Monday, March 14, 2022

You can't keep it unless you give it away

    I am currently drinking coffee and enjoying the silence of the house. 
It won't be silent for long. Wind chimes on the back patio are really active this morning.
This is my favorite part of the day, the calm before the storm.
This is spring break week here in Nederland, Tx. The girls and Laura are off of school and I have managed to be home and not working to spend the week with them. The Nederland Heritage Festival is this week, which is a big deal around here. Lots of rides, food and festivities - it's a good time in a small town.

    Really this week is the calm before the storm.
We head out next week on the first "Blood Brothers Tour" with Albert Castiglia and his band. It's a massive 3 and a half week tour of the midwest to the northeast of the US. 21 shows on the first leg of the tour, 10 days off and another 19 shows. 40 shows in total between next week and the end of May.
It's the first ever Gulf Coast Records event tour. We had this idea right away in 2019 but the pandemic of course stopped us in our tracks. It's exciting and will be a lot of work for us all. Two bands on the road together, it will be eventful I assume. So this week is my last week of time home and off to just hang out, go to bed early or stay up late playing games with the girls. 

     Our mantra for this tour (and really every tour) is to "Bring the Joy".
We are out there to be of service to the fans and our friends. Play our hearts out all with the hopes that people leave the show feeling better than when they got there. That is always the plan when doing a show. If the audience has a great time, we have a great time. Most often the audience lifts us up. We get tired and cranky from traveling and miss home but the fans show up and give us strength and hope and bring us the joy. In return we can do the same for them. It's a beautiful thing that we are all addicted to, the constant sharing of joy and happiness to be alive and make music. It all sounds a little corny, but it's true. Every musician I know will agree with me. The audience lifts us up, we give back and lift up the audience. It's a bond that can never be replaced by technology - it has to be felt in human contact together.  It is the transfer of energy. The transfer must happen, it can't stop without a return address. When one party is always giving and the other is always taking, the flow will end. 

    There is an old saying in recovery "You can't keep it unless you give it away".
It's one of those sayings that seem contradictory. Like "You have to surrender to win". They don't always make sense to a selfish person. It takes time to wear that selfishness off and learn to become selfless. Thats a lifetime challenge. Take it from me, I was the most selfish person there ever was. For over 30 years all I gave a shit about was me and what I wanted and needed and deserved. I did not give at all, I took. I took and stole and cried and pitched a fit when I did not get what I wanted. It's taken years to change that pattern of thinking and living. There is a reason a selfish person is always unhappy, because the energy stops with them. They do not give it away, they only take it from others. The joy is not passing through them and the true benefit of joy is to pass it on. I have learned over the years that if I want my dreams to come true I have to help others achieve their dreams first. When I help enough people achieve their dreams unbelievably my dreams just happen. Because my dreams become helping others. In return I get whatever I want, and mostly I want others to be happy. When I lower my personal expectations it's much easier to be happy with any outcome. I don't worry about things today, I assume they will work out and they always work out. 

    So, I'm and going to make a dream come true for myself now and have another cup of coffee. This house will get loud soon and the silence will be gone until tomorrow at this time. I need the caffeine to cope with the loud noises :)

Peace, Love, Zito

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Fat Face

 So let me be perfectly clear here........I am NOT writing this blog for all of you to coddle me and tell me how beautiful I am and pat me on the back and say it's ok.....LOL. I am writing this blog because I think most people relate and might get something from my experience and maybe a few laughs.

                                       Me, circa 1989, balloon tits and all. Photo credit Kurt Reese :)

Hi, my name is Mike and I have a fat face.

Yes, yes I do. I always have and probably always will. I am a 51 year old man who has a beautiful wife and family and none of this should really matter in the big picture of life. BUT.....it bothers me, always. My mother was short and beautiful and a little chubby let's say, not obese at all. My father was usually in pretty good shape his whole life being in the military and working all of the time. They were both short people. My mother's face was very round.....my face is round as well. We lived in a 5 room apartment in a 4 family flat and were not wealthy to say the least. My parents were much older than me and they grew up more poor than we ever imagined, especially my mother. My mother was raised in Ashland, Missouri and they had a dirt floor. They had cardboard on the ground or old linoleum but underneath was dirt....they were dirt poor. The most important thing to my parents was that we had food and that we ate everyday, that is literally all that mattered. We ate the worst everyday 70's style food there was - processed white bread, soda, ice cream, miracle whip, sugar, bologna, hot dogs, headcheese, potato chips....all the good shit! Of course my mother cooked and we had good meals in the evenings and on the weekends she would make a big Italian dinner with spaghetti and.....meatballs, neck bones, pigs feet - any meat would do. Pigs feet and spaghetti was my absolute favorite meal when I was a kid, I loved it! 

My mother constantly fed me - peanut butter and sugar sandwiches, miracle whip sandwiches, salami and cheese on wonderbread.....it tasted great, but not the most nutritious of foods. My dad would always take me to the Italian Import store on Saturdays and we would get olives, Volpi salami, pepperoni, cheese and really good Italian bakery bread.......this was and still is my all time favorite foods. My parents were older and I was like a grandchild with grandparents. We ate ALL the time. It's no surprise that I was a big kid. I was born 10 pounds and never stopped growing. I was bigger than most of the kids in the neighborhood and in school. I went to Catholic school my entire life and from 1st to 8th grade I had to wear a uniform. The uniform was a light blue button down short sleeve shirt and dark blue trousers. They sold these uniforms at Sears on Grand ave in south St. Louis. I was too big to fit into the normal size uniforms. SO...Sears had a lovely section in the boys department called "HUSKY"......thats where I got my school uniform. I had to wear HUSKY for 8 years straight. When I was a kid I didn't really care at first until I started getting called "Fat" and "Chubby" and "Big Boy" and "Tubby"......then I realized that the Sears section "HUSKY" was just another word for FAT Boys LOL!!!

Look, I won't bore you with all of the details of my fairly boring Catholic Italian South St. Louis life, let's just say I ate WAY too much, I ate a lot of SHIT food, and I was always the Fat Funny kid in school. It took me years into my 20's to develop an exercise routine and learn to eat better foods. Getting out of the house and around others made a big difference. But no matter what I did or how hard I worked at it, I always had a FAT Face. A big round, chubby cheeked, Dago Fat Face. 

Throughout the years I have developed what I would call a fairly normal eating disorder. I eat whatever I want until I hate myself so much that I will do something about it, then I don't eat anything for a period of time and lose some weight....enough weight to get to the point where I feel like I can eat anything I want and put all the weight back on again in a few months. Sound familiar? I know this is true, so over the years I have really tried hard to break this cycle. I have really learned to just eat moderately and stay away from most shit food when I can, it works and it's less of a roller coaster. Into my 40's and now 50's I am much more stable in my diet and exercise and really kind of stay in a ballpark weight range. But as I continue to get older, losing 5 or 10 pounds is NOT easy at all. It requires more and more exercise and eating less and less food. Most people don't really notice 5 pounds on me, my wife can never tell....but I can. It's in my BIG FAT FACE! I have made my way into a musical career which is awesome, but in the 21st century everyone and their brother LOVES to take pictures and videos of everything we do onstage - (which is awesome btw) but also a bit of a nightmare the next day when all of the pics are posted online. My first reaction is always "JESUS....that is a fucking fat face". I try and make it a joke and laugh or just let it go and realize it's nothing important........but I would be lying if I told you that it didn't bother me. It does bother me. It gets under my skin. I get this underlying feeling of dread and disgust. I see those pictures and think "thats not what I feel like inside" - I feel good inside and strong and excited, but seeing those pictures start to take that feeling away. I start to feel miserable and dull and not happy. Yuck. Why would anyone pay to come see that fat face play music? Disgusting!! (said in a Silvio Dante accent).

Obviously, I do my best to get over myself and be grateful I am healthy and very very blessed. I remind myself that the camera adds 50 pounds and the angle of the photographs are from 20 feet below and thats why I have 4 chins. But sometimes I get a little bummed about it all. So I tell my wife and she reassures me I look fine and I should give myself a break. So I do. I start to watch what I eat a little more and work harder in the gym. But the bottom line is - I think I look fat when I weigh 175 pounds and I think I look fat when I weigh 200 pounds. I think Sears might have traumatized me in the HUSKY section. 

so, to recap - PLEASE do NOT write comments telling me I am NOT fat and that I should love myself and how wonderful I am - That is NOT what I am looking for here. I wanted to share with you how I feel sometimes and I am pretty sure a lot of my friends and maybe fellow entertainers understand.  It's a touchy subject and I think I need to remind myself that how I feel inside is the most important feeling. I have to say, most of the time I feel real good inside. Maybe, I need to stop looking at all of the pictures and videos of myself and lose some of the narcissism. That's probably the best thing we could all do. I also need to just accept the fact that I have a FAT FACE.....always have, always will. It's the face God made for Italian Aunts to grab both cheeks and squeeze the bejeezus out of!

I hope you had a good laugh and maybe you'll feel better today about yourself, we're all in this together.


Peace, Love...Zito


Friday, February 25, 2022

Getting Older

 I know it's been a minute since I have made a post, but I promise I am trying hard to get back into a groove of posting thoughts and sharing stories. The blog is on my mind as I tour because so many people from all around the globe tell me how much they enjoy it and want more. Sometimes I just don't know what to write, but I think I just need to start writing again and it will start pouring out.

We have all been through so much the past few years. Stuck inside or cutoff from family and friends and so many people have passed away from Covid. It's been hard on us all. We have lost dear family and friends, but not all to Coronavirus. Many were getting older and had health issues, some were sick for long periods of time with other health issues. I think having so much time to spend contemplating has given me an opportunity to realize how fragile life really is in this world. When we are always on the go, you just keep going. But with all the time we have had to ourselves, there was more time for grieving....which I believe is good. When my parents passed away, I was always in the middle of work and raising my own kids and I don't think I had the time to really process the loss. It came back to haunt me in other ways down the road. I was angry for no reason, depressed and sometimes just didn't give a shit about much. But with this gift of time to grieve the losses and the setbacks, I think the anger and resentment is put aside. A lot of the time I will hear my wife, Laura, say "So and so died.....it's so sad, it's like everyone we know is dying". I tell her it's not "like" everyone is dying, everyone IS dying. WE are getting older and the older we get, the more people we know will be passing away, unless we go first. It's only going to continue to happen more and more if we are given the gift for another day above ground. Thats life.

My father was almost 50 years older than me. When I was 13 years old he retired and was in his sixties. I remember he spent most of his retirement going to funerals and wakes of all of his buddies that passed away. They would go and get drunk and celebrate their friend's life. That was mostly his social life that I can remember for all of my life. He was always happy to be the one still standing and drinking with his other friends. He missed the ones that moved on, but he was grateful it wasn't him. I think that is a good lesson. I remember my father always saying to me "Michael, you worry too much". That means so much to me now. My father survived WWII, saw a lot of action and was telling me that life is short and I should try and enjoy it while it lasted. 

I genuinely try and live by those words today. I try not to worry about much that is out of my control. I do my best to make sure my family is taken care of, that I try and stay healthy so I can continue to be a good father and husband and provide for my loved ones. I try to my best with my work and make it all count. But at the end of the day I think about what I could've done better and I give myself a break, I'll try harder tomorrow. Of course I get concerned with world events and Covid and everything the world is throwing at us, but at a some point I have to let it all go and leave it up to God. I cannot change the world events, but I can change my attitude toward life and bring some joy to my family and friends. I have faith that life will work itself out. I have not been let down yet. 

When I lose a loved one or a good friend, it hurts and it makes me sad, like anyone else. But ultimately I realize that I am getting older and thats what happens when people get older, they die. People get sick and leave us too young, it's tragic and painful. Life hurts. But I am still here for some reason and I have to continue to live. Those that have passed on would want it that way. My father would be telling me to stop worrying and live your life, it's short. 

I am getting older, we all are. I can age gracefully or fight it. I think I will try to be as graceful as possible. I am thankful for another day above ground and I will make sure to not worry so much and try and bring some joy to those around me.


Peace, Love, Zito