Appreciating connection (oh, also cult stuff?)

My friends have joked on me about my fascination with cults. It’s even influenced some of my art at times (like this music video.)

The whole Jonestown horror and the film The Sacrament by Ti West. The Invitation is another good one. The music video for “Premonition of the Hex” by Circa Survive. Bizarre belief systems like Scientology. (Watch The Master if you haven’t already.) Warren Jeffs, the child rapist and leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I was reading the Rolling Stone article “Children of Scientology: Life After Growing Up in an Alleged Cult”, and it talks about people who were raised in that system as children and then leaving it. Of the many interesting aspects of that article, one thing kind of stood out to me – the differences between adults and children when it comes to cults, specifically leaving them.

The article talks about it thusly:

“People who join and leave as adults have the luxury of connecting with their past selves, [a cult expert and therapist] says. ‘For them, it’s about reconnecting, rediscovering, re-everything. But SGAs don’t have that. Their identity is the cult.’”

The term “SGAs” in that sentence stands for “Second Generation Adults.” Basically, a first generation adult leaves their family to join a cult. For the SGA, the family is the cult.

If you had to start over and relearn almost everything as an adult, how difficult and terrifying would that be? (For a non-cult documentary where someone had to start over in a different way, the film Tell Me Who I Am is good, maddening, and heartbreaking.)

All of this got me thinking about the idea of connection. Our connections with friends and family. Our past familial histories and how they can affect us. Even some of the nature vs. nurture argument.

Part of that comes from the same Rolling Stone article above where one of the former Scientologists is aware that her mother is Jewish, which means that according to tradition, so is she. The article mentions that “it’s one of the few things that she was before she was a Scientologist.” That’s the connection she was trying to explore.

There have been times in my own life where I have felt somewhat disconnected, not nearly on the level the people in that article must be dealing with by any means, but at least a little. There is so much I don’t know, even about my own family history.

But even with those moments of disconnect, I never had to start over from scratch. I never had to explore aspects of a previous identity that I never had. Even when I left the belief system I was raised in, I didn’t lose everything. My family didn’t disown me; my friends didn’t stop talking to me. (Many of my friends left belief systems as well though – some before me, some after.) 

But I’m lucky in that fact. I can be my authentic self without it costing me those connections. I understand that not everyone can say that.

Since we’re wrapping up the holiday season of such a strange, trying clusterfuck of a year, connection seems so important. Some people skipped out on seeing family during the holidays (not enough to slow this fucking pandemic apparently, but still…) More people are dealing with isolation, loneliness, depression, along with anxieties about whatever else is going on in their personal lives. It’s been rough for a lot of people.

I guess in this last bit of 2020, maybe it’d be nice for us to take a moment to appreciate the connections we have – to the friends and family that love us, to the strangers that show us kindness, and to the memories of those gone before us.

I hope you and yours have a happy new year. Thanks for reading. Much love.

-Josh

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Oh looky, another rambling post just in time for the holidays

Hi, and welcome to another blog post where I try to get my thoughts “on paper” in the digital sense of the word.

Sometimes I wonder how I come across to people. Not in an insecure kind of way, but in a curiosity kind of way. I saw something a while back on Facebook that talked about how there are literally multiple versions of you, and none of them are the “you” that you think you are.

Does that make sense? The person you think you are, the person you see in the mirror, that person only exists to you. Others see “you” in their own way, and that may not line up with who you see in the mirror.

Multiple times in my own life, I have had people look at me and say, “I wish you could see yourself how I see you.”

While I’m still not there, it did bring up a couple of things:

  1. It made me think of the saying “What others think of me is none of my business.”
  2. It made me think about authenticity – another subject I talk about regularly on here.

Damn, I use the word “think” a lot on here. Anyway…

For me to be authentic, I have to live by and act on my core principles and values. How that is perceived by others is not really my business. I think? (Did it again.)

That got me to thinking about an article I read a while back called “How to Grow the Fuck Up” by Mark Manson. In that article, he talks about three stages of life: child, adolescent, adult.

Basically, as a child, we do things for pleasure. As an adolescent, things are transactional; we develop principles and values, but we also try to make sure that we get pleasure at the end. We’ll do something to get something in return. (If you’re thinking that you know adults like that, he does argue in the article that many people never get past this stage their whole lives.)

Then we have the adult stage where we do things based on our principles without regard to pleasure. We do something simply because it’s right.

Now how does all this tie together? Good question. All this stuff floats around in my brain, and trying to make it all intersect into a post that makes sense can be daunting at times. But here goes:

I think principles are important. I care about people. I don’t show that I care in order to get something in return. It’s not transactional. I just care. When I think or know that someone is struggling or hurting, I try to check on them. Not for any reward, but because I care. I don’t want or expect anything in return. (And I’m not religious, so I’m not concerned about some post-earth reward either.)

But… I don’t always know how that comes across. Do some people think that I want something in return? Do they think that I have some ulterior motive? Do they think I’m being transactional instead of principled?

In the end, however, if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do (principles), then I’m not being the authentic version of myself that I think I am (that person I see in the mirror.)

Hopefully that made sense. [Insert shrug emoji here.]

Anyway, this year has been a shit year for a whole lot of people, and this time of year can exacerbate that with holidays, stress, seasonal affective disorder, oh, and this whole fucking pandemic that JUST. WON’T. STOP. So check on your people. Spread some love. Live by your principles and be your authentic self.

Thanks for reading. Subscribe, connect, follow, all that kind of stuff. Much love.

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‘382: Organizing for the Future’

In November, I had the opportunity to be part of a film crew working on a documentary celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The film debuted Saturday evening at a drive-in event at Montgomery’s Paterson Field, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sent in a video introduction for the film.

Many thanks to Khari Creative and WK Media for allowing me to part of such a great project!

The film, titled 382: Organizing for the Future, is available on the city of Montgomery’s YouTube channel. Enjoy!

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So… I did a cover.

I don’t do many covers. I’ve always been part of the original music scene, even going back to when I first joined a band at age 15. The bands I’ve been in might throw in a cover or two in a set, but we never did 4-hour cover gigs or anything like that.

I’ve kept the same aspect for my solo stuff; I mainly perform songs that I wrote, but every once in a while I’ll throw a cover in a set. And generally, it’s not a popular song by a huge artist on the radio, so in some cases I’ve had people think it was one of my songs anyway.

That long-ass intro brings me to this: I did a cover on my YouTube channel of the song “Souvenir” by Boygenius (which, if you didn’t know, is a band that featured the amazing talents of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus.) Side note: I really wish they would do another album together.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this (and I hope you don’t think I completely ruined their wonderful song as well [insert nervous laughter and self-deprecating humor here].)

Like. Share. Subscribe. Follow. Fitter. Happier. More productive. Comfortable….

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Check out the CJSV double feature!

Happy November, err’body! Before spooky season’s 2020 finale yesterday, I got to help my shooter – writer, director, editor, all around awesome dude C. DeWayne Cunningham of Carolyn Jean’s Son Visions – on a couple of horror shorts. #HORRORcjsv #SetLife

The first one we shot is called The GymBag and stars Sharisma Bell. See it here.

Synopsis: from Work to the Gym then Home. It’s her daily routine, what could go wrong?

The second short we did is called A Late Nite Chill and stars Destine DeRamus. See it here.

Synopsis: It was supposed to be a low-key Friday night, until he asked to come over and chill.

Enjoy!

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I don’t know what I’m doing

Hi. If you’re a regular reader or subscriber to this blog (if not, please subscribe – it’ll make my heart flutter), you’ll know that sometimes I write up blog posts just because I’m thinking about something and want to get my words out. I also tend to harp on “authenticity.” In other words, this is one of those. Or both of those? We’ll see.

Cue: stream of consciousness

There are some things going on behind the scenes at Josh Carples headquarters, which sounds fancier than “in my life.” Don’t be alarmed – although I’m total #sadboi when it comes to my solo music, and I’ve blogged a decent bit about depression over the past five-plus years, it’s actually some good things.

Not to jinx anything, but I might have good news to share at some point. (Ooh, intriguing…) That could always change, but who knows, right?

So anyway, within this vague stuff that I’m vaguely referring to, some of it is a bit scary for me. I dunno, thinking of the potential or whatever. But it might be really good.

And that brought me to hitting up the ol’ Google machine for info, where I proceeded to type “What to do when you don’t know what you’re doing?”

That does bring up some articles, some of which I read, some of which actually probably had some good things in it. It didn’t really help the specifics of my vague (sorry…) situation though.

But I’m trying to do something different, I guess. For me, anyway. Somewhat out of the ordinary. Because, really, why not?

It’s kinda scary, maybe a bit terrifying, but I’m trying to lean into it, instead of running away. I keep trying to remind myself that “surely others have been in a similar situation” and the whole “what’s the worst that could happen?” which, admittedly, is probably the worst possible thing to ask in 2020. I literally just said out loud “I don’t even want to type that” but then I thought it’d be less authentic if I left it out at this point, so maybe I should just provide an explanation. [Insert shrug emoji here.] Hashtag authenticity, amirite?

Me, not knowing what I’m doing.

But really, I have no idea what I’m doing. And that’s OK. And I guess that’s the main thing to get out of this.

Be you. Be real. Be authentic. It’s OK to not know what you’re doing. It’s even OK to not be OK. It happens.

(Yes, it’s hard for me to take my own damn advice many times, but still…)

Thanks for reading. Much love.

Subscribe, follow, connect, and stuff.

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Margarita. In memoriam.

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‘The Final Scene: Live at Ten’

My second album as a solo artist – The Final Scene – was released on Oct. 7, 2010. So to mark the 10th anniversary of it, I decided to record live videos of each song from the album.

The original album can be found at all digital retailers (Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube, Bandcamp, etc.)

The live videos are all on my YouTube channel (and hey, while you’re there, hit that subscribe button!)

Here’s a link to the playlist. I’ll link them individually below.

I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for listening and supporting. Much love.

(Also, be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss a post.)

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‘Remembering Anarcha’ wins Best Long Documentary at IBFF!

Many thanks to the International Black Film Festival for awarding the “Best Long Documentary” award to Remembering Anarcha! The production team – C. DeWayne Cunningham, Royce Williams, and myself – celebrated with some Bowman Brothers bourbon, and yes, there’s a story behind that.

Part of the film was shot in Virginia. DeWayne had a previous engagement, but Royce and I took a road trip up to Fredericksburg in December 2018. While there, we decided to look for a place to grab a drink.

We Googled what was around us, and we found a distillery – the A. Smith Bowman distillery. According to Google, they were open, so we made our way over there.

We get out of the car and start walking toward the building. There were some other people heading inside as well, and we noticed that all of the people were dressed up. We, however, were not.

We walk in and look around… looks like a private event. It was. Apparently, we just crashed a corporate Christmas party.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Also, the distillery isn’t even open that late, so the info we got was wrong. But… while we couldn’t really stay, the friendly staff let us sample some stuff since we drove all the way up from Alabama. And I bought a bottle of bourbon.

I decided that it would be opened when all three of us could get together to celebrate getting into a film festival. But with COVID and life stuff and schedules, it took a little longer.

This past Sunday, however, we finally were able to get together, so we unsealed the bottle to celebrate our ‘Best Long Documentary’ win.

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged and supported us in this endeavor. We’ll let you know as soon as the film is available publicly for viewing. In the meantime, make sure to follow Remembering Anarcha on social media for updates:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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‘Remembering Anarcha’ screens this Saturday in the International Black Film Festival

Remembering Anarcha is an official selection in the 2020 International Black Film Festival and is set to screen this Saturday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m.

The festival is virtual this year due to COVID-19, so you will be able to view it on their website.

Click here for the screening page.

Immediately following the screening, there will be a Q&A live on the IBFF Facebook page.

Find out more about the film in the announcement post from July 2019.