My Road to Finding a Purpose in Life

Every once in a while I like to tell my story with the hope of helping others struggling with life as well as keeping it green for myself. I grew up in a middle class family in Brooklyn, New York with the hope of becoming someone who was enjoyable to be around and had a purpose in life. I had a lot of hobbies as well as being a very good athlete and artist. There wasn’t a day in my life up until I was about 17 that I didn’t play ball, draw or build a model. Anything that came in a kit I built models, string arts, puzzles it didn’t matter it all kept me busy and helped me through the day. My parents were hard working people but not the best motivators. I really didn’t have much guidance or structure and definitely wasn’t a disciplined child. I hated being told what to do and always thought I knew everything. There was a time where I felt like everything I did turned to gold making me feel like I owned the world.

Around the age of 17 I started to venture out more and started experimenting with Alcohol and drugs as a social way of fitting in. At first it seemed to work as under the influence everything seemed more enjoyable, social events and music especially. At 19 I was already a local 3 electrical apprentice but realized quickly that it wasn’t what I saw myself doing for the next 40 years. Coming home to play ball and party was more important to me at that time. After 4 years and two 30 day rehabs I was terminated from local 3. I went on to become a copier tech for Xerox as well as Minolta Business Systems but was still struggling to find myself. I was trying so hard to make the world fit around me instead of finding a way to fit into the world.

I found myself going down a very scary road getting worse and worse each day eventually ending up in places and doing things I never thought possible. I spent many nights in abandoned buildings with total strangers putting myself in very dangerous situations. The rehabs exposed me to AA, NA, CA and PA meetings which I really did like but still never felt comfortable being me. The meetings did put me around people that helped me realize that my life had meaning and should have a purpose. Even though I didn’t know what that purpose was at the time I decided that I was going to finally listen to people and try something different. I decided to learn as much as I could about myself so I could understand who where and what I should be doing with my life. It was important for me to truly know who I should be around, where I should be going and what I should be doing with my life to be happy.

I was always someone who either gave to much or gave to little, people in the meetings taught me about balance about structure and about being organized. I met my wife at 19 and we have been together ever since for the last 34 years. We were married in 1987 on a spur of the moment decision while vacationing in Jamaica. Most of our early years was spur of the moment decisions which seemed to make our lives very chaotic to say the least. We managed to stay married for almost 10 years before having kids despite having two families that were very overbearing and lived 5 minutes away from us. We even one time moved to a new apartment without telling them with the hope they would understand to let us live our lives but we really were the ones that had no idea how to live on our own without them around. Our son was born in 1995 and our daughter in 2000 but we were working parents at the time in NYC and both sets of parents were all still working at the time so it was a lot of daycare settings for both our kids until they were approx. 12 years old.

Music was always something that drove me, I was a disco head in the early 80’s hanging out at dance clubs in NYC and Brooklyn but also was insanely crazy about New Wave and Rock. I hung out in clubs like The Peppermint Lounge, The Ritz, The Limelight, L’amour and many others. I was not a concert guy but went to a few just to hang out with some friends. My first ever concert at Madison Square Garden was Squeeze with the opening band being A Flock of Seagulls. I saw U2 and The Talking Heads but that was about it. Around the time my son turned 8 he became interested in music by finding my Kiss cd’s. I went out and bought some of their dvd’s so he could see what their live shows were about. We where living in New Jersey at this point about 10 years everyday passing Birch Hill but never going in. That summer Kiss was playing PNC Bank Arts Center and I said to my wife maybe I should take him, I was more frightened as I haven’t been to a concert in almost 20 years. I bought two lawn tickets and we we had a great time so I took him to another one that same summer Motley Crue another great time.

My wife at the time was working for one of the largest music distributors in the world called ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance). At that time the economy was good and perks were flying. She would come home with duffel bags stuffed with cd’s, music I never heard of. Every style and genre you could think of I had in my lap. This opened up the door to hearing a lot of music that I would have never been exposed to otherwise. One day my wife came home and said there is this place in Sayreville called Starland Ballroom that I could probably get you on some guest lists. My son and I went to check it out a show here a show there I believe our first three shows there were Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Bouncing Souls and MSI. These few shows led to a lifestyle beyond our wildest dreams. Within a years time we were season pass holders shelling out $1,500 to be able to go to every show for the year without worrying about tickets. I had my own Starland Ballroom card with my picture on it. Everyone there was so cool and was always hoping we showed up. We became fan favorites, my son had a shirt made up that said Mr. Starland with all the band names on it and autographs. This is where I became friends with a lot of the photographers shooting at the time who eventually convinced me to start shooting on a professional level. I remember emailing some bands to get photo passes with not one even responding until I emailed an online magazine I came across.This nice woman emailed me back saying I could put you down as a staff photographer and help you get some press passes. I had no idea it was one of the largest online and print music magazines around, it was called Amp Magazine. From day 1 I had access to providing pictures of every show that came through Starland. Bands like For Today, Stray From the Path, Less Than Jake, A Day to Remember, New Found Glory and 100’s more. I started shooting Warped Tour, Mayhem Fest and The Uproar Festival. It was insane but so incredibly cool. My son and I became the coolest father son combo around.

Being a recovering Alcoholic and Addict at this point over 15 years of being clean and sober I finally found a purpose. I wanted to be a powerful force in the music scene with the purpose of documenting and enjoying all different types of music without the influence of Alcohol and drugs, shear passion. I was even sponsoring some of the local musicians on the scene at the time. I have now been clean and sober over 27 years, married almost 30 years and providing photo coverage for numerous outlets and venues for close to 7 years professionally about 11 all together. I am now the official house photographer for the Legendary Stone Pony and one of the house photographers for Starland Ballroom. I have won the Asbury Music Award for top music photographer 4 years in a row and in 2016 was voted by one of the top 25 most influential people in the music scene today. I now cover over 300 shows a year. It has been a wild ride that I hope never ends.


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