Note: This is not a 'normal' REC (at least for me) It is not satirical, tongue in cheek, cynical, or fiction. Consider this a mission statement if you will. A manifesto which I admit is not finished forming in my mind. Consider this a small glimpse into what makes me tick, what drives me to create, and the evolution of my mentality, heart and soul. Consider this an introduction to the 'real' Joel The Gentleman. Hi- I'm Joel Scott.
I was born just outside of Dallas in Grandprairie, Texas on April 13, 1988. I have never met my biological father or mother as I was put up for adoption before birth and left the hospital with the two wonderful people who immediately became the only parents I would ever have or ever need. I grew up in a small town in south Texas called Cuero. Most people in Texas haven't even heard of it so I doubt if it rings any bells in your head but let me paint a picture for you.
Population: 6,000. Wal-Mart, McDonalds, the church that my father has preached at for almost 18 years, a high school built around a renowned football team, and 1000's of acres of ranch land- These were our most popular locales and when you hear people use the phrase "Everyone in this town knows everyone (and everyone's business- both personal and private)" you can now reply with "I bet it's worse in Cuero, Tx." Growing up I always felt like I didn't quite belong, as if I was E.T in a town full of unfriendly Elliots, hell bent on proving that unless you could punt, pass, or kick, then you should return to the planet from which you came.
My parents have always been amazing, supportive, loving, honest, and a great example of what it really means to be a "grown up" as we refer to adulthood until the time we turn 21 and realize that we have no idea what that term truly implies. They taught me right from wrong, how to play the piano, and the love that can exist between two people who love each other unconditionally.
Me on the other hand...by my 8th birthday I was what "professionals" in the early to mid 90's would refer to as "troubled" or if you were speaking to teachers- a "problem child." I had trouble focusing in class, and although I was reading (and ALMOST fully comprehending) Stephen King's The Stand and Bukowski's Post Office by age 10, I had no interest in impressing any authority figures with my times tables or learning how to not speak while class was in session. My friends would say I was a class clown...the principal however recommended I undergo a psychiatric evaluation in San Antonio, about an hour north of my home. My parents (just like every other parent of a creative or misunderstood, unchallenged, or bright beyond their years child) felt this was a good idea. They wanted what they believed was best for me and who could blame them? I certainly don't. After a couple of hours of checking "yes" or "no" boxes next to questions about my interests and feelings that I could easily already read yet were read to me in a slow and almost judgmental tone, they brought out the rorschach test. I'm pretty sure I found a way to see Spawn, Batman, and (if my memory serves me correctly) a roach motel full of dead roaches being eaten by some sort of subterranean spiders. The doctor took notes feverishly and I rambled on about God knows what..probably movies, comics, and religious imagery I had definitely NOT acquired in my Sunday school classes. I had no idea that my love for the arts, macabre (I blame Beetlejuice and my cousins White Zombie cassette tapes) and generally word vomiting every thing that came to my mind would have such a great impact on my life that almost 17 years later I would still be struggling from the aftermath of what was to come.
A.D.H.D- obviously, I'll take responsibility for that one, but then the list went on- Bi-Polar disorder, severe depression, and manic tendencies that (of course) required a handfull of prescriptions to be filled at the pharmacy on the way home. I was 8...I didn't care about the implications that those diagnosis' would have on my future, hell, I am not sure I even really understood what they were implying was wrong with me in the first place. Would any 8 year old? You have to understand, in the mid-90's pharmaceutical companies realized that Generation X (or Rx as I commonly refer to it) was a veritable gold mine of middle class children with middle class parents that would accept any and everything a "Doctor" presented to them and the pills flew off the shelves like Furby's or 2XL Robots at Christmas time, I was placed on an assortment of uppers, downers, mids, and plenty of other non Flinstone vitamins that my parents (and everyone elses for that matter) had been convinced would help us grow into the model citizens they believed we should be.
They were wrong. My body couldn't handle the toxic assortment of feelings pumping through my blood and I began to actually feel and act out in ways that fit the diagnosis of depression and bi-polar disorder. This of course was more proof to my parents, doctors, and (by this point in time) the regularly scheduled therapists I was forced to speak with once a week, that not only were the original diagnosis' correct but that if it wasn't getting any better then I (of course!) must require a higher dosage.
Age 10- 15 I completely stopped caring about school, made mostly 'C's and D's' on my report cards and decided that I would rather ride around with the "cool" high schoolers I could weasle my way into friendships with, trying cigarettes for the first time and being introduced to bands like KoRn, Marilyn Manson, and Slipknot...all really great things to bring home to a ministers house, especially one already concerned about the rebellious directions my life was beginning to gravitate towards. This just furthered the perception that I MUST be all of those things the doctors had said I was, or else why would I be attracted to such angry, hopeless music as that?!
When I was 12 my dad bought me a Samick electric guitar and small amp for my birthday...I was ecstatic. I was also completely uninterested in learning how to play anything that wasn't me turning the volume up all the way and playing what basically amounted to noise for hours on end. I fucking loved it though.
At 14 I finally bought an acoustic guitar and started teaching myself basic chords until I could cover a couple of Green Day songs and play them over and over and over again. By 16 I had recorded a (I'm sure incredibly embarrassing) album of 6 original songs which I so eloquently titled "The Legend of the Hopeless Romantic"
My father recorded it in one live take using the church's equipment usually reserved for creating sermons on cd's to give to shut ins and the elderly who couldnt make it out to Sunday morning services. I started trying to sell them in high school parking lots for $5 (complete with hand drawn artwork and under the name 'This Empty Promise') and quickly realized that I may have actually found something that I could use as a creative outlet for all the mixed up emotions the pharmacies, and therapists, and doctors had essentially created with their cocktail of mind altering drugs.
At 17 I began to refuse the medication I was being given, dropped out of high school, recieved my G.E.D. took the A.C.T and was immediately accepted into every college I applied to. It looked like things might just work out for me in the "real world" after all... Then I was asked to join a band from a larger town about 30 minutes away, and with one try out- they had a front man who had never performed in front of a crowd larger than my friends and family. I was so nervous the night of our first show that I threw up at least twice before we took the stage. Halfway through the first song though I noticed something...people were digging it. Alot. I was immediately hooked. We spent the next two and a half years recording and playing shows all over Texas, eventually forming a rather large fanbase for a small "emo" band from the Dirty South. Egos grew, especially mine and suddenly I became lost in a delusional state where I truly believed that I was going to 'make it' with this band and to be honest...It felt great. I had a place in the world.
One night around the time I turned 19, my best friend stayed the night at my parents house and decided to dig through the medicine cabinet- "Oh shit..is that Adderall?" I will never forget those words because it had never occurred to me that those little orange pills I had been forced to take for so many years could actually REALLY bring out the creativity in my writing. So I took one. 6 hours later at 5 a.m I was waking my dad up to help me set up an old school Cubase recording bay in our computer room and spending hours writing and recording as much as I could. I also began to request refills for that little bottle of legal amphetamines and before long I was a full blown pharmaceutical speed addict. Oops.
Around this time I took a trip with my mother to Oklahoma to visit my grandparents and ended up meeting a beautiful blonde 18 year old high school senior named Kaylee, who loved cocaine and sex in the backseat of my car. Again, I was almost immediately hooked. She had big plans to graduate and move to Los Angeles to attend the premiere fashion school at the time and between my legal meth and her vacuum cleaner nostrils we decided it would be a great idea for me to quit my band, pack up, and move with her ASAP so that she could achieve her goal of being a great fashionista and mine (or at least at the time I thought it was a goal worth working towards) of being a famous, rock and roll musician.
Boy, the things you look back on and (nervously) laugh about 6 years later...We immediately moved in together and almost just as quickly began a series of cheating, lying, and generally hating each other which lasted for 3 full years. I attended a school for audio engineering, and she learned how to sew and screw over everyone in her path until we both graduated and realized that I had recorded 100+ songs of obviously drug induced, over confident, and cigarette addled songs that even then I knew were the kind that could sink a career before it even begins. She learned how to fuck celebrities and web chat with doctors from her home state that could promise her a life of money and travel that I most certainly could not at that point. She moved home literally overnight and left me depressed, heartbroken, financially screwed and alone in a city where I suddenly realized I hadn't made many worthwhile connections.
I spiraled deep into a depression which strangely enough resulted in quite a few songs that I am still proud of to this day, but the confidence and self respect I had always so strongly exhibited were gone. Crushed by the first heartbreak of my life. Apparently this is a common thing for people to go through. I can only hope that when it happens to everyone else, that they aren't balls deep in a drug addicted downward spiral which led to crippling panic attacks and the sudden inability to perform in front of anyone that wasn't plugged into my wall and named MacBook Pro. I smashed my favorite guitar through every piece of glass in the apartment she had left for me to deal with, packed my shit and moved...around the corner.
I met a great group of friends who encouraged my music and art and slowly I began to regain my confidence. The only problem was that the years of legal Amphetamines and rejection from my first true love still found a way to lead to unbearable anxiety, making it almost impossible to bare my soul to a crowd of strangers in a city notorious for throwing the 'unworthy' the fuck out of town. For the first time in my life I began to believe what the doctors and therapists had said for so many years- I MUST be bi polar and severely depressed I thought, and I became another beast entirely. Drunk, angry, and almost constantly "on one" I began to convince myself that if an apartment complex full of drunk, angry, drug addicted people were feeling my music and art, the whole world would surely follow shortly. My ego grew bigger than the head it was contained within and I abandoned all my responsibilities in exchange for going out nightly, getting wasted, and going home with any pretty lady as messed up as me who would be not only willing to listen to my ramblings, but eat them up and encourage my behavior as if I could somehow change the world by "telling it like it was." The only problem- In reality I wasn't saying anything, understanding, or enlightening anyone at all.
In January of 2011 I had what some people call an epiphany and I gave everything up cold turkey, down to the 2 packs of Camel Royales I would easily go through in a 24 hour period and moved in with a good friend of mine who truly did want the best for me. Something had changed though...I no longer felt the creativity pulsing through my bones like I had all those years..I no longer had any real talent or ability to offer the world. So obviously there was only one solution- get back on the Adderall. In case you haven't noticed by now- I was full of great ideas..
I began writing and recording again but still suffered from panic attacks in almost every social situation presented to me, which obviously meant that once again I had a hard drive full of pretty great music and writing that no one would ever hear.
Then in July of that year I met her. You know- the one who changes everything you thought you knew about yourself. Not in that creepy controlling way, but incredibly insightful things that truly began changing my outlook on what was important. We moved in together almost immediately (again-usually a bad idea kids) and she encouraged me to write, record, and even begin playing shows around town. Things were looking up.
In April of 2012 I had my second 'epiphany'...in order to truly tap into my creativity, I believed my best option was to move into my own place (a pretty swaggy loft downtown if I may say so myself) and immerse myself in nothing but my work. This worked out pretty well for a month or so until I realized something. I was sick. Not like the flu, or stomach virus, but sick with an addiction that I genuinely felt I couldn't kick. When you are told by doctors for 16 years that the only way to focus on something properly is with a little orange pill, it eventually becomes the truth to you. I began to become fascinated with psychology, sociology, and what REALLY could make a person feel so out of place in this world that they would need to take what essentially amounts to legal meth for over half their life.
I have always loved film, behind music it is my second greatest passion in life. Spend 5 minutes with me and inevitably I will find a way to bring up a movie/director/screenwriter/actor/or actress that I either adore or hate. Spend 15 more minutes with me and I will give you very detailed reasons why my opinion is correct.
I bought an XBox 360 and suddenly had an instantly viewable library of cinema to choose from at whim. I watched all the great/good/decent/and eventually bad "movies" they had available and it became clear that the only option was to dive into the documentary rabbit hole. So down I went.
With each passing film I would do EXTENSIVE research on the subjects and/or topics in an effort to better understand this world, the people who inhabit it with me, and the nature behind the actions we choose or don't choose to make over the course of our lives. Suddenly, the world began to change shape for me and I started to see things through a pair of fresh eyes. I no longer wanted fame, fortune, models, notoriety, or critical acclaim and recognition. I wanted to understand people. After 24 years of only caring about myself I suddenly found myself not only often crying at stories of loss and love, triumph and defeat, but TRULY connecting to these people trapped inside my television, bearing their emotions and souls for the world to see.
I also began to realize that maybe I wasn't put on this planet for all the superficial reasons I had always assumed I would be remembered for. I no longer wanted to write the next big song, or write the next great screenplay...I wanted to help change the state of our world, share the compassion, and love, and pain that I felt for these strangers on TV, that was swelling up inside of me more and more each day. Suddenly I realized that I wasn't put here to help better myself or my future, but to better the world or at least the people around me willing to listen or take a chance on a 3-4 hour movie of a bunch of real life people just sitting and talking about their lives and what living meant to them. The good and the bad.
This DRASTICALLY affected my writing in all mediums and as I learned, viewed, and read more stories of real people around me, it began to drastically affect my mentality and heart. I suddenly felt a heaviness in my chest that I hadn't experience before. A desire that burned deep within me to do anything I could to help bring some sort of semblance of hope to a world that seems so hopeless at times. My new goal in life was simple- share compassion and love and insight with others, and do my part to spread the message that it's not too late to stop the negativity and bring positive thinking back to the forefront of our thoughts on the future.
When I was a teenager a website called MySpace was introduced and people my age ate it up. This was quickly followed by viral videos and a place you might have heard of before called YouTube. Again, We ate it up.
To anyone reading this who is under the age of 22 I would like to offer an apology on behalf of my generation. We fucked up. We had no idea that things would spiral so far out of our control and so fast. I am disgusted by the things I see online these days, the things that we glorify, and endorse every time we click on a news or video link that sounds too bat shit crazy to pass up. We hand fame out like a pedophile with candy to anyone (usually early to mid teens) who are willing to do some of the most vile, self deprecating, hateful, reckless, and plain old stupid things that they can in order to achieve some level of "fame" If I could go back in time somehow and stop social networking from ever existing I would in a heartbeat.
So to everyone ages toddler-21 I sincerely apologize for the example my generation set for you. It is NOT ok for us as a culture to support such cynical, nihllistic, garbage. We only wanted to connect with friends and meet hot girls and guys, maybe laugh at people falling down a flight of stairs or lighting a fart on fire...but lets face it- we asked for too much leniency and freedom to post whatever we felt was worth making public, regardless of who it hurt. It's NOT too late for us as a society to step up and say wait a minute..something isn't right here. It is OK to question why we collectively find such vile, awful, degrading things so entertaining. It is NOT ok however to continue pointing the finger at these "crazy kids" who suck on tampons and eat their own shit just to get on Ellen, without pointing two more fingers back at ourselves and admitting that our generation asked for this. We constantly pushed the edge back farther and farther until it disappeared, basked in apocalyptic fear mongering, made fun of everyone and everything we didn't understand, laughed at people getting hurt, watched people actually DYING and desensitizing ourselves to the point where literally nothing shocks us anymore..and we did it in front of our little brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews, who now believe they are some sort of pioneers of an internet revolution of hate and hardcore pornography. WE encouraged our younger halves to push the envelope further, just like we felt we had to, and now 'Generation Z' is lost. LOST. We are to blame for this.
I personally would like to apologize for contributing my cynical writings (both song and prose form) in such a dry, and satirical manner that any impressionable person who comes along and doesn't yet have the cognitive ability to pick up on such styles of written word that they take my tongue in cheek messages of despair and angst and hopelessness literally.
There IS hope for us my friends. We can still fix this world. We have the ability to shake things up in such a way that the world could change drastically. It is up to us the artists, thinkers, idiot savants, free minds, and creative monsters of this world to present a better example of what growing up in our society REALLY means.
Hope IS a tool that can be used truthfully in art through both positive and negative experiences in order to expand the consciousness of those around us, both young and old. It is up to US.
It is up to Me.
It is up to You.
I don't want to bring any more negativity to this world, it has so much potential to become a beautiful wonderful place to be. All we have to do is be a shining light in a darkened tunnel. Be the change you want to see, that's how the saying goes right? Well I encourage all of you to truly consider what world you want to be living in 10, 15, 20 years from now and take responsibility for your actions, words, and what you allow yourself to become desensitized to. We owe the future that much.
Thanks for listening (or reading I suppose) and I hope you can take something valuable away from this. If anything, just know that from here on out, if you aren't willing to help build the foundation for a better future through your various artistic talents then you might want to take a step back and re-evaluate whether or not a quick 15 minutes of fame is worth losing sleep over in a decade when you may just have your own little dude or dudette running amuck in a culture that has completely lost sight of any semblance of happiness, hope, and moral fiber.
I love you all and I hope we can come together and truly shake things up, only this time let's try and save the world.