I remember days, lying in bed in my old West 87th Street apartment, staring up at the ceiling, listening to the people above me pounding away on the floor - wondering - when the hell was I gonna get out of that place!?
The last year on the Upper West Side was not fun, I have to say. With the building sold, new owners moved in and determined to force us out on their greedy terms, life in the city was stressful, to say the least. I was tired of the whole thing but, like my co-tenants, I wanted to fight - until it was time to stop fighting. And as things wound down with the lawyers, I found myself turning my attention back up to the ceiling, and I'd think about the next move; dream about the next move. And, what's amazing to me now, looking back on those moments, at no time did one cell in my brain, for one microsecond ever think I would some day end up in, of all places ... Kansas City, Missouri.
And so, it's that very thought that swept through my head last night as I sipped sangria and munched on my mushrooms and shrimp, surrounded by a group of really good and nice people. One line kept popping into my head: "Look what I've created here." I mean, when I left New York to start my cross-country Eldercation trip, I knew I was heading to new places and I was excited about it. Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa - all these states I'd heard about, read about, flown over for so many years - finally, I was driving through the small towns, meeting the people. It's been ... for lack of a better term ... thrilling. And the thing is, never during this entire process, have I ever given much thought to where I'm going to end up once this stage of the project is completed. Having said that, I'll again mention - Kansas City was most certainly never on the radar.
And yet, there I was last night. Surrounded by people - new friends in a new land - all of us in Kansas City.
As I pointed out last month, the end of the year presented me with a good opportunity to do some solid thinking. That's when it gets dangerous for me. Still, I realized something pretty important - I was downright tired of dealing with my December 28 birthday the same way every year. Alone. What can I say? It's just in that "spot." In what I like to call that deep valley in between Christmas and New Year's. And so, this was the year I was determined to change course, seize the moment, and create something special. And I did just that.
There really is something envigorating about sharing friends. It's not something I've been especially good at over the years but, last night, I took a shot at doing just that by organizing a night out at a fun (and delicious) Spanish restaurant here in KC. Just about every person at the table last night has figured in my adventure here in some special way. I could have invited - in fact, I wanted to invite - more folks to the outing, but the La Bodega-man told me that 17 was pushing it. That was the number I had to work with, so I dealt with it. And it was fine.
Once again, I'm now looking just up around the next turn and I can't say for sure what's going to happen next. Then again, who among us can actually do that? (If someone out there can do that - I'd like to meet you, so we can write a book together. We'll be rich). What I do know is something big is going to happen for me - and I'm not just saying that. The last time I felt this way, I had just started my adventure with The Jerky Boys and, even then, friends of mine thought I was nuts to be giving up on my law degree (which, as it turns out, I haven't given up on at all. I use that knowledge every day of my life). If I took that Jerky Boys' feeling and multiplied it by 1000 - that's what I feel for this Eldercation project. As far as the first stage? The first book? I'm finished. After years of well over 1000 interviews, hours upon hours upon hours ... (upon hours) of transcriptions - long days and nights in the libraries and coffee shops - I feel I really have something special here. And so, now I'm on to the next challenge - how to get this information and message out there. I'm fighting a bit of a battle with that one -the same battle for which I had box seats during my years in the music business. I've always been a grass-roots, indie guy at heart and, from what I can tell, not much has changed in terms of my style and outlook. But I'm not going to go into that here. That would be a supreme waste of energy - energy better spent on the task at hand. That task being - producing and then marketing this book on my own. More on that at another time.
For now, I'll finish here by saying this - I bring up the winding down of the book because it's very much tied to what I was feeling last night during our little La Bodega fiesta. Now that I've lifted up my head, after being so focused over the past few years, I need to think about what's next? And before any changes come about, I wanted to make sure I took a solid snapshot of what I have right now - in this moment - with the people I've met here in Kansas City, Missouri. Amazing. Never in my wildest dreams. It's funny how this life thing works.