Introduction v.2022

July 20th, 2022

How does a person get another person to like them the first time they meet?

That’s what required of us when we write these stupid distillations of ourselves.

If you hate me two sentences in, then I lose you. Definitely for the moment, most likely for today, and possibly forever.

No pressure.

I’ll start with my name. It’s Dennis. You can call me Denny (my dad’s favorite), Den, or even just the letter D and I’ll probably turn my head.

I’m glad you’re here today.

I talk about kindness a lot, and this is a photo of me giving you the finger, which doesn’t seem very kind. In actuality, my mom took this photo, and we flipped each other off all the time, and I love her more than life itself.

I’m a writer. I do other things, too, but let’s start this simple and call a spade a spade.

I was born in the 80’s and am a lifelong comics & pop culture obsessive. Pop culture has saved my life and helps me explain our existence. I’ve expressed myself artistically in a lot of different ways over the years — I started a company called Sleeping Kitty Productions when I was in high school, I released a trio of full-length music albums as The Next Step when I was a puppy, I began publishing my own books in 2013 with the help of Kickstarter, I fell into a character business called Awesome For Hire — but words are the thing that I have held onto through it all.

In 2013, I released a punk-rock sci-fi novella called Them, and in 2014, its sequel, Us; in-between those two books, I put out a novella about dreams called Flip.

I derailed my personal and creative train after releasing those first three books within a year; after getting sober in 2017, I put myself back on track.

In August of 2018, I released my first comic book: The Flying Squirrel, which is part of a flawed superhero series called The Weirdos. Over the next two years, I released a total of five issues of the series, eventually collecting & coloring them for a graphic novel volume that was published in May of 2020. The heroes in The Weirdos find each other through their struggles; they deal with things like alcoholism, depression, cancer & mental health issues. Later in 2020, I released a novella called Theia, about a silver Boston Terrier in an animal shelter who just wants to run away.

In 2021, I put out Time is a Solid State, my first non-fiction collection of essays; I also released Push, the sequel to Flip, later that summer.

In 2022, I released my two biggest projects to date: Cold World, my first full-length novel, a sci-fi story about spirituality on a future Earth where there is only winter; and Brushfire: Wave 1, my first all-ages graphic novel, about an underground society of wildlife.

I write, draw & produce all my own work. I did go to art school for a minute, said, “Nah, I’m good,” and am mostly self-taught. My books are readable steps of my journey.

The back of my business card has my motto: “Always Love.” It means to try to make your decisions based on love, as opposed to fear, or hate. To have compassion over strength, understanding over exclusion, radical empathy over power. I really believe in that, and am always trying to progress, never close to perfect.

I love my dog, I love words, I love art — and I ❤ you. And that’s it.

Visit my website dennisvogen.com and tell me I sent you.


MinnesotaCon ’23 Recap

June 4th, 2023

My brain is like wet cotton candy (colorful and structurally unstable), but I want to thank everybody for this weekend, and tell a sweet little story about how what we do, every day and anywhere, matters.

First, the gratitude: two high fives and a giant hug to everybody who came out to MinnesotaCon and made it so special. I love the reunions and the new unions and it’s always bittersweet to go, like the last day of school.

Now, the story: yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend when I heard my name being called through a speaker behind me. The voice belonged to a man dressed like Doc Brown from Back to the Future and he was standing next to his DeLorean, and I am making none of this up.

He told me he was in line to speak to me next.

Intrigued, I finished one chat and turned around to have another; Doc Brown was standing with a woman, and I realized they both looked familiar. They asked if I remembered them, too.

Almost a year ago, they were on their second date, having lunch before a movie at a restaurant called Harry’s. I was their server.

They were going to Jurassic World and dressed for the occasion, with spot-on cosplay. I sensed fellow nerds; I got to know them and we had a nice afternoon and, a year later, they are both still together and remember my first name.

Last night at a post-con dinner we were talking about what it means to make an impact; more often than not, we think about the quantity of people we want to reach without considering the quality.

But it’s the opposite that’s true.

We can fall into predictable rhythms and perform our lives on auto-pilot; we get good at our jobs and develop systems to get through days with the least amount of mental or emotional resistance.

And that’s the opposite of being present.

On the first day of the con, somebody stopped by my table to ask when more Weirdos was coming. She was really kind with her words about the graphic novel, and commented on its depth, adding that she shares the book with all her friends.

And that’s what kindness is. It’s a book and you never know how far it’s going to go.

Kindness isn’t the same as being nice; it’s being here. It can be exchanging sarcastic jokes, or listening to someone else’s story, or sharing your own, or making somebody feel sane in an increasingly insane world.

The five people you’re kind to today might take your kindness and share it with five more, and on and on and on.

And this only happens when we’re present, no matter what it is we’re doing.

I’m happy I was present during that lunch on their second date and it was such a nice experience that, a year later, when I walked past their time machine, they remembered my name and wanted to share that memory with me again.

It made me feel even better to learn that their first date was at Red Lobster, and they don’t remember the server they had there at all.

SKP 2023: Cold World

June 1, 2023

A year ago, I released a novel about Earth, 200 years in the future, that has only one season: winter.

This month, we talk all about it.

Cold World has a science-fiction lens, but that’s not its focal point at all. It’s a story about a whole lot more, including spirituality, loss, faith, grief, and family.

It’s a world of extremes: extreme temperatures, extreme sides of faith and disbelief, extreme means to unjustifiable ends.

Our protagonist, Calef, however, is just trying to find a space between.

Just like his author.

This is a book where I really got to move forward as a writer; I don’t like to sit still, and this feels like big steps forward. I get to use so much of what I’ve learned, and this is the longest story I’ve published so far (and its most common complaint is that it’s too short!).

In Cold World, I do what I love to do: I take an idea that is fantastical and heightened on its own, and imbue it with the deepest, most personal of thoughts and feelings.

I can’t wait to get deeper into it in June.


May 31st, 2023

The older I get, the less I try to use the word “hate,” but today is the worst day of the year, and I hate it.

It’s my mom’s birthday, which is worse than her death day, because that day was something that happened and is done, while her birthday is about what could have been, what should be; birthdays are about futures and potential and possibilities, and today is the day that I feel most helpless of all.

I get mad at myself because I didn’t know the last card or hug or laugh was the last.

This year, I’ve been going through all these photo albums I inherited, and something that delights me is how many animals there are in the pictures.

We were just always around animals; we may have lived in a city-zoo. My mom fucking loved them, and I am my mother’s son, so I fucking love them. I was years into writing books before I noticed that every single story I’ve ever published has at least one animal in it.

I eat meat, and hunting has always bothered me. I’m hypocritical like that. Learning about Temple Grandin reduced my boiling guilt but it’s still always there.

Humans have really done a number on the environment. When I say “done a number,” I don’t mean a snazzy dance with jazz hands; we are actively burning down the only house we have.

I get unreasonably upset when people talk about our planet and I realize it’s because I take it personally.

There are those who don’t “believe” we affect our climate like we do, but that’s the best part about science: it doesn’t give a shit about what you believe. You can believe whatever you want and still be objectively wrong; we do and we are, much more often than we don’t and are not.

My mom loved animals, and they loved her, because duh; she had such compassion and empathy for them. She understood that while we think we’re better, smarter and stronger, animals are the best of us.

I learned from her that silence is a sign of fierce intelligence; quiet is brilliant insight.

I say too much because I’m not any of those things.

It’s silly that I still fear letting my mom down.

I watch us destroy everything, and I feel like I’m letting her down; it reminds me how much some people just don’t care, and how unfair it is that this woman who cared so much isn’t here to care anymore.

I see her sitting in her chair in the living room; she stayed up because I was out later than I said I would be and she was worried.

I see her face at my door, making sure I stay in bed this time, making sure my eyes are closed and my blanket is over my feet and her baby is safe.

I miss how much she cared.

I hate today because birthdays are about the future and some days the future just feels so bleak, especially when we lose the people who care enough to make it bright.

I miss her being the sunshine on my dark days, of which I have too many and am bad at enduring without her; I miss her being my umbrella, her ability to repel life’s mixture of rain and tears, to ground electric pain; I miss her texts about nothing that meant everything but especially after they stopped.

I take it personally when people don’t care, because they’re here, and they should fucking act like it.

I hate today.

Go tell an animal that you love them.

Football is Life (and Death)

May 30th, 2023

I’m posting this absolute thirst trap to talk about my two favorite shows right now which, like this photo, are about soccer and not about soccer at all.

Yellowjackets and Ted Lasso couldn’t be more different on paper, but they share more than their European football connection; they compliment one another, and deal with the deepest human ideas, like community, faith, trauma, healing, therapy, and self-improvement.

Both are also dealing with bizarre online backlash for their latest seasons, the recently-concluded second season for Yellowjackets, and the third (and final) season of Ted Lasso.

To quickly address the backlash: as a culture, we have a massive critiquing problem. For one, we often do it before a story is completely told, which doesn’t make any sense; two, most people don’t actually know how to give valid, constructive, or even coherent criticism.

“This sucks” is bad criticism; “This sucks, but here are some specific reasons why I personally feel like this sucks” is better. If the specific reasons are your own expectations — like “Well, this is the way I would have done it” or “They should have done it this way” — then that, too, is bad criticism.

Every story told belongs to the storyteller; if you disagree with how they told it, then you should tell your own, the story that you want to tell.

Back to the programs.

I used to get so sick of people telling me to watch Ted Lasso. In fact, I was excited to watch the first episode just so I could say that it wasn’t THAT good and move on with my life.

Except it is THAT good, and now I’m the one telling everyone to watch Ted Lasso. It’s sick.

It’s a sports show that barely features sports at all; in fact, it subverts everything you think you know about how sports shows are supposed to operate, and that’s one of its (many) joys. It’s funny, yes, but I come back to it again and again to cry, to spend as much time with these fully-realized characters as I can, and to be reminded, over and over, that we are all valuable, we are loved, and we can get better, whatever that looks like for us.

Yellowjackets is not that.

Yellowjackets is brutal and violent and crazy in the truest sense of the word, about a team of teenage female soccer players who crash land in the wilderness, and the adult survivors of that experience over twenty years later.

In the first scene, you understand that murder and cannibalism are on the table, and you have to make the decision to stop or go on.

Somehow, though, the same themes from Ted emerge here (and I know this because I’ve often been watching them back-to-back). Surviving and then transcending trauma is the focal point here, and watching an episode is like being in the room during group therapy, because it has the same effect: people are telling you what they’ve done, and sometimes it’s subjectively worse than what you’ve done, but here they are, trying to get better, and if they can do it, then you can, too.

If there was ever a feel-good show about cannibalism, then it’s this one right here.

I write this days after the season finale of Yellowjackets and on the eve of the series finale of Ted Lasso for several reasons: they have a lot to offer, they were well worth my time, and they give me a lot to think (and feel and talk) about.

Not the least of which being what friend I would eat first if I had to.

Football is life.

The History of The Next Step, Part VI: Unreleased Work, Legacy, and The Future

May 29th, 2023

Like a person, The Next Step isn’t and never was all good or all bad.

And it was never a boy band.

But it made me who I am today. Before I get to how, however, let’s talk about the stuff that never got made (or got made and then buried somewhere deep in the woods).

  • What The Hell Are We Doing?: This was going to be the first full-length album, and I thought of the title (and wrote some songs, including a track called Uncomfortable Silence) while I was still in high school. I just wasn’t ready for a project like this yet, and once I was, I had moved on from these ideas.
  • From Pins to Packing: I started working on this album which, thematically, would be about journeys; I spent my youth thinking about ways to run away. I had a photo shoot and even designed an album cover (including a single poster for a never-released track, Torn). I wasn’t happy with how the project was going and scrapped the whole thing, torching its body.
  • Prism: This album actually almost got done. I was recording songs with my friend Kenny, and it resulted in unreleased tracks like Metamorphosis and Beautiful Mistake; two songs we recorded, however, were repurposed and used on Something Old, Something New: With You, and The Steps.
  • Life & Death: This is the big one. The last part of The Streetlight Diaries, an announced trilogy of albums that only got two. I wrote and recorded songs for it, then put it on a shelf as I got disillusioned with music (and myself), and it’s been collecting dust ever since. That will likely remain the case forever.
  • My Solar System Is You: Years after I failed to finish The Streetlight Diaries, I started writing songs for a new album, and two of those tracks have actually seen the light of day: So, Hey, a spiritual successor to my first song, the emotionally paranoid Awake; and Wormhole, which found its own sort of popularity through live videos on the internet.

Most recently, I wrote songs after my mom died, but those, for now, are just for me.

I also collaborated with other artists over the years, including a few rap and spoken word tracks where I provided a hook or chorus; those songs have lended absolutely no cred, street or otherwise, to my reputation.

The Next Step taught me a lot about other people, and about my own work ethic. Despite you just having read a list of all the things I never completed, I actually worked really hard and got a lot of work done; the same couldn’t be said of some of the people around me, who often put in the bare minimum amount of effort (and still wanted to be the center of every photo we took).

It soured me on collaboration; to this day, I’ve never even had a mentor, and I think it’s because I eventually decided I could only rely on myself. I hunger to work with others, in any art form, and it just hasn’t happened for me in many significant ways in my life.

I said The Next Step made me who I am today, and by that I mean art did; The Next Step traced a big line in my path as an artist.

The most important thing it did was help me find my voice.

My voice has been a lot of different things over the years. My voice has been mean, stupid, hurtful, willfully ignorant; it’s been gross, funny, and sometimes it just didn’t know better; it’s been desperate, sad, terrified, horrifying; it’s been witty, silly, careful and chaotic, expertly crafted and recklessly thrown; it’s been anxious, curious, grieving, searching; and it’s always been reaching for honesty, simplicity, connection, meaning, kindness, and hope.

I could sometimes be all of that in the span of a three-minute song.

For me, the creation of art is the process of creating a better me.

In my upcoming graphic novel, Brushfire: Wave 2, Bay the squirrel says: “I’m rebuilding myself and trying to leave the bad parts out.”

Over the years, I lost people on the way; I respect those who tapped out for any reason, because I have been an idiot for most of them.

But the reason I commit to getting better is for the people who stuck around.

I feel like they deserve it, even though I rarely feel like I deserve much of anything.

The title of this last part is misleading: I don’t know what the future has in store. I hope music is a part of it.

But the legacy of The Next Step for me is that we all deserve to have a voice; we deserve the chance to find it, and use it, and change it, and to share it with anyone who wants to give it a listen.

All anybody ever wants is just to be heard.

The History of The Next Step, Part V: Honesty & Happiness

May 24th, 2023

At the start of Love & Fear, I apologize for falling asleep; at the beginning of Honesty & Happiness, I (unapologetically) crack open a cold beer (literally) and proceed to black and then pass the f— out.

Honesty & Happiness is the angriest, sharpest, and saddest Next Step record, and it took me ten years to realize it was all a love/suicide letter to my addictive personality.

Every song.

Take this lyric from The Breakup Breakdown:

“In the spirit of irony
I’m helping you get over me
You’re just mourning a memory
And I’m just your 12 steps”

This was written by a man who staring down the barrel of addiction and had no idea how to get out of its (or his own) way.

Honesty & Happiness, both the album and the title track, are about those ideas as opposites. You can be honest, or you can be happy, but you can’t be both.

The delicious irony of that is not lost on me now; I didn’t realize that honesty was the actual key to happiness. I have never been more honest or happy than I am now, and my dishonesty had kept me locked up in the deepest, darkest place, the same place where I wrote these songs.

I’ve written about some of these songs at length in other essays, especially the centerpiece of the album, Second Drink. (The title itself is a delightful joke; in an episode of The Office, Pam jokes that once the ice melts in her margarita, it’s “like second drink.”)

This is a Next Step record unlike the others, in that it’s on the offensive, attacking everything and everyone, especially itself.

We had been playing live shows for years now, and there are two very different sides of that coin.

On one side, I love performing and I have some amazing memories from those nights. At the Hexagon alone: I once did a choreographed dance (with two adult toys), I once got (rightfully) kicked out (for being a total jerk), and I once ran into a guy (who lost his mind upon seeing us).

He was watching us play and thought, “That guy looks a lot like me.” Turns out, he was my cousin, Eli, and he got a big kick out of randomly finding me playing at his local watering hole.

We made friends and played with so many rad people. That side of music was fun, connective, life-affirming — it was playful.

The other side? Have you ever had a friend or a co-worker who talks a lot of shit about everyone, and you get the sinking feeling that they talk about you the same way when you’re not around?

There are people like that in music, too, and we met our share.

Look, music is competitive. It’s full of egos and wildly different personalities and addicts just like me. I write about that scene here, especially in The Shroeder House, a three-song, punk-rock declaration of hypocrisy.

Some people truly thrive in that environment. Me? I started to wither.

Honesty & Happiness was the last Next Step album. I never recorded Life & Death, the planned third album of the Streetlight Diaries trilogy. The last track, Return To Sender, offers a taste of what could have been: all the guitar parts were written by Tony, which I arranged and turned into a song. Support and collaboration were on the table, but the legs themselves weren’t stable.

We — and I use the term “we” as loosely as the word can be used, as The Next Step had only one consistent member, and he was a loose bundle of nerves himself — started to play less and less, until we stopped playing completely.

I continued under the name at least through 2015; I also played a small gig last Saturday afternoon in Lakeville, so technically, where there’s a spark, a speaker, and me, The Next Step will always exist.

The next part is the last part, and I’ll talk about what could have been, what never was, and what still could be, plus what The Next Step means to me.

Which is a whole heck of a lot.

The History of The Next Step, Part IV: Love & Fear

May 23rd, 2023

“I’m sorry that I fell asleep…”

So starts Love & Fear, the most ambitious and audacious Next Step album.

It’s also the longest and the one that sounds the biggest, because I was trying everything, everywhere, all at once.

The sixteen-track LP came out on September 26th, 2006, and was my second full-length album. It was the beginning of a planned trilogy, called The Streetlight Diaries, all named after perceived opposites: Love & Fear, followed by Honesty & Happiness, and ending with Life & Death.

The title Love & Fear came from a concept that absolutely shook and shaped my world: one day, a bar regular explained to me that every decision we make is because of one or the other. I still believe that’s true.

Love & Fear, in topic matter, is messy and sprawling; lyrically and musically, it is the definition of all over the place. Sometimes, it’s extremely intimate; other times, I write from perspectives that are not mine, points of view from real people and fictional characters alike, blurring the lines of their lives with my own. There are times I can’t even tell if I’m inventing the character or if the character is me.

This was The Next Step live show era, and at different points we featured Nick, Jarrod, Tony, Brian, and Kody. By this time, The Next Step had solidified into a simple formula: I made the records, mostly alone, and then my friends would play with me. I can’t even name every venue we played, but some notable places include 7th Street Entry in First Ave, 400 Club, Club Underground, The Garage, Hexagon Bar, Terminal Bar, Uptown Bar, so many bars, and cafés, and restaurants. The two stages we played the most, however, were both in St. Paul and just a block away from each other: Big V’s and Turf Club.

A handful of songs from Love & Fear became pillars of our live show: the title track; Just Once, Just Tonight; Accidents Are Accidents; and the best set-closer, Clean Break (followed by our finale, Peanut Butter Jelly Time).

This period also saw the introduction of the best-ever member of The Next Step (and that is including myself): Kittybot.

Kittybot was our drummer, a robot cat I made with cardboard who would hold my laptop or iPod, which would play our beats. At the time, having no drummer was a radical and often laughed-at aspect of the band; looking at the rise of superstar DJs and EDM, I can’t help but feel like we were just a little ahead of the times.

This was also the music video era. We did big videos for five singles, and this was at a moment when we were still taking analog footage and converting it to digital (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, bless you and you have no idea how lucky you are, sweet child; if you do know, you remember the old times and the hard days and I’m just glad to be here with you on the other side).

I went hard on the videos, creating stories that featured lights, fire, and shadows, superhero addicts, me losing my mind (and my clothes), and also me in drag playing my own fictional girlfriend.

Love & Fear was available to stream and on CD (have I mentioned how awful CDs were?). I knew I had a trilogy to complete, so I was already working on Honesty & Happiness by the time Love & Fear was released.

I was building this world around me, with sweat and tears and bottled anxiety, without end in sight, and I didn’t know the toll it was taking on me. Not really.

I didn’t know how, or why I was obsessed with the construction of this musical world.

Or what I was running and hiding from.

But it was finding its way into the music itself.

The History of The Next Step, Part III: Something Old, Something New…

May 22nd, 2023

By 2005, I was fully writing, performing, and recording music, but had still only released two EPs.

My next step (pun absolutely intended) was a full-length record.

There was a number of false starts (and I’ll be covering the things that didn’t happen in the last part). But the spark here was when I stopped thinking of a record as a collection of songs.

I started to imagine it as a movie.

That movie was called Something Old, Something New…, and it became the title of my first LP. It is essentially what they call a “concept album”: it tells a story from the first track to last, this being the tale of a fictionalized relationship from beginning to end.

It opens with Introduction, which is my version of a Hollywood studio theme, like the famous 20th Century Fox horns, and ends with a different theme, echoing and subverting the progression of the first song, Dance With Me (and is a musical reflection of the last lyrical line of Have a Nice Life, the final song).

The album is cyclical, like relationships are cyclical, like our lives go round and round relentlessly, up and down ceaselessly.

There’s the meeting, then the falling in love, then the conflict, then the dissolution, then the grief and the denial, and then, you know… it all starts over again.

Something Old, Something New… is the most concise and focused Next Step album, and it sharply illustrates the point that I’m a storyteller first and foremost. It feels young and new and like it has no idea what it’s doing every time I listen to it, and that makes it evergreen, growing in a protective, shaded pot of soil in my heart. It has some of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written, like live staple Positively, weird internet phenomenon Stay, All I Need, and Have a Nice Life.

Like any modern blockbuster, the album also has a post-credits scene, a bonus track called The Steps. I had written a lot of songs before The Steps, but that was the first time I wrote something where I could imagine hearing it on the radio; I co-wrote it with a work friend, Allen, before anything else here, so it didn’t have a place in the plot of the record, but I was really proud of the song and wanted to include it, anyway.

Something Old, Something New… came out on July 13th, 2005, exactly two years after my first EP, Tangled Cords. It was available online, and on CD. CDs were awful and we are better off without them.

The album cover finds me playing my blue guitar on top of a shared garage at the first apartment I lived in, on Burnsville Parkway, next to the old Best Buy and Perkins.

At this time, both Nick and Kenny (whose voice can be heard on The Steps) had been sporadically around, and we were playing odd shows, mostly acoustic sets in coffee shops and parking lots.

Before Something Old, Something New…, I had been kicking around an ambitious idea to do a trilogy of albums called The Streetlight Diaries. After releasing this debut, I had the confidence to start.

The first chapter was called Love & Fear, and I got to work.

Platform of Pain

May 19th, 2023

If you would have told me when I was a kid that I would eventually build my life on hurt, I would have told you that you say really weird things to kids.

But you would have been right.

I was having a recorded conversation with a friend earlier this week (for a cool thing happening this summer that you’ll be the first to know about, once it’s announced), and she was talking about my work, the fiction kind and the kind I do here, when I write to you directly about real things, and she described what I’ve built as a “platform of pain.”

Two immediate thoughts:

  1. I cannot tell you how much I love this phrase and that it was applied to describe me and my work; I will accept no lesser descriptors for my art going forward.
  2. She is right.

What I do here is about hurt: hurt (real and imagined) inflicted upon me, hurt caused by me, hurt done to you, hurt done by you, hurt given to people who deserve it and don’t deserve it and what we do once we have it.

Because we all get it.

Hurt is the cost of living and the fuel to live.

Honestly, some days, doing this, writing about pain, exhausts me to the point of sighing concern. I wake up and go, “Nope. Can’t do it. Not today.”

There are days I decide I will never write again.

And then it feels like I’m not really living.

I ended up where I ended up because I didn’t accept pain on its own terms. I tried to ignore it and smother it and submerge it, with devastating results.

I got better because, in the process of understanding myself, I got to know pain.

I have been writing about this since I could pick up a crayon, but not consciously until I was way older.

I’m in the final stages of Brushfire: Wave 2 (coloring, then lettering), and one of its themes is pain. “But, Dennis!” you gasp. “It’s a story for all ages!”

I’m just here to remind you that pain afflicts the young, viscously, and even more deeply.

I wrote an essay about how writers are just writing one story, over and over again, and that my story is hope.

Without pain, there isn’t anything to hope for.

I guess I just wanted to thank you for subscribing to my platform of pain. For still being here. I know it’s easier to post happy, vapid things; but I read something really good recently that “content” is defined by something that gets a lot of attention but has no value.

We’re all probably going to forget most of each other’s vacation and food photos. (Sorry.)

Hopefully, you won’t forget connecting with me over the pain we have; how we grieve, collapse, change, and get back up.

It’s what I’ve built, and it only goes deeper and higher.

Lakeville Art Crawl 2023 Recap

May 13th, 2023

This is the best video.

First things first: the biggest thank you to everyone who made today possible and made it feel like a big, warm hug on a cold, wet day. Thanks to all the friends who stopped by, longtime and new, and a special thanks to the special women behind Labyrinth Puzzle Rooms and their tireless efforts to do the most for our community.

It was a joy to talk art, writing, music, and life, and a sublime way to spend a rainy Saturday.

This particular moment stands out, because of what it represents.

I did a short set at 3 pm today, and like I expected, it was rough (I’m still not fully well) and low-attended (but the people who were there were amazing!).

The thing I can’t get over, though, the feeling I rarely had in the old days of playing music that I just couldn’t shake: today was FUN.

I was having fun.

I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever played a show as a sober adult. But even though I was under-practiced and under the weather, I had this sense of control and a distinct lack of panic that I don’t really remember ever having.

It was a blast.

And when a young co-worker walked in late, shocked that I had “crashed” her friend’s escape room birthday party (I had been there all day), I just had to play another song, which ended with the “crowd” seen here singing along until the very end.

It was an awesome day and if you missed it, well, you missed something awesome.

There’s always next time?