A semi-regular blog on getting my shit back together, or going-from-zero-to-hero.
This past year was a disaster of epic proportions. Well, to me at least. I mean, hey…in the pantheon of cataclysmic disasters, or the social ills that plague our world these days, it was…no big deal. But…to ME: one “routine” back surgery that became three major surgeries, “imminently life threatening” infections – at one point, I was told that I had 2 months left and to get my affairs in order– and near total kidney failure . Followed by homelessness, hunger, abject fatigue and perhaps worst of all, seeing many “real” friendships slip by the wayside (yeah, I would’ve got tired of me and my problems too).
As fu*king weak as it is to hear myself say it, had it not been for my beloved babies Ramone & GoGo at my side, hell…I would have checked out.
That was then, and this is NOW.
It’s time to stand up straight, thrust my arms into the air, smile and…Rebuild the Machine.
What does that look like for me? Stability. Detoxification. Getting my friends back, and/or building new friendships. Getting strong. Again. Stronger than ever before. Then…reach for the stars.
Next year, I intend to:
· surf a monster wave on the North Shore of Oahu with my friends Kala Alexander and Makua Rothman.
· see “Little Big Man” rise to the top of the bestseller charts, with the mentorship of friend and hero, Gregory David Roberts, author of Shantaram, the GREATEST NOVEL EVER.
· fight. I want another old friend, Dana White, to put me into the Octagon –at age 53—for an exhibition.
Today, I am finding my way back. To life. Pain and fatigue still persists. But, I’m getting better by the day. Physical Therapy, Yoga, Acupuncture, Swimming and Diet are the collective support that are getting me there. As well as a few select people who against all odds, still believe in me; like my excellent webmaster Bo Caldwell at Bender Music Group (www.bendermusicgroup.com ) and my equally excellent social media guru Gabe Tuft of Local marketing 2.0 (www.localm2.com) . And leading the way, a newfound faith in God (no, don’t worry, I will NOT be preaching to you) and…HOPE. And of course….Ramone and GoGo! J
Prove that hope is always alive. And that our best is always in front of us.
REBUILDING THE MACHINE
The following is the introduction for my upcoming OC Weekly series, entitled “Rebuilding The Machine.” It explains much better than I can what Rebuilding The Machine is, so…here goes!
As Orange County resident Rick Bassman readies to release his first book, autobiography “Little Big Man,” he’s found that his second book, “Rebuilding The Machine” has already begun, essentially, to “write itself.” Just out of a months-long ordeal where he looked death straight in the eye, AGAIN, he –in his own words—over the next three months, will “attempt to go from zero-to-hero.” Or at least, a semblance of my former self.” Follow Rick’s efforts, entitled “The Big Makeover,” exclusively here at OC Weekly.
I finished the first draft of my autobiography, “Little Big Man,” in March of 2013. With the tag line “how many chances at life can one man have,?” my story chronicles creating and experiencing the highest of highs that life has to offer, and crashing to its lowest lows; time and again. And coming out the other side, ready to sprint towards life and smash into it face first, time and again.
With only my beloved pup Ramone at my side, I started writing Little Big Man — then (arrogantly) entitled “Been There, Done That” -in the Summer of 2011, while crashing at a friend’s in North Hollywood and whilst in the throes of drug and alcohol addiction, recovering from recent losses which included my Dad, my girlfriend and her (read: MY) daughter, my home, my 3 businesses, all my money and Ramone’s beautiful brother Marley. I got my health back together, and partially, my sanity. I began to make money again and moved to a cabin in a remote area of Big Bear. Ramone and I adopted GoGo (from my pal Linda Blair of “Exorcist” fame), hiked a lot and bonded further. In addition to getting some real steam behind my booking business (placing giant, human monsters in movie, TV and commercial parts through www.bookbigtalent.com) , i travelled back and forth to India, where I had picked up a lucrative consulting job –which led to my nearly beating the tar out of Axl Rose in a Bombay hotel room at 3am one morning. A year and a half later, I had completed my writing.
In terms of telling my story, I had written my final “real time” words, in the guise of a diary entry, shortly before leaving North Hollywood. The more I cleared my head in the fresh mountain air, the more I came to regard my words over the past years—the Diary entries in particular– as those of a conflicted madman. I’ve left these intact in my book, as they well articulate where I was at a particular place and in a particular time. Thus, the “story of my life” ends in December of 2011. Save for one final entry, which I wrote atop a mountain where Cougar’s Crest and the Pacific Crest Trails meet, on a beautiful sunny day. Ramone and GoGo accompanied me, as always . In addition to our basic provisions – water, trail mix and what-not—I had hauled my laptop up these miles, to 8000 feet plus; something I would not have thought physically possible 18 months earlier.
Partially excerpted here, I wrote:
My life continues to be a journey of equal parts UPS and DOWNS. Today, I sit –almost quite literally at the top of the word—and look DOWN, at a world which both my eyes and my experiences tell me is simultaneously fraught with peril and filled with beauty. With my beautiful babies at my side, in the here and now I choose beauty. And love. And peace, excitement, wonderment. Calm, confidence. And the good. Hell, I realize I don’t even have to consciously CHOOSE. I just feel it. The good that is. There have been so many times in my life where I’ve given up; where I’ve not believed that another moment, which would hint at hope, would have been possible. And HERE I am. With that, I stand, throw my head back and thrust my arms into the air. Looking UP. Ramone and GoGo jump up and down, bemusedly howling and barking, looking skyward to see what it is that I’m seeing. The moment is perfect. Without knowing what the next hour, tomorrow, or next year may look like, I can only hope for more of the same. And even better.
In July of 2013, draft completed –at a whopping 600+ pages—I moved to Los Angeles where GoGo, Ramone and me took up residence in a beautiful loft apartment—and went to work. My professional goal…to see Little Big Man atop the New York Times and Amazon bestsellers charts and my personal goals…to see me and my babies healthy, happy and secure, and ever hopeful. Just a few days after moving, my back –which had been bothering me on and off for the past few years—WENT OUT. Thus began the latest dark period; one which –if you’re counting (and my book does) is metaphorically my “ninth life.”
The past seven month have been a plunge into the abyss. An epidural injection gone awry, causing a cerebro spinal fluid (CSF) leak and leading to nearly fatal organ shutdown. And because this went undiagnosed, a single contemplated two-hour spinal surgery becomes a five-hour ordeal, giving way to two additional major back surgeries and several “imminently life threatening” infections. One contemplated hospitalization became seven, followed by seemingly endless months as an in-patient in a series of acute rehabilitation centers. All good things come to an end –including health insurance coverage—and I was released back into the world in early February. A lifetime of folly –in which I became adept at spending large sums of money, but not-so-good at saving it—combined with not working due to months of abject pain and fatigue, have led me to find myself today in a perilous position. Since my release, my pups and I have slept huddled on the streets. Finding a power source and an internet connection when and where I could, I’ve worked. HARD. Or at least, as hard as I’ve been humanly able while struggling through…where everything just HURTS and where I’m constantly tired. Earning enough to put a temporary roof over our heads, back in San Clemente, where I once lived the high-life and the good life for 14 years. Getting health insurance back and bumming rides to seek medical attention. On March 26, a Cat Scan showed my fusions healing nicely; better-than-hoped-for really. The heavy metal –loads of screws and rods—are firmly in place, and the bone is growing back more quickly than expected. On the same day, blood panels showed that my infections are one hundred percent gone, and after seven months on some very damaging antibiotics (including vancomycin, which Wikipedia reassuringly calls “the drug of last resort,” I was taken off of medication. And hopefully now, I begin to heal in earnest. Physically, emotionally, financially.
As I write this on April 2, 2014, I am still in a great deal of pain and am in a near-constant state of borderline exhaustion.
I am again at a cross roads, and I have a choice to make. To borrow a line from a classic movie, it is time to “get busy livin’ or get busy dying.” On one side of the coin, me and my doggies are a moment away from the streets, and it is apparent to me, that at any moment I can pull the trigger (figuratively) on slipping away. On the other, I believe that I have the power within myself to pull myself up by the bootstraps, FORCE my way through the pain and the fatigue, and find myself again. In the process…become strong and healthy. And successful. On EVERY level.
When feeling up to it over these past months, I did a bit of writing about my experiences, how I was feeling about them, and my outlook. These writings began to take shape, and soon, I realized I had the beginnings of my second book, “Rebuilding The Machine.” Like many these days who place their faith in an ever-evolving and growing system of visualization and manifestation, I am a believer. My buddy Bo was gracious enough to throw together a mock-up magazine cover for me that demonstrates this.