“Different things at different times in life make you happy. Life never leads to a plateau of happiness, that doesn’t exist. The only thing that happiness is, for me, is to enjoy my work and be at peace with my family.”
Introduction by Adria Leeper-Sullivan
Interview & Photographs by Theo Constantinou
For Jason Adams there is pride in fulfilling duties and following love. While he craves solitude, he can thrive in the world of professional skateboarding and painting by balancing personal interests with reasonable sacrifice. Producing work to fuel the inspiration of others is a priceless result of compromise. By refusing the luxury of money from doing something he would hate, he accepts that he may not be the best father and husband in terms of providing, but he will do whatever it takes to survive because he confronts obstacles head-on. Since high school, he has gotten through struggles by visualizing the end goal and not letting fear consume him. Jason’s strength in understanding his own soul and how his actions affect others reminds me of a teaching from the Buddha. “Even the gods envy those who are awakened and not forgetful, who are given to meditation, who are wise, and who delight in the repose of retirement from the world.” Jason is proof that time taken to ruminate on the self can lead to self-empowerment and clarity in exchange of ideas. One should aspire to be like the hard worker who may have little, but assesses his impact on the world, rather than follow he who found success without passion and empathy.
This is a little lengthy, so just follow me if you can; if you get lost, let me know. I got into this debate the other night, and I actually got into it earlier tonight as well. This is definitely a recurring theme. My friend was asking me about the magazine and my punk-rock ethos, and not giving a fuck about what others think, and just going for it full go with purpose of integrity. He then posted an argument why I’m publishing the kind of material that I am and if I really don’t care. He said the same stands true for artists: if they didn’t want their work to be accepted then they wouldn’t put it out into the world, and he gave me an example of a poet who died without publishing any of his poems, which were later published by people in his family. So my question is this, is there really an argument here, or just the fact that, no matter what people do, even if they truly don’t give a fuck, they seek just a little bit of acceptance; even if the poet who died without publishing any of his work was writing for some reason, even if it wasn’t for public consumption? Again, sorry if that was hard to follow, but I’d love to hear your thoughts …
It’s different for each person. That poet might have just needed to put things down on paper, and not have any ego whatsoever; he did not want to be seen, he just wanted to write, it made him feel better, it made him understand his place in the world. I know people who are so emotional they can’t deal with criticism. For one. I don’t care if you’re punk, the whole “I’m punk” is a cop out. The majority of the people I’ve met are into what they’re into and like what they like because they care. Granted you’re trying not to care what the mainstream thinks, but everyone I know cares; that’s why they’re tortured. The idea that you just make art just to make it is great! That is truly genuine, but usually those artists are head cases. Most artists are sensitive to what’s going on. It’s a tough position, but if people didn’t put it out there, who would we have to inspire us? Life sucks if you really want to put it down plain and simple. There’s a lot of beauty in it, but it’s hard. People that I can relate to have done things their way; their acts help get me through. If those people had egos, then cool. I think about how many people they help. If I didn’t see certain people skate, or certain people make art, what would I have to be into, to inspire me? I would be miserable, lost, trying to fit in. I’m a piece of shit sometimes; we all have our moments. I have no problem with people putting themselves out there. I like to see it, I like to be inspired; it gives me hope. When I was younger, I got caught up in the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ so called “punk” attitude; it’s a cop out.
It’s a very interesting point. The person that told me that, he’s just playing “devil’s advocate” because it’s fun for him to say, ‘This why you really should do art, cause you don’t care’ … Thank you to Matt Hensley, Jessie Michaels, Basquiat and all those guys for not being jerks and recording music and making art.
A lot of these people that do great things, some of them I’ve come to know and some you don’t want to know. But they are making great art that’s inspiring people. Like you said, Picasso was a womanizer, there’s always another side, nobody’s perfect. Granted, everyone should try to be the best person they can be.
My friend said, ‘you need to be close to the devil to inspire you and turn darkness into light’ . He said, ‘I need to be close to the devil. I can’t just go isolate myself in some beautiful place, I need to be close to those demons so I can tell people stories, and show them that there is beauty in the depths of hell.’ I’m an asshole sometimes too, but I want to treat others the way I want to be treated. People have a hard time with that shit, and that’s just the simplest thing to me.
I agree with that part, you need to be in the grind, at least for the majority of your life. I can see myself getting older, and thinking I need to check out. Sometimes I get so stressed I question why I do what I do, but I definitely know it’s what drives what I do. If everything was fairies and rainbows, why make art? You’ve got to have the shit to enjoy the flower. Life is up and down. You think you can’t keep going on this roller coaster, but you can’t enjoy the peaks unless you are very familiar with the valleys.
The biggest joy in life is to inspire people to do certain things to better themselves. Most people don’t know how to handle the shit. I met a bum on the street in Venice asking for a cigarette. He said this is the only good thing F. Scott Fitzgerald ever wrote, “You can yell like a mad dog, you can scream at the fates, but in the end you just have to let it go.”
It’s true. Are you just going to let it eat at you, ruin your life because of someone else, or hang on to things out of your control? I think one of your other questions kind of touched on that about forgiveness, or loving your enemy.
In Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero with a Thousand Faces’, he quotes many other works but something that stuck out to me was his reference to the hero in the passage from the Bible 6:27 Love for Enemies, ‘to you who are listening, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’ Is this a principle you live your life by in your own life, and loving your enemies no matter how fucked up they were to you, or hurtful to you?
I think there’s truth in it, but it’s hard to do. This world is so many shades of grey. I understand the theory in that, but at the same time you can’t let your guard down. You could love your enemy, forgive your enemy, but you have to keep up your dukes at the same time. You can’t let hate and anger eat at you. If you keep it inside of you, it’s going to fuck with you. I’ve never really had to struggle with that until recently; the older I get, the heavier life gets. I’ve never been an angry person, but I’m noticing that I hold onto things more. It’s weird talking about life right now for sure.
I had an extended youth being a pro skater. You live in this weird little bubble. I’m a father of two, and money has been tough, opportunities few and far between. I work really hard at what I do and don’t get anything other than self-satisfaction which is starting to dwindle. Now if I were single? Or at least no kids, I wouldn’t trip because I wouldn’t give a fuck, money means nothing to me. But because I have responsibilities it’s tough. I’m learning to deal with the stress and still try to pursue what I need to do, what I like to do, but also fulfill my responsibilities as a father. I’m having a bit of a time figuring it out.
That’s respectful, most people get to where you are, and dip.
I’m constantly wondering what to do? Until recently I felt like I was doing what I’m supposed to when it comes to work, or creativity, but there’s always the family side. I’m trying, but I always have that nagging question? “I’m doing the right thing?” If I drop it all, and go get some job I’m going to be miserable, my kids are going to have to deal with me; that’s the biggest thing that’s going through my head these days. The fatherly guilt. Being a father is awesome, but you instantly inherit this guilt, and every parent that I talk to, we all have it because no matter how much time you put in, or what you’re bringing in financially., A good parent feels they could do better. You always see what you’re not doing. I’m that way with everything.
I spoke to you of this film, ‘Jiro: Dreams of Sushi’ … Jiro has been making sushi for seventy-five years. They just presented him with the Michelin award and as the master of sushi in the world. He said, ‘Parents need to quit giving their kids the blanket of security that they can always come home. If you don’t let your kids have that, you shall see how far they’ll go.’ He was never around for his kids. They were going to go to college and he convinced them not to. They became his apprentices and are taking over. There is no balance, it doesn’t exist. How do you balance? Is it possible?
Ultimately I’ve decided to put my #1 focus into my family. It eats at me because I know how to succeed in this world, (monetarily that is) the time and focus it takes. I know as hard as I work at what I do, I’m not really giving it a hundred percent. Granted, I’m better at it today than I was four years ago, but I’ve chosen that my family comes first. I’m going to try and do as much as I can outside of that and try not to let it eat at me. My kids will be grown before I know it. I can make art my entire life; I can do it some way or another until I die. I’ll admit there are a lot of things I don’t give a fuck about. I might come across as lazy at times when I don’t care, but when I want to do something. I want to obsess and master it. As of now, I don’t feel like I’m giving my work enough focus. It eats at me. But that’s just the reality of my position in life. It’s my biggest challenge right now for sure. You came to visit me when I’m at a weird crossroads in my life. I’m grinding right now and am unsatisfied. The perpetual hamster wheel as I like to refer to it. But I’ve chosen my family. If we’re poor, we’re poor. That eats at me because I want to give my kids the most. I had a dream the other night about my oldest daughter needing braces. How would we pay for that, or college? I want the best for them. I feel selfish that I haven’t gone off and dropped all of my needs and wants. I’m nuts …
It’s so easy to dip from all of this …
That’s the one thing I’ve learned I’m willing to do, beat my head against the wall. No matter what I’ve done, I’m willing to grind it out. I’m far from the greatest father, but I’m willing to put in the time, to be around a lot. I might not be the best mentor when it comes to telling them life’s secrets, but I will be their best friend ‘cause I can. I’m still trying to figure out life, can’t tell them how to figure it out. At the end of my junior year, they called me in, and started giving me all these fucking tests. They called my parents, and told them I had dyslexia, and all these so called disabilities. They looked at my mom and said “Uusually kids like your son drop out by now.” My mom didn’t tell me this until three years ago. It clicked that I am willing to beat my head and snake through the bull shit to get to where I want or need to go. I just do what I do. I don’t think too much. In high school I knew that graduation day was my goal, and I had to get through it however I could. When I got into skateboarding, I knew I couldn’t skate like everyone else but I knew I was going to fucking do this. I think that’s where my real talent is … Continually banging my head against the wall ‘til something gives! Ha ha!
Recently I came across some quotes. I remember one by Einstein that was similar to, ‘It’s not about IQ, it’s not about your talent, or so called talent, it’s about hard work and tenacity.’ All kinds of successful, brilliant people, say the same thing. It’s not that I’m smarter than anybody, it’s because I can work my fucking ass off.
Napoleon Hill wrote ‘Think & Grow Rich,’ and when I was doing the finance stuff, I was reading a lot of books about how to become successful, financial history, but in this book what I realized was the philosophy of how to succeed. These are the things that he studied in successful people. I began to think if I just do this then it would work regardless of how awful I am at it. He says, “Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat and perhaps some failure. When defeat takes a man, the easiest psychological thing to do is to quit; that is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest successes came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.” How close have you come to quitting, and more so .having heard that from failure to defeat, is there any defeat really? Or no matter what, just keep going till the end?
I feel a bit defeated right now. But I don’t plan on quitting anything. I need to re-orchestrate my game plan. This plan isn’t working because I’m not satisfied with the way things are going. The thought of throwing the towel in goes through my mind every other day, and it’s always been like that, but I don’t plan on acting on it. I’ve come too far. My whole goal has always been to live life on my own terms, or as close to that as possible. Everyone has got their own version of freedom, but my thing in life has always been to not join the crowd. There always has to be some kind of feeling of freedom and creativity and to feel somewhat in control of what I’m doing. The goal wasn’t to be a pro skater. The goal isn’t to be a professional artist. The goal has always been not to join the crowd!!! At first it was really rebellious. I remember being a kid watching my dad go to work and thinking, no fucking way dude, he’s a miserable man, I can tell. I’ll never be my father, I’ll never do that, I can’t do it.’ Sometimes I question whether it’s hurt me to go so against it. Maybe I should have just sucked it up. I’ll admit at my weak moments I do think that, but that’s just because I’ll be stressed. I’ll look at my kids and think they deserve better, but what does a bigger house mean? Everyone has weak moments; it’s whether you give into them.
How would you define happiness?
I don’t really think happiness exists in the way people think of it. I’m learning that it may be your focus to get to an easier life, but it never is easy. If you ever get to that point, then you’re dead. I don’t mean to sound negative. Different things at different times in life make you happy. Life never leads to a plateau of happiness; that doesn’t exist. The only thing that happiness is, for me, is to enjoy my work and be at peace with my family. If you have a family, I think you need to fulfill your job as a father, or husband because I think you need that to feel good about yourself. Even if people have success at a business ,they’re dealing with the guilt of neglecting their family.
I think that dream of true love for the rest of your life, and happiness, and everyone seeing it on TV all day long is ruining everything. I’m tired of everyone being fed bullshit. You’re just building your children up for disappointment. Everyone thinks that you’re going for this happiness and there’s no single happiness.
People need to find their peace with who they are. That’s happiness. But everyone’s taught you need to be searching for success. That is a distorted word, especially in our country. I get caught up with that shit at times ‘cause it’s all around you. Am I a loser because of what I’ve chosen to do? Am I unsuccessful because I don’t make this much money? Or I don’t live here, I can’t do this, or I can’t do that because everyone else is telling me this other thing is what I have to do? For the most part, I don’t get caught up in it, but you can’t not when you have it coming at you all the time. It’s fucking tough. As my kids get older, I feel I’m going to be a better father because I’m going to tell them how it is and not feed them the bull shit!
There are both sides to it. The world’s a magical place, and there are magical moments that create temporary happiness. It’s like being high, drunk, making love, or skateboarding.
It gets old and you look to something else.
My wife and I split a few years ago. I finally threw in the towel, I was tired of grinding, and she wanted to go. So I gave in. I had a weak moment, well more like a weak year, but any way, long story short, we got back together. The kids are a huge part. I love that woman to death, but we got into something way too early. We’re a family, it’s not about me, it’s not about her, it’s about the four of us. So many people split up because they’re in search of this so called ‘happiness’. Some relationships need to end, but most just don’t want to work at it. They prioritize the wrong things. To get the relationship happiness that we want we basically have to fall in love, when it gets old, trash it, and start something new. That is the mentality for everything these days. Every marriage is going to get tough at some point, that’s the way I look at it. Just like everything else we have to grind it out. That’s just life, and in my case x 4. I’m gonna look back and laugh. I know it! Anything worth anything is tough.
If more people thought like, that the world might actually be a better place. Life isn’t just a piece of paper you crumple up and throw away; life takes work.
Exactly. You’ve got to eat shit a lot to get the trick. After you get that one, you have to eat shit again to do the next one, but that’s the fun of it.
It’s always trials and tribulations. This is going to make a great story whenever I figure it out, when everything clicks, because I really feel at some point things will click. Granted, I was hoping things would work out differently, but you have to have those hopes to keep you going. If you really knew how hard things would be in the beginning, you wouldn’t do it. Maybe that is why a lot of times people like to give into the Disneyland story of happiness ,because if you knew that shit is going to be fucking rugged no matter what, you would back out. Maybe we all need a little bit of bullshit you know.
I realized the system is everywhere; you can’t get away from it, especially when they exploit people in everything. Even skateboarding. Can you speak on the business of skateboarding and especially how tragic it is when most people aren’t skateboarding for the love of the art?
When you bring money into anything, it’s a business. It doesn’t matter what it is. Punk rock is a fucking business just like anything else. Skateboarding, too. Once you decide to make those records and sell them, it’s a fucking business unless you’re just rich, and you’re doing it just to do it. As huge as the skateboard industry has gotten, I am sometimes proud and surprised by how the core of the skateboard business is to keep it as true as possible. There are people out there really fighting the fight, but at times everyone’s got to make a business decision because you’ve got to keep the lights on, you’ve got to keep the phone and rent paid. Now that there are so many big corporations in skateboarding ,who knows what’s going to happen. For a long time skateboarding tried to play it on skateboarding’s terms. Everyone has the decision of how much they’re going to give into it or not. I’ve never made a lot of money, but it wasn’t my point. I had to find my comfortable position. A lot of people just want to chase success, will do whatever. Skating is boring these days. It’s pretty young when you think of it in the grand scheme of things, but, like music, it’s become a formula. There was great top-forty music up until the 80’s, but now it’s nothing. There’s still good music being made, and with skateboarding there’s a lot of true talent, but it’s turning bland because skateboarding figured out how to sell riders and products. It’s coming to a point like anything else where you’re going to choose the financial success, or you’re going to go off and just do your thing because you’re trying to keep the core going.
The level is real high and it’s impressive. I will say!
I don’t want to say this because I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s like there’s a lack of authenticity.
It’s no one’s fault. It’s none of the skaters’ faults because they’re just trying to live their dream. They set a goal to become a pro-skater, and they get into the industry. Skateboarders are smart people, and they find what must be done to meet their goal. That is respectable. It sucks that it has come to a point, and everything comes to this point, where a formula exists. This is part of what we have to do to sell. Those dudes are really talented, but pro-skating in the 80’s was different. You couldn’t be a pro skater unless you were putting your own brand on skateboarding. No one else did it like you did it. Now there is little difference because everyone is competing and it’s a bummer because what’s happening in the skateboarding industry, well pro skateboarding, is kind of mirroring what’s happening in the country, our economy. The middle is going away, and everything is polar. You’re going to make millions of dollars doing exactly what you’re supposed to do, or you’re not and will be broke. That’s what’s happening right now. I spent a lot of years being a pro-skater. It paid my mortgage, it supported my family, it wasn’t a lot of money in today’s terms, but we lived a nice middle class life. For someone like me, ‘the blue collar skateboarder’, it can’t happen anymore. Red Bull wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me, or Nike for that matter. There are few alternatives on the flip-side. Before in pro skateboarding, there was a middle class, not so much anymore. I’m so out of the loop I have no idea what the fuck I’m saying? Ha ha ha.
I interviewed Danny Gonzalez a while back and asked him about the whole Thrasher incident. How dare they write the history of Wallenberg, and not put him in there? I mean that guy fucking kick flip meloned that shit.
It’s all politics.
I’ve considered myself a skateboarder, I’ve related more to skateboarders than other people, but when I got into sponsored skateboarding, I didn’t really like it. I’ve never been the kind of person that will weasel into the right crowd to make my way up the ladder. I’ve always been on the fringe of pro skating for sure. It was a bit shocking. I got into skateboarding to get away from the concept of high school. Then I go to the other side, the industry side, and it’s high school all over again. What a let down for sure.
I always tripped out on the whole Danny Gonzalez thing. I understood it, I understood that he rubbed people the wrong way, but dude, he’s so good, like ridiculously good, really creative, and looked at things differently. He was the skater I always wanted to be. Not only did he have the creativity, he had the raw talent to come up with crazy ideas and do it. It’s kind of weird, he was forgotten, to be honest. He was phenomenal.
Yeah, he’s gnarly and unique. There are few guys like him.
I think guys like you who are honest people on the fringe, if someone ever really wrote the history books on skateboarding, you guys are the real frontier. The super success stories, they don’t interest me.
It never interested me either. There are only so many Cardiels and Mark Gonzales’. Those are the guys who not only are the real deal; they are experienced at success within pro-skateboarding. Cardiel is the best dude ever. Not only was he so rad, as a person he never changed. Always the down to earth, mountain boy ‘ya know.
He wasn’t crazy at all, just skated crazy. One of the best, if not the best.
It will be interesting to see who is really remembered years from now???
Like after the fifty years … It’s going to be so tweaked anyway, skateboarders need to rewrite the history of skateboarding now.
It took thirty years to figure out it was actually good. I had a conversation with someone recently about art. He was like, ‘I don’t even get it sometimes, I don’t even know what’s good and not good, I’m really not impressed usually,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t go to art openings, I rarely go to any really modern art galleries or things happening in the now. If I had more time maybe, but I prefer to go to museums because it’s been tested through time and I want to feel inspired. I don’t care to see or be seen in some bull shit hipster crowd.
Jason and I left the café and continued our conversation in his art and the future of his skate career …
I’m sure he was like anybody I know, like myself, dealing with demons, and wondering why he was doing what he was doing. Struggling. I think that’s what drives anyone to actually make visual art, or any kind of art. It’s like medication, that’s what it is for me, really. Anything I’ve gotten into is more like, ‘Fuck, life’s crazy! I need to escape.’ I find my escape and then there’s that part of my personality where I fess up. It is like finding those things that get you through.
I was just talking about the Mike V thing. Got burned on the whole pro skater thing. Video killed skateboarding, especially now with the internet, and everything. It’s just produce, produce, produce, produce. I was out of it, but wanting to do more. Then thinking why, I really don’t like it.
When was the ‘Bag of Suck‘ Video?
That was 2005, I think, it’s been awhile.
That was your last video, right?
No. I went back to Black Label, there were a few things at Enjoi that didn’t end up happening. They made a video called ‘God Save the Label’ and I put out a video part. After that video came out ,the economy really hit and then everything was over, for me, anyways. I tried to sniff around, get stuff going. I was having obvious money problems, and I didn’t have the energy. I don’t know if I can go into a meeting and go say, ‘ I’m going to do all this shit.” I don’t feel I should have to. After all this time I still have to sell myself. I kind of gave up. Mike hits me up out of nowhere about his new company, Elephant. I always got along with him really well.
We started talking. I would have loved to do something, and needed a sponsor, and I straight up told him, ‘I’m down to do this, but I have boundaries. ‘He said, ‘I think you’ve never been utilized properly. Whatever you want to do, I just want you to be stoked.’ There are all kinds of new projects, he’s all about creativity and self-expression. He puts his money where his mouth is. I’m really stoked; it came at a time I needed it. There’s been a really positive response to it even with the people I thought would be haters.
So far it’s me, Mike, and Neal Hendrix. He’s letting it happen organically rather than buying. Mike has his outlook on skateboarding, and that is what he is going to put out. I get to make the boards the way I want to make them. I get to make videos the way I want. There’s no competition. I’m critical about stuff, that’s my eye, but everything I’ve seen makes me stoked. I feel like there’s opportunity for me again.
It’s not coincidence that this space came up like that. Everything happens for a reason. If you accept the journey you’re given in your life, and you answer the call and you go … These things are part of a larger life perspective … You’re doing this thing with Mike, it’s all very relevant.
Whenever I have an opportunity, I never want to say no. I’ve passed up a few opportunities because I had to. It is really hard for me, but opportunities keep coming. I would just keep taking things. I think you’re right, it’s better that I don’t.
There are many parts of Henry Rollins’ book ‘Occupants’ that stick out to me. It was intense, the pictures with his writing style was on a different level. This is from Indonesia 2009 in which he says, “To have such a global impact like a Muhammed Ali, Martin Luther King, or New Kids on the Block, it must be amazing. You have to wonder where it all starts, if there is a point in someone’s life when he looks in the mirror and thinks to himself that he really wants to go out there and make a difference, to put everything he has toward that end. I guess there’s all kind of ways to reach immortality, to be a legend in your own time. That must be a hell of a thing. Imagine that, to be known by people, to be part of history. Who wouldn’t want a shot at that?” What are your thoughts on immortality in the sense of leaving a lasting impact where you personally have made a difference and were you trying to accomplish that with art as opposed to skateboarding?
Either or, especially now in my life, when it’s month to month, immortality, I don’t think about it. Would it be cool to be remembered forever, of course. I remember at one point in skateboarding I thought it would be rad to be in the skateboarding books. Right now I’m in survival mode. Being remembered? That’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now. My goal has been to do my own thing and not get stuck in all the shit, or what’s normal. Some things I can ramble on about, but this I don’t care about. I’m going to call ‘bullshit’ on myself because I have moments where I want to be in museums. If I have to answer the question, I don’t think like that. I think of how I am going to support my family, and how I will do that on my own terms. At the same time, I hope I can get past this, and do something with whatever talents I may have. Maybe I can make some sort of difference. Right now I’m crazy doggy paddling, just trying to survive and hoping if I do it long enough, I’ll be in a position to gain some ground. I don’t think of that in terms of my ego, and wanting people to know me. I think more in terms that there has to be some good to come out of this more than just for myself. I haven’t gotten to that point, but I genuinely want to help people in some way, and not because I want everyone to know my name.
I think also that anyone born into Western culture who has been exposed to any kind of media, whether that’s a magazine, movie, anything recorded, they’d be a liar if they told you they didn’t want to be remembered.
I don’t think about wanting to be remembered everyday. I know a lot of people really trip out on immortality. The idea of dying and not doing anything bothers them. I don’t feel like I’ve done a lot, but I have done something because I don’t trip on the idea that I’m going to be dead some day. Even before I made a little name for myself, that was not my goal. I want to do what I want to do. Getting older, it would be cool to be remembered not for notoriety or fame, but for doing something that actually helped, for being a productive member of society. That would be cool. Right now, I’m just trying to pay the rent.
Solitude is one of my favorite life themes. Picasso said, “Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” What are your thoughts on solitude in doing your art, skateboarding and how hard is it to truly find solitude with all of this fucking distraction?
I’m at a point where I really need to find a way to deal with it better, but I do love solitude. You came over and it was really easy, but I haven’t been a very social person. I can be at times, and people think I am. I’m friendly, I respect people and give them the time of day. But I’m socially challenged. It’s not usually comfortable, and I think that’s why I do like having my cave. I don’t want to say that I hide, but I find comfort in it. I can’t focus well. People try to get me to do collaborations or use a workspace, but I cannot work if I feel someone is looking over my shoulder. You really do need to be with you and your thoughts as much as possible, to get that inner voice without distraction. There is always something going on, but I can shoot down into my hole and try to do a painting real quick. I used to have a really good connection with my inner voice, but now there are so many distractions. That’s why I agree that you should check out for a little while sometimes.
It’s awesome to be around people, but I crave solitude so much it makes me feel socially awkward. There are moments in my life where I don’t want to be around anyone. I just want to be reading, or writing, listening to music, or on the road by myself ‘cause when people come around, there’s a different dynamic immediately.
Whenever I drive down south, the typical small talk starts with talking about the 5. I drive in from San Jose, and everyone says it’s such a rugged drive. But I love it in the middle of nowhere. I feel comfort because it’s just me. I listen to what I want, or not. I can sit and think about whatever, or not. The feeling of thousands of people is something I feel in the city; it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. Once I get out of it, I feel like this monkey is off of my back.
I was looking forward to the hour I had coming down here this morning. It’s people that are afraid of themselves, afraid to hear themselves talk, who feel like they need to be at a TV all the time, or have something always taking their attention away from themselves.
I do get my time in my cave, but people go in and out of that place all of the time. I do my best thinking in the shower. I just sit there and I soak, I absorb. Everyday I get sore and stiff, then I sit and I think with the water blocking everything. Once I get out, I can’t fucking think. It’s my personality. Some people can handle shit very well, but I need solitude.
‘The Refused are Fucking Dead’ is a mini documentary about the hardcore band Refused. They were very short lived. There’s this quote that hit me like a brick in the face. It says, “Sometimes punk rock is beautiful because it’s a reflection of what life should be, and sometimes it’s just a stupid clique for adolescents. When it’s time to die, who is ready to die as nobly and as gloriously; the fact our mortality demands. Who’s ready for that? By the time you die you’re so exhausted, so beaten and so miserable that you can only die. It was tragic because punk rock did not save our lives.” When you hear that and everything we talked on today, how does that make you feel?
There are times I would have said skateboarding, or punk rock saved my life. To be honest, now I wonder if it saved my life, or ruined my life. It’s an inspiring thing and I think people make it out to be bigger than it was, but it’s no different than good art or good writing. If you think of it as a social clique, I would never jive with it, just like I didn’t jive with a lot of skaters all of the time. You can look at it two ways. It can be this beautiful inspiring thing that gives you hope. Or these things can be distractions, and that’s the negative way to look at it. I’m going back to life is shit … We need distractions. Is it a distraction, or a beautiful inspiring thing? To me it’s an inspiring thing, and it’s different to every person; it could be like their religion. It’s our religion basically and we can take it as seriously, or as lightly as we want to. It’s really dramatic to say it’s saving your life, or it could save your life. There’s a lot in that statement.
What you just spoke on is fantastic, but going back to, “When it’s time to die, who is ready to die as nobly and as gloriously; the fact our mortality demands. Who’s ready for that? By the time you die you’re so exhausted, so beaten and so miserable that you can only die.” I think about it like what if I just go the rest of my life and I do this and I die, that’s it. All these writers blowing their brains out ‘cause that’s what it was. That’s scary shit. Not that that’s any option for me, but it’s more of like …
It’s interesting at your age that you’re thinking that already, I didn’t start thinking like that until around 35 when I realized I wasn’t going to be a kid. I started to feel my mortality. I felt like a kid for so long, like anything was possible if I really wanted it. But that was a harsh age, when I looked in the mirror and said ‘this is as good as it’s going to get’ and everything changed. But I don’t trip on it much. I have kids. I had kids early, and I think it changed my fate. It changed my outlook on things because I’m focused on them as much as possible. I don’t spend too much time tripping on myself and what’s going to happen in the future for myself, or the idea that you just grind it out and all of a sudden you’re dead. Anytime I start to think like that I try to shut it off. It’s not going to change anything if you trip on it.
My wife’s grandfather was a grumpy old man; he came across pretty miserable. He had seven kids, had worked three jobs, and once his kids grew up, he became ill, and he was ill for years, and he ended up dying about seven year ago. I saw the house he raised the seven kids in; it was a two-bedroom house that had an attic. There were six girls and one boy. All the girls were in the attic; it looked like a dorm. Then we went to the funeral, and I listened to every one of his children talk about their father. They held him in such high respect, and loved him so much that I was moved to tears. That is what it’s all about. Granted, I don’t want to work three jobs. I don’t trip on the fact that you’re grinding it out and all of a sudden you’re dead one day. I just want, when I die, to have people talk about me like they talked about him. I never want to be on my deathbed looking back and going, ‘you’re a fucking selfish idiot.’ That’s why when I go to grind it out with my marriage or my kids, and I don’t always get to do what I want to do, I always think about being on my deathbed like he was, looking back at my life. I want my kids and my family to talk about me like that. I think I’m more focused on that than immortality to the world because I feel that’s more important.
That’s the real legacy.
I have these kids, my main focus is helping them be the best people they can possible be for the better of humanity. I can’t even tell you how powerful that funeral was. Before listening to them talk, I thought what a hard life. It was crazy drama with the kids, but their dad was their hero. That’s what’s important. Even with as many crazy wild rainbows I’ve chased, I can’t ever lose light of what’s important.