling and I noted that there was such a contrast to my feeling from last night and thought of all the support I have if I just reach out for it either with family and people I know, or as was evidenced here, with people I don't even know!  It felt amazing to be There was even a beat-boxer named Alex Martin who had a friend Chiggy who played guitar and he invited me up after my set to freestyle with them so I did and that improv session actually went over really well!  Catching up with Erica and seeing all the creative energy and taking in the art and the performance was just such an uplifting experience and a very efficacious panacea for me.

Performing at Hudson River Coffee House, Albany.
Photo by Erica Pandolfo.
After that, I retired to my cousin Erica's apartment.  Erica is the next oldest person in our generation in the family.  She is an inspiring and remarkable human being.  From the onset of her life, she has been completely emotionally wonderful, with such a strong degree of empathy and compassion for others.  She drives herself to work so hard and accomplishes everything she puts her mind to with seemingly Herculean psychological fortitude.  Her strength and determination, as well as her brilliance is certainly a genetic blessing passed down from our Poppy (for whom Pennsylvanian Patriarch was written).  She recently passed the Bar exam on her first try and is working hard to make change for those who need it.  Her apartment was very neat, clean and classy.  She and her kind roommate Brittany whose lengthy study session we interrupted upon arrival were already decorated for Christmas.  We chatted for a while about life, our love lives and thinking about career trajectory and what we can best do for the world with our skill sets and what we enjoy most.  We sort of tried to digest and process the story that I just told you, the weird sinking into depression in the midst of nearly capitalizing on an amazing opportunity to do yet another thing that I loved and what my weakness and sadness meant.  I think we surmised that it amounted to nothing, sometimes we just have weak moments and we just have to accept them and push past them. "Keep Pushing // Pull Through" as the immortally inked reminder on my forearms suggests from my song "Brainstorm Of The Century".  All these lyrics and word-musings are just reminders for me anyway while I process this wacky ride linguistically.  I curled up in my sleeping bag after finishing reading the incredible Volume 2 of Brian K Vaughan's "Paper Girls".

     By the time I woke up, Erica was racing around to leave for work, she gave me a pile of snacks to leave (Guess she got aspects of both of our grandparent's good traits!) and told me to make coffee and/or do whatever I need to do.  We exchanged hugs and gratitude.  It's rare that I get to spend time with her and it was nice to just connect and share insight and philosophy and laughs as two grown human beings.  It is thrilling and inspiring to know that I share blood with someone who is so driven, gifted and loving.  I get myself some tasty bars, drank coffee out of an adorable porcupine mug and took turns writing morning notes/ideas and reading more of Paper Girls. I packed my items shortly after and headed off to revisit Syracuse to perform at Funk N Waffles feeling uplifted and hopeful.
These travelogues will continue in another final chapter in my upstate NY journeys, coming soon!  As always, thank you for reading, I hope you found some new media that you can enjoy and some nuggets of inspiration here and there in these meandering ramblings!  I love you dearly.

Working on your love is still work,
but the ends may justify the means.
You are not defined by your lowest moments 
but your reactions will define how long those moments last.
Why fear reaching out if you're already feeling stretch thin?

...Keep Pushing & Pull Through...
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo

Erica and I at her August graduation party!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

AllOne NovEmbark Tour 2016: 11/27-11/29 Rhode Island with Drent and Kleen Kut

AllOne NovEmbark Tour 2016: 11/27-11/29 Rhode Island with Drent and Kleen Kut

Greetings AllOnderers,
I hope you are all alive and fulfilled and feeling well!  If you recall last in the misadventures of the AllOne NovEmbark tour, I'd had an invigorating performance and gluttonously celebratory visit home on Long Island and from there I departed Sunday to head on a short jaunt to Rhode Island to visit Drent and Kleen Kut and play some shows in the area for the first time since the Onederlust tour in summer of 2014... A diverse amount of experiences were had and they began with a short drive up....

Sunday 11/27 A Return to the Drent Family and A Satisfying Pawtucket debut

The drive up to Rhode Island was rainy but not entirely dangerous, by the time I arrived at the Drent residence, I was exhausted and greeted with immense love by Mrs. Lefebvre who flatteringly considers me a third son.  We caught up a while as Owen got ready for the show.  We were set to perform at The News Cafe in Pawtucket, of which I've heard nothing but good things!  If you remember Drent and I did a split EP produced by Tony Mahoney in 2014 called "Creative Differences (A Split)"! Since that record he started working on some solo projects including an EP he just released called FRAGMENTS: The Walking Nightmare Trilogy, a song series started by the song he and I did for our split called "The Walking Nightmare".  It is a gritty and dense emotional ride over three dusty boom bap instrumentals by the aforementioned Tony Mahoney and if you're into that sort of hip hop, which I am, I advise you to listen to it! As you may be be aware if you've followed these journeys, then earlier in the tour you may recall my show in Connecticut, where there we met Kleen Kut, who Drent is working with on a rap duo album called Edgar Allens Ave, Owen and Chris were the friends who I'd be staying with and performing the shows with.  P.S. as of the time of writing this, the Edgar Allens ave album is recorded and I've heard it and it is the best that Drent has done to date and is a fantastic project that I'm eager for you all to hear!

When we got to News Cafe it was an unassuming little bar in Pawtucket, a dive with a fun vibe.   In the crowd I got to see Dylan Titus again who I met in 2014 when Drent an I performed at the now-defunct The Spot Underground open mic the same week we recorded our split, he's a really sincere and supportive guy and talented experimental artist .We were sharing the bill with fellow rappers NiceJesse Ramos and producer D. Valor official.  I met a bunch of really cool cats in the line up and in the crowd, the first person to support and pick up an album was a friendly guy ISPOCKA honestly, everyone was so impressively responsive.  It was cool to see D. Valor actually get to play the songs he sampled from and then play what beats he made by sampling the songs and to have a producer do DJ interludes throughout the night kept things moving in a great way, he's a really talented producer and I am always mystified by beat-making so that was a joy for me.

Jesse Ramos @ News Cafe
Jesse Ramos was the first rapper to perform and he smoothly rapped a bunch of stream-of-consciousness lyrics, insights, personal views and clever turns of phrases over instrumentals both borrowed and original.  He had an unpretentious conscious rap approach to his whole aesthetic, very carefree and fun.  His stage presence was casual and relaxed as was the personal and affable demeanor he carried himself with.  He was very expressive about his support and seemed to just be enthused about being around people who also share his love of creation and expression!  We quickly became companions by the end of the night. Later he told me his whole set was him just performing random lyrics of his over random instrumentals he was pulling up because he hadn't had time to prepare a more full set.

I was really surprised by the amount of support and attention that my set garnered.  People were both reactionary and interactive as well as just watching respectfully and seemingly in awe of my material.  This sort of energy really had me in an excitable and charismatic mood so I really threw myself entirely into the set and was hoarse and pouring sweat by the middle of my performance!  Chris and Owen's extreme encouragement about what I do and their blessedly free way of expressing it is so fortifying in the best way possible and it was that sort of love that I was able to grow with and give back during a set I was very happy with.  It's always a trip performing and having people know the lyrics and rapping along, it's very jarring and invigorating as well!
My set:
Build Here
Cardiac Compass (Path To Preservation)
Travel Baggage (Carry On)
Quality Vs. Quarantine
What's Your Problem?
Zoned Out
This Is For
later on I popped up to do Creative Differences during Drent's set.

Nice @ News Cafe
Nice went up after D. Valor spun played us some more incredible beats that just made me want to freestyle all night.  What I appreciated about Nice's set was he had a diverse display of a capella verses that played out like poetry and when the beats came on there were tales of ambition and violence as well as gritty personal realism with some more mainstream rap styles.

Drent and Kleen Kut closed out the night with a really polished, impressive and solid set from the two of them despite Drent being sick.  The show was a birthday celebration for him and he really threw himself entirely into the performance and over the last year Chris and Owen really have worked hard on their performance and their songs and they really come out with high energy and a sincere feeling of chemistry between them on the mic.  The way that their dynamic in the songs go back and forth and give one another space to display their talent and back on another up and feed back into choruses together and jumping around really made for probably the most energy of the whole show.  I think the fact that this was my first night in and they were rocking in their home turf on Owen's birthday made then really want to get wild and they surely killed it!  At the end of the show D. Valor played some beats and we all got on the mic to freestyle which I was dying to do so we passed the mic around and got open which was amazing.

Drent and Kleen Kut a.k.a. Illiterate Wordsmiths at News Cafe
Justin was running the sound at News Cafe and he and his lady Hannah are opening a DIY/independent music store within the venue and really enjoyed my music and asked me if they could sell my music in the store, so if you're in town at News Cafe, feel free to go pick up some cassettes and CD's!!

Monday 11/28 Drent's Birthday Firehouse 13

Monday night were featured performers during the weekly open MadCap Monday at Firehouse 13 in Providence, which was a fantastic time.  Although it was freezing out (and in) Firehouse 13, this event was awesome to be a part of, the building is effectively a big warehouse with a stage and a bar and plenty of room for artist to peddle their wares, which they certainly did. The series is run by the talented Nate Cozzolino and sound was run by Caleb (who was the aforementioned Jackie's boyfriend that I met back on Long Island.).  Caleb also ran up and collaborated singing and playing drums and guitar with several different people.  He was so kind as to forfeit his performance slot so that I could have more time to perform during the feature because we split the feature between myself Owen and Chris.   I saw an array of talented artists playing guitars, keyboard and singing, reading poetry, rapping and even local beloved lushes doing bizarre inebriated shock-comedy.  Mike Faria who performed last sounded like an acoustic mix of Staind and Maynard James Keenan of Tool, all night he was making and selling sandwiches on a George Foreman grill that I thought was very clever and then he performed songs from his Sgt. Baker and The Clones band, later he came over and offered me a CD trade that I took him up on, the album is pretty awesome admittedly, LISTEN TO THEM HERE.  Among the artists I met Tim Batty who was a goofy punk rocker and and a visual artist who set up next to my merch table as well.  I saw a pretty freaky and interesting art piece by him that I knew Jenn would enjoy so I ended up bartering with him for it, giving him a pin from my friends The Nightmare Police and some money.   I also met Missy who made really interesting jewelry pieces.  Most of the artists had a "make an offer" approach similar to what I explained and explored in my Washington DC post, but this time it was more like bazaar bartering without a tip jar which was pretty intimidating to me, because I didn't want to be insulting but I also knew I couldn't spend much on my tour budget!  Luckily, my exchange with Tim Batty worked out, and many people in the venue were blessedly supportive of my work, buying CDs, pins and tapes and giving me advice about the area and inviting me back! Performing on that stage was a lot of fun and I'm glad I get to return on Monday February 6th!
Multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter,
 sound manand altruistic new friend, Caleb
Performing a short set at
Firehouse 13's MADCAP MONDAY

Tues. 11/29 An errand-prompting "Soaker" with the Lefebvres // Ironically Immortalizing A Graveyard // a late night interstate trip to reunite with family

In the morning we woke to find the day was raining hard, what the New Englander Lefebvres dubbed charmingly "a soaker".  In an almost social homage to my last big trip in 2014 when I was visiting the family, Owen's Mom Libby took me to IHOP again for breakfast and to catch up.  She is such a sweet woman and has a lot of inquiries about life as a creator and is a great listener who attentively gathers up information (she seemed to methodically want to know about my family life etc.) It is an interesting social characteristic and a reminder about listening and socializing to put forth genuine intrigue into your interactions with others and to learn from them.

To evade the soaker as well as help the family and make a little more money on the road thanks to Libby's generosity, Owen and I spent several hours helping clean the house.  It took a long time to take the myriad works of art and photography down that were all holiday themed and then meticulously organizing them through some ambiguous arbitrary system and taking the new winter-themed photos and pieces of art down from the attic for her to later curate the house with.  We also took an immense amount of their Christmas decorations down many flights of stairs and just as we became exhausted and bored of all of this, Owen's friends Alec and Julian came over to meet us to go get some footage in the dreary precipitation  for a music video they were shooting for our collaboration "Walking Nightmare" from our project "Creative Differences (A Split)" and now expanded upon in his new EP "Fragments: The Walking Nightmare Trilogy" .  We drove to a very old eerie local graveyard in the consistent rain and took a bunch of melancholy shots of me performing my part and Owen wandering around all ominously!  After a half hour or so, soaked and freezing but feeling accomplished after working with good people and getting work done.  Keep your eyes peeled for the release of that soon!
After we finished up the video, I packed my items up and headed off to Saugus, Mass to visit my Aunt Pat and Uncle Ken for the night and the next day while I was in the area, but we will leave that embarkation for another post... Rhode Island felt like a huge success, I met so many new people and had a great time with Owen and Chris during the two events.  Next, a nightime jaunt to family to a small town just north of Boston results in some delectable intake and then a crisis arises after a sudden decision to return to NYC... stay tuned!
Keep meeting people and fostering new relationships,
they will revitalize your old relationships as well as your relationship with yourself!
Thank you as always for your time and support,
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo

Sunday, January 8, 2017

AllOne NovEmbark Tour 2016: 11/25-26 An LI Visit Revealing A Small World & Big Family

AllOne NovEmbark Tour 2016: 11/25-26 An LI Visit Revealing A Small World & Big Family

Happy New Year folks, at the time of me typing this up it is the first day of 2017, what a predictable but somehow always-surprising aspect of life time is hm?  Hope you all had great experiences during the celebrations of your new years.  Just getting caught up with recounting my adventures on the NovEmbark tour, you may remember that recently I had narrowly escaped being trapped in DC and made it back on the philanthropic nature of others' during my is where I'd like to pick up these not-so-harrowing travelogues....

Black Friday on Long Island, Caffeine and Jams
Just after my "illogistical" journey to Washington, DC the day before Thanksgiving with a quick trek back to Long Island in time to sleepily scarf leftovers on the day of human gratitude all birds fear, I had a black friday show to perform at The Cup in Wantagh with my Long Island born but Denton, TX based friend Eric Daino invited me onto!  Eric is an acoustic player and a punk/ska songwriter who tours plenty solo the past few years and also has a ska band called The Holophonics that I recommend if you're a ska fan!  Eric and I met when he performed the release show for "I've Been Thinking..." in May, he is a really nice guy and very dedicated to his craft.  His honest songwriting reflecting on the life of a traveling person and a struggling independent musician really appeals to me so I was happy to jump on another performance with him!

The Cup Coffeehouse is a really neat place located amidst a strip of bars and boutiques on a street running parallel to a train station and if you're ever on Long Island, I very much advise you to go.  The Cup is a very unique place with an artsy DIY vibe to it.   The owners are supportive of musicians and they have some delicious coffees and desserts to be enjoyed on the plethora of couches and reading chairs one can nestle into comfortably.

An "Incidental" Set with Eric Daino
Eric and I had two and a half hours or so to fill between the two of us so we opted to swap short half hour or so sets back and forth so as to give everyone opportunities to hear a little of everything.  The event was packed out and it was really rewarding playing a sort of "incidental" lounge set, where the music is just sort of there and not necessarily the focus of people's attention in the venue's environment or the night's proceedings.  You'd think this a little counter-intuitive maybe and I'm especially aware that my music demands a certain degree of attention to be grasped or fully appreciated, but letting go of the stressful or egotistical feeling of responsibility that the quality of your performance is predicated upon and audience's willingness to pay attention and instead just performing the songs to the best of my ability is sort of relieving.  Luckily, people DID often pay attention especially at the onset of me being on stage, but once people adjust to understanding the "novelty" of seeing me do what I do (someone who looks like I do rapping well and passionately) and feel they have ingested a rewarding amount of my material, they go back to their conversations and food and then revisit me.  In those moments I lock eyes as best I can with those who are attentive and try to let them know that I appreciate it.  This creates a different relationship for me with people and with the idea of performance that I like being reminded of, that just indulging in the expressive and well-delivered material regardless of who is watching and when can be just as rewarding as one where you're arm and arm with people in the crowd or doing call and response choruses and doing a very active and charismatic performance.
Eric Daino singing his heart out
at The Cup

Seeing and hearing Eric's music, particularly his travelogues from the last 7 months spent on the road was really inspiring and put a lot of hope into my desire to travel and keep performing.  He has a great song about sort of questioning people who almost condescendingly or enviously tell him he's traveling doing what he loves that acerbically tries to illuminate the lack of romance in it and that it is indeed hard work regardless of the fact that he is doing what he loves and sharing and creating music.  This was also a poignant reminder that hard work will always be hard work, but it is the driving purpose of the whole experience that really makes it grueling or not, the "ends" justifying the means sort of dilemma or reconciliation. If you are a ska fan and like upbeat music that is also thoughtful and insightful I think that Eric Daino is a MUST LISTEN, here is his solo album he released last year...

Jackie & The Small World
     Doesn't that title seem like an indie band?  Toward the end of the show at The Cup there was one particular person who sat down close to the performance area and was giving me their uninterrupted attention more than most so I gave it back to them and after my set I approached her and thanked her for her kindness and we got to talking and I learned her name was Jackie and I told her I was visiting home amid a short tour and in a few days I'd be headed up to Rhode Island to play some shows with some friends... as it turned out in the incredible sequence of coincidences, she attended school up in Rhode Island and her boyfriend ran sound at the Firehouse 13 venue that I was going to perform with Drent and Kleen Kut on Monday, we both laughed and marveled excitedly at this "small world" occurrence and wished one another safe travels and said we would see each other at Firehouse 13 (which we did, you'll come to find).
     I reminded myself that it would never have happened if not for a series of decisions such as Jackie decidedly paying attention or me going to make contact and us talking or even me opting to perform at The Cup or to travel to perform in Rhode Island.  There's a line I wrote in a poem about this reflecting on a similar small world situation from when I was in Texas in 2013 and a woman found my notebook and turned out to be from Long Island (READ A LITTLE ABOUT THAT HERE) , People always say "It's a small world" and I think its a very big world, but the coincidences and the degrees of separation in the world get smaller as you opt to bridge the gaps and take part in creating the connections and weaving the interconnecting web of events and interactions around you.

Discovering support at second Thanksgiving with Family Saturday 11/26
     The 26th of November is a traditional family day where we get a whole bunch of the Pandolfos over my mom's house the Saturday after Thanksgiving for a second feast of merriment and an absurd amount of food and obnoxious Italian interactions.  There were surely some political and religious conversation I didn't care for, but that was fine, respect it and move on!  My house mate and long time friend Andrew, (also known as Andrew Mesmer) even joined us for some grub and gab.  Overall it was a great reminder of the beautiful community of people I have in my life in my own bloodline, since I get so caught up in all of the music and creative related family I have and spend so much time doing music work and performance, I often miss a lot of events.  It was fun to be able to tell some stories of recent performances and admittedly I stood a little more upright with pride, able to depict that I was enacting and embodying my passions and pursuits unabashedly and productively, even if my well adjusted and settled relatives worry or don't quite understand what I'm doing with my life or can ideologically align with my intentions.  I think the overarching idea that came across was that if I seemed happy and stable or had some sense of confidence and purpose in what I was doing and that I was DOING IT, then they were able to support it.  This is the best we can do I think, as friends, lovers, family and strangers, is to support people and respect their choices so long as they're happy and healthy and not hurting anyone, you don't have to understand it, but what a beautiful and admirable story it is to see someone else who found a way to cut their own path the way they saw fit and travel through their life engaging in activity and purpose to the best of their ability and affinity?  That is success. That is supportive and non-judgmental love.

With a belly full of food, a face sore with laughter and a head full of hopes I got myself ready to depart for Rhode Island the next day to embark on some more musical journeys with my New England rapper cohorts Drent and Kleen Kut!

Open your arms to others and close the gaps between us.
Invest in yourself and encourage others to do the same.
Even if you don't understand people's choices, 
you can still respect and draw inspiration from anyone's taking 
charge of their life and vigorously hunting contentment.
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo