Re-Uploading "Latchkey Kid" for NPR's TINY DESK CONCERT SERIES

Hey Everyone,

So, quickly: I had to resubmit my video for the Tiny Desk Concert Series because I upload it a few days before the March 12th start date, and they said that would disqualify the video.  

At any rate, if you could give the video some love, that would be greatly appreciated.  I had 31 likes on the last upload and a lot of comments and that was really neat, but I lost all that positivity because I have re-upload the video.  Here is what NPR wrote me today.  It was very nice of them to do this, and to not just disqualify the video I submitted:

Hi there,

My name is Marissa, and I work on the Tiny Desk Contest. I wanted to get in touch about a small problem we had with your Tiny Desk Contest entry.

While your video did follow most of our Official Rules – being under 10 minutes, showing an original song, featuring a desk (thanks!) – it looks like it didn’t meet one requirement for eligibility: being uploaded to YouTube after March 12, 2019.

The reason we have this “After March 12” rule is to make sure that people are sending us videos that are made specifically for this Contest – to ensure that, we check that videos were uploaded after we announced this year’s Contest.

However, I know that we hinted at the Contest coming back for 2019 a couple times on our site, in our newsletter and on social media over the past few months – and I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt and imagine that you filmed and uploaded your video in anticipation of the official announcement. If that’s the case, and you’d still like your video to be considered for the 2019 Contest, please consider re-uploading your video and resubmitting. Otherwise, we’ll have to consider your entry ineligible. Please note that we don’t usually allow this kind of resubmission – but this feels like a special situation.

Let me know if you have any questions or any problems with submitting.

Best, Marissa & the Tiny Desk Contest team

At any rate, that link above is for the brand new upload I just did.  I would be honored to have you show it some love if you have the inclination of the time!  It would mean a lot to me. 

Hope you all are having a great day!

Mike

Running Away From Home

I think I wrote this song in 2015 or so. It’s a story about running away from home in second grade because I wanted to be a werewolf after watching Teen Wolf starring Michael J Fox. I invited my friend Brandon Kite to join me at 4am in the morning. We made it all the way to the outskirts of Visalia before we were picked up a by a Police officer. I was trying to head to Sequoia National Park because I was under the impression there were wolves there, and if I were to drink the water from a wolves’ footprint, it would turn me into a werewolf (that was info from a Scholastic Magazine).

For the record, I tried drinking the water from a dog’s footprint, first: didn’t work. At any rate, this was my Christmas gift to my mom and dad, because I never bothered explaining this story to them, when I was brought back home by the police. Not their fault. Some kids want red fire trucks. I wanted to be a werewolf (or an astronaut... or a park ranger); what can I say? This is available to watch in my IGTV and you can find on Youtube as well. There is a link in my profile for the song with my friends Frank, Tom, and Brad playing on it. I used this song to raise a little bit of money for the Michael J Fox Parkinson’s research foundation.

Running Away From Home 
Words and Music: Mike Vitale 

watching the movie Teen Wolf put the notion in my head 
that being human's boring and I'd rather be a werewolf instead 
but knowing getting bit by one could be a difficult proposition 
I reckoned that the wilderness would improve this disposition 

so we lit out at dawn for the mountains in the distance 
my best friend Brandon along in tow no doubt from my insistence 
1985 was the year of our independence 
two empty seats in a second grade class while the teachers calling attendance 

but there's no need to worry 
I've got everything I need 
a sandwich and a blanket 
and the will to succeed 
I'm heading towards the hills 
where all the lone wolves roam 
so long momma, I'm running away from home 

in order to ensure a proper werewolf transformation 
my days before departure were spent researching Scholastic publication 
and according to my sources folklore lent it several options 
all of which I applied myself to their immediate adoption 

one of which involved drinking water from a werewolf footprint 
but since that wasn't handy I felt a dog's would be sufficient 
and when the full-moon changing never came I was left with one volition 
to pursue a pack of wolves to bring my dreams into fruition 

but there's no need to worry 
I've got everything I need 
I would have asked for your approval 
but I knew you'd never agree 
I'm heading towards the hills 
where all the lone wolves roam 
so long momma, I'm running away from home 

and getting to the foothills would be a days worth of travel 
but getting spotted by adults would make my well-laid plans unravel 
and knowing we wouldn't make it far walking streets in broad daylight
we walked the inner parts of canals to keep us out of sight 

the sun was near to setting and my plan was sitting pretty 
Brandon and I had one street left to reach the outskirts of the city 
yet one small problem remained and left Brandon and I debating 
the portal that would lead us beneath the street was covered by metal grating 

but there's no need to worry 
we've got everything we need 
we can climb this chainlink fence 
and then you and I will be home free 
we're heading towards the hills 
where all the lone wolves roam 
so long momma, I'm running away from home 

and just as we reached the top of the fence a squad car changed the setting 
the officer rolled down his window and asked where we were heading 
we pointed towards the mountains and he got a twinkle in his eye 
he said, "man, that's a long ways away boys, hop in, I'll give you a ride." 

but there's no need to worry 
I've got everything I need 
a sandwich and a blanket 
and the will to succeed 
I'm heading towards the hills 
where all the lone wolves roam 
so long momma, I'm running away from home

Latchkey Kid (Live at Studio 333) PREVIEW and RELEASE SHOW TOMORROW!

I’m very excited to be releasing a new live video next week on all my social media: Youtube, Facebook, and so forth. Here is a sample of it. It’s a song off of my self titled EP from 2014, called “Latchkey Kid.” We tracked this song live at Studio 333 in Cerritos, CA on January 17th 2019. It features Frank Reina on drums, Tom Bremer on guitar, and Paul Jones on bass. We are going to be celebrating the release of this video tomorrow night (FEB 27th 2019) in Long Beach at The Wine Bar on Ocean Ave. if you feel like coming out to support; music starts at 7pm. There is no cover; it’s a free show. I’m honored to have my friends Alyssandra Nighswonger, Honest Horse and Taylor Crawford joining me to share their beautiful music. We would be stoked to have you there, and I would adore the opportunity to see some friends in the area if it’s in the cards. Thank you to Monika Lightstone for making this video with me. You are amazing and I am thankful to have you as a friend. Thanks to Ryan Lipman for the lovely mix.

Honesty

Honesty: now that is an interesting subject. I have a line in a song I wrote that says this: "Truth be told, everyone tells a lie—and honesty can be delicately laid"—and I do believe that.

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Whether I like it or not, I am an extremely honest person when it comes to how I display my feelings. I had a girlfriend once who told me that I wear my emotions on my sleeve—and I think she's right; I don't hide my feelings well. However, I have learned over the years that people respond to honesty in a variety of ways, most of which, are not always favorable. It's like ping pong. Let me explain.

I've spent a fair amount of time volleying honesty in a game of table tennis with friends, family, and acquaintances. I would try lobbing the ball over the net in order to give them the opportunity to play nicely as well, only to be returned with a hit to the chest from the thrust of a one thousand pound gorilla.

I've also had people key into my extension of goodwill, and return the ball with an equal amount of intensity in order to keep the conversation moving. There have been times when I have been the show-off, serving like an Olympic competitor, only to be remember afterwards that the person on the other side of the table is a little boy or girl who is barely learning to hold the mallet (let us not be mistaken though, little ones can still thrust a mean serve with little to no effort exerted).

And on and on and on I go through the various permutations of opportunities, successes, and losses at the hands of how either I or the other person at the end of the net, start the game.

Most often, I push the ping pong table against the wall and try to play. Regardless of how hard I serve, or how softly I nudge the ball forward to start the game, it rarely makes it back over the net, because invariably, I am keeping my honesty to myself—and there is no forward momentum to life and learning under those circumstances.

However, what I have had a great deal of success with is removing the net, folding the ping pong table in half to create a 90 degree angle, and playing at whatever intensity I feel fit: after all, being honest with yourself makes all the difference in the world.

The Incredible Shrinking Brain (Acoustic)

This song has been proven popular amongst strangers. Maybe you’ll like it? Are you a stranger? I don’t want your candy. No, I’m not going to hop in your car with you. This is called The Incredible Shrinking Brain:

Support and Join the Record Label:  http://bit.ly/2nigMwU
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Listen to Me Here:
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THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING BRAIN
words and music by Mike Vitale

I feel like a mime with a painted on sad face touching an invisible wall
And it’s a crime I can’t see this behind my shit talk fueled by jealousy and alcohol
Sure, I’m overly critical, but by now I should know better
Maybe I’m just too hard on myself and it doesn't really matter

The longer I live the less I know for sure
When I was a younger man my certainty was premature
There’s all these abstract explanations I could conjure up in vain
But I’m the man with the incredible shrinking brain

Do you feel like an actor dressed up in black face? 
We’re really just canaries in a coal mine
Carried out the shaft like a suitcase, soot trace, smeared across our face and brow
War on race, preference, sex, and creed are indelible 
and noxious as the fumes
And right before we lose our consciousness 
collective conscience looms

The longer we live the less we know for sure
When we were a younger brood our certainty was premature
There’s all these abstract explanations I could conjure up in vain
But we’re people with incredible shrinking brains

Create the fertile furrows from a farmer’s plough
Two fathoms deep shouted across the bow
"Anger and hatred are caustic to the vessel in which its stored,
Far more than to anything on which its poured."

The longer we live the less we know for sure
When we were a younger brood our certainty was premature
There’s all these abstract explanations we could conjure up in vain
But we’re people with incredible shrinking brains

Fool For You (Live at Hotel Cafe)

Here is me performing a song I wrote live at Hotel Cafe in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA. My friend Monika Lightstone found this on her hard drive the other day, and shared—I thought I would follow suit.

Support and Join the Record Label:  http://bit.ly/2nigMwU
Learn More About Me Here:  http://mikevitalemusic.com
Upcoming Shows:  https://www.bandsintown.com/mikevitale/
Subscribe:  http://bit.ly/2niho5G

Connect with me online and say hi:
Twitter  http://twitter.com/mikevitalemusic
Facebook  http://facebook.com/mikevitalemusic
Instagram  http://instagram.com/mikevitalemusic

Listen to Me Here:
Soundcloud:  http://soundcloud.com/mikevitalemusic
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3WvkxAen388KiPMSxh6joB…
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mike-vitale/260074369
Purchase Music:
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iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mike-vitale/260074369

FOOL FOR YOU

words and music by Mike Vitale

the touch of your skin against mine 
was flawless and supine 
as I read your story in braille 

my resolve was as frail 
as that tall tale that lingered from my tongue 
now I'm all twisted up 
like a towel that's been wrung 

maybe it's the conversation we had in bed 
maybe i just want to see your eyes roll back in your head 
maybe you're a drag from a stranger's cigarette 
but once i've got you on my lips 
you're hard to forget 

and now that you've got me where you want 
you're moving from hot to cool 
and now that you've got me where you want 
woman, i'm a fool for you 

feeling your chest heave 
as you're lying there asleep 
now I'm bating every breath 
so that the moment isn't cheap 

are you resolved to entail 
a large sail to guide me away 
on some nautical course 
that perhaps I'd rather stay 

maybe you're just playing hard to get 
or perhaps you just want me to forget 
maybe I'm a marionette on strings 
trying to measure your depth beyond anatomy 

and now that you've got me where you want 
you're moving from hot to cool 
and now that you've got me where you want 
woman, i'm a fool for you 

and now that you've got me where you want 
you're moving from hot to cool 
and now that you've got me where you want 
woman, i'm a fool for you

No Vacancy (Live at Monika Lightstone Studios)

Here is the second of a series of videos made with the sole purpose of people watching them (go figure). We shall call this series, “Capture and Release.” Monika and I are big game hunters, who will never pull the trigger, except when it comes to releasing music.

This is a song I wrote called No Vacancy. If you happen to like this song, you can listen to the full band arrangement on your favorite streaming service of choice, by clicking this right heya: http://smarturl.it/tx0xoc

Support and Join the Record Label:  http://bit.ly/2nigMwU
Learn More About Me Here:  http://mikevitalemusic.com
Upcoming Shows:  https://www.bandsintown.com/mikevitale/
Subscribe:  http://bit.ly/2niho5G

Connect with me online and say hi:
Twitter  http://twitter.com/mikevitalemusic
Facebook  http://facebook.com/mikevitalemusic
Instagram  http://instagram.com/mikevitalemusic

Listen to Me Here:
Soundcloud:  http://soundcloud.com/mikevitalemusic
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3WvkxAen388KiPMSxh6joB…
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mike-vitale/260074369
Purchase Music:
Bandcamp:  https://mikevitalemusic.bandcamp.com
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mike-vitale/260074369

NO VACANCY

words and music by me

Dancing with a lover on a dead-end street 
Stepping on toes with my two left feet 
I fell asleep under a vacancy sign 
The no was burned out but then she changed the lights 

A foggy walk alone on a new moon night 
She disappeared altogether when I closed my eyes 
The street lights flicker on and off, on and off, on and off like her emotion 
Until I find I'm off the deep end of an abstract notion 

I forgot the melody a caged bird sings 
The door's wide open but I've got clipped wings 
The seed went sour in the dying light 
So I'll sing for my supper 'til the water runs dry 

The quick hide hid under a broken nail 
The Essex split in two over an angry whale 
There were rumors of cannibals living on the island nearby 
So the survivors took the opposite course and ate each other when the truth was in short supply 

I forgot the melody a caged bird sings 
The door's wide open but I've got clipped wings 
The seed went sour in the dying light 
So I'll sing for my supper 'til the water runs dry 

Parallel lines in the wilderness 
Train tracks broken by a small recess 
And as the casualties are listed by a talking head 
She limits the emotion behind words she read 

I forgot the melody a caged bird sings 
The door's wide open but I've got clipped wings 
The seed went sour in the dying light 
So I'll sing for my supper 'til the water runs dry 

I forgot the melody a caged bird sings 
The door's wide open but I've got clipped wings 
The seed went sour in the dying light 
So I'll sing for my supper 'til the water runs dry

Time Machine (Live at Monika Lightstone Studios)

This is a song that I wrote about how human beings are all organic time machines, whether in regards to our ever diminishing cell division as we age, our ability to reference memories and experience them again at will, or a vivid imagination that allows us to think into the future—and write songs that make reference to all my favorite science fictions, growing up. This is also about my family, and growing up in Visalia, CA. Lyrics are listed below if you like words. I like words.

Video and Audio captured and then released back into the wild by Monika Lightstone.

Audio Mix by Mike Vitale.

You can also watch the 4K version on my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfr9HgtrRDc

Support and Join the Record Label:  http://bit.ly/2nigMwU
Learn More About Me Here:  http://mikevitalemusic.com
Upcoming Shows:  https://www.bandsintown.com/mikevitale/
Subscribe:  http://bit.ly/2niho5G

Connect with me online and say hi:
Twitter  http://twitter.com/mikevitalemusic
Facebook  http://facebook.com/mikevitalemusic
Instagram  http://instagram.com/mikevitalemusic

Listen to Me Here:
Soundcloud:  http://soundcloud.com/mikevitalemusic
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3WvkxAen388KiPMSxh6joB…
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mike-vitale/260074369
Purchase Music:
Bandcamp:  https://mikevitalemusic.bandcamp.com
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mike-vitale/260074369

TIME MACHINE 
words and music by Mike Vitale 

cogs and wheels that spin and spark 
driving alone on a highway in the dark 
steampunk brain, this lone machine 
behind my random access memory 

I've got Legos sprawled all across my floor 
My brothers and I are going to war 
force fields furnish the perfect protection 
for a space ship powered by our predilection 

I'm a time machine 
I am senescence 
a dinosaur book 
adolescence 
A onesie sleep 
on my parents couch 
loving me to bed 
with caring slouch 

cogs and wheels connect with the power train 
playing with my r/c car in the rain 
I'm behind the wheel of my own creation 
an 88 mile an hour rumination 

I'm a time machine 
I am senescence 
a dinosaur book 
adolescence 
A onesie sleep 
on my parents couch 
loving me to bed 
with caring slouch 

I jump like Indiana Jones down a flight of stairs 
Avoided hot lava on the kitchen chairs 
I saved the whole world from a fierce invasion 
I'm an observer in a widening age dilation 

I'm a time machine 
I am senescence 
a dinosaur book 
adolescence 
A onesie sleep 
on my parents couch 
loving me to bed 
with caring slouch 

I'm a time machine 
I am senescence 
a dinosaur book 
adolescence 
A onesie sleep 
on my parents couch 
loving me to bed 
with caring slouch

Thank you to everyone supporting on Patreon. Special thanks to Fernando Gallegos and Amy Armitage.

Empty Circle (Live From My Living Room)

Here is a live video of me performing a tune about being dumped right after Christmas.  Hey, there is never a good time to get dumped.  It might as well be after Christmas.

I am very proud of this song.  It's a piece of my life.  Perhaps you might relate to it.  Perhaps not.  It is without a doubt, one of my favorite songs that I have written.

As always, thank you so very much for making this such a special year for me.  

I am working very diligently on my social media presence at the moment.  Namely Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, so if you feel like connecting on any of those formats, I would be thrilled. Links can be found at the very bottom of this message.  Also, if any of this stuff that I am posting is good, please share.  I would be honored.  Word of mouth.  On social media.  Whatever you fancy.  Sharing is the biggest and best thing you can ever do for me.

All my love,

Mike

Fool For You (Live at Studio-333) on Spotify and Apple Music

Thank you to everyone who has been so kind and encouraging and who have requested for this live Youtube video to be on streaming music sites such as Spotify and Apple Music.  I just uploaded the song today, so it should be available for streaming and purchase within the next few days on all major digital distribution outlets:

This video was WAY more work than I had originally anticipated.  I mixed this myself.  I know, it sounds simple.  It's not—not if you're a perfectionist.  I am a perfectionist.  Which doesn't mean I got it perfect; it means I begrudgingly stopped working on it and that I read two books on the subject and that I spent 2 months working on it obsessively and that I did about 46 mixes of it.  I will never be happy with what I did here, I fear (in the mixing department).

I AM thrilled about all the people who helped me to make this and I am thrilled that a song like this came out of me.  It is one of the most popular tunes I have ever written.

4th Street Productions in Long Beach filmed the video.  I can not thank you enough Damian.  You are truly an artist.  It was filmed live as we tracked the song live.

I am thrilled that I performed this with three other musicians who I feel are some of the best players on the planet:  Frank Reina. Brad Cummings, and Tom Bremer.  You guys are my musical brothers.  Also, thank you to Ryan Lipman for mastering this mix of mine.

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I am thrilled that Alfredo Cristinziano provided the cover art for this song.  Here it is.  You can find him on Instagram here:  @alfredoziano

A lot of his work is very sexy.  Be prepared for sexy.

Most of all, let me come around full circle and thank anyone and everyone for finding something to like in this and to those, who will, and are listening to it.

In so many way, you all remind me of a time where I would make something and then hope that my parents would proudly display it on the refrigerator.  I am so thankful for the magnet between your ears if you are proudly displaying it on your refrigerator right now.  God bless.

With Love,

Mike

 

 

Ernest Cline

Man, just when I thought balancing my time was easy—I realize, it's not.  A piece of advice for myself: don't listen to other people who claim to be experts on things.  They're not.  It reminds me of an Ernest Cline video that I really like called "Dance Monkey Dance."  A matter of fact, here it is:

I posted this video many many years ago on all of my social media because the message felt real and true to me.  To this day, I still watch this video and it resonates with me.

We must all learn to listen to our own hearts.

This year, Ernest Cline has a new movie out called "Ready Player One."  It is being directed by one of my childhood heroes: Steven Spielberg.  Ernest is good art and good art speaks for itself.

I am a small grain of sand supporting the weight of his accomplishments as an artist, and I'm proud to be that.

- Mike

Peony

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Recently, I had the pleasure of settling in with the ever controversial and provocative figure behind such classics as, "I'll Sit Where I Want, Just Not in Your Lap" "Oh Were You Sleeping?  I'm Hungry," and her best selling memoir, "The Only Thing That Would Really Make That Warm Laundry Better, is Me on Top of It."  While she spent nearly a week evading every effort for me to get comprehensive coverage on her and the intimate details of her life, let alone sweet sweet snuggles, I found that one cup of food every morning, and one cup of food every evening, helped immensely with her opening up to me, a bit.  Cleaning her cat box didn't hurt either.

 

 

Mike:  So, from what I understand, you're an avid fan of my work as a musician, correct?

Peony: [silence and a slight stare to her left]

Mike: [clearing my throat] ...well, I guess I'll be moving on with the first question.

Peony:  Meow.

Mike: Would you say that you prefer me to your loving friend's Kurt and Jill.

Peony: I'm not at liberty to say.  Who's Kurt and Jill?

Mike:  Holy crap, you're speaking english!

Peony:  I asked you a question.

Mike: This isn't real.  This isn't real.  This isn't real.

Peony:  Meow.

Mike:  You know, Kurt and Jill:  Guy with the beard and the charming voice and songs; girl with one of the finer senses-of-humor since the invention of everyone else.  Really sweet people.

Peony:  [she exits the room]

Mike:  I wasn't quite finished with...

Peony:  [slight turn from the doorway] Meow.

[the next several minutes consisted of what can only be described as sounds that strongly resemble romping around the house at maximum velocity.  It is pertinent to note that for the past two weeks, this has been standard practice.  This is followed by long intervals of silence.  I assume she was sleeping.]

Peony: [from the doorway] Meow.

Mike:  You're back.

Peony:  Meow.

Mike:  While I have you here, we should probably move on to more pertinent questions regarding your stance on...

Peony: [leaves the room again]

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[At this point in the interview, I'm beginning to realize that this might be more difficult than I had originally anticipated—wait, she's staring at me from the doorway]

Love you Peony.  Thanks for letting me watch this character, Kurt and Jill.  She's a lot of fun.

 

 

 

Running Away From Home (Youtube)

Hey y'all!

I just posted this week's Youtube video.  I recorded it live with an AT4033 mic when I was still living in Long Beach, CA.  I love that mic.  It was the best $300 I've ever spent—or was it $400... I can't remember.

This is a song that I wrote for my mom and dad, called "Running Away From Home."  I've talked about it before.  Keep reading my blog, and you'll see what I mean.  If you dig it, you can find the full band version for all streaming services as well as all digital distribution sites.

The lyrics are in the description of the video on Youtube.

If you dig this solo acoustic version, give that subscribe button a click, and ring the bell so you know when I post new videos on Youtube:

A Quick Note Regarding School Shootings

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My heart and my thoughts go out to every family, friend, and acquaintance who have lost a loved one to violence.

I notice a lot of people react on social media to current events that play out on an all-too-often basis regarding gun violence as it pertains to the United States as a country, whether it be at a high school, a grocery store, a gas company, or a post office.  The setting is not of major importance beyond the humanistic view of the act and its consequences.

Here is where I stand: it has nothing to do with weapons.

It is a human issue.

We are a troubled species.  We are troubled because there is a fine balance between reason, and emotion.  

A songwriter whose work I admire, likens this chemical struggle inside our brains, to a seesaw.  On one end of this seesaw is our logic, and on the other is our emotion.  In order for sound judgment to be made by an individual, one must be able to keep this balance at an equilibrium.  

At vast majority, this very simple idea is another thing all together to place into practice as a human being.  We live our lives, and hopefully, we all arrive at this notion at as young an age as possible.  I will be 39 this year, and I still feel this struggle, often.  However, I know that I have grown well beyond my appreciation of this notion, compared to, let's say, the age of 20.  It has been hard work and rumination on my part.

Rather than continue to discuss this issue as it pertains to guns, I would like to instead, pose a thought experiment: what if the United States were to ban guns entirely?

Before continuing, I would like to state that I have never shot a gun in my life, however, I do see the need to have this right maintained within the United States Constitution.  There was sound judgement behind this decision in the 1700's.  It is a safeguard to maintain the republic in which we all live, by the average individual, outside of military; essentially it allows for people to stand up for themselves should our government fail in its duties to uphold and protect citizens in the fashion it was originally intended.  Please note that I use the word republic, as it is the most accurate term to use for this oligarchy we currently reside in if you are a United States citizen—I am afraid democracy is not quite what we have here in America.  I am eager for democracy, but we must work towards that, together.

Throwing this previous paragraph aside, guns are banned in the United States.  Perhaps, the American population rejoices at this notion.  We have years of peace from the dangers of firearms being brought into public spaces to reenact revenge, or to project fear and hate on innocent bystanders.  Yet, one day a begrudged student at a junior high packs a homemade pipe bomb into a backpack.  He leaves all of his books and folders at home.  He leaves his iPad on his desk.  He replaces his tools for logic with an explosive device, and leaves for school.

He places his backpack in a public location for maximum damage: the school office.

Does this sound far fetched?  It's not.

It happened at my junior high, and luckily, the backpack was found before it could be detonated.

We live in a world where passenger planes have been used as weapons.  

What we should be asking is what the motivation is behind harming another person—and that is a deep and dark question.  It has many facets and would take much study to arrive at a seemingly good answer as it pertains to each unique event.  But, perhaps that is of a far more sound judgement, if we truly want to advance as a species who loves each other.

Reach out for help when you need it.  Be there for a total stranger.  Try loving unconditionally.  Do things for others expecting nothing in return.  Communicate.  Just love and be as humanistic as possible.  Be the best damn version of yourself as you can be.  Be kind, always.

If you want to see change, start with yourself.  I am trying my best to, everyday.

- Mike

Moon

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Oh, why hello there.  Good to have you here.

So, in tandem with my last post, I'm balancing my time a lot more efficiently.

I began using a spreadsheet yesterday to help keep track of how long I work on things.  It's allowing me to do a whole bunch of different tasks all in one day—and, Presto:

Here is a mix I was working on this morning in my three hour window.  It's for a song I wrote called Moon.

The first lines of the song came from a story that my friend told me.

He was visiting an animal sanctuary populated by former circus animals who were rescued once their tenure with the circus had ended.  One animal in particular captured my interest and my sympathy.  It was an elephant.

My friend Josh told me that the elephant would take three steps forward, and then three steps back, repeatedly, for an indefinite amount of time, which was very peculiar—so much so, that he asked the person who was giving them a tour of grounds, why the elephant was behaving that way.

The tour guide said that the elephant was chained to a pole for most of its young and adult life.  The chain would allow for enough slack to take three steps forward, and then three steps back.

Three steps forward.  Three steps back.

Three steps forward.  Three steps back.

That was life for that elephant—an intelligent and beautiful creature.

While there are many elements to this song, this is one of them—and we all deserve to be free.

It is amazing how powerful a habit is.

However, outside of the context of this song, I had a lot of fun putting this together.  My friend Tom Bremer played lead guitar.  I sang and played rhythm guitar.  I also mixed the song.  I engineered this one myself too.  For audio nerds (like me), it was recorded through a Universal Audio preAMP that I've never tried before called a Twin Finity 710.  I used an AKG C414 on the lead guitar and used my AT4033 on the rhythm guitar.  Vocals were through the AT4033 as well.

It probably sounds like amateur work, but I do the best I can—and I'm learning.

I hope this finds you all smiling and well and that perhaps you my find something to like in this tune.  It has deep sentimental value to me and my life.

- Mike

Balancing My Time

I was talking to one of my guitar students the other day about making the time to practice guitar.  She was telling me that she was juggling a lot of activities in her life and it was difficult to find the time, which I completely understand.  So, I began a discussion suggesting time management and so forth—when it suddenly occurred to me: I suck at time management myself.

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There are so many responsibilities that I juggle within a day, it behooves me to prioritize my time and activities quite often.  Normally, I fill up a blank 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper with bullet points of things to do.  I scratch them off as I progress through my day, and I feel a sense of accomplishment scratching off my accomplishments by nightfall.  Nonetheless, I suck at time management.  Do you know what I mean?  Sure, I get lots of stuff done.  I also stress myself out quite bit.  Sometimes I forget to eat because I get so busy working on a project, that I lose track of time.

But, probably my worst offense in this department, is getting too wrapped up in one thing for long periods of time.

I decided to make a spreadsheet the other day to keep track of how long I work on things.  Practice guitar for an hour.  Write for an hour.  Etc..  So far, I'm sucking at that also.  I managed to make the actual spreadsheet—haven't been using it every day though.

Perfect example of me getting too wrapped up with something:  I spent a solid 8 to 10 hours recording yesterday.  Why?  Because I was having fun.  If anything, it was quite a productive day, given that I'm a musician and a songwriter and all.  However, there were a whole bunch of other things that didn't get done yesterday due to the fact that I was hanging out with my friend Anthony, recording, and having the time of my life.

I should be more organized and block my hours of operation off to 1 hour increments.  I can be like a T.S. Eliot poem where his sad protagonist, J. Alfred Prufrock, measures his life out in coffee spoons—30 minutes to practice singing, 1 hour to play guitar, 5 minutes to write this blog.  No time to check my grammar.

Acoustic Album

Aside from all the full band material that I have been working on over the past few years, I am also nearing the completion of an acoustic album.  I'd like to share one of the tracks with you.  It's a song called EMPTY CIRCLE.  I just posted a video of it today on my Youtube Channel.

It deals with the end of my last relationship.  In hindsight, it was a good thing.  However, at the time, I felt like a small child lost in the woods at night, walking in circles, trying to find his home.

EMPTY CIRCLE
words and music by Mike Vitale

I was a table
But now I'm a rug
It's raining outside
Your shoes are covered in mud

I was a Christmas Tree
But now it's past Christmas Day
I got tossed out
With the crumpled gift wrap you throw away

It was fun while it lasted
But now I'm left here feeling slanted

Walking in footsteps
Don't seem to be mine
A snowy path of prints
Through a forest of pine

Off in the distance
There's a vanity light
It shines through the window
Of my home at night

Wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday
Chill of snow numbs my pain

As this crooked line
Becomes and empty circle
I was opine
But now I'm non-verbal

I am a footnote
To your storied life
I'm all alone
You're someone else's wife

A tiny table
Place setting for one
The holiday supper
Has already begun

As a child lost in the woods at night
I search for a pathway towards the light

As this crooked line
Became and empty circle
I was opine
But now I'm non-verbal

Running Away From Home

I was recently reminded of this time I ran away from home because I wanted to be a werewolf after watching Teen Wolf with Michael J. Fox..  Dead serious folks, I wanted to be a runaway werewolf so bad, and the runaway part was not even in the movie: that was my special addition to the special edition—my parents hated it.

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We—well, you see (*sigh*), I dragged my poor friend Brandon along for the ride—and long story short, that was the end of our friendship by the power invested in his mom and dad.  Yeah.  

If it makes you feel any better about it, I tried to pack accordingly.  I emptied out my binder, my Mead folders, text books, pens and pencils all over the floor of my closet (so as to not attract suspicion from the parental units) and stuffed a big blanket in my backpack.  I think I might have managed to cram an orange and a few bananas in the remaining space available, perhaps a loaf of bread and some lunch meat.  But, definitely had that blanket. Being warm is very important, you see.  It was 4A.M. or so when I woke up and prepared to flee the safety of my mother and father’s sanctuary; I’m sure I wasn’t thinking straight.  I was probably banking on a hunter/gatherer mentality for future nourishment.  

So, how did this all play out?  Brandon and I nearly made it to the outskirts of Visalia before a police officer found us.  He was so polite!  Brandon and I were tired of walking, not to mention hungry, and the officer offered us a ride home.  I am guesstimating that I was around 8 years old at that time. 

I’m not quite sure what I liked about Teen Wolf so much.  All I know is that I watched it over and over and over again.  I embraced all the finer details of the main character’s woes and let them parallel my own, tracing the movies subtleties until I had a self-portrait that was near perfect if not half-shabby for a kid still in the single-digit age bracket.  I felt like there was something deep down inside of me that made me special and different from everyone else.  Is this the heart of a child?  Hell, I’m pretty sure is this the heart of an adult.  Then again it’s probably just part of being human.  Maybe I just really dug Michael J. Fox.  Teen Wolf was hot off the heals of Back to the Future—but, in all fairness, as much as I couldn’t get enough of that 1980's goodness, you didn’t see me slipping off toilet seats and careening into bathroom sinks while trying to hang a clock, just to invent the flux capacitor.  Sounds dangerous and ridiculous.  Nope, I stuck to the far more plausible and credible realm of teenage lycanthropy.

I started beefing up on my knowledge of werewolves, seeking out the most renowned, accredited, and trusted sources of literature regarding the subject: Scholastic Children Publications.  I tried with the zeal of a true Michael J. Fox Teen Wolf believer to turn myself into a werewolf so that I could be just like him.  I recall, specifically, from this Scholastic publication, mention of ancient folklore that suggested drinking the muddy water of a werewolf footprint could change me (a dog print was the closest thing I could find, and it didn’t do dick).  Another method is the age-old tradition found in countless macabre fiction and Hollywood classics that involve werewolves: get mauled by one.  Unfortunately, there were no werewolves handy (as they don’t exist) and I knew that, so I let my imagination do the writing at that point and convinced Brandon that what we needed was over the hills, far off in the distant Sequoia National Forest.  There, we would find werewolves, or at worst case, wolves.  I’d absolutely love to revisit that conversation with Brandon, now, as an adult spectator:

Brandon:  “So let me get this straight.  There are werewolves over those mountains there?”

Me:  Uh, yeah.  Where else would a werewolf be?  Do you see any werewolves here in Visalia?

Brandon:  Huh.  Yeah I guess so.  Cool!

Brandon must have found something in my absolute certainty agreeable and set out with me, early the next morning, for those distant mountains.  The same ones that make Visalia such a popular tourist pitstop in lieu of their quest for California wildlife.  

We traveled almost exclusively through several canals that run through the city, below surface streets—I knew, deep down, that people would be looking for us.  After all, it was a school day, and our seats were empty in that second grade classroom.

We made a couple of pits stops.  We crawled out of the canal, at one point, to rest in a park that would later be a haven for my high school friends and I to smoke illicit substances, talk about life, ruminate on religion, discuss music and art, contemplate the opposite sex, and brainstorm on how to acquire a keg of beer for the night: you know, Teen Wolf kinds of stuff.  Go figure.

Brandon and I resumed our journey through the undercurrent of Visalia’s aqueducts, only to eventually collect at a large tunnel covered by steel grating.  We ended up climbing out of the channel and over a fence and emerging on the busy thoroughfare of Lovers Lane.  A squad car slowly crept up next to us.  The passenger-side window rolled down slowly revealing a smiling officer in sun glasses: “Hey fellas!”  He was curious as to where we were heading.  I informed him that we were heading for the mountains.  He replied, “That’s a long ways a way, guys.  Are you sure you don’t want a ride?”  How could we turn that down?  We hopped into the squad car.  We were pumped!  Neither of us had ever seen the inside of one before.  I am happy to say that I think that was my first and last ride in a police car, as far as I can recall.  Let me ruminate on that last assertion for a little longer though; I could be wrong.

NOTE TO READER:

This blog became a song.  I wrote it as a Christmas gift to my mom and dad a few years ago.  It's be latest single.  It's called "Running Away From Home."

It's available on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and all other digital streaming services right now, if you want to hear it:

 

 

My Journey

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I transferred to California State University Fullerton as a music major in 2002.  It was one of the most important experiences of my life.  It taught me the value of balancing feeling and logic to decide what is best for my future.  This is something that I realized, just recently.  Let me explain.

I transferred to Cal State Fullerton as a Classical Guitar Major.  While it was definitely something that I had fun doing, I had an unsettled feeling that my interest in classical guitar was only true up to a certain point.  I was interested in the techniques that it was teaching me: voice leading, harmony, fingerpicking, etc.—but I was unsure that a life devotion to it would satiate my desires in the future. 

I spent a lot of time studying classical guitar, because one of my heroes at the time, Michael Hedges, was a classical guitar major and used many of his studies to shape his own unique style of music.  For those of you unfamiliar with his work, he was a brilliant composer who used alternate tunings on his guitar almost exclusively.  He was a steel string acoustic guitar player and also played harp guitar and a number of other very unique instruments to compose music.  He developed his own methodology behind playing guitar with fingerpicking that included using fingers to mute unused strings to limit sympathetic vibrations due to the overtone series; this would allow for his music to resonate with pristine and exact nature and purpose.  He also would swap out string gauge sizes on his guitar (often using high bass strings) in order to allow him a larger and lower palate of tunings for his compositions.  For musicians interested in exploring his technique, look up a book called "Rhythm Sonority Silence."  He crushed my skull as a musician and to this day, I search for my own unique voice and my own unique contributions to art because of people like him.

My desire in 2001 was to transfer to Berklee School of Music in Boston because they offered a commercial music program.  I had put a deposit down on a dorm room with what money I could scrape up from working my day job.  While it wasn't a tremendous deposit that I put down, it was non-refundable and it was a lot of money to me.  My mind was set on getting the best musical education that a person could receive.  I was anxious.  As the deadline approached for me to enroll at Berklee, my parents asked if they could take me out to dinner at Ryan's Place, which was a restaurant that the two of them frequented a lot.  I was expecting for them to glow with their approval for my choice of visiting Berklee and to be proud of my decision to try and receive the education I desired: this couldn't have been farther from the truth.  

My mom and dad sat down with me and explained life to me in the form of debt.  They took a piece of paper and added up all the expenses I would accrue from a two year education at that school (which was low balling it).  I probably would have spent more than two years there.  What they showed me is that I would be over $100,000 in debt from attending there for two years.  They asked me: is it wise for a musician to embark into the world with that much overhead?  I was absolutely crushed by what they were trying to show me.  I was around 22 at the time and wanted so badly to fight the logic that they were trying to display to me when it came to my desires.  My mother and father offered me an alternative: use my father's veteran grant to pay for an education at a UC or CSU within the state of California.

As much as I didn't want to listen, I knew deep down, they had a point.  I began searching around for UC's and CSU's with great music programs.  The three best that I could find were UCLA, California State University Northridge, and California State University Fullerton.  The crux of education offered at these universities revolved around the pedantic methods used to teach music.  You are pigeon holed into an education that is derived from either classical music or jazz.  While I deeply loved both of these styles of music, neither one of them was where my heart truly lived.  However, I followed their advice and continued to narrow down a choice based on what I had available to me by following their advice.  I visited various colleges and universities including Berkley and San Francisco State University, but neither felt like home.  It wasn't until I visited California State University Fullerton that something resonated within me.  It felt like home.  That's the best way I can describe it.

At any rate, my choices there were as follows: classical guitar or jazz.  I decided on classical guitar and went to audition in front of a panel of instructors in order to be accepted into the music department as a transfer student, with my general education completed.  While I did a stellar job of passing my exams to forgo further music theory instruction, I found that the audition was the most critical part in fully understanding the new direction I was heading in, and it was one of the most unnerving experiences of my life.  I remember complaining about how cold the room was.  In actuality, I was so nervous that my hands were paralyzed, sweaty, and unable to perform their muscle memory dictation.  I butchered every single etude that I attempted to play for the committee.  It was a humbling outcome to an experience I had spent so much time preparing for.  They accepted me into the department of classical guitar and music, but it was as a freshman level player.  I was a junior level student.

This bruised my ego a great deal.  However, one of the people on the panel approached me afterwards.  He was the head of the jazz department at the school.  He asked if I would be interested in auditioning for the Commercial Music Department at the school.  It was brand new curriculum that he was trying to build and thought that I might be a good fit.  I jumped at this opportunity to redeem myself.  I showed up at his office for the appointment that he assigned to me, I auditioned, and was accepted into the department as a junior transfer student.  However, this was only the beginning to truly finding where my heart and head was taking me.

I spent that first semester working harder than I ever thought I was capable.  While I was a decent music reader, I found that I had to work ten times harder than the average student because my sight reading abilities were akin to using the Rosetta Stone to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs (especially when it came to funk charts).  

I would spend hours every night trying to interpret music charts for the big band.  I would transcribe jazz solos for my jazz composition class.  I would spend hours working in the choir room to brush up on performances we were preparing for in the choir ensemble.  I would study the ancient origins of secular and sacred music from my text book (something I now appreciate).  Each of these performance classes were worth one unit and I was trying to carry somewhere between 18 to 21 units that semester.  As the end of the school term drew near, I was feeling miserable and I disliked all my studies in music aside from one glimmer of light: I was starting to write my own songs. 

I began a slow transition towards finding comfort and solace in creating my own music.  It began to consume my time and I found myself disinterested in pursuing the life of a guitarist in a commercial music program at a university.  The first song that I ever wrote, that I finished, was was addressed to my older brother called, "Between Me and You."  It was a great song and definitely carried flavors of Jason Mraz, who I was listening to a lot of at the time.  I was proud of it and it felt good to get out a lot of the frustration I was feeling towards my lack of good communication skills with my brother at the time.

By the time my first semester drew to a close at Cal State Fullerton, I realized what I truly wanted from life: to be a songwriter.  I stopped working so hard in a lot of my music classes and began to explore all of the qualities that make good songwriters.  I checked out books from the library and began to read incessantly, as I used to do, before becoming a music major.  I studied my shortcomings and found that where I was weakest, was in my lyric writing.  Suddenly, I had this moment of clarity: English Major.  It was the best decision I ever made in my life.  All of my teachers were outstanding to me, but there was one particular instructor I had that changed my life forever.

While I wasn't a poet, I did write songs incessantly and asked this particular instructor if she would be so kind as to let me submit my songs for her classes rather than poetry.  She was excited by this proposition and gladly accepted the challenge.  She was relentlessly hard on me and picked apart every single thing that I ever wrote.  She kept saying things to me like, "don't tell me, show me."  I didn't get it.  I had to have submitted around 8 to 10 songs before we finally arrived at one song that she deemed worthy of me understanding what she was trying to teach me.  It carried these qualities: it was a memory from my own life, a character I created.  It was told from the perspective of a woman that used to visit me at a grocery store I worked at—and I was very detail oriented with my memories.  It was a song called "The Grocery Store Clerk."  

I played the song for the class—and they went bananas.  That was all the encouragement I ever needed.

To this day I use her methods to construct lyrics:

    •    Be as specific as possible with details regarding your own life and with anything that you write about.  You would think that people relate more to general details, but it is in fact, the very opposite..  The more specific you are about every little detail, the more people will find honesty and truth in it, which is very important.  This makes good art.  I use this method in nearly every song that I write.  Even if it is a work of fiction (song, prose, or poetry), I try to inject a bit of my own life into it.  

    •    Don't tell people what is happening.  Show people what is happening.  This was a harder concept for me to grasp, initially.  What she meant by this:  there are two different ways you can show people an idea.  You can tell them what you are feeling, which doesn't do anything for the audience.  It doesn't resonate.  Or, you can use senses to show someone what you are wanting them to experience.  By engaging people's sensory perception, you help to bring what you are trying to convey, to life.

I am very thankful to her for teaching me such wonderful techniques.  I use it in everything that I write.  Sometimes, I find that people read into things too much, however, that is out my hands entirely.  I know what I intend when I commit to words, and I feel like I need to work harder when people misinterpret what I set out to be the point of a song.  It's disappointing to me and I feel that I missed the mark and need to do better next time. 

Everything that I write carries positivity to it as that is the main motivation behind good art: to create something beautiful out of the worst that life throws at me—and in equal measure, all the good vibes that come my way as well.  In this regard, every song I create is like a child that I bring into the world, in the hopes that they grow their own legs of truth, and live longer than my body ever will.

The Wayfarer - March 1st 2018

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I'm playing my first show of 2018 at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa with my friends in Bearcoon and Abby Litman on March 1st 2018.  The show starts at 8pm.  It's 21+ and $5 at the door.  I've got the band coming out to play that night, featuring Tom Bremer on guitar, Paul Jones on Bass, and Matt Lesser on drums,

Advanced tickets are available here:

https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1647723?utm_medium=ampOfficialEvent&utm_source=fbTfly

You can also find an event invite on Facebook, here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/168183500633256/