Here Are My Qualifications
In an effort to direct more traffic to this website, I've been sending out emails to various media outlets, potential employers, and publications explaining to them what this blog is about: explaining my relationship with pop culture. I have likes and my dislikes. I have a strong point of view and want to share it with the world because I firmly believe people enjoy what I have to say and the style in which I say it.
I have found these efforts frustrating. A job lead fizzled because the HR rep didn't know what a LinkedIn profile was. Another potential position was determined by a writing algorithm, and my correspondence with the hiring manager was through a program sending automated emails. People who aren't members of my family tell me they like my writing, but it rarely translates to more opportunities to do so. I'm so grateful for what I have, but I want to do more, whether it be a job that utilizes my creative skills or find a publication that thinks I have something to offer them. I know I'm not alone in my struggle.
I think one of my problems is no one in Phoenix really knows why I'm qualified to work in a creative position. I enjoy seeing my byline underneath an article I've written but at my core I am an introvert. Attention is great when it's warranted, but I'm never sure when anything I've done is deserving of notice. I want to remedy this, so here is a few things about me, why I am a writer, and music and culture is the field I've chosen to be well-versed in.
Like the plot of many inspirational movies, I had a teacher in sixth grade who liked what I turned in for my creative writing assignments. She sent me to a few workshops at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and recommended some great books to read. Year after year, my English teachers would continue to heap praise upon my prose. It became an outlet for me during my awkward teenage years.
When I turned 16, I began working at a discount movie theater and was promoted to projectionist within a year. This meant I saw a lot of movies between 1995-1999, and many more than once. I've seen Liar, Liar, the first Austin Powers movie, and Jerry Maguire enough times that if they are on television I could probably recite them line by line. I also had free admission to the local art theater, which afforded me the opportunity to see Vertigo in 70mm and many of the films that would become staples of the independent film revival in the late 90's.
I loved the visual medium so much that in my last year in high school I took a Video and Photography course. My teacher was a Director of Photography on the Michael Moore film Roger & Me and worked with Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi on various projects. He even gave me the chance to work as a production assistant on a documentary he produced. The video I created for my final project, a mash-up of Apollo 13 and David Bowie's "Space Oddity," took second division at the Michigan Student Film and Video Festival.
My family moved to Wisconsin for my dad's job, and I found myself applying for the film department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). The program was reeling from the release of American Movie, which was directed by UWM graduate Chris Smith and filmed partially on campus. It featured many local celebrities whom I became acquainted with over the years. Whatever passion for film that had brightly burned in Detroit was quickly extinguished in Milwaukee. I barely lasted a year in the program, but came away with a better understanding of film technique, a strong knowledge of the history of the medium, and a few published movie and music reviews in the UWM Post, the campus newspaper.
I changed my major to journalism and realized I had a knack to churn out content quickly and concisely. My strategy was to give myself an hour before my News Reporting class to complete my assignments. It worked. I received an A for the semester. The class I fell in love with was Magazine and Print Journalism. My teacher was a Brewers' beat reporter and he had helped me get my final project for the class, a history of the historic Oriental Theater, sold to a local publication and connected me with the publishers of the city's largest online publication.
I knew Milwaukee had a great music scene. My pitch when I started writing locally was that more attention needed to be showered upon it. I talked to Men At Work's Colin Hay, conversed about religion with Alan Sparhawk of Low, and reviewed a concert put on my by musical hero Elvis Costello (whom I met afterwards backstage). I took a lot of shit documenting the breakup of one the city's most popular bands, let Nick Lowe borrow my Sharpie, and tapped David Byrne's shoulder. I developed and contributed to a section aimed at college kids for Milwaukee's largest weekly newspaper as a freelancer. I worked very hard at my craft. I studied or wrote in the morning, waited tables at night, and went to shows until dawn.
I was able to snag a job at a small public relations firm (which is now defunct), so I took a year off school and focused my attention on making writing a full-time career. Then just as things were coming together, I moved to Illinois after my mom suddenly passed away. I went from a culturally rich Midwestern city to a town surrounded by corn fields on all sides. I still wrote for publications in Milwaukee for a few more months, but the distance was becoming too much. I found a job with a large insurance company and got married. When it became apparent that my spouse had no intentions of leaving her hometown, I gave up on the writing dream and finished my degree.
The marriage didn't work out and I focused on blogging about l how I lost over 100 pounds while training for a marathon. It got some attention from friends. Soon an opportunity to move to Tempe for work came and I took it.
My goal once I arrived was to start writing again. A little encouragement from my girlfriend (who is now my wife) led me to the Phoenix New Times and it has exceeded my expectations. I've talked to heroes like Spoon and Tori Amos, and sat only 10 rows away from Billy Joel for a concert review.
Writing about music is just something I fell into. I play trombone and piano (with varying skill levels) and sang in my college choir. I even attempted drums. The reason why I relate to music more than any other medium is because it feels like the most honest and sincere way to express oneself and yet the meaning behind the art can be interpreted in so many different ways. Sure, you have Adam Levine and bands like One Direction who are somewhat talented but are really just in it for the money.
It's the admired poets and musical scientists like Leonard Cohen, Brian Eno, and Tom Waits that endure and speak to everyone if they just listen. I can write about film, art, or anything else for that matter, but it's those who string musical notes together to form 3 minutes of bliss I have an energy for. They can make anyone dance, cry, or smile with some words and chords.
It feels like things are coming together again for a writing career, but it's also just as difficult as it was 10 years ago. There are so many outlets to write for, but it's hard to find a way to show why I stand out.
If you have some advice, please share. If you know someone who can help me, please get them in touch with me. If you like my qualifications, thank you! And to those of you who simply like what I do, you've already made my dreams come true!