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  • Dean De Benedictis

CRAPPY NEWS AND EXISTENTIAL LETTER TO FANS


I don’t feel like I can be silent about what’s been happening in my life recently, so I’m finally making time to just write you here. I try not to play my sympathy violin in public too much, but when something like this happens, I just have to say something if for no other reason than hopefully your shear amusement.

Apparently, the other day, I experienced another freak-occurrence car burglary. I know. It totally sucks, in more ways than I can convey in one sentence, so here are a bunch.

This theft was similar to the devastating one I experienced 10 years ago, when I started this travel project. Back then they broke into my car in the middle of desolate desert while I was hiking, the last place you would have expected a car theft, and they stole all of the hard drives containing my footage from all of my music travels that year.

Much like this occurrence the other day, that nightmare 10 years ago massively threw my life off, as all of my projects became an overbooked and heavily congested release schedule, which never recovered back to normal. It forced me to continue attempting the travel project well into the following decade in order to essentially reshoot the lost footage, and this threw off all of my project deadlines for years to come. Any lack of artistic prolificness that you may have noticed from me over the last 10 years, has been in great part because of that theft, at least 50% of it. Since then, I have been taking all of the precautions I thought needed to prevent there ever being another theft of this type. I keep my drives on me at all times, and not only do I lock my car doors whenever anything important is in there, but I always, without fail, either cover the equipment with non-valuable things or I put it in the trunk, the latter being most of the time. At home, I even bought fireproof safes to store most of these drives and prevent anything like this from happening there. I’ve spent thousands on these drives, both to buy them for extra backups, and to protect them. I have over 100 terabytes of data on all of these drives, if you can wrap your head around that, accumulated through the years. Lots and lots of backed up work and footage are in them, and the measures I’ve taken to avoid their theft have been astounding and burdensome in and of themselves. That’s just for starters. It’s been a really tough last 10 years, in every sense of the word.

And now, lo and behold, a similar theft still happened the other day, yet again. They stole only one drive, but it was the only hard drive in my car at that moment, and unfortunately it contained absolutely all of the work I’ve done over the last 4 to 6 months. Yeah, big ouch... like really big. Like I can’t even really joke about it right now. I’m totally f-cking heartbroken, really. Within about two minutes time, while I was going from the gas pump into the station to pay, I accidentally left my car open and left the drive in plain site, so the rest is history. I didn’t even notice that the drive had been stolen until the next day in the desert, which is where I drove after the gas station. That’s how busy I’ve been and how much I’ve still been racing around, even out in nature, which should attest to my occasional momentary lapse of judgement like this. But that gas station was the last place I saw it before I discovered it was missing while out in the wild, so I know that’s probably where the theft occurred.

Unfortunately, that one little hard drive contained: the last five months of work on my coming album for Spotted, a ton of newly made samples and sound designs, some newer remixes, all of my photos, and Jesus, all of the locations that I had shot and made music at around Reno Nevada this year. All gone. This is actually the second time my Reno footage has all been stolen, the first time being that one time 10 years ago. Can you believe that? I was hours... hours away from backing up the drive. I remember thinking—“I will back it up as soon as I get home tonight. This was a long one” just moments earlier.

The funny thing is, some of it was already backed up, but it was part of my occasional shifting around of files to make room on my other drives, which I sometimes have to do. And many of my drives were involved in that process, so data recovery isn’t really an option. I simply had a moment of coincidental vulnerability, nothing more. I don’t blame myself, because the odds were so crazy. Of course I’ve learned my ridiculous lesson, but that’s still not going to help me in this really bad situation, at all. It’s just bad luck and chance, which just happens to people sometimes. It’s just the inevitable adversity one has to meet when they are trying to do something great, or even mildly great. All of the headaches over my new album over the last half year, and all of the literal blood sweat and tears I shed over filming the Reno locations, not to mention the personal sacrifice and life-threatening dangers I had to brave, is all completely gone, yet again. This is after multiple attempts to do it successfully through the years. It’s like there’s some kind of bubble curse around the entire Reno/Tahoe area for me haha which is obviously just too ridiculous an idea to ever give into.

And regardless of all of this, as I shutter to think about it, I’m still going to have to redo all of that work now. That statement has far far more implications than the simplicity it embodies as I write it. In order to accomplish redoing the work, it is going to take a massive toll on my life yet again, which was already carefully planned and balanced as it was. Yahoo Earth!!! Go aiders!!!

This theft was not as severe as last time, but it is obviously still severe, because it will yet again flip my life upside down and probably set back all of my plans, as a person, in addition to my release schedules as an artist. Unbelievable. I was already working hard to keep a decent pace and was attempting to fix my integrity in public, and I thought I was finally making good time with it, even if barely. But wow, an occurrence like this is just impeccable timing on the devil’s part. It’s like the universe is trying passionately to tell me that I’m a failure, and I’m sorry, but I just refuse with every fiber of my being to believe it. At the very least, I refuse to go without a fight. Excuse my French but f-ck that. I’m going to strap in my seatbelt and get ready to bear down for yet another go, regardless of how long it takes.

Luckily my Mount Hood footage was not on this drive, so this much is good, but I lost almost everything following that summit. You guys have been seeing some of my broadcasts from the Reno area on FB over the last few months, and yes those are all gone now, and there were a whole hell of a lot more camera angles and directly recorded music/audio then what you saw broadcasted here. It’s just absolutely staggeringly astounding to me, the sheer timing and coincidence and circumstance of it. I mean can you believe that? They took a measly little $40 hard drive, and drastically affected my life within two minutes time. Yep, apparently we have to lock our cars and houses every waking second of every day, not even leaving anything important to us unattended for more than the blink of an eye. Not our kids, not our money, not our phones, not even a measly hard drive.

There are simply just too many people in the world now folks lol forGod's sake. Any problems that the world is experiencing is only going to get worse if we keep multiplying without a thought about any repercussions! We are way way past the point of being an endangered species now, so I’m sorry but I just don’t get why we keep procreating so compulsively! We’re like hundreds-perhaps thousands-of years past being an endangered species anymore lol if we ever were in the first place. WTF!!! But I digress. Whatever. Excuse that. I’m obviously still in a bit of an emotional state right now. Just traumatized by a crime. I think I’m definitely passed the shock phase.

I filed a police report and went back to the gas station to ask them to pull the tapes and look at them and then get back to me. They told me they saw the tapes but that the angle of their outdoor cameras did not cover the far side gas pumps, only the entrance of the gas station, of course. I tried calling all of the nearby pawnshops, but no sign of anything. The cops think it could have been a meth addict; my mom thinks it could’ve been a struggling school student who needed the hard drive. Regardless of whoever it was, what matters is that yet again my life will be thrown off tempo and all of my work and my release schedules and everything will be thrown off too.

It’s all good sure; trouble in paradise and all that, but honestly it’s so difficult for me. That last theft 10 years ago threw my life off so much that sometimes I really have felt like I’m holding on by a thread in a lot of ways. It made me so busy and made my life so complicated and stressful that to actually have released even one album officially during that entire decade (Salvaging The Present) was a total miracle. Honestly. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had moments of total fulfillment and happiness and productivity of course, but as you can see, the general course of my life over the last decade has not been even close to as efficient or productive as it was before I started this travel project. Perhaps I’m finally addressing that with you all right now, but if so, then this is only the beginning of what I have left to address. Honestly so many things have gone wrong with all of my projects over the last 10 years that sometimes I think I’m losing my mind. I know that’s an exaggeration, but if nothing else, it just seems very oddly coincidental how many things have gone wrong over the last decade to be constantly throwing me off my game like this for so long. It just gets blurry and a little exasperating to look at sometimes. I mean yes, bad things just keep happening over and over and over, but also yes, that’s life, over and over and over, for all of us.

Man, my work is already hard enough as it is, so sometimes I just finally have to let loose at a moment like this. I enjoy being an artist absolutely, and living life on the road good chunks of each year. I get some good fulfillment from that sure, but I am still a human being who can only take so much, and more laboriousness has happened to me out there than anything joyful or leisurely or innocent. I am also a perfectionist, so naturally all of my work takes me a very long time, so I can hardly even muster enough time for these travels because I’m always in the studio working and dealing with the setbacks of that world. I’ve actually been using my travels as a way to get out a bit, and actually get away from the studio, which would work great if it weren’t for the fact that the travels are just as much work in a different way if not more, a lot more. It’s all just so hard to wrap my head around at a moment like this. And this is why it’s taking me totally unpredictable amounts of time to finish anything that I have promised you all. All of my inherent obstacles couple with setbacks like this theft, and then it takes me a decade to release one album. Hopefully that will end, regardless of this theft, but Jesus, my apologies ahead of time if for any reason it doesn’t.

But I don’t mean to sound too apocalyptic again. I’m obviously still getting things done, and obviously expressing myself sincerely and enjoying my craft to an acceptable degree. Life is still good and still OK. I’m just an overdramatic artist, and probably also because I’m an actor too haha so you’re hearing the drama now. Performers just tend to be this way. Well, God-especially when we become victims of crimes! And this one, where they stole a chunk of my life, that’s just a flat out violation. I actually had to give up a couple of potential friendships to do the work I did over the last six months. Really. Those are the types of sacrifices I’m talking about, and it’s how involved I get with what I’m doing every waking month that goes by. A loss like this just devastates me. Lisa says that I live my life taking far more risks than most people, so I’m prone to a lot more failure. Bless her for saying that, and I think it’s mostly true. But I’m hanging off of glacial mountains and getting stuck in isolated places of drought and flirting with lots of various physical dangers; let’s hope those higher odds for failure don’t mean something fatal at this point. If it does, I hope to god I friggin' get it on film. Ha! And that the footage isn’t ripped off again. And I obviously I have plenty more of those type of risks to go now, so naturally I’m a bit disconcerted.

I have a very privileged life, filled with lots of freedom, but I have never seen that fact as any type of invitation to do nothing of any importance with my life. With my given freedom I’ve always strived hard to achieve excellence, and unity with others, and to help those in need whenever and however possible. All of that has filled my life with effort, pure effort. I used to do a lot of volunteer work, but eventually I had to stop that to make my artistic ambitions happen, which unfortunately requires 100% of our focus, a fact often preached by successful artists all over the world. Well, they are right. To be a successful artist without any Head start or big money backing, you have to put so much into it that you practically don’t have a life. At moments like this, I do strongly consider giving up the artistic fight altogether so I can just actually help people in need again. You have to be able to see how much that thought plagues someone like me at a moment like this, a moment of total artistic failure after years of attempts. People are dying out there, and I’m doing this stuff??? It’s unimaginable to me sometimes. Perhaps I will manage to achieve both goals and intentions someday, but so far, it seems that both aren’t harmonious together if I’m going to be successful or effective at either one. Trying to be a successful artist and trying to be a part of the human race and help people at the same time: really guys, I’m so sorry but they just don’t mix. I’ve tried many times, and I was set back terribly for it every time. Either one takes most of one’s focus and prioritizing.

So I suppose before I give up the art and go back to the human race, I want to see my immediate goals through to the end. That’s the plan, and my goals are only immediate, so this shouldn’t be taking so f-cking long!!!! My God. But I know adversity waits for every endeavor under the sun. I’ve had to battle against my own flaws and short comings and faulty programming as much as anything else, just to achieve any of this. By that standard I have succeeded already in a way, the paradox of course being that somehow, after all of that self conquering and strife, I have somehow still not effected the world for the better nearly enough for even any type of official acknowledgment. Not even a name on a list of people who are a part of a truly great organization of some kind. So the absolute only explanation for this is that somehow it must only be the beginning for me, of all of it, still, after everything that has already happened. After all of the triumphs and all of the bleak news of unlikelihoods for success. Fighting against such grim inevitabilities as this is literally what I’ve been given all of this freedom to do in life, so onwards man. F-ck it, right? This is what we do in life. We each have a calling. Bottom line.

By writing you this letter I suppose I’m just trying to appeal to your patience and understanding as audience members, somehow, through filling you in on such a personal level. I don’t know. I know it probably looks as though I’m a total wash up or something by now, like a total has-been because of the pace I’ve been going at and my lack of official presence now, and occasionally my lack of quality. Sure. But regardless of how it looks, or whether or not anyone will continue to care, I assure you that I’m only getting started, with everything, for better or worse. For God’s sake, I climb cascade Mountains for my art; I’m more in shape than I’ve ever been, and I have more passion and focus now than I’ve ever had before, regardless of how it looks on the outside. This existential launch into the universe will only continue, regardless of how or where or why or when, or how it looks. I don’t care. What else can I do but strive towards what I know I can do. (I love using periods instead of question marks lol.)

But yeah sure, minor setback again. There’s even more to the story about how much this theft will set me back, but I don’t want to bog you down or bore you with heavy violin music any further today. That’s for the people who are closest to me – – or a therapist! But I will fill you in when/if there’s more to fill you in about, both personally and/or formally. Whenever I do write you another vulnerable or personal letter like this, it will probably end up more like an apology, which I know seems odd but you will see what I mean whenever I get to it. It will be similar to this letter in that way, explaining to you with emotional and philosophical transparency about my adversities. It’s tied to this moment and it’s all relative.

In the meantime, I will just say that it’s all good, yep. It’s fine. I’m still living an amazing life with some love and unity and a lot of actual groundbreaking adventure and artistic achievement, whether or not the world sees that yet, or when or if it does. I will stay as productive as I always seem to be to you. I just wanted you to know the inner workings of what happens behind the scenes of moments like this.

Indeed I would like to thank you all in advance for your continued support and encouragement and patience, for any/all of you who continue that. It will be massively appreciated if you can keep it up and go the distance with me, however far. Pragmatic blessings to you all, until the next update. 🙏

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