10:09 PM, Sunday, October 9th, 2005:
On December 9th, 1994 I surprised my girlfriend by flying her to NYC and proposing at the 10th bench from the right on the south side of The Lake. I wore the black hat, the Ireland pajama top, the raggedy old green army jacket, jeans and black boots. No place in the world symbolizes my life better than this bench. And on my 30th birthday, it was exactly where I needed to be.
However it's probably not in the way many newcomers to "The Journey" would assume. I'm not still in love with Burgundie, although she is very precious to me. I'm not really heartbroken by our eventual divorce, 10 years tends to heal those wounds. No, this bench, this park, this city means so much more. And nothing explains what I mean more than this reaction I got last night when I said I had been divorced twice.
"Ahh, you're a romantic."
Stunned. What a positive response! My thought process was, "Yeah, I am...but what does that have to do with - ohhhhhh. Wow." That is the past 30 years in a nutshell. That's what that bench represents. I'm not afraid of what it might look like, what convenience I may sacrifice - I lead with my heart. And I have absolutely no regrets about that moment 11 years ago when at 19 I looked Burgundie in the eyes and wanted to spend my life with her. It was romantic in every sense and although I didn't know it at the time that act would define my 20s and literally my life. It was a risk, it was holding the egg over your head and not worrying if it cracked. And booooooooy did it crack. LOL. There's still remnants. Ha. ;-)
Remarkably, it's a moment I'm intensely proud of. In all seriousness. That moment defined everything I stand for. I didn't rush into the proposal, it was planned out for months. I was not afraid of committing to her and embraced it with everything I was.
Within 6 months I'd be working at WTVN and that same passion and risk taking would lead me to running a talk-show as a teenager and pushing my creative talents every way possible. Fearless. Determined. Successful. Everything I tried worked better than the idea before and things consistently moved forward.
On December 9th, 1995 - Burgundie and I went back to the bench and enjoyed another week in NYC, the show was going incredibly and I was producing my first CD with my father which would be released the following May. Had CD signings and performances - pushed my show to new heights, got write-ups in the paper... ZZZZZZ - read the bio. I went ROARING into my adulthood counting the successes by the month. I decided to not go back to college for my Junior year and pursued radio full-time and by the fall of 1996 I literally had everything I could imagine.
That December 9th, Burgundie and I got married and somehow were able to make it to the bench within the same day. It would be the last time I was in New York for 9 years.
The following summer Burgundie came to me and said she had made a mistake. She loved me only as a friend and couldn't apologize enough. It was the first of a decade of heartaches, but really the true test of what I was made of. It's easy to jump when you always land on a trampoline, but when it's concrete, do you jump again?
It hurt worse than anything I had ever known. I wept. I was so shocked, so devastated and had absolutely no voice. She never budged, she was certain and I was obliterated (thank you thesaurus.com). The outcome was throwing myself into the radio show, and making to date my favorite collection of songs: "Hearing My Thoughts". It was my public therapy, a type of therapy that has continued my entire life and it was also the other side of my character. It was dealing with the consequences of leading with your heart...
...'cause we all lead with our heart when we're kids. Little by little getting "burned" slows you down. Hard to jump when you just sprained your ankle. No, it's these type of heartbreaks that define just how "romantic" you are. If you can continue to take risks when you now KNOW what it feels like... it is no longer a kid with wreckless abandon - it is who you are, it is your soul...it is your character.
Enter 1998, Palaur, CD101, Jessica and 4tvs. Yeah, my heart wasn't going anywhere. In fact, it started a pattern. A negative consequence always made me risk more to counteract it. ABOT drops out helping you produce 4tvs? Buy all the equipment you don't know how to use and do it better than them. Fired from CD101? Give up the only world you've ever known and move to Los Angeles.
The rest of course has been painstakingly documented for 6 years and it makes the heartbreak of 1997 look like the drama of an 8th grade dance. The definition of heartburn. The content and creativity produced in LA has never been stronger or more "risk-taking" and has also provided some of the biggest burns imaginable. So as I look back on the last 10 years of my life, I'm taking stock. It's what you're supposed to do on the round numbers, right? You look at what you did and you celebrate and try and look ahead.
So that's what brings me to NYC on my 30th birthday. That's why that bench is so powerful to me. It began my adulthood and catapulted me into the greatest adventure I could imagine.
It is also...someone else's birthday, John Lennon would be 65 today. And New York knows it. As you'll see at the end of the video it has been a ritual since his death 25 years ago to gather and sing his solo work and Beatles songs. Once they created "Strawberry Fields" in Central Park, that is where it's been held.
For a Beatles fan, it's just awesome. To sit and sing with 100 or so people is so fun. They had drums, bass, guitars, tambourines - even clarinets for the strange parts. It's also strangely emotional. This is happening because he was fuckin' murdered. So in between songs it would really hit you. You see the flowers and candles on the ground and it's really just a happy vigil. Grr, don't get me started again. Such an incredible waste.
The Post did a story on what Lennon would be doing if he were still alive. It was really good - Yoko said he'd be an internet geek creating all sorts of art and absolutely LOVING the ability to publish without a label. They also did an artist's rendition of what he'd look like now...
That's awesome. I know the picture that was taken from very well and they really did a good job. He'd be wearing contacts though. He wouldn't be caught dead in the grandpa glasses.
The "what he'd be doing now" stories were just fascinating. And strangely enough - I never realized how much I relate to him. "He'd be protesting the war in Iraq, leading the charge on the internet". Ha. I'm glad people understood what a little kid he was about technology. He got a kick out of all the bells and whistles of what was state of the art. Thought cable was genius. It's a side most people don't know.
He would absolutely have been into internet and video as a means to create - the fact that you can literally produce an orchestra on something the size of a dictionary would have inspired the hell out of him. I really see him taking the grass-roots approach to it and making really raw art. He would definitely make the major releases, but it would be on his terms in a way that only he was able to pull off.
He would certainly be on his own record label and I guarantee you his new CDs would not have been in Walmart. He would've loved giving the finger to the brick and mortar executives and sell 'em on his website. Fun to imagine isn't it...
Anyway, things are coming to an end here. One more entry tomorrow (The Journey magic of round numbers will strike again, be sitting down for #470) and I can finally take a break from these insanely complicated entries. My big project to end out the year is going to be putting together a legitimate CD with "Saying When" and "Smiley Girl" leading the way. Remakes of the songs of this year, fully produced for no other reason than I want to. I've had a helluva good song year and I want to capture it with a great disc as opposed to random snippets on a website...
...and I believe we've got an album cover. ;-) Happy Birthday John & Sean.