Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Trials of Angeles : Los Angeles Done Right

"Los Angeles is a living being.  She will be test you, pressure you, tempt you in a attempt to break you.  She wants only those living here who must live here."  I stared back at him, he was a good friend whom was minute by minute  convincing me to move here.  "I don't understand." I beckoned.  "And you won't, you have to move here first then you'll understand."  I was pretty silent, as the air had a mood like was being inducted into the masons.  "How do you know I'm a good fit for LA?"  "I don't.  But I think it's where you need to be.  You need to trust me on this one."  I thought about it for a few days, and made a decision.  I moved a few months later.

3 years later I found a keepsake from that week-long visit that got me to come out here.  Played back 3 years of life to see just what he was talking about.  The trials and tribulations of Los Angeles.  So I sat down to write this article... Not a piece about me coming here, this is a piece about her.... Los Angeles.

It was day one, sleeping in my car parked in front of the bungalow I got in Silverlake waiting for the landlord to come by and let me in.  My phone buzzed with a text. "Hey!  Heard it's your first day!", my friend who got me out here.  He's been rather cryptic with his explanation of the magic of this city so I asked a (what I now know) VERY important question. "Any advice?"  I see his iMessage notification... he's typing.... erasing.... He's Typing.... erasing..... long pause.... He is typing.  'Boop' my phone chrips.  "Yes.  Los Angeles is a magical place, and the city will have a place for you.  Do not fight this.  Allow the city to move your path and you will be rewarded greatly, fight this and the city will destroy you."

I had no idea how right he was.

There were a lot of friends that I had out here as well... And one by one, they all fought the city, and one-by-one I watched them turn viciously cynical all ending with a text message to the effect of "This place sucks!  I'm gone!"  I would read that and sigh, yet another soul lost to the trials.  Remaining friends hear this and push their agendas harder (worst thing to do) and I watch them fall even faster.  Me?  Every time some trial crossed my path I went right back to his advice: Accept the change Los Angeles is gifting you.

One of the opportunities the city gave me was driving for Uber.  Very sobering experience.  Night after night driving people new to the city and seeing yet again people fighting the city... losing.  One girl got in my car, around 18-ish, gave me an address and continued a call with her father.  "Dad I HATE it here!  Nobody respects me!"  She was balling.  I asked her what was going on and she gave me her story.  "Pop singer, came from Nebraska to 'become the star she's destined to be'"  "How's that working for you?" I ask.  Silence from her, then a "I keep going into these studios and they keep calling me ameatur, needs direction.  THEN my agent keeps getting offers for musicals... I DON'T DO MUSICALS!  I'M A POP STAR!"

"Well... Ok.  Would you like some advice?"  I looked at her in the rear-view mirror.  She wiped away tears from her eyes and nodded yes.  I told her everything my friend told me.  We arrived at her destination, I open the door for her.  "So you think I should do these musicals?"  "Hon, for whatever reason Los Angeles has decided that you need to do musicals right now.  I don't know why.  All I know is that you are either going to do them, or you're outta town that's it."  "Yeah, I think you're right."  "In a year, you'll look back and see that this is by far the best thing that could have happened.  Trust me."

"Thanks."  Smiled and walked into the building.

It's a lot like a rollercoaster.  If you go with the flow they are fun, but if you fight the turns and drops it's a horrifying experience.  But the most important point to understand is you can't change the track.  You will go where Los Angeles wants you to go and that's it.  The more you fight, the harder the trials.  Los Angeles will win, but she only wants the best for you.

So trust her.  :)

--Paul Jacob Evans

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Quick Word On Gratitude...

We just got finished playing our set.  I was looking out from the merch table, and saw a girl pushing through the sea of avid music lovers towards us.  She seemed to be in a fantastic mood, smiling and belting out "EXCUSE ME!  THANK YOU!" as she ninja'ed through the crowd.  Finally approaching us, handing me a sharpie while she put her leg up on the table.  "SIGN IT!" she commanded.  I smile and grab the sharpie, to sign yet another appendage for this night.  Her finger pointed right back at me.... and she charged with "Make it a good one."

The band is a interesting story.  It's a fairy-tale tragedy, with a snow white beginning and a Hamlet end.  I got to experience a dream most music fan fanatics all have: Fan-turned-member. From the front row, to playing drums in my favorite band ever.  It taught me a lot about being in entertainment and I gift the experience with my success as a actor now.  But there's one part of this experience nobody can prepare you for.

We would sit down in the band room at the house and go through mail.  Letter after letter, piece after piece, story after story.  First there were a few letters posted to the walls, and slowly that became dozens to hundreds.  The walls of the room literally wallpapered with messages from our fans.  From a far, I'm sure that sounds like messages of 'Ya'll ROCK!' 'Love you guys! xoxo', 'Kick ass show!'....  And those are there, those are fun, I was prepared for those.  However, real fan mail goes something like this...
... I wanted to let you know how important you are to my life.  That night back on valentine's day, your show at Room 710 changed my life forever.  I woke up that morning and decided that life wasn't worth living anymore and made plans to kill myself that night.  I went out to walk down Red River one more time before heading home.  But I ended up at your show and you gave me the courage to live again.  I'm not alone anymore.   
Love,  ---
The singer handed that one to me, "You might want to read this..."  I hung it above her guitar amp and both of us sat down and stared at it for an hour, neither of us saying a single word.  What could you say?  
... you gave me the strength to tell mom what dad has been doing to me.  Mom and I are moving away now.  Please come and see me soon in Iowa.   
Your biggest fan, --
 I couldn't sleep for a few days after reading that.  And that's really what nobody can prepare you for, the humbling obligation of love towards others.  When your art turns from 'we're doing this for us' to 'she is alive because of us', 'she's no longer abused because of us', it changes things a lot.  We continue on so she can live, so she can heal, so she can love.  The art becomes healing, filled with love.  We become a family of healers.  Then art becomes 'we're doing this so [people] can live', 'so [people] can heal', 'so [people] can love' and become a living entity made up of artist and fan.  A living entity that can now heal and help millions.

The fans are what make this possible.  The fans are what make a artist.  And I think that some forget this...

I drive for UBER, and have had many-a-people in my car.  From the IT worker getting off at 3am from work, to the people who walked across the stage at the Oscars to receive their award.  And I'm shocked by how some view their respective fans.  One person I wanted to backhand in my car for calling their fans, 'retarded shmucks'.  

This is a dead-beat dad, whom is only around when it benefits them, not caring at all for their children.  You are a parent because you have a child.  And I firmly believe that you are a artist because you have a fan, and that fan deserves that highest level of gratitude.  They've placed so much trust and love in you, that it's your obligation to treat them the same back.

A fan is the child of a artist.  And that cannot be abused.

The fan smiled after I finished the autograph on her leg.  She screamed out "PERFECT!", kissed me on the cheek and ran off.  I thought it odd, but much stranger things have happened...  .....

...before I continue this story, I want you to scroll back up and look at that photo for a while.

seriously, I'm not kidding....

That's a tattoo.

Unbeknownst to me that fan ran down the street to a tattoo parlor, where a tattoo artist was already waiting for her to come in.  She showed up at a show a few weeks later, "Hey Number 3!  Remember this..."  I looked and saw it, "Yeah... wait... is that Sharpie?"  "I had it tattoo'ed".  Everyone at the merch table froze.  She smiled, said "Oh yeah.  Bye!"  turned, and walked off.  I was speechless, and gratitude is all I could feel.

I'm a artist 'because' of her, my fan.  And that gratitude is what my child deserves.


Much Love to All of You,
--Paul Jacob Evans

Friday, May 30, 2014

Never Let Your Child Die

She stopped momentarily, staring at the items on the conveyor belt. "So, you still play with crayons?"  With no sense of humor in her voice. "Yes.  Why not?", I defend.  "I just thought they were for little kids." With a sneer I've never seen before, then continued scanning the UPC codes and ringing me up.  I pay for the bunch.  Poster board, crayolas, sticky letters, glue, .....  A pack as if I'm getting ready to build a project for a 2nd grader. "Nope.  It's all for me.", I smile back while leaving.  Honestly, I was half expecting to be escorted out by security from her reaction.

I'm still a person who puts his hand out the window driving, fanning the air as if to give my car wings. I imagine taking off in a plane when ever I go over a huge interchange bridge. I still make my own echo sounds.  I imagine having rocket boots when I run (complete with sound effects).  I seriously will hum my own backtrack music throughout the day.  I talk to imaginary people. And yes, I go to stores to buy crayons... For me.  I don't find any of this odd at all. 

I take the loot back to my house and begin to put together a "What If" board.  It's a board to help keep your life positive and on track. While working on it, and humming the theme to The A-Team, I began to notice something very simple...

I have completely embraced my inner child.

And I don't think that is something most people do.  Growing up, I feel that we're constantly beaten down with 'grow up!', 'responsibility!', 'act your age!' (whatever the hell that means).  That most people lock their child away in the deepest recesses of their mind, never allowing them to come out again.

For some, that child goes there and dies.

What is lost?  Your child is the real you, the 'core' you.  Who you are today is this child with stacks of 'life' on top of them.  And if you allow this child to die off, you cease to be a definable person, as 'life' is merely a series of facts, events, and variables.  'Life' doesn't define 'you' ...... here..... Mmmmm....... I'll use math to describe this: 

x = 4

x + 3 + 9 + 7 + 1 + 15 + 3 = ?

So the answer is '42'.  We have a starting point, then a series of variables that happen, and end up at 42.  Nobody would argue at this conclusion.  But what about this:
x = ?

x + 3 + 9 + 7 + 1 + 15 + 3 = ?

So where are we at now?  Who are we?  We have the same 'life' in both situations, so we should have almost the same number... Right?  This 'x', this starting point, this 'inner child' IS the foundation of who you are.  Without it, you become a wandering soul desperately looking for anything to help you define yourself.

What's worse...  Are those people who warp you, telling you that:

x = political party
x = religion
x = race
x = job
x = money
x = sports team

It's ok for these to be a part of your life, but they are not the 'core' you.  Unfortunately, for the 'lost ones', they will substitute these into their core definition of themselves.  They'll move through life changing 'x' over and over again trying to 'find themselves'.  All while their true 'x' is locked away inside of themselves waiting to be freed.

So, let your child out and be free.  Become re-acquainted with your child.  Get to know your child.  Love and embrace your inner child everyday.  Allow your child to be as silly and fun as they want to be.  And MOST important... 
Never let your child die.

That child is 'you', the real you.

(...and if your child wants crayons, you buy them some crayons)


Have a fantastic week!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


"How can you be so happy all the time?"  She was staring right back at me with a 'drop the bullshit' kind of look.  "What is up with you?"  I looked right back at her, shrugged my shoulders... smiled.  "It's a choice.  And I choose to be happy."  That didn't seem to quite satisfy her... "No... no, no.. There's bad shit going on out here in the world, you have bombings and shootings.  Hatred and ..." I stopped her right there.

"That's all 'so what?'", I said, "I'm here to tell you that none of that matters. These 'facts', people, places, events that happen have no meaning... no 'charge'.  It's your emotions that fill these images that make them positive or negative..."  DING!  Another customer comes in, she looks at me with a contemplative look then over back to the counter.

I look back down at my breakfast and ponder what I can tell her to help give her more to life.  This blog always seems to piece my thoughts together, so today's encounter is creating this post.  :)

Has something ever happened in the past (something more than a year ago) that hurt you?  Maybe someone stole from you... cheated on you.... etc etc etc.  Do you notice now, when you think about that event that there's a little bit of calmness around it?  Detachment?  Maybe now, thinking about it... You see some good that came from it.  Maybe you're looking back at that event and even chuckling about the situation?  And here's the break-though with this exercise...  

If that sense of detachment is there 1 year later, maybe it was there the day it happened.

Think of these 'facts' as little cars.  They have no power, they are powered by emotions.  So a 'fact' will happen: [your boss fires you]  At that point, some emotion will get into the fact-car and start driving it towards 'rotten-land' or 'happy-ville'.  What you can learn to do, is decide which emotions get to drive these little cars.  And you'll be amazed what changes you can make in your life.  

So 'fact' happens: [SUV cuts you off]  'Rage' is already getting into the fact-car... But you say 'NO.'  And offer that little car to 'Love'.  "You know what?  Maybe his wife is in the hospital... Maybe that's why he's in such a hurry." You say to the SUV that you were about to scream at.

How do you do this?

There are 4 phrases you can say that interrupts the auto-pilot most of us have our emotions on....  And that's when I know how to help the waitress.  :)  I grab a napkin and write the following:

I Love You
I'm Sorry
Please Forgive Me
Thank You

The waitress came back and dropped off the check.  "I think I can finally answer you...", I say, "Here.  Whenever you feel that 'facts' are happening that you don't like.  Say these words.  It's called 'Ho'oponopono', you use it to keep bad emotions from literally driving your life."

She smiled while reading it, and tucked it in her apron.

DING!  Yet another customer.

"Thank you hon.", she says.  I look right back at her, "You're welcome.  And I hope you have a awesome day."

She contemplated for a second, then a deep confident smile.
"You know what?  I will have one."


And I hope you have a awesome day as well :')
--Paul Jacob Evans

Monday, March 31, 2014

Unhappiness: The Choice We Make Today

"Wow.  Can you believe this PJ?"  My mother sighs out while watching yet another round of her choice news-source.  I shake my head, "Mom, turn it off.  Why do you keep watching crap that makes you angry?!"  She laughs, and goes right back to watching count-down timers for blackbox battery life or counters for days overdue for the Los Angeles 'big one'.  USE A FORK?  YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS!  She's constantly in a state of worry, a lot of my friends and family are.  In a society that hears "WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE DRINKING WATER!" everyday why wouldn't you be?

"BREATHE AIR?!  WHAT SCIENTISTS ARE FINDING OUT ABOUT THE AIR IN YOUR HOME!!!"  I started to wonder about why we've come to this point.  Why have we become a people so interested in being afraid of everything?  If I follow all of their instructions, i'd just live in a bubble and never leave.... Sure, I may be safe, but is that 'living'?

"AFTERNOON WALK?!  YOU MAY BE GETTING MORE THAN JUST A TAN!  WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE SUN!!!"  All I need to know about the sun is that it's been there illuminating the Earth for trillions of years, and that people have been walking under it for billions.  It's not a problem.

And we choose to be in this paradigm, that really gets me.  I've had to really help some friends out recently where this mindset is simply getting to be too much and I'm seeing rampant depression setting in amongst them.  I'm trying to save them, one by one, from this death spiral of non-sense.   "Stop watching the news!"  "Create the happiness you want in the world!", and they'd look back, "Don't I need to know?  Don't I need to be 'real' with myself?"

No!  You don't.  Why do anything that doesn't fully inspire you to live your life to the fullest everyday.

Your happiness is a direct product of your choice to be.  It doesn't matter if you're living in a mansion in the hills or living paycheck to paycheck in the slums.  You want to be happy?  It's your choice.  You can choose fear and worry, or choose happiness and inspiration. Today.  RIGHT NOW!

The next time you hear another "SLEEP IN A BED?!  WHAT THE MANUFACTURER DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW!!!!" tell it to shut the hell up, turn it off, and remind yourself... You are a happy person today. :)

So there... And it didn't even cost you 3 easy payments of $39.95.

So have a AWESOME day!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Friday, February 28, 2014

Why am I a Burner?

"Wow dude... You're one of those people?  I'm ashamed."  I sit at home reading that sentence in my email.  Each time hoping the sentence will turn into a paragraph that gives their perspective some context. But no, it's just that one sentence.  I wanted to respond back directly, but it didn't feel like it was the right thing to do.  So I let the universe guide me, and ended up just letting it go. I hit delete and erased the message, obliterating it into the cosmos. 

A few posts ago on here, I was mentioning being in a In-N-Out burger having a enlightening experience.  Spoke about going to BurningMan that year.  I got quite a bit of feedback around that sentence. Some quite inquisitive, and others (like above)... well... not interested at all.    However one of the emails caused me to ponder, and is creating this post tonight.  

"Why BurningMan?"

I stared at my iPhone reading that one question. My mind racing with images and magical moments that I've experienced there. Trying to forge together a cohesive paragraph that would fully answer it.   That, I found, is almost impossible.  Something akin to trying to describe color to a blind person.  "Where do I start", I thought to myself looking at the blank email I was composing, attempting to respond back.  I must have sat there for 30 minutes, not a word written down.  I shake my head and hit 'discard message', giving up.  Then a moment of inspiration, and I head to this blog and start typing. 'Yeah, now this feels right!'  :')

I think everyone has different reasons for heading out to the desert. Me in particular, I was at a very low point in my life. I was removed from a music group that I spent years pouring blood, sweat and tears into.  All the fans, all of the friends suddenly gutted from my life.  I was mildly suicidal and numb, I started reaching out looking for 'purpose'. I remember sitting in my apartment, all of my stuff in boxes, crying myself to sleep everynight for months. But I kept coming up to the same gut feeling...  Some new chapter is opening, it's all going to be ok.  "Let go of the past and accept the new story" I kept hearing in my subconscious. 

It took time to learn to "let go", as it's not something we're used to in our culture. As I'm learning, I begin to meet fascinatingly awesome people. The more I let go, the more people came to greet me from the shadows.  I was finally becoming totally free. As time went on, the old story became more and more closed and I was fully living out in my next chapter. 

I was on Facebook one day and saw a post from a old and very dear friend.  I reached out to her and told her my story. The heartbreak, the healing, the journey. Then I asked her a very pointed question, "What's next?", I asked. She paused. Then my phone rang... It was her.  "Hmmm................ well....... So, have you been to BurningMan?", she said.  "No." I respond back with a heightened guard. "Hmmm.  Well, that's what's next on your journey, you'll find 'yourself' there."  "Ok." I say with a heavy dose of uncertainty.  

'Find yourself'?  The hell does that mean?  I had a lot of images running through my head.  But I had a stronger trust of my friend. So I ended up getting tickets a few months before and started getting ready to go out there.  While prepping, I began to meet other burners whom I constantly was bugging their ear for any pro-tips for my first year.  They would answer the question politely, and always followup with "So, this is your first one?"  "Yeah.", I'd say.  "Hmmm.  When you go 'home' ('home' refers to BurningMan btw) you'll find out who 'you' are.  Just be prepared for that."  

I heard them.  But I didn't listen, I wasn't prepared for 'that'.

What I found out in the desert is not something I could describe.  Imagine trying to describe gratitude to a computer.  Trying to describe the scent of a rose to someone that can't smell. Describing color to a blind person. I can't explain 'it'.  Nobody can.  But I can explain what it did to me.  Now I see the world for what it is.  We are all one. Nobody has any higher importance than anyone else. And I could not mean that any more than what I do. You, me, the president of every nation, to every homeless... We are all the same, we are all one, we are all equal.

And my big life change was this.  I no longer was defined by others perception of me. I was finally allowed to be who I was at my core. In the desert no one cares what you do in the 'default world'.  That life is separate.  And at 'home', you are what you want to be. "So what are you?", they might ask. "I'm a painter!" You scream out smiling. Even if you've never touched a single paintbrush in your entire life, but you know in the deepest part of your soul that you're a brilliant painter... Their response... "Fuck yeah!  Cool... Let's paint, painter!"

After going "home" year after year, I've come to see what is wrong with what everyone else experiences everyday.  In the 'default world' we're completely judged off of someone else's perception of you.  You aren't what you want to be, you are what others tell you.  You want to be a lawyer?  Well... NO!  We will not accept you until you prove to us you are our definition of "lawyer". You think you're a painter?  HA!  Show us your multimillion dollar art exhibit...  What's that?  Don't have one.  That means you're a fraud!  You're stupid!  You're a joke!  It goes on and on, and sadly for most peoples lives. 

It's quite remarkable that anyone gets anywhere out here. A world built and run by judgement, criticism, and others perception. I think that's why so many people lose it when they get fired, have a social media stink, or some scandal open up.  These things shouldn't matter, but in a world where the outsides' judgement of you is the ruling clause. It becomes the word of god.  Got fired?  God hates you.  Social media blowing up over you?  You are a failure!  And we do this to ourselves.  Nobody is forcing us as humans to act like this towards each other.

Think about that... If you get fired, are 'you' a failure?  No.  That's someone's judgement placed upon you.  That doesn't change who 'you' are.  But for some reason, we place more stock in our identity with others.  Walt Disney was told that he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas." = FACT.  Oprah was told that she was "unfit for television" = FACT.  Elvis was told  "you're better off driving trucks." = FACT.  And they knew, they 'got it'.  They understood that what was said to them was someone elses judgement, and it did NOT define them.  They knew who they were.

Take a second to think about that...  Who are 'you'?  Do you know?  And the answers that come up... Are they real, or are they perceptions others have placed upon you?  It's honestly nearly impossible to discern the real 'you' from the judgments of others.  But out there in the desert, these perceptions don't exist and you're left with only the 'you'.  My first year I found myself answering people... "I don't know what or who I am."  And they'd smile back, "... It's cool, must be your first burn, you'll find yourself.  Promise!" :) 

And that's what happened in the booth at that In-N-Out, it all came together...  I found out who I was.  And it was awesome.

"We came to the Playa seeking adventure, community... a party.  
What we found was Ourselves!"

--unknown (BRC porta potty, 2013)

Could not be said any better. :')  That's why I'm a burner.

I hope you have a awesome week!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Friday, January 31, 2014

Murderers and Burgers

"Here you go, it's my favorite on the menu.", this tall biker-gang looking guy says when dropping off a burger that I ordered at my table. "Wow!", my eyes glowing as I was expecting a hockey puck patty on a 99 cent bun. "Yep, that's our pulled pork and goat cheese with a chipotle aioli sauce.  Enjoy", he answered back with a calm relaxing smile. "Thank you. Thank you.", I replied with my usual double talk that a few have made fun of, while I look onto the burger and grab the knife and cut it in half.  He comes back refills my water and adds, "and that's not grease on those chips, we use truffle oil."  Again with that fatherly smile.

After a few minutes another man comes out approaches me.  "Hi, how is everything."  Ok.  Now all of the extra attention is getting a bit odd.  Not in a bad way, just enough to where I know I'm the one that's not in on it.  "I'm the executive chef.  Do you know about us and what we are all about."  My responses going through my head were pretty interesting. 'Well, uhhhh. Restaurant?'  Kinda given. But I quieted those down and simply answered, "not really". He politely nodded his head and told me the story...

The place is called "Redemption Foods" a small quaint diner in the Hollywood area. My intimidating server, tall biker guy with the fatherly smile?  A "lifer" from the state pen. All of the workers are. All who served 25 to life.  The restaurant is the later part of a large scale program that starts in the penitentiary. Prisoners who decide to be part of the program are able to get job skill training to work at the business. As they are released the program provides housing and a steady job to allow them to start anew. 

"When [he] went in, there was no internet... No cellphones... Getting out of prison after 40 years, this outside world is completely foreign."  He said with a deep sincerity.  "Our world judges you based on what you did in the past.  But you are not your past, you are who you decide to be today.  If I'm a crack selling maniac, but one day I wake up and say, 'dude!  You're fucked up!  Stop this!' And decide to stop drugs and go get a normal 9-5 job.  Decide to be a productive member of society, no one cares. That 9-5'er wants a drug test... Nope! You did drugs in the past... You are a bad person.  It doesn't matter who I decided to be now, we make the past more relevant.  And we're shocked with statistics about ex-convicts re-return to crime.  Really?  I wanted to give these guys a place to get settled, some place that would accept them for who they are today.  To be a place that gave them a second chance."

He got a call and needed to go back inside, leaving me alone on the porch sitting in what he just told me.  Then, my waiter returns with a slightly defeated look about him.  Kinda a 'well, you know now' look.  Initially, honestly, I had major defenses prop up.  Then I decided to let go of 'his' past and allow him to be who he is today.  "Burger is great Greg!", I bellow out.  He smiles with that same calm fatherly-ness that really captivated me when we first met.  "Good", he says, "let me know if you want anything else."  Waved and headed back inside, smiling.

I thought about it for a while.  One thing I've learned these past few years, learning to let go of the past and embrace the 'today'.  I understand that they've done bad (or even horrible) things in the past; but that's who they 'were'.  Who he decided to be today is someone different, and accepting that decision is what forgiveness is all about.

So next time you meet someone who has a past, please allow yourself to let go of it.  See if they've decided to be somebody new today.  'Forgive and Forget' right?  That's what happiness is truly all about.  


Hope you have a fantastic day!
--Paul Jacob Evans