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The 25 Year Anniversary of My Bar Mitzvah

It was November 11th.  Holy hell!  25 years since I became a man.  And been busy being a mature man ever since.  I recently got all the video footage of the ceremony and Beatles themed reception digitized and have been working hard to mine all the golden nuggets of awkwardness into a truly epic video.  The more I dive in, the more gold I find, so hopefully I’ll have a full video before end of the year.  In the meantime, enjoy a couple teasers of what’s to come!

BM25Teaser #2 from Jamie Flam on Vimeo.

BM25 Teaser! from Jamie Flam on Vimeo.

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Flam’s Jams

FlamsJams

Looking to expand my empire of non-profitable creative ventures, I’ve decided to put time and energy into creating a music tumblr blog.  I kid of course.  I am fully aware that a music blog has the potential to bring in millions if done the right way.  So maybe eventually I’ll look into doing it the right way.  In the meantime, when inspired I will post songs that I really love on it.  I listen to music constantly, and when I am not digging for new tracks, I have dozens of friends digging even deeper, so I am always hearing new and old stuff that I fall in love with, and one of my greatest joys is sharing music with others.  Especially what I call those “heaven moments” when the perfect bridge hits, or the sickest drum break, or just that beautiful chord change that makes life worth living.  I am not sticking to any genres or format for now.  Just songs I love, for whatever reason.  Check it out!


Mutiny!

12 years ago I helped produce a short film.  Mostly I helped clean out and set up the basement of a San Francisco theater just a few days removed from a weird San Francisco style sex party.  I still don’t know what that means, but it was disgusting.

From Director Chris Weisbart:

One weekend in 2002, about fifteen friends and I walked into the dingy basement of a converted church with a digital 8 camera and about 80 bucks of taqueria money. This short film is what emerged from that session. It’s presented here in it’s original 640 x 480 glory, and for the first time online in its full length. It’s long, silent and in another language, so prepare yourself. I wrote the script (based on a children’s book i read), shot/edited it, and drew/animated all the backgrounds.

In case you were wondering,  my Oscar moments start around 28:25 and go through the end.


The Only Way To Change Your Life Is To Change Your Life

Can you believe that the title of this blog post has never been published before?  Seems like a simple enough idea, something that Deepak Chopra or Oprah Winfrey or Wayne Dyer or Napoleon Hill or Anthony Robbins or any one of the thousands of self-help gurus would have titled a book over the years.  But a Google search reveals that the words have never before appeared in that exact formation until now!  This of course doesn’t take into consideration that I am probably using Google the wrong way.  I’m looking on the page where they have the maps.  In any case, I was surprised that this wasn’t a more prevalent idea; that if you want to change your life, you need to change the way you are living it.

I’m no stranger to that concept.  Anyone who’s followed my life via podcast or blog the past few years knows of my struggles with health and productivity and living the life I want.  I epitomize the all-or-nothing mentality, the addictive personality that goes full bore on both sides of the spectrum.  The last 6 months have been particularly exemplary.  In August 2013 I decided to stop drinking the booze for a few weeks, started hitting the gym, meditating regularly, and it was no coincidence that I was extremely productive during that period.  The spell lasted 3 full months, and by the end of October I was in one of the best creative zones I’ve ever been in.

Enter November.  November has always been a slippery slope for me.  My birthday is at the start of the month, coming at the heels of Halloween and just a few weeks before Thanksgiving.  The past few years I fall into a trap of splurging (read: binging) during the Halloween and birthday times, which undoubtedly affects my drive to eat healthy and exercise, and hell, why not just “treat myself” through Thanksgiving break.  Then December comes, and it’s the holidays, and well, what kind of person in their right mind would start taking care of themselves with January 1st around the corner?  That would just be stupid!

It’s not simply that I am unhealthy during these periods.  It’s that within a matter of weeks it affects my moods, my energy levels, my confidence, and most importantly my output.  I feel like shit, and cope with it by making more and more poor choices to avoid thinking about those very poor choices.  It’s a pretty lame cycle, and what makes it even more frustrating is that I know how easily I could pull myself out of it because I’ve done it before.  Like 845 times.

Most years I am back in action come the first of the year.  Resolutions are set, and it’s go time.  Maybe it’s age, maybe fear, or just plain laziness, but this year the streak has lasted into February.  I’m out of shape, unable to focus, and lost.  I look tired.  I am tired.  My mind is locked in a pattern of big ideas with zero follow-through.  Granted I am hard as hell on myself, a good and bad trait I suppose.  I do work a full time job that is mentally taxing.  But I’ve been productive and happy in spite of that before, so I hold myself to that standard.

This past weekend I decided that time was of the essence and that it was imperative I get back on a healthy and positive path.  And come Monday morning I woke up feeling healthy and positive.  This was before I’d exercised, before I’d gone a day without a drink, before I’d ate a healthy meal.  Testament to how much how I feel is psychological.  A choice.  This is something I’ve experienced dozens of times now.  The empowering part is that I have that ability at any given time.  We all do.  Obviously it’s easier said than done.  MUCH easier said than done.  But it’s a subtle but world changing shift that I believe we are all capable of.

Today is Friday.  Five days into this new plan.  I’ve been exercising, eating well, abstaining from alcohol, meditating 20 minutes daily.  And less than a week into it, physically I feel like a new person.  I doubt I’ve lost any significant weight, and my body is still getting used to the change in routine.  But I look in the mirror and already see a new person, someone I like a lot more.  Someone that cares enough about themself to take care of themself.

So what’s going to make this time different than every other?  I’ve been through the ups and downs enough times to realize I shouldn’t make any bold predictions.  Every time I claim “I’m back!” when the going is good, there’s the inevitable “I’m back… (sigh)” when the going is bad.  But in an effort to mitigate the all-or-nothing mentality, I am going to do my best to adhere to an 80% plan.  Instead of cutting the “bad” things out completely, I am going to allow myself the flexibility to indulge when I want.  80% seems like a fair compromise  and gives me a handful of days a month to do as I please.   Time will tell how it works.  Yet another experiment in my ongoing pursuit for happiness and productivity.

But I know now after endless trials and experiments that to change my life into the one I want, my only choice is to… change my life into the one I want.  I want to be a healthy, creative, productive, positive person, and so I am going to be that person moving forward.  For the 846th time.


Design as Resistance

In further attempts to thwart all potential possibilities for doing actual writing on this site, I shifted my priority the past week to a “much needed” site re-design.  I liked the other theme, but it wasn’t ideal for archiving purposes [is what I told myself].  And if it’s not good for archiving, then how will the millions of visitors I will be receiving find past articles once they fall in love with the one that drove them to the site in the first place [is what I told myself].  So now, 13 days into the new year, I am finally writing something, albeit more ramblings on my inability to move forward, but thoughts from my brain nonetheless.

So let’s take a look at this handsome new site, shall we?  First, you’ll notice the logo in the top left.  A fifties color motif highlights the name of the URL, punctuated with a high hat and cymbal.  Do I play drums?  No.  So why drums in the logo on your website, Jamie??  Well, before the drums I had an icon of a pair of sunglasses, but then I thought that people would think I was trying to say “Look how cool I am!” which in retrospect is kinda what the intention was.  But the drums are a bit more subtle.  And as I am trying to find the rhythm in my life right now, it seemed like a plausible metaphor.  So there are drums.

Ironically, the name of the WordPress theme I am utilizing is called “Focused” by S5 Themes.  Lack of focus has been the recurring theme for most of my life, but certainly the duration of my comedy career, and the past 2 months it’s been on a war path.  My goals for this year include: Launching this blog, launching my new podcast, launching a new highly produced weekly live show, and writing and pitching several television ideas.  This doesn’t include the fact that I work a full time job that is near impossible to not take home with me every day, while already producing another podcast.  In my head it all seems possible, and to a certain extent it is.  But of course spreading myself over 17 projects is a good way to burn out, sacrifice the quality of each, and as I am currently finding, making it impossible to make progress on any of them.

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2013 Hollywood Improv / Comedy + Music

I sat in my apartment a couple weeks ago, reflecting on the year past, and was getting a little down on myself for not achieving all my goals (read: I’m not a famous millionaire game changing multi-hyphenate auteur yet).  Also, I was itching for some attention, and wanted to start driving people to this blog which exists for like 4 people right now.  So I thought “I’ll make a top ten list!  People love lists!”  (Yes, I have exclamation points in my thoughts!)  I decided I’d put together the top ten moments at The Hollywood Improv in 2013, then started going through all my pics and videos, and realized that 1.) there were too many moments to choose from, and 2.) I had a lot of awesome footage that would not otherwise see the light of day if I didn’t edit it into something.  And thus this video, which only took 87 hours to make!

Most of the footage was taken from a show I co-produced with Vanessa Ragland called Van Jam, and was shot by Vanessa’s husband, the amazing John Irwin.  The rest of the shaky recordings were from my iphone (brag).

IMPROV 2013-2 from Jamie Flam on Vimeo.

Note: As the booker at this venue, I feel it’s important to explain that as it states in the video, we have 700+ shows a year at The Hollywood Improv.  So what you see is only a tiny fraction of the types of performers, shows, and comedy you can see there.  I tend to break out my camera when there’s music involved because music makes me smile so much.

 


2013 Annual Review and My Plan for 2014

Since 2010 I’ve taken the time at the end of each year to review the last 12 months and come up with a plan of action for the year ahead.  It’s been a great way to gauge my progress and see what goals I am achieving and which ones are falling to the wayside.

First, here’s a link to last year’s review.

And so it begins:

Step 1: Review the Previous Year

Overall:
My theme and purpose for the upcoming year: Continuing To Build and Taking Shit To The Next Level PART DEUX. More specifically, continue my quest to transform The Improv, continue building LA Encantada as a company and culture, and continue learning, growing, and inspiring.  Adding to that I aim to produce the best weekly comedy/variety show in LA and a show for television, and I want to double my income.  Easy peasy fresh and squeezy!

How I fared: Thematically: ON POINT!  I did continue to build and take shit to the next level.  The Improv had a huge year on all levels, and my creative vision (more music, more variety, and more of a bridge between the club and independent comedy scenes) was evident all year round.  Lots of great new shows featuring some of the biggest names in comedy, and with the help of my writing and producing partner Vanessa Ragland, we introduced VAN JAM, a variety show featuring a live soul/jazz house band that we produced 8 times in 2013, each one sold out!  We had special guests including Louis CK, Craig Robinson, Aziz Ansari, Tig Notaro, and countless others, so safe to say mission accomplished in that department!  Didn’t get anything on television, but did have some meetings about it (I know, like soooo L.A.) and continued to learn about the process for making that happen.  Certainly didn’t double my income, but can’t win ‘em all.

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My Favorite Tunes of 2013

I like songs and these were a handful of my favorite ones to be released in the last calendar year.

Kurt Vile “Goldtone”

Dr. Dog “The Truth”

Ducktails “Under Cover”

Jay-Z “F.U.T.W.”

Unknown Mortal Orchestra “Monki”

Not the 1′s “Lite Years”

Toro y Moi “Harm in Charge”

Rhye “Open”

Boards of Canada “Reach For The Dead”

Wax Children “Close to Home”

Thundercat “Heartbreaks & Setbacks”

Quasimoto “The Front”
(technically from 2005 but released this year so fuck it)


Still diving.

I leapt off the diving board of this blog last week.

Apparently I’m still midair.

In my first post I quoted Steven Pressfield‘s book The War of Art:

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.

The Resistance is having a fucking fiesta.

I knew it was getting to epic proportions when yesterday I spent over an hour drawing this nifty sign that says “Write.”

write
I could feel the irony surging through me as I shaded the shadows on the letters spelling out the one thing I needed to actually be doing.  My procrastination has become borderline psychotic.

In Linchpin, another of my go-to books for creative inspiration, Seth Godin writes:

When you feel the resistance, the stall, the fear, and the pull, you know you’re on to something. Whichever way the wind of resistance is coming from, that’s the way to head – directly into the resistance. And the closer you get to achieving the breakthrough your genius has in mind, the stronger the wind will blow and the harder the resistance will fight to stop you.

The resistance will help you find the thing you most need to do because it is the thing the resistance most wants to stop.

The last week I’ve averaged 2 hours of sleep a night.  My mind is racing with ideas for this blog and a podcast I want to get launched.  I get out of bed non-stop, race to my computer and write down ideas.  The list of ideas gets to be so long that doing the actual work, in other words, sitting down and writing, pressing record and talking, becomes overwhelmingly daunting.  Fear.

More from Pressfield:

Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.

More validation!  I’ve got the diagnosis.  Time to take the medicine.  Time do to do the fucking work.  Which is all the better, because honestly I don’t know how many more posts I have in me about diving.


Diving The Fuck In

At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, my career begins now.

I’ve been writing, performing, producing, and booking comedy for 12+ years now, and in the past month I’ve deleted or taken offline almost every file, every script, every video, every project I’ve done up until this point. Mostly, I’ve deleted drafts and ideas that at some point or another were undoubtedly the million dollar idea that was going to make me a star — and then let sit for days, weeks, months, years, or a decade plus.

Shit, if I had a nickel for every million dollar idea I’ve had I’d be a goddamn millionaire.

Don’t get me wrong. I have zero regrets. Each and every show, every joke told, every project completed or incomplete has gotten me to this moment. If I admire myself for anything it’s been my fearlessness in putting myself out there, taking chances, not thinking twice about acting like a silly fool in front of other people. The problem, in retrospect, was that so much of it was done purely out of ego; out of a need for attention, and more than anything else, a need to be liked by others. I suppose it’s pure irony that so much what I’ve done to impress people to this point has been half-assed.

God knows I still want people to like me. But I no longer need people to like me. My mom has always told me that if everyone likes me, I’m not being true to myself, and I’m only now finally beginning to understand what she means. I know now that I need to take care of myself in order to take care of others, sometimes at the expense of someone else’s fragile ego, and in the world of comedy there sure are a lot of those. Until recently, I managed to build a comedy career in spite of my ability to keep everyone happy. But now I see that it’s often come a the expense of my art.

In the past couple years I’ve learned that true art is a gift for others, created with no ego. It’s pure expression born out of a longing for deeper connection with the universe, and other people. That’s what I want to put into the world moving forward (even if sometimes it’s through a joke about big gassy farts), and that’s what I’ve come to expect from the people I work with. As the booker at The Hollywood Improv, I’ve been put in a position where I am the arbiter of what I consider to be good, with an extremely limited resource at my disposal (stage time) for only a select few. So making everyone happy is no longer an option. It’s forced me to confront my greatest obstacle, and based on how much personal growth I’ve achieved in facing this fear head on, it’s a confrontation I would recommend for everyone.

The pursuit of a career as an artist is hard as fuck. I’m still a million dollar idea away from a million dollars. But through all the ups and down I’m more excited than ever that I’ve stuck with this path in spite of all the hardships. And as I continue to traverse the mighty mountain, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way, as well as the lessons I continue to take in, seemingly daily.

I am a searcher, and at 37 years old I can finally embrace the quest.

I’ll end this post by saying that I have 278 reasons why I shouldn’t be clicking publish on this: The site is bare bones. I didn’t get a good designer to pimp it out. I’m still trying to find my voice as a writer. People I’ve tricked into thinking I am cool will find out that I am not really cool, etc. etc. But if I’ve learned anything it’s that you gotta just DO sometimes. It’s nice to have direction. It’s a bonus to have an outline of some sort. But most of the time you gotta dive the fuck in; trust your instincts and see where it goes. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t decided to put on that first comedy show or do that first open mic.

So I think of this blog as just a new art project: a way of expressing myself in order to connect with others.

Even at the risk of having some judgey ass people judge it. Or the risk of sounding overly dramatic.

<<big gassy fartzzz>

Fool’s Gold, “The Dive” Lyrics


Come On, Let’s Go

In the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (which I highly recommend for just about anyone who struggles with making the things they know they should be making — which is basically ever artist I’ve ever met– ) it states:

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.

If that’s the case, I have some extremely important stuff to get started on.

I’ve got a crazy busy job, but I know what I should be doing and I’ve known it for a long time, and the last several months I’ve been on the cusp, the precipice, the edge of the good stuff, the real stuff.  The next chapter.  The beginning of the rest of everything.  Hopefully this will make more sense a few months down the line when there is a greater body of work here.  Or maybe it’s ultimately moot, as the only point of this is to start.  Yeah, I’ll go with that one.

So why start tonight?

Because my apartment isn’t getting any tidier.  My bills are paid (the minimums anyway).  My email inboxes are as clear as they’ve ever been.

I assure you there are no duplicates in my Itunes library at this time.

There are detailed charts and to-do lists which outline all the things I know I should be doing.  I am resisting every urge to make charts and graphs to track my charts and graphs.

Tonight I cooked all my meals for the week.  I never cook all my meals for the week.

Resistance!

Tonight I start because my soul just can’t fucking take not starting another minute.

So what exactly is it I’m starting?  Not sure, but in a few seconds I am going to press Publish, and that’ll be that.

So there.  Let’s go bitches!

Broadcast, “Come On, Let’s Go” Lyrics