Friday, August 31, 2012


My Grandma passed away yesterday.

Needless to say, I've been thinking a lot about a lot of things these last two days. Mostly this:

I've been thinking about how everyone is the same.

Women People, Men People, Disabled People, Nicaraguan People, Chinese People, African American People, Cigarette Smoking People, Addicted-To-Heroine People, Rich People, Living-In-The-Slums-Of-Brazil People, White Power People, Buddhist People, Spiritual People, Atheist People, Short People, Famous People, Young People, Old People, Republican People, Homeless People.

That on the surface we seem different. We look different. We act different. We speak differently languages. We believe in ideals - with fervor - that are often substantially different. Given the same situation, we make different choices.

Even recognizing those differences, I still believe that everyone is the same. That the differences we perceive between people are illusory.

That we are not different because of our physicality or our choices in life, but the same because of the challenges we face.

My Grandma passed away today. I was close to my Grandma. I loved her deeply.

She was the most loving person I've ever met. She prayed every day for the well-being of her family, her community, and for peace. She loved unconditionally and lived only to serve. You couldn't leave her house hungry. Impossible.

I loved my Grandma, so today I am in pain. I feel pain for the loss of someone who was important to my growth and development as a person. I feel the pain that comes with losing someone who I loved and who loved me.

I believe that all people feel this loss the same way. The White Power People and the Disabled People. The Famous People and the Old People. Given this situation, everyone has the same pain.  Given this situation, people may act differently, but those actions stem from the same pain.

I don't believe we are different because of our differences, I believe we are the same because we all face the same challenges and the experience the same joys.

When people are challenged, there is pain. When there is joy in the life of a person, there is happiness.

Again, on the surface the challenges look different. Losing a job, losing a loved one, losing your position in life, losing friends. These all represent different experiences situationally, but at the core are all the experience of loss.

Everyone knows the experience of loss. White or Black. Rich or Poor. It's a pain everyone knows and it's a pain everyone knows the same way.

In the same way, we all know joy. Success is a powerful joy. It's a joy that people will strive towards relentlessly. Most interestingly, people can feel successful doing all sorts of things. Running fast, making money, stealing from others, empowering others, getting ahead of others, controlling others, making others happy. Although it's easy to judge "how" people find the joy of success, we can all understand the joy they experience.

To me, recording the countless, tiny differences between us before recognizing the systemic similarities seems short-sited.

I believe that we are all the same and that our "differences" simply represent own unique manifestations of this "sameness."  

That we are same because we share the same path.  A path that takes us through joy and through pain.  That to be a person is to be a person.

That the content of our lives my vary wildly, but the context of being alive is shared by everyone.

I'm sad today because I miss my Grandma, but I am hopeful because of this thinking:

I see clearly that we are all the same and because I can see that clearly, countless other people must see that clearly, too. I am a normal person. I play saxophone. I am a teacher. If this is something I can see, countless other people must see this, too.

If this is true, then people are starting to have the capacity to truly recognize each other as equal. Normal people can recognize this. This is new. This is amazing. And everything will change.

I believe we are all the same. The same in life and the same in death.

I'm grateful for the time I shared with my Grandma and thankful for all that I learned from her.

I want to be my Grandma when I grow up. She loved unconditionally. Everyone. She was amazing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

10 Years

Choosing to be a musician was the best choice I've made in my life.

The rewards, the challenges, the friendships and the profound sense of community, performing, teaching, and of course practicing - for me, this path has been perfect.  Ideal.

I know now that practically speaking, choosing to be a musician was a horrible idea.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into - I got good grades in school.  I could have been a doctor or something.  Instead, I'm poor. I'm tired. My body is sore from practicing.  None of these things are things I would have chosen on purpose.

Choosing to be a musician was the best choice I've made in my life.  Not because it has been easy, but because of how I've been challenged.

Along this path, I've been consistently challenged and challenged in ways that have often been painful.  Every challenge, though, has been a challenge to be more honest.  To be a better person.  To give more deeply.  To be more present.  To be more grateful.  To treat people unconditionally.  To learn from others - younger and older.  To listen to my heart and to really make choices that come from the best part of me.

Being a musician was the best choice I've made in my life.  Not because it has been easy, but because of how I've been challenged.  And through these challenges, I've learned how to be honest. How be a part of a community. How be myself.

And so you know I'm not kidding...
I'm writing this after working - practically straight - from 7:30am this morning until 11pm tonight.

I made the decision to become a musician about 10 years ago.  I was 17.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Luckily, choosing to be a musician was the best choice I've ever made.

Thank you everyone who has been a part of my life these last 10 years.  I've learned so much with and from you.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Too Hot For A Doughnut.

The videos are up from my time at the Second Story Garage with Kent McLagan (b) and Jay Ellis (d). 

You can watch the videos here including an sweetly awkward interview with Jay, Kent, and I. Boy, was this a fun session. I remember laughing the whole time. 

My favorite video from this performance? Definitely the tune, "It's Too Hot For A Doughnut!" Those words are the title and the lyrics. 

Kent gave me a hard time about that one.
He did not agree that it was too hot for a doughnut.

It's Too Hot for a Doughnut!
Danny Meyer - Saxophone
Kent McLagan - Bass
Jay Ellis - Drums

You can watch the rest of the videos as well as videos from other local Boulder artists here.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I can play bebop.  Not like Charlie Parker could play bebop, but as well as any other 27-year-old white guy from Colorado can play bebop.  I can play bebop well enough to love doing it.

That wasn't always the case.   I had a really challenging time learning to play this music.  First, because it's really pretty hard.  Second, because I had a sort of resistance to learning it.  I wanted to play "my own" sounds.  Today, I still want to play "my own" sounds, but I realize now how helpful learning the language of bebop is in helping find those sounds.

This last Sunday, I went to an afternoon jam session run by a great pianist named Scott Martin at a local coffee shop.  Here's a recording from the session.

Scrapple From the Apple - By Charlie Parker

Scott Martin - Piano
Patrick McDevitt - Bass
Alwyn Robinson - Snare Drum
Danny Meyer - Saxophone

Since then, I have been reflecting on why I love playing bebop.  I think it's because it feels like dancing.  I think it's the closest to dancing you can get with two left feet.  Sadly, have two left feet.  Luckily, I have bebop.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Laughter and Acceptance

I've been reflecting on laughter and acceptance.

How sometimes there's a glaring truth standing in front of us. Everyone else sees it, but for some reason, we can't accept it. I'm wondering how we go about accepting something true as true.


I've been writing about my thinking lately and I've found that the writing feels much stronger when I ask questions rather than make statements. For example:

I think there is a difference between:
Stating: "People are inherently good."
And asking it as a question: "Perhaps, people are inherently good."

That there is a positionality in the statement - a point of contention. It feels dogmatic. Absolute. How could I possibly know what is true? For generations, people have "known" the "truth" and this "knowing" has led to things like sexism, racism, war, and a million other sources of pain in the world.

So, why, then, does it feel better to write about my thinking by asking questions than by making statements?

 I wonder if by asking a question, I am essentially removing myself from the equation. I'm giving the reader the opportunity to ask the question for themselves and by asking the question come to their own answer.

Yes," "No," "I don't know," "The Bush Administration," "Russia, 1942," "What is Homer Simpson?" Whatever their answer, it's alright. I've taking myself out of the running to be "Mr./Mrs. Super Nerd of Knowing-dom."

I've been thinking that maybe we're are all responsible to discover the "truth" on our own. That we can have help, - and there is definitely seems to be help available - but that ultimately, we are responsible for our own positionality in the world. That we have to discover our path in life through realizing our respective truths through our own experiences in our own lives.

 So, how can we help each other on the path to discovering our respective truths?

I think there are two ways to accept a new truth: To laugh at it or to state it. Sometimes it's scary to accept something as true, but if you can laugh your way there, you get to trick the ego into not noticing its death.

Why does everyone like the fat, happy buddha?

Because its way more fun to laugh yourself to enlightenment than it is to starve yourself there.

I wonder if that's also why people love comedians like Louis C.K and Doug Stanhope. They help people find their truth, but the easy way.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Life and Conciousness

Do you think it's a coincidence that as people get older and learn more, their bodies deteriorate?  

That we start out with all this physical energy and know nothing - have learned no lessons - and then end life with no physical energy, but have learned. 

Maybe life is just the transformation of physical energy into consciousness (energy).

Maybe, that's what all this is.  That's why there's so much motion in "the universe." Stars exploding, war, people falling love.  It's just the transformation of something we call physical energy into something we call consciousness. 

Maybe, where we are could be described simply as a place that is catalytic.  And here is miraculous and beautiful because when things change, it's beautiful. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Funko Moderno Dialogue

Some dialogue from the Funko Moderno performance at the PI the other day.

Art: Long ago, there were croutons, but we wiped them out. The croutons have moved to a island which is pictured on my shirt. This island is just for croutons and for people with rare diseases. 

The island is called Abkeffk Jugsh. People go for special vacations on this island. Would you, Otis, tell us about the vacations people take on Abkeffk Jugsh?

Otis: On the island, you see carnival of jello which is floating - it looks kind of like another island, but it's not. It's all jello. So that's very fun. You can eat all you like.

Art: And there are certain very different animals that live off the jello. Matt can you tell us about the jello feeding animals?

Matt: The whirrel is a cross between a squirrel and a whale. That's the only one I can think of.

Art: Yes, that's a very big, very small animal. It's big at night and small in the day. Then every leap year then it reverses. And if it eats too much green jello then it's just medium size. And it eats nuts and boats and it has a spout and out of which comes kind of Kool-Aid that you don't drink. I guarantee you don't drink the Kool-Aid. Mr. Sklar, he drank the Kool-Aid and ended up in the hospital.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Short, Recent Thoughts

It's seems great to know "just enough about something to get in trouble." The problem is that then you usually get in trouble.  And then you have to get out of trouble.  And you need to know a lot more than "just enough" to do that.

To change the world, you have to meet the world on its own terms.

There are no obligations but one: To take responsibly for one's own health and well-being.

All problems are misunderstandings. They represent a paradox in thinking.
(This comes from the thinking that there is no 'No.'  There is only 'Yes' and the absence of 'Yes.')

I like laughing about new things and looking at things of depth. My favorite moments, though, are when those two things happen together - to see a old truth in a new light or a new truth in an old light. Those are the best laughs and the deepest insights.

It's hard to find solutions through 1 or through infinity, because, then, all you are left with is luck.

First comes the inspiration which is inspiring. Then comes the work, which is work.

Find something you believe and then do work. Then you find someone else who believes in it, too. Then you work together. Then you find more like-minded people. Then the work goes more quickly. Soon, there is change.

Lessons and Learning

I wonder how many ways there are to learn. 

I wonder if every opportunity to learn is essentially the same and that we change. That there aren't fun lessons to learn and painful lessons to learn and sad lessons to learn. That there are only opportunities to learn and people. 

I wonder if saying that a lesson is painful is the same as describing a wind as an angry wind - it's personification of sorts. Then, if these descriptions are not descriptions of the lesson - the lesson only is - then they are descriptive of our relationship to the lesson. 

If so, then these descriptions are a tool. They are indicative of where we are in the process of learning that lesson. When there is pain or sadness, there is a lesson that we have not yet learned. There is a truth that we have not accepted - there is a paradox in our thinking. When there is joy, there is acceptance of what is and therefore we have learned the lesson. 

We can watch ourselves learn and in this way we can be our own guides. I wonder if we can ever actually be lost - that we can only be in denial of what is. 

<Having breakfast with Josh Moore in Steamboat Springs, Paradise.>