Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Literature On Counting Blessings

Greetings And Confesions

I’ll start with the obligatory apology for not writing an entry in a while.  As my regular readers know, I continue to balance this travel project with my responsibilities as a recording artist back in Los Angeles. 

I am currently posting this entry from Portland, OR, where I am back wearing the other hat for Summit Music Project.  More on that in the main update section of this blog entry, below. 

First, on this entry will be some greetings and a few fairly existential musings. But, c'mon, live a little. You can afford the brain power to be at least pseudo intellectual for a few minutes, right?

I may tend to get long and lyrical in this blog entry, and I'm debating on whether or not to remove the less-than-warm-and-fuzzy honesty about me and my life (Spoiler alert: Negative parts!), so blind optimists, overachievers and romantic comedy buffs might want to wait until later when/if my gory details are gone, but people who value genuineness and the unfettered and unpolished quality of the human experience, now is your time to eat it up (Yum…spoonfuls of pessimism).

For those who simply find this blog entry too long-winded, you can skip ahead if you want and I've created headers for you so you can skip according to what interests you most.  Otherwise, a few words on the meaning of life. ;)

I think Einstein's Theory of how the fabric of space-time can bend and fold between two different points in the present and future has become a personal experience to me rather than a removed scientific fact. Whether you think about it or not, at the snap of a finger, it's the future already, as though someone took a different blog entry of mine 3 years ago and sloppily folded that moment over to now like bad origami. All of a sudden BAM, here's Johnny, and it's showtime folks, 2015!  What happened?

The reason I mention this because I want you to be aware that I'm aware of how long this project is taking. ;))  What was originally supposed to be a year has turned into 5, going on 6 years. (I know!).  But I also want you to think about something else: this project involves a story, which was always its intention.  As a general rule, the longer stories get, the more interesting they tend to be. This is not always true, but it tends to be.

In some ways, I have no doubt that these delays are working to my advantage. In other ways, I can acknowledge that they might be more detrimental than I currently realize. Either way, it will be hard to know any of this for sure until the project is done, and it won't be done until I'm finished with my original goals.

The Two Original Goals:

1) To create professional-grade electronic and ambient music outdoors, throughout the American West (which I have not come close to doing yet).

2) To create professional-grade electronic and ambient music at the top of six American mountains in The West: Whitney, Shasta, St. Helens, Adams, Hood, and Rainier (of which I've only successfully completed Adams).

I make this all sound easy by summing it up in a couple of sentences, don't I?  It is anything but that.  Still, somehow it's also well within my reach to accomplish.

I think it is important to say a this point that I'm well aware of how global issues appear to be approaching a tipping point, and that there is a likely possibility the human species might start its extinction soon.  (I'm a riot at parties).  It's just a possibility, not a guarantee.  I hope I am making it clear that I'm not just sitting here blind with my art.  I'm trying to do good and make a positive difference in the world too, but I don't seem to be causing much of a dent.  I'm an artist, so I hold a skill set that doesn't make the difference we seem to require here.  So, in light of all that, screw it!  To honor our possible human extinction, and our time left in this devious and beautiful world, I'm going to continue my work, my natural means of eco-political expression, and my personal passion for life.  I hope that this is enough to help, because forcing positive change doesn't seem to work for me at this point.  

However I can indeed articulate things, so at least I have something.  And before long, I will probably start pointing those abilities towards a somewhat politicized commentary.  I may never become an activist with in the typical sense, but I have my art, and I can persuade people’s thinking in the ways I know how.  I respect activists, because they carry a skill set and a constitution that I don't, making these fights more natural for them.  Here's to that! I don't get too bummed out by everything I just claimed about humanity, either.  It's because there are so many well-qualified people out there trying to make a difference that I think there is still plenty of hope. 

Plans and Reminders

I'm calm yet again, in general (lol). I've gathered myself up a bit from the previous chaos of this project.  If you were reading my last few entries, you will know what chaos I mean.  Please forgive/excuse all of my cancelled plans and performance dates during those moments, especially last winter around Christmas time.  I think I've gathered my wits and my resources again, properly, so I will try to make up for all of those botched schedules now with my new-found modicum of responsibility and focus.  …haha even if just with that modicum.

The Live Broadcasts:
I won't be attempting to broadcast live online from these locations much anymore, for the most part.  This is mainly because there weren't enough people tuning in-hardly any-and I was breaking my back trying to set things up so that I could broadcast for you all.  Between killing myself to get to the top of mountains, and killing myself to set up for a live feed, and hardly anyone tuning in, it's just not worth it anymore, at least for now.  Perhaps I will do it again regularly some day after this project has formed a little buzz, God (or whoever) willing.

Plans For Any Works From This Project:
I think I'm finally realizing that I've been dwelling too much on my failures here, for years, way more than even sensible people would be able to find entertaining. So to balance things out, I'm going to start gathering together video footage of some of my past triumphs, both recent and distant, and edit them into short bits to post on the internet and share with you.  It's about time I start taking responsibility, and a proper inventory of the good that's been done.  I agree that this is a more interesting topic than the complications. 

In honor of those triumphs, and to be able to give you thorough updates and a good understanding of this 5-year project, I'm going to start treating this blog like a journal again. This will also give it the sincerity and humanistic integrity it deserves. I will write memoirs as well as current blog reports here on my music travels, and I will not hold back from those gruesome and honest details of my life and mind that crossover into the story. 

Intimate Reminders:
I would also like to remind you that this is a story about attempting victory over one's own mind, as much as it is about victory over anything in the external world.  That's important.  My mind has proven a formidable adversary, I think more than anyone else I know, which is saying a lot. I know people who have been institutionalized for years. after all!  If possible, I want you to embrace this factual dynamic with me in regards to the story, and without feeling put off by it. I don't want pity or any non-beneficial thoughts if you can skip that, but as much sympathy as you can muster would be appreciated, even if you cannot relate to a single thing I'm doing.

To enjoy and/or understand this project, you may have to try and understand me to some degree, so I will continue to reveal myself, as much as I see as being relevant. If you do decide to know me better, at all, who knows man, you may find a whole new form of entertainment. I was told once or twice that my trivial suffering is really amusing.  Of course, I was holding those people at gunpoint, so it’s possible they were lying.  Seriously, though, people’s amusement is actually a great gift. The opposite would be that I go through these difficulties for absolutely nothing and for no one.  Please, by all means, laugh at me if you'd like. Laugh your butts off.  Just don't abandon me and leave me to die on a mountain alone. That would be no fun at all. 

So what exactly is all of my "trivial suffering?"  As I said, practically dwarfing all of the external-world challenges of this project has been the kinks in my own personality.  Aside from being a rather complicated and sensitive person, I've also had to battle what it means to be an artist of my particular ilk.  

So for the uninitiated, here’s what that means:
1) It consists of constantly being bombarded with creative ideas that all persistently nag you like kids at an ice cream truck. Really. These ideas don't just fade after they hit; they become large, living, breathing, shouting animal lifeforms from the moment they are conceived.  The ideas then demand to exist, for the rest of your life, and they will even guilt trip you about it whenever someone else comes up with the same concept and acts on it.  They are like, "You see???” “You see what I mean???”  “That other guy acted on me!!!”  “He knows how to appreciate me!!!"  This screams in my ears for years.  The phenomenon is almost like a case of schizophrenia, the difference being that I chose to be a damn artist. Are there any meds for that?

2) It consists of  self criticism and perfectionism. Yes, I’m riddled with plenty of that, which I adopted from the years when I worked slightly-more-professionally, writing music for TV.  My self-criticism and perfectionism slows all of those acted-upon ideas and endeavors down to a snail's pace. I slow down so much that I can't finish acting on most of the rest of the ideas, and this causes congestion of my schedule, which in turn makes the ideas nag even louder as time flies by. So, it's a bit of a mess in there, even when I meditate regularly.  It's a miracle I'm able to crank out any worthy products at all, which I am, and probably always will be somehow.  But yes, these are just the things I have to deal with.  They are my truest opponents. They are my main struggle and story: my own thoughts and personal mechanisms during achievement.

However, it's obviously not all apocalyptic. When I do crank out a great product or project, it makes it all worth while.  And when I get a fan who says I changed his/her life, or who tells me that even their children are fans of my work, it's a feeling I wouldn't trade. I just wouldn't.

I'm also going to make a sweeping positive statement here, that life is good in general. 

It's good under the overall circumstances--and I know you know what I mean. No matter what tribulations or obstacles happen, they are petty here in North American Paradise, no sarcasm intended. We have a life here that a good portion of the international majority dreams of. For anyone I've offend with that statement, I'm not trying to take away from the value of other countries or cultures. That should be obvious. I'm a world traveller who prefers to travel without the amenities of modern domesticated life, so don't mistake me for someone else. But I am simply stating a global fact, that the US is a clean, first world land of opportunity that deeply interests many countries. That is actually one of the reasons I chose to keep these travel projects relegated primarily to The States; it's easier to do something like this here.  I experience trials and tribulations in my US life, and during this US project, but on reflection, it's just trouble in paradise, Man.  

I am indeed lucky.  I have a good amour of talent, revolutionary-grade ideas, good health, a surprising amount of youth left (when I consider the energy and nimbleness I still possess, enough to still kick lots of people's asses, LOL), a loving family, loving friends and enough funding to carry out a few more worthy whims. The blood, sweat and tears I show is merely a confirmation that I am alive and kicking.  And something is going to happen, because I have no plans to quite. It's that simple, and deep down, it's still pretty exciting. 

Tough-Love-Style Musing

As far as the rest of my honesty: 
Throughout history, the vulnerable act of expressing certain inapplicable and intangible concepts, that weren't in demand or asked for, has unpredictably proven even more useful than the actual, tangible, physical tools and commodities the world depends on.  I offer mine to you in this blog and elsewhere, in that tradition, and whether or not they end up causing constructive or positive ripples of any kind.  Sure, I've always known that action is usually what changes the world, but biting my tung all too often has become my worst habit as a result, as well as forgetting the potential power words hold. 

In light of that, there is something I'm going to share now, and I've wanted to share a lot about it on all of my social networks for many years. I held back assuming it would do little good, which is probably true, but my tung tied habit ends here, because these types of words do more harm when they are not spoken.

If there are artists out there reading this, perhaps you can relate to what I'm about to say. 

For almost 20 years now I've had ideas and abilities that have potential to be revolutionary, not just in music but in many areas.  And they would have been had I just done something, ANYTHING with them. And take a guess as to why I didn't do something with them... that's right, the amount of my ideas was far too overwhelming, and they paralyzed me. Somehow it's very hard to know which ones should come first.  Like I said, often they are all jumping up like a classroom full of kids who know the answer to the teacher's question.  If you couple that with a slight additional fear-of-success, and even a slight fear of acceptance (haha a total contradiction in me), then you get--yep, absolutely nothing! Not only that, but you get to sit around for years and eventually watch other people come up with your ideas, and get praised as revolutionaries for it. Luckily, I am a good enough artist that, through the years, whenever I saw this happen, I just came up with more revolutionary ideas. But eventually people think of those as well. We are talking about 20 years here. I've accumulated so many moments where my own ideas were conceived and acted upon by others, I actually feel like I'm living in a physical world that I dreamt up years ago myself.  That's how absurd this has gotten.

But hey, that's just the ether for you.  Cosmic consciousness is basically real. It just means that humanity's global mind set is all evolving at the same time.  Our minds collectively evolve the same way our societies do.  So we will all just stumble onto each other's ideas sooner or later.  Artists are more susceptible to this because they are in the mode of manufacturing ideas more often than others.  Yet, somehow, it's still never that easy to see someone else act on an idea that I came up with, too.  It just hurts for some reason, and I've been artistically heart-broken by it many times by now.  It's become a familiar phenomenon, to the point where I'm currently living in my own dreamt up future, a world I created with my imagination, and yet get none of the credit for.

And yes, I know there are some of you who can relate to this. It is a very common thing with artists; we are simply creative minds, and those minds are always turning out things that have never been thought of before. We are addicted to creating new realities, not old ones. I know some of the artists reading this are likely thinking to themselves "Yep. Very good Dean. I let go of caring about that years ago. I've got a family to take care of and priorities to tend to now. THAT'S reality.  Screw imagination." Well sorry folks, but I do care about this, and I believe you too should consider it as much of a priority as you would your own true happiness. 

Perhaps you have been heartbroken by your lack of action for these ideas so many times that you finally just accepted your undesirable roll or fate. Perhaps, like me, you have watched yourself become one of the worlds abandoned underground nuclear arsenal's, capable of great destruction to the worlds conventions, but ending up buried in a silo turned unintended tomb. If you've experienced what I've experienced with this, you won't consider what I'm saying overly poetic. The experience is exactly how it reads. 

And well, guess what? In case this hasn't dawned on you yet, in all of your infinite awareness and talent, your ideas and philosophies aren't doing anyone any good, not even you, by just rotting in the silo of your mind. They simply fester and wither and then vanish, as though they never existed inside of you in the first place. The poet Lanston Huges made a beautiful dedication to this phenomenon with his poem "A Dream Deferred," however, as beautiful a sentiment as it is, in my experience, dreams rarely explode in the end.  They just wither and die; only that part of the poem is true.  I don't mean to be gloomy, just truthful, and I make no apologies for it, because this is our lives we're talking about.  And this is your true fate if you sit there and except letting go of your potential.  Bottom line.  

Sorry, but it's not up to me, and I don't make the rules.  This is just how things work. The universe favors action, and somehow it favors risk even more.  So, you will have to excuse me if the last thing I want to hear from any of you is "Dude, learn to live with it and don't take it so seriously. Let go of trying to change the world with your 'revolutionary' ideas. None of us can live to our potential, because that's just the human race, man. Just accept it and be more 'Zen' about it." If festering and weathering and vanishing is being "Zen," and/or is "just the human race," then count me out. I don't want to be human then.  I would rather be either subhuman or superhuman, and would rather die fighting to amount to more then just an undesirable fate, with or without fame. I will be going out on a limb here, big time, because I actually don't see a point in much other than materializing my dreams.  Taking on "more-realistic" goals, enjoying leisure, starting a family, or being a contributing member of societies bad habits and uncultured demands are only secondary, if anything, to making one's dreams come true in order to achieve true happiness--if you are an artist.  ;))

Again, I don't mean to be harsh.  I'm just being as real as possible about this.  And believe it or not, I've been just as guilty as anyone else I might have described above, when it comes to avoiding my true potential.  So please, consider this an attempted rouse before than anything else. This isn't about tuting our own horns.  That assumption is for people who are afraid of feeling lesser than us.  No, this is about expressing to the world what we are capable of, so that the world can then hold that awareness of your view. Telling people that you have revolutionary ideas is a huge part of that process.  If you do possess such ideas, and people ever want to question it, you can always just have them sign a nondisclosure agreement and then show them your proof.  It's that simple.  But just don't stay silent anymore.

Honestly, I can't even begin to tell you how much vision and ability and talent and awareness and even philosophical breakthrough I've been sitting on for years upon years myself, only to share with a few other souls. Aside from sitting on unfathomably progressive musical ideas that involve hybrids of ensembles, instruments that I've invented, orchestra composition, sound design, post production and multi media performance, I have also excelled with invention ideas, insights and abilities in: dance, martial arts, writing (poetry, fiction and non), recreational sports, astronomy and physics, multimedia technology, photography, film and video post production, computer graphic design, logo design, illustration, acting, and theater production innovation. Most people don't know this but acting is actually probably my strongest ability, next to music and writing. But I know the other ideas and abilities were significant because other people eventually revolutionized their industry by coming up with them. 

I simply have to do something now. It is absolutely ludicrous when I think about it, and I simply can't do it anymore. If none of you likes anything else I do but music, ever again, I simply have to not care, and give you everything I have to offer anyway. 

So yes, basically, I want to ask for your support as much as possible now. As much open-mindedness and acceptance as you can muster will be something I am internally grateful for. I'm going to show you sides of my ability that you never knew I had, and unfortunately if you are thinking to yourselves "I thought he was just a musician" then you will miss out on more than my powers of description could do justice to.  If you think such a thing, you will probably also think "this isn't what he should be doing" the very next minute. Not only would you be missing out on great things, and limiting your own growth, but you would be limiting me as well.  That would not be something to be proud of when looking back on it, so please don't.  Don't insist on keeping us both, you as well as I, in a box.  Please don't force me to have to be braver than I already am without the support of many.  That's harder than it needs to be.  Be supportive.  :)  Contact me with compliments about my endeavors that are additional to music, like the writings and video work and travel experiences.  Leave comments and likes.  Tell others about me.  Make it easier for me to make this transition, not harder. This is not the movie "Whiplash" and I'm not a student in school. I'm an artist making a transition and I need as much encouragement as you can muster. I've been waiting for myself to take action for years, and I think the moment has finally arrived. This requires massive bravery. If nothing else, commend me for trying.

And hey, you may not like this but I think it needs to be said: if there's no hope for me materializing my great ideas later in life, then there's definitely little hope for most people doing it in youth. If we don't get second chances in life, then we are pretty much all doomed.  That concept especially goes for very young people who might be reading this and thinking it doesn't apply to them because they are going to do great things with their lives ahead.  Most of you will never lift a finger, for reasons beyond your control, and you don't even know it yet.  The rest of you will try really hard, for years, and then fail before giving up.  Further, if you don't try again, later in life, you are a failure.  It's that simple.  Harsh truth, but that's the way it goes.  This is your chance to not let the folly of youth be your undoing.  That folly WILL win the first round, sooner or later.  Are you really going to just sit there and scoff at people who attempt to redeem their long-standing failures? failures that you will undoubtedly experience yourself?  In a nutshell, you should root for people who try again, especially when they are much older than you. 

If I don't do something with my life at this age, none of you ever will, and I hope you understand that connection.  All of the indications of that likelihood are there.  It's an age-old story.  So please, root for me to succeed.  I'm you, later on.  There, but for the grace of God, go I, mthr fckr!!!!!   Hahaha

Main Portion Of The Update:

My last entry was just before last Christmas, when I planned on driving a little ways north to Reno and would broadcast live electronic music from a few different locations along the way. At the last minute I discovered I could not take that trip because I still had legal problems from a year prior that was keeping my license suspended. It was simply too risky to take the drive.  Maybe someday I'll tell you why, but for now I should probably keep it to myself.

As some of you may know, aside from the legal troubles, I've also had some drama come and go over the last 4 years, both artistic and personal. During those 4 years I lost 6 close friends and family members.  I also crashed one of my cars.  I was even offered a job by a company I really like, and I even took it, briefly and unofficially.  

Topping things off, over the last two years I started a band that was long overdue, the re-formation of my jazz band the Stratos Ensemble. The reason I say it was overdue is because I started out a real musician before becoming an ambient musician.  ;))  Unfortunately, ever since becoming an electronic music recording artist, I have been deprived of the invaluable fulfillment of live ensemble playing. I simply had to satisfy that itch because I was starving for it. I couldn't let another year go by. But, after all of the great work I did with that band over the last 3 years, it then disbanded at the end of last year against my wishes, and I have been very slowly reforming it again. They left me with a lot of well recorded music that I am trying to mix into an album, but there is still a funk over the loss and/or change. When I finish the album, there will be very few people left around to celebrate that with. This is sad, but it will have to be the case. I also decided to help an artist friend who seemed to be in need. He was a new friend, but I loved him all the same. His music and his band was suffering from lack of decent production, and he was a veteran artist from the progressive rock scene in the 70s, so I felt compelled, having roots in that myself. He was about to invest a lot of money to promote something I didn't think would yield the results he wanted, so I decided to jump to his proverbial rescue. I remixed one of the tracks for his CD, I performed with his band on the radio as the keyboard player, I edited his main music video, and I mixed and co-produced a cover song he/they did, which got a lot of exposure. 

I'm just talking about it here to let you know that I've made sacrifices against this travel project, ones that I wish I could report paid off, or were more important than the travels. But I'm realizing once again that nothing should be as important as these travel projects, until they are done.  But I'm still alive and quite fit for everything, so I won't dwell on those distractions too much. 

And sure, I've had drama in my personal life as well, but whatever. Let's just account for those millimeters. 

Darkest Portion Of The Main Update:

And/but perhaps the thing that has been my biggest obstacle on this project is the undulating depression that occasionally visits.  It's my growing apathy and, in a way, hopelessness about all of my projects, including this one, that threatens my drive and motivation at it's core. It's like trying to shake off mesquites in the tropics.  They are on me, and while that is happening, the days and weeks tick away.

Yes, this depression has periodically grabbed ahold of me over the last four years, slowing me and my process down even more than the indecisiveness, but my prolonged work is still only a part of the overall disadvantage. The slowing has crept into my actual personality.  Because I do intensely isolated work at a computer for months on end, it has made me more shy and even less witty in general. God wow.  When I think about it, I never thought it would come to this.  And social blemishes like shyness and nervousness is considered a major taboo for men, at least in this country, so I really should fix it. I'm not too sure about women for this one, but as far as men go, no one likes a man who keeps to himself, or is nervous, or is slow witted. People tend to avoid him like the plague, which they kind of have. ;))  It has been a crutch to me. 

Those first two years of the project, 2010 and 2011, I had spent traveling the country and sacrificing my health and money only to reach the top of one mountain and record at merely a third of the locations around the country that I had planned on. Those two years of failure set the mood for the years that were to follow, years that were ladled with more failure, and even death (of loved ones). By 2012 I was simply trying to function on the most basic level as an artist.  I tried to finish two record contracts, for DIN records and Spotted Peccary records, that I owed music on, as well as the Fateless Flows Records relaunch, which I had been promising my colleagues and my Fanbase for almost 5 years prior. Turns out I was still working too slow to even achieve many of those goals, and I turned some friends into enemies for it.  I finally had to abandon all but two of these endeavors, which many people hated me for, in the shadow of my broken promises. 

I'm telling you man, that perfectionism and self-criticism stuff is a friggin' SECRET KILLER.  I'll just add that much.

Somewhat-More-Positive Closings:

But hey, at the very least, I'm happy to report that one big goal has been met and is indeed finished.  As of a few weeks ago, I finally completed the album for Spotted Peccary Records and they currently have it in their hands.  I believe they will be releasing the album next year.  That's what they told me.

And here's something I'm even happier to report:
If I were to use my usual pessimistic style, I could explain the following as being pathetic and meager progress with little reward, but for a good reason, I don't think of it that way. The truth is, I've made great progress. I've recorded at the rim of the Grand Canyon, the Salton Sea, Owl Canyon outside of Barstow, Red rock canyon outside of Mohave, Joshua tree, the San Gabriel Mountains, Big Bear Lake, Owens Valley Lake bed, the Alabama Hills, Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Death Valley, the shores of Malibu, and even an ambient recording session overseas at the Sea Organ in Croatia. I think it's safe to say that this project has been ongoing. It has not stopped. And there have been some triumphs in there enough to feel OK about everything. Hence yes, I am currently not in one of my funks or dramatized failures.  I've even had a couple of name recording artists join me for a few of these live locations, who are friends of mine, among other really talented guests. 

There is of course just one problem: None of the locations I recorded will mean anything until I edit the music and video into something. I don't think I will be finishing my big documentary about this anytime soon, so I will need to finish something that represents the many adventures and works comprehensively.  The only quick fix to this is to do a bunch of little videos in order to demonstrate these achievements and their worth. Perhaps I can do them quickly, or devise a system for it, but typically even short videos take a while to do properly. Between all of the other things I am trying to finish, additionally editing a bunch of little live music videos doesn't seem realistic at this point. But who knows, maybe I will succeed with that plan somehow. So look for those particular music videos. I will try to post mention of them here on this blog every time I finish one. I will try to post mention of anything I finish regarding this project, actually. 

And stay posted here for the memoirs about my past travels with this project. I promise you, they will definitely be entertaining at the very least. Some stuff went down during those first two years, 2010 and 2011, which can only really be expressed through the careful process of writing. 

Over The Next Week Or So:

So here's the deal, with the remains of this years summer, September, I am going to attempt two mountains, I hope. I will attempt the rim of Mt. St. Helens, tomorrow, before the first storm of Autumn rolls in the next day.  After that, I will either attempt the top of Mount Shasta, or Mt. Whitney, provided the weather permits either of those. 

The reason I did not attempt more cascade Mountains this year was because the Rangers in the Pacific Northwest told me that this year has been a drought. They said the danger of rockfall and open crevices has been unparalleled up there right now, due to the lack of snow and rain fall, which basically turned the remaining snow into slush. This is funny because down here in the Southland we had our best year of rain in many years, albeit still not solving our drought problem. 

I try not to get political on my sites, but I have to say, I really hope we are wrong about the seriousness of global warming her, because it's looking like we are not wrong, and it's very real. I would absolutely love to be wrong about it, really. That would be great.  

Anyway, because Rangers told me about the drought this year, I skipped climbing most of those dangerous glacial peaks. And with that extra time I went to visit my family on the East Coast through August. I even recorded at a few locations while there: One was at Montauk point (The edge of Long Island), The other was on my grandmother's old Street in the Hamptons, another was at the top of the Empire State building, another was on the subway, and another was in the plane on the way back to LA. As cool as a couple of those locations were, I am not sure that the footage came out well enough to turn any of those into little videos. So perhaps if nothing else they were just cool extra locations to have done. And I have some cool extra ambient tracks to show for it. Still, a couple of the many ambient tracks I created there came out pretty well, and one of them was even used as part of the score for a planetarium show in Los Angeles, while I was still in New York. 

Side note:
Long Island makes me think of the years when I was discovering the electronic music of Tangerine Dream. Those discoveries changed my life, so I tend to link them to Long Island in my mind. In honor of that, I downloaded a great soft synth for the music of the trip. This synth is one that tangerine dream used during the years that influenced me the most, the early 80s. It's called the PPG wave. After downloading the PPG, I used it pretty much for everything on the trip. This yielded a tangerine dream sound more than usual. Again, perhaps I will use that music at some point, for something. While in New York, I did post the Ambient tracks up for free download, making them of available to the public for a short time, but they are gone. Sorry if you missed it and wanted them. That's why it pays to stay attuned to this crazy-arse project.  ;))   I usually post short bits of progress on Facebook while I'm on these trips, so it would be a good habit to check on those walls as often as possible if this is something you are interested in. My Facebook walls are the most updated walls of my life. 

And/but oddly enough, another place that reminds me of Tangerine Dream's music, is the Pacific Northwest, and mountins like St. Helens and Hood.  One reason is that the forests of the pacific northwest feel similar to the ones on Long Island and the east coast in general (not in size, but in every other way), the other reason is because the cascade volcanos are massive, angelic, arial sentinels of earthly power, literally, as much as that sounds contradictory.  That heavenly-yet-earthly power has always been represented perfectly to me in the music of TD. 

There is also now the added parallel that Tangerine Dream was one of the first groups to ever bring electronic gear out in nature and perform-and-record live music, professionally, while out there.  Look it up online, you will be amazed at the year when you see it.  So I am indeed following in their footsteps, among others.

But I suppose the main reason I'm reflecting so much about Tangerine dream right now is because it's founder and leader, Edgar Froese, died this year, and thus did the band I suppose.  I'm actually not nearly the fan I used to be, but when Edgar died, I remembered how badly I had wanted to at least meet him and exchange a few words about music.  At one time it was actually my dying wish, and I had forgotten that.  So now I will try to honor the band as best as possible, without fully dedicating my life to it, or anyone else's work that is not my own.

The plan for St. Helens:
In honor of Tangerine Dream, and another idol of mine, I will do this at the rim of Mt. St. Helens crater:
perform my own ambient track, as well as a cover version of the Tangerine Dream song called Horizon (from the Poland concert), and, using live looping, I will perform an a-cambient vocal track, along with an a-cappella version of Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden.  Four tracks, two of which are covers.  It will be quite an endeavor and the prep has been massively involving.

ALSO, it looks like I will even be able to get panoramic footage of this occurrence, for the first time ever during this project.   :)   Aside from my multiple cameras, I've invested in a decent panoramic video recorder, so if I make it to the top, it should be extremely interesting, to say the least.  I hope I get there, because if the real event is nearly as powerful as it is in my imagination, it will be an amazing virtual-reality experience for anyone.  (Which I promise to release to the world the moment these things are worth releasing.  I just need some bigger victories like this first.)

Finally, here are a couple of videos and audio recordings that are examples of Travels Rendered and Summit Music successes over the last 4 years.  They are very-cool remnants, so I hope you will shake off the depressing stuff with me and get somewhat excited with me again.  ;))  Hell, I only include those details so that you will know how cool the successes are in contrast.

One last thing: below are some of many guiding words that I've gravitated to during the many dark days and hours of this project.  These words were written both by powerful people I know, and by famous strangers.

"I've been writing a piece about what motivates us to create anything beyond the food and shelter we need to survive this life. Creation never makes sense, Dean. It is driven into being by a life force that is hardly ever validated by the elements that challenge survival. For some, a life of routine, but one filled with security, is enough. For artists, who are driven to create, life is not being lived when we are not swimming in the deep waters of our souls. Down in those places, often hidden from the rest, we squirm to understand our insanity and try our best to play the part of ordinary people who fit into an understandable paradigm. But we don't. And we know it. Most of the time, we journey in utter alone-ness to the places we are driven to go. You can suffer the indignity of feeling disenfranchised from the "normals."  I know it's difficult to stay the course when the insanity creeps in and begins telling lies about the worth of your creation and of you, as a person. Don't listen, Dean. Listen to your heart instead. It is perfectly suited to guide you to where you want to be. Let your heart guide you, let your intellect mastermind the construction. Let your soul fill it with love. And let your friends remind you of who you are. Build it.... and they will come........... really." 
- Staci Emerson 

"Hi Dean,

Sorry to hear of your ordeals. RE: your question of your blog readers, I think my answer is kind of two-fold:

I almost always feel that when something is really calling you, then you've gotta do it. Life is too short to spend time trying to conform to someone else's standards. So, YES you are worthy of both endeavors (art/music vs. travel).

My other answer is perhaps more selfish. But since I know you for your music, I would almost rather have you in the studio making more music … and maybe even persuading Spotted Peccary or another label to release another album of yours.

But in the final analysis, this is just a 'standard' or mental construct of mine. I think you've gotta do your Summit project & related travels. You are destined… ;-)

- Steve Davis
Associate Producer

"If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good."
— Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

"Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success."
— Dale Carnegie

"Failure is often that early morning hour of darkness which precedes the dawning of the day of success."
— Leigh Mitchell Hodges

"No is a word on your path to Yes. Don't give up too soon. Not even if well-meaning parents, relatives, friends, and colleagues tell you to get a real job. Your dreams are your real job"
— Joyce Spizer

"It's always too soon to quit."
— Norman Vincent Peale

"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."
— Walt Disney

"No great thing is created suddenly."
— Epictetus