Friday, December 30, 2016

Halos and Horns : The Truth in Being Wrong

My eyes dart open, the sun was out glistening in the desert sky.  I hear the rumble of people out for their perspective morning routines, some jogging, some exploring, others just now getting in from the night before.  The city that truly never ever sleeps.  I look around our street to see past the others, as it was something else that awoke me from my slumber.  There's a large structure across from us, where a lot of noise is coming from a PA speaker... Someone is talking.  I walk across the road, the playa floor, to investigate this one city block of Black Rock City, NV: Burning Man...  And what do I find?

A sermon being given at a baptist church for Christian Burners.
"Anyone may be part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community." The 1st Principle: Radical Inclusion
I entered the sanctuary and sat near the back, listening and experiencing this brief story I have now out in the dust.  I don't actually identify with a organized religion, but I am always into hearing others unique perspectives on life.  The pastor (preacher?) went through the congregation meeting everyone after he finished for the day.  I thanked him for his time and the experience, turned and simply left.  Walked over to center camp to grab a mocha (my favorite drink out in the desert) to think about what just happened, and what I can learn from it.

Today's story is about just that: How wrong we are about being "right".

In statistics there's an issue called halos and horns.  This is where survey data becomes malformed due to overall acceptance/refusal of the subject as a whole.  For those who tend to halo/horn subjects, the general like/dislike of the target warps all questions along these lines.  Here... hang on.... Let meeeeee...... I'll script out an example:
Jim: Hi Bob, hey... did you like that burger place from yesterday? 
Bob: Billy's Big Time Burger?!  BEST BURGER EVER!!! YES!!!! PLACE RULES!!!!! 
Jim: I thought Jeff didn't like it too much? 
Bob: Jeff ordered a kale salad.... Why would you ever order kale at Billy Big Time? 
Jim: Ahh. Got'cha.  But easy in and out lunch? 
Bob: Oh yeah, place was great... Dropped the check, came right back. Easy. 
Jim: .... you were late yesterday. 
Bob: Well.... so there was a slight mistake, they charged the wrong card.  Seriously it was basically my fault for not writing down my last name when we tried to split the check. 
Jim: Tried? 
Bob: They did have it written on the menu no split checks. So that's our bad honestly. 
Jim: What about the added gratuity? Jeff was pretty pissed about that... 
Bob: There were 4 of us.  Yeah, they add it.  What's the problem?
Bob here loves the burger from Billy Big Time.  Unfortunately service there is damn terrible.  But Bob can't see past that delicious perfectly cooked medium rare burger topped with sauteed onions, cheddar, and bacon.  Bob has "Halo'ed" Billy Big Time.

A wise man once told me: 
"PJ, every single person is right about something and wrong about something else.  Your job?  Find something that idol of yours is wrong about, just like you need to find what's true within that person you hate. That truth is there, honest."
Back at the Burning Man church, many fellow burners alongside Christian church-goers questioned what this "church-camp" was doing out in the desert with us (It was their 10th year btw).  And the answer is quite simple: They were searching for whatever truth is held in Burning Man culture.  The same I was doing by sitting in the back of the congregation: searching for whatever truth this church has to offer my perspective on life.  However big, however minuscule that truth might be... Be it 90% or 0.0000000001% truth of the tale they tell.  Truth-seekers will find it.

Good news for you:  You get to start doing this right now. 


Go look at the photo up at the top...  Yep.  SNL stand-ins for the real thing  So: Sit and think about everything that was said/done during the most insane presidential election that's existed in our entire lifetime.  One of these two people you approve of, the other you don't (and that's fine) - [edit: if you're outside the USA, what like matchup can you deliberate through?].  Whoever you approve of: find something they are wrong about. Something you can critique them about why they are just plain fucking wrong. And then... For the person you despise: find something they are right about. Something that you can learn from whatever their life experience has to offer you.  What truth do they hold?

Radical Inclusion is about actual 100% inclusion to the absolute fullest extent.  Our community accepts all, since every single person on Earth has SOMETHING to offer. SOMETHING to teach.  There is truth within each and every single person here.  

Your job: to find it.

I love you all,
--Paul Jacob Evans

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Voice of a Vote

*Disclaimer: There are no political sides taken here.

Facebook has lately been a constant barrage of negativity in my life.  Day in and day out I find myself less and less on the social networking site.  The constant feeds of email servers, groping, racism, and newly reopened FBI investigations.  It's a trying time to be a citizen of our country, an election cycle that should have us seriously reconsider how we conduct elections here.  The spark of viciousness of two rabid dogs neck-to-neck in a battle to the death.  Wasn't this supposed to be about the issues?  Yeah, maybe those days are long gone.  

... Or are they?  Today's story is about your voice in your vote.

A post pops up in my feed, it's a friend who is pleading with anyone who will listen.  "Don't vote for [3rd party candidate]!  We need to beat the [Democrats / Republicans]!!!  DON'T THROW YOUR VOTE AWAY!"  When did politics become nothing more than a football game.  Your team vs. mine.  Red vs. Blue.  When did that happen?  ...  Why did it happen, and why should we care?

The problem with a 'game' is the purpose: the purpose is TO WIN.

It's not to do good things, help others, or make the world a better place.  Nope.  It's simply to beat the crap out of the other team.  Ahh, ok.  Now this election cycle is making a bit more sense.  Who cares about 'others' when we can WIN!  WINNING is great!  This is why we've watched ~$1.8 Billion (B... yeah, Billion $)  be spent this election trying to convince us to pick their candidate, so they get to WIN!!!!!!  Gosh WINNING IS SOOO AWESOME!!!

Personally, I think we've gotten off track.

Voting, the vote, the voice... all of an individual, not some team.  And really, that's how this has been continuing, you're not an individual... you're part of a organized group.  Red or Blue or .... you're nobody that matters, (right?)  The football game works when everyone is picking sides, you or me, because somebody has to WIN and somebody has to LOSE.  But it all stops instantly when everyone is out there by themselves, deciding what's best for everyone in the whole stadium.

The game ends when we, the voters, simply stop playing it.

She screams out in another comment: "DON'T THROW YOUR VOTE AWAY!  PLEASE!!!".  As as far she sees, there's only two options in the booth: Red or Blue, because any other 'choice' isn't going to WIN (purpose of the game) so it's a "wasted vote", right?  By her perspective, why would you do anything else?  

Well, I feel that you should do something else.

Each of us should be voting like we are the only vote, the only voice that matters.  As if our singular vote is the determining factor that will call the entire election.  Vote like it truly matters, for whom you feel should be holding those offices.  Whatever circle you choose, whoever's name you write in: that is your singular choice of who should be standing in those ranks, regardless of any and all outside influences:  That vote is your voice!

As far as choices, you have only two:
  1. Vote your voice
  2. Sacrifice your voice to some 'team' to do with as they will
So next time someone tells you not to throw your vote away, explain this to them.  As long as we're voting in the Monday night football game, every vote we cast is thrown away.  That's when a vote no longer has a voice.  

Vote like it matters.

I love you all,


--Paul Jacob Evans

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Ode to Immediacy

I woke up rather suddenly as an art car trolled past our encampment, it's morning.  There's a woosh! and gargle, the iconic sounds of a flame thrower roaring through more and more of it's propane gas food.  It stops, and the inevitable cheering from the small crowd for another display from the beast.  "Wooo-Hooo!" a-top laughter and applause.  My eyes are open while I listen to the gentle giant and friends roam down "H" street towards some new adventure.  They leave our quiet suburb as the air settles back down onto the playa floor, a caked up parcel of high alkaline silt, leaving only the sound of the morning sun.

I'm awake now.  At 4:00 & H,  Black Rock City, Nevada.  Saturday: The Man burns tonight at Burning Man.  However this story isn't about the burn, nor about our Black Rock City or this iconic annual festival...  

This story is about a 15 second conversation that happened this one curious day.

"Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience." - Burning Man Principle #10 : Immediacy
 Are you "busy"?  Like really "busy"? Like running around all over town because, "PJ... you have [no idea] the amount of things I have to get done today!". . . "busy"? Lately, I've been noticing this: How "busy" my friends are.  And I get it, I used to be "busy" too.  I'd have my schedule packed ear to ear, and at 7AM... BAM!  "Busy" is starting... Off to point A, then to point B, run over to point C, meet D and E for F over at G&H, have to skip I for a meeting with J who brought in K (L's boss) to talk about MNOP's report on Q. CRAP! got a text from R&S who just got out of T and are headed to U with V.  Which is FINE but W won't start because XY AND Z! ..... {sigh} "Busy" is exhausting.

And "busy" is something much more dire:  "Busy" isn't living life.

We're not living in the space around us... We're too concerned about getting to the next check point.  "I'VE GOT TO GET TO POINT A! WHY IS THIS GUY DRIVING SO SLOW!!!!! AHHHH!!!!!" <HONK!> <HONK!> <HONK!!!!!!!>.  And what happens when we get to a checkpoint? BAM! There's another checkpoint we got to get to! Point B!!!! LET'S GO!!!!  And this illustrated a very important lesson I learned this year:

We're always striving to be somewhere we're not.

I used to be "busy", racing off to the next checkpoint ignoring "life" happening all around, too concerned about my never-gained destination.  For whenever I got somewhere, 100% of the time there was somewhere else I was headed next.  And that's the "busy" life: always going to, but never being anywhere.

I take the metro around for transit, gave up my car about a year and a half ago (just following the universes lead after some thieves stole the catalytic converter) ;)  "Yes universe... Thank you, lesson learned!" And I'll tell you the most fantastic thing this change has yielded: This is when my life stopped being "busy".  This is when I really started "living life".  And this point is really important: The map never changes, but my attitude towards walking it has dramatically.

I'm still going to points A, B, C, etc.  But my life isn't about "getting there" anymore.  It's about living each and every step, confident that I'm headed in the right direction towards the next checkpoint.  Where I used to be glued onto the next point warp 9-ing past all of this "life" that is actually happening.

Look: That point A, it ain't going anywhere.  So just head in that direction, and turn your attention to the abundance of life happening all around you.

Stop being "busy", and start "living".

It's that easy.....


Oh yeah!  My 15 second conversation:  

Her: "Hey PJ... uhhhhh.... so.  What do you think about really taking our time heading back to LA?  Like make a road trip out of it?  Maybe Lake Tahoe, see some family in San Francisco... stuff like that."

Me: "Sounds Amazing."

This is what happened:
  • Breakfast in Lake Tahoe at "Bear Beach Cafe" - Amazing
  • Emerald Bay - :')
  • Kayak'ed out on the Lake from Homewood - Wow
  • Sushi in Sacramento at "Sushi Hook" incredibly fun sushi place (happened to go in during 1/2 price happy hour) - Awesome
  • Baker Beach morning - Site of first Burning Man - :')
  • Golden Gate Bridge - Wow!
  • Amazing sandwiches @ "Lou's Cafe" in San Fran - Crap this place was amazing.
  • Incredible coffee shop & nerd-palace "Characterz Cafe" in Pleasanton (Seriously: Coffee ice cubes so your mocha gets stronger as it melts! W.T.F! Why has nobody thought of this!) :')
  • Wine and Cheese in Sonol that night - Tree house cabin = amazing
  • Met an amazing barista at "Juice & Java" in Pacific Grove
  • Met a REALLY awesome sandwich artist at nearby "Compagno's Market & Deli"
  • Lunch on the Point Pinos Beach (sandwich & coffee)
  • Checked out the amazing views around Big Sur
  • Walked into Hurst Castle (will be back for sure)
  • Dinner (other half of Compagno sandwich) on Santa Barbara pier

It's funny.  PJ of a year ago would have huffed about wanting to get back to LA quick.  PJ of this year had the greatest 3-day adventure ever.

And all I did was: Live. Every. Step.  Now I know.


I love you all,
-Paul Jacob Evans

Emerald Bay @ Lake Tahoe

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Idea of You

A chirp came from the computer as I'm navigating 20+ tabs of random flows of thoughts.  My chrome browser sessions are on par with being at a epic rock concert while meeting with your accountant: Fun = yeah... But still has this peppering of 'work' that won't go away.  I'll randomly think: "I wonder how batteries are charged..."  and BOOM! new tab is open with a web page explaining bulk charge, absorption, and float battery charging steps... REALLY interesting!!!!!  So battery charging is apparently a very heated topic in the electronics community as it's not actually... "STOP PJ! YOU'RE DOING IT AGAIN!"  </sigh> Sorry.  Welcome to my world.

<BEEP> That chirp happened again!  Crap, where is it coming from?  I click through tab after tab, each with a new world of information and teachings... "What does the octane number mean?" "How do power transformers work?" "Distance from Istanbul to Los Angeles in miles".  Nope, those aren't it.  <click>  Ahhh... Yep:

Facebook.  Figures.

A new photo was posted by a friend of mine.  "Hey guys!  Check out my new one-sheet!  Tell me what you think. Mwah!"  Ok. Cool.  Nice photo, name is easy to read, tagline = "Smart Upscale Mom meets the Brat-Next-Door"...... ok.  Let's talk about this....

The "idea" of you.

There's an actress I met in acting class who is covered in tattoos, but every head shot I've seen she's covering them all up.  "Why?" I ask, "They are who you are..."  She scoffs a bit at the line of questioning: "I don't want to be seen as that kind of person."  She says.  "But why? You're very proud of your ink, why not tell the world? This is you."

For her and the tag-line actress before, they have created an "idea" of who they really are in the industry.

There's an actor mastermind group that I'm a part of here in Los Angeles.  We meet once a quarter, and each meeting I see the new faces come in with branding exercises, taglines, what-show-am-I-a-fit-for facebook polls.  And that's how I get to know them, well... not 'them', the "idea" of them.  I'm acquainted with the "idea" of who they think they are.  And slowly, one-by-one the real person will emerge.  Tagline actress from before?  Yeah... Competitive pro pole dancer!  "Wha?!  Seriously?"  It's like she allowed me to know who she really is, and I got to toss away the "idea" she had before.  I think so many actors/resses get lost here in LA.  Buried in the scopes and formulas to build the ideal "idea" of them to showcase off.  

I find that all of these "hidden" parts of their lives are the parts that give them the most uniqueness.  That really and truly separate them from everyone else. And when you are unabashed about allowing others to know whom you really are, nobody can compete with you.

Think about that.  "Wha?! Being an actor/ress with no competition?"  Yeah.  There's not one other Paul Jacob Evans in existence.  So the more the industry gets to know about me, the more unique I become.

Look at this.  I'll give you some items that define me, think of the others in the same group that I might be competing with.  Then just walk down the list, adding each to the overall:

1.) Actor...
2.) Los Angeles
3.) geek
4.) ...that still watches cartoons
5.) ... ... .... including Spongebob
6.) ... that's been paid to build Legos
7.) Was a drummer
8.) ... in a 2-piece metal band
9.) ... that toured the US 5 times
10.) ... almost kidnapped in Mexico
11.) ... that was deported from the UK
12.) Attends Burning Man
13.) ... will be my 6th this year
14.) ... 2nd as mayor of my village
15.) ... I've built yurts
16.) ... the water tower for the French Quarter
17.) ... and manage an art project
18.) ... ... it's that TV in the desert
19.) ... ... ... that plays Ren & Stimpy 
20.) ... ... ... ... which I can quote almost all episodes

See how fast the "competition" shrinks?  What number did you get to before you were "Damn... uh... don't even know if I know anyone else in the group." And I could go on for months!  Here's the best part: I didn't have to do some exercise to figure this stuff out.  It's LITERALLY MY ACTUAL LIFE! :D

So: Have you tried just being yourself?

Ditch the "Idea" and just go for the real thing.

Geek & Burn!

-Paul Jacob Evans


Working on the new BRCTV DeepPlayaTV for Burning Man 2016...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

R. E. S. P. E. C. T. | How I Learned to be an A-List Actor

R. E. S. P. E. C. T.

How I Learned to be an A-List Actor

"THEY'RE ONLY DOING SCENE 2!  GOD!!!!", gawked an actor who stormed out of the audition room.  Not 15 seconds later emerged a older gentleman that watched as the disheveled auditionee left.  "Well...", he says to us, the remaining actors, "... when you leave after your audition, you might want to close the door."  Obviously irked by the heated actor, he turns back into the room and (with a purposeful 'thud') the door did close behind him.  Turns out he is the executive producer for the project.  I guess that actor won't be getting a callback, nor called back... ever.  "Wow", I think to myself.... "I just watched a bridge get burned."

Today has been a very interesting day, .... I... ahhh...... well....    had to blacklist someone out of my life.  And as the story is what the story is, the lesson I got to learn is of immeasurable value.  I got to learn what that foundation is, of who you are as a person, must be in order to grow into an A-lister in our industry.

This is a story about a little thing called: Respect.

Cut to 2 months ago: 3 days after my birthday actually. I get a text message from a friend (we'll call her 'Stacy'.... why not?).  Stacy has a problem. She's with her co-creator out on a shoot.... (we'll call her co-creator 'Candi'........ because.... why not?) They have 30 people at a location to shoot 12 pages in 6 hours, and their audio doesn't work.  Pretty big deal.  Like disaster-laden big deal.  Like entire-shoot-getting-re-scheduled-with-30-peoples-schedules-and-conflicts big deal.  This is bad.  So...

Stacy contacts me and explains the situation.  I have gear that I know works fine, so I tell her to send someone over and I'll bring everything up there to help the shoot.  I got rid of my car a year ago, and do a mix of public trans, uber, lyft, and a whole lot of walkin'.  Works great!  Except in situations like this.  So getting someone over here is the fastest route to take, as they're thankfully and literally 3.2 miles away from my house.

Candi picks me up and we go over to the shoot.  I'm actually still in my pajamas and wearing flip-flops, since I had no time to change.  We hop into the house and I meet everyone and run boom for the first few shots training a wonderful young lady how to run all the equipment.  After she is comfortable with it, I end up needing to leave.  Since they are shooting 12 pages in no time at all, I opt to just walk home (I walk a lot! It's not that far guys.. seriously.) as having Candi take me back would be detrimental to the shoot and I have plenty of time available.  No big deal, everyone is happy, and the shoot moves forward.

That night Stacy texts me back to schedule bringing the equipment back.  I was out and not at my house for the night, but we decide to meetup the following day at 6:30pm back at my house. 

The next day at 6:33pm I'm walking up to the house and Stacy is already there... I've wasted her time, I'm late! AHHH!!!  I thank her for running by and she drops the equipment off with a huge thank you for being available to save the shoot.    

Fairly tale story?  Not quite....

There's a part missing in the bag, the AC adapter for the field recorder.  I tell her this, and immediately she apologizes and says she'll track it down and get it over to me...

That was March 20th.

Today I had to proactively reach out and ask about the AC adapter that is still missing from my equipment.  Stacy lets me know that Candi has it... But: "She's going in and out of town a lot and she hasn't had time to meetup to get it over to you. But I've been trying really hard."  (It's been 2 months).  So I get Candi's number, and this is what happens:

'Hey Candi, I need to grab that AC Adapter.  I have a shoot and need it for Saturday.'  She asks if I'm in her area from 12-4pm today, or 12-3 tomorrow.  I'm not as I have several auditions and an agent meeting.  I explain this, then get a response.... "What I may be able to do is put it in a small bag and put in my open mailbox, buzz you in, and you can pick it up there." There? = her place, on the other side of LA.

I pick up the phone and call her, she says she's too busy and those are the only times she's available to meetup for me to get my own equipment back. Plus, I have to go to her, she doesn't have time to come near me.  So I give her an out... "Ok.. Well look, I have a mailbox here you can drop it off at any convenient time, any hour, today, tonight, tomorrow... no problem."  And then she says this:

"My mom is in town, that's not going to work for me."

Really?  But you're the one that fucked up.. Why am I doing all the work to fix your own mistake?  I'm not the one who didn't keep track of someone else's gear.  That same someone, who if they didn't save our ass for this shoot, we might still be trying to reschedule it.  I'm baffled, if the roles were reversed I'd be tripping over myself to remedy this situation with the humblest of apologies.  I'd order an Uber to move the adapter from across town if need be.  I would do anything I could with the least amount of effort from the person whom I've hurt.  And here? ....  I'm not even hearing an apology... at all.  Then it became apparent: 

Candi's need for "convenience" outweighs her respect towards others. 

Wow.  That hit me like a ton of bricks.  That's really what dis-respect is: "me" first.  "You" only if "I" have time. [see... 'me' is still first]  I start to think about everyone I know in the industry and a familiar theme comes about, the theme I've been searching for:

The most successful people I know ALWAYS put others first.  And that this core-level respect is the required foundation for you to grow into a A-list artist.

I now look back on my own life and experience seeing how imperfect I've personally been with this subject.  Here's a quick story:  There's a woman.. (we'll call her "Mai"... 'cause... what not?) She's part of this actor group that I'm apart of (around 100 actors/actresses).  So we're ending another group session and a bunch of us are leaving.  Mai was at the door waiting for someone and while I walked past her, I shook her hand as she gave me a compliment.  I turned and said: "Thanks. Great to meet'cha".  And I got to watch all the joy melt from her face as she said: "But... you already have, several times."  My eyes locked onto hers as some friends, ignorant of what just happened, directed me out of the room. "Hey Peej!  Let's go... "

That really sat with me.  Have you ever done something so against the fiber of your being, where it feels like the core essence of 'you' died a little?  A long time ago, while I was working at a giant corporate store as a cart-pusher, I did just that:  I stole a purse.

Someone left a purse in a cart... and I took it.  I remember hiding it in my car during work, and remember emptying it down a dirt road near my house (way out in the middle of the deep Texan country-side).  What'd I get out of it?  $28, and the feeling like half of my soul died.  That same feeling when Mai told me "you have.... several times."

It's always "ME" first here.  Purse? "I"m broke! "I" NEED this money.  "SHE" doesn't need it and much as "I" do.  Mai?  "I"m bad with names! "I" can't remember that many people! "I"m usually good with 'faces', that counts right?


As much as Candi was putting her convenience in front of me, I was putting some bullshit arbitrary rule I made up to not remember "Mai".  "But I can't remember that many people's names..." Bullshit!  I can memorize a page and half scene in 10 minutes.  You, Paul Jacob Evans, are telling yourself that remembering 'Mai' is too difficult?  That's fucking bullshit!  Unfortunately, I see this theme in my past quite a bit.

Think about it for yourself... When have you disrespected others?  When have you put yourself, your own "me" first?  How do you feel when you disrespected someone?

I can't change the past, but I can start a new future, and I can start with this... Now that I understand 'Respect'.  

"I am committed to a life of true and full respect for everyone I come into contact with, and to building this respect as a foundation where I will grow into an A-list artist."  

What I was listening to as I wrote this....

As much of a lesson I learned today, I still have to blacklist someone.... Which is a huge change for me.  The old PJ would have instantly played it out with Candi like, "Oh... that's cool... you'know... I guess.... whatever, it's all coool. I'll just do whatever... It's all good." ie: a doormat.  That changes today..... Because there's another theme that presented itself.  As I glance across the scores of successful people that taught me this 'respect', they also teach another lesson, one that's abundantly heard in Aretha's iconic song:   

Do no harm, but take no shit.

I love you all,
Thank you for reading.
--Paul Jacob Evans