Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Watkins 9/10/14

Just continuing on my little adventure.  I had just left Denver and I walked through Watkins which is just this little town.  I mean, it was really great actually.  Watkins was probably one of my more favorite towns.  It was in the middle of nowhere with just a truck stop.  Mostly everything was abandoned.  I walked from Watkins to Bennett and this was during the time when they were having all that flooding in Boulder, Colorado in 2013.  There were literally crazy storms going on.  The most wild storms you have ever seen!  Just before I got to Watkins, the storm was so wild.  Sand and dirt were being picked up from the ground and were hitting you as well as rain, just incredible rain.  There was nothing out there; it was just flat.  There were no trees and no shelter.  It was really unique; a really unique time in the project because of all these storms.  Every night, every day, just storm after storm after storm so we were forced to try and get hotels as often as we could just to stay protected during these storms.  One storm in particular, it was so bad I thought that we were in some serious danger.  There was no bush or anything on the ground; there were no trees and there was really nothing to protect ourselves.  It seemed like the storms came out of nowhere.  All of sudden the sand and dust would be blowing over the road and you couldn't see anything.  You literally couldn't see in front of you it was such a bad storm.  The rain was coming down and then it would stop and the wind would come and it was just this mix of rain and dust and sand and wind and it was so chaotic.  This one time there was literally nothing to shelter LeeRoy and I so we went over to this barbed wire fence post and I remember getting LeeRoy kind of underneath my poncho and just hanging on with my hands wrapped up in the poncho and kind of making this little shelter that covered LeeRoy and I.  He is getting freaked out and trying to move around and I am kind of freaked out.  Probably for about 30 minutes it rained and we are just completely soaked; I mean just head to toe.  There is sand blowing everywhere and all over our bodies.  It was pandemonium!  Probably the worst storm we have been in so far.  It was crazy because every morning we would wake up and it would be kind of be bright and sunny, but then I would have all these alerts on my phone that said severe storm warning coming.  Literally every night for about three weeks there were these crazy, wild storms.  It was wild; probably some of the most wild times.

When I was in Watkins, this friend of mine named TJ who makes skateboards had sent me one.   He sent me this skateboard to kind of cruise around the cities.  That was really cool, you know.  I believe that was pretty close to my birthday because I remember at the same time I had was that my birthday?  Was my birthday in Denver?  I think my birthday might have been in Denver.  I can't remember.  Anyways, I had received a gift from my friend.  Wow, how did I get that gift?  Aubrey Roy, how did you get that gift to me?  Anyways, I had received a gift from Aubrey and when I was in Watkins...I must have got it in Watkins.  Crazy!  Anyways, I was able to get my gift and she sent me some cool things. I hung out and had some fun at the truck stop in Watkins.  You know, it was crazy.  Emotionally speaking, I kind of felt like I was in a weird place.  Looking back, I kind of see my mentality was weird.  I wasn't really focused like I wanted to be. I got this skateboard and cruised around and made a little video about this skateboard.  It was pretty awesome; pretty funny.  I really enjoyed it.  I carried it for a while, I really did.  I carried that skateboard for a while.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rap 9/1/14

This is another story from the road. This story is a longer then most of mine others but the end is so funny!

  I think we have had a lot of success lately and a lot of awesome things happen.  For me, I like to keep it balanced. Ha! Ok that is a lie I am not a very balanced person. however in an attempt to be balanced I want to also talk about the "fails".  I mean, to talk about things that aren't just the successes of the project or personal successes or personal growth, but also keep in focus all of the things that could be improved.  I would consider myself pretty good a conflict resolution.  I think, for the most part, I am good in stressful situations and I am good at handling difficult people. However, I am blogging about three incidences over the couple of years  where I could have done better.  To me, honestly, I think these stories are funny.  I look back, and I laugh at myself for acting so ridiculously.

I am going to start off with this one particular moment; again, to me it is just funny.  We are going all the way back to Denver  I was walking down 16th Street in the morning.  I was heading out of town, getting ready to just really make my charge towards Kansas City.  Now, up until this point I have had a great time in Denver.  I had an enjoyable time hanging out with Cash and Jackie and people that came out; Lindsey and just really enjoyed my time there.  Another great person I got to hang out with was Ashley.  She was so kind to me, helped me and LeeRoy out; it was amazing.

So, I wake up early and I am heading out of town; walking through downtown Denver on my way out.  As I am walking through the park right before I hit 16th Street, this lady starts following me with her dog.  I keep a eye on  her  mainly because she has her dog, I am always very aware of people who have dogs around us.  I go out of my way to go way around her.  I keep walking and we get towards the end of the park. She started following  me and  keeps following me as I leave the park. I go across the street and head towards 16th Street.  I look back and that  she doesn't have a very pleasant look on her face so I decide to engage her.  I say, "Hey, how ya doin?"  The lady looks at me and says, "What are you doing?"  I tell her my story and her immediate reaction is, "That is not something that a goat is capable of."  I say, "Okay, well we have walked all the way here from Seattle and he has been doing great."  She keeps asking me questions and is really giving me the 3rd degree about the goat and I keep reassuring her that I take very good care of him.  I make sure he is healthy; watch his hooves.  I try to help her understand that I go to great lengths to take care of LeeRoy.   She doesn't seem to be listening to me.  I can see this girl is going to give me trouble.  She finally says to me, "I work for PETA." And I reply, "Figures."  She says, "I am really concerned about your goat."  I tell her, "Well, feel free to call animal control or anybody else that you need to call, but I am going to head on down the road here."

That was the beginning of my morning. It only got worse.  I kept on walking on 16th Street through Denver.  Now, as I am walking down 16th Street, about five blocks  I was surrounded by four motorcycle cops.  No joke!  The first thing they said to me was, "Hey man you were told not to bring your llama down here."  I said, "I am sorry, I don't have a llama."  The guy says, "Listen, you have been told multiple times this is not okay.  You need to leave."  I said to him, "Well I think you have me confused because for number one, this isn't a llama and number two, I am not from here.  I have never been talked to by the cops whatsoever."  He takes my ID.  We are going through the same Ol questions; "What are you doing, blah, blah, blah."  Finally, he gives my ID  back, I give him a card.  He tells me, "You can't walk on 16th Street.  You need to go over to 15th Street."  Then he tells me a  story about a guy who two weeks earlier had been downtown Denver with two llamas and the llamas got away and caused an accident and all this chaos and no one could catch these llamas.  So, since then, they are real strict on having farm animals downtown Denver.  I  laughed.  I said, "He isn't necessarily a farm animal.  He is more of a pack animal or service animal, but I understand and I will make sure to get onto 15th Street and will start walking there."  We end up taking a bunch of pictures together and then I make my way over to 15th Street.

Now, I get towards the edge of 15th Street. There is a 7-11 and I want to get myself something to drink.  I tie LeeRoy to a flag pole out front  go in, get myself a drink, I come out and there are people all around.  As I am talking and tell my story to everyone this lady comes out of nowhere in a full head to toe peach pant suit.  She is a shorter woman, she is probably in her late 30's, early 40's. Again, she is in a full-on peach pant suit with white high heels.  She has white pearls on.  She is yelling! walking up to me  screaming about llamas.  She says, "You were told by the police not to bring your llamas down here!"  I said, "Listen ma'am, I am so sorry.  I think you have me confused with someone else.  This isn't a llama and I was just talking to the police."  She answers back, "You have to get out of here right now.  It is not appropriate for you to bring you llama down here."  I said, "Ma'am, first of all, this isn't a llama, this is a goat and I just talked to the police."  She answers again, "You need to leave right now!  Get your llama and get out of here!"  I said, "Ma'am, THIS IS NOT A LLAMA!  I just talked to the police.  Look, give them a call.  I just talked with them a minute ago on 16th Street."  She replies, "You can't keep bringing your animals down here!"  I reply, "Ma'am, that's not me; I am not that guy!  I am trying to walk across America with a goat."  This whole time, she is yelling at me and then she gets other people to start yelling at me.  She starts yelling at the guy that worked at 7-11.  Now, I know that it is kind of a stereotype to say that 7-11's have middle eastern people workng for them. But this guys was actually from the there.  She yells at the 7-11 guy who is standing at the door and says, "He is not supposed to be down here with his llama."  So he yells at me in this middle eastern accent, "You need to get you llama out of here!"  First of all, when he yelled it, somehow I automatically thought of The Simpson's.  I totally laughed!  Now, he is yelling at me, this lady is yelling at me; I can't even understand what everybody is saying, but they are all basically yelling at me to leave.  So, I start yelling back at this lady.  I say, "LADY, IT'S NOT A LLAMA!"  I yell at her pretty loud and I am getting stressed out!  I am throwing my hands up, they are throwing their hands up and everybody is yelling.  I tell her, "I am trying to leave!  You are in my way!  I have been trying to get out of here.  You are in my way.  I am trying to leave!  It's not a llama!"  I finally just start yelling at everybody, "IT'S NOT A LLAMA, IT'S A GOAT!  IT'S NOT A LLAMA!"  Then out of no where the lady stops yelling and pull out a cell phone to take a picture... I yell "REALLY. YOUR GOING TO TAKE A PICTURE"....  so I posed and smiled with  my thumbs up... Finally, I just start walking away.  I walk around everybody  as they keep yelling random stuff. As I walk away I yell back at the lady "MAKE SURE YOU POST THAT ON YOUR FACEBOOK. NEEDLE2SQUARE!!!". Now, side note--this is one of the  stories  I was going to start out telling.

Anyways I keep walking.  I get about four blocks down the road  and some more cops show up.  They pull up next to me and say, "Hey man, you are not allowed to bring your llama downtown."  I literally laughed out loud!  I am like, "What are you talking about?  This is a goat, sir.  It is not a llama.  I am leaving town.  I have already been talked to."  Again, I keep walking and now I get probably a good  2 or 3 miles outside of downtown Denver on Colfax. Then, another police officer comes and pulls me over.  I hand him a card and he says he has actually heard about me.  He says, "I love what you are doing and I want to tell you something."  He says, "Listen, I am supposed to hold you until animal control gets here, but I am going to let you go because I love what you are doing."  He warns me, "They are coming to ticket you and take the goat.  I am just letting you know."  He continues, "if you can stay away from animal control, you will be okay."  I shake the man's hand, I am very grateful to the police officer and I keep walking.  Colfax is a main, busy road, so I get off and I am walking through alleys.  Usually animal control either has a van or mostly a truck with this thing on the back that has compartments where they can put the animals.  I usually know what animal control looks like.  I am walking down alleys and every time I see a truck or a van, I instantly try and hide behind a dumpster or some trashcans, or buildings so I won't be seen.  So now I am basically running from animal control as I leave downtown Denver.

As I cross into Aurora,  little kids start following me on their bikes.  I  tell them, "Please get away. I don't want to attract any attention right now."   This one little kid keeps following me and every time a car would drive by and stop, the little kid would go over to the car and listen to them call the police.  Then he would ride up to me and say, "Hey, that guy is calling the police."

Eventually, we get to a strip mall just on the edge of downtown Aurora.  Behind this building is just a bunch of people. I know that I can't go much further without resting, but I also need to hide out.  Okay, number 1, this is the God's honest truth.  This is how it goes down.   I walk up behind this building  that has a bunch of people outside smoking.  Now, first of all, I have never heard the "F" word so much in my entire life!  I can't tell if they are mad or freaked out or what; it is just a weird situation.  I roll up to this group of black guys and they are all just talking to me.  I tell them, "Hey, I know this sounds weird, but I am kind of running from the cops right now.  Is there any chance we could go inside and hang out?"  It turns out, this is a recording studio!  We hide inside for the rest of the day.  They take me  into this rap studio.  I mean, this is full on, full scale rap studio status; like hard core rap.  Everybody has a rap name.  The guy who runs it is the Hoodfather.  He is everything that you think the Hoodfather would look like.  He is big and if you can just picture it in your mind; that is probably as close to the reality of what you think the Hoodfather would look like.  Ha-Ha-Ha!!!  Oh man, looking back; such good times!!!  Anyways, I honestly was intimidated. We  are hanging out, LeeRoy is in the studio in the stairwell area.  It's this little entryway.  He is sitting down drinking water; you know he is just chillin.  Everybody is freaking out because the goat is in the studio.  So, while I am there I tell them I want to do a rap song.  We go downstairs into the studios and everybody is rapping so hard; crazy stuff.  It is everything you picture.  It's so stereotypical, it's like a movie! I walking into a movie!  Literally, there are couches and microphones and control rooms where the people who do the recording are at.  There are brown paper bags of liquor  literally; they are drinking and smoking weed and rapping; like freestyle rapping.  You can't imagine how it felt.  I am in a studio with freestyle rappers and there is the goat and it just so surreal, I can't even explain my life.  This is a movie moment!

So, here is the thing.  Just a side note in the middle of the story.  Being a musician for as long as I have, I really invested a lot of time into music.   I played the guitar, bass, a couple other things, but I am not very good.  I will just say that.  I got pretty lucky in music; not because I was good but because I was just in the right place at the right time.  Anyways, I have a real love affair with music in general so one of the things I do is I find instrumental beats with no words and while I walk, I have been trying to learn how to freestyle rap.  Number 1, picture for a moment, a dirt road, a guy with a goat, I am wearing headphones just rapping about my life with the goat.  It's in the middle of a corn field, in the middle of nowhere.  I think about that thought.  Like if somebody was behind me watching this moment, how hilarious that would be!  Some white kid walking with a goat, freestyle rapping...HA! HA! HA! Oh, it's hilarious.

I had been practicing my freestyle rap.  Truth be told, I am horrible at it!  I might be able to put a couple of lines together that are kind of hot, but you get past that and it just gets really lame.  We are in the basement back room in this rap studio and everybody is just freestyle rapping.  They are all freestyle rapping. They pass the mic to me. So I go for it and start freestyling. I literally get two lines out and I try and pass the mic and they are laughing hysterically because it it is incredibly whack; it is incredibly lame!  One of the kids there  challenges me to a rap battle.  Basically a rap battle is you make fun of the other person and try to burn them and make them feel stupid through rhymes. First of all, I am not that negative of a guy so when I freestyle rap, I keep it positive.  I don't cuss and I try and basically make other people feel good I guess.    So this guy, man I wish I would have video-taped this.  I don't know what I was thinking.  So this guy comes up to me and says, "Alright, let's go, freestyle battle."  I say, "Yeah, alright, let's battle." Actually I am really uncomfortable doing the rap battle and I am not excited. They asked me, "Do you want a beat or do you just want to freestyle?"  I tell them, "You know, I feel comfortable with a beat."  The beat starts going. I think to myself, "If I don't go first and he just tears it up, I am going to feel super stupid." I tell them I will go first.  So, the beat is going and I am just bobbing my head, everybody is silent, and I just keep saying,

"Yeah, ok, here we go.
Alright, yeah. Uh-huh, okay.
Wait just a second, I am almost ready. Yeah, uh-huh, okay, word.
 Alright, I am gonna go in, here we go."

Then, I don't exactly remember what I said, but it was something like,

"My name is Steve and I walk with a goat.
I'm trying to do some cool things, bring some hope.
 And you're real cool, I like you shoes.
Please don't beat me up because I am white in the hood..."

 or something.  That was it, I couldn't get further than that and everybody just starts laughing hysterically.  I start laughing; I am totally embarrassed.  Then this guy goes. He calms everybody down and starts his freestlye.  He is legitimately making fun of me  just going so hard at me.  It was one of those things where you know you are getting made fun of, but it is so funny that you laugh.   I was laughing at maybe some of the meanest, first of all, most  racist stuff I have heard said towards me, but somehow it was funny in that moment.  Somehow that made me a part of the group.  We were all just laughing and had some fun.   One thing led to another and I told them, "Listen, I want to put a rap down."  I had this beat and they loaded it up and I just went into the studio booth and wrote this song.  We spent like five hours on it.  I think its  pretty funny; I like it.  At the end of the night, it is getting dark and I ended up getting a ride to a host family and that was the end of that day.

What is the point of this story?  My point of the story was going to be talking about how I could handle conflicts better, but instead I just ended up telling you about my last day in Denver.  So, anyways, yeah; good times!

this video is about me in the studio...