Van Halen

Maybe The Netherland’s best import?? Instantly sucked into their songs.

California vibes undeniable in their melodies and vocals. You can almost smell beach and visualize Cali bonfires when listening to their songs.

Happy positive party vibe backed up with raw musical talent.

No doubt the obsession with shredding helped them popular in the early days, their genuine good songwriting kept them on top.

Good example of making the best of everyone playing their instruments. Made me want to move to California.


Find Your Spot

I can’t stress enough the importance of finding your own spot.

Listening to other people tell you where to go and where to stay can and will be detrimental to your mental. Only YOU know what you like and what you need. You best believe other people are happy in their spot, and that’s great, but that doesn’t mean you have to be happy in THEIR spot.

When I lived in Berlin, I absolutely loved it. Every day I woke up happy. There were very few times in life where I was this happy. I loved the people, the places, the history, the architecture, the food and the women. Berlin wasn’t perfect but it was my spot. I had a friend there who absolutely hated it. No matter what advice I gave him, nothing worked. He would complain about the people or our job or the weather or the women. Nothing was as good as it was back home. I would take him out to places that was fun for me, thinking he’d also have a good time. But no dice. What’s fun for me isn’t always fun for other people. He eventually left Berlin and is much happier living back home.

I experienced the same thing, in reverse, in other cities. Other countries even. Especially back home in the US. It’s important not to beat yourself up when you just “fit in.” Sometimes, it’s really about location. I’d be the same exact person, with the same clothes and same attitude, when I’d fly out from the US to a city in Europe. I swear, when I touched down, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt happy and free. People responded better to me. Women checked me out more! It was unreal. I was the same person! Just now I’m in Zagreb instead of Philadelphia. I know people who HATE Zagreb, and I know people who LOVE Philadelphia. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you if you don’t like a location. All too often in my life, people have made me place the blame entirely on myself why a city didn’t work out for me. In some cases I had a bad attitude, relating to something else unrelated. But in most other cases, the place just wasn’t for me. When I’m unhappy, my unhappiness manifests itself in different ways. I don’t get angry or throw things. I just complain and want to be left alone.

If things are going well for me (money in the bank, love life is on 10, health a 10, etc) and I STILL feel uncomfortable in a place…it ain’t me. This particular location just ain’t for me. It could be for other people, even friends and family, but it ain’t for me. The sooner you accept that, the closer you’ll be to controlling happiness in your own life.


Random thoughts from a younger me:

Someone recently asked me why I didn’t go to church. Was it because you don’t believe in God? It’s not that. I have a relationship with God, but I don’t feel I’m conservative enough to go to church regularly. I believe in gay marriage, I think marijuana should be legal, I think abortion is a persons choice, and I respect all religions of the world as being “right.” From my experience, this line of thinking is not in line with the conservative christian point of view in America, and in my opinion this would get me in trouble at church. You see, I know I wouldn’t agree during the times when the preacher may veer off the beaten path and express his/her opinions on those subjects, and their interpretation on what God thinks about those topics. I think that unless it has something to do with the policy of love thy neighbor, it has no business in the church. Church is about Love, not these awful and irrelevant topics that not only have made its way into our church, but also into our politics. Religion should be a guide on how to live your life as a good person, not a set of rules in which to judge people with. I feel like my uneasiness with the inevitability of human nature keeps me out of the church.

The light in me

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”

– Timo Cruz’s character in the movie “Coach Carter”

When I was younger I moved to Pennsauken, NJ.

At that point in my life, I’d been fortunate enough before then to have lived in a pretty good neighborhood in the “Philadelphia suburbs” of Willingboro, NJ. This was a big leap for me at the time, coming from Germantown Philadelphia to Willingboro. I was too young to process the change at the time, but it was huge. Probably the equivalent of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air story. Consequently today, Willingboro is a shithole, but in 1990 when I moved there white flight was only 50% or so complete, and most homeowners still cared about their neighborhoods. All the kids on my block where my age, and some of them I’m still good friends with today. These were good kids. Whereas in Philadelphia kids my age would be struggling to decide whether to sell drugs, cut class, or fuck girls, kids in Willingboro were actually normal kids whose biggest problem was which comic book to buy with their $5 allowance. When they met me most of them welcomed me. We played video games, we climbed trees, we talked about girls, we took summer bike adventures to the edge of town, and we went camping with our parents. It was a blissful time now that I look back on it.

Fast-forward about 8 years and a divorce later. Pennsauken was a very different place. The first thing I noticed when moving there with my mother was that the city was divided by a racial line, and we were in the “white side.” So needless to say, we weren’t welcomed with open arms. In fact, our wanna-be Hells Angels biker neighbors across the street from us would fuck with us about every chance they got. The only restaurant in town was an Italian place that was a little friendlier but you got the feeling that, if it came down to it, they’d watch out for their own first before helping one of the few blacks in the neighborhood. Anyway, I got a job at Pizza Hut there and pretty much made a new friend there. Chris. Chris was a Puerto Rican guy from Florida who, like me, felt like an outsider there. Chris had the benefit of having his entire family unit there and in tact, even if his parents didn’t speak English, which something that i’ve never had. So maybe this is why he was able to deflect the bullshit that was about to be a norm in our lives. Right around the time I met Chris, we both also got introduced to other kids in the neighborhood. Kids that were born and raised in Pennsauken. Me being on the “white side” most of the time when we wanted to hang around black kids we’d have to walk about 15 minutes to the “black side.” Now these kids where not like my friends in Willingboro. In fact, they were a complete 180 degree opposite of what I experienced there. They were not into comic books, they were not into reading at all! They smoked weed, cut class, didn’t have part time jobs, hobbies, and just generally didn’t have any plans with their lives past high school. And the thing about *these* kind of people, is for some reason they can smell when someone in their midst is not like them.

Enter me.

When they saw me, heard me speak “white” and listen to me talk about wanting to live in Japan, the internet (which in 1997 was still pretty unknown to us street kids), and listening to rock bands, the instantly jumped on me and started clowning me. Looking back, it was probably their insecurity. I remember the smallest one of the group, who proudly told us he sold drugs, teasing me for having an email address. A fucking email address!! I think now that guy would probably laugh at himself as most people in America, even stupid ass drug dealers, have email addresses. But at that time, these kids had never met a guy like me before. A young black guy who actually was going places with his life. Now by this time, I was about 16 years old and cut. I’ve always been muscular, and I imagine this is the only thing that stopped these guys from whooping my ass on a daily. They knew I didn’t fight, but they didn’t know what I was capable of if I did get a lucky punch in. And most of those guys look like they suffered from malnutrition anyway, so I was easily 20-30 pounds heavier than most of them. The only white kid in our group was just as bad. I think I never saw him stop laughing, because when I came around he’d immediately start clowning me for something. One time I came over his house to fix his computer, something that he laughed at me for knowing how to do, but his mom paid me to do for him. I was listening to one of Pearl Jam’s greatest albums “Yield” and specifically a track called “Do the Evolution.” In the beginning of the track, Eddie Vedder lets out a really loud howl, as to set the tone for the nature of this great song. Well, I had taken off my headphones right at the time of the yell, and the white guy and the short drug dealer guy, who was there probably because he had nothing else better to do, heard it. They said “WTF was that? What are you listening to Corey?” and they proceeded to clown me the whole time I fixed his PC, for not being black, for listening to rock, etc. And this is coming from a white guy! LOL. Twilight Zone indeed.

Looking back on it, I think it was inevitable. Any time you put someone like me around people like that, meaning someone who has hope mixed in with the hopeless, you’ll have the latter pushing around the former. How dare you come into our lives with hope! I feel sorry but I couldn’t help it. I was going places and I couldn’t hide it. I had ideas and goals and I couldn’t hide them. And they would take every chance they got to shoot them down. Luckily I’ve always been a hard-headed guy, and never would listen to anyone but myself.

For some reason, I’ve run into these kind of people my whole life. In fact, I’d say ever since I left Willingboro and my friends there, I’ve run into “Pennsauken” kind of people about 90% of the time, whether that be at work or in my personal life. Whether that be the US, Japan or Germany. People, no matter what color or nationality, when they see a light in someone, for some reason they naturally want to extinguish it. They want to silence it, because in that light in you, they see the darkness in themselves. This is something I’ve struggled to understand my whole life, because that’s so different from me and the way I was raised. Now I’ve just learned to accept it, and when it shows itself in people, co-workers, girls, or anybody, I immediately distance myself from this way of thinking because it’s destructive. The few times I met people that I actually shared common interests with and a unspoken connection with, I’ve become instant friends with them. That’s why I can count the “true” friends in my life probably on one hand.


I’ve been reading about the recent increase in ship hijackings off the coast of Somalia recently and it got me thinking. Why don’t these commercial vessels carry guns? I mean, wouldn’t that help the situation a little? Well I did some research and it seems that other people share the same idea and think there should in fact be some kind of way for these sailors to protect themselves. What I didn’t know was that there was an international law out there, or maybe just a bunch of national laws, that pretty much said that any boat coming into port with weapons wouldn’t be allowed in, and this pretty much ensured that all commercial vessels who wanted business will be gun free, and vulnerable.

On the one side, you have pro-gun people, usually conservatives, who think that there should be more guns on ships and also more guns period. The idea that laws and law enforcement will prevent criminals from committing crimes is both ludicrous and naive, and it’s your job as a smart and respnosible citizen to protect yourself by any means necessary.

On the other hand you have anti-gun people, usually liberals, who think tougher laws and more law enforcements stops these crimes from happening, or at least deters criminals. Displays of force like the Navy SEAL team rescuing the American captain and killing the Somali pirates are necessary ONLY as a last resort. Violence begets violence, and you can’t shoot the problem or remedy it just with more bullets.

I think most people on both sides agree however that having armed vessels officially sailing the waters of the world could  be dangerous. One person online mentioned a scenario where an armed group of Iranians carrying RPG’s and AK-47’s could make their way to American waters in the guise of a “shipping vessel” and take out an entire port of Americans. Another horrible scenario could be a case where pirates could beef up their weapons arsenal in retaliation of the resistance to them. You’d have a war-zone out there on the open seas where no one would be safe, and everyone would need an escort. There are many people out there who are very surprised and nervous about these attacks, who find themselves on the side of the “gun debate” that they’ve never found themselves on before: i.e. actually being FOR less stringent gun control laws.


The comfort of monotony

You know, you’ll never understand the true meaning of monotonous until you live in a small German village. Heck, I’d be willing to spread that soapbox statement out to the entire country. Germans love a lot of things, but one thing they pride themselves in is their habitual, monotonous, straight-as-an-arrow way of life. If it’s in the rulebook, you must follow it (with god-like efficiency). If it’s not in the rulebook, you must not follow it (and punish people who do). This all creates a someone predictable but dull daily life for me in the sticks.

Take morning radio for example. Here morning radio hosts report the news in a regulary . No opinions, no outragous noises, no public complaints about the 6th straight day the A8 has been backed up, nothing but straight honest news. That’s fine, but as an American I’m kind of used to having my news “sexed” up a little. A little flavor never hurt nobody. And I bet you that somewhere there’s a German reading this now saying “that’s why American news is so Scheiß anyway… too many opinions and not enough facts.” But Mr. Geman viewer, I ask you to look at it this way. You can have a piece of toast. for breakfast, or you can have a piece of toast with butter and jelly. It’s still toast, but now it’s sexed up to make it more enjoyable. Es ist sehr vernünftig,  ja?