Welcome back to another Teaky Tuesday – it’s actually Wednesday, but let’s assume for my own sanity that I wrote this yesterday so I can continue my weekly tradition.
Incidentally, this week I am thinking about routine. I am thinking about structure, giving form to the shapeless blobs that are, in fact, my waking days. I rise at 8:30am each morning – in reality more like 9am with snoozes – and I stretch to my toes (I get about halfway down my shins), my spine cracking like a xylophone. Refreshed, I confront the dizzying, endless, horrifying possibilities of my day.
I have very few routines that I keep these days, and fewer still that are spurred and instigated by myself. When did I lose that? I am atrophying in my dim bedroom, day after day, cloistered, insulated, isolated from the greater Los Angeles County City Limits. The freeways are the walls to my jail cell, the garbage-strewn streets are the bars. The lock and key are of my own making, though; I can break free of my pity prison if I so choose. My fate is in my own hands.
Yuck! Send Silver-Lake-Edgar-Allan-Poe back to the English Honors Thesis Class Excerpt Reading from whence he came! Tell him to hoist his Outdoor Voices Tote back onto his shoulders and leave this Trader Joe’s at once! I’m not so bleak or blasé as I lead myself to believe at times. This will be a good summer. It is shaping up to be a good year. I am shaping up to be a better person.
Welcome back to another Teaky Tuesday – I mean to do these every week, so hopefully this is the start of a beautiful tradition that flourishes as my career does.
On that topic (of flourishing), I’ve been thinking a lot about my identity as an artist. This isn’t really something new – it essentially consumes my day to day life – and I’m no more or less conflicted than I was a year ago, when I decided something had to change.
It was a spring day in Nashville, not unlike today, which is, in fact, the Eve of 4/20, the Highest Holy Day. I was gearing up to release my EP Spin Cycle (which is dope and you should check it out, whoever you are, reader) and I realized, for the thousandth time, that most, if not all of my music was sad. What a shame! Granted, I had been going through a tough breakup when I wrote the entirety of the EP, but I felt like I was turning a corner. A corner towards optimism, perhaps. I knew I was moving to Los Angeles, and that final western frontier spurred me to a new hope, a land of gold, of liberal politics, of Jewish Women ! (a relative rarity in Nashville). That’s when I began writing the title track of my upcoming EP, What if it all works out in the end?. [Note: written with Ben Pleasant and Charlie Brennan.]
And here we are, a year later, and I am as much an LA local as my Grandma Thelma is a Republican (she is very staunchly not). Still, I think my music has taken a positive turn, or at least a turn that seeks happiness. At the very least, a turn that begs the question: why not? Although “Half as Cool” is decidedly sour towards adulthood and “Star Sign” jabs at astrology, I think they mark a turning point in my sound. Especially my next release, “Existential Crisis” (comes out April 29th, presave HERE if you haven’t already). It’s all about positivity, man. Or not – I think it’s more about the desire for and the journey to positivity, or happiness, or satisfaction, or whatever grand platitude I’ve decided is the goal.
On March 22nd, I had the honor of opening for John Oates and Guthrie Trapp at Sony Music Hall in New York City. My 92-year-old grandfather, Myron Kandel, took the bus down from his Riverside Drive apartment to see the show. As a lifelong journalist, he couldn’t help but write a few words on the night. Here they are:
My past and present coincided in a very pleasant way the other night in an unlikely venue. Seventy years ago, in 1952, I was working the night shift as a copy boy at The New York Times. When the first edition rolled off the presses one of my tasks was to fetch a heavy load of papers and distribute them around the newsroom. Then I got 45 minutes for dinner.
I knew that Frank Sinatra, approaching the peak of his bobby-soxer stardom, was performing at a nightclub called Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe on 46th Street just east of Eighth Avenue. Foregoing dinner, I dashed out of the Times building on 43rd Street and managed to squeeze into a spot at the bar, about 60 feet away from the stage where Frankie was singing. I bought a beer for two bucks -- a lot of money for a guy earning $29.50 for a full week's work. But worth it for a chance to see him in person. I'll never forget his sound, as well as the yells of the woman standing next to me who kept screaming, "Frankie, take me!"
That was a long time ago, but it's still a vivid memory. Much more exciting was Tuesday evening, March 22, when my grandson Theo Kandel, a Hollywood-based songwriter-performer, made his Broadway debut at the same theater, which now carries the Sony name. He was the opener for a concert by the noted rock-pop composer-singer John Oates. In his opening remarks, Theo even gave a shout-out to his 92-year-old grandfather in the audience and mentioned my attendance at Sinatra's gig 70 years earlier. And Theo, at age 25, gave a knock-out performance of his own compositions to an appreciative dinner-theater audience. He was great. Talk about grandfatherly pride.
For now, I’m going to treat this as a blog until I can figure out a way to incorporate NFTs or user-engage-able content in a way that makes sense to me/fits with the ethos of my music!
I wanted to give you a little peek into the making of “Half as Cool,” my most recent single (go stream it now if you haven’t, you idiots). I wrote the song in the spring of 2021 – April 2nd, to be exact – with my friends Elysse Yulo and Anna Kline, two fantastic writers in Nashville. However, the amazing, smooth, gut-busting riff that launched this whole thing was actually something I’d been noodling around with since December of 2019.
I slapped my guitar into open D (open C# in the studio recording) and came up with this:
Down the rabbit hole we go, I guess.
Is it ironic that I’m writing this at a coffeeshop in Larchmont Village, listening to two tech bros (Los Angeles tech bros, to be sure – there’s a difference between LA and SF when it comes to these things, among other differences) talk about NFTs and how they each made their first million? Irony only has utility when it has a purpose, so hopefully this post is either ironic or purposeless – I would hate to mire myself in the frightening in between.
For now, I am sans domain. To be honest, I’m not as liquid as I’d like to be – that’s putting it delicately – and dropping $100 on theokandel.eth (please don’t steal it) seems like a worse way to spend my money than a hundred dollars’ worth of Trader Joe’s Butter Chicken. I’m new to this space! I’ve been lurking in Discords, dming random .eth follows on Twitter, and trying to figure out how I can situate myself in an industry that seems hell-bent on digitizing itself, when for most of my life I’ve considered myself to be an analog guy, a tactile creative, or whatever douchey label fits my fancy.
I’ve watched my friends begin to have success in this world – monetarily, for sure, but also communally, which of course is what anyone involved in web3 will insist it’s all about. And it is, it seems, despite the massive amounts of money being exchanged for digital goods. I guess that’s the way the world works, but the optimistic side of me likes to think that there’s incredible ethical value in flipping the script on the ownership of creative work.