Happy First Birthday, LifeAfterNirvana

Our first layout, gone but not forgotten.

It’s been a year. I can’t believe that this actually happened. Or that it’s been as successful as it’s been. Or that Vincent could still manage to keep pestering me all the way from Seattle. (You’re the best!) It’s been an insane ride, one that I’d like to continue for a while. We started with four bloggers, and grew to seven. We’re hopefully adding an eighth and ninth soon. (The goal is, of course, to add as many knowledgeable bloggers as possible so that you guys can have quantity and quality in your hopefully frequent excursions to LifeAfterNirvana.)

But for a moment, let’s not think about the future. For this post, I’d like to think first about the past.

Here are 105 important life lessons I’ve learned since we founded the blog (in no particular order). Some I’ve learned through the blog, some indirectly, and some completely unrelated:

  1. Vincent isn’t always right about music, but when he is, he’s spot on.
  2. Chris is always right about music.
  3. Taylor needs to post more.
  4. LA has a very different definition of hipster than Seattle does. LA thinks Fleet Foxes are hipster. Seattle thinks Fleet Foxes’ opening act is too mainstream.
  5. Apparently I’m a hipster.
  6. Sorority girls really like it when you know how to play “Call Me Maybe” on an acoustic guitar.
  7. Sorority girls are smarter than they appear. (Don’t judge a book by its cover.)
  8. Don’t date racist people.
  9. “True intimacy isn’t found in the backseats of cars, it’s found brushing your teeth together.” – Gabrielle Zevin
  10. “It’s time for a new breed of filmmakers. When I came up in film school, we hated all the previous directors, save for Alfred Hitchcock. No more remakes or sequels. It’s time to tell stories that mean something.” – Robert Zemeckis, paraphrased.
  11. I write dramedies, and my biggest influences are Aaron Sorkin, Diablo Cody and Paddy Chayefsky.
  12. Casting is a battle worth fighting.
  13. Scheduling is the hardest part of filmmaking.
  14. Sarah Huck is a goddess at both 13 and 14. And she is also my new best friend.
  15. Falling in love for the first time is a terrible thing…
  16. …but it is also a necessary experience.
  17. Everyone should follow @shelbyfero, @torriezaccor, @aldenderck, @susie_why, @lorganmutich, @mitchell_winkie and @kylebellar on Twitter.
  18. Taylor Dearden is an amazing actress who knocks it out of the park every time.
  19. Gus Bendinelli is a brilliant cinematographer who also happens to be the nicest guy ever.
  20. Breaking Bad is one of the best shows… ever.
  21. Everything is a choice.
  22. Nobody watches Sherlock or Parenthood but they need to.
  23. The West Wing is still amazing. And you need to watch that too.
  24. Network could be the greatest film of all time. The Social Network could also be that film. Not sure yet.
  25. Susie Yankou is an amazing musician.
  26. This isn’t a lesson, but here’s a list (likely incomplete) the amazing student filmmakers, writers, etc, that I’ve met at USC so far: Will Merrick, Ben Chance, Will Cherry, Shelby Fero, Alden Derck, Jack Bentele, Tommy Waas, Josh Rappaport, Conor Frank, Dani Goffstein, Kassidy Testut, Sarah Huck, Jordan Lyric, Jabril Mack, Maggie Admire, Sara Monge, Susie Y., Morgan Lutich, Elle Callahan, Laurel Kulow, Madeline Berger, Mike Effenberger, Sam Sandweiss, Michael Nader, J.T. Hagaman, Cameron Evans, Emily Kuperman, Cody Lawrence, David Gantz, Chris Velez, Kyle Bellar, Bubba Fish, Anthony DeCapite, Andy Gause, Michael Bugarin, Nakia Jones, Jake Leder, Jordan Weiss, Conner Vidano, Mattan Cohen, Radha Vishnubhotla, Kirsten Jakob, Ari Mostov, Sydney Ralston, Eric Parra, Bobby Browning, DJ Banton, Althea Capra, Zach Siegel, Harry Hunter, Jason Smith, Mitchell Winkie, Aaron Izek, Jake Hollander, Laur Tam, Miranda Due, Chris Carpenter, Terence Digan, Eric Walker, Amir Mojarradi, Jack Begert, Ben Mullen, Dennis Noack, Stephen Helstad, Sean Roth, Mike Roma, Max Palazzo, Arturo Thur de Koos, Kayla Carlisle, Catherine Chooljian, Trevor Taylor, Max Pittsley, Riley Pietsch, Allison Tate-Cortese, Rikke Heinecke, Rachel Scott, Michael Chasin, Ty Sheedlo, Taylor Dearden, Gus Bendinelli, Torrie Zaccor, Larissa Schiavo and Jeff Watson.
  27. There was a cinema before Michael Bay, and there was a cinema after Michael Bay. (jokes)
  28. #savecommunity: http://gaaaay.com/
  29. I love Mumford and Sons, but there are a lot of great, undiscovered bands that exist too that do a very similar thing.
  30. Same for Gotye.
  31. Letterboxd is amazing.
  32. I don’t care how out-of-style it seems to be at the moment, being a gentleman is always in fashion.
  33. Memes are going to be the new form of communication going forward and they are also hilarious.
  34. I am a postmodern baby and I am proud.
  35. My music taste is all over the map, but there are generally two rules: it’s played by real people with real instruments, and it’s intricate and passionate.
  36. This is how I interpret things.
  37. This is the story of my life. Except for the burning part.
  38. There are still evil people in the world, and we need to weed them out.
  39. A bad director can ruin a good script, but it’s much harder for a good director to save a bad script. Same goes for good and bad actors in relation to a good or bad script.
  40. There is always someone famous on the USC campus.
  41. Jennifer Lawrence could be the next Meryl Streep. Not sure yet.
  42. There are some really good actors at USC.
  43. Pacing and rhythm are a lot, but they’re not everything. Action helps dialogue. But dialogue is damn important.
  44. The words are music. In everything.
  45. Family is an incredibly important thing.
  46. Kleptomania is unintentionally sexy.
  47. Imboycrazy.com is sometimes crazy right.
  48. Good writing is hard. Good rewriting is harder.
  49. This is for everyone: Guys (or girls) who are nice one-on-one but not when in a group situation are douchebags. No question. There’s something to be said of the men and women who are nice all the time.
  50. Empathy is the key to the ideal civilization.
  51. To celebrate Purim the Rabbinical way is to get drunk and have a good time.
  52. Character and narrative drive.
  53. Everything, no matter how intellectual, has to have a heart for it to be entertaining.
  54. Women only achieve orgasm 35% of the time. We have to do better, men.
  55. You should practice what you preach.
  56. If I was in a horror movie, I would be exposition guy.
  57. When you’re in love, the highs are astronomical. The lows are worse.
  58. The best conversations occur after one in the morning, as I’ve learned from Torrie and Sarah.
  59. Don’t smoke cigarettes.
  60. DON’T SMOKE CIGARETTES.
  61. It’s legal in 29 states to fire someone because they’re gay. That’s not even close to OK.
  62. If you’re really in love with someone, you’re happy to see them happy, even if you’re not.
  63. I’m not scared of dying alone. I’m scared of living alone.
  64. The inherent problem with most high school teachers is that they themselves are not the standard the average person should aspire to be–they are the average person.
  65. I derive great pleasure from three things: intimacy, seeing the fruits of my creative labor when they are ripe and perfect and recognized by others as such, and seeing the ones I love experience a similar great pleasure as a result of something I have done.
  66. Vegas is hedonism for hedonism’s sake. This disappoints me.
  67. Music shouldn’t have to be a fashion statement.
  68. Neither should taste in film.
  69. It is possible to hold the same person in your head as both incredibly nice and incredibly cruel. Doublethink exists.
  70. “If you don’t do something ’cause you don’t wanna, then I respect that. But if you don’t do something because you think it’s gonna be too hard or you think you’re gonna lose? Well, God, I don’t even want to know you.” – Mrs. Landingham (Aaron Sorkin)
  71. There isn’t a solution for every problem, but that doesn’t mean we should stop looking.
  72. “I wish I could just be like, we just made brief eye contact across the room, do you wanna have sex?” – Dr. Poonslayer, D.D.S.
  73. The Friend Zone is hell.
  74. “The world is my friend zone.” – Anonymous
  75. “High school makes us go through such unnecessary shit to prove ourselves to ourselves.” – Sarah Huck
  76. “Sex makes the world go ’round. The most civilizing force on this planet is not religion, it’s sex. We do almost everything we do to impress the opposite sex. If the world was inhabited by just one gender, the world would be a very cold, hurtful place.” – Hugh Hefner
  77. “You think the strike against me is that I’m the smartest kid in the class.”
    “It’s only a strike if you watch it as it passes by home plate.”
    – Jed & Toby (Aaron Sorkin)
  78. The seven-mile run from USC to the (500) Days of Summer bench is the best kind of run.
  79. “If it takes more than a fortnight to edit, you’re doing something wrong.” – Werner Herzog
  80. I do have a filter.
  81. “Liking someone is the most selfish thing you can do.” – Anonymous
  82. People are assholes, but they’re also amazing sometimes.
  83. Chris Reimann is a great roommate.
  84. “Since we are social beings, choice involves choosing for all mankind.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
  85. It’s not about what you actually feel, it’s about what you should feel.
  86. The showers in my dorm are disgusting, but they’re also the perfect place for inspiration and reflection.
  87. I have a certain ego about my writing. Might be a flaw, might be a good thing. Not sure yet.
  88. The Game might be the greatest invention of 2011.
  89. Getting fucked fucks up your fuckdar.
  90. “I Love USC And I Hate UCLA” – Aloe Blacc
  91. Never again should we be at the mercy of men just following orders.
  92. The best, most talented people are generally the nicest.
  93. Sometimes, the world provides you with unexpected happiness. More often, expected happiness gives way to unexpected sadness.
  94. In the day I dream of winning Oscars. In the night I dream of winning hearts.
  95. Take responsibility, or take a hike.
  96. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, a hipster will buy the soundtrack.” – Peter Biethan
  97. Paris really is the most romantic city on Earth.
  98. I miss childhood, but I also know that adulthood is so much more fulfilling.
  99. The worst feeling in the world is knowing that people you aspire to be liked by are talking about you negatively behind your back and you can’t do anything about it.
  100. Harry Potter epitomizes our generation.
  101. Death Cab’s Transatlanticism is perfect for the greatest of all emotions.
  102. The only thing more tasteless and ignorant than laughing at an Anne Frank joke is not getting an Anne Frank joke.
  103. Katy Perry’s Breasts would make a great band name. Who wouldn’t wanna see Katy Perry’s Breasts?
  104. “You should marry a woman that is willing to change with you as you constantly evolve” – Anonymous.
  105. I have great friends. Vincent, Chris, Kevin, Taylor, David, Seth, my fellow bloggers… this is for you.

I suppose that takes us to the present. It has, indeed, been a year:

This song just seemed… fitting. Greg Laswell has been featured on this blog before, by me, and the straight 4/4 rhythm accentuated by percussion worthy of Mr. Trimis’ appreciation seems to just define how “sweet” the last year has been. Imperfect, sure, but always rolling.

The second song celebrates the birthday of LAN in a way Vincent would very much disapprove of. But it’s hilarious:

The final song I have represents the last year on a more personal level. Last January 20th, before the blog idea was even implanted in my head, I started a novel experiment. After every day, I recorded the “Song(s) of the Day”–the songs that I listened to most, jammed out to, had the most creative impact on my writing and my life.

It didn’t take careful analysis of the list to know that the song for this past year was “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab For Cutie, possibly my favorite song of all time.

This song was inspirational to me foremost in my creative endeavors. Some of the funniest jokes I’ve ever written came out of listening to this song sad late at night; some of the most moving dramatic moments I’ve ever envisioned came from a similar place.

This song has helped me let it out in every way I needed to, when I was at my worst and at my best. The song’s incredible, seven-minute build is both brilliant and awe-inspiring, at once both intimate and epic. It is bigger than it is; the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It’s just three simple chords, three simple notes in repetition, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an outpouring of emotion. The musical equivalent of sex. Like The Beatles’ best works, but produced and amplified for the modern age and lyricized for the young and less fortunate. Jason McGerr’s drumming is second to none. Ben Gibbard’s vocals exemplify the sadness and longing of a lost generation. Nick Harmer’s bass keeps things at a steady growth. And Chris Walla’s superb guitar and production arrangements could leave even the stone-faced listener weeping profusely.

This song is about everything. At its core, it’s about a long-distance relationship, a common theme on Transatlanticism. But it can be about so much more. It can be about the voicelessness of a young man adrift in an endless sea of loneliness. It can be about the primal desires of love and sex. It can be about the nature of relationships, of love, of the way we feel about each other. It can be about unrequited love. It can be about an individual’s sadness and the destructive cycle it can create.

So come on. Come on, come on, come on. This is it. Right now. Here’s the moment. What is it to you?

As I look on to the future of this in-retrospect-insane endeavor, I can only wonder what’s gonna happen next.

If it’s anything like the past year, I won’t even be able to imagine the heights this blog can reach and I’ll love every minute of it.

Right-click to download:

Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism .mp3

About Dylan Visvikis

Dylan Visvikis is a working screenwriter and director in Los Angeles. View all posts by Dylan Visvikis

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