Wednesday, 16 December 2015

UPDATE 12-16-2015

Seasons greetings! Regretfully, I have to start this post off with an apology, which seems to be trending with this blog as of late. In my last update I was apologizing for the lack of posts over the past few months, and I vowed to rectify the matter. Unfortunately life has been a bit hectic to say the least. Between Christmas approaching, my business life, and my personal life, I simply haven't had the time to write. 

On top of all that I have been cramming in attempt to have my future full length release "Theokoles" completed and ready for release in January 2016. As things stand at the moment it could end up being pushed ahead a few months, but I will be sure to keep you updated on an actual release date. In the meantime you can enjoy my entire discography at discounted prices for the holidays.

I've also decided to venture into the world of film making with a close personal friend of mine who is a cinematographer. I kept having a reoccurring dream which led to this revelation. After having the same dream three nights in a row, I took it as a sign and decided to run with the ball. This is going to be an extreme undertaking, and I expect it to be at least a year or two of hard work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

The film will be a documentary on the history of the hardcore music scene in Brampton, the town I grew up in. B-Town has always been a breeding ground of undiscovered talent, and a lot of creative and skilled players have emerged from my old stomping grounds over the decades. I'm very much looking forward to getting production started in the new year, which is obviously going to consume more of my time, which is already limited to begin with. You can follow the progress of the film by liking the Facebook page, that way you can be in the loop for every update regarding "Suburban Wasteland"

In the meantime I shall try my best to juggle it all and manage my time properly so I can continue the big story that fuels this blog. That's all I've got for now, if by some chance you don't hear back from me in the next 10 days, I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! Be safe, enjoy your time with your families, and have a rum & eggnog for me. Cheers!


Monday, 16 November 2015

Black Belt Jams 101

We were officially moved into the Slayer House and party time had commenced. Steve Waller was heading back to BC soon, so he was spending most of his time at our place. Our backyard backed onto a field that was part of an elementary school, and it's big blank walls stared into our kitchen windows. Waller declared he would tag (graffiti) the school before he departed to Vancouver. Sure enough, on his last night in Ontario, he snuck over to the school during the wee hours of the night and emblazoned one of its walls with a big graffiti burner. It was beautiful. Steve wanted to get a picture of it in the morning before he left, but we were all shocked and disappointed when we awoke and discovered the schools janitor had already removed it. I was going to miss Steve big time, and I didn't know it then, but it would be another 4 years until I saw him again. 

Meanwhile in our new, not so humble abode, we finally had an official jam space for our newest musical endeavor Black Belt Jones. We had a table in the corner of the space where Mike had set up his turntables and mixer. We also had a P.A. system set up on said table, as well as space for our drum machines. In the adjacent corner, Mike's small jazz drum kit was set up for rocking beats, as well as his guitar amp and guitar. Myers and Pauly brought their amps and guitars and the special ingredients, their drum machines.

Pauly had gotten his drum machine awhile back, and Myers now had one too. I had previously programmed a few songs into Paul's as had he, and Myers had programmed a couple of songs into his. I liked the fact we had two different drum machines, as it meant we would have varying sounds for our songs. I don't vividly recall our first jam here, but I do know that since we already had beats programmed it was time to start building songs.

From this point forward we would have a weekly jam, generally Friday evenings after everyone was done work. There was never a shortage of beer and the pipe was always packed. It was in these first weeks of jamming that we put together the songs that would eventually be our first demo tape. Our first batch of creations included "Oldschool Enuff" a song loosely based on The Message by Grandmaster Flash, "It's Like Dope" which is pretty self explanatory although it was inspired by the Schoolly D song of the same title, and the coup de gras: a self titled bomb track that always hyped us up. 

Myers had also had come up with a little ditty he called "Slut love in B minor" which was one of the first songs we completed. It later came to be known as "The P-Stro Beat" which spawned from Myers old 3 n' Pass MC alias "Mr.P." I'm not sure how the whole "stro" thing came into play, but I gather it was on account of the Beastie Boys song "The Maestro" in the later days to follow we would even start to refer to Mike C as "The C-Stro". We now had the P-Stro, the C-Stro, Prince Pauly, and myself "Black Belt Jones" the final four of what started as a 10 man band.

Lyrically I had an abundance of material to choose from, so when we were building these songs I was merely reading random pages from my rhyme books. When I found something that went well with the music, I stuck with it. Over the next few weeks we continued jamming and refining our songs, each week they'd become tighter and better. Musically this was the most fun I'd had in any band yet. Everyone's input and ideas were welcomed with open arms, we collectively created our songs together, there were no egos, no control freaks, we were simply four guys who were open to suggestions and down for whatever. 

What we were down for now though, was getting some shows booked so we could spread our sound to open and willing ears...

The rhyme book that started it all...

Friday, 6 November 2015

Slayer House pt.2

So why was our new abode to be nicknamed "The Slayer House"? The answer is quite simple. On either side of the driveway were beautiful stone statues of falcons, which were very similar and reminiscent of the falcon logo the band Slayer had been using on their merchandise. There you have big mystery.

The day we moved in was a gorgeous day luckily for us. We had rented a large moving truck and managed to get all of our stuff into it. Shayne had wrangled up an old salesmen buddy of his from Majestic to help, which was a blessing as he seemed to be an expert packer and mover, which just kept everything running smoothly.

When we arrived to move in our new digs a bit of drama occurred. There were now two couples and a debate arose about which couple should get the master bedroom. I really couldn't of cared less either way, but my girlfriend Tara, who was very loud and outspoken, got into it with Shayne. When you have two loud, stubborn people butting heads it is always a fiasco to say the least. Shayne brought up a valid point, that he was very instrumental in getting this place for us, which was absolutely true. I really didn't give a shit either way I just wanted to move into a room already. 

So it was settled. Shayne & his new girlfriend Pauline got the master bedroom. Tara and I got the next largest bedroom. Noel called dibs on the only room that faced out the front side of the house, and Mike C got the smallest bedroom which was located between our room and Shayne's room. The room Noel took had a small den area off to the side of it, so we set up a little makeshift library there. Later on I'd find a lot of solace in said den. It was a very relaxing place to read and/or write.

There was oddly enough a spare bedroom on the main floor of the house, which nobody wanted, so it became exactly what it already was... a spare bedroom, which would come in handy for friends who needed a place to crash. There were also two living rooms, one by the front door which Noel pimped out with his new furniture he'd bought. This came to be what I called "the plastic room" as it was the embodiment of a living room you'd see at your grandparents, covered in plastic and never used.

The second living room ended up being where my snake Regius lived, and I set up a computer desk with my old Commodore 64 to relive the retro gaming era. Strange part about living rooms, we never really used them at all, so they definitely weren't living up to their names. There was also a dining room but we only had one table, which obviously found its home in the kitchen. The dining room stayed completely empty with the exception of a few plants.

Speaking of the kitchen, it ended up being the most communal part of the house. We always seemed to be gathered at the kitchen table when we hung out, and the radio in the kitchen was constantly blaring the soundtrack to our lives. We all worked different hours, yet seemed to cross paths in the kitchen before or after work. Little did we know the kitchen would be the place where we did most of our partying... and the basement as well.

The basement was my true sanctuary of the house. The tv was down there as well as the video game system, which at the time was Sega Genesis. We collectively had so many couches now that we set up two around the television, then had numerous more couches formed in rows behind the couch closest to the tv. The result was like our own little comfy cozy movie theater. Behind the couches there was still a large area of empty basement, where Mike set up his drums and turntables. This would now be the official jam space of our band Black Belt Jones.

We were all moved in and we had everything arranged to our it was time to see what kind of shenanigans we could get into...

Monday, 2 November 2015

Slayer House

The time had come for us to find a new place to live, which was going to be a struggle considering we were four young men with two cats and a snake, not to mention two of our girlfriends wanted to move in with us, one of whom had a cat as well. So that's six people, three cats, and one snake. Who in their right mind was going to rent to us?

Luckily, Shane our neighbour and good friend, had a sister named Tracey who was a real estate agent. We put her on the case and crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. Tracey was amazing at her job so we all had faith in her. Sure enough she delivered promptly and properly within no time. 

She had found a place for us in Flowertown, which is in the west end of downtown Brampton. I'd always been a bit anti-Brampton, as I grew up in the east end of the town which was known as Bramalea. Nowadays it's all considered "Brampton" but back in the 80s there was legit heat between Bramalea and Brampton people. Regardless of the silly geographical politics we needed a place to live, so we went with Tracey one day to check the place out.

We arrived at 28 Phelps drive in Flowertown and we were overwhelmed by the size of this house, it was huge! The owner was an old Italian gentleman named Joe, and the front lawn was adorned with a big fountain and cherub statues. There were also matching falcon statues on each side of the driveway. There was a double car garage and the driveway could easily fit six vehicles. We hadn't even stepped in the door yet and I was already sold!

Once we entered the premises we were greeted by nice polished marble floors and a giant sparkling chandelier. The main floor had a bathroom, laundry room, guest bedroom, dining room, two living rooms, and a large gorgeous kitchen. From the kitchen you could step out to the backyard, which boasted a nice deck and a barbecue gazebo. 

The basement was unfinished, but it was absolutely massive. It even had a big room that would remain locked, as it was full of Joe's possessions. The cool part about the basement was it also had a bathroom, as well as two staircases, one to the main hallway and one to the laundry room, which also had a door into the garage and a side door to the backyard. 

We made our way to the top floor, which had a full bathroom, three bedrooms, and an enormous master bedroom with a big walk in closet, and the swankiest bathroom I'd ever seen. The can was adorned with crystal, mirrors, and marble. There was a glass walk in shower, a bidet, and a large step up tub with jets. This place was unreal, and we definitely wanted it.

Tracey put our lease application in and we hoped for the best. The rent was about $1400 a month or so, which was almost $500 more than we were already paying, but between 6 people it would work out to about $230 each a month, which was more than affordable. I figured we weren't going to get the place, as Tracey had been very honest with Joe, explaining in the lease that there was indeed six people, three cats, and a snake looking to move into his house. Perhaps the old saying "Honesty is the best policy" is indeed true, as we received the call from Tracey shortly after to inform us we'd gotten the place! 

Come the end of the summer we would be moving into our new abode, that would come to be known as "The Slayer House"...

SLAYER HOUSE as it stands today

Friday, 30 October 2015

UPDATE: Devils Night

Greetings everyone and happy Devils night! My favorite time of the year has approached us once again, and I'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween. I wanted to apologize once again for my lack of posts over the past few months. I have had a lot of things on the go which in turn has affected my time to write. Moving forward from here I shall try my best to post at least once a week.

Asides from spending time with my lady, friends and my son, the majority of my free time has been spent working on music. I've actually had quite a few projects on the go as of late. First and foremost I recently released the "Lockdowns" LP, which is essentially a self proclaimed collection of greatest hits, or greatest misses, depending on how you look at it. I chose 15 tracks from the last 15 years that have garnished the most positive feedback and downloads. You can stream or download the album for free via the link below.

I've also been working on my latest full length "Theokoles" which will hopefully drop in January of the new year. I've completed a handful of tracks thus far and it is coming together nicely. The new album will feature a few guest spots as well as a couple of guest producers. Stay tuned for the announcement of who will be joining me in my quest. I am keeping it all under wraps until it's completion, but you can access the song "Two Crows" in the meantime, a dedication to my fallen brothers Mike Chapman, Jay Poole, and Rich Polyzotis.

Last but not least, I spent the majority of August and September working on my second Halloween EP entitled "Horrorcore Bouillabaisse II" Some of you may recall I did the first bouillabaisse back in 2009. I figured it's been six years so why not do another one right? This time around it's a bit different, as majority of the songs are actually cover versions of rap songs that have appeared in horror movies. It was a super fun project and once again my man Greg Dawson from BWC studios was kind enough to supply the mastering. The EP drops tonight at midnight in celebration for All Hallows' Eve. Be sure to get your copy and have it bumping while you hand out candy to the kids tomorrow! 

That's all for now folks, I'm signing off here but I shall be back tomorrow with another post in the ongoing story of Heavy Ghetto...

Friday, 9 October 2015

Heat Bringerz

Just a quick footnote before I commence with today's post. In the previous blog entry entitled "94' News" I covered a few world events that had taken place at the time. These events actually occurred between 1991 and 1994 but everything seemed to culminate close to the same time period. I also hadn't made mention of much happenings outside of my own life, so I figured it best to tie them all together in one post. I just wanted to clear this up so people weren't under the impression that I was off as far as the time frame goes, or confused as to the actual chronological order of my story. Now let us move forward...

Summer was here, and we had embraced it. My three roommates and I were taking full advantage of having our own place, as were the majority of our friends, as they all now had a flop house to hang out at. It wasn't uncommon for all of us to got o a bar in the city on a Friday or Saturday night, and then have all the crew over to our place afterwards to keep the party going, usually until the sun started to peek up over the horizon. 

When I wasn't partying, most of my free time was spent watching movies with my girl Tara, or my homies, jamming in the basement, making mix tapes, and skateboarding with Steve Waller. I was still working midnight shifts at the gas station in Woodbridge, and I used that time mainly to write lyrics. Sometimes I'd work on my comic strips or read a book, but I always made a point of writing at least two full pages of lyrics every night. I had purchased a hard cover notebook from the dollar store, and that would go on to be the first of many "rhyme books". Each night at work when it was time to write, I'd go back a page to see what I left off on. From there I'd use the same rhyme scheme as the last line on the previous page to start my new page. My philosophy in doing so, was that once completed, the entire book would read as one giant rhyme. Some of the stuff I wrote was mediocre, some of it was garbage, and some of it was straight up gold. All that mattered to me was that I was expressing my inner thoughts and elevating my writing and rapping skills.

Pauly had gotten a drum machine for our Black Belt Jones project, and he let me bring it to work a few times to start crafting beats, which was a godsend in itself. Working midnights can be very boring so I was always looking for things to occupy my time, more so in a productive and creative way. I'd start work at 11pm but things would generally come to a screeching halt by 1am. I'd do two solid hours of work including inventory and dealing with customers, then it would be like a ghost town until about 530-6am. So I would basically have 4-5 hours to kill every night, and I needed things to occupy my time so I could avoid falling asleep from utter boredom. 

By the morning I'd be dead on my feet, yet I still had to do a 30 minute bus ride to get home. I'd usually read on the bus, but after working a graveyard shift the reading would make me very tired. It wasn't uncommon for me to fall asleep reading and miss my bus stop all together. This was a pain in my ass, as all I would want was my bed, and now I'd have to travel further and wait longer to get to it. I didn't even have a real bed, just a mattress on the floor in the basement. It was situated under the stairs from our living room to the front door. It was impossible to get any sleep with my roomies and friends constantly opening and closing the front door, tromping up and down the stairs, and having conversations all within an earshot of my resting place. After chewing the guys out a few times, Mike suggested that I sleep in his room upstairs, as he was already gone to work when I arrived home in the mornings. Mike was a great friend indeed, not many people would offer you their bed, but in him doing so I was able to get some decent sleep finally.

We were also now getting heat from the owner of the house as well as the neighbors, due to our lack of upkeep. Everyone around us had nicely groomed lawns, yet our grass was well over a foot long and riddled with weeds. I don't even think any of us owned a lawnmower to be quite honest. To make matters worse, we lived at the inner end of a dead end street, meaning our house was basically a spectacle for everyone else who lived on the street. I'd constantly see people spying out their curtains trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside our abode. I'd also see neighbors out on the street "talking" which was really just their ruse to be nosy and keep eyes on us. With all the friends we had constantly dropping by I could only imagine what was going through our neighbors minds. It was just a matter of time before someone dropped a dime on us and the boys in blue came knocking on the door. 

As the old say goes... "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" 
Well the heat was up full, and it was definitely time for us to find a new kitchen...

Friday, 18 September 2015

94' News

It had already been quite an eventful year thus far... with all of the bands who broke up, the new bands that formed, the side project bands, our DJ gig at CHRY, our first house together, Waller down visiting from Vancouver, and a second successful epic may 24 weekend. There was so much stuff going on among our circle of friends all of the time that it seemed as if nothing else important was going on around the rest of the rest of the world. Such was not the case...

We had three couches in our living room formed in the fashion of a horseshoe. At the opening of the horseshoe was our entertainment centre. We had of course a kick ass stereo, TV, VCR, and the hottest game console at the time, Sega Genesis. It was common for 5-10 guys to be occupying that space, usually playing video games with 5 different CDs in the carousel busting out our favourite tunes. It wasn't very often we actually watched television, but the odd times we did that year we were witness to some amazing historical happenings.

Firstly were the Los Angeles riots, sparked after an African American male named Rodney King was beaten relentlessly by LAPD. Unknowing to the police someone was videotaping them, and it was major headline news before Mr.King's blood even dried on the ground. The officers in question were found not guilty in court, which led to absolute madness in south central Los Angels. Lootings, fires, random pedestrian beatings, all being televised. I was glued to the TV set with my VHS tape recording it all over the course of the weekend. And what did the police do? Absolutely nothing. They sat back and let these people destroy their own city. It was one of the most surreal things I'd ever witnessed in my life.

Roughly two months later we found ourselves glued to the television once again. It was one of those rare occasions that I actually decided to flip through the channels, only on this particular day every channel seemed to be airing the same thing; a high speed police chase on the LA freeways. The LAPD were in pursuit of a white bronco, which we were shocked to learn was being driven by none other than O.J.Simpson, a famous ex-football star and actor. We were all mesmerized to learn he was wanted for questioning in regards to the death of his wife and her friend. Once again it was absolutely a surreal situation watching this chase, which felt like it lasted hours. Eventually it came to an end, and OJ would go on to be found not guilty in what was one of the highest profiled Supreme Court cases in the history of United States law.

Just when the year seemed like it couldn't get any crazier, it did, years prior there was an alert in our area warning residents of a man labelled "The Scarborough Rapist" so whenever we were out drinking in parks and whatnot, we always had our eyes peeled for the Nissan car he apparently drove. Now the man has been caught for several rapes and murders. His name was Paul Bernardo, and he did not act alone, his girlfriend/wife Karla Homolka was also involved. The trial was subject to a publication ban which applied to Canadian newspapers and media, and the venue was moved to Toronto from St. Catharines, where the murders occurred. There was however no publication ban in the U.S., and a friend of Greg's father had been sending him copies of the court transcripts each day, which we were lucky enough to aquire. It was mind blowing to read all the details involved in the gruesome case.

I could only wonder what the second half of the year would hold in store...

Friday, 4 September 2015

Through Death Comes Life

With another May two-four passed, it brought with it once again a world of new music, experiences, ideas, and influences. I can't remember if it was prior or shortly after, but the band known as Sweetgrass came to pass. Yet another solid Brampton band was put out to pasture. I'm not sure exactly why they broke up, nor did I ever inquire as to why, but I suppose as all good things it had to come to an end at some point. I had only ever seen them perform once or twice, and although they weren't my cup of tea per say, they were a hell of a solid band.

Sweetgrass (L-R) Basil, Louis, Greg, Frank

On the plus side of things, we were seeing a lot more of Greg now, who'd come by quite often and bless us with his presence, and guitar playing from time to time. I assumed now that Sweetgrass was no more, it would enable us to move forward and do something productive with our "Dead Homiez" project, but alas it was put to rest. 

Greg ended up getting together with former EBS drummer John McCuish, and a fellow named Rob Clarke who was learning to play the bass through Greg's tutelage. They kept the whole thing on the down low, until showing up one day with a four track recording of a song they'd created called "Carnivore" The track was essentially poking fun at the former girlfriend of a mutual friend of ours. The track they created weighed heavily in both musical aggression and humour. The boys all shared the vocal duties since they didn't actually have a singer. We all quite enjoyed it, and they vowed to make more music.

Speaking of music, we were still trying to get Black Belt Jones off of the ground, but it was difficult considering our work schedules conflicting and other factors such as girlfriends, our radio show, and life in general getting in the way. I still needed some form of musical outlet, so I turned to Mike C's DJ setup in the basement of our house. Whenever I had a free moment I'd be down there working on beat mixing and making mix tapes. 

It only felt as if a few moons had passed, but Greg's new side project had already evolved into something more. Somewhere along the line John decide to bow out of the project. I'm not sure if he'd lost interest or just didn't have the time for it, but nonetheless he was done with it. Not to let things die prematurely, Greg enlisted Frank Barone, the drummer of his former band Sweetgrass. In the blink of an eye the boys were back with their second song "Death Metal Mama" which was spawned from our clowning of females that past May 24 weekend. Once again they brought forth the heaviness mixed with tongue in cheek comedic lyrical content, and like the previous song, Greg & Rob shared the vocal duties and another classic was born.

The guys kept at it and seemed to show up every week with a new song to premiere for us. They stuck to the formula that worked best for them: jam at Greg's, create a song, then sit down and find some inspiration for the lyrics. Wether it was their homeboys, spray cans, cheesy CDs, or the devil himself, they kept coming forward with song after song, all of which were gold in our opinions. The only thing now pending, was this power house trio was lacking a title.

We sat around shooting the shit one evening and began brainstorming ideas. We had recently gotten into the habit of calling each other "Wiggaz" "Sucker Wiggaz" and "Death Metal Wiggaz" since we all loved metal and rap music respectively. I had always referred to where we lived as "South Central Brampton" in ode to the group N.W.A. who were from South Central Compton, so a simple marriage of words came to mind "South Central Wiggaz" or "S.C.Wiggaz" for short.

The boys officially had a name, but unbeknownst to us at that moment, it would be a name that would morph as time passed on...

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

May Toofer 94'

I cannot simply describe with words how rewarding it was to be living on my own. I had briefly lived with a girlfriend when I was 18-19, but it was a small apartment and technically it was hers, I was more so a visitor. But now living in a house with three of my closest friends made my first experience pale in comparison. 

We'd been living on Homer square for about 6 months now, and that magical time of the year was upon us once again...May 24 holiday weekend. We had secured the "Whites Bungalows" the same place we stayed at the previous year. Our plan was also a repeat, invite as many friends as possible to lower the cost for everyone, and of course rent a killer sound system to blast our music as loud as possible.

It was another crazy weekend indeed, especially with the abundance of psilocybin I had gotten my hands on weeks prior. Somehow I also acquired an ounce of hemp leaf which I used to roll 25 oversized cigarettes with, and those were what I considered to be my actual cigarettes for the weekend. Who needed tobacco? I was also big into drinking Schlitz beer at the time, which you could get in a 32 ounce bottle. We wanted to drink 40s of malt liquor like our hip hop heroes, but at the time Schlitz was the closest thing you could get to that in Canada. I ended up purchasing an entire case from the liquor store instead of buying the usual individual bottles. I knew I'd have more than enough alcohol to last me the weekend.

Tara and I were still together. It had been just over a year since we met and it was nice to get to spend this holiday with her, as we weren't able to the year before. Throw her friends into the mix with my friends and you had one very large group of people ready to party. We packed as many folks as we could into the cottages and the rest slept in either tents, cars, or on the beach itself. Hell, Tara and I even slept on the beach one night with nothing more than a comforter and a sleeping bag. 

Everyone thought we were "crazy people" the year prior, now we had a bunch of lunatics running around on magic mushrooms. One friend in particular, Scott, took so much that he ended up isolating himself inside one of the cottages. He covered all the windows with blankets, turned off all the lights, and sat on our cooler in the darkness. Every time anyone of us needed a drink from the cooler we would have to debate with him just to access our alcohol. To make matters even more difficult, the sound system was in that cottage, so needless to say it was a chore whenever we needed to change the music.

Speaking of music, my bandmate Paul had brought his girlfriend Jen with him. Jen worked for HMV records, and somehow she managed to get her hands on a promotional copy of the newest Beastie Boys album "Ill Communication" before it had even been released. This made the whole weekend even that more special, and we played that album continuously. And speaking of Paul, sometime early Saturday afternoon he vomited just outside of my cottage. I had never heard such an ungodly sound emitted from a human ring before, which led me to proclaim "So that's where the name Demon Barf came from!" My attempt to be humorous and lighten his mood. It worked.

The weekend wasn't quite as insane as the year prior, but it was definitely right up there on the party scale. I don't have as many memories and stories from that weekend, but it was still a very magical and important event in my life. The only unfortunate part of the weekend was the fact that we started having plumbing issues. Someone would flush the toilet in one cottage and sewage would start coming out of the shower drain in another cottage. It got to the point where nobody wanted to shower or use the can. Naturally we were blaming all of the girls for it, mainly because it was fun to jokingly embarrass them in front of people in regards to bowel movements. 

I had no idea at the time, but those plumbing issues and clowning on the girls would lead to the birth of something very significant...

Whites Bungalows, Wasaga Beach, Ontario Canada
(L-R) [John McCuish, Mike Stewart, Shannon Stragier, 
Rob Clarke, Gary Moffat]

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Blessed Friends

Living in Homer square was a real blast to say the least. It was nice to be on my own, and even nicer to have a place for our friends to congregate. Generally on weekends we would goto a bar in Toronto somewhere, then everybody would head back to our place after last call to keep the party going. This became common practice and it was no big secret that we would be partying it up on weekends. I was never super close or tight with my family, and to me my friends were my family, so I immensely enjoyed being surrounded by them at most given times. 

I was still working midnights for Shayne's mom at her gas station. My shifts were Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday 11pm-7am. Working a mere 12 days a month basically gave me enough money to cover my portion of the rent and bills, but I didn't have much money for anything else. Thankfully I had some extra curricular activities that were earning me a second income and allowing me to live life comfortably and the way I wanted to.

As the months passed by it seemed more and more friends were coming out of the woodwork. I had been hanging around with Sanjai again quite a bit, my best friend from middle school. One day we had plans to hang at the house and he said he was going to bring a surprise by for me. I had no idea what it was, but I was excited none the less as I love surprises. When the doorbell rang and I went to answer the door, I couldn't believe my eyes and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Sanjai was standing there with our old third partner in crime Jay Poole. I literally hadn't seen Jay since about grade 9 or so, which was now roughly six years in the past.

Jay had moved to the east coast shortly after we started high school, either Halifax or Nova Scotia, I can't quite remember. I do remember at that time thinking I was never going to see him again, and now here he was standing at my front door with his huge trademark smile em blazed. I was flipping my lid with excitement and we were both genuinely stoked to see each other. You can always tell a true friend when you haven't seen each other in ages, yet when you do cross paths again, you have the ability to pick right up where you left off like it was yesterday. Our three man crew of chaos was reunited once again and it felt great.

Another new friend came into the fold through my roommate Shayne, and his name was Scott Kornack. I honestly have no recollection of how these two crossed paths or how Scott ended up at our place one day, but I never questioned it. I was a bit apprehensive of him at first, as he was a clean cut jock type...the type of guys I loathed in high school. Scott had been a football player and a rugby player, and he was quite a big guy. He was a really laid back, nice guy though, so I put my judgements aside and surprisingly we ended up hitting it off very well, to the point where we became closer friends than him and Shayne had been. To me it was a trip to get so close with someone who was such an opposite parallel from myself, yet we had so much in common. Scott introduced me to the world of "japanimation" or "manga" exposing me to classic films such as Akira, & Fist Of The North Star. Being the art lover that I am, it was inspiring to be exposed to something new that opened my mind to more possibilities. 

Speaking of friends, another golden oldie resurfaced while we were living on Homer square. Steve Waller, former vocalist of Epileptic Brain Surgeons, had returned to Ontario from Vancouver. Steve moved out west somewhere around 91' I believe and I think I had maybe seen him once when he was visiting and attended a Grasshopper show in late 92'. Waller was back for the summer and I was totally ecstatic. I told Steve he could stay with us anytime and for as much time as he liked. Steve had other places to stay but he did end up crashing on one of our many couches on numerous occasions. Steve and I went out skateboarding quite a bit, and it was nice to have a skating buddy once again, as most of my friends had grown out of it. Steve also taught me about the importance of suspenders, and I swore off belts from that point on. He also taught me about creating graffiti tags, so I was now expanding my artistic side even more.

Living in this place with these great friends was truly a blessing. Everyday was an adventure, as you never knew who might drop by or what may lay around the corner...

Monday, 20 July 2015

UPDATE: 07/20/2015


Greetings readers and happy summer to you all. I hope each and every single one of you are enjoying your summer & I hope you've all gotten some time off of work to spend cherished and/or lazy moments with your friends, families, and loved ones. I can never stress enough how important that is in life. A lot of the times in our younger more stubborn years, we tend to take our families for granted. As we get older we realize they have always been and will always be the only ones there for us. Sure friendships are important, but as one grows up, has a family, etc. they cannot always be there for their friends. I've always tried to be there for my friends and I will continue to do so the best I can to my ability, but just remember your family love you and always have your back and front.

I didn't have a chance to do any writing this past week as my son Gabe was with me for 8 days straight, so needless to say my time was spent with him. We had a great time doing our usual activities on the rainy days such as arts & crafts, video creating, watching movies, and playing Xbox. Thankfully we had some really nice weather the majority of the week, so we did manage to get out to the parks, splashpads, ponds, and creeks in our area. Gabe caught a bunch of frogs so that was the highlight for him, until we went to Centre Island in Toronto.

We have gone there every year now for apart of our summer activities, and I believe this was our fourth year in a row. I was totally shocked as hell when my boy told me he wanted to ride on the Haunted Barrels alone this year. I was so proud of him, especially thinking back to myself at his age, as I would not have rode this ride without my Father at my side. It was truly a shining moment in my life as a Father to see such a brave young man do something like this of his own free will.

After riding all the rides we spent hours with the animals there, and Gabriel really seemed to hit it off with the goats, one in particular who was following him everywhere he went, and showing signs of affection by playfully butting at the fence in front of him. It was really sweet, and it melts my heart to see my boy so loving and gently kind with animals of all sorts. 

After we spent the day and had some early supper, we headed over to the beach for a few hours, where I layed in the sand while Gabe swam and frolicked in the lake. It is so hard to get that boy out of the water once he is in it. We also discovered a maze that i recall playing in as a kid, I thought it was long gone, so it was an absolute delight to discover. Both of us got a bit nervous as we lost each other in the maze for awhile, but thankfully father and son were reunited.

All in all we had an amazing time as we always do, but this year seemed just a bit more special than the others. There is still lots of summer left and I am sure we will get up to new adventures before it runs out. I hope you do too. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

CURRENT UPDATE: WWE "The Beast in the East"

I recently noticed in a wrestling group on Facebook I am apart of, that the WWE had a show in Japan, which aired live around 5:30 am our time, this past 4th of July. This event was dubbed "The Beast In the East" which didn't really sit right with me, as former wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow was known as "The Beast from the East" and I personally feel they could have come up with a more creative title. I have not watched one full episode of their televised programming for over a decade now, and the last pay per view I ever witnessed was the second ECW "One Night Stand" back in 2006. I googled the match card and decided I'd give the show a watch, mainly because I was curious to see how the wise Japanese fans would react to the product.

The show took place at Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan, and right from the get go I liked the feel of the show. It definitely had more of an independent vibe, with the absence of the fancy bells and whistles we are used to seeing within the realm of the WWE. I decided I'd write my own review and rate the show, so here we go...

There were two dark matches that took place which did not air, so I cannot really express an opinion on them, but the results are as followed:

1. Cesaro defeated Diego by submission. Singles match. Time limit:N/A

2. The Lucha Dragons defeated The New Day. Tag team match. Time limit:N/A

3. Chris Jericho defeated Neville by submission. Singles match. Time limit:16:20

I personally felt this was the best match on the card. I was surprised to see Jericho back in the ring, and I have to admit he looked quite good. Chris seemed to be in good shape and his performance was top notch considering his age. This match was the epitome of wrestling in Japan. The bout indubitably had that puroresu element to it. A great story with a great build up and there weren't really any dull moments. I did kind of expect Jericho to put Neville over, but the finish was done well and these two performers put on a great spectacle.
*****5/5 STARS 

4. Nikki Bella defeated Tamina and Paige. Triple threat match for the Divas Championship. Time Limit: 7:03

By far the worst match of the night. An absolute shit show by the Divas as usual, but I didn't expect anything less. A lot of sloppy wrestling, bad timing, and unbelievable scenarios, especially with Tamina, who was the biggest of the women physically. She barely spent anytime in the ring and kept getting knocked off the apron with simple moves such as a forearm smash, which would result in her powdering on the floor for extended periods of time. I personally felt this match shouldn't of even been on the card and I feel it was an insult to the Japanese fans who are used to watching women who can actually wrestle.

5. Brock Lesnar defeated Kofi Kingston. Singles match. Time Limit: 2:41

With this show title referencing Lesnar, they could of gave him a more formidable opponent. This was nothing short of a simple squash match. I'm guessing Lesnar is still over big in Japan, so why not treat the fans to an actual great wrestling match? Considering the show was fueled by the hype of Brock returning to the ring, a bout less than three minutes seems somewhat of bad idea. I would have loved to see Brock have an epic battle with someone of his caliber, but instead we were given all steak and no sizzle, and Kofi got a one way express ticket to Suplex City.
**2/5 STARS

6. Finn Bálor defeated Kevin Owens. Singles match for the NXT Championship. 
Time limit: 19:25

I was probably the most excited for this match above all the rest, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Owens throwing his flowers into the audience during the opening ceremony was very disrespectful, yet a great way to get heat as a heel, which showed throughout the match. The fans booed the majority of his offensive moves, and when he encouraged them to join the ref in counting Finn out it seemed none of them were willing to oblige. The match was very solid, somewhat of modern day WWE meets puroresu, but in the beginning they were a bit sloppy. Kevin Owens also seemed to run out of steam fairly quick and he wasn't moving around with much urgency to say the least. Some really great spots though, lots of solid and stiff hits, and a picture perfect ending. It was a great pleasure to see Japanese legend "The Dragon" Tatsumi Fujinami come out and show his respects to Balor for becoming the new NXT champion.
****4/5 STARS

7. John Cena & Dolph Ziggler defeated Kane & King Barrett. Tag team match. 
Time limit: 23:50

This match was a complete sleeper for me, considering the fact I was watching it at 3:00pm and could barely keep my eyes open. I'm not up to date with the current WWE story lines, but as far as I know there is really no connection amongst the four men with perhaps the exception of Ziggler & Barrett. To me it felt as if the WWE just teamed up two top baby faces and two top heels. The match was quite boring, the time limit ran way too long, and I saw quite possibly the worst selling I've ever seen from Kane. The whole thing just seemed like a bad idea to me for a main event match in Japan, and I think the crowd there would agree with me, as they didn't seem very enthusiastic with it whatsoever.
*1/5 STARS

All in all it was a fairly decent show and I did find it interesting to watch the product being presented to the people of Japan. I feel if the card was booked a little more creatively it would of been a five star show all around.

If you are a fan of wrestling be sure to join me on WrestleNation Forum on Facebook:

15 Homer Square

1993 was officially history, and we had now rolled into 1994. Shortly after we established Black Belt Jones and the Furious Five, we lost one of our key players. Our drummer Gregg aka G Money, had landed a gig drumming in Yet Another Posse, who like 3 n' Pass had now evolved into an actual band with instruments. Since we were still in our early stages and not quite an established band, I couldn't really blame Gregg for joining up with a group that already had their shit together. This was a major setback for us, but little did I know it would be a key part to our evolution as a band.

Quite a lot of changes had bed going on in my life as well. I had started working midnights for Shayne's mom at one of her Shell gas station franchises in Woodbridge. I had also officially moved out of my parents house at twenty years old. My other friend Shane aka Foxy Bano, had told us about his new neighbor he had met. This fellow was looking to rent his house out and Shane suggested that to us. Myself, Mike C, Shayne & Noel, ended up moving into 15 Homer square, and we were now Bano's next door neighbors.

It was very rewarding to be out on my own in the real world living the way I wanted to live and enjoying my life. I really have my parents to thank for raising me as such an independent person, as I feel if it wasn't for them I may have ended up one of those sorry cases still living in their parents basement at age 40. Our place quickly became the local flop house, as the majority of our friends still lived at home. It wasn't uncommon for 6-10 guys to be sitting around on our three couches at any given time.

Unfortunately some of our friends couldn't be trusted. We threw a big moving in party and it was a blast, but in the morning Noel discovered that our first and last months rent, which he was holding on to, had disappeared. We all had questions and we replayed the evening in our minds. Noel claimed he had the money in his pocket when he went to bed, and only two friends were still in attendance and awake, a guy named Rob and his girlfriend Sharon. To me it was a no brainer, one or both of them clearly took the money. Noel refused to agree with this theory as he felt they were his good friends. Shortly after this Rob mysteriously left to British Columbia, and it was obviously on our dime, in my opinion. 

We set up a big jar on our coffee table in the living room with a note on it explaining what had happened. It was a donation jar in hopes that our real friends would help us out in this situation. Lots of friends, including us guys who lived there, would throw our pocket change in it at any given chance. We ended up raising a couple of hundred dollars, but it wasn't even close to the $2000+ that was stolen.

Despite the negative setback we dealt with right after moving in, we made the best of our situation and had a blast living together. Mike C had set up his DJ equipment in the basement, so we were always spinning records and working on mix tapes. Mike and myself still had our radio gig at CHRY with Myers, so it was nice to be able to commute together to and from home. My good friend Jerry ended up scoring me a ball python and cage for free, so I now had a new pet snake. Noel had gotten a cat named Generic, and Tara and I got a new kitten named Dakota. We were all one big happy family.

Black Belt Jones was kind of on hold at the moment, but Pauly didn't want the project to die, so he started saving up to buy a drum machine to replace Gregg. Living in this house brought all of our circles of friends together. Greg Dawson would stop by quite a bit and hang out. He was currently still playing in a band called Sweet Grass, but he had mentioned wanting to start a rap metal project once again, just like our Psycho Puffs conversation when I had met him a few years prior. We were both really stoked on the idea, and we weren't going to let it just be an idea. Greg got together with Sweetgrass drummer Frank Barone, and they started making songs. We decided to use "Dead Homiez" as a band name. 

Our house didn't really have much space to jam, so Greg would have me over to his place to record vocals. We ended up doing four songs: Fuck 175, Todd B, HipHop 4 Da Herbz, & U Wanna Test? The tunes were very cool in my opinion, infusing rap, metal, jazz, and hardcore all into one. We never played shows or anything like that, as this was just more of a fun side project. 

All in all the house was great for my creativeness, everything around me, my friends included, were very inspiring to my artistic side. I was also making new friends through other friends who would come to visit. Our clique was growing in numbers rapidly, and I felt as though we were all inspiring each other. Before I knew it the winter had passed and spring was in the air. As they say "time flies when you're having fun" but the fun was really just beginning... 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Black Belt is born

We continued our weekly open jams at Pauly's place, and it was always a blast, as you just never knew who would show up with what instrument. Some weeks we had more people, some weeks we had less people, but we always had a great time regardless. As per usual Paul would record every jam.

After a few months our group started to dwindle down a bit, to the point where there was now just six of us showing up on a regular basis. Those six people being myself on the mic, Paul & Mike C. on guitars, Mike Myre on bass, Gregg on drums, and Kevin Evans on the turntables. Our jams were starting to get a bit more structured now, and we were actually writing some songs. 

Now that we had dropped from an average of 12 guys to 6 guys, I no longer felt like "The B-Funk All Stars" was a suitable name for us, so I began to brain storm. I had recently rekindled my relationship with old Kung fu movies that I was very fond of as a child, so I now spent a lot of time watching old Bruce Lee films & Shaw Brothers films. Pauly noticed my interest in these films, so one day he grabbed me a VHS from Zellers where he was working. The name of the video was "Bruce Lee & Kung Fu Mania"

The tape consisted of a short documentary on Lee, perhaps 45 minutes in length or so, which was quite interesting and informative, but the rest of the tape was where the real magic laid. Two hours of movie trailers showcasing every classic Kung-Fu title under the sun. Epic films like The Chinatown Kid, The Five Deadly Venoms, Master of the Flying Guillotine, and many, many more. 

There was a trailer for one movie in particular I had seen ages ago that I had totally forgotten about, a martial arts/blaxploitation film entitled "Black Belt Jones" starring an actor named Jim Kelly, most famously known for his role in Bruce Lee's "Enter The Dragon" Jim was also in a few other films such as "The Tattoo Connection" and "Hot Potato" which was the sequel to Black Belt Jones. After rediscovering this film I was feeling very inspired. I felt like the music we were making was quite parallel to the feel and the attitude of Black Belt Jones. 

It was then that I made the realization this could serve as a great band name, but it needed some spicing up. My first idea for a new band name was "Black Belt Jones & The Five Deadly Venoms" myself representing Jones, and the other five guys representing the Deadly Venoms. All the guys loved the name, as did I, but shortly after I felt like it was too much Kung-Fu referencing and not enough reference to funk, which was what we were all about.

I started to brain storm again, and it didn't take long before a new name came to mind; Black Belt Jones & The Furious Five. "The Furious Five" was a reference/homage to "Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five" one of the first rap groups to emerge on the scene in the early 80's. The name was perfectly fitting, as it embraced the combination of two major influences, Kung fu & old-school rap music. Once again, all the guys were on board with the name. We even came up with a new genre name for the music we were creating...
"Kung-Funk" We also started referring to Pauly's place as "Kung-Funk Studios" even though it wasn't a legit recording studio.

Our journey had brought as all to an interesting crossroad. What started as a group of guys jamming simply because they loved music, had now evolved into something real. Our ball of momentum was now rolling on strong and nothing could get in the way of it.

Or so I thought...

Friday, 19 June 2015

B-Funk All-Stars

The day of our first jam had arrived and I was ecstatic. I headed over to Pauly's with Mike & Mike, and we were surprised by the turnout. Apparently I wasn't the only one excited for this impromptu jam session. Everybody got their gear set up and arranged and we were ready to make some music. 

Greg from Demon Barf was on drums, Mike Myre was on bass, Mike C and Pauly were on guitars, Dave was using a CD player to drop in samples, Eric had brought his trumpet, Justin was on bongos, Kev from Demon Barf was on the turntables, another fellow had brought his saxophone, and yours truly held the microphone in hand.

Pauly set up a blank 45 minute cassette in his boombox and hit record, we were off. The jam consisted of slower, funky grooves, making it easy for me to freestyle and making it easy in general for everyone to play along with each other. We were busting out some sweet sounds, and despite the large number of us, everything was blending together nicely.

When the 45 minute tape reached it's end, Paul flipped it to the other side and hit record once again. We were having so much fun that the time just flew right by. In the blink of an eye we had been jamming for 90 minutes and we had filled the tape. Everyone was stoked about the jam session, so we decided to have another one ASAP.

Our new super group needed a name, and I believe it was Mike C. who came up with "The B-Funk All-Stars" the B standing for Brampton. It was an ode to The P-Funk All-Stars, a classic old funk band comprised of members from Parliament and Funkadelic. Granted our funk was a bit more rap oriented, but we all loved the name. It was settled, we were now known as The B-Funk All-Stars.

Ice Cube had recently put out his latest album "Lethal Injection" which was mediocre at best compared to his previous releases, but I was listening to it a lot regardless. The album was very P-Funk influenced, and it even featured one of their members George Clinton, known for his hit song "Atomic Dog" There were a few songs that influenced and inspired me to write some lyrics down, as to have some lyrical content for our next jam. The song "Bop Gun" led me to write "Pot Gun" and I also wrote my own version of "One Nation Under A Groove" as well as a few other songs who's titles escape me at the moment.

The next week we were back at Pauly's to jam again, and even more people showed up this time. If someone had an instrument, they brought it. We also had a few friends show up just so they could sit and watch the jam session. Pauly had the tape recorder queued up once again, and we were all ready to make more groovy funky tunes. Having brought lyrics this time around made my life a bit easier, and we actually started to structure some songs.

Every week we would jam, and it was always a mystery as to who would show up. Paul made a point of recording our jams every week, his philosophy being that we could go back and listen to them for ideas. We could take the best parts and use them for creating songs. I personally thought it was a genius idea. 

To be quite honest, I was just thrilled to be making music again, even if it was just for fun, as we really weren't trying to go anywhere with this, it was merely a creative outlet for a bunch of musicians who were not currently playing in bands. Everyone was having fun, nobody was taking things too seriously, and there really was no right or wrong. People just played whatever they wanted and whatever made them feel good. These were truly some magical jams, that unbeknownst to me were leading up to something special...

Friday, 12 June 2015

Measuring Success

Happy Friday everyone! For today's post I am going to step outside of the box a bit. This is an ongoing story of the involvement of music in my life, which is generally what my posts reflect. Once in awhile I post general updates as to keep my readers in the loop. Today I am taking things in a different direction for a change. I hope you are up for a read because things are about to get deep.

Over the past year I have been fortunate enough to reconnect with one of my best friends in this world, someone I truly admire as an artist and as a free thinker. This man is one of the most inspirational people I've known in my 42 years on this planet, and he is actually the sole reason I started this blog in the first place. His name is Jon, although some of you may know him as "Osiris" co-founder of UWA Hardcore Wrestling & co-owner/creator of Wrestling Abaddon.

We have been having some pretty deep discussions as of late that go beyond philosophical, and we seem to bring out the best in each other's creativity and imagination, so much to the point that it has inspired me to take this blog post out to left field on this occasion. While we were involved in one of our deep talks, Jon mentioned that a mutual acquaintance of ours had stated that I was not a successful person. Jon made his points of why he disagreed with this, all of which I fully understood and agreed with. Being a person who's brain works overtime 24/7, it got me to thinking, which led me to writing.

What exactly is success? How do we measure success? 

"People measure success in so many different ways and on so many different levels. When setting goals in life or business, it’s important that we identify what success means to us personally, so that when we succeed we will know it. Most people measure success in business according to their income, however this may not be an accurate assessment. If your business efforts provide a substantial monetary reward but you don’t enjoy what you do, can this really be called success?"

If a man works 40-60 hours a week sacrificing the time he gets to spend with his family, while saving all of his money for retirement, then dies at a fairly early age due to health issues caused by stress, etc. was he successful? I've always been the type of person to live for the moment, because in this crazy world of ours we truly never know what will happen. It could all end tomorrow in the blink of an eye, and I'd be ok with that, as I have lived my life the way I've wanted to. Sure I may not have a huge bank account or own a house, but to me those things aren't measures of success, and to be quite honest I really have no interests in such material possessions. After all, human civilization has been around for thousands of centuries thriving without money, yet within the last millennium somehow money has now become everyone's answer to life. 

So what exactly is success? How do we measure success

Let's look at my friend Jon for example. Here is a guy who was still a high school teenager when I met him, running UWA an independent backyard wrestling federation out of a barn on his mother's property. Jon had hopes and dreams of being a big time wrestler/promoter and I never viewed his dreams as unrealistic, as I could see the love and the passion he had for the sport. A few years after I met him, UWA had grown out of the barn and into the backyard, with a legit wrestling ring he and his brother built themselves. The crowds had spiked from 10 people to over 100 people, growing so fast and so big that they had no choice but to turn it into a legitimate and licensed business. This was really the only choice, as they were risking everything putting on illegal backyard events.

For almost the next decade Jon ran UWA with his brother and it was like a dream come true. They were averaging 300-600 people per show, which are staggering numbers for an Indy fed in the greater Toronto area. They brought in big name talent from all over the world including wrestling gods we had idolized growing up, while still giving opportunities to lesser known names and local independent wrestlers. UWA became (in my opinion) a legendary underground movement that was on a parallel with ECW, and it flourished into the biggest Indy wrestling promotion that I have seen in this neck of the woods within the last three decades. They even received television deals with Bite TV, The Fight Network, TWC Fight!, & Samurai TV in Japan. Jon got to travel to Mexico & Japan and helped enable the careers of his fellow friends and workers.

To me it was amazingly remarkable to watch all of this unfold. To see two teenagers that started on a trampoline in a barn come this far within 10 years was incredibly inspiring. So how did the wrestling community pay them back? By anonymously slandering them and flaming them on internet message boards, forever trying to run their names through the mud.  Haters gonna hate right? Why? Was it jealousy? One can only assume. A lot of Ontario wrestlers were bashing UWA simply because they weren't working there. So why weren't they given opportunities? Some of them were and some of them weren't. These decisions were based on the talent and the integrity of said performers. This had nothing to do with ego, Jon simply wanted to give his loyal fans the best possible product he could. If that meant presenting the crowd with Ultimo Dragon instead of Joe Blow from down the street, then that's what had to be done. Not only for the fans, but for the interest of the business.

To further prove my point, Jon wrestled as "Osiris" he wasn't a fantastic worker by any means, but he always put his pure heart and soul into it. As UWA got bigger, Jon took a back seat and focused on the promotion and production aspects, as once again, he wanted to give his following the best product he could. I was fortunate enough to be apart of his company, and I told Jon from day one he would never have to pay me a dime. I wasn't there for my own selfless reasons or to try and get myself over, I was there because I truly wanted to help out my fiends, I truly wanted to be apart of something I knew was special, and I wanted to have that life experience. It had been a goal of mine from a young age to be apart of the wrestling business, yet I let that fizzle away to pursue my love of music and arts. Jon & his brother Joe gave me a chance to fulfill that life goal and made one of my dreams come true. It was a blessing to be taught a lesson by these younger men, the lesson being that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. 

A lot of Jon's so-called "friends" offered to help out with UWA, but sadly a lot of them were only there for their own selfish reasons. People who he trusted and gave opportunities to paid him back by stealing money and product, not to mention backstabbing him, and running his name in the shit. When Jon decided to end UWA in 2008, he never even got so much as a thank you from a lot of wrestlers who's careers he helped launch. It's sad to say, but in the world of pro wrestling most of the talent are only out for themselves. When everybody wants to be the next big thing in the sport, they will do anything to reach that goal, without even blinking an eye at who they have to fuck over to get there. Some even questioned his mental well being, and spread rumours of him being "crazy" I suppose you have to be somewhat crazy to roll around in barbwire and broken glass, but I've always known Jon and known how his mind works, and I can honestly say that in this present day I've never seen him more focused, determined, and brimming with intelligence. Jon often honours me by saying I'm the smartest person he knows, well one hand washes the other, as I truly feel he is the smartest person I know.

So did UWA make Jon a wealthy man financially? No. Was UWA successful? Hell yes! Absolutely! The fact that these two kids with a dream brought that dream to life, even beyond what they had expected, is a true measure of success in any book. Being successful in business may include not only enjoying what you do, but also creating value for others. Wether or not it is profitable, for you to accurately measure success, you would also need a way to gauge whether or not you are truly creating value for other people.

"When we set goals in any area of our life, we need to determine what our intended results are and how we will know when we get there.  Establishing ahead of time what success looks like and feels like gives us the opportunity to program ourselves with the feelings success will bring. Having a way to measure success and keep track of progress helps us stay motivated and focused. When you know where you are going and the progress you've made, it creates anticipation and excitement. This positive energy helps you to take consistent action in the direction of your goals which multiplies your results. One feeds the other."

So what exactly is success? How do we measure success

That brings me to myself. What goals did I set for myself? I always wanted to be apart of wrestling. Check. As much as I never thought art would pay the bills, I ended up tattooing for the past 15 years and was blessed with a job that I loved. Check. I always wanted to be a rock star from a very young age, and I ended up playing in countless bands since my early teens. In my younger years I dreamt of riches and stardom, but by the time I was in my mid twenties I had a full understanding of how the music industry worked, and I didn't want to be apart of it. I also learned why I had been doing music all of the while, because I loved it! Music is my deepest passion in life beyond creative arts, it's always been there for me, my earliest and most fondest childhood memories involve it, and I am attached to it and apart of it forever. Some of the bands I played in had moderate "success" on the Indy scene, but I really didn't care about status. To have that one person come up to me and tell me how I've changed their life is worth more than all of the money and fame in the world, and that's real talk. I can totally relate to that because I've felt the same way with so many musicians who've inspired me, or helped uplift me in times of trouble, and to be put on the same level as those people is the ultimate success to me. Check. 

Many people may not know this, but growing up I was the last male with my family name aside from my Dad's brother, but I always knew he would never have kids, as he had always been a bachelor and lived his life the way he wanted. A success if you will. From a young age I felt the pressure and the need to one day have a son and carry on the family name. I often questioned wether I'd even live to have kids, or if the planet would even live to see me have kids. I also often questioned if I should even bring a child into this world the way things were going globally in society. I never saw myself as the type to settle down in the house with the white picket fence, married with children, yet I still yearned for a son. I eventually did get married and gave my life to someone for 8 years, and I got the son I always wanted. I honestly couldn't of asked for a better boy. My son Gabriel is an old soul, he is kind and generous, he is articulate, he is intelligent, he is imaginative, and he is creative. Gabe reminds me so much of my childhood self, and he makes me proud every day, regardless if he is with me or with his mother. Check.

I changed for the better in many ways, yet I also changed to appease my partner in ways that weren't me, all for the greater good of our family. In the end things didn't work out, we went our separate ways, and I honestly feel it was for the better, as we are both much happier and in better places. The only obvious downside is I don't get to be with my son every day of his and my life. Looking back on it all though I wasn't truly happy or myself. I went back into a mainstream work environment and continued to tattoo in the evenings, all while maintaining a household, bringing my son to and from daycare each day, and preparing dinner. At the end of my day Gabe was already in bed most times and I'd barely gotten to spend any time with him. Financially we should of been ahead thousands of dollars each month yet we were in debt. Was this success? Is this what life was meant to be?

After we separated I continued to work my day job and tattoo part time for 3 more years. It finally hit me that I was not happy. Why was I still working at a job someone else wanted me to have? For the first time in my life I was not happy with my situation and I was experiencing stress from my job. One day i had a small spec of blood in my urine so I went to see my doctor about it. They ran the usual blood and urine analysis but found nothing. From there I spent the next few weeks undergoing tests, ultrasounds, X-rays, and so forth. I awaited anxiously to hear back from my doctor and it felt like an eternity. His office finally called me and they asked me to come in. I assumed the worst as they usually don't give you bad news over the phone. When the day of the appointment arrived I honestly had no idea what I was in for. 

The doc proceeded to tell me that they could not find one thing wrong within me, and that my insides were unremarkable for my age. I found that odd and strangely funny considering my track record of not eating the healthiest, never exercising, and the abuse I have put my body through over the last fourty years. The doctor was genuinely amazed by my condition and asked me what my secret was. I replied "I've always lived my life the way I've wanted, never sweated the small stuff, and never stressed over needless things. I have heard people can give themselves cancer from stressing over issues" to which he responded "You're absolutely right!" Needless to say I was quite thrilled by the outcome of my visit, and to me it was a testament that I'd been true to myself. A success in its own right. Check.

I decided to leave my day job and fall back on my art. The past two years haven't been rewarding financially speaking, but I'm getting by no problem, bills are getting paid, and my son and I have the necessities we need. The true reward has been getting back in touch with myself, doing what I want to do, and living my life the way I want to live it. I've had more time to enjoy my life, enjoy my time with my son, and more time to explore my creative outlets. I never thought I would love again or settle down, yet I was blessed enough to meet a woman who I can truly say is my soulmate, as cliche as that might sound. Check.

 I am at a point now though where I feel like I need change in my life. My passion for tattooing has faded as the industry has grown into an abomination I don't want to be apart of. As much as I still love the art-form and love doing it, I feel like I was put on this planet to do so much more than just ink people until my eyes and/or hands no longer work. I really have no clue what my future holds but I feel I'm destined to do many more things before my time here is up. No matter where my path takes me, as long as I am doing what I want to be doing, living my life the way I want to live it, then successful I shall be. So to sum this up, all of the goals I have set for myself thus far in life I have achieved. I'm not quite sure what future goals I have or what direction my life will go from here, but rest assured I will continue to achieve any goals I set for myself in the future.

In closing, everyone has their own definition of success in life and in business. It’s not your job to live up to someone else’s idea of success. Your accomplishments and successes are yours, not theirs. YOU get to measure success by YOUR own standard. YOU are the one who decides exactly what it means to be successful in any area of YOUR life. Thanks for reading.