Hefner, Creativity, and the Purpose of Life


Viewing posts tagged creativity

Hefner, Creativity, and the Purpose of Life

One hot summer day in the desert, my friend Adam and I happened upon a camp offering refreshments of the palate and the eyes: delicious, ice cold cocktails, tea, and an assortment of vintage Playboys ranging from the late 70’s through early 2000’s, piled high on a coffee table between two dusty sofas. Oh, Burning Man… how I love you – a place where everything is possible and no idea is too silly to bring forth.
I’d like to muse over the act of creation for a moment:
Consider a jazz musician who will take the stage later tonight and thrill the audience with flashes of blazing improvisation – music that is spontaneously created on the fly – one of the most spectacilar feats of human creativity. That same musician is practicing scales, with a metronome, right now, in a highly controlled way. Working in an environment of temporary restraint has a way of preparing for blast off later.
I believe that we are higher dimensional beings having a temporarily downgraded three dimensional experience, for the purpose of learning. I believe that the purpose of life is to refine our ability to take a non-material idea, and bring it into the world of “material” three dimensions.
That’s it.
I don’t care what it is you create… whether it’s an accounting firm, or a sculpture, or a baby human, or some weird poems – everthing we do as humans is an act of creation.
When you endeavor to move something from the realm of idea into the physical plane, all manner of challenges must be overcome – several varieties of fear, being chief among them. Overcoming fear is the most fundamental goal of the human experience. Being creative is the vehicle for that.
Occasionally we encounter humans who have GRAND visions of something that never existed before, and they proceed to bring it from the realm of idea, into the world of “reality”. These creators know things about the human condition and their relationship to the abundant Universe that, statistically speaking, few other humans know.
Hugh Hefner passed away yesterday. Regardless of what you think of the merrits of his work – one must concede – this man was a master creator, conjuring an entirely new reality in his mind and bringing to fruition. How many people do that?
If I were at your funeral, Mr. Hefner, I would simply stand with ovation and clap slow claps of awe and admiration.
Well done, sir!

Peter Breinholt: The artist is more important than ever

Jessica Wise

founder – The Litas

Devin Townsend

recording artist

Pat Bagley

Pulitzer finalist political cartoonist

Sean Whalen

men’s coach

Robert Clark

National Geographic photographer

Kurt Bestor

Composer, pianist, trumpet player Kurt Bestor


Richard Dutcher

black and white portrait of filmmaker Richard Dutcher


Marianne Willamson

author & spiritual teacher

Steven Wilson

Grammy nominated musician & producer

Peter Breinholt

Singer / songwriter Peter Breinholt photographed by Paul Duane

singer / songwriter

Genpo Roshi

black and white portrait of Zen Master Genpo Roshi

Zen Master Genpo Roshi

Singer / songwriter Peter Breinholt is a local legend. He seems to be as popular today as he ever was 20 years ago. When many musicians would relegate to “has been” status, Breinholt is anxiously chomping at the bit to create his greatest work yet, along with keeping up a busy performance schedule.  This is how it’s done, kids.

“The artist has a critical role in the world. Who else is talking about the things the artist talks about: compassion, love, forgiveness… who else is doing that right now? You’re not getting that on the news. The artist is more important now than ever”

“If you’re an honest writer I think who you are is going to come through.”






The Power of Words

It’s happening!
Your biggest dreams.
Your worst nightmares.
America is getting better.
America is getting worse.
You are about to meet the love of your life.
You are unlovable.
Whatever you are CONVINCED is happening, is happening.
Words have power – they are that transition stage between the embryo of idea, and the finished physical reality. All tragedies and all masterpieces go through this same process.
Idea –> Word –> Reality
Ideas don’t turn themselves into reality;
Humans have to put energy into the ideas to manufacture them into the world of 3 dimensions.
First it’s emotional energy, and then that leads to physical energy.
WORDS are like a coloring book – we humans then show up and fill in the black and white lines with the colors of our emotional and then, physical energy.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
We are creators. Miniature Gods of our own small realms of influence.
Words are the way our creations – be they evil or good – are first manifest into the world.
Mastering the power of the WORD is an essential step toward becoming more powerful creators… of becoming more like the most skilled creator of all.
Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
I’ve found this principle to be secret of my successes and the fuel for all of my failures.
Vote for Gary Johnson.
much love –
Paul Duane

Trust The Process

One of my favorite creative projects lately is a series of short comedy pieces, as The Crossdressing Mormon Anarchist, for a local radio station’s morning show.  I’ve been tasked with writing, recording, producing, and delivering segments on various topics ranging from the weather to current political events to weird rants of my own choosing.

They have asked that the pieces come in at 1 minute 15 seconds in length. That’s not much time, should be easy, right?

HA.  I wish.

Every week I manage to turn this 75 seconds into an existential crisis. Somehow, every time, I emerge from the fog of writer’s block and deliver work that I’m proud of.  I’ve found a very distinct pattern emerging. Whenever there’s a pattern, there’s a mechanism.  I’ve found that when a mechanism exists and I fail to use it very efficiently, I’ve got a major lesson to learn.  Though it’s a little embarrassing how complicated I manage to make this, I know I’m not that unique of a snowflake; there must be a few other people who are having a similar experience. Maybe this can help. At the very least, know that you aren’t alone in your creative struggles.  With that, I give you, the seven days for 75 seconds:

Day 1: come up with an idea / premise for the bit

Day 2: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny.

Day 3: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny. Stress out a little bit.

Day 4: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny.  Stress out even more.

Day 5: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny. Write 2 sentences in my notes.

Day 6: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny. Try not to think about how much time I’ve wasted and the impending doom of the deadline.

Day 7, 9:00 am: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny. Write another sentence.

Day 7, 6:00 pm: promise myself that after I eat some dinner, I’ll seriously get to work on this.

Day 7, 7:00 pm: look over my notes and dive into a pit of self loathing at how not funny they are.

Day 7, 8:00 pm: realize that I actually do not want to stay up all night writing and recording.

Day 7, 9:00 pm: “oh shit, I really, truly, wanted to be done recording by now and almost done with editing but I haven’t even got the script written yet, oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck….  Hey, I wonder if there’s any beer in the fridge?”

Day 7, 9:11 pm: “no beer. Let’s see, do I need to check Facebook again? It’s been 6 minutes since I left it. I bet it’s lonely…”

Day 7, 9:13 pm: briefly consider the sense of impending doom from my fast approaching deadline.

Day 7, 9:16 pm: “Ok. I’m sure glad I liked that video of two cats dressed like Hillary and Trump. Facebookland is surely better off now because I’ve bestowed my approval on that video.”

Day 7, 9:17 pm: “but seriously, it’s time to write. As it is, you aren’t going to be before 2 am, and the later you put this off, the more you run the risk of writing really shitty stuff.”

Day 7, 9:19 pm: Start writing stuff even though it’s not that funny. For every 10 sentences there’s one that might have potential.

Day 7, 9:25 pm: Against these 10 to 1 odds, I persevere and write another 10 sentences. Oh hey. Look. Another funny idea.

Day 7, 9:32 pm: Whoah. 30 sentences in and there are 5 funny ideas sitting here.

Day 7, 9:40 pm: I feel like I’ve written “War And Peace”, but there appear to be 8 funny ideas of ore embedded in this page of tailings.

Day 7, 9:46 pm: Like two sworn enemies selecting their dueling weapons, I take a long hard look at the microphone.

Day 7, 9:49 pm: We’ve walked 10 paces. It’s time to turn on the microphone and do this.

Day 7, 9:50 pm: Dude. It doesn’t need to be perfect at first. JUST SAY SOME WORDS.

Day 7, 9:51 pm: ….but let’s go to the bathroom first.

Day 7, 9:53 pm: Turn on mic. Look at words on screen. Say them.

Day 7, 9:55 pm: That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Day 7, 9:56 pm: Lighbulb turns on. Say the words again into the microphone.

Day 7, 9:58 pm: OMG. As I was saying the words I have written, I said some other words that were not on the screen, and they were REALLY GOOD.

Day 7, 9:59 pm:  Write the new words down. Cut. Paste. Cut. Cut. Paste.

Day 7, 10:01 pm: Turn on mic. Say the words again. I feel like I’m driving through fog, but I’m definitely driving forward.

Day 7, 10:05 pm Turn on mic again. Say more words. New words appear out of nowhere. Write them down.  Cut. Cut. Paste.

Day 7, 10:08 pm: Turn on mic. Say the words. The fog is clearing fast! OMG. The final destination appears on the horizon. I see what the finished product is going to look like.

Day 7, 10:11 pm: Mic on. Say the words.  It’s definitely flowing. Its GOOD. It’s too long.

Day 7, 10:12 pm: Review my notes. Decide which of my children I’m going to leave on the Titanic as I put my favorites on the life boat. Cut. Paste. Cut. Paste. Goodbye, my loves…..    I’m not even sure who your real mother was anyway… 

Day 7, 10:16 pm: Turn on mic. Say the remaining words. This is good. Really good. Still too long.

Day 7, 10:19 pm: I never though I’d have to throw you out of the life boat, but you’ve gotta go. Goodbye, witty and rather funny sentence.  I’m going to miss you. We’ll think about you when this finally airs.

Day 7, 10:20 pm: Turn on mic. Say the words. Wow, getting rid of that sentence was hard, but now we are making serious progress. We never really needed him anyway.  The other sentences get the job done just fine.

Day 7, 10:23 pm: Still 20 seconds overtime. Force each of the remaining sentences to go on a diet. Cut all fat.

Day 7, 10: 29 pm: Amazed at how much superfluous language I spit out. So THAT’s what an efficient sentence looks like.

Day 7, 10:32 pm: Turn on mic. Record the words. 10 seconds overboard. Do more soul searching, eliminate one last sentence. God, that was hard. I loved that sentence. *sniff*.

Day 7, 10:36pm: Turn on mic. Record the words… VOILA! IT FITS.  My delivery wasn’t awesome, and a dog was barking in the background.

Day 7, 10:38 pm: Take two: Pretty good! Somehow I got tongue tied over the word “supposedly”. Twice.

Day 7, 10:40 pm: Take Three was pretty decent. Take four had potential.

Day 7, 10:50 pm: Take Five was *money*. That’s it! That’s my keeper.

Day 7, 10:58 pm: Edit out pauses and weird little sounds. Add music and sound effects (this part is lots of fun)

Day 7, 11:17 pm: Listen to finished product. Bask in self imposed glory. Realize that this piece moves fast and most people will miss 69% of the jokes. Reassure myself that I’d rather write comedy that is nuanced and layered that gets better with every listen, than tell simple minded jokes you only want to hear once.  

Day 7, 11:23 pm: Send the finished piece to the radio station and a very small circle of friends that I share my process with.

Day 7, 11:29 pm: realize that I really only spent 2 hours and 4 minutes to produce my latest masterpiece, but somehow I turned it into an agonizing WEEK LONG process.

Day 7, 11:35 pm: realize that every time I successfully create work of this kind, I end up following the exact same process.  Promise myself that next week, I won’t spend 6 days stressing about it. With my renewed confidence in my creative ability, I promise myself that next week, I’ll simply block out a few hours on a Tues morning and just write words and say them into the mic. Over, and over, and over. That is my process. It works. Every. Single. Time.

As I walk away from my desk, I realize how many other parts of my life are this way. When I look back at other successes, I see patterns. There are steps that I always end up doing, but only after I’ve given up the fight in my head about what things “ought” to look like, and just LET THEM BE.  When I give up the fight and just give in to the process, something kind of crazy happens….

The result bears a striking resemblance to what I originally had hoped for – except that it’s just a little bit better.  I hear the Universe / God / Circumstance / Whatever telling me:





The process has made itself very clear to you.

It works. Every. Damn. Time.

We live in a mechanical universe, and this is one of it’s gears.

Let go.

Just be.

You are not just “good enough” for the job –

You are better than you know.

Trust yourself.

Let go of “trying”.

Just BE.


For those who are curious, here is a collection of these radio bits:


Devin Townsend is not afraid of joy

Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or TuneIn

Metal God Devin Townsend joined me on the show today.  For those non-metal heads out there that don’t know who Devin Townsend is, check out the videos below to discover a truly unique musical vision and voice.

Typically when I’m introducing a new band to a friend, I wouldn’t reach for live show recordings. Concert footage is usually really fun for the existing fan, but not always the best representation of what the music should sound like. Devin Townsend is a glaring exception. By seeing him on stage, we get to fully appreciate the quality of his vocals without any studio tricks to hide behind.


Devin’s music blends what are typically irreconcilable elements: bone crushing heaviness, and LIGHT. I don’t know how else to say it, folks. Just watch this  video of The Devin Townsend Project performing “Grace” (with a Steve Vai cameo! Woot! ) This may be the perfect sonic yin & yang. Magnificent. Triumphant. Exuberant. If I ever die, I’m pretty certain this will be what it sounds like as I walk toward the light:

Two main themes stood out in my mind from our conversation: Joy and creation without self limiting doubt:

I asked Devin about the juxtaposition of the light and the heavy. He said, paraphrasing, “I guess I’m just not afraid of joy anymore”.  I’m still kind of tripping out on this. All week I’ve been asking myself  “Am I afraid of joy?”  “Is he afraid of joy? Is SHE afraid of joy?  What does that look like?  WHY are we ever afraid of joy? What fucked up, sinister force is it that makes us afraid of joy, and how do we get past it?”  I’m far from done with this query. Let me know how it settles in on your soul.

Devin talked about his creative process, and how he has learned to get out of his own way, to create without doubting himself.

“Making sure that whenever you do something in private, you’d be okay with other people knowing about it, to make sure it would be okay with the public knowing about it… when you are put in a position where you have to be accountable for it, which you are, make no mistake –  a lot of times when people say, ‘this is just my artistic catharsis’… ultimately, people listen,  and you resonate with people, and you have to be accountable for that stuff, because eventually someone is going to say “Hey,what did you mean about that?” If you can’t answer, honestly, it just causes you problems.  So now, I’m on auto pilot  in a similar way, but with a sense of control as to why it’s happening, so that when I write, there’s no questions. If I choose to do something aggressive, it’s coming from a place that I can articulate as opposed to before where it wasn’t.”  – Devin Townsend

More music…  “Kingdom” from his Retinal Circus performance:

And one last thing… guys, I totally messed up. It was, indeed Tinfoil Hat Tuesday, and I really did have every intention in the world to talk with Devin about aliens, but the hour passed insanely quickly. In the mean time, check out Devin’s own pet alien, Ziltoid:  https://youtu.be/jE6BJA4waOw  (all 3 episodes are pretty damn funny).

For those that want to explore Devin’s music a little further, check out my playlist of favorites, including a few tracks from another of his projects, “Casualties of Cool” (gorgeous stuff):

Connect with Devin Townsend:






Want more exclusive insights? Want to support the show? Get my monthly handwritten newsletter, delivered via USPS in your mail box. Nothing electronic about it:

Is pop music reformatting your brain?

How pop music might be ruining your creativity, what music sounds like when it’s made according to statistics, and the relationship between rap & prison industrial complex.  But first… Some awesome films that I recommend checking out:

  • Amelie
  • Pan’s Labrynth
  • The Road Home
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Life of Pi

Pop music is ruining our brains: http://mic.com/articles/98310/scientists-prove-that-pop-music-is-literally-ruining-our-brains

Most unwanted song: http://youtu.be/-gPuH1yeZ08

Most wanted song: http://youtu.be/McIfIx29tSg

More experimental music from the composer of the most wanted and unwanted songs, Dave Soldier: http://davesoldier.com/experimental.html

The secret meeting that linked rap music and the prison industrial complex:  http://worldtruth.tv/the-secret-meeting-that-changed-rap-music-and-destroyed-a-generation/

Listen to the show ↓


Revolution via Creativity


All acts are creative acts.

We are here to learn to transmute ideas into physical manifestations in the 3rd dimension.  TO pull ideas out of the 4th and create their shadows in the 3rd…. which means that they never did NOT exist, if we are just creating their shadows.

“I’ve been working on the assumption that nullification is going to come. It’s going to be a de facto nullification. It’s ugly, but pretty soon things are going to get so bad that we’re just going to ignore the feds and live our own lives in our own states.” – Ron Paul


Some of the most creative people I know, the most liberated, freedom enjoying people, don’t actually talk about the government that much. They just get on with creating.  The more creative you are, the less you need the government.

The Artist’s Wayartists way