Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

The Rogue Rock Writer, Half in the Bag, Submersed in the Scene

Archive for the ‘Life Advice’ Category

2012: A Year in the Life

leave a comment »

Quite a year.  Started it with my friends from the Press/Kntrlr/Bicycle Boys: Dave, Alex, Mike and Chuck.  We hung out at Chuck’s, where I met their various wives and sweethearts… I got to be the center of attention amongst a group of couples all the while, I never felt like the 9th wheel.  I know I can come off a bit boorish at times, certainly a loudmouth, thankfully I lack no amount of story telling. I think Alex, Alex’s girlfriend got the entire history of Rocker Tycoon and the Press (A tale that spans some 4 years now, and 3 then) over the course of the night. At around 1. I went home, relatively dry… I had a few, but aired out quite well. And I woke on Jan 1st hangover free.

Shortly into the year, I convinced Adam Copeland (Black Water/Meltdowns) and Gerry Griffin (Black Water/Meltdowns) to join me in creating a band. For a time Mike Horaz (I Am The Heat) stood in as our drummer. Eventually, Lloyd Naideck (Black Water/Meltdowns) settled in as our fulltime drummer. All the while Black Water was recording its second album Friendly Fire.

I practiced, overcame whatever minutia of stage fear I had lingering from childhood and we played our first show to friends in Jersey City with fellow bands, Holy City Zoo, Cryptkeeper Five and Black Water. Looking back I have to think, what an awesome line-up for my first show with Warface (our working name at the time). New friends I’d found in Holy City Zoo, old friends in Johnny and Jimmy of CK5 and my friends in Black Water 3/4 of which were in my band.

The show wasn’t exactly a packed house, but we had a blast. Played well and plenty of friends I hadn’t seen in a while came out. It was ideal to me.

Around March a new pal of mine and a Barback at my roomate’s bar, Dylan Hiester, convinced me it was time I start untapping again. I took his advice and did my first Tuesday Night Magic Draft of Innistrad Dark Ascension. I was made to feel welcome as I relearned a game I loved so well as a young adult. I remember playing Monique in round 1 or 2. She marveled at how quick I was progressing since my hiatus. “You’ve gotten better since last turn.” When I finally started doing things on her end step.

It was only a few months later I had built a deck, and began to play constructed… Two tournaments in I won the whole thing, to a very land screwed Rob Kofsky. The bug was full on! I was once again a Planeswalker.

Springtime. Warface played a show at Lucky 7 with I Am The Heat, Black Water, and Kntrlr. The Show was a rocket. Everyone had a great time and most of all we surprised some folks. “I had no idea you could sing!” was the exclamation most of my friends had. Hell to be honest neither did I!

Our next show was at the Pianoland Morgan Junction. We killed with They Live and Marvin Berry and the New Sound. I had a time so good I lost my voice the next day… Note to self: you might know the lyrics to the other bands’ songs don’t feel like you have to prove it.

Jersey City Bike Tour: Rained Out. But it’s here that we agreed a name change was in order. Adam and I agonized over a few weeks about whether we should or not then we just decided better now then later. Zac Clark and the Something… Adam argued under a small amount of protest by me that we should use what local celebrity I have in Jersey City and use my name in the band. I conceded that it’s easier to get folks out (especially after a year of promoting other bands) if they know the show is with my band. Zac Clark and the Griswolds was born.

A few weeks later we played a fundraiser for Steven Fulop for Mayor. Few rock bands have played the Zeppelin Hall beer garden in Jersey City. A 9 year old opened for Billy Alpha who opened for us. We ate chicken fingers and drank beer. We helped kick off a political campaign that I believe (no matter it’s result) will change this city for the better.

Right at the end of the summer. We released our first EP. This was momentous for several reasons. It was the first thing I’ve ever had to show for myself as a musician. Following in the footsteps of my forefathers. It was also a mark of success as a band. Now we wern’t just dicking around in the studio playing songs and then one shoting shows. Now we were recording music.

Summer fades. I begin writing Hipsters of the Coast. A blog that at the time detailed my return to Magic: the Gathering an has since become a sort of community forum. Like Rocker Tycoon, I’m now able to reach out to people in my hobby and I’ve since become good friends with my associates that help me on the blog by weighing in with their writings. Matt Jones, Li Xu, Rich Stein, Jess Lina and Giaco Furino have Renewed my thrill for writing and helped me feel like I’m making an impact locally. Even if it’s just a gaming blog.

Gerry Griffin leaves the band for the farmer’s life. We spend a few months looking for a new bassist. Someone who is into our sound, someone who digs Devo. Sam Fit the bill. He more than fit the bill in fact. I had serious concerns about the future of the band post Gerry, Lloyd and Adam assured me they were in this for the long haul. Or however novelty punk rock bands last. We officially welcome Sam in! Griswolds are once more a party of 4!

Fall comes. ZC&theGs played a show at the Lamp Post in Late Sept that really knocked it out of the park! Packed house a ton of friends and strong performances by our friends I Am The Heat, Tijuana Bibles and Secret Country. We’re all very excited and we booked a show with the Everymen for Halloween.

On the Magic front. Grand Prix Philadelphia comes up. I meet up with my buddy Stephano and new friends Brandon and Qu. We and my 20ss friends travel down to The City of Brotherly War (Magic Joke). I go 6-3 on day one narrowly missing day two. But doing super well for my first pro level tourney back. Hurricane Sandy cuts my Sunday short.

I spend the next few days playing cards with my childhood friend Harry. We play a lot of sealed (format of Grand Prix Philly) and then we decide to go to Lisbon at the end of November to play Magic!

Sandy ruins ZCGs for a month. Our studio gets robbed. And the Path makes getting to JC and Home a nightmare.

I finally get to BK. Something like Wednesday. The storm was Sunday/Monday.

November rushed through like bad Chinese food. I was busy with work and sparse Magic happened. Mid month I went on a date, and had a pretty excellent time. Her name is Victoria. We went on a few dates and corresponded during my trip to Lisbon.

Speaking of Lisbon… What a great time. Harry and I flew straight in and took a tour of the city with Taylor (our host and guide at the Oasis Hostel). This being Harry’s first time in another country, we wanted to get in as much of the travel experience as possible. Tours and drinking with locals, meeting new people! Great times, it’s been so long since I’ve been able to hang out with Harry like we did when we were growing up. There’s always some job or I’m traveling or working every weekend while he works the week. We end the trip with a huge Magic Tournament. GRAND PRIX LISBON. There’s a blog post about Lisbon that highlights my addiction to cardboard and energy drinks. So I won’t recant that here. Harry goes 4-5 (pretty good for a guy who plays a couple times a year!) and I go 5-4 not as good as Philly. Still not terrible.

I return from Lisbon, feeling pretty good about life. These trips remind me how good my life is. I’m in a rock band, I get to play games when I’m not working, and my jobs are pretty great! I’m bartending one of the coolest spots in Brooklyn. And I write for a Tattoo magazine as their travel writer.  Man, if I could go back and tell that to my 14 year old self he’d … Well let’s be honest he’d probably ask me if I made the pro tour yet. Next Year little buddy, next year.

So I’m back and I’m feeling good. And then I ask Victoria to be my girlfriend. She says yes! Which is a relief, for a few reasons. It’s hard asking someone to be your girlfriend when you’re 32. It seems like something teenagers do. Strange right?  Also she’s pretty awesome, and buys me cookies/ laughs at my terrible jokes.

That brings us to the present… Good Job, sweet lady that is content with her nerdy boyfriend and I’m playing some of the best magic I’ve played since 2000. Zac Clark and the Griswolds has a show coming up this New Years Eve with the Everymen at Lamp Post.

Things are looking mighty good, and nix all that crap about the Mayan apocalypse, I think it was most about a paradigm shift. Things are gonna start turning around for the human race perhaps. I hope things do at least. But not all at once, we need strife for the good music. There’s not much good music in the peace and harmony market.

That’s the year for me. Pretty wild when I look back to Jan 1, listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, to going on stage to sign off the New year. Good luck in the next one. Be safe, rock out, and always tap your land correctly.

Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

The Tao of Zac

leave a comment »

Sometimes I relearn a life lesson or a learn a new one. I try to live to a standard. This last week I’ve been struggling to get some articles out of my head. When I start having trouble writing I try to work on something different or write something different in hopes that I’ll be reborn fresh after I get it out. So here’s a list. Those are pretty popular by blog standards. It’s called the Tao of Zac. I hope you agree or learn something or maybe you just chuckle.

1. Trust your gut, it is crazy person radar.
In my time living away from my home, I’ve learned one brutal lesson. There is a direct correlation between the frequency of crazy people meetings and the number of bars within a ten block radius of where ever you are. It’s a sad fact, but it holds true. If you get that same feeling around a person as you did when they introduced the bad guy in an after school special, do yourself a favor and pretend your phone is broken.

2. Know your friends.
There are people you can trust, whether you’ve known them all you’re life or a few weeks. Stick with the people that have your best interest in mind. They’ll keep you grounded and make sure to keep you out of trouble. Don’t forget to return the favor. We all need a swift kick in the ass every now and then.

3. Forget your enemies.
Dwelling on the negative people in your life is a sure fire way to accomplish nothing. If you’ve been sleighted, then by all means note that mentally, but the key here is note it, don’t actively seek to defame or harm another person. Kharmically speaking it’s a lose/lose and it makes you look like you think your shit doesn’t stink. (We all know it does.)

4. Don’t bank on anyone but your self.
I’m not saying don’t trust anyone. I’m saying you can’t blame anyone but yourself for bad decisions. You are ultimately responsible for everything good and bad that happens to you. Maybe I should say own your actions, but I think this will help you remember better.

5. Stay Positive, It goes a long way.
This one is important. It proves to everyone around you that you have the mental toughness to handle failure, and you know that success isn’t some philosopher’s stone that will never be deciphered in your time. That’s not to say that life isn’t going to suck time to time. The whole world doesn’t need to know your woes. Which brings me to the next rule.

6. Vent with people you trust.
Within my circle of friends, I’m probably the comedian. I like to tell my friends about my day by talking a little bit of shit about what went wrong here or there, either about work or girls or my family. It helps to me to freak out a bit, laugh it off and then move on. In this day and age it’s not ok to post your woes and gripes in a public forum like Facebook or Twitter. Doing that is in direct violation of rule #5 and makes you look like an ass that doesn’t care about the feelings of others.

7. There is nothing a genuine apology can’t fix.
We all screw up, some of us more than others, sometimes worse than others. But if you are a dynamic human being, (I’m guessing that if you got this far you must be on the path to it at least) you learn from your mistakes. This is life after all, to not ruin things every now and then would make for boring days indeed. When that happens, look a person in the eye, express your concern for the trust you have squandered and move forward.

8. Don’t apologize unless you mean it.
On occasion you will do something wrong, that you either meant to do and are not sorry for or you actually didn’t do anything wrong. (These cases should be less frequent that the later) If you did something that you are not sorry for defend your stance when challenged, but do not become righteous. Explain yourself and why you did it. In the event that you didn’t actually do anything wrong and you are still being persecuted simply agree to disagree and move forward, dwelling on it won’t do either party any good.

9. Stay Honest, no one likes a snake.
This is almost an extension of Rule #8, But so much more important. If you are honest all the time you need never worry about not being believed. When you tell someone something important they know that you can be trusted. Remember that trust is maybe the strongest bond between two people, but much like a chain, need only be broken once to be useless.

10. Beware of people who are too friendly, they want something.
I lived in the South for a few months and then had to come back North. The reason I moved back is because everyone was so nice it A) was misleading and B) annoying as all get out. Where I’m from people who are overly nice without provocation are called grifters. I’m sure you have a friend that has a bunch of friends that you are pretty sure are using him/her for his money or influence. Beware or these kinds of friends. I call them bullshit friends. My father once told me to never lend out money I wasn’t willing to part with. He told me that it’s the kind of thing that will end a friendship most easily. Now my friend’s and I have helped each other out with a buck here and there, but these are people I’ve grown to trust with things like house keys and internet passwords. I like to give when I’m around my friends, I’ll sped the last dollar in my pocket if it means having a good time, but make sure you’re not always parting ways with the shirt off your back.

11. You are not responsible for the livelihood of your bartender.
This is simple. You don’t need to hit the bar every night. I’m a bartender, my patrons are my friends and combined they help keep me from going broke. But you need to prioritize. I’ll live if I don’t see you for a week. In fact, I’ll probably even ask you where you’ve been. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Save a few bucks every now and then and get sober for a week every couple of months. It will do you a world of good. And it’ll lower your tolerance so once you get back you won’t need to drink so much to have a good time.

12. Punctuality is key
I try to be on time for everything. If I’m constantly on time, I can be counted on for that at least. I’ve had jobs where I’ve been promoted above other people just based on the fact that I’m never late. They may have even been more suited for the job, but the boss knows that I’ll be there in a pinch.

13. Listen when you ask a question.
I call this the reunion rule. When I see people from high school and college, I genuinely try to get real info on of them. How have they been? What are they upto now? Married? Kids? Living where? I don’t do this to “network” with people. It simply makes me a worthy human being. There’s nothing worse than when someone asks you what you’ve been doing, and right after you answer they tell you what they’ve been doing and everything that they’ve been doing that last few years, as if they never asked you about yourself at all. That’s the kind of transparent self-absorbed person no one wants to deal with. By all means promote yourself tell folks what you’ve been doing but have a little tact at least ask a few questions about the other person’s life.

14. Do it right the first time, otherwise you’ll just do it again.
You’ll get more done doing things right. You’ll backpeddle less and you’ll feel more confident. Never you mind about the guy at work that does 8 things in the time you did 3. He most likely writes like he’s nine. I’ll bet his people skills are lack luster as well.

15. Keep it simple, more things means more to worry about.
I live in a white room with a white bed, a little metal desk and a computer. I have a tv that I use to play music mostly. I live ascetically, I have tons of really cool gadgets and a great collection of books. But none of these things make me a whole person. You can’t judge yourself by the things you own. PUT DOWN THAT GQ! You don’t need the newest iwhatever.

16. Naysayers and Haters are everywhere, if you don’t have a few you probably aren’t doing anything worthwhile.
Everyone’s a critic. Most of them are insecure about their place in the world or their failed dreams. A lot of people told me I’d never make it as a photographer or a writer. Seems like I’m doing alright. Sometimes I even look forward to a little hate, it keeps me humble. There’s nothing worse than a rock star that tells you how much he rocks. Let the naysayers be your inspiration, let the haters tell you what you’re doing right.

17. Learn from experience, it’s ok to change your mind, nothing is written in stone.
A lot of things I learned growing up hold true today still, but some are archaic teachings of yesteryear and/or the ravings of a mad teenager. Never stop learning. And never believe anything you know is more than just a theory. Remember that Theories are often disproved or modified as new information comes in. In short: Don’t Sell Out, Buy In.

18. Keep a journal. The unexamined life is not worth living.
You’d be surprised how much you learn and grow each year. It’s good you look back and see how much you’ve changed. Sometimes You’ll like the change, sometimes not. Even if you just write a little bit about your life each week you’ll have 52 entries buy the end of the year. I read somewhere that if you wrote 50 words a day you’d have a novel in three years. That’s an impressive amount of work for a small amount of time.

19. Once a week: help someone, get out of your comfort zone, read something printed.
You’ll be surprised about how much your life improves when you do something good for another person. You can’t feel bad about yourself when you see that your life has had a positive effect on others. Try something new be it food, new part of town, new way home. You may be surprised by the result. Get of the internet and read a real book. They are classics for a reason. I suggest Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky. It’s a great start for a cynic.

20. Work your Job (for Money) and Follow your passion (for Spirit).
Do what you love for a living and never work a day in your life. BULLSHIT I say. You work twice as hard, and risk everything, if it fails. Things you love are generally easier than “real work”. I make a bit of loot Writing and doing photowork, but I tend bar to pay the bills. For now this works out. I feel like things are coming together nicely. There is a good balance here and I don’t get stressed from trying to live off my dream or complacent from just making money and not following my passion. It’s important to make sure you take care of the whole picture a rare few of us get to combine the two without much effort. But normally my “never work a day in your life” friends are working much more (and harder for that matter) than my “hybrid life” friends

Written by rockertycoon

October 8, 2009 at 1:35 pm