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Friends withOUT Benefits

Category: Blog

Be Nice

I’ve been making music since 1987. I’ve played live in Gainesville, New York, Texas, Los Angeles, Highland Park and Chicago. I’ve recorded albums. I’ve created videos.


No one cared.

For 3 years I had a radio show.

No one cared.

I’ve hit open mics, participated in countless songwriter competitions, made the pilgrimage to the South Side of Chicago for story jams.

No one cared.


I would argue this is the best thing that ever happened to me. It helped me to get underneath a lie. Here’s the lie…

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

This is what you’re told to get you back on track by people who’ve let go of their dream, or never had a dream to begin with and by getting you to act like them, there’s a sense of camaraderie.

But make no mistake, they want you to be in the club where you’re as miserable as they are, and at the same time, those who have found the spotlight are too busy dancing with the moment to lend a hand. How can you blame them? What’s more satisfying than being prolific when there’s asses in seats or jiggling to your groove.

Insanity is listening to people who push you around by offering a hug. I would argue doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a slightly different result is the definition of craft.

Seek out the rough drafts of Picasso. Seek out clumsy versions of Starry Night where van Gogh didn’t get the colors right. Seek out the rejected poetry of Emily Dickinson. Seek out the early versions of The David where the marble penis is chipped.

I spent most of my 20’s and early 30’s chasing a result. What a waste of time and energy. Turns out, the work happens on the other side of bombing, in taking the note from the failure, in getting back up. Turns out, the shows that went the best actually held me back since I began dreading the next show, creating excuses to skip an appearance, clinging to the glory.

Glory is a waste of time. Pining for rejection is the calling card of mastery.

Do the work. Love the work. Treat the naysayers like trolls, have fun with them on Twitter, have fun with them on Yelp. Be nice! It confuses them.

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The Power Of Showing Up

I made the pilgrimage to South Bend, Indiana. Mayor Pete Buttigieg was announcing his intention to run for the presidency. I wanted to go!

Not only to support the unlikeliness of the moment, not only to support the unlikeliness of an openly gay man running to be president, but also to support his husband, Chasten, who I met when I was performing in comedy clubs.

Under The Gun Theater opened in Chicago a few years ago. I jumped into a class. As fate would have it, Chasten was taking the same class. When you’re performing with someone, there’s a feeling you know them better than you actually know them.

I remember when the class ended, another friend I met in the class sent me a picture of Chasten with this great new guy he met, a politician.

I thought to myself, “Cool.”

How could I possibly have known a few years later they’d be married, happily married, and standing on stage in Studebaker Building 84, as the First Couple, running for The White House.

So exciting.

So big.

So sexy!

The drive from Chicago to South Bend was treacherous. It snowed, it rained, there were long stretches of road without an exit for coffee. But I pushed through. I made the journey.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what I found out…

It’s always worth the drive, showing up is how you bear witness, and no, I didn’t see Chasten. That is to say, I saw him standing on stage, in front of the world, kissing a beautiful man, but he didn’t see me.

And that’s okay. Maybe some other time. That’d be nice.

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Playin Out

This week we’ll be playing out at The Uncommon Ground Open Mic on Tuesday Night. Last week Lex was chasing a kiss, so we took the week off.

Priorities! Don’t get me wrong, I have every intention of touring with this band and making music our life but you cannot put the trajectory of your life ahead of a kiss. When I look back, if I had to give my younger-self any advice it’d be this: seek-out rejection.

It’s amazing how much I held myself back by letting something that didn’t go my way define my identity. It’s amazing who we give power, how easily we relinquish authority, who gets to star in the history books.

The reason I’d seek-out rejection is to teach myself to get over it quickly. I’d tell myself to feel as crappy as you want: pout, throw a pity party, do something self-destructive to feel sexy and then do a bunch of push-ups.

This week at rehearsal, we did a deck of cards. In case you’re wondering what in the Hell I mean by that, here’s the deal: we broke out a deck of cards, and whatever card came up, that’s how many push-ups you had to do between songs. If it was a Queen it was 12. If it was a King it was 13. If it was a Joker, the other guy got to pick any amount of push-ups between 1 and 25. I picked a Joker and Lex assigned me 10. Lex picked a Joker and I assigned him 11. I didn’t want to be too much of a dick. Not yet!

Lex was feeling crabby. The dating world was getting him down, which is pretty much what the dating world does to everyone. Typically, before we get down to playing music, we meet up for a cup of coffee on Saturday. I watched Lex beat himself up. I understand the nightmare of figuring out your game in the dating world. But somewhere in the middle of his pity party, I was reminded of the deck of cards. I suggested it to Lex, and to his credit, he jumped right in.

It was the most energy I can remember either one of us bringing to a rehearsal. The next day we met up for another rehearsal, something we don’t do all too often, back-to-back rehearsals. I suggested another round of push-ups. Lex sent me a link about lactic acid and the need for rest.

Sometimes it’s rest. Sometimes it’s a kiss. And tomorrow night, it’s an open mic. If you don’t continue putting yourself out there, if you don’t learn how to get up quickly after getting knocked on your ass, you’re never gonna open for Mike Doughty.

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Gregor & Lex

We met in the Glam Rock Ensemble at The Old Town School of Folk Music. We rehearsed. We played a few gigs at Independence Tap. It was fun crawling around in the plumbing of songs written by David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and T. Rex.

But we were craving something more.

Soon enough, we were writing our own songs and hitting open mics. Inspired by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, we were determined to have a “Tight Five.” Inspired by Sense8, we were inspired to live our lives in the magic “as if,” dancing on the Eiffel Tower high as fuck on pot brownies.

We invite you to discover the benefits of coming along on this musical journey. If you’re wondering what I mean by “benefits,” please allow me to list a few.

Pre-order our album for $10.00 and earn 10 times that in Friend Benefit Points. With 100 Points, you can choose 1 of these fabulous benefits…

Free Guitar Pic

FWOB Temporary Tattoo

Dating Advice From Lex

But wait! There’s more! For a limited time only, you can chip in to help fund our upcoming music video, to be filmed this summer. Start a Go Fund Me Page. We’ll match your dollar amount in Friend Benefit Points, where you can choose from a smörgåsbord of benefits…

Get A Manicure With Lex

Bleach Gregor’s Asshole

Drive The Van On Our First Tour

Speaking of firsts, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to read our first blog. The site will be evolving over the course of the next few months, but everything is evolving: musical ability, gender identity, stock portfolio.

Incidentally, if you’re surprised someone who’s at the cutting edge of Dysphoria Punk would have a position on the stock market, let me leave you with this: Boeing looks like a good buy right now, despite having two planes crash back-to-back, it’s a solid company and people have a short attention span for catastrophes. They’re more interested in cheap fares.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date to dance on the Eiffel Tower.

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