Ventura

Just point and shoot.

A photo posted by James (@jamesstaubes) on

It’s all about pain. Pain is the greatest motivator I know. We’ll repeat the same behaviors over and over, even ones that do not serve us, until we’re in exquisite pain. You won’t quit smoking or drinking, lose weight, change your diet, or quit your job and move across the country, until the pain is too much. Pain is a good thing. The pain of living in Atlanta forced me to make a change and that’s how I ended up in Ventura.

When I set the plan in motion to move to California, the options laid out before me were Laguna Beach or Ventura. My good friend Kelly in Ventura told me I could stay with her while I looked for a job. Option # 1. Option # 2 was a beach house in Laguna Beach. Yes, an amazing option, however the gentleman who owned the house and I played an unbelievably comical game of phone tag. So I chose Ventura and I’m glad I did.

Right off the 101 and the PCH, Ventura is about 55 miles north of Los Angeles. It’s a laid back, easy going town with a population of about 109,000. You can get from the east side to the west side in about 20 minutes, practically any time of day. There’s an active surfing community. I hate to use the word quaint, but that’s how I’d describe downtown Ventura. It’s a nicely manicured, clean and has a decidedly small town vibe.

Driving around Ventura gives spellbinding and breathtaking views. The beauty proves dangerous while driving. I’m tempted to look at the amazing views when I’m driving, but I don’t want to die! At one turn you’re treated to sprawling mountains, and at another, the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Leaving town, all sorts of farms line the roads of Ventura. The rows of citrus and strawberries line the hills for miles.

Amazing. Ventura.

A photo posted by James (@jamesstaubes) on

Kelly once said about Ventura, “If I ever say I’m tired of this scenery please punch me in the face.” You laugh but that happens. Some lifelong Venturans take this beautiful city for granted. The palm trees, the mountains, and the ocean dim from their awareness. Like Kelly, I don’t ever want to grow tired of this beauty.

Until the next chapter begins Ventura is my home, I’m loving it, and I’m not in pain.

Daily Posts #9 – Showing Up So That This Isn’t The Most Boring Blog

I got off track at Coachella and I had 3 interviews last week. Time to write again.

I care about this blog. I’m often thinking of how I can make it better, funny, useful and worth everyone’s time. I don’t want it to be boring and I don’t want to be a boring writer.

You might ask, “Why are you writing every day? Why don’t you just post good stuff that you spend time on and has quality?”

I’d reply, “Because I have to do what Steven Pressfield talks about in The War Of Art! I have to show up and face resistance every day. I must show up and win, and be a pro!” To quote Tony Robbins, “Repetition is the mother of skill.” I have to do this over and over.

As Pressfield commented, there is an assistance which emerges with a daily process. The muse honors the commitment and gives heavenly gifts. The Beatles knew that gift. Prince knew it. Mozart and Beethoven, they knew it.

One of my favorite all-time quotes is attributed to Woody Allen. The quote goes, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Using that belief if I keep showing up day after day, I’ll find success. I do believe it’s true.

Daily posts #8 – Prince

Greetings from Coachella! There’s a lull in the activity so I wanted to update. 

We got in to tent city around 2am. My traveling companions are expert campers and had the site set up quickly. 

We were all shocked by the news of Prince’s death. He was just in Atlanta playing and blowing minds as usual. But now he’s gone. 57?! It doesn’t make sense.

For me Prince represents the ultimate in being a musician, inspiration, songwriter, virtuoso, artist, and a unique voice. He said and lived what he believed. We never doubted his authenticity for a moment. His mythology was immense. It always will be. 

I’m writing this on my iPhone. I had a few daily posts written but I didn’t get them finished or posted in time to keep the streak going. That’s okay. I’m going to keep up the writing because I want to meet the resistance and break through. 

Daily Post #7 – Making New Friends

Last week I spent a day with a new friend I made in Ventura. We met through some mutual friends. He asked me what I did and I mentioned I had a background in music. His eyes lit up and he asked if I knew anything about recording and working with Pro Tools.

“I need your help! My mother and I just bought a recording setup and we’re having a hard time getting things going. I’d love to ask you some questions. My mother was signed to Capitol Records a while back and she can still sing. I used to play in hair metal bands in the 80’s.”

We traded numbers and finally got together. We got some coffee first and he described how he wanted to record. The more I listened I could see he had limited recorded experience. So I explained how tracking works. How ideally instruments are put on separate tracks and then mixed down to 2 tracks.

After coffee we went over to his place and I showed him how to record using GarageBand. Pro Tools doesn’t have all the built-in instruments that GarageBand does and it’s much simpler.

After a while we stopped and his mom, ya know the one signed to Capitol Records, came in. She was interested in what we were doing and was clearly glad to hear some music happening.

She invited me to dinner and we had a wonderful time. We talked about music, Ventura, and they asked a lot of questions about me. It was a great night. I enjoyed hanging out with this new friend and his mother.

Once I get back from Coachella we’re going to get a song down.

Daily Posts #6 – Keto Flu

Last night I had a bout with Keto Flu. This can be a side effect of carbohydrate and sugar withdrawal.

The fever came on around 7pm and by 10pm it was full-blown. There were cold sweats and chills. The sweat soaked through my clothes. I binged on Parks & Recreation. I’m glad that Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson were there to entertain me while my body went into ketosis.

By 2am my fever broke and I attempted to go to sleep.

I spent most of today recovering, drinking lots of water and resting.

Daily Posts #5 – Sugar Is The New Smoking

I’m writing a longer post about sugar, with links to lots of studies that you won’t click on or read. In the meantime, I’m predicting that in the next 5 to 10 years, the use of sugar will dramatically decline. Sugar will follow cigarettes and seat belts. We’ll see how changing our attitude and behavior toward sugar will greatly benefit our health and improve our quality of life.

I know how hard it is to give up sugar, especially here in America. I struggled for years to break its sickening sweet spell. I’m on day 9 with no sugar and it’s getting easier.

In the past few days there have been times when I wanted to dive into an entire tub of ice cream, swimming in its delicious, sweet, insulin boosting nectar. Then I think about the kind of body and level of health I’d rather have, than that temporary high.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to watch the documentary Fed Up. It’s on Netflix. Watch it and you’ll see this is a real problem.

Daily Posts #4 – Prince

Prince played in Atlanta last night and I missed it. It was another stop on his Piano & A Mic tour. I hope he’ll do one on the west coast soon.

Prince has long been one of my all-time favorite musicians. If I had the chance I’d love to ask him some questions.

Do you have a personal chef?
Do you do your own laundry?
Are you really good at basketball?
Why are you constantly taking down your music on YouTube?
Do you ever call up Sheila E. and chit chat?
Is it true you fine members of your band if they make a mistake on stage?
Why purple?
Do you exercise?
What do you think happens when you die?
Do you practice?
When you’re in the studio, are you engineering?
What’s in the vault?
Do you go to the grocery store and shop for yourself?
What do you think of The Beatles?
Aren’t you a fan of Cocteau Twins?
How would you encourage young musicians?
How did you prepare for this piano and a mic tour?
What’s a normal day like for you?
Do you have a private jet? Do you fly commercial?
What do you think about marriage?
What’s your favorite book?
What movie have you watched more than once?
What’s up with Rosie Gaines?
How about that high note Rosie hits on “Diamonds & Pearls”?


Update 4/16/16: One of the questions I wanted to ask but forgot to write down was if Prince rode bicycles. We all know he’s the man on a motorcycle. The answer is yes. Yes Prince does ride bicycles. Check this article: http://consequenceofsound.net/2016/04/one-day-after-being-hospitalized-prince-spotted-riding-his-bike-throwing-all-night-dance-party/

Daily Posts #3 – This Is Going To Be Ugly

I just realized that there will be some gnarly, ugly, unrefined writing in these daily posts. It will be like those awful FAWM songs that you must power through, so you can finish and get to the next. It will not be my best work.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. I should totally do it.

I remember asking Austin Kleon about this. Kleon argues that artists should posts their ugly, unrefined, unfinished work online, let everyone see it. I mentioned what John Mayer had said. Mayer urged Berklee students to resist the urge to publish themselves, to wait until the song is done. Kleon said he saw Mayer’s point, and I do as well, but Kleon disagreed.

Kleon encouraged everyone to get their work out, show the world your process. Yes it will be ugly. Yes it may be painful, for both you and the recipient. Kleon argues you can, “build an audience by sharing that process.” He also says this process helps you, “deal with the ups and downs of putting yourself and your work out in the world.”

We shall see.

Daily Posts #2 – What Age Is Old?

A friend posted this video and I wanted to share it. Watch it.

It was troubling that Millennials considered ages 40 to 50 old. By that ridiculous standard I’m old. Then the same Millennials acted out how a 40 or 50 year old person would walk across the street, or do a pushup. Watch the video to see that.

This is a “gotcha video” where AARP pulled the ‘ol switcheroo. So you know the twist was coming, but it was great. I loved seeing the 50 to 70 year old folks in this video. They have taken care of themselves. They are examples of aging with strength and discipline. Take that you ageist Millennials!

Taking care of your body and mind now is as important as saving money for the future. Not doing it is selfish. If you don’t take care of yourself now then who will take care of you in the future? You’re placing that burden on your children or society?

I whole-heartedly agree with the message of this video. You’ve got to stay active and keep on learning. To quote 311, “If you like learning life is large.” Old is when you stop learning.

Daily Posts #1

I’m a fan of Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin. Recently Godin was on Ferriss’ podcast and said, “Everyone should blog every single day. If you are in public making predictions and noticing things your life gets better, because you will find a discipline that can’t help but benefit you. Are you able every day to say one thing that’s new, that you’re willing to stand behind? I think that’s a huge wonderful practice.”

I also took Godin’s advice and listened to Steven Pressfield’s, The War Of Art. This is an entire book focused on overcoming the resistance to create. I want to create more.

So I’m doing it. I’m writing a post here every day. I’m not sure what they’ll be about but they will be short. Here I go!


Today I was close to the beach and realized it’d been a few days since I connected with the ocean. One of the reasons I moved to California was to go to the beach more.

I drove under the bridge on Sanjon Road and parked. I took a short walk along Ventura Beach and watched the sun set.

Just point and shoot.

A photo posted by James (@jamesstaubes) on

Afterwards I felt immensely better.

The ocean brings a soothing and peaceful vibration. I’m grateful to be so close to the Pacific Ocean now. I must remember the serenity I receive when I spend time at the beach and ocean.