Song of the Day: H.I.M., "Solitary Man"
I was supposed to be an actor. During my teenage years, a great deal of time and money was spent on my behalf in order to prepare me for a future as a stage performer. I attended weekly private voice lessons, received dramatic coaching, and auditioned for a variety of high level productions and concert opportunities.
The ends ultimately justified the means, as all of that commitment translated into acceptance into NYU's music theater program, my first choice and also the only institute of higher learning that would take me. I went to New York assuming that if I stayed on the path I had laid out for myself and remained focused on my ultimate goal, there was nothing that could stop me.
In the end, the only thing that could stop me was me. After 18 months of dance classes, newfound performance anxiety and questionable teaching methods adopted by my instructors, I realized that most every person I had met for the previous year and a half had been the worst person I had ever met in my life. It wasn't necessarily a value judgment on my friends and colleagues—it was more the realization that I did not have the necessary constitution for success (or at least the version of success that currently stood before me).
So I slowly drifted away from the theater and transferred that hunger over to my new favorite thing, which was writing. A chance encounter with an old family friend led to an internship at lad mag FHM (may it rest in intricately airbrushed peace). The initial draw of the gig was primarily financial (it was a paid, and I had drinks to buy), but it also inserted me into a world outside of the cocoon that I had been living in for a while. It was a reasonable reminder that there was life outside of my singularly-minded tunnel vision.
So I started sorting mail and transcribing interviews, and then I slowly worked my way up: penning fake letters, doing minor interviews, creating lists around new movies and music releases, and eventually writing features and doing experiential stuff. I loved it, and I like to think I got pretty good at it pretty fast. Writing for the magazine became the main focus of my life, to the point that I did everything I could to get out of school early so I could dedicate myself to what I decided was my new career.
Once school was done and I collected my BFA in theater (an entry on my resume that people still find hilarious), I strung together a healthy number of freelance jobs for about a year until I snagged a staff position at Spin. On my very first day at the magazine, an editor sent me to interview Bam Margera, who was a pretty big celebrity at the time thanks to the success of the Jackass franchise and his own MTV reality show. He was launching a new show on Sirius (this was before the merger), and I had to go to their studio in midtown to watch the first show and chat with Margera (an interview that ended up as my first byline in Spin). The fact that the first day of my new life started there, and that place recently became the origin spot of another reinvention—the job with SiriusXM that brought me out to California. Has the circle come back around fully, or am I still destined to star in a Pippin revival some day?
That first Bam show had a musical guest in H.I.M., a terrible Finnish alt-goth band who nonetheless have a handful of decent tunes—though their crowning achievement remains the Neil Diamond cover above, which they performed on the very first night of the rest of my life.