What Else Is Out There? The Anthology.

Looking back on my best work, looking ahead to better days, looking to you for help, plus a wide-ranging grab-bag of shout-outs, non-sequiturs and Spotify playlists.

247,501. That’s the number of words I’ve written on Medium, over the course of 122 stories, read over 800,000 times. I’ve explored, largely, my history — snippets of vignettes which inform my viewpoints on things like success, life, love, sex, happiness, truth, philosophy and psychology.

I dived as far down as I possibly could, to reach into the deepest part of my known psyche, and swim back up — still intact, still breathing — to tell you everything I could. And it all hangs together loosely, before it will be tied together tightly in the near future. And maybe that should be enough, yet although I’ve given you all that I could in that specific swim lane, I have not yet given you all of me. One more piece is coming in the canon, but it won’t be rushed. That leaves me at a suitable stopping point, so, today, we’re going to pause and look back the way Kris Gage once did at all that’s come before, and look ahead the way Tiffany Sun once did at all that’s coming next.

Consider this your single-disc greatest hits, your chance to offer input on what comes next (skip to the end if you want to avoid the navel-gazing and music criticism), and your introduction to John Gorman the human (not the writer — I assure you, they’re quite different people).

Liner Notes: 10 Boring Facts About Me

  1. I like sports a lot. In fact, I talk about it. In the past year alone, I’ve been to two NFL games, two baseball games, an NHL game, five NBA games and a US Women’s Soccer match. I’m a pretty good golfer, an avid — though decidedly less good —distance runner, a retired amateur soccer player, and I also watch sports on TV a lot. I spend my NFL Sundays parked in front of Red Zone Channel, and spend the NBA playoffs glued obsessively to the TV. My favorite teams are, by sport: Buffalo Bills (NFL), Buffalo Sabres (NHL), Toronto Blue Jays (MLB), Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), Syracuse Orange (College), Olympique de Marseille (Soccer).
  2. As much as I enjoy sports, my true passion is music. More than writing. I have an exhaustive, encyclopedic knowledge of it — all genres, really — and it moves me in incalculable ways. I’m always listening to it while I write. And I’ve made a fair amount of it myself. I could make a list of my 10 favorite records, but, instead, you should consider following me on Spotify. There’s a metric hellaton of playlists there for whatever mood suits you. (I’ve included one of my all-time favorite songs at the end of this section, and I make personalized playlists, too, upon request.)
  3. I will eat damn near anything, but I am extremely particular about how food is made. From scrapple to squid ink, from quail to kangaroo, from marsala to masala, I’m really big into food, and don’t trust people who are not. (I truly feel for the post-food fools who crave Soylent.) All-time favorites: bouillabaisse, bibimbap, ceviche, spaghetti with homemade sauce (recipe also available upon request), lobster roll, paella, pad thai, panang curry, saag paneer, goat vindaloo, eclairs, chocolate chip cookies, and of course I’m a sucker for a well-made pizza, or wings hotter than the surface of the sun. Foods I hate: ketchup, mayonnaise, mild cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce.
  4. I’m a wanderlust, but a limited one. I’ve been to every state in the continental U.S. not named “Dakota,” and every city you can name of any considerable size. I can look at a blank map of the world and name every country. You could drop me off blindfolded anywhere in North America without GPS and I could find my way home. The MTA train map is the most beautiful piece of art on Planet Earth. I’m a sucker for coasts (if not necessarily beaches), skylines, mountains and deserts. Indeed, that’s my entire Instagram. 10 favorite cities so far: Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal, Miami, Chicago, Austin, New York, New Orleans. (Pretty much in that order.) Most overrated cities: Vegas, Washington D.C., Boston, Phoenix. Most underrated cities: Philly, Raleigh, Memphis, Houston. I finally hit continental Europe later this year, so I expect that list to become far less American. (I welcome that.)
  5. I compulsively make puns and dad-jokes in real life. And, no, I will not apologize for that. And, no, that will never make its way into my writing. Except for this one sign that will appear this fall at MetLife Stadium during Giants and Jets games that will say “Today’s Gameday Forecast: 100% Chance of Cloud.” [COMPANY NAME REDACTED.]
  6. I don’t drink unless I’m traveling. It’s been state policy since August. Poisons of Choice (not in any order): Dry red wine from no particular point of origin, Hendricks Gin and Soda, West Coast IPAs, Bone-Dry Champagne, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, Balvenie 17 single-malt, Fernet Branca shots, Anejo Tequilas, Mezcal, Remy Martin X.O. and ports that are old enough to drink themselves.
  7. Yes, I medicate. [Highly endorse.]
  8. Rapid Fire Big Rocks … Politics: Scandinavian-style Egalitarianism mixed with racially-inclusive progressive globalism, achieved in tandem at an incremental pace … Religion: Lapsed Catholic, Atheist for now, with a healthy reverence for elements of Zen, Hindu and Tibetan Buddhism …Birthplace: Niagara Falls, New York … Ethnicity: Second-generation American, plurality Italian (40–50%), and then from there, French, Irish, Dutch, and almost every other country that borders the Mediterranean that you can name. Dog or Cat Person: Cat, but allergic to both … Ranch or Bleu Cheese: Bleu Cheese, y’all ranch people are monsters … Paper of Record: The EconomistMedia Preferences: Sinclair Broadcasting. (Just kidding. I don’t watch non-sports TV.) Favorite drinking hole: this place in Seattle.
  9. Random things I love: cappuccinos, conversations that don’t reach any conclusions, evening rainstorms in the summer, palm trees, Jalen Ramsey’s trash talk, maple-flavored anything, Kanye’s tweets, words that sound really pretty when paired together, (i.e. “cellar door” or “New Orleans”), bicycle kicks, baseball diamonds, BDSM (covered elsewhere), the smell of gasoline (and also maple), the sensation you get when you see a new city for the first time, chess, first kisses, Stax Records, foreign languages, saltwater, A Love Supreme, all of Aubrey Plaza’s lines in Safety Not Guaranteed (okay, okay, and in Parks and Recreation), animal odd couple videos.
  10. The night before I turned 30, I was sleeping in a rented Jeep. (Click the story below.)

BONUS PLAYLIST: Songs to Play At My Funeral

They’re not all my all-time favorites, but should I ever get lowered into the ground at an inopportune time, here’s your playlist before the second-line band kicks in. (Yes, I want a jazz funeral, and then I want my ashes scattered over Niagara Falls. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.)

Greatest Hits, Volume I: My 3 Most Popular Pieces (According to Claps)

  1. You’re Not Lazy (#7 All-Time on Medium)
  2. The 3 Keys To Becoming Irresistible (#67 All-Time)
  3. Why I Quit Social Media (#195 All-Time)

Greatest Hits, Volume II: My 3 Favorite Pieces (According to Me)

  1. All This Warmth Is Too Much Not To Share
  2. Tsuru no Ongaeshi
  3. The Stars Are Where You’ll Find Me

Greatest Hits, Volume III: 2 Cult Classics

Not my most popular, or my most favorite, but the ones that will probably live the longest: One because it’s by far the most important piece of my career, and the other because it’s the one I refer to most often. I’ll let you deduce which is which.

  1. Everything Was Beautiful And All Of It Hurt
  2. The Tuna and The Swordfish

Greatest Hits, Volume IV: 2 Clickbait Classics

One was intensely researched. One was purely anecdotal. Both are surprisingly useful and massive hits on Thought Catalog.

  1. 40 Keys to Lasting Happiness
  2. 35 Life Lessons From My 35th Year

Greatest Hits, Volume V: The 5 Books of Wisdom

And, finally, here’s the self-help columns that really resonated with y’all. They address confidence, connection, health, knowledge and stillness. They’re my five most valuable life lessons.

  1. Where Confidence Comes From
  2. The Art of Intimacy
  3. How to Lose 44 Pounds
  4. The Key To Learning Almost Anything
  5. The Lost Art of Shutting The Fuck Up

BONUS DISC: My 21 Favorite Albums From the 21st Century

  1. D’Angelo and the Vanguard // Black Messiah
  2. Kendrick Lamar // Damn (for the sake of this list, this is a stand-in for “To Pimp A Butterfly” and “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City,” which would be №3 and №4, also, but I want to give credit to other artists who killed it in the new millennium)
  3. Hurray for the Riff Raff // The Navigator
  4. The Hold Steady // Boys and Girls in America
  5. Outkast // Stankonia
  6. Arcade Fire // Funeral
  7. Frank Ocean // Channel Orange
  8. Kanye West // My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  9. Solange // A Seat At The Table
  10. The National // Boxer
  11. LCD Soundsystem // Sound of Silver
  12. M83 // Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
  13. Antlers // Hospice
  14. Anderson Paak // Malibu
  15. The Strokes // Is This It?
  16. My Morning Jacket // It Still Moves
  17. Janelle Monae // The Electric Lady
  18. The XX // The XX
  19. Death Cab for Cutie // Transatlanticism
  20. The National // Alligator
  21. The Roots // How I Got Over

The Roots are also my all-time favorite band. They’re perfect in every way. I make no apologies for this.

Sidenote: Here’s an album from last week that’s a bit under the radar that I love a lot. Flatbush Zombies’ “Vacation in Hell.” It absolutely slaps.

Featured Artists: My Favorite Writers on Medium That I’ve Read (listed alphabetically)

Alex Moody, Alexandra Panait, Dan Moore, Hetty La, Jessica Wildfire, Kris Gage, Samanee Mahbub, Sarah Cooper, Sarika Bansal, Soumya John, Stephanie Georgopulos, Sunaina Patnaik, Tiffany Sanya, Tiffany Sun, umair haque.

Why yes, there’s a column for that:

Other favorites I’ve encountered since, who I currently follow, and who you probably should, too (not in any order):

Kathryn LeBlanc, Benjamin Sledge, Christina Costello, Christina Marie, Sarah O'Grady, Nat Dao, Akua (uh-kwee-yah), Bethsaida Romelus, Amber Rae, Brittany Nicole Aranda, Jessi Huffman, Natalie Chiang, Talib Kweli Greene, Emily Warna, Hanna Brooks Olsen, Ashlynn W, Jane Harkness, Gayatri Kulkarni, Hazel Gale, David I. Adeleke, Stephen M. Tomic, Michael Thompson, Michael Mather, DiAmaya Dawn, Brianna Valleskey, Yvonne M Feltman, Jessica Semaan, Rafael Sarandeses, Ashley Whitlatch, Scott Neumyer, Ijeoma Oluo, Clare Barry.

New Tracks: So, what’s next?

I’m going to spend the next week or so piecing together a fairly long — and, hopefully, coherent — capstone on all my Medium writing from over the past year.

That aside, I would like your help! I want to spend the next year asking, (and hopefully answering) bigger questions, different questions, and giving you more of what you want, and more of what you would like to hear me talk about, specifically.

Please leave a comment with what you’d like me to answer, share, talk about, discuss, write, or wax quasi-poetically about in the coming weeks and months.

They could be topics, questions, personal, universal, and all suggestions are welcome! (Except from my trolls. And I know who the fuck you are, Raph.) What do you find valuable? What do you relate to? What do you crave? What problems need solving? What things do you appreciate?

Or, would you like me to just pass the mic? That’s okay, too.

It’s been quite a journey, but there are new horizons to chase, new cities to visit, new music to make together. I’ve never met a topic I couldn’t research, nor an idea not worth considering. So, please, feel free to skew as far afield as you’d like. I’ve spent the past 247,501 words doing exactly that. It seems to have worked out okay.

*** Did you like this? Feel free to bang that clap button. Do you want more? Follow me, or read more here. ***

Written by

Essayist and storyteller on life, liberty and the battle for happiness. Several million served. Words at Human Parts, Forge and PS I Love You. IG: heygorman

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