Billie Holiday

There is only so much disrespect a heart can handle before finally calling it quits. But a lot has to accumulate before we say -  it’s over. Nope, no more.

There is a beautiful release in this moment. The fear for our loss of security - relating to a job, relationship, or even opportunity, - suddenly evaporates like the clearing of a stormy sky. And in its place, a beautiful breeze signifying total freedom passes in through us. What we had once assumed to be our lifeline - the very thing that we simply cannot live without - suddenly becomes so fleetingly insignificant.

We can breathe with a lessened burden - for a decision has been made.

I guess today was my last day of walking Billie Holiday, a dog who has been part of my life for the last two years. I still love the owner, but I’m 30 - and I can’t tolerate disrespect. So I told her “We are done”.

Interestingly, there was no build up to this declaration. At least none that I can detect. She said something, and I said another. And then, it was all over. Just like that.

Injustice becomes less tolerable the more you experience it. Eventually, you reach a place where you can reject it while knowing it’s not the end of the world. That there is still life after the end of this era. True self-worth in oneself can be found exactly here. The ability to say no while knowing with certainty that things will play out for the better.

I once had a waiting job that I was no good at. I was prone to making mistakes because it was a fancy place and I constantly felt like an outsider. One day my boss sat me down and told me a story - perhaps alluding to the fact that I would soon be fired - about a girl who he had let go. A few months later, she finds the job of her dreams and thanks this boss for his decision.

I remember the fear I felt while listening to this story. The fear of losing mürmur in that moment - for I was convinced that mürmur’s survival was contingent on this job, and without it - it would be game over.

Two weeks later I found something - in fact something extraordinary. It was a place called Lure Fishbar. A restaurant that changed my life forever. I got to meet a lot of celebrities, make a lot of money, and sleep with my boss. It was great.

But it wasn’t until recently that I began understanding this pattern. How rejection always leads into the new. This is life. Nothing is permanent and nothing should be expected to remain the same. In fact, those who don’t realize this, have the hardest time dealing with change - as I once used to be. 

I just got a text from Billie’s owner with an apology. Not only did I stand up for myself - without the fear for potential loss - but also ended up keeping what I had in the first place. My dog, and I guess, self dignity.

You have nothing to lose for nothing is permanent. As long as people see in you the respect you see in your own self - everything will be fine.

(Originally Published 7/2/19)

Clearing The Air

There has been a change in mürmur that I never publicly acknowledged. This change occurred a little over a year ago and until now, everything has been business as usual. But a recent interview with a local reporter has prompted me to talk about this matter - as there will be an article based on a very specific aspect of mürmur.

In April of 2018 I did what 99% of podcasters will never achieve - which is to monetize their show. Instead of following the common approach of attaining sponsors, I took on a different route. I began offering mürmur as a service that people can book through Airbnb Experiences. 

To elucidate a few things, I would like to share an excerpt of the letter I sent to the reporter shortly after our first interview. She asked many valid questions - but I needed a minute to reflect before answering. Here we go.

“Hello Reporter,

To be clear, I feel 100% justified in charging money for mürmur. Like with most art, things evolve over time. The basis of mürmur did indeed have a more innocent spirit - I wanted to make friends and be an ear to those who were struggling. 

These traits still hold true. But the show is after all, a show. It’s entertainment. And entertainers need to be paid in order to sustain their art. 

For 4 years I did the show out of pocket - paying for street flyers, website costs, podcast hosting sites, promotional work, and a $2,100/a month studio apartment that I had to sell all of my music equipment for in order to finance. All for the sake of mürmur - a social experiment that held no guarantees. I took a risk - and it paid off.  

Where mürmur is now, I don’t see it much different than a fine-dining restaurant experience like that of going to Eleven Madison Park or Nobu - both restaurants that I’ve worked for in the past. From start to finish, I am providing a well curated experience that my guests will remember for the rest of their lives. Mürmur currently holds a 4.98 rating out of 5 with over 100+ reviews. People are happy. 

I am totally fine with being the Nobu of podcasts - I think the quality of the show speaks for itself. 

But I also have not forgotten about the original roots of the show. For this reason, I offer complimentary coffee reading sessions every week. These readings are more in the original spirit of mürmur than what the podcast is today. Best of all, they’re communal so more people are involved. You saw how it went down today. 

Infact, there is a complimentary coffee reading this Sunday at 6BC Garden between 6pm-8pm. Maybe you’ll make it, or tell your friends about it. Again, it’s completely for free. 

If one day I gain the interest of a wealthy benefactor who wants to donate to the show - I would go back to the old model in a heart beat. But for now, this works and people are happy. I’m happy, they’re happy. Everyone is happy. Mürmur is a win-win. 

Thank you for your insightful questions - you’ve allowed me much reflection today. I really appreciate that. 

-uluc”

Some of you might think that I sold-out. But, I have greater things in mind for mürmur. And in order for me to fulfill these dreams - I have to monetize my work. And for those of you who are curious if the quality of the show has suffered due to attaching a price tag to the conversations - I say take a moment to watch the mürmur tv pilot episode on youtube, or any one of the recent mürmur from the last year - and let yourself be the judge.

After all, it’s not so much the conversation that’s being paid for - it’s the post-production work. For anyone who didn’t enjoy their mürmur - I offer a 100% refund - satisfaction guaranteed. In the year and a half since I started doing this - not one person has asked for a refund. 

I just wanted to personally clear the air - and make my case. In my opinion, where mürmur is today is the best version it’s ever been. I’ve found myself through this show - and I want to use my talents now to help others in return. I’m happy and proud of what I do. And I wouldn’t do anything any differently.   

(Originally Published 6/1/19)

Margaret

About a couple weeks ago, l met someone during one of my Meetup Events. She was, somewhat troubled. A person going through a difficult time for various reasons. A few days after our meeting, she inquired to me for advice. It was, pretty heavy stuff. Nothing that I had the answer for in the moment. So with her permission, I asked whether I could ponder over the question and answer it on the podcast. She agreed.

So here is the question.

“I hit a bit of a wall yesterday. I’ve hit this wall before, but always found a distraction. I’m tired of distracting myself from this wall, so here’s the question…

For lack of a better way to put it, I feel like I’ve spent my life following this vague but strong urge to help others, and i’m now just realizing that others don’t really care. I cannot stomach the idea of just living for myself. So… what is there to live for? I’ve been searching online, and all I see are made-up answers that one can choose to believe or not believe, but what is the truth?”

Ok. 

Margaret, shall we call you Margaret? Ok.

Not unlike you Margaret, I too feel a universal pull to help others. I think that’s what being human is. Those who lack this compassion for their fellow planet-mates are often selfish and fragmented - even if they don’t appear so on the surface. We are all here because of each other - we must remember that - and that there is a little bit of us in every one of us - until one can realize this, they can not know what it means to be human.

So first and foremost, take pride for having such a huge heart Margaret. If you are the type to get upset over not being able to do enough for your close friends and family, then I think that speaks volumes to what a human you are. And I’m sorry that those people aren’t appreciating this side of you as much as I am - perhaps you’re surrounded by those who don’t require help at the moment.

How do you expect someone to eat the most amazing meal of their lives if they’d just eaten?

Think about that for a second.

Let me level with you for a second Margaret. This is a personal anecdote of mine. I was once a very insecure and ashamed person. I didn’t think I was worthy of anything good, or deserved anything decent. I thought life was meant to be difficult and sad - I could never give into joy for fear of sabotaging the good coming into my life.

During this time period, I developed an especially acute desire to help others. My mentality was, “If I’m not worthy of living a spectacular life, then I will do everything in my power to allow for others to do so”. This is a great sentiment, but only to a healthy degree. I want you to continue deriving joy from helping others, but not to the point where your entire existence is contingent on it. 

Because not every help is helpful - or rather, effective. I’m sure you can remember a situation when someone went out of their way to do something nice for you, only to make matters worse.

As far as I’m concerned Margaret, the people refusing your offers of help are in fact giving you the greatest blessing of all. The value for your time. The time you can spend in them with little efficacy, you can instead do something more tangible or impactful elsewhere. They’re letting you know, “I don’t need it, put that energy somewhere else where it will matter more”.

We live in a less than perfect planet - greatly due to our own shortcomings as humans. So realize that depending on the human condition as a source for validation is a slippery slope. Don’t get dependent on those who don’t require your help. But most importantly, realize that because we live in a planet that’s less than ideal in many ways - it offers us plenty of chances to better it’s flaws - and thus, giving our lives a sense of purpose.

Put your heart where it matters Margaret.

(Originally Published 5/15/19)

Iron Maiden

Everything leads us to what's next on the horizon. Every meal, every breath, every trauma is connected - and influence our next move. Even the tone I select to whisper these words - will effect the rest of my day - and as a result, my life as a whole.  

In middle school, I loved the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. And the band’s mascot Eddie - a demented zombie adorned in chains and wartime regalia - was the perfect visual equal to the music. Ferocious and unapologetic, Eddie was Iron Maiden - as Iron Maiden was Eddie.   

But I’ll never forget the day I saw the so-called “Family Tree” of Iron Maiden. The genesis of the band - synonymous with the birth of Eddie - did not involve the musicians I had come to know. The original Iron Maiden - it turns out - had a much different line-up. To complicate matters, every member had another band before joining Iron Maiden.

This family tree frightening me. 

Because the key to creating a successful heavy metal band - apparently - did not only involve the synergy of the musicians present in the room. It also included those who came before - those no longer present in the room but still significant in their past contributions. And I'm not just talking about ex-band members here - I'm talking about lovers, parents, old friends, teachers... the artist who came up with Eddie.. an interwoven network of humans who've all had an equal contribution to the formation of Iron Maiden - as the musicians who've created the music. 

For a 13 year old, this was all pretty overwhelming. I was anticipating rock and roll to be a much more straightforward affair - as it probably should be. To get a few friends together, bang out some chords, make killer songs, and get the record deal. 

But now, my comprehension of what it took to make a successful music band was being defied. 

I had difficulty accepting the beauty of this chart. The fact that so many stars had to align to create something as beautiful as Iron Maiden - should have warranted my admiration.  But instead, I became discouraged. Everything began overwhelming me. I didn’t know how to allow the procession and order of life events to organically create something true to the moment - I felt I had to force the stars into alignment with my vision. I wish someone had told me to not do that. 

In hindsight, that chart was not even a fraction to the true story behind Iron Maiden’s formation. But it did get me to think. Now in my mind, Eddie was no longer a creature existing solely for the purpose of defining Iron Maiden - he became something more universal. He was the byproduct of many people - many life events - many parents - many friendships, and many meals. He was the culmination of countless variables subsequently influencing each other. And perhaps if one or two variables had been any different, he too would have looked different as well - or perhaps, Iron Maiden would have been a folk trio instead of a heavy metal quartet. 

But as long as we take into account our immediate surroundings, actions, and individuals of the present moment - without allowing ourselves to overthink about past events or comparisons to other things - the stars are always guaranteed to align. Maybe not the way we had imagined - maybe not the way we had anticipated. But things will always be - alright. What’s meant to be - ultimately - is us working with what we have in the present. And that’s how Iron Maiden - or at least the version of it I knew in middle school - was formed. 

(Originally Published 5/1/19)

Japanese Pond with Chickens

We design goals to make life more fulfilling. But once something has been checked off, that’s all it becomes. A thing done, and moved on from. 

For example - a cup of tea is meant for enjoying slowly, not to be consumed all at once. It’s the lead-up to the completion of the goal - or rather, the sipping and savoring of the tea - where ultimate pleasure lies. 

Once the tea is finished - what’s the actual objective that’s been satisfied - The consumption of the beverage, or the enjoyment of the drink? 

What good is the empty cup, if you didn’t enjoy each sip?  

My father died 2 days after moving into his new home - a home that took nearly 2 years to build. Now it lies dormant in the middle of nowhere - completely isolated in central Turkey. A home that held so many dreams, now wasted on the rats and bugs that reside in place of him.

It’s still sad for me to admit but - I don’t think that home turned out how he had envisioned. Imagine a lonely man, building a shoddy castle, that he eventually realizes, is in fact - a complete failure. Something, so far from fantasy, that instead of simply making the best of reality, he succumbs to allowing it to be the physical embodiment of all the he couldn’t get right in life. 

During those final moments, when blood spewed and splattered across every curtain & wall of his new home, I associate a kind of loneliness with this image that’s so deep - that to this day - I don’t think I’ve yet fully processed it’s potential existence. How sad, sadness can truly get.

But I also can’t help but recall , the glee and joy in which he first announced this home project to me 2.5 years ago. Over the phone, his energy was boundless. He spoke of raising chickens, having a little Japanese pond where he’d have Gold fish swimming in, cows to milk, a friendly dog to keep him company, a beautiful gate that overlooked a pretty garden. A utopian sanctuary tailored to his fantasies. His reason to see through to the next chapter of life - with hope and optimism. The masterpiece he always wanted to create in his lifetime.

Maybe that was the biggest accomplishment of all. One that he conquered - without even knowing that he did. The desire to create something special, and the chipping away at that very thing. It’s the work leading up to the completion - the sweat, tears & fantasy for what’s to be - that propels everything forward. 

And even when the end product doesn’t meet our standards, it becomes the basis for what will come after it. It’s often our adaptation to reality that secures happiness - as opposed to every detail of our fantasy coming to fruition.

I look forward to the day when I can teach you how to properly sip and savor the tea dad. And even if you gulp it all down, and still feel sad - just know that i’ll be smiling right by your side. With nothing but pride, and good natured humor. 

(Originally Published 4/2/19)

Kino

The audience stood inquisitively as the music dimmed over the speakers. I rose to the spotlight, not at all certain of what my purpose was - why I was there. Right before me, a cast of musicians that I’ve long admired since childhood stood tall and mighty - bassist of the Smiths Andy Rourke, the lead singer of Ash, Tim Wheeler.

I was here to do one thing, and one thing only. But the problem was, I had no fucking idea - what that thing was. 

A week prior, my friend KiNo invited me to host an event that he would be curating at Nublu. My job was simple: MC the event, and introduce the bands - easy enough.

There was an additional expectation though — something I wasn’t confident about. So perhaps, it’s entirely my fault for accepting the offer  — I would have to.. interview the bands! 

What’s the big deal? After 500 mürmurs, I oughta be a seasoned veteran by now. Someone who can talk to anyone, in any context, at anytime. The thing is, I don’t know how to interview. I know how to talk — I know how to do what I do - but this interview thing? It’s like the antitheses mürmur. Showcasing someone’s accomplishments to feign conversation is - kind of lame to me. 

I should have known better though, my apprehension stems from a trauma endured from two years ago. When Bowery Electric - a local music venue - appointed me to be the host of their new podcast. The project was an utter failure. A complete sham — and entirely due to the lack of my abilities as a proper interviewer. I’ll never forget the time when Handsome Dick Manitoba, who I still can’t look in the eyes when I walk on the street, chastised me in my own apartment - I won’t ever feel as insignificant as I did that day.

Despite the initial hesitation, I caved in to honor KiNo’s vision. I viewed this as a challenge — perhaps my way of avenging the failed Bowery Electric project.  

But as I’ve learned the hard way - it’s one thing to challenge yourself, and another to silence all of your strengths. Is getting the job done so important that you’re willing to be muted? To forgo everything you believe in, just to satisfy someone else’s needs?

When I jumped onstage - panic took over. Likely the audience was blind to my inner turmoil - but nevertheless, I was conflicted as hell - between what I wanted to do, and what they expected out of me. My body was being pulled in multiple directions  - and I didn’t know where it was that I belonged.  

This was a lose-lose situation. No chance of turning back. All eyes, including that of my idols, were on me. I thought for a second what I should say. “Oh yes, it’s Kino’s birthday! Maybe I should get the crowd singing a happy birthday song for him!” 

ERRRRRRR

Wrong move. Suddenly, the microphone is snatched out of my hands - and I’m left alone on stage like a dunce with only the spotlight to claim for himself.

At that point - life may as well have been put on pause. In my head, there was no sound. No audience, no nothing. It was just me. 

And in that moment, I had an epiphany. I never wanted to be someone else’s puppet - ever again. 

I grabbed my belongings from backstage - and followed the snowy road - without stopping - until I made my way back home.  

(Originally Published on 3/2/19)

Mürmur Cologne

On the counter, I gently placed a few essential oils and looked ahead at the clerk. From the corner of my eye, a sign beckoning a discount for orders $30 impelled me to ask whether I qualify. I knew that I didn’t, but I did so anyways. After all, I am a bargain loving Turk.

With his porcelain white smile, and off-the-cuff, but friendly gesture - the clerk declined. The answer was no, but man - was it the sweetest “no” I’ve witnessed.

Staring at the sparkle of those luminous teeth, I found myself transported to some place - otherworldly. A place that only permits genuine human interactions. No bullshit.  A place where we all hold the right to refuse, while emanating love, care, and respect for one and other.

I said..

“Sir - with that smile of yours, I feel as though I have been given the greatest discount! I am perfectly happy with this exchange”. 

He smiled once again, and pushed a button. And with that, my total was brought down a whole 5%. I found myself once again, transported back to my humanitarian utopia.  

This is where the story would end for most people. After a few more pleasantries, I would walk out of the store with my discounted belongings and never see this man again.

But I wanted to make an example of this moment - I wanted to amplify the momentum to see how far it could soar, instead of prematurely hindering it’s flight. 

I proclaimed “Just for that - I will buy another item.” Bringing the total up to a legitimate $30 - now, genuinely eligible for my discount. The same one he was willing to give away, even without me purchasing anything extra. 

We both smiled at each other. Where else was there to elevate this game of upping the ante? Perhaps a lesson for both of us that every mundane instance has the potential to be greater than what’s at face value.  A day’s trivial exchange suddenly became immortalized inside both of us.

When I came home, with the essential oils that I had just purchased - I made a unique concoction - a cologne - for a dear friend who had lost his job a day prior. I assembled the aromas carefully, thinking back to the set of teeth that had just glistened my day. 

There was something more than citrus, orange rinds, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and anise that went into that creation. There was another ingredient at play, something elusive, something that can’t  be bought, but still very much a part of this mixture.

When my buddy sprayed the cologne and inquired of the ingredients - I let the silence of the aroma answer on my behalf.

(Originally published on 1/20/19)

Backpack

As I sat comfortably at a table in my local Starbucks, an urge to clench my backpack suddenly bolted through me. It was an ironic reaction - especially for a person like myself who openly trusts others. The occurrence incited a weird pang of suspicion in my own self.

Moments before arriving to the coffee shop, I strolled past a few teenagers lingering by an apartment building doing - God knows what. I actually felt sincere amusement at the sight of such a youthful gang. Teenage years, after all, are meant for a little mischief - so, I smiled and made my way across the street to get a good vantage point of the action.  

As they bantered amongst themselves, a few floors above, an old lady opened up her window, and stared at them with caution. From a distance, the scene was a strange dichotomy of mistrust, and innocence. By the time I got to Starbucks, some of her suspicion must have inadvertently rubbed off on me - for I found myself - even if for a slight second - exhibiting parallel behavior.

When I came home from work last night, the door I almost always leave unlocked - had to now be locked. My boss told me an awful story about him and his girlfriend being robbed in Brooklyn last week. The burglar had apparently walked into the living room, where he was sleeping at the time - and stole a great deal of both their belongings. Another co-worker chimed in with a story about her - wallet getting stolen while pulling out a dollar for a stranger. 

All of these various impressions must have swirled inside my subconscious as I took a  seat at Starbucks. I was on guard -  and there wasn’t even anything of value in my bag.

The truth is, there are bad things that happen all over the world - all the time. You can spend a day reading about crime statistics and allowing that, to spoil your view of humanity. That’s very easy to do. But your attitude - your refusal to buy into that model of thinking - is what enables for a more independent, and hygienic perspective of the world.

To see the worst, or to see the best in things. That’s ultimately your decision. Let me tell you, in the life of every burglar, or delinquent, was an adult who stared at them with mistrust - as that lady was at those teenagers. It’s through that lack of faith, that all wrongdoing proliferates. Taking that into consideration, you can see how your predisposition is an integral part of every life. Your view of the world is what determines the outcome of all future events. Everything is contingent on your outlook. And if your suspicion is hampering the productivity of the rest of the world, then what’s your contribution?

I gently let go of my backpack, and continued to work absentmindedly. 

(Originally published 12/19/18)

Endless Goldmine

There are moments that linger with you. Even hours and weeks after their passing, the impact still resides within. That nagging gut feeling following you everywhere - the one you can’t shake off. Sometimes it’s annoyance, sometimes bitterness, sometimes sadness. How funny is it that when happiness and elation are what we feel -  we never seem to question them? And the instance an awry moment occurs - a moment that trails behind us for weeks on end, we angrily ask ourselves - “Why can’t I get over this?”

I hope that everyone finds their ultimate purpose one day. The purpose that silences all these petty exasperations that add up throughout the days. And believe me, there are plenty if you count them all - you can always find a problem if you look hard enough. But that’s too easy - and rarely ever conducive to anything good. 

So what to do? I realize It’s easier said than done but, when you have a purpose - a higher calling for something - those little things really start to matter so much less. I really can’t say much else except to ponder over this if you haven’t yet figured out what your calling is. Maybe start off with something radical - like quitting your job and going hitchhiking for a few months. Dropping acid. Starting a podcast and inviting strangers into your home. Doing ballet. Anything that contradicts your normal tendencies - do it. Explore your brain, reach into those deep crevices that you never knew even existed. You’ll have a much better idea of your calling - if you just do something new. 

I remember a few days ago, having a really tough night at work. Feeling very defeated by the very end. It was one of those days when every element is against you. Literally. I had lost my voice, so I couldn’t talk - let alone whisper. My guests were impatient having waited so long to be seated. Coworkers were irritated and overwhelmed by just about everything that was happening in the restaurant. 

And then, someone snapped at me. Someone who I work with. I still don’t think this individual had the right to react in such a way. Especially considering how busy we all were. My mentality is always to work as a team and help one and other, instead of shunning and pointing out missteps. If you see an opening, and you’re not doing anything else - help out. Don’t make a face and reprimand - at least not amidst the chaos.

I remember kind of festering over that shift for a few days. It bugged me. I felt under appreciated, and treated unfairly for my best efforts. And then, I did a mürmur. And I no longer gave a fuck. I was elated from the onset of that conversation - it all made sense again. Everything that had lost meaning, suddenly blossomed in color again. All because I was back in my world - the place of endless possibilities. The safe haven that both aligns, and generates endless strength. My secret reservoir that keeps giving, and giving. My goldmine.

Then I thought back to my co-worker. Did this person have a goldmine to call their own? Perhaps not, at least not yet. And that’s worthy of compassion, not anger. 

Higher purpose can be something as minor as handing a piece of chocolate to someone and watching their face light up. Just like that. The meaning of life derived from a piece of candy. You can’t believe you can do so much to influence someone with so little. Before you know it, handing out candy becomes your higher purpose. A way of life. 

Let this be my metaphorical chocolate bar to you. Best of all, it takes no effort on my part. Plenty more where it came from - all in my endless goldmine. 

(Originally Published 11/29/18)

29

It’s hard to admit that you’re growing up. To set aside the mischievous behaviors that once brought you so close to youth. At some point though, certain acts feel a little - wrong. They don’t sit with you the way they used to. 

“Is this something a 29 year old man would do?”. 

That’s the question you ask yourself.

It may seem embarrassing - but it’s this brand of self-questioning that elicits a change in your inner world. Change that’s long overdue, and by now, necessary. And you must heed this calling, unless you desire to be stunted for the rest of your life. 

Having worked in a music venue for half a decade, I’ve acquired a few concert tricks. This insider knowledge, coupled with my always burning propensity to push the envelope, sometimes makes for a dangerous combination. 

It’s really not as bad as it sounds, but, - I jump chairs at concerts. I scavenge for empty seats in the front rows that would normally cost hundreds of dollars - and when I find them, I pluck my tush right on’em. 

The seats aren’t being put to use - no one is there - so why not grab the opportunity? 

In my eyes, those seats are symbolic of something greater than just improved vantage points. Getting to them, is to achieve the impossible. To migrate from the nosebleeds, all the way to the front row. To work my way from the bottom, all the way up to the top in just a matter of minutes. To prove myself, and the friends that I’m at the concert with, that there is always a way to work around the system. That the parameters set to keep us all holed up in a pen, can be brought down, with a little tact and brazen valor. 

But, just because I want to take on Mount Everest, doesn’t mean everyone else has follow me there - no matter how badly I want for them to see that view.

It all came to a sad realization at a Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds concert at Barclay’s Center last month. As a result of my obvious poor planning, me and my two friends were separated by security. What ensued, was a game of musical chairs where we all had to scramble for seats, in completely different parts of the arena, to ensure our place. One friend got so fed up, he left immediately. The other, receded back into the nosebleeds where he watched the rest of the concert all by himself.

As me and my girlfriend though, snuggled our way to the front row - a wave of relief found it’s way to my bones. And almost immediately, a wave of disgust flowing right through the very sensation.

I stood for the next two hours wandering - 

“Is this who I want to be?”

Maybe one day, I can legitimately afford the seats I covet so much. But the irony is, if I’m not playing “musical chairs” in this arena, chances are, I will in the real world. At the end of the day, it’s those who see an opportunity, where there is none to be found by others, that receive a leg up in life. 

But it’s up to you to assess what taking advantage means - how it fits in with your morals. Are you using your advances to enrich the lives of others, or are you just running over everyone for the sake of being a winner?

For now, I’ll pay an extra few dollars to keep my morals centered where they belong. But perhaps - we’re all playing a bit of this game of musical chairs.

(Originally Published 11/30/18)

We Will We Will Rock You

A pill a day until I’m better again - and now I am. In 6 months, I’ve pieced myself back to being a human again. It wasn’t easy, but now I’m here. And I’m very elated for it. But to be honest - it wasn’t just me - Celexa helped me out a lot as well. 

I think of all the people who have to go through an arsenal of drugs before finding the right one. And, I found mine right from the get-go. Like love at first sight - high school sweethearts kind of thing. My beautiful, Celexa. But - we’re now due for a separation. We got everything we need from of each other, so it’s time to move forward. For both of us - at least for now.  

In hindsight, it all feels a bit of a blur. All the blues from the past year. The never ending stretches of cold winter weeks that assured me - I had gone permanently gray.

All of it seems like a fantasy now. Like a dream that never was. Did it all really happen in this life time? The pain that seemed so permanent, is now just dust floating in the air.

I now understand these drugs much better - what they’re designed for. How they act as mind erasers - like the devices you see in “Men In Black” or “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Gadgets designed to limit the memory in such a fashion, that everything becomes - ephemeral. No thought outlives it’s welcome. Everything you would normally ruminate on, suddenly becomes fleeting - like the coming and going of the wind. You feel your skin prickle from the cold, but you don’t obsess over the sensation. Before thoughts can elevate themselves to unnecessary heights, you’ve already moved onto the next one. In a way, it’s extremely liberating. Especially for those of us who have a tendency to over-think and beat ideas in our heads to death.

As I watched the trailer for the recent Queen biopic - I wandered what it must be like to perform in front of 100,000 people. While Freddie is famous for turning the occasion into an effortless display of machismo and confidence - it’s not natural for others, or ordinary people, to be put under such pressure. Especially an undertaking as colossal as performing in a soccer stadium with a million eyes darted on you. But that’s exactly what seems to have happened to us. While few of us will go on to performing in stadiums for a living, the pressures of today’s disconnected, and fast paced society - has made it so that working at Burger King is just as pressure-ridden as rocking the Wembley Stadium. 

We have collectively pushed ourselves to the degree of Freddie Mercury, and we don’t even know how we got here. Not everyone is meant to be a rockstar, so why do we all suddenly harbor the pressure of one? How can the common man live in such a state without some form of numbing agent? The easy answer is meditation - blah blah blah. But listen. This is beyond meditation. This is - this is what has come of the world. It’s hard to reverse the beast. We’ve pushed it to such a place that it’s almost impossible to live on it without being a little medicated. And that’s - sad.

But just as we have unconsciously pushed the world to such a state, perhaps there is a way to revert it to a better equilibrium - so we don’t all have to take drugs to get by. But that’s an answer for another episode, I’ll let you come up with that one on your own.

As for me, I wonder how long I’ll manage to play the Wembley stadium without my crutch. How many songs into the set - until I beckon one of the roadies for it. Now that I think about it, I’m almost certain Freddie Mercury was on drugs too. Even rockstars are human. Even rockstars need to forget.  

(Originally Published 11/28/18)

New Jersey Man

It’s been a strange month away from mürmur. New girlfriend, new job, new apartment. A lot of news! And until now - not much time to stop and reflect on it all. 

So it’s nice to share this moment with all of you, as I ask myself -

“What is going on?”

I’m finally settled into my new place - and boy, is it nice. For the first time since moving to New York - I’ve found my true safe haven. This is a place where I can relax, and continue on with my life’s calling - hopefully, this time outside of the radar of my current landlord.

With that being said, did I mention that this apartment is - really nice? So nice, that - I kind of can’t stand it. Like how one feels when unboxing a new iPhone. The device is so shiny, and slick - that it’s almost above you. You seldom use it, because you fear tarnishing it’s purity. As a result, you deprive yourself of the actual functionality of the device - the reason why you bought it in the first place. 

It’s kind of how I feel about this apartment. I haven’t benefitted from it just yet, but I know that I will, eventually. I’m just waiting for the novelty of the “new” to wear off. 

Though, I do think back to this summer - and how much I accomplished. The irony was the condition of my apartment - which was a complete pigsty. A total dump. I mean, it’s tragic to the degree in which I let go of that apartment. Had it been a kid, child welfare agents would have certainly taken it out of my hands. It was heavily neglected - even if it was just a room in a building. 

Strangely, in that mess - I did accomplish a lot. Not having an inch of space to relax, or call my own - forced me to work. And that’s what I did. For an entire summer, I focused 100% on mürmur. The surmounting garbage only fueled my drive to work even harder. And perhaps, if I did work just hard enough, I could transport myself - to some place better. Physically, or mentally. It did not matter. It only mattered that I kept momentum. And if I spared a few hours to clean the apartment, then what? Become so complacent that I cease to work? My filth became my excuse to keep sprinting.

Now here I am - in a tidy room, filled with space and a lot of breathing room - and a head full of nothing. I’m out of ideas, but only for a moment. Perhaps this isn’t so much a loss of momentum as it is an opportunity to shift gears. When we become beholden to a very specific way of doing things - especially for an unhealthy amount of time - it prevents us from seeing the full picture. Yes I was completely invested in my work, but at the expense of impacting my relationships with those around me. I lost a girlfriend because I didn’t have a bed frame, my best friend wouldn’t come to my apartment because he was too afraid to take a shit in my toilet. 

So maybe this is the era of bed frames and clean toilets. A new chapter of my life. It might take a moment of getting adjusted to - and maybe these things will hinder my creative flow for a hot second.. But it takes a new setting to invoke new inspirations. So whatever momentum I had in my previous apartment, that’s been lessened by the move - will only be accelerated by my current struggle.

The struggle of a clean home. My new norm. My new foundation of inspiration, and source of comfort. 

(Originally Published 10/29/18)

Eviction no. 2

Hey mürmur. Long time no talk. I haven’t done one of these in awhile - my apologies for being absent. A lot has come up this month. New job, new girlfriend. And as you may have heard - I’m switching apartments. Yes. The jig is up. The landlord found out about the show and I’m forced to relocate - AGAIN.

This isn’t saddening news - in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I feel a huge relief. From day one of moving into this apartment, I never felt that it would ever become the permanent home of mürmur. I always viewed as somewhat of a transient space - a pitstop along the journey. So, in all honesty, It’s a blessing in disguise that my landlord isn’t renewing my lease. 

With that being said, I’m also extremely grateful for the time spent in this apartment. This space served as my - “cocoon”. The place where I transformed from a caterpillar, to a butterfly. A haven for growth, and reflection. And yeah, there were a lot of tears shed - but eventually, something funny happens - you can’t even remember why you felt so sad in the first place. Maybe moving out of the living room closet, to a proper bedroom facilitated the shift in my mood change. But in all honesty, for how much shit my friends gave me for living inside of a closet, I actually didn’t mind it so much. 

There is a lot to be said about how I’m handling this eviction, in comparison to the previous. For those of you who are listening, you can infer my positive attitude about this ordeal. Last year, that wasn’t so much the case. I was pretty damn bitter. But now, I’m celebrating. I’m getting kicked out of the place I call home - Fuck yeah! Bring it on! I can insert a bunch of cliches about how “time heals all wounds”, or “when one door closes, another opens” but in all honesty - all of those expressions pale in comparison to actually having your face smeared in the mud, and then YOU finding the strength to lifting your head up…

When bad things happen, use it as a challenge to turn it into something greater. Find a way to filter the negative, and extract all of it’s juices - to turn it into something fresh, and positive. A lot of times, the shift from bad to good - is way more powerful than if everything were to just run smoothly.  

(Originally Published 10/18/18)

Last Year

The year seems to be a good benchmark in identifying where we are. How far we’ve come in the last 365 days. Why that’s the standard of how we measure things - I don’t really know. But it kind of works. There aren’t too many of these years - so we give ourselves these annual touchstones to remind us of our progress. To keep in check. To see if we fare better, or worse from the year before. Before our time runs out for good.

But life isn’t a single line that we move backwards, and forwards on - even though it’s easier to think of it that way. Rather, there are many lines, all stacked on top of each other. We make strides in certain ones, while regress in others. Last year you could have been sad, but rich - and now you’re poor, but happy. Who is to say what’s better, or worse? It’s just too damn hard to squeeze everything in a single barometer. It’s more complicated than “I had a good year. Or, I had a bad year”.

But if you did have a bad year, chances are, you’re getting caught up in one or two things - when there were many small ways in which you’ve improved since last year. It’s just a matter of stopping to think. Something we don’t always do. And when we do - it’s usually from the wrong angle. Or one that doesn’t sufficiently benefit us. Little gems seem hard to excavate - but in a terrain of darkness, they glimmer even stronger. Remember that. So keep your eyes on the sparkle. And use your misfortunes to strengthen your radar.

We gain and lose things in the course of a year. The process is interchangeable - it’s just how things are. And personally, for everything I gain, I wonder about what I’ve lost in return.

I resemble it to a snake shedding it’s skin, in order to gain a new appearance, it’s necessary to remove old clothes. But a part of you is imbued in those old clothes. A certain scent, a certain tear, a certain blemish that you imparted. How can you just get rid of it?.. But at the same time, you can’t show up to work with torn clothes, just as one can’t wear a stack of t-shirts to mask the holes of an old one. The best you can do is appreciate the good days spent wearing that old fabric, and take those memories with you, as you wear something new. That way, you’re honoring both the past and the present - while keeping your heart open to the future.

(Originally Published 9/23/18)

City Winery

The past catches up - sooner or later. Sometimes in the form of a memento - perhaps a locket, or an old letter - and other times, a person. Memorabilia is easy to discard, or hide away - but people, they stick around. Worse yet, they remember. Sometime even better than you. So when a stranger from the past looks you in the eyes - and forces you to revisit those old memories - the memories you’d much rather not recall - you have no choice but to submit.

But if in that moment of, forced introspection - you manage to find within you, a morsel of peace - then sweetness, will over-flourish all bitterness, that had been left-over from the past.

Congratulations. You’ve passed the test. You didn’t want to take it, but now you’re through. And a better man for it.

As I was perusing through the contents of the new bar I work in the West Village - I noticed a wine key with a familiar logo. It was from City Winery - a restaurant where  I had worked briefly for a couple of months. The place where I lost my mind, and became stricken with limerence - a condition of love so toxic, that to even mention it, brings shame to my tongue.

But then again, we’re talking 5 years ago - so, ancient history.

At some point of the night, I passed by seats 21 & 22 - a gentleman with a female companion. I leaned in for a quick hello when I noticed the two faces. It was Chris and Helena from City Winery, my former coworkers. What threw me off was the fact that they’d been there the whole time and not said a word. A harsh bite to my sense of security.

As they gazed into my eyes, I had a sudden flashback. I recalled a moment in time when Chris and I were folding napkins in the basement of City Winery, when he confessed - how weird - he thought I was.

It wasn’t meant to be a compliment. He didn’t mean it in an endearing way - it was just, “Dude. You’re weird”.

Little did he realize, how much those words had hurt me. In a time when I was already so lost and confused, those words disconnected me even more so from my close surroundings. With one word, he turned me into a complete pariah. And I believed it. An outsider who didn’t belong. Weird. When I excused myself from the table, he inquired why I was leaving. All I could say was - “Because I’m weird”. A few days later, I walked out on the job and booked a flight back to Turkey. 

And now here we are. In each other’s presence once again. Eye to eye. I look at Chris, and he looks back at me. And with eyes of the most soft, and gentle kind - I gaze. But not at him - at my own self. I was looking inwards - to comfort that old part of my soul. The one who still inhabits quietly within. The one still semi-wounded. I put my arm around it as if to say “Hey, it’s no big deal”. This is the time to show you’ve moved on. The spotlight is yours - go take it. You’ve healed, and transformed. Let everyone know about it. 

And with that, I extended my hand out and said “Allow me to reintroduce myself”.

“My name is Uluç Ülgen”.

(Originally Published 9/14/18)

Chocolate biscuits and a turkey stick

A year ago today - my world collapsed. 

To make a laundry list seems in poor taste, so I’ll refrain. Everything I had taken for granted - including my love for humanity - all vanished in an instant. For the next 8 months, I became an angry, bitter, and distrustful person. I sought help, but nothing helped. Every time I reached for something, I went down even further. 

There were some extraordinary people along the way, but the fog in my mind stretched too far. As months wore on, I became deathly depressed. I couldn’t breathe at night without suffocating in shame. I was deeply traumatized. 

Then it changed. 

In April, I started to dance.

Taking a friend’s advice, I went to Nublu - a night club filled with the most positive sounds, from all over the world. And the nicest people. There, I began to dance like never before. Every. Single. Night. Until 6am in the morning. Those watching me thought I was crazy. I looked possessed. But I didn’t care - I was talking to God. Contorting my soul in ways unimaginable. With every new stretch, I felt a wave washing over, and cleansing me of the impurities inside my soul. 

For the first time since my beautiful childhood, I began to feel free. My third eye opened - and I began to see everything, and everyone around me as it were. I started to feel both blessed, and invincible. 

Then my father died.

Suicide? I don’t know. At this point, I don’t care. He was my favorite person in the entire world - and now he isn’t here anymore. 

Nothing matters. This is all an illusion. Let’s just dance.

I had a choice to make. Do I step back into the bottom of the well, or live the rest of my life in celebration? I chose the latter. 

Today, I praise the death of my father - for sacrificing himself to grant me strength.

I am so happy he died. 

In the months leading up to his death, we had the most incredible conversations. He imparted to me the most valuable lessons - lessons that are now etched in gold inside my heart.

On our final phone conversation, I told him of the famous actor who was helping mürmur. He was so damn proud. And then we both cracked a joke about killing ourselves - and said goodbye. Two days later, he was gone. 

Today, I am the happiest person ever. For those of you who’ve been following mürmur - via video, or audio - you may have noticed a shift in tone. These conversations are transcendental. Yes, even Holy dare I say. Every time I mürmur, I feel my body going to a new dimension. These conversations are sacred. Even if they involve blowjobs, and anal sex. I’m beginning a new chapter in my life where I’m finally creating the best work - and I will continue to do so until it impacts the world. 

With that being said - my landlord is not renewing my lease. Gee, I wonder why? But no worries. I’m positive that mürmur will find a new home, and continue to operate in the East Village. I’m not sad. I’m embracing the unexpected. This is the life I’ve chosen to live - and it’s the life that I’m living. 

My purpose here is to be a positive influence on all of you, and to remind you to be happy in the face of adversary. To be accepting and loving of one and other. To learn to look in the face of darkness and laugh - instead of succumbing. And the moment you forget, just listen to a recent episode of mürmur. 

I receive messages from people who I’ve never met, telling me how much comfort the show gives them. How much it alleviates their loneliness. If I can do that for one of you, then it’s worth being of service for the rest of my life.

(Originally Published 8/22/18)

Blood Orange Moon

Last month, as I was bicycling to the Upper East Side - I noticed an unusually bright moon - as orange as fruit. It was a wild sight. A rare instance of nature showing off it’s mischievous spirit. 

I wanted to take a photograph - but sadly, there was no space left on my camera. 

So I turned to the Chinese delivery man standing a few feet away, and stared at him from a distance as he pulled out his phone for a quick snapshot. I closed my eyes for a moment, and envisioned a day of him in the future - imagining him, scrolling through old photographs on his computer, when he suddenly comes across the one of the blood orange moon, blaring at him over the East River. 

When he stops to look at it - what will it mean for him? Will he even recall taking the photo? Something tells me he’ll just scroll past it. A moment in time that felt important enough to document - that now, has no significance. 

Sure you can capture the moon on your phone, but can you capture the magic in the air?

The spark, that outlives the instance of it’s origin. A snapshot - more beautiful than the actual moment itself. Like with music, sometimes, it’s the worst demos that are the best renditions. They capture the authenticity, while simultaneously, elevating the moment to a new level.

I do my best to do the same with mürmur. These conversations are sacred to me. I feel myself swaying into the hands of inspiration - even before walking over to press record. I make a silent pledge to be true. And at some point in the conversation, I go off to another dimension. 

Maybe you’ll hear it. Maybe you won’t. But I do hope that you will feel it. That spark of magic. The divinity. We all have phones, we can record anything we want. But it’s a whole another task, to capture the spark. The spark that keep us returning - over and over again. After 4 years, I’ve finally found my method of eliciting that spark. I hope you will find yours too.

Now I’m curious what it looks like. That photograph of the blood orange moon -taken by that man. 

(Originally Published 8/24/18)


Love Is A Risk Do It Anyways

There are two things that a man has to keep close to his heart. One is pride - and the other is self-value. If you’re not proud of your own achievements, or have the self-worth to realize what they are - what are you truly living for? What’s your purpose? After all, your legacy, regardless of size or color, is what you leave behind in this world. It’s important to know, and appreciate what it is.

I often think about my achievements - actually, let me take that back - I breathe, and cherish my achievements on a daily basis. My apartment - my palace - is an embodiment of all that I worked for in the last 6 years. Every time I step in, regardless of what kind of a day I’m having, I am reminded of how far I’ve come. 

But what if you have both pride, and self-value, but someone is taking them out of your hands? What if they’re doing it, unintentionally - without realizing, or meaning to hurt? What if they’re doing it - at least from their perspective - with your best interest in mind?

I have a girl in my life right now - who I’m very enamored by. She is a very special human being to me.

We had a minor tiff a couple days ago. Amidst the fun and laughter of having a pillow fight, smoking pot, and listening to the Arctic Monkeys - she made a comment that seared right into my heart…

“I can’t believe you live in such conditions” - referring to my apartment - and the mattress I sleep on - which lies on the wooden floor as opposed to a proper bed frame.

With that one line - at least momentarily - I felt all of my achievements taken out of my hands. My trophies suddenly turning into dust. All of my failures, being reduced to a single mattress that we both happened to lie naked on - flesh to flesh.

I know she said it because she wanted to see me better off - but it still hurt. And before I could process what was happening - she was gone.

“What the fuck just happened?” - I thought.

My initial reaction was to put down a wall. To not see her again. I’ve been traumatized enough by those who’ve taken my pride and self-value away - I won’t ever let that happen to me again. 

Strangely, just as quickly as I thought of this - I felt the passing of the storm inside of me. The calming of the tsunami waves. Almost a testament to how much I like this person her. That despite the harsh manner in which her words were pieced together - they came from a place of care. Even if the matter at hand was - superficial. At least to me. 

I guess it feels empowering to know that I have the choice to decide what angle I look at the situation. Do I view this as a deal breaker - or, an opportunity to strengthen the foundation of our relationship? That’s entirely up to me. And that power of choice, is what makes me feel great - as opposed to sad.

Keep your pride close to your heart, find a decent outlook, and then love freely.

“Love is a risk. Do it anyways.”

(Originally Published 8/12/18)

Michael Alago

A few months ago - during the harshest winter of my life - I stepped into a Chinese Restaurant for a late night refuge. Despite not being hungry, I shoveled an entire platter down - perhaps more out of obligation, than pleasure. A desperate attempt to glean momentary happiness - a sensation so far removed from my life, I couldn’t even recall what it it tasted like in the first place. 

Before departing, I cracked open a fortune cookie, and it revealed to me the following message -

“Success is rarely created unless you’re having fun at it”.

I sat and wondered. When was the last time I enjoyed - anything?  I could no longer recall what words like pleasure, happiness, and joy meant. They were just hollow words - without meaning. For I had no reference point - to what they conveyed. I was a dark void. 

I posted the photo of the fortune on Twitter, and almost immediately, received a “like” from Michael Alago - the A&R guy who discovered Metallica and signed them onto a major label.

I thought to myself - Michael must have been having a lot of “fun” in his hey-day. He took a little known band, and made them world famous. If he hadn’t enjoyed what he was doing, would we know of Metallica today?

In that moment, I realized how much of a chore mürmur had become in my life. Once my pride and joy - now something lifeless - like a corpse. I wanted to resurrect the project, but had no idea how. Perhaps - I needed to first and foremost - resurrect myself. Allow myself to have a pulse, before tending to my baby. 

A couple weeks after reading this fortune, I went back to Turkey for what was to be the final time I’d be seeing my father. We had some serious heart-to-hearts during that time frame. Conversations I will cherish with me forever. He looked at me in the eyes and said “Maybe, you’re just bored. Perhaps it’s time to move on.” But then contradictorily, talked of the great fortunes that are on my way - should I decide to refrain from my jadedness.

Perhaps my lack of inspiration - was due to my lack of fun. 

The other day, I found the same fortune cookie message on the floor - it had fallen off the door of my refrigerator. I took a look at it, and threw it away. 

Some lessons after learned, never require reminding ever again.

(Originally Published 8/2/18)   

choke choke choke

As perplexing as life can be, it also offers moments in which everything - makes sudden sense. During these epiphanies, we see things as they actually are - without prejudice, or attachment. Our outlook becomes embedded in the present moment - as opposed to everything that came before. You find yourself smiling with the same silent confidence as Buddha would.

Feels good doesn’t it? 

In these moments - it’s easy to assume that the universal truth is here to stay with us for good. That we’re blessed with a knowledge that once attained, won’t ever go away. But unfortunately - enlightenment - is an elusive motherfucker.

Personally, I can’t think of anything greater than humor to help serve as the sustaining force to this magic - the magic of enlightenment. Once you realize that laughter - is the ultimate method to deflecting hardship, you become impervious to any force that may negatively impact your state of mind. For everything now - is a joke. And once this switch is turned on, it’s nearly impossible to turn it back off. And it’s wonderful.

So while enlightenment doesn’t stick around forever, it’s protective shield -humor - is the very element that enables it to roam freely, without alarm - like a unicorn.

It’s scary to admit how stiff and serious I’ve been my whole life. It wasn’t until this past year that I’ve finally learned how to loosen up - an ability that has translated spectacularly on the recent evolution of mürmur. Not to brag *ahem ahem*.

For the first time, I feel like the person that I always should have been, but never was. 

But my sense of humor didn’t arrive over night. There were other faucets that needed to be turned on first. And yes, calling oneself “funny” is a strange thing to admit, I agree. But there is a brainless  swagger to my demeanor - that I’ve lacked for so long. A silliness that’s both idiotic and liberating at the same time. I feel like a clown with a degree in philosophy. And I’m damn proud of it. 

It’s true that I still I get beaten sometimes, but I’m much better at picking myself up when I remember what a joke everything is. The fact that we’re breathing. It’s a joke. The myriad of consequences that had to occur to serve as the precursor to our arrival on this galaxy. How did that happen? It’s a joke, that’s how. An improbability of such such high extreme - you just have to laugh. It’s all a joke. And the fact that we imbue so much insignificant and petty shit with time, sweat, and tears, is a testament to how laughably stupid and tragicomic everything is.

Both life and death. It’s all a joke. 

So come on man, let’s have a smoke.

And if you can’t handle the toke

You’re gonna cough, and choke choke choke.

(Originally Published 7/22/18)