Thursday, August 30, 2018

Love Headlock


Summer has given way to the fall. The humidity is blowing over the hills, sweat replaced by shivers. Soon bags will float upon the air and jackets will leave the closet.

I'm ever-humbled by my love for the human race when I see young people enjoying the summer. There is nothing finer than over-hearing kids talk in excitement of spending time with friends without the daunting presence of adult oversight. They're out there on bikes, on the beach, walking down to the store, enjoying a little bit of time between growing up to practice being young.

These moments in-between are sacred.

Life can be difficult. People can be annoying. Emotions can overhaul logic. People fail and blame others for their failures. People worry about inconsequential detail. Friends leave. Friends return. People learn to love and others learn to hate. 

The wonderment of living is discovering the element of surprise.

... when young people surprise us with their adult capabilities
... when old people learn to escape bad habits
... when creativity presents discovery of a new frontier
... when we forgive
... when we get back to living

... with smiles on our faces and full hearts in the presence of others; enjoying a little bit of time between growing up to practice being young.

The winter brings along shorter days, colder mornings and a feeling that one might prefer to hide from the larger world; but I won't! At some point, I found symphony. There is a strange feeling of destiny when things come together. Most days are tough and frustration can drag us back into the bunker but every once in a while we recall the simple beauty of everything around us.

We hold our children in the palm of our hand and in a moment they are off to college. Our parents leave (forever). Friends die too soon. We lose a job, make bad decisions and hurt the people who love us most.

Then, on a Monday morning, when we least expect it, an old song comes on the radio that reminds us to live. We hear from an old pal. Someone admits that thing they did to hurt us so many years ago was the wrong thing to do.

Leaves will fall, the gutters will fill and the sun will go away.

We remember to love ourselves and we headlock those who need help with the love we've been given. The circle is complete and divine.

.... and for a moment everything makes sense.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Plane Thief

"boys and girls in cars, dogs and birds on lawns"

On August 10th 2018, Richard Russell stole a plane. I don't believe he should be glorified by the act nor do I consider him a villain.

The entire fiasco has been met with bewilderment.

My friend John Roderick has a lens on the situation that is educated from an aeronautical as well as a mental health purview.

If we can reserve our judgement on destruction of extremely valuable property and the multiple lives Rich endangered, we might be able to see the man who has been laid to rest beneath the trees.

Listening to the air traffic control recordings we hear someone who is in equal parts calm, apologetic, alert to avoid harming others while at times attempting of humor. Certain comments hint that he is aware his stunt went too far.

Richard Russell performed maneuvers in the sunset that no pilot had in the history of flight.... and he's not even a pilot.

As his joy ride nears it's end, our rebel pilot proclaims that he's not quite ready to end the journey. He'll attempt (and accomplish) one more barrel roll then "set the nose down and call it a day".

Listening to his final commentary brought tears to my eyes.... I'm not perfectly sure why, but I heard a man who was on a flight to nowhere discovering the realization that the ride was over.

The Long Winters had a song that pulled at my heart strings: the piano was graceful, the multi-layered drum tracks erratic, the repetitive narrative meaning something different every time. Only years later did it dawn on me that said song was about flight.

I, too, had once written a song about being lost in space.

I always thought of the recording studio as a place to create what could not necessarily be replicated on stage. There is nothing like being in a dark room with headphones on making an instrumental into a narrative. I guess it's kind of like being a pilot of a ship built by one's band mates as they watch on from the control room. I appreciated the gift and I always took on the responsibility with divine privilege.

We live in a time when people seek "likes" as their 15 seconds of fame. The closer we grow in the virtual world, the farther we get from human interaction.

Life can be hard and confusing... and sometimes we just need a friend.

Rich may have forgotten that you don't always need interaction to find salvation. We find it in songs and in books and in the sunset on a Friday evening. Some times when we least expect it, everything does a barrel roll. If we're able to endure the G-Force, we figure out how to get a little bit better.

There are times when we try so hard and nothing adds up. Then a raindrop on our face reminds us we are alive.... the look of a child reminds us of our innocence.

The joy of life exists within the flight path..... not how we take off or where we land.

"... from here I can touch the sun ..."

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Tuesday in Oxford

It's 10am on the streets of Oxford, Ohio and you can hear a pin drop; a revelatory contrast from just a few hours prior. For the 7th year in a row, I've traveled from California to Ohio to facilitate Leadership training for undergraduate men..... specifically Fraternity men.

I majored in Fraternity in College for reasons in equal parts inspired and degenerate. While I wouldn't trade the experience for any other, my perception of fraternity life comes with halted exuberance now that my son is 6 years away from his pledgeship.

The experience of Fraternity living is mired in stigma. Some have viewed us as beer guzzling, sex-crazed, meatheads determined to devalue the college experience.

I've come to understand differently.....

People always wonder why I would leave the comfort of my Silicon Valley mansion to sleep in an Ohio dorm room for 5 days every summer.

Is this a chance to party with College kids?
Are you re-living your more-lively years?

No and No.

The Phi Delta Theta Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute is an alcohol-free event. The Phi Delta Theta Fraternity practises Alcohol-Free housing. These practises in Moral Rectitude are in one part an affect of the reckless behavior of my generation and another part an expectation of our memberships potential to Become The Greatest Version of Themselves!

I've achieved professional success and fortune thanks to my fraternity experience. I learned more about business being President of our fraternity than I did in any business class or internship.

20 years after my college graduation abuse of alcohol, sexual misconduct, hazing and misappropriation of motivation are not extinct on college campus'. Having kids less than a decade away from stepping foot on campus.... the aforementioned behaviors are no longer met with a chuckle from my throat.

The function of fraternity has evolved.... as a network for professional advancement, a think tank for education and a place where boys become men. Our mission for personal development does not just relate to being ones brother's keeper but extends to the community at large.... to protect women, to support those in need, to truly realize one's potential thanks to resources that are not provided those who seek to ignore the group dynamic.

What A Special Privilege!

I've lead the Shaffer Honors College of Leadership since it's inception. We've put roughly 300 men through training that has reminded them of the importance of teamwork, networking, ideation and ethics. Without knowing if the rock hit the bottom of the pond, I'm assured that the ripple it creates will help a great many get to shore.

So we look to the future as people who have had irreplaceable experiences in Fraternity life. It started as a social circle and became a tree of life. Fraternity men are now our sons and  sorority women our daughters. The excitement gives way to concern. I hope my son meets the ME I was in college (without the bad parts) through the experience. But we know that isn't possible.....

So.... we allow young men to be young and harness the responsibility of helping them transition into Manhood.

What A Special Privilege!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

100 Records

My mom gave me a record player when I was 4. It was portable and battery powered, so I could take it anywhere. This concert in a box was heavy for my small frame but I would have towed a wheel barrel to bring music with me. At that time I owned 2 records, one by The Beatles and one by Simon and Garfunkel; both of which told stories over pianos and guitars. I never went anywhere without that glorious, clunky record player.

41 years later, I walked the streets of San Francisco @ Midnight, the tune "what's the use" echoing in my brain having just left a concert hall full of Phish fans. Amid all the twists and turns that life loves to throw our way, there is one always-accessible and glorious escape:


So when facebook stepped away from political entendre to offer an opportunity to share 10 albums that changed your life.... I multiplied it by 10.

I've played in bands and owned a record label and entertained people and recorded music. Making music was a wonderful part of my life but I've always preferred listening to it.

I've stood in front of Jerry Garcia, sat in a symphony hall with a few thousand people in complete silence while Ben Folds played piano, rushed the stage at Lollapalooza, shook hands with Kurt Cobain, cried my eyes out hearing Thom Yorke sing "fake plastic trees", had my head split open, hugged a stranger and helped a stranger find some peace in where music is played across the world.

I sit at a coffee shop most mornings before my neighbors are awake: my headphones on.... tunes (new and old) filling my heart as I type these keys. It's my favorite part of the day.

My first car was a Mercury Tracer. I had a suitcase of tapes on the floor of the passenger's side. My friends and I drove the back roads listening to Dylan and The Grateful Dead; when it was time to cause trouble across town the soundtrack changed.       


It's always been there. I've always loved it.

Here are the 100 records (in no specific order) that changed my life:

1.Big Night Without You by Emmet Swimming
2. News of the World by Queen
3. After the Gold Rush by Neil Young
4. Check Your Head by Beastie Boys
5. Moon Pix by Cat Power
6. Return to Cookie Mountain by TV on the Radio
7. Aim and Ignite by Fun.
8. Ben Kweller (self-titled)
9. Irresistible Bliss by Soul Coughing
10. Speak of the Devil by Ozzy Osbourne
11. The Doctor Came at Dawn by Smog
12. I Am Not Afraid of You and I will Beat Your Ass by Yo La Tengo
13. I Get Wet by Andrew WK
14. The Execution of All Things by Rilo Kiley
15. Is This It by The Strokes
16. Michigan by Sufjan Stevens
17. Sea Change by Beck
18. Out of the Blue by ELO
19. The Brooklyn Side by Bottle Rockets
20. All The Nations Airports by Archers of Loaf
21. Tallahassee by The Mountain Goats
22. Let Go by Nada Surf
23. Person Pitch by Panda Bear
24. Hysterical by Clap Your Hands Say Yea
25. Into The Blue Again by The Album Leaf
26. Rift by Phish
27. American Beauty by The Grateful Dead
28. Songs for a Blue Guitar by Red House Painters
29. Kindly Now by Keaton Henson
30. Infinite Arms by Band of Horses
31. Cardinal by Pinegrove
32. The Night by Morphine
33. Hard Candy by Counting Crows
34. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins
35. Strangeways, Here We Come by The Smiths
36. Revolver by The Beatles
35. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
36. Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera
37. The River by Bruce Springsteen
38. A Weekend in the City by Bloc Party
39. Severe Tire Damage by They Might Be Giants
40. Birdie by Slaughter Beach, Dog
41. Welcome Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne
42. Whatever and Ever Amen by Ben Folds Five
43. Tennessee by Lucero
44. Europe '72 by The Grateful Dead
45. I'll Sleep When You're Dead by El-P
46. Dark Night of the Soul by Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse
47. Etiquette by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
48. Dead Man Walking (soundtrack)
49. Quad Cities by Virgil Shaw
50. Unfinished Business by EPMD
51. Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized
52. Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron and Wine
53. Breakfast in America by Supertramp
54. Suffer by Bad Religion
55. The Coast is Never Clear by Beulah
56. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
57. Either/Or by Elliott Smith
58. 1984 by Van Halen
59. ( ) by Sigur Ros
60. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel
61. Cup Runneth Over by Gloritone
62. Bark Your Head Off, Dog by Hop Along
63. Repave by Volcano Choir
64. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
65. Forcefield by Tokyo Police Club
66. Keep It Like a Secret by Built to Spill
67. Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens
68. Together We're Heavy by The Polyphonic Spree
69. Chip by Pollen
70. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco
71. Strangers Almanac by Whiskeytown
72. 22, A Million by Bon Iver
73. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan
74. Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady
75. Hokey Fright by The Uncluded
76. Be Here Now by Oasis
77. Last Night on Earth by Noah & The Whale
78. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips
79. Reunion Tour by The Weakerthans
80. The Ghost of David by Damien Jurado
81. I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers
82. Back on Top by The Front Bottoms
83. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
84. Something to Remember Me By by Ben Lee
85. Cassadaga by Bright Eyes
86. Songs for Silverman by Ben Folds
87. A Grand Don't Come for Free by The Streets
88. Putting The Days to Bed by The Long Winters
89. Old Ramon by Red House Painters
90. OK Computer by Radiohead
91. Closing Time by Tom Waits
92. Electro-Shock Blues by Eels
93. Windows for Stars by For Stars
94. Workingman's Dead by Grateful Dead
95. Mule Variations by Tom Waits
96. Winter Wheat by John K. Samson
97. The Beast In Its Tracks by Josh Ritter
98. Perils from the Sea by Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle
99. Re-Arrange Us by Mates of State
100. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys

Thank You for Listening!

Don't Forget to Remember,