Speak Kindly and Carry Big Drumsticks

If you Google ‘Jerry Fuchs,’ the first result you’ll find is a Wikipedia entry for Gerhardt Fuchs, American indie rock drummer, writer and graphic artist.   Jerry was a member of several bands including: Turing Machine, The Juan MacLean, !!! and Maserati.   He also recorded with Massive Attack and performed drums live with the groups MSTRKRFT and LCD Soundsystem.

You can easily find online videos of him cranking along like a human metronome with his Motorik-influenced, dance-inducing beats.   You can find videos of him performing on “Late Night with David Letterman”.   You can also watch him, when performing with Maserati, repeatedly execute a monster, one-armed drum fill.

Jerry toured continuously for years. He played shows all over the U.S., Europe, and the world beyond.   He traveled so often, in fact, that he rarely spent any time in his self-proclaimed “dumpy” closet-sized Brooklyn apartment.

I met Jerry at one of his Turing Machine shows in New York in 2002. Years later, I had the chance to not only meet Jerry again, but to also be included as one of the bands playing alongside his.   My band, Sharks and Sailors, was lucky enough to play two shows with Maserati here in Houston in 2007- both of which were a blast.

When you are around someone that is on another level than you, as far as musicianship goes (or art, design, sports, writing, photography or whatever you are into), it can be intimidating to strike up a conversation.   But Jerry was not only incredibly accomplished; he was also very approachable, friendly, and genuine and had a great sense of humor. He was the kind of person that was not only inspiring to watch, but also had the kind of infectious enthusiasm that made you excited about music, friends, and life in general.   Over the years, Jerry would remain a somewhat regular topic of conversation amongst my band mates and friends. Not to mention the fact that his style and Maserati’s music had started influencing our music.

The last time I saw Maserati perform was in September 2009.   Before and after their sound check at the The Mink Backroom, folks jockeyed for a good spot to take photos or dance.   Jerry got off the stage, saw me, and came up to chat. He mentioned how weird it was to be playing a show in Houston, but not to be playing with Sharks and Sailors. It was really nice to have someone I admire remember me and appreciate the music I helped make.

I see live music all the time, but that Maserati show stuck out in my mind as being one of the most inspiring shows I’ve witnessed in the last few years. It was the kind of show that made you want to immediately drive to your practice space and create something.

He wanted to chat after they played, but I had work early in the morning and didn’t stick around.   I wish I would have…

Jerry tragically passed away on November 8, 2009′ exactly one year ago today.   He was in Brooklyn, on his way to attend a benefit event for underprivileged children.   He was riding a freight elevator up to the event until it got stuck in between the 4th and 5th floor.   He attempted to jump out of the elevator to the floor below, but the hoodie he was wearing got snagged on something, causing him to fall back down the shaft.   Jerry died later that evening at Bellvue Hospital in New York City.

Although I was not close with Jerry, he is an inspiration to me not just for his skills but also for his infectious passion and sincerity.   I know I am just one in a sea of many who was moved by Jerry’s personality. Evidence of his influence is abundant all over the web. People just like me shared their stories, thoughts and comments online after learning of his passing.

“You were truly one of a kind, and whether you knew it or not, people wanted to be in the same room as you, or near the same room as you, because maybe just maybe, some of that radiant joy and in-the-moment spirit you exuded would rub off on them.”

“I could honestly go on forever about the guy. His laugh was infectious, his mustache almost a trademark, his insistence on calling you “bro” was genuine and no-where near ironic. If you were his friend, you truly were just that — if you hung out with him once, or a million times. It didn’t matter. And he was probably the best goddamn drummer I’ve ever seen — but you all probably know that already.”

I’m pretty sure Jerry would think this was a downer of a post.   But really, as far as life lessons and gratitude go, his life and his passing really stress the importance of enjoying and appreciating life and the things you are passionate about and the people who you share these experiences with.   I hope that one day I can radiate even a fraction of the joy and character Jerry had. He meant as much to his fans as he did his friends, and that fact is a testimony to his spirit.

This one’s for you, Jerry!
Sharks and Sailors’ “In Memory” (unmastered segment)

Don’t Knock It Until You’ve Tried It

Sadly a lot of people will say they don’t like something even though they’ve never tried it.

People will say “I don’t like that…” whether it’s a sport, traveling, a new beer, or even a whole country of people they’ve never met. I can honestly say that I used to be this way too. I have found that by being close minded to new and possibly better things, you miss out on a whole lot of awesome.

Growing up, I used to eat my steaks Well Done because that is how my parents would order them and really, I didn’t know any better. If in early high school and you were to present me with a steak that was Medium or God forbid, Medium-Rare I would of rejected it. It wasn’t until I was in a situation where I had to be polite when offered a Medium-Rare steak that I found what I had been missing for so long. I then took the mindset of “Don’t Knock It Until You’ve Tried It” and applied that to food in general. I have come to find and love many more culinary delights since then and I can trace my culinary “open-mindedness” back to that one experience. Heck, if it turns out that you don’t like something… you never have to eat it again.

Medium Rare Steak
Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thaddeus_griffin/

This same concept can be applied to your views on people that are different from you. Whether it’s  their  religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, financial bracket, political preference or whatever else one can  conjure  up to divide us. If you don’t know someone who is White, Brown, Black, Green, Purple, Straight, Gay, Muslim, Christian, Canadian, American, Protestant, Catholic or whatever else, then it doesn’t seem fair to come to a conclusion when in fact you don’t know.

Don’t be afraid of the “Medium-Rare” because you might just like it.

Don’t Thank Me

Those Winter Sundays | Poet Robert Hayden
In the first stanza of Robert Hayden‘s poem, “Those Winter Sundays,” the son/narrator describes the ritual of his father on a cold, Sunday morning:

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

While in bed last night, thinking of what to write about for my Thirty Days of Thanks blog post, I immediately thought of my own father and his rituals. Those humid weekday mornings in Houston, where he manicured lawns with weed whackers, tamed the electric snarl of table saws, drowned wasp nests with slithering water hoses. He worked nights but never rested when he got home. He would stay dressed in his cracked maintenance uniform, his fingers stained with grease, his thinning hair sitting heavy on his head. He would find work to do, he would move through the house like a bear blustering with hunger before heading to bed and his snoring collapsed walls.

I would sometimes watch him and wonder why he needed to work so hard, needed to work all the time. Like in “Those Winter Sundays” no one ever thanked him. I don’t think he ever expected us to. But I watched him always, learning from the serenade of his hands, memorizing the callous melody of hard work. It is because of him I now work with a company that I love, work with coworkers and clients that I respect and that respect me. It was a long road to get here but I never quit, I kept pushing and earning my way.

I know that one day I will have my own family that won’t thank me either. Who won’t know of “love’s austere and lonely offices” and that’s fine. I think my father would prefer it that way and honestly, I do too.

The Time to Hesitate is Through

In the 1995 film, Empire Records, the character Lucas states a lyric from The Doors, “the time to hesitate is through.”   That phrase has stuck with me until today.

I used that lyric as my senior quote next to my high school yearbook picture.   Up until then I just did was I was told, went with the flow, tried to not rock-the-boat.   But when that quote was in print next to my picture, it changed my perspective on living by the book.

It was one line, in one movie, that made me change my perspective and go after everything I ever wanted in life.   I embraced it and never looked back.   I went to college and became involved in just about every activity possible; except for sports (I was never good at sports).

I learned that to hesitate was just to let the world pass you by instead of jumping in head first and going for all the world has to offer.

So my thanks go to The Doors, for their wonderful songwriting and to the writers of Empire Records, for putting that one lyric, in that one movie, so that one day when I saw it, my time for hesitation was through.

Schipul Thanks – A month of gratitude and life lessons

Schipul is thankful

Happy November!   We’ve passed the sugar high of Halloween and are focusing our thoughts around the more introspective (and turkey laden) Thanksgiving season.

This month each member of our team is sharing a source of inspiration in their lives – whether it’s a person, a book, a movie or a blog – that has helped guide them to where they are today.

We encourage you to chime in with your own sources of inspiration this month and check out our Thirty Days of Thanks posts from our 2010 series as well.

The biggest thanks, of course, goes out to our clients who make everyday at the office possible and exciting.   Your feedback, ideas and exciting missions keep our teams in a state of constant growth and development.

We love watching your communities connect, your businesses thrive and your events prosper – thanks for being the biggest inspiration of all!

Photo thanks to Flickr user visitamommy