Hey guys. It’s currently raining, Noah’s ark style in Chicago. The water is up to, and over the curbs of my street in every direction. It’s wild. It’s looked like midnight since about 2 pm yesterday and it’s apparently not letting up until tomorrow night. Yesterday also saw the nation further coming to grips with this Boston shittiness, and then, boom! This poor little town in Texas gets completely destroyed, and, well…yesterday was also my kid’s birthday. He turned 5. It was a sweet little day inside of a world-ending flood, flanked by fatal industrial accidents and the worst in human impulses. It’s very tempting to sit here and be depressed. I mean, nothing highlights the fact that you have a vested interest in the world not ending in a hail of ball bearings, fertilizer plant bits and torrential rains like the anniversary of the birth of your child, right? And, between the gloom and the dying, well…as I said, it’s tempting to be bummed.
But I’m not gonna be depressed. There are a ton of really great things in this world that make me super happy and I’m gonna list just a few of them here for you guys. Maybe it’ll be a stupid exercise, but I’m basing this on that theory that if you smile, you’ll just get happier, in spite of everything. You know that one? What? Hippy bullshit, you say?!?! Well! I never! Anyway, let’s get started.
Shit that makes me happy (minutiae edition):
Kids being stoked: When you give a kid a gift she likes, when a kid sees someone that they love that they haven’t seen in a while, when a kid is pleased with themselves for doing something well, there’s nothing like it. Even if you’re a heartless old Grinch that hates kids (and we’ve all been there), the enthusiasm and wonder of a small person being stoked on just about anything is undeniable. Google “kids cuddling dogs” or “kids stoked on Christmas” or something if you don’t believe me (full disclosure: I haven’t googled either of these, but I’m confident they’re jam packed with heart warming shit).
Claudia Schiffer- She’s German, approximately 6’2” and about 20 years ago, she was the face of Guess jeans and the embodiment of a stereotypically beautiful blonde, natural supermodel. In celebration of her being the Guess girl for 20 years, they’ve put one of her old billboards up. She’s probably about 20 or so in the picture and she’s just so overwhelmingly beautiful. Now, I know that our culture puts a lot of pressure on women to be gorgeous and everyone’s a many splendored flower and all that shit. I’m DEFINITELY not suggesting that Claudia Schiffer circa 1993 is any sort of thing to strive to be or anything …just be you, bro. However, I AM saying that looking at her picture makes me extremely happy. She’s beautiful and looks soft and sweet and like she smells great. I have no idea if she’s actually nice at all or if she smells like pigshit (doubtful, but you never know), but that’s not the point. The point is, there’s almost nothing so human and inspiring as recognizing human beauty, whether it’s physical, technological, cerebral, artistic, whatever. Lots of things on this list are gonna fall into some of these categories, and I’m not giving physical beauty the short shrift just so I somehow seem less shallow. There’s nothing shallow about stating the facts and acknowledging your influences, and looking at pictures of Claudia Schiffer in 1993 makes me pretty stoked. Prost!
CGF- For those of you who play guitar, you’ll recognize this as the C version of the old 1-5-4 progression. For those of you who don’t, well, these are the chords to the best parts of your favorite songs. C is probably the best key (it’s super modular and the open A minor is the best minor) and this is the most simple way to express joy through the key of C. If you want a real easy-on-the-ears, no frills example of how great CGF is, go listen to the Ballad Of Love and Hate by the Avett Brothers. Every 4 line stanza ends with a very simple three chord descent overlayed by an extremely simple and beautiful melody. It ain’t rocket science, but it’s real nice on a day when your heart’s cold.
Exercise- There is nothing that feels so good as accomplishing something. There’s also nothing that feels quite so good as stopping something that’s hurting you. That’s why exercise makes you feel so great. It’s the sweet spot here. Finishing a workout is the most physically and mentally gratifying thing you can do while leaving your genitals tucked away.
Things that people like: I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to explain this, but I’m gonna try. Every now and then, I’ll walk by some guy (it’s almost always a guy) who’s maybe kind of awkward or fat and seems to me to be lonely. I’m projecting, obviously, but bear with me. This guy (and I’m not talking about a specific guy, this happens fairly regularly) is carrying a small bag from Burger King. He’s kind of clutching it close to him. It’s obviously just one burger and he’s taking it home to enjoy. This guy, this lonely guy could have gone anywhere and eaten anything, but he picked this item out because he likes it and is carrying it home to give himself a small little amount of satisfaction and enjoyment. In my mind, he’s going home and he’s gonna sit there alone and enjoy his southwest burger or whatever the fuck it is and I can’t exactly explain why, but I find this to be heartbreakingly sweet. The tiny moments that make people happy, even if they’re just in the form of a shitty 2 dollar sandwich…that’s the shit that makes this a life, folks.
Holding Hands- Not a lot of situations on this earth are improved by holding hands with someone. I find it to be cumbersome at best and weird and publicly awkward the rest of the time. HOWEVER, on the rare occasion that it’s not, it’s absolutely the best thing out there. I can think of a few times when holding hands is awesome: When you’re sitting next to someone new you like watching a show or a movie, and you kind of go for it, and they let you hold their hand…What an incredible feeling. Every morning I walk my son to school and we hold hands. When my daughter wants to go down the stairs, we hold hands. I love that. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there with my wife and I’ll just reach over and hold her hand in the house or at the restaurant or whatever and it’s lovely. Holding hands, when it’s not annoying, is the best.
Beginnings and ends of journeys: Setting off on a journey is exhilarating. I’ve had the good fortune of getting in the van, or going to the airport or getting on the bus a lot of times in my life to start various trips and tours, and it’s always a giddy thrill to set off on a huge journey. Shit, even if you’re just getting in the car to drive to Milwaukee to get hammered, that moment of shoving off is truly awesome. Arriving is, likewise, an incredibly satisfying feeling. Getting somewhere and saying your hellos, putting down your bag and stretching your legs is one of the great simple pleasures. Big fan.
Pets: Duh. They love you. They cuddle you and all you have to do in return is not let them die and pick up their shit. Pretty decent deal, if you ask me. Even assnecks who hate kids love pets. You ever see someone walking a bunny? That shit’s amazing, folks.
Songs/movies/words: there’s a reason that I got into making stuff. It’s because there’ almost nothing that affects me more than someone summing up humanity in a piece of art, be it a book or a movie or an article or a song. There’s something about feeling the connection to what someone is saying, that “Man…that’s exactly how I feel, I just didn’t know how to express it” kind of feeling that’s transcendent and connective to the artist and the characters and the world at large. Sometimes, it’s an emotion you didn’t even know you had, or didn’t know you wanted to find a voice to express. That shit’s great. I also get really happy when I complete something that I feel is a good showing in terms of artistic merit. That’s one of the absolute best feelings in the world. (fart).
That was fun. I guess it’s obvious, but I left off things like fucking and beer because those things aren’t always pure good. They can be GREAT, but they can also lead to a lot of trouble. You know what? I feel a lot better. This hippy shit of yours seems to work after all.
Okay. I love you guys. Be cool. Let’s rap soon.