My friend Zach wrote a post about a long quote from Dave Grohl the other day, and I think it is worth responding to. I want to defend Dave Grohl a little bit, which is going to require a little bit of interpreting of his words but bear with me, because I think some subtlety is being blown by and a good point is being missed. First, go read Zach’s post and come back when you’re ready to argue.
Zach doubles as an Internet/basement-based musician, equalszee. equalszee has release two albums and various other tracks to the Internet with little more than Zach teaching himself Logic Pro and BitTorrent. So, I’m pretty sympathetic to the idea that Dave Grohl’s dismissal of needing a computer or the Internet to be a musician strikes Zach as out of touch. Frankly, it is out of touch, but I think Dave (Mr. Grohl? no, fuck that) is conflating two unrelated things and is making a point in a pretty lousy way.
Dave Grohl just wants kids to enjoy the journey and not think there are shortcuts to being superstars. More to the point, there is a massive sense of entitlement with music now – you should be instantly successful, you should be on TV, you should be releasing music online that spreads around the Internet like wildfire (virality woo!) – you should win, immediately, yesterday, no seriously why haven’t you won yet?
This, to me, is what the quote is about. It is about the journey. It is about having fun and trying hard and having fun and not worrying about success. Yeah, Nirvana got lucky and massively famous because a music executive decided to push an entire ethos on a bunch of teenagers, but the quote isn’t about how to become Nirvana. The quote is about the right approach, the right mindset that you should take into making music. You shouldn’t make music to become famous and you shouldn’t go into the entire endeavor with expectations of singing on national TV in front of whoever the hell is still judging American Idol. You should grab whatever you can and have fun with it and if you like it keep doing it and if you don’t go do something that you actually like doing. Maybe you become Nirvana, maybe you don’t – but fuck, at least you are having fun.
Until you become Nirvana and hate all that that entails, I guess. Too soon?
i just read this post by grant ammons about refactoring some code in discourse, a really neat new piece of forum software. the post is very smart and thoughtful in a way that i am not often enough about code, but it also underlines to me a big challenge of php: rails code looks more beautiful.
now i want to scrap some code i’m working on and go down a rails path, even though i know that is a mistake for a number of reasons. i need to remember to just plow through and get this shit together and running as soon as possible. i got 2 months, i can do this. i can’t spend time, even for a second, thinking about starting over.
teaser (for the no one reading this):
since last year, i’ve been kicking around extending ottoneu into the realm of football. football, where fantasy companies not only survive but thrive. football, where the audience is 10x more and the schedule is structured in a way that participants don’t get bored of the season. football, where ottoneu’s format would be a game-changer.
however, it is becoming apparent that i know too much, from a development perspective. just enough to be completely paralyzed by development design decisions, technology choices, etc. i still haven’t solidly decided on PHP as my language (Ruby is having some appeal), and i definitely haven’t decided if i want a framework or to roll my own. what orm to use is another annoying problem, and how to use the orm properly on top of that.
why am i so debilitated when i can still rip off things like this in a weekend and maintain ottoneu reasonably well? the problem is that i think too much and i don’t just start building. once you start building stuff, you have to build more things to make sure that first bit works, and eventually momentum takes you to the finish line, or somewhere near there. that is how i built ottoneu baseball. it is a structureless, orm-less mess, the worst kind of PHP code soup people refer to when talking about the ills of the language, but two things: 1) it works and 2) see 1.
so, i don’t know how to proceed. i’ve given myself time to just start building, but i end up screwing around and playing video games or doing some other manner of procrastination. i’ve taken up more responsibility at work now, so that means less hours for my own projects. and whenever i just take the tact i mentioned above, i end up getting stuck on “does this function belong here or here? is this the most elegant solution?” because i want to not make the same mistakes i made when building ottoneu baseball.
but maybe the end point is this: ottoneu baseball might be a huge piece of shit application, but oh man does it work and do people play the crap out of it right now every single day. oh man do people tweet about it and email me questions and tell me how much they love it. so who cares if the underlying code isn’t great. i’ve learned enough to make somewhat cleaner code this time. i just need to get that momentum.
so, full disclosure: i helped on the mixing of some of this album, mostly technical issues. i also made the cover art. and i yelled at zach for most of the two years he was working on the album to keep working on the album. so i am pretty close to the creative process here, but to counter my disclosure, those of you who know me know that i pretty much have no problem telling people if something they did, are doing, or will do sucks.
all that being said, this album is pretty awesome. it’s quick, it doesn’t take a track off (except for K over L, suck it zach), and it definitely brings something to the rock-pop conversation. it’s too bad, because zach isn’t going to put that much effort into getting it out there so it might toil in obscurity, but you can easily help change that. go download a couple tracks, share with your friends if you like it, and force zach to do something more than just passively put out music every 2 years.
one very good way to show people that the RIAA and its bully tactics have no place in the 21st century is to take advantage of good, free, home-made music and listen to it and share it and find it and promote it. it’s also a great way to listen to modern rock-pop albums that are soaking in ’90s nostalgia (for example).
later this week i’ll recap sundance 2012, where i am now and where things are AWESOME.