It was the birth of Occupy Wall Street. Well, pre-birth. A genesis, that’s all I know. For me too. The start of an uprising. I was going to have lunch with my idol, new friend, a mentor. Any minute. Little did I realize, from this connection, this spark, the friendship that would ignite. The life-changing guidance I was about to receive at the foot of a muse. A master muse.
We were in the vicinity of Wall Street. On the concrete fringe. Lunch meeting at a sushi place. I was nervous. Couldn’t breathe (even though this muse advises thousands to breathe – Breathe deep). Feverishly texting a former friend about how I was about to pass out. Pacing. Pace. Pace. Pace. Dizzy.
For me, it was like meeting Superman, or some other bigger-than-life hero. I know for a fact when JA was in first grade, donning a red cape blanket, leapt from his bed, attempting to fly like Superman and almost broke his ass.
When I was in first grade I wore a blue blanket cape, a Ben Cooper Halloween Batman (plastic death) mask which cut like glass shards around my eyes, and ran around my parents’ Brooklyn apartment like a sugar-crazed, Drake’s cake-induced pudgy, Dark Knight. I’m sort of honored because JA appears to believe Batman was the true super hero – I have a tough time with this revelation.
I also as my mother scolded: “rubbed myself too much” to Julie Newmar who appeared as Cat Woman on the iconic 1966 Batman series (televised daily in afternoon re-run format I believe on New York’s WPIX Channel 11).
Here kitty, kitty.
There was this girl who lived next door. Linda. She was in Kindergarten. She portrayed a convincing Robin the Boy Wonder. Actually, she was gifted at playing a young boy from what I can piece together. I spoke to her six months ago and she’s a happily-partnered lesbian in Schenectady, New York. All makes sense now.
Although, as I ponder, I’m not really sure how happy anyone can be in Schenectady.
Supposedly, she remembered our antics and told me how badly I wanted Batman to fly (I never understood why he couldn’t, it was like a disability). She proceeded to describe how I jumped from a park bench on Ocean Parkway and twisted my ankle. Frankly, I don’t remember. She also told me my mother beat my ass for rubbing too much. Linda chuckled. I don’t recall that wonderful memory either. Either way, I’m glad I left such a lasting impression on her. Although I could have gone a lifetime without the rubbing commentary. Oh well.
You never truly know the imprint you’re going to leave on someone, do you?
Ben Cooper’s Halloween creations are/were the ultimate costumes of pop culture.
Back to JA.
A man who traveled so far through mind and body, an old soul, to get where he is today. And yet constantly learning. He is always fine tuning himself. He was, still is:
As I got to know him better, I realized how close in personality we were. After lunch we walked, I think 25 city blocks. In the heat, quick shuffling feet, of an urban summer.
JA said: “I like to walk.”
Well then: “I like to walk, too.”
I wondered: “If JA asks me to jump off a building in Times Square would I do it?”
Let’s say “no” wouldn’t have been my initial response.
As we discussed this new Wall Street protest, he provided color, texture to the situation as we moved, passed the masses shuffling lives on city streets.
“See all these people? They’re sad. They still think the financial crisis is here. Look at their faces.” Naturally, he won’t recall this but I do. And he was spot on.
We discussed women, philosophy, concepts, out-of-the-box ideas, the book I was writing, how I was unhappy dying a slow death at my job, his trials, tribulations, his death(s), resurrection(s), his failures, his beautiful wife C, my childhood, his upbringing. All the while, I wanted to know everything he did. From then on (aw hell, even before then)..
I wanted to be JA. Live the JA life.
Here I go.. Where would I pass, where would I fail? How am I most like/unlike this amazing person?
1). James/Rich: PASS: Hair. Lord, our hair styles are the same. We always look like we just rolled out of bed. That makes us appear smart, yes?
Look we even wear matching vests!
2). Rich FAIL/James PASS – Being self-actualized as he is, JA appears to be funny, self-effacing about his curls – I abhor mine. JA writes – anger is unhealthy (it’s is a form of dishonesty to yourself). He describes how a brain loses intelligence, almost like it becomes oxygen-deprived if it bulks up on hate and anger. I sleep angry. I wake up several times a week, my pillow drenched in blood, because I bite my own tongue at 1 AM out of hate, regret, and every other dark lord that circles the blackness of my bedroom.
Usually, before the bloodletting, I’m dreaming of beheading someone from my past (usually a female), or I’m ten years-old again and my mother is nagging me to pick up cheap beer and tampons and pay for them with her ill-gotten food stamps. And food stamps in the 70′s were DOUBLE the size of personal checks you receive from the bank, which made them incredibly, exponentially, obvious and shameful.
The other night I was thrashing the bed covers as I pondered creative ways to slash the tires on a former corporate middle manager’s truck. Sometimes anger makes me happy. The end result is I bite myself. Bite others (don’t ask). Plasma-drench the goose down.
I’M WORKING ON THIS FAIL, LORD KNOWS. AND I’M PISSED OFF DOING IT.
3). Rich PASS/James PASS – I’m a relatively lukewarm father (and reminded of it on a regular basis). Sometimes my kid looks at me like I oozed out of some form of primordial vagina. I have no idea what to do. How to relate. I try out of sheer, blinding love but occasionally the actions to teach, guide, and provide fatherly advice to my daughter fail miserably.
JA consistently laments how he’s not geared up to be a dad. My thought is we beat ourselves up quite a bit psychologically over this – there are occasions I think we look at our girls wondering how the hell they got here and why. Are they supposed to teach us, break us? What exactly am I doing being a father? Fuck this.
From what I read, men are no longer important anyway. There’s a recent study circulating out there how all men are morphing into flesh and blood iterations of Homer Simpson. We’re stupid oafs. Insignificant. Is this how my daughter sees me? I think so.
My girl is interested in photography (thanks to me), I am encouraging her to be gay because I remind her daily how men, well, are indeed dumb, smell bad, are usually sticky and act mature briefly between the ages of 28-43. After that, the Low T kicks in, drives us insane and we do incredibly stupid, narcissistic shit. Before 28, we appear to be living in our parents’ basements masturbating to internet porn and playing X-Box (perhaps at the same time, not sure). We blame the financial crisis for this. And we get away with it!
4). Rich PASS/James PASS – JA writes in his new tome “Choose Yourself” - “Be the source. If you are the source of ideas, then you are ALWAYS the source. People come to the fountain and make wishes and throw money in. Don’t be a trickle of of dirty water. Be the fountain and let people know it by giving away all credit and rewards.”
I have always loved sharing my creativity, helping others and observing those people flourish due to concepts, ideas I provided. To me, it’s still one of the greatest sources of internal reward. In turn, I learn from those who acted upon my advice. On occasion I assist JA without realizing, until he tells me. Thanks me. And I’m on Cloud 9 for days. I do regret (JA says regret is unhealthy) providing ideas to former employers who utilized them only to fuck me over later which segues nicely to..
5). Rich FAIL/James PASS – JA flashed dogma-destroying death rays at me over the last few years. Corporate America is a sham, the “American Dream” of owning a house was a fabrication of the mortgage industry designed to enslave us, college was/is a waste of time. I was reeling, trying to repel, while at the same time, absorbing uncomfortably, his messages. There are components of all his ideas I fully believe – fortunately I realize every day how right he is. How mainstream JA’s ideas are becoming due to his relentless, important messages and his gift to communicate to/with the masses.
“Corporations don’t like you. This is not a surprise to capitalists and entrepreneurs or even artists. The entire idea behind a corporation is to set up a legal structure that takes advantage of cheap labor.” JA.
I’m also discovering through my own experience, how corporate bullies, after years of employee loyalty, seek to destroy – Physical health, financial well being. All at risk.
“Your former employer is trying to kill you,” JA said.
I believe him. He’s right. Yet, there are times I yearn to return to The Matrix. It’s scary out here working your own deal, especially as corporate behemoths try to create a financially, mentally, physically-breaking fairy tale designed to obliterate you.
I’m ashamed how, on occasion, I want to be plugged in again, returned to a system that minimized my talents, my potential, tried to “dumb me down,” for reasons I still don’t understand. There’s a comfort in this mechanism society has allowed to flourish. Sort of like a cancer gone ignored. So many lost, shareholder-owned souls with blank eyes, living dead or dying in cubicles. No need to improve. Afraid to speak up about what’s going on in Corporate America. How the employee no longer counts. Live a drone. Die a drone.
I want corporate board meetings televised on C-Span! Who’s with me?
“Stay the course, you’re doing great. I’ll help you get healthy again,” he advises. JA.
His words of encouragement, guidance keep me motivated. Steadfast. My health is improving, my self-esteem returning. I’m thinking clearer because of JA. One day I’ll document my saga with the assistance of a bestselling author.
6). Rich FAIL/James PASS – JA always walks, talks his “Daily Practice.” Like if we meet for dinner or lunch I know it’s going to be early, because he eats only two meals a day (and the last one is at two in the afternoon). I’ve learned to respect the “Daily Practice,” and his ongoing discipline to stick it out, but lord, I just can’t achieve his level. I strive each day, which should count for something. JA owns it, masters this stuff. I’m slowly getting there. Print the following. Read daily. And don’t be pissed off if you perpetually fail. One day some of these actions are going to stick and you’re going to be better for them.
JA writes: “Abundance only comes when you are moving along your themes. When you are truly enhancing the lives of the people around you. When every day you wake up with the motive of enhancement. Enhance your family, your friends, your colleagues, your clients, potential customers, readers, people you don’t know yet but would like to know. Become a beacon of enhancement, and then when the night is gray, all of the boats will move toward you, bringing their bountiful riches.”
7). Rich PASS/James PASS – JA is possibly one of the most empathetic human beings I have ever met. When he hosts his weekly Twitter Q&A, answers questions from lost or anguished souls, you can tell how passionately he seeks to advise and encourage. Since JA has blown through ten lives in 45 years, he pretty much has “been there and done that.”
He provides priceless content from his own experiences. Due to my own upbringing, as I outline in my book “Random Thoughts of a Money Muse,” I take people’s issues to heart. On occasion it helps me, once in a while it weakens me. Either way, it’s all good. It’s the ugly beauty of the human thread. JA gets it. I love him for it.
Follow JA on Twitter here: JA’s Twitter.
My book. Back cover commentary courtesy of who else? JA: Random Thoughts of a Money Muse. I would have never found my true voice without him.
8). Rich PASS/James PASS – I write daily. At least 1,000 words. Writing is therapy, and it’s a skill you must continue to hone or you lose it. Quick. It’s a bitch goddess monkey on my back to write every damn day. I don’t feel complete unless I document something or think of writing something for media, a blog, to myself, to brunettes I stalk. Whatever.
Damn him for getting me hooked on this writing crap. JA says you need to “bleed” in the written. In other words, you must share a bit of your inner most self with readers, even if it’s embarrassing. Goodness I have bled some strange, awkward material. Re-opened wounds. What else do you people want from me?
9). Rich FAIL/James PASS – JA recommends every day to read/skim chapters from books on at least four different topics. I can’t. I’m consumed with financial topics, non-fiction. I feel icky about myself if I venture into fiction. I do enjoy a good Maxim cover but hey, that’s non-fiction, right? Right? I must advance to areas that make me uncomfortable.
I love Eliza Dushku. No I mean I really, really, really (really).
10). Rich FAIL/James PASS – JA has found enriching ways to “choose himself.” I remain a work in progress. I’ve been programmed since I’m a kid – been told I was a dumb ass by the people closest to me. After a few years of brainwashing I began to believe it! Plus, I was afflicted with a horrible case of man boobs as a young boy and I was never selected to play dodge ball. Thanks to JA’s writings over the years, the empowering messages, I have altered my thinking. Re-programmed. Through exercise (a Daily Practice) I have conquered the man boobs too.
JA’s new book is available for pre-order here: Choose Yourself.
He practically gives his work away. I mean really. $4.99?
That’s who he is. Spreading the message. He’s like a Jewish Jesus. Oh wait.
I mentioned to JA I was writing this piece (he didn’t think this piece was about him). He’s so humble, he laughed.
I still have an e-mail from JA, dated 11/19/2012 after he read my first shot at writing a book.
Best. book. ever: With many thanks to you, James.
So creative. You have to be a writer: Nah, I’m just a money manager with stories to tell. Plus, I so like to share my most embarrassing moments – it humbles a person.
What’s the story now? Shit, I’m not sure. All I know is I’ll remain a friend and nothing you’re going to write will ever offend me enough to drop the connection (leave the denial over my man boobs out of it).
How are you promoting this? For now, I’ll promote you. Your new book. It’s a game-changer.
JA is indeed a super hero. Available in comic book form.
I just accomplished letter “T” of “The Daily Practice.”
Tell someone every day that you love them.
James Altucher: I just did?
Tomorrow is a new day to master the teachings.
And choose myself.
For that (and you) I remain grateful.