Sunday, June 17, 2012


And yesterday it hit me, the book is going to be released this year. After nearly seven LONG, LONG years of gathering images, writing, traveling, editing text, editing photos, and now in the layout stage, Barred For Life is about to stop being a concept that I talk about in a sort of reverent future tense and become a fucking book; a beautiful 8x10, black-and-white, 450-page book. It is astounding to me. The completion of Barred For Life will represent the most important event in my post 40-year-old life to be sure. And surely the book I have planned to follow it up (you'll have to wait for me to release details), will be the pride of my 50's.

BUT (slowly building) TO THE POINT

I was walking home from the project's new "layout guru's" manhattan home last night. I was walking out of Manhattan just as everybody else was coming into the city, and this is a lot like how my life has become in the past two years; I am not a lot of fun. Sadly, or possibly happily, I've become a GET THE FUCKING BOOK DONE machine. Richard, the guru, wanted to show me some layout that he'd constructed for the interview section of the book, and as usual, after viewing the material, we settled onto his comfy couch for an hour to talk about book related, life related, couch-related and Punk Rock related stuff. Well, I do a lot of the talking because I love to talk. That is just me. Who I am I guess.(?)

On the walk home I was thinking about how when my ex-girlfriend told me that her son had just turned seven I blurted out, "Barred For Life will be seven next August," and it occurred to me that I've been working on this project more or less as long as her son has been a son, and it made me think back to the very beginning. The subway ride home yielded a flood of memories, mostly concerned with me and my crew's efforts over the past two and a half years since completing the three month tour, and much of what I annexed was, well, a bit of a bummer. I was reminded of the story of the man who was sentenced to push a stone up a hill for eternity; after reaching the apex, the stone rolls down the other side, and from there he must push it up the hill once more. In an effort much like this, I must say that the "collection" phase of BFL was way more coordinated, focused, and, well, fun. The "synthesis and completion" phase was kind of the opposite. And now the stone is going up the hill for the last time.


That's all she wrote... Final cover design by Matt Smith

Any person who knows me, or has ever been close to me, understands implicitly that I don't always have the most 7-Second's'ie positive attitude about life, but being a product of two working-class German folks, I am nothing if I am not adamant about finishing what I start. I am far less likely to talk about something I don't intend on finishing unless, all of a sudden, I plan to finish it. So, yeah, if you know me, or you've read back over the blog, you will probably realized that right around the San Diego leg of the trip I hit a wall of depression that could only be described as EPIC, that has just recently subsided. It is where I found myself doing a lot of talking and not a lot of DOING...

Depression is kind of like debt. If you don't start paying off your debt (doing things to counteract depression), you debt just moves into a realm that is overwhelming. You eventually don't want to even try to rein in your debt. You just let it compound until it is a crushing weight. It makes you do shit you wouldn't normally do, and for me it turned me into a crabby-ass-bitch. Depression sucked the life out of me wanting to finish the book. Add to that bouts of unemployment, bouts of dating all of the "WRONG" people, and bouts with trying to maintain a life that had become far too complex to maintain simply, Barred For Life was derailed. At times even even seemed unfinish-able.

My last "tour" blog entry back in early 2010 heralded the efforts of the crew behind BFL. Trust me, what I wrote was a vast understatement. While on tour Stefan Bauschmid single handedly dealt with the effects of me falling apart, and he deserves more than praise; he deserves a fucking medal. Audrey Traum not only came to Europe on her own dime, but she, too, nursed me through some darkness over there and never asked for a fucking thing in return. I have been surrounded by some VERY, VERY, VERY (never mind the hyperbole) supportive people, and as a result of depression, I more or less pushed them right out of my life on some level. Not that I am not still friends with these fine folks, but for most people this tour would have been a bonding experience. For me it was more of an alienating one; which went dead against the actual premise of the tour which was to bring people together.
Diary of a Madman. Me at the start of tour. Happiness factor = 0

Laying in my girlfriends bed in January of 2010, I remember getting a long email from Ron Reyes (second singer of Black Flag, aka Chavo Pedarast on Jealous Again). We had become friendly after our interview in Vancouver, and since he was my favorite Black Flag singer, I felt more-or-less massively honored by his attempts at keeping a line of communication open to me. He made a statement that was certainly true, but kind of improperly timed (meaning everything happened, just not in the order he espoused). His eerie statement, "Man, you've invested so much time in this project that it is like it is your kid. What is going to happen to you when your kid moves out; when you finish the book? Man, I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. It might take you a while to recover. It is going to be some dark time following that one probably." Thanks Ron. I don't think that Ron knew at the time just how dark things were for me right-then-and-there. They were dark. Let's just keep it at DARK, okay..?

So, I guess I got the DARK TIMES A COMIN' out of the way first, right..?

Back to the point. So, for two years I can easily chart my efforts to get BFL back on track, and I can totally see a sort of manic-depressive switching up of my efforts whereby I invest heavily for a few weeks and then withdraw for a few months (and get into something totally different). But these moments of light are not for naught. In fact, had I not decided to retrace the last days of tour, return to my friend's home in Italy last April and May, I don't know if I would have had the time or energy to complete the text here at home. Instead, the Gambino family not only made me part of their family (as they always do) for the Easter season, but they didn't mind that I would hole myself off in a corner during the festivities when I felt inspired to write a chapter or two, or to edit the chapters that I completed. Had I stayed at home I probably would have just laid in bed and read a lot when I wasn't working. The trade off of running-and-hiding worked way better than the staying-and-wallowing option. Plus, I officially wrapped up the text on the same couch where I changed my flight plans with the AMAZINGLY AMAZING Steven "88" Wade over a year before as I prepared to come back to America with my tail between my legs after having been identity thieved, robbed of my savings, and sent emotionally packing from the remnants of my tour. But I didn't do much with the text after that.

I guess that what I am saying here, and maybe I am even doing it so passively-aggressive that I should apologize in advance, is that I now realize just how huge of a success the tour, and the efforts following tour, was, and I really need to thank the people who kept me afloat (which I will do in my own time and in my own way). Leaning very heavily on a lot of people for a lot of things that I could not do myself, I guess that I became a sort of wolf-in-sheeps clothing by using and not building-on-friendship bases with these amazing people. Maybe the fog of depression is finally clearing. Maybe I finally got rid of some of the people who needed to go because they were just distracting me too much from seeing this project to the end. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

This was meant for somebody else, but it will work here, too...

No matter how you slice it, over the past two-point-five years I burned some bridges that I hope to start mending very soon. Sadly, until the book is completely finished I may keep on stressing at the foundations of other bridges, but for those of you who are with me now, who were with me in the past, and need to be acknowledged for your participation, please accept my invitation to rebuild in 2013. I know that it is a lot to ask to hold off for another year for me to really appreciate you fully, but it is necessary. For now, just understand (as I have come to understand) that being undiagnosed (though knowing it fully) depressive is not a very awesome way to live a life. Now that I am on the mend, now that I am working on simplifying my life and deleting some of the complexity, a party in all of your honor is necessary.

Yeah, I think of you all daily...
Don't think that I don't...

Most Sincerely

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