We had a wild party yesterday. When inviting my friends to this party, I told them to show up anytime between 3pm and 3am. They thought I was joking. Even I thought I was joking. Apparently I was not joking. By my clock our first guests arrived at 3:05 in the afternoon and the brave and final few left at 3:45am.  Over the course of those 12-plus hours, we hosted roughly 45 people. Friendships were formed, romances blossomed, animals were grilled, guacamole was made, beers were consumed, vodka drinks were invented, disco was danced, and the cops were called… twice.

I shall not name names, but some of my friends also got a citation for drinking on the train on their way home (it was a small fine, and the cops even let them finish their beers for some reason). So that’s a total of three cop encounters, all stemming from the same party. This all may sound like pretty juvenile or degenerate behavior, and I suppose it may be. However, the revelers at last night’s party (myself included) were neither juvenile nor degenerate by any outward, superficial measure. These are managers at huge financial institutions, marketers at social media companies, editors at literary magazines, producers at music studios, and even a state senator. These are people who at least appear to have their shit together.

This is emblematic of a very Manhattan phenomenon. People here are somehow the most adult, responsible, competent, capable, powerful people while simultaneously the most free-wheeling, indulgent, pleasure-seeking, silly people. New York encourages this dichotomy — its in the city’s DNA. This place wasn’t settled by those prudish pilgrims after all. This is New Amsterdam baby! The Dutch came here because they thought it looked like a fine place to make some dang money. And unlike those austere, wet-noodle pilgrims, once they got a little money in their pockets, the Dutch weren’t afraid to spend it on a little bit of fun! And thus, bars, arts, and parties proliferate here to this day.

Now, that’s surely a gross and possibly inaccurate oversimplification of the history and sociology of this place, but I hope you didn’t come to this alleged music blog for any history lessons. No, I hope you came and are here now because you want me to get to the point. The point is, there are only two rules here in New York:

  1. Be good at your job.
  2. Try to have a real good time.

It’s a simple set of rules, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to follow. Because no matter how good you are at your job, it often feels like there’s always going to be someone that is better at it than you (and probably someone younger, and better looking to boot). I came here two and a half years ago thinking I was going to be a performer. I showed up to get a masters in jazz performance at NYU, but I’ll be honest, I looked around and heard my “competition” and pretty well threw out the idea that I was going to be a jazz musician by the end of my first semester. I did finish the program, and I do now have a master’s in jazz performance, so yes, if we are counting chickens, I am a master of jazz (eat your heart out Coltrane). However, I quickly shifted my focus at NYU to film-scoring and music production classes, and most fatefully, in my final semester, I got an internship a lovely little company called Man Made Music.

I think it took me about a week of interning to decide that I really wanted to get a job there. The musical work being produced was amazing, the space was incredible, and the people were all so competent and cool. So I showed up early every morning, stayed late if I was needed, and remained bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and willing to do anything and everything that was asked of me. As it turns out, it was the right fit at the right time, and I was offered a job there last July. I remain incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work there, and I’m not just saying that because my supervisor might be reading this right now (waddup Amy).

For a number of reasons (lack of qualification being chief among them), jazz musician just didn’t feel like the right job for me. And while the waves of imposter syndrome often come a-crashing, I do feel like Producer at Man Made Music is the right job for me. I now need only follow the rules:

  1. Be good at your job.
  2. Try to have a real good time.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to tune in for next week’s blog entry: What the hell is a producer?

“Quantity over quality man, quantity over quality…” my friend Jonathan said, distracting me from my writing. It’s a bad idea to invite your friends to the coffee shop with you when you plan on trying to finish a blog post. It’s a bad idea for the same reason that “study groups” in high school were a bad idea. You don’t make a “study group” because you really think it will help you pass the test, you do it because you want to hang out with your friends and still convince yourself that you’re being productive. Sometimes you really did convince yourself— you get your World History test back with a fat D+ on top and say “what!? but we studied for like five hours last night!” Maaaaaaaan, you didn’t study for five hours— you ate Doritos and quoted the movie Half Baked for five hours.

But Jonathan is right. He was reminding me of a creative strategy that I hold dear to my heart. My goal for this blog isn’t necessarily to knock it out of the park every week with a transcendent essay. It’s simply to be consistent in writing. For one of my major motivations for having a blog (aside from being able to exercise my narcissism) is that I just want to become a better writer. And If I write something every week, then I’ll become a better writer. Right?

Well, let’s hope so. I can say that I was really trying to knock it out of the park with my blog post last week, and that it proved to be crippling. I wanted to articulate everything that feels wrong, or dark, or scary to me about the world right now— i.e. Trump, climate change, the threat of nuclear war, diminishing natural resources, prejudice, rampant misinformation, and people’s complacency in the face of all these things. I wanted to offer some small silver linings, and some advice in the face of all of this darkness (oddly my advice was essentially the moral of the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “be excellent to each other”). However, I didn’t post it last week because it felt incomplete and somehow untrue. I returned to it this week, but I found it felt even more false.

In that unpublished post I was trying to preach some high-minded and somewhat self-righteous stuff. All of the things I was going to say were good, but until I start actually living up to those standards, I don’t think I have any right to prescribe anything to anyone else. The truth of the matter is, I am, like most people, majorly self-interested. I’m not anywhere near Trumpian levels of psychopathic egotism, however, when I’m laying in bed at night, typically I’m not dreaming about working to end climate change or lifting up my fellow human; I’m dreaming about becoming a successful film composer and meeting Penelope Cruz. I’m not proud, but it is true.

I do sincerely want the world to be a friendlier, more equitable place. I want us all to work to mitigate climate change. I want everyone to do the inner work of transforming our prejudices into openness, and I want everybody to be excellent to each other. I know that I can do much more in my life to work towards these goals. However, I do not think that we can all make some magical leap towards altruism. We’ve got to acknowledge where we are and what we are before we can hope to progress in any way.

Personally, I’m just a dude trying to come up with enough words to fill out a Sunday blog post. And on the weekdays, I’m just a dude trying to come up with enough notes to fill out a three minute song. I do want the world to turn towards the light, but until I elevate my own activism, I’ll refrain from telling you how to live your life. In the meantime, here are two songs I wrote and recorded last week. Y’all listen in for the sound of the electric saw. See you next week.