So…like…do I have a life anymore? Or is everything just an extension of grad school right now? I think it is the latter. And, to be completely honest, Im not bummed about it in the least. I did have a first moment the other day upon waking up that I thought to myself, “when is this going to fucking end!?” But I quickly got up and jumped on my bike to head into school. That sentiment was soon forgotten.
Only a few days later I serendipitously ran into a friend during the couple hours I decided to take off of school work. I asked her to a drink. Some time into the conversation she mentioned that her friend was going to launch a kickstarter for a toast bakery after she finds a space for the operation. For the moment lets forget that her friend is brining the toast fad to new york and focus more on me for the sake of this blog post.
I immediately launched into a rant about how could she possibly know where or who her audience is without first putting it out there and testing the idea!? Doesnt she know that she could learn who her target audience really is by launching the kickstarter first?! How can she have so much confidence in the idea without feedback and prototypes?!
My friend seemed taking by surprise. I apologized. Our beers were done. I drove her home. I attempted to code a gestural interface until a woke up drooling on my computer and then crawled into bed.
Everything about this blog post is awesome.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
I officially began my residency at Town Hall this past week. The wonderfully friendly and supportive staff there have given me the keys to the building for 3 months. They have also given me carte blanche to create whatever I want, which as any artist knows, is the most seductive and frightening gift one can receive. So far I’ve spent the time playing each of their beautiful Steinway pianos, and getting familiar with the nooks and crannies of the 98 year old building (the hallway between the basement bathrooms has the most incredible reverb). I’ve spent most of it in silence, listening for the ghosts in the walls and stained glass windows.
Another of the perks of the residency is being able to attend their various civics, science, arts, culture, and community-centered programs. For an indie-rocker whose entire world has largely revolved around recording studios and rowdy bars and music festivals for the past decade, this has been an important and eye-opening reminder that there is a great big world outside of the reality I’ve created for myself. This point was brought sharply into focus while attending the 7th Annual Urban Poverty Forum. The speakers including Pastor Pat Wright, folk singer Jim Page, MC Jace, and Jill Palzkill Woelfer all discussed the effect and value that music has, specifically for homeless young people. The quote that stuck with me the most is “there’s always a song no matter what emotion you’re experiencing,” spoken by a homeless person describing the effect music has on them.The panel spoke of music as an agent of hope and change, and as an important mode of self expression for those whose voices might otherwise go unheard. “There is no movement where there is no music,” said MC Jace, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between music and social change. The discussion made me think about why I do what I do, and what it is I’m putting out into the world. It also humanized the issue of homelessness and poverty which I’ve thought about often in the abstract but struggled at times with which to find relatable common ground. As Jim Page put it, by listening to songs and the stories they tell, we are better able to find compassion for others, to realize that “they” could be “me.”
Yet another humanizing moment was seeing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak in person last night in the Great Hall. I knew little about Justice Sotomayor besides the fact that she was appointed by President Obama, and that she is the 3rd woman and 1st Hispanic person appointed to the Court. I’d read her name in newspapers and seen her on TV (usually via some cable news show putting their own spin on the meaning of her words). But to hear her in person talking about her childhood growing up in a housing project in the Bronx, to dealing with the death of her closest cousin from a drug overdose, to working her way up to the highest court in the country, all humanized Justice Sotomayor in a way that I was not quite expecting. She described her journey as one of “self doubt and furious compensatory effort,” a concept with which I could immediately relate. It was surprising to hear someone of her stature acknowledging her deficiencies and difficulties meeting her own standards, and trying not to compete with anyone but herself. I saw myself in her struggle to “not escape your background, but to embrace it.” The abstract gained a human face, and “they” became “me”. It made me think of yet another quote from Jim Page at the Urban Poverty Forum: “The form doesn’t matter. What you do with it is what matters.” Where law is the form for Justice Sotomayor, music, my music is the form that I’ve chosen to tell my story. I hope to tell it truthfully.
* The next program I’ll be attending at Town Hall is a double feature on Tuesday, March 18th: “Ann Jones: The Everlasting Scars of War” and “Kshama Sawant and Charles Mudede: Why Socialism, Why Now?” I invite you all to attend as well!
What a great idea for a program.
When you’re working on an entrepreneurial project, whatever it is requires time and effort. It also requires a special kind of emotional energy — a long-term vision that can sustain you through ups and downs. While pursuing our book idea might take more time and work, it will undoubtedly be time better spent, and work that’s more worthwhile.
The main reason for getting your idea (and yourself) out into the world early and often is to see how you yourself feel about it. Is it worth your time and is it truly of interest? So many ideas are great in theory but fall flat in practice. That you are getting market validation is really just a byproduct of this.