Fresh Blood Podcast Episode Guest - Michael Harrison

Intro Banner of Michael Harrison
Intro Banner of Michael Harrison

Michael talks about growing up in Las Vegas among the musical greats, the influence of being a teenager during the summer of love, his recovery with addiction and the amazing impact Michael’s on Main has had on the Santa Cruz community.

Michael Harrison is no stranger to reinvention. Michael started his career as a casino executive in Las Vegas before experiencing time as a chef and then moving on to work in the behavioral health industry. Michael spent 18 years offering counseling with a specialty around addictions. In 2016, Michael became the owner and proprietor of Michaels On Main, a restaurant and live event venue located in Santa Cruz, CA. Michaels’ on Main, affectionately known as Mom’s is located on a beautiful river and has been transformed into a space that has an amazing energy, delicious food and excellent music bringing together the Santa Cruz and South Bay communities. What Michael has created is nothing less than a modern day musical version of Cheers. A place full of joy, and music, where everyone knows your name.

Michael talks about growing up in Las Vegas among the musical greats, the influence of being a teenager during the summer of love, his recovery with addiction and the amazing impact Michael’s on Main has had on the Santa Cruz community.

Michael Harrison is no stranger to reinvention. Michael started his career as a casino executive in Las Vegas before experiencing time as a chef and then moving on to work in the behavioral health industry. Michael spent 18 years offering counseling with a specialty around addictions. In 2016, Michael became the owner and proprietor of Michaels On Main, a restaurant and live event venue located in Santa Cruz, CA. Michaels’ on Main, affectionately known as Mom’s is located on a beautiful river and has been transformed into a space that has an amazing energy, delicious food and excellent music bringing together the Santa Cruz and South Bay communities. What Michael has created is nothing less than a modern day musical version of Cheers. A place full of joy, and music, where everyone knows your name


Michael Harrison - Owner of Michael's On Main, Restaurant & Live Music Venue

[00:00:00] Michael Harrison: Today, we are speaking with Michael Harrison. Michael is no stranger to reinvention. Michael started his career as a casino executive in Las Vegas before experiencing time as a chef, 

[00:00:12] and then moving on to work in the behavioral health industry, Michael spent 18 years offering counseling with a specialty around addictions. In 2016, Michael became the owner and proprietor of Michaels on main effectually known as moms located in Santa Cruz, California it's own a beautiful river, and it has been transformed into a space that has an amazing energy, delicious food and excellent music bringing together the Santa Cruz and south bay communities through this restaurant and live event venue.

[00:00:46] What Michael has created is nothing less than a modern day musical version of cheers, a place full of joy and music, or everyone knows your name. Michael, thank you for joining us on fresh blood. I'm so excited to learn more, please. Could you tell us a little bit more about your story and getting to where you are today?

[00:01:06] Yeah. Well first, thanks for having me. It's an honor to be interviewed and, to hear you describe so many details of my life, I wasn't even aware that you really knew that much, about my background. , yeah, it's really cool. I actually grew up in the kitchens in Las Vegas and then moved out to the front and worked in the casino industry.

[00:01:25] , my dad, , and my stepfather, uh, you know, my mom moved to Vegas. I was born in LA and my mom moved to Vegas. Um, PRI I must've been five or six years old. She, I think moved there to get a divorce. And, , I pretty much grew up in Vegas. So my experience has been seeing it from a whole different side.

[00:01:45] Anyway, my dad, , he was a slot mechanic and my mom was a change girl. She worked for like $9 and 85 cents a day back in those years. And, , they met and started dating and. Got married, I think in 57. So in 58 they bought a new home, which, , I think houses back then were like $17,000, but he, uh, he wound up, you know, he was a little mobbed up in, in the sense that you, if you worked at any of these facilities, you were working for guys, , that were pretty much, , involved in the mob in one aspect or another.

[00:02:19] And, um, and so did you see that as a kid? Like the kind of the interesting thing is that while we knew a bunch of those guys and I hung out with mobsters kids, um, you know, the, the violent aspect of it and all of that was pretty much hidden from, from our family life. It wasn't something I, if anything, I think I lived kind of a charmed life as a result of that.

[00:02:43] I mean, my dad helped me get some of my first jobs. I went to work at the Riviera as a dishwasher. You know, I was working there as a dishwasher when, , like Ann Margaret would walk through the kitchen to get into the service elevator to go up to her room. So she didn't have to walk through the door.

[00:03:02] And, uh, I was able to take my dates to see her sign for it, you know? Yeah. It was like, kind of, you know, it was, I mean, the interesting thing to me is, is that I didn't know, because this was my experience. , I would go see my, my dad I'd walk through the casino and everybody would say hi to me.

[00:03:25] And I was a kid, you know, I was like a young kid. And, , it was, I think, aspects of Las Vegas. We're normalized for me, you know, because of how I grew up. So I think I might've had a bit of a distorted view of life overall. I think it's really interesting. I mean, like what, what was it like growing up in Vegas?

[00:03:45] How do you think that formed you? Well, I mean, I think I, I saw working people, , working various jobs and, and saw the overall, , objectification of women in a, in a different light, you know, like my dad, , he became a boss at the, at the Riviera, but before that he was a slot mechanic, you know, and I would go into the shop into his office and it was wall to wall Playboy pinups.

[00:04:15] And I was a young, young guy, , 8, 9, 10, 11 years old, 12 years old. So to me, it was, I, I, I got be sensitized to that. I remember that I grew up, I mean, I remember growing up and walking into like the back rooms or, you know, like family member, what have you, and yeah. Pinups everywhere. So, so, I mean, I don't know that it was necessarily a bad thing.

[00:04:44] It was just a different thing. I mean, I have friends whose moms were Showgirls cocktail waitresses, and it was not uncommon to go to their house after school. And the, , their mom would be sitting around in a negligee or laying out stunning the, you know, getting a tan, , topless or whatever.

[00:05:01] I don't mean to make it sound like super risque, but it was normal. It was normal, you know, for us. I mean, and then the other side of it is that, , like I would be sitting at home and my dad would call. Get me on the phone and say, , Johnny Rivers is rehearsing in the showroom for his show tonight.

[00:05:19] Would you like to come down and watch that? So of course I was like, , I was learning to play guitar back in those days. So, you know, I would get to go down to the Riviera. My mom would drive me down, of course, and, and walk through there. They would take me into the showroom. Darken showroom sent me in one of those booths, cocktail girl would bring me a Coke and I would watch Johnny Rivers put a show together, doing all those songs.

[00:05:47] So, you know, my love for live music was really planted in my heart early on as a, as a youngster. , I won a guitar at a carnival at the, what they call held a, which happens every may in Vegas. , they have these big carnivals and I, I won a guitar at the carnival and it was not long after that. I was taking lessons and because.

[00:06:11] The of the times folk music was , the easiest music to learn to play. So I was working on learning to play where have all the flowers gone, probably the first song I really learned by the kinks of trio. And, and it was not very long after that, that my dad took me to see the Kingston trio. It's a Riviera.

[00:06:29] So it was so powerful to see live performance in that small setting. And, and it gave me a love for live music that I've never been able to get over. You know what I mean? So, I have the, had the, the rare, , experience of seeing most of the grades. , like my aunt and uncle, uh, canceled on my mom and dad.

[00:06:53] So they took my little brother and I to see Sinatra in 66, you know, the Sinatra at the sands CD. I don't know that we were there that night, but we were there for those shows. And I remember my mom pointing out Mia Farrow and all these people and a, this is a room that only seats about 500 people. So I grew up hearing Sinatra in the house, on the records and stuff, but going to see him live.

[00:07:23] It just, I can't even describe how it knocked me out. How amazing this guy was in his, the charisma that he had. And, , when they filmed the movie, , ocean's 11, the very first one with the rat pack and everything loved it. So we got to stand on the, , in front of the Riviera on the sidewalk while they shot some scenes of Richard Cottey having his heart attack.

[00:07:46] And, and my mom was there and she's pointing to, she goes, that's Peter Lawford at Sammy Davis. That's Joey Bishop and that's Frank Sinatra. And, you know, I don't even, I think that movie, I must've been eight or nine years old when that happened. Right. Then fast forward to when I'm 16. And, , I got a job as a bus boy.

[00:08:09] Just before I worked, or after I worked at the Riviera, I got a job as a bus boy at a place called Luigi's. Now Luigi's was just this Italian restaurant on the strip. It was like across the street from the dunes back then, and now all that's totally overgrown, but it was a free standing place and it was owned by the sweet Italian family, had the red booths and , all of that when.

[00:08:33] When the rat pack would get done with their shows at the sands, they would come over and come in through the kitchen and they would get all like, have fun in the kitchen, making up all these plates of food. And then they would walk out into the restaurant, like they were the waiters and go order the peppers and set it down in front of some poor woman who would go, no, I had the, and then go, you know, because it would be Sinatra, Dean Martin or Joey Bishop or something.

[00:09:02] So, you know, here I was 16 years old. I mean, I was like I say, I feel like I kind of had a charm life in that, , I got to see male tour may. And I mean, all, all my life, I've benefited from my dad's, , affiliation or connection with, , , these people that ran Las Vegas. So I saw it in a different light.

[00:09:29] If you'll indulge me for a minute. So when I was in the seventh grade, I was 13. Um, he had a motorcycle and he was taking me to school and we were going through this intersection right in front of the school. And a truck tried to beat the light and hit us on the motorcycle. So it was this really horrible accent accident.

[00:09:45] And, um, it was, uh, one of those strange defining moments in my life. , I mentioned that because, , he lost his leg and he still went to work every day, you know, for the rest of his life, which I found really profound and, and really, , really fascinating to me. But the other thing is that it, it altered the course of my life too, in the sense that I now at 13 years old, um, I, I got really wild because I think I saw that life.

[00:10:23] And really fast, you know what I mean? And it made me really had an aesthetic. And the other thing is that because I was in a cast for a long time, I would hang out at the smoking area of the school instead of going to PE hang out with these other, these outcast kids. And I learned all this other stuff about life, which, , took me in a, in a different direction.

[00:10:44] But yeah, no, this very S very impactful, something like that. I mean, that's incredibly scary. It's scary enough if you're in a car, but on a motorcycle. So, so you were, were you unscaved, uh, physically, no, I, I had a broken leg from it. , but he's, he took the brunt of the impact. I was on the, you know, and of course, I think maybe cause I had younger bones, but he lost his leg first below the knee and then above the knee as time went by.

[00:11:13] But , it really affected. Our family, our, how our lives were. I mean, everything changed. He played baseball and softball. He would catch me pitching, you know, I played little league from eight years old on and, , being left-handed. I started out in right field and then I played first base and then I pitched, but I only was able to pitch because my arm got good home from work every day and we would play catch and he taught me how to throw different kinds of bitches and, uh, all that pretty much changed, you know, when he was now laid up for a long time.

[00:11:51] And how did that impact him? Did it, did it, cause a lot of, discomfort in the house because of the adjustment of dealing with all the decks and then there was the. The years of pain pill use greatly affected his overall demeanor and personality and how he related to my mom. And it created a lot of confusion and a lot of fearful behaviors on all our parts.

[00:12:16] And, um, it certainly made me more rebellious as a teenager and ID came, you know, a lot Wilder. I did all kinds of crazy stuff, so yeah, I would say, yeah, it really affected things a lot. Oh yeah. Well, this is interesting because you, you became someone who specializes in helping people in this area.

[00:12:37] So what happened because you became rebellious in your teenage years, which is very normal reaction to these kinds of things. What happened in the, and to, to kind of connect those years into you entering this realm. You know, it took a long time, you know, for me to get into recovery. I mean, I didn't get into recovery until I was like 47 years old.

[00:13:02] So it was a long run, you know, it started with, I started, getting fascinated with the hippie culture at 16 and when I was 16, I was born in 51. So in, when I was 16, that was the summer of love. I was absolutely. And I was taking, I was taking acid. I was taking pure LSD at 16 years old from people from San Francisco , and I would talk to LA and sneak up to the.

[00:13:36] And go to the park and, I w I remember the first LSD I took was a blue smear on top of a vitamin C tablet, outrageously pure and strong, , way stronger than the doses that we typically found on your first time. Yeah. Yeah. So I can't tell you how profound, I would say that my first couple of acid trips were some of the most significant events in my life, because it changed how I saw everything, how I thought of the world.

[00:14:10] And, um, and so that, that shift, tell me about how that impacted you, because I mean, that's, it's a pretty big thing. And, you know, and if you're saying that, that those first couple were one of the major things, like, what was it, can you pinpoint what it was internally that shifted inside of you? Yeah, I, I think that it, it confirmed to me.

[00:14:35] That the universe was different than I saw it. And, and, you know, it's like this, we have these senses, you know, the sense of touch and the sense of smell and vision. And these senses our universe to perceive our world in life, as we go through, it are really limited compared to, in other words of the entire visual spectrum, we probably see about 20% of the, of the entire spectrum of sound.

[00:15:11] We hear even less, the things that we can touch or happened to be the atoms that are spinning at the same speed we are. So, you know, when you take a massive amount of a psychedelic, it really, uh, for at least for me, it made me look. The reality of things and see that there was a fluidity to them and, um, uh, an illusion to it that, you know, that as time went on and even more as the trips confirmed, it, it w it became where I started to see that, um, things weren't exactly as they are, they appear all the time.

[00:15:53] Also, I realized now that those early trips instilled in me a faith in things in a different way, I started to really see or believe that, another way of looking at our life experience and it, and it created a real heavy desire in me to then go on this spiritual quest. So I started reading all of these books from.

[00:16:21] You know, like the first, one of the first books I read where like the life and teachings of the masters of the far east, and, you know, I dropped down into reading all the Alice Bailey books or the Rancho book, autobiography of a Yogi, all these books that led me to, because for me, the entire hippie experience became more than just a fancy or more than just , a fashion.

[00:16:47] It became a lifestyle that I started to really take on as a belief in my heart as to a pattern for living a recipe for a good life. And that involved, you know, the interesting thing is that, when I was young, I happened to meet Owsley. So he would tell me, well, I was, I was at LA at the, at the shows down there.

[00:17:19] I can't even think of the name of the, of the particular venue, where it was. But I was, um, you know, in front of me some acid.

[00:17:29] So the cool thing about that is that, , I had plenty to work with and plenty to give away and sell. And after I did all of that, I, I sought him out again and asked him, I said, do you remember me? I, I said, I wanted to pay you. And he was like, you know, kind of surprised that he, that I found him again and that I paid him for that in any, in front of me, a grant, you know, like 2000 doses.

[00:17:56] So that started me on this thing, that, where I had a bit of a, of a relationship with him, but also. I really had a great deal of experience with LSD and, and using it and taking it a long time. And, uh, and that kind of, I, I discovered that I grew really, depending on it, I wanted to try to do everything on it.

[00:18:19] You know, everything seemed to be more fun, more, um, enhanced, you know, I, I took it for a long time. You know, it really changed the course of my, of my life when, when I was a bit older, I wound up playing in rock and roll bands and I got to, I, I got, well, I saw the Beatles, my mom let us camp out for tickets first time ever.

[00:18:43] That's so cool for camping out. So you're there at night before. Yeah. She dropped us off about three or four in the morning. 10th in line to get tickets for an afternoon, show $4 a ticket. You know what I mean? Like it was 1964. It was the Beatles first to her. And we saw them in Las Vegas. Uh, that was the second stop of the tour.

[00:19:07] They had played San Francisco first. They only played 12 songs, but it wasn't about that as much as just the experience of seeing them. And then the, the show before their show, like the righteous brothers opened up. So there was this monster event, , and the electricity in the air and all of that. It just, , I don't even know what to say, uh, how it, how it knocked me down.

[00:19:30] It just impressed me so much. So four years later, I'm playing in a rock and roll band opening for the doors on that very same stage opening for the doors. Well, yeah, our band opened for the doors. So we were opening at. Yeah, the doors open for the doors we opened for, , spirit three dog night, um, the weeds, the seeds. What about Jim Morrison? Um, loaded and disconnected and showed up about a half hour before the show. Raymond's Zerrik. On the other hand, I had a wonderful afternoon, , the nice thing about when you're doing music at a venue like that is you have the whole venue to yourself, you know, for all those hours in the afternoon, while you're laying wire and putting your instruments and equipment all up and doing the sound checks and everything.

[00:20:26] And, , we sat on the floor of the men's room. With a flute and a guitar. And a harmonica. And we did all these other songs while we smoked a joint, you know, so it was like, we were just people, you know what I mean? It was so rare. And so just connecting on that, that level of effect, his keyboard didn't come in.

[00:20:46] He had to borrow our little Farfisa for the show. Cool. Interesting. My keyboard was in the doors show and I opened for them, you know, no big deal, not a big deal. 

[00:21:00] Incredible. What was the name of your band? Michael

[00:21:02] change the name to gross national product. That sounded like a pretty cool name, but, , we never got a recording contract and mostly it was because we were too busy at night. You know, it never really went that way for us, but we did have this remarkably good time. Then I had a friend who worked at the international hotel and he got me, , in to see hair and then got me a chance to go hang out , with the, , Cast, which had to be an audition.

[00:21:33] So, , when you audition for hair, you have to sing, let the sunshine and all by yourself.

[00:21:41] So, , I got to play as what they call a lifter. One of the, one of the people that understudy a main role in the, you filter onto the stage and sing the chorus songs, you know, but it was remarkable. , hanging out with these guys, , we went, we were all, all in this little bus, this guy, Michael Alexander, who played Wolf in the play.

[00:22:02] , he had this little bus, you know, like one of those half size buses, , not the big long school bus, but the half size. So we would like be driving. We were going to go on this cookout up in, , up in the Hills, up there up at red rock canyon, which is just outside of town, about 30 minutes. But what was fascinating to me is.

[00:22:23] Some, at some point somebody would start singing a song, you know, something off the radio. And by the time we went through the intersection, it was like four part harmony, everybody singing. So it, it gave me kind of chills hanging out with these guys. There was this, I was, this was the Hawaiian cast and this guy Poe high.

[00:22:46] He was the guy that, uh, would walk on the chair backs and saying, when the moon is in the seventh house, you know, that old part he gave, he cooked, uh, my very first teriyaki steak. I'd never had teriyaki. When we got done doing this little cookout, somebody grabbed a guitar out of the bus and we're all sitting in a circle and.

[00:23:11] Somebody played a song and everyone would either sing along or whatever are, are like, you know, do the oohs and aahs. If they didn't know the words, if it was an original or whatever. And when that was done, he'd had the song to the next person and the next person would do a song. And then this would all the way around the circle.

[00:23:28] So here you are hanging out with these just amazingly talented, skillful people who are all about love and peace and kindness. You know, I can't tell you how, , impressed what an impression that made on me. I can only imagine. I mean, even through all of this iconic time that, that, so many of us kind of dream about a little bit, tell me what.

[00:23:55] Now first off, where were you living in San Francisco or Las Vegas during all this time when you were, but when I was doing the doing, I was doing the music that was in Las Vegas. Okay. And then, and then with hair, was that Francisco that was Las Vegas. Yeah. Elvis was playing in the showroom. We were in the illegitimate theater at the same time.

[00:24:17] I'm curious. What did you learn from all of this? Like, well, I mean, going through all of these experiences during that time and being where you are now, like, what has been your takeaway from those experiences? I dunno. I think I took it for granted a lot, you know? Um, but I also know that it, it changed how I thought about people and it, it really cemented my love for live music.

[00:24:42] I think there's something that happens in live music that is not the same as. Recorded music. And that it is it's something that happens in the air. I realized too that I had had some remarkable, experiences and opportunities that I took for granted. And didn't have the, , the diligence or the tenacity to see it through to the next level. But in, in all fairness, um, I got to go pregnant and decided to quit the cast, which was going to the show was going to Paris and stay and get a job as a chef of a healthy addressing.

[00:25:19] And become more grounded and more of a family person, you know? So it was a, it was a life changing thing, but I, I felt like I was doing the right thing at the time, you know? So you stepped up and did the right thing for your son or daughter, whoever, whoever came along

[00:25:41] So anyway, I, I'm not, I I'm trying not to digress into too many stories, but this one you will like, um, we had this band and we had this guy who played incredible keys, , and he could play just about anything.

[00:25:53] So we covered a lot of vanilla fudge music, uh, set me free wide down to babe, you know, those songs. So word got back to vanilla, fudge Carmen and Vinny, a piece that, , there was a band that was covering their music and we got invited to a meet and greet. So, , the show where we caught up with them was in salt lake city at a place called the terrace ballroom.

[00:26:16] And, , we went up there to see these guys and it turned out there was this band that was the opening act for them that we'd never even heard of a band called LED's. Okay. So they opened the show. I mean, they just, they blew us away. And, um, we were backstage when we went out and watched the show and then we went back, back behind, , backstage and somewhere in the middle of all of this in telling the guys how much we enjoyed their show.

[00:26:45] And they said, well, we're going to go to pizza. Would you guys like to come? And Carmen and Vanny of vanilla fudge were like, looking at us to see, well, are you going to stick around for our show? You know, no, you know, we were guests to the band and , we're going to stick around for, for their set, but thanks for the offer.

[00:27:04] But you know, here was an 18 year old red-headed Robert plant and Jimmy page inviting us to go to pizza. And, , they say that the things you regret in life are the things you don't do well. That was one of those things where, you know, I really. I always wondered what would have happened if we did, you know, done pizza.

[00:27:27] It's pretty interesting. Cause I was able to share that story with plant in. Um, let's say it must've been about 2007 or eight. He got to meet him. I, yeah, w I was working the Wharf table at the Fillmore for a DSO show and it was during hardly strictly, and he was there to sing and play with buddy Miller and he brought his girlfriend over to the film or up to the poster room where we were set up with our little Wharf wrap table, getting ready for the night show. And he was pointing to the led Zeppelin posters and this and that. And he walked over to the table and, , he made some comment about one day at a time, you know, You know, recovery and it led to us having just this short conversation.

[00:28:14] I bet you don't remember me, but I, I gotta tell you that, um, you know, I told him this story about getting invited to pizza in salt lake city. And he goes, oh, that's really wild. He goes, that tour, he goes, we wound up, you know, we were opening. And then we became the closer, , as the tour went on, I said, well, you guys, , you were certainly a level ahead of everybody else.

[00:28:35] It was really interesting to me that I was able to have some closure about that full story. Totally. I was going to ask you if you weren't able to get, I mean, there's not like we're old buddies or anything, but I was able to have that, you know, that moment with, yeah. I love it. I think that's great. You know what I'm curious, I'm curious about, cause you mentioned something a little bit earlier and it, and it just tickled my brain a little bit.

[00:28:58] You said that, um, that during your time with doing psychedelics and what have you, that you kind of learned a winning recipe to. If you will. That's what I remember hearing you say. I was curious what that, what that recipe is. Well, when you start studying and reading books on spirituality and on the ageless wisdom, you know, there's this one book about, , creativity and about how this idea that you, that before anything happens on the physical plane, it happens in the mental plane.

[00:29:29] You know, that you have to think something into existence. You know, I think that I grew to really believe that that's possible. It's not magic. It's just that the more energy you feed it, the more, uh, the ability that you have. There's a book. I think it's by Shaq, Tega Wayne and it's called creative visualization.

[00:29:53] And what it is about is the clearer you can visualize. The the, the more chance you have of making it manifest on. So yeah, I think that was kind of something that I learned early on, or at least I grew to believe was possible. Now it doesn't always go your way. I've learned that I've learned a lot about the fact that your expectations and how you think things are going to go.

[00:30:25] They don't always go the way you think I'm done. So that's, you know, that's a big, but if you can make sure you are on a journey that you would enjoy and. Remove yourself from the expectation of the outcome. That's, that's a pretty winning recipe too. Yeah. You know, it's funny because I mean, you know, I know you love the grateful dead and , I cannot tell you how important they became to me as far as all the other music that's out there.

[00:30:57] And, and those guys, I mean, when it came to what music we were going to listen to, when we were tripping, it was the, it was the moody blues, electric light orchestra, and the grateful dead, you know, there was a lot of other stuff out there that we would listen to, you know, when we were just enjoying life and joys in the afternoon or whatever.

[00:31:18] But, I learned too that, that the psychedelic experience is a really delicate thing. And, and in order to have a really successful. Journey. It's very, it's very important to be very careful about the elements that you incorporate into that specific period in time. And , I don't know how to describe how important that music became over time.

[00:31:45] How, how we used to talk about how you saw the light of a song and it was everything to do with the, between the lines, spirituality of even the songs, which are basically about tragedy or tragedy averted as Bobby likes to say that, um, there's something classic and massive and timeless about, you know, the living experience and how they describe it.

[00:32:15] So completely agree. Yeah. I had the same experience as well. Yeah, I became very interested in grateful, dead in my college years and just loved their music and, brought me great joy and definitely had a lot of inspiration and insights and growth during that time. And, and then, you know, and then life, life takes over and, , I had kids and careers and things happen and you know what I got, I got a little lost in myself and, , when I took that moment to take a step back and, and think, okay, I'm a little lost and need to do something about that.

[00:32:53] And do a review. The first thing that I did was realized was I did not have, I didn't have any live music in my life. It had been, it had been gone for a while and that was like, um, it was like, my soul was dry. And the first thing I did was I started going to Michaels on main, on Sundays to grateful Sundays.

[00:33:13] And it was like being watered. It was like my soul was being fed again in a way that just really needed it so badly. It is, it is a beautiful, wonderful thing. When you, when you find that that music that can feed your soul. And like you said, there is an energy to live music that is absolutely palpable , and can feed you and in a different way.

[00:33:36] It's, um, it's not lost on me that, , what, one of the things that you had asked in here was about success and, and what, what has been the difficulty is, and this and that. One of the interesting things for me Jolie is that, you know, when I bought the restaurant, um, I had really short hair. I was on the board of the symphony.

[00:34:00] I belong to the rotary club of Santa Cruz. I had this life, you know, and I had had, uh, drug and alcohol treatment centers , for quite a while and had retired from that never had I planned on buying a restaurant. And what happened was Coleen decided that she wanted to go back to school and get her doctorate.

[00:34:19] So I was up sitting up here and Bonnie did, and I was going well, do I, do I open up another treatment center? , , cause I still had my credentials, , I could still do counseling and all of that. And it's funny because I, I didn't have the heart for it. You know, when you, when you work in that field in behavioral health, especially when you work with chemical dependency, it seems that you're, it's kind of like.

[00:34:44] I guess maybe a good analogy is baseball. If you are batting 300, you're a star, you know, the average contract player, if he can hit two 50 or two and a quarter, you know, he's got a good shot at playing in the majors. Well, treatment's kind of like that. I mean, you are, you know, you have a, like an 85% failure rate, you know, you're batting 150.

[00:35:10] If you can help 10 or 20% of people to affect enough change in their lives that they can get out of all of these unhealthy behaviors. That's really good. But for the most part, you are fighting a losing battle with a lot of people, you see their lives unravel. And I buried a lot of people along the way.

[00:35:30] I stood around beds with family members while they unhooked him, you know? And it takes a lot out of you as a person. It's a, it creates a great deal of sadness and no matter what, um, Um, I've heard it described, like you're, you're standing on a river and you're watching bodies go by and you're trying to pull people out of the water and they they're like, no, I'm good.

[00:35:56] You know, and , it's a real tough life. So the idea of, , opening up a restaurant, it was something that was from my younger years, I always wanted to have a coffee house. You know, it started with folk music, and that that's that interaction of people sharing social and cultural ideas, some political ideas, you know, I mean the, the protest song was huge in during those years because of Vietnam and, and whatnot.

[00:36:28] And I always wanted to have a place that had that feel and when the opportunity to, , get the restaurant happened, Well, it had live music written all over it. The way that I saw that, that little tiny, they didn't have a stage when I bought it, it had a carpet and a fireplace and bands would set up on the carpet and, you know, and we put the whole thing together.

[00:36:50] And I only had the place a couple of months when Matt and I started talking about, well, what can we do? I have these Sundays where nobody's coming in and you know, to your point, it's about, I was really reluctant to really, reveal my love for the grateful dead, my, , overall desire to have a place like that.

[00:37:17] And what Sundays has become was my attempt at recreating, every element of the life I had following the grateful dead around the country and going to show. In some smaller, you know, microcosmic way. And that's what I think we've been able to do. And the thing about it is it's so authentic because we have Matt, you know, he, , he doesn't copy Jerry's licks.

[00:37:43] He channels that experience and, and I've, you know, it, it wouldn't have happened without him. I don't think to the extent that it has Matt is next level. I can't tell you how often we comment because I love music, love music. So go everywhere. And, you know, we paid tickets, you know, go to these concerts. And so often we'll be like, we are so lucky because this was amazing, but it's still what we get to go to on a Sunday night.

[00:38:16] It, it rivals as sometimes it's better. It's insane. It's it really is there insane? It's like as good as the China cats are. Cause they're phenomenal. There are Sundays with the projects and the people that come like he gets Pete labs early on, um, you know, and, you know, JP or, or Murph Murphy on base. And then you never know we have Jordan or Steve or, you know, , Scott government for crying out loud and sometimes lightning strikes and it really like as good as anything I've ever seen in my life.

[00:38:54] So humbled by that, you know, I haven't, haven't been there for, for a few in the past month. I've only gotten one Sunday. Um, mostly it's been. You know, family issues, health issues with, you know, with one family member or another. And, uh, then the fact that it gives Colleen and opportunity that her and I have have a chance to spend some time together because she's so buried in her doctorate right now that we spend to be has become a day where we get to spend some time together, just like laying low and sharing each other's company and watching a stupid TV show or what.

[00:39:32] And it becomes really hard to go down there, you know, but I miss it, uh, and I need to make sure that I stay spiritually fed and that's one of the ways that I do that. So that's good. You're getting your balance in though. You get your time in with your wife where you need it and you know, it's good to have the balance and you've created something very beautiful.

[00:39:52] You've given an amazing gift to this community and people come from as you know, from all around, but for the listeners to know people come from all around the area just to come in and listen to music and Michael's on main, it's really an incredible experience. And the energy is what you've created. Has that very happy, positive energy to it that you can feel as soon as you walk in.

[00:40:14] Yeah. I mean, we, I feel like we've created a really safe, loving environment for everyone to be able to. , experienced, grateful, dead music in a setting where they actually can get it. Yeah. And it's safe is a key word. Cause you know, that was a big thing. When I first started coming to Michael's on main, I would go by myself and, and I, you know, it's not always comfortable to go by yourself to a bar or what have you, , and feel and feel safe and secure .

[00:40:43] And I, and I always, always did, and I always felt very, very safe and secure by myself and Michael. So yeah, it'd be interesting too, to see everybody singing along, they all know all the words and you know, it's kind of like, you know, you, you know, you're with your tribe when you have that kind of thing, you know, it's.

[00:41:02] Borders on religion. It really does. It is. It is, it is a spiritual, spiritual thing. Yes. I'm curious because we've talked, I mean, you've done a lot in your life and we only have a lot of pieces. We only, only touched on, but what would you say is one of your greatest successes in life and why?

[00:41:24] Well, I would say that, , the whole idea of, , having this, this dream that I had ever since I was a teenager of doing a place, a gathering place. I think that if I look at my overall life, there are successes in all kinds of areas. You know, I have four grandkids and, uh, watching how they've turned out has been.

[00:41:48] You know, remarkable, you know, given the fact that some of them grew up through these really turbulent times. Um, and I don't have a great relationship with all four of them. I do have a really great relationship with a couple of them, and that's what the girls and the boys it's a little bit rougher, you know?

[00:42:06] Um, so I don't see that as being a tremendous success, I think, you know, because of the mistakes that I made in my journey as a young man, you know, uh, it was hard for me to completely, uh, get back on track with them and it affected their, their journeys as well. But, , having this place I think has brought, , it's kind of been a dream come true, you know, in, in one sense, I have no interest in, in having a big ego about it.

[00:42:43] I am so humbled by it. There's been no. There's been Sundays when I found myself, , standing out there in front of the band and listening and, and I would well up with tears just because I was looking around and at what it is that's happening, you know, and of course, there's this, this whole other personal aspect of it.

[00:43:05] And you know, my relationship with, with this person, Jerry Garcia and how I emulated him and what not as a young man and then got to meet him. if there's something that people say a lot is that you don't want to meet your idol. Right. , because you can have a, it might not lead up to expectations, but I've actually had a couple of interesting conversations with guests where it was not that case.

[00:43:31] So I'm curious what it was for you. What was it like meeting your own? I'll tell you, we, we were touring at the time and , We had developed, um, we had gone to this restaurant, two gals from Cal, and we saw this piece of art on the wall and it was, , changing colors and all this stuff going on. So it was very interesting and I thought this was perfect for grateful dead art.

[00:43:54] So we thought let's try and develop it. So we contacted the woman who made this. And we worked out basically, what happens is the phenomenon is that, is that layers of cellophane. Put through two polarized filters, light up in prison color. And as you rotate one filter, they change to their polar opposites.

[00:44:17] So different thicknesses and directions. So we developed this whole thing. We called window pane art, and we did these roses that said gratefully dedicated on like, if you can imagine, like on a, on an acrylic desk. , without the polarizing filters, they were just clear. But when you put the filter in there, then the colors would all pop up.

[00:44:38] So we had this friend ramrod, ramrod was one of the main roads for the grateful dead and, , known him forever. And, he was the source of our backstage passes and, , you know, helped us get in shows when, we show and we didn't have any way to get tickets or anything like that.

[00:44:57] Anyway, we told them that we wanted to, come up and show them this art because we were selling it on tour and we didn't want to get in trouble. And we wanted to find out about licensing and all that kind of stuff. So we got invited to club front. So this was between, , Ventura, , maybe the Greek in Ventura in 87.

[00:45:17] And, so we get up to club. We have this remarkable, I had a light box built so that you could just plug this thing in and put the, put the piece of art in it and watch it. And it was the one that, , I had done was two skeletons, like dancing down a golden road with these Hills and everything changed color.

[00:45:37] And the road went from golden to, , blue, with yellow lightning bolts for the, Goddard line. And it was really beautiful. And. We plugged it in and ramrod was looking at it and he goes, man, he goes his shit going to start Melton now. Cause I mean, it's very psychedelic it's really. So then we left that he, we got a tour club for him.

[00:45:58] We got to see all the huge artwork, the studio, they're like eight feet, 10 feet, six feet. They're monstrous. They're really huge. Those all hang behind the stage at certain shows over the years. So we got that. We got to see the mail room.

[00:46:10] We got to meet Patricia Harris and she said, well, I think what we should do is we should take this light box and we should go plug it in on the desk downstairs so that everybody that comes in and out will see it and have a chance to, to experience it and see it. So we do that, plugged it in. And we're having a beer and , ramrod and I are having this conversation in walks, Garcia, Weir, Cutler, and some of the guy that I, I really didn't know, and, Jerry walks right over and sits down at the desk, you know? So he's sitting right here. Looking at the thing. And I I'm like speechless, you know? And I, I look at my wife at the time and we're just like speechless.

[00:46:59] And, , Garcia goes, well, is anybody gonna tell me what the hell I'm looking at? And ramrod goes, well, you know, well, this, these guys made it. Mike, why don't you explain to him what it is? So I, I tell them. About how I go through the whole spiel about layers of cellophane and polarizing filters. And one is on the art piece.

[00:47:20] And the other is rotating at a one revolution per minute motor. And, and he's like, oh, and, and, , this guy who was with Bobby, where said, don't you ever get tired of people showing up here with all their, , crap trying to, to sell you something, one of those kinds of things. Yeah. And you could've heard a pin drop in the room and I felt very devalued and deflated and kind of small.

[00:47:46] I was like, yeah, really? What was I thinking? And Garcia did the thing with his glasses like this. And he looked at the guy and he says, well, I don't know about you. Then he turned to me. He goes, but for me, he goes, this is, this is the true source of inspiration and joy. So.

[00:48:07] Observation about, you never really want to meet your idols. This was, um, you know, and he got up and he gave my wife a hug and he shook my hand, Sophos softest hand I ever shook. Uh, but for me, I mean, I didn't care if I ever sold a piece of art ever again, I was here. I was in the presence of this guy that I just loved and adored.

[00:48:27] And we're talking about my art, which was so absolutely humbling. It was just ridiculous, you know? But yeah, he was so gracious, , I just, I don't even know what to say about it. I just, I mean, I, you always wonder what they're really like. At least for me, that was the authentic moment. You know, when I realized, yeah, he does believe all that shit he's singing about up there.

[00:48:52] You know what I'm saying? That makes me happy. 

[00:48:55] I love that response from Jerry. 

[00:48:59] And then he died on my birthday. So that was a really, really a difficult thing for me in it. And that spun me out of control and wound up leading me into recovery.

[00:49:12] So I didn't wind up one out the other way. So getting, wow. So what happened there? What did you learn from that whole experience? Well, I guess I learned that. Just because they were lying about pot didn't mean they were lying about heroin. True story, true story. I I've been, you know, I've been in recovery now and you know, this April 23rd, I will have 23 years recovery.

[00:49:44] So, you know, it's been a remarkably good journey. And I got to tell you, I didn't go see grateful dead music for 10 years. In my first 10 years of recovery, I would listen to it. Um, and, but, you know, I cried a lot. , I really, uh, I tried going on further tour, 96, 97. And it just made me Ms. Garcia more than anything, you know?

[00:50:12] So it wasn't really a pleasant experience for me, I'd get really excited because a certain song would start. And by the middle of the song, it was just this incredible lack of Jerry Garcia in this music. I couldn't find it, you know, so I laid off for a long time and then somebody sent me, , Phil and friends at the Warfield.

[00:50:31] I'll never forget it for Christmas. And, , I watched it by myself cause I was single then. And , I saw everybody dancing and I saw these familiar faces at the Warfield attending this show. And I was like, oh my God, I'm I missing out somehow on something that's going on, where people are still carrying the torch and you know, still celebrating the amazing beauty and magic of this music.

[00:50:58] So I mentioned it to someone and they, , Got me, , to agree, to attend a film friends with the Greek. And I sat with all the war frats, you know, with Charlie, cosmic, Charlie, and all these people. I wrote up with safe people. And I, I sat in this row, they had this whole row on the, , on the fill side of the Greek.

[00:51:19] You know, if you picture how the band sets on the, on the left side there. And so we sat up in this row and I watched this whole pageant go on in front of me, , and , it felt really good to be back at, uh, at seeing them in a safe environment. So I figured out a way to go and attend and experience this music without, you know, any chemical enhancement.

[00:51:42] And I discovered that I really enjoyed it. I learned one thing about, and I would say this is something that I would hope others learn. And that is for the longest time, I thought that certain drugs were, enhancing my life experience. And what I learned is that they were actually impairing my ability to experience life in its most vivid form and what I've learned.

[00:52:07] I mean, you know, it's been a long time since I've taken any acid. I don't regret taking acid and I don't regret smoking weed, but I regret moving into the harder drugs where I saw so much damage and destruction and I did it anyway. I did it because I didn't really know how to, I didn't know how to cope with the pain of life in a positive way.

[00:52:30] And I had to learn how to do that, which is it is very normal story. And in fact, it's a story you better, a lot of people are living right now. Um, I'm curious because you specialized in recovery for many years. You did it yourself. Is there any. Advice or anything that worked for you that might benefit other people who are in a similar position?

[00:52:53] I would say that, ,

[00:52:54] learning to tell myself the truth on any given day and not thinking so far off in the future about how things are going to be bad or, um, well, let me, , let me restructure that re reframe the narrative, because part of the problem is that, for me personally, I can tell you that you go through life and you have this huge idea of your capability and your ability to be a winner or to be successful.

[00:53:28] And then you run up against drug addiction, and I've never known a successful drug addict in my life. That's, that's the truth. And what happens is that in your. In early recovery, you have completely lost confidence in yourself and your ability to be able to make decisions that are in your best interest to choose, to not go to high risk situations, whatever it is.

[00:53:57] And also just learn how to navigate the ups and downs and the pain of life and find a healthy coping mechanism for that. So , my advice to people in early recovery is recognize that the, the way through is to assess risk at every step. And if it sounds too risky, don't think you can do it.

[00:54:24] You know, I think the hardest thing for me to regain was my confidence. And it took a while because I already knew I had blown up a marriage I had of. Um, the career that I, that I had, I wound up hanging out with a bunch of strangers all the time. And it was, you know, then I got arrested and that's how I got, I mean, it wasn't like, I, you know, personally for me, I couldn't stop on my own.

[00:54:57] I knew I should, but I really couldn't. The intervention was arrest. And then, uh, screaming at my parents to bail me out at 47 years old. Right. You know, I, I have nobody to call, but them and my lawyer is calling them and saying, don't bail him out. Leave him in there, let him like, get clean, let him detox so that he'll have a chance.

[00:55:22] If you bail him out right now, he's going to go right back to it. And then he's going to go to prison. You know? Well, I wound up getting sentenced to three years in prison and the judge told me, he goes, you know, he goes, I don't have a program for you. He's like, But if you can get accepted to program, you can read petition the court, , but otherwise he goes, you got about 10 days and they're going to pick up and take you do, , serving your time.

[00:55:45] And there was an organization called friends outside, and this guy, , got me an interview with this woman who came to visit me and, , just ask me questions about what was my favorite drug. And I was very, you know, I was barely detoxed. I'd been in there about 30 days at this point. And she asked me this funny question, you know, like what was my drug of choice?

[00:56:08] And I had never heard that phrase. Cause you only hear that phrase in recovery. You don't really hear that on it. You know, people don't say that it's your drug of choice. And I said something to her, like, you know, I can't ever imagine, I don't remember ever going to a party or over to somebody's house.

[00:56:25] Where they offered me something and I said, Gino, thanks. That's not my drug of choice. You know what I mean? So you would do anything. And I was like, yeah, there's probably, you know, whatever they got out, you know, my, my favorite drug is other people's, you know, whatever. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that, , for me, what got me, what was my motivation early was there.

[00:56:51] I didn't want to do prison time. So I got accepted into this thing called the drug court treatment program, where I had to stand in front of the judge every Friday, tell him how many days clean I had, how many meetings I went to. I had to carry a meeting slip that I had to have signed off at each of the meetings.

[00:57:07] And I had to turn that in every Friday and I had to attend, , group. And what I learned in group was that there was a lot of. To start thinking going on in my brain, the more I got free of all the drugs in my system, the more I could examine my behaviors. And I was kind of led by the nose through group.

[00:57:30] And so I needed more than meetings in order to really stay clean. See found group actually helped. I made a difference lately and the more I participated in it, the better things went for me. And it took me about, it was a year long program. It took me about 14 months, you know, cause I would, , it was really interesting because I would forget to go test, , go give a sample of urine.

[00:57:58] So they knew that I was clean. I would forget simply because I would just forget it. Wasn't like I was using, I was clean, but because I didn't go test on time. They would count that as a dirty I'd stand in front of the judge and I'd get remanded for the weekend and the jail, you know? So I'd go in Friday afternoon, I'd get out Sunday morning.

[00:58:19] I was living in this sober house and they were like, well, is he clean? Was he dirty? You know what I mean? The whole thing. I mean, nobody trusts you in early recovery. One thing I've learned is that once you have copped to it, all of a sudden your, um, credibility is zero. Nobody thinks you have any integrity.

[00:58:41] Nobody wants to, , trust anything. You have to say. Uh, huh. Well, I'll tell ya. Um, the interesting thing is that, , when you start going to meetings, these other people, they didn't know you before. They know you as the person that you are in the moment, you know, who you're trying to be. So a very interesting thing happened.

[00:59:04] , I got, uh, I was doing the coffee at this meeting, the daily meeting, and I did the coffee one day a week and they, , voted me in as secretary. They waived time. They, they just thought that I would be a good secretary based on the things that I shared at meeting level and just my behaviors of, you know, coming up and helping set up the meeting every day and this and that.

[00:59:31] Well, they had like a six. Clean time requirement. And I didn't have that long. I think I had three months or four months, but what they did is they gave me keys to the building, you know, which was this huge gesture of trust. And it flipped me on, you know what I mean? It made me realize that there were some people that actually were extending me trust.

[00:59:59] And, , that helped me overcome that lack of confidence in myself and that general feeling of, ,

[01:00:06] lack of importance or, or, , ability to be somebody besides just a loser. You know what I mean? Yeah. Yeah. Now someone can make an impact like that, and we're just giving you a little bit of trouble. Yeah. I mean, it really, I don't even think they realize what they did for me at the moment, but it was , that simple act of, of, trust that helped me to start to regain some feelings of self worth, you know?

[01:00:39] So yeah, it's true. It's relationships in general too. Like any kind of, I think about, I just think about my teenagers, you know, and you're kind of, I could, I could apply that to them really. It's, it's really important. I mean, here, it's really difficult for me sometimes to talk about all of this stuff.

[01:00:55] I mean, I can talk about it in the, in the circle of, uh, oh, thank you for sharing Michael, you know, of the recovery world, but to talk about it outside of. It's a different kind of dynamic. And it's really important that, that these stories get out because, you know, we're still losing a lot of people all the time.

[01:01:12] So many, you know, it's vulnerable, it's vulnerable to talk about these things and share and, and, and it can be scary. But when you do that, it's like you open it up for everyone else to share their own stories and to feel comfortable in being comfortable with their own stories and sharing that. It's a beautiful, it's a gift.

[01:01:32] It's a gift that you give to other people and to yourself. So thank you for sharing with us. I really appreciate it. Absolutely. I can tell you too, that, um, for me, um, when I was in group, it was the group facilitator that said, you know, you might be really good at this. You might consider what are you going to do for a living?

[01:01:49] You know, long-term, are you going to go back to restaurant work and this cause that's what I was doing. Are you going to, is that your plan? And I wound up going back to school and I'm getting a degree in addiction studies. And part of my, part of my journey was an internship at the camp recovery center in Scott's valley.

[01:02:09] And I wound up, , working there as a tech and then I became a case manager and then I ran the adolescent program for a little while. , and that led me to seeing that there, there is some financial, security associated with that. So I opened up my own sober house, which had been my pathway. And then I got, , I turned it into a licensed treatment center.

[01:02:31] You know, I went through the whole process of licensing and that took me in a different, you know, in a different direction for a long time, you know? And that was interesting that you shared about that because I realized how stressful of an industry that is. And when I think about it, I always think of, of.

[01:02:52] I think of it in gratitude. Um, you know, cause I mean, , we've had our own struggles and family, what have you. And so I think given this, this overwhelming, just gratitude, thank you for doing this. Thank you for being there for people. Thank you for helping make a difference. But what I hadn't really thought of is what that's like for you on the flip side too, you know, I mean working with these families day in and day out and being a part of that, that emotional turmoil, , that is very, very taxing emotionally.

[01:03:20] I can only know you get so attached and you know, attachment is, is a really interesting, , part of life. , I got some really good advice one day. This guy told me, you know, he was, he was the clinical director and he said, you know, he goes, when you go out to get in your, get in your truck to go home today, After he goes, go around to the passenger side and open the door and kick all the fucking clients out.

[01:03:47] You know, in other words, don't take them home with you, you know, that's good advice right there. It's a good visual actually. 'cause yeah, I needed that because I was like, I was drowning in their stories, you know, and not, and my inability to, to help them. And the truth is, is that they have to want it really bad if they're going to get it, no matter what the leverage is to get them into treatment, you know, treatment is where they discover how the choices in their life, how to connect the dots between the problems in their life.

[01:04:22] And their drug use is, you know, is happening because most of us, we don't make that connection. We don't connect the dots that way. We think it's bad luck if only the cop hadn't pulled up behind me, you know, or it's her fault or it's his fault, you know, but we don't really ever accept responsibility for where our lives are at until we get confronted with the reality that the decisions that we make are the direct correlation and connection between how our lives go.

[01:04:59] When you first answered that question. You, uh, when I asked why though, you said. By being honest, we said something like being honest with myself every day. And that gave me chills when you said that, because that's so, it's so true. I mean, even whether you're an addict as an addict. Yes. But even, even if you're not an addict, that's something that needs to be said too, because we do lie to ourselves often and we do, not fully accept the truth and, and facing that truth is the way forward and the way that we grow in the way that we move in and learn in life.

[01:05:33] So, yeah. So I'm curious, we've touched on a lot of things. Is there any one big life lesson that we may not have touched on that has impacted you in a very big way that you feel would benefit others as well?

[01:05:46] I would say learning to be authentic. I guess the, the closest example would be the fact that I was still fearful of, of, , revealing myself as this total Ty deadhead person, you know, while I was trying to navigate being a, , a proprietor of a restaurant. But what I learned is that the more that I became that I showed people who I really was.

[01:06:19] The more grounded and accepting people were of that because they love the grateful, dead art that we took out of the house and put on the walls. You know, I was very reluctant to do that, but I, what has emerged out of that is that it has created this identity that I have, , which was the true identity that I was, but I was afraid to reveal.

[01:06:40] I was, I've been like a, kind of a chameleon, you know, in a lot of ways. I, when I go to the symphony, I wear a suit. When I go to rotary, I wear a suit. When I come to the restaurant on Sunday, I wear a tie. You know what I mean? Yeah. I would say, yeah, that the more genuine I am about who I am, the more I'm truly accepted by others.

[01:07:03] And I think that's good advice for people. I also would, I would want to say one other thing about hardship. I know that we've been, we've run really long, but please. You know, we spend a lot of time in life, , full of anxiety and full of worry. And we think things are falling apart. And sometimes what we don't see is that things are actually falling into place, you know, and that to me is, um, there's something that I hang on to, you know, we all, I mean, there's one constant in life and that's changed.

[01:07:38] We have this idea, I have this idea of how my life is going to go. And what's what I think is going to make me happy and how I think the restaurant is going to survive and, and all of that. Um, it doesn't work out the way I thought. I mean, when we bought this place, I mean, we've lost so much money, you know, it's just crazy the amount of money coming, you know, of course.

[01:08:01] And, um, you know, we, we had an employee that we really, really loved and trusted who had been embezzling from us. Holly, bless her heart, figured it out, you know, it's that, that betrayal, you know, makes me guarded, but I can't live a life being guarded. I've never been good at that. I live my life trusting and giving people the opportunity to do the right thing.

[01:08:29] They may or may not do the right thing, but at least I trusted first instead of lived in this fearful place, which is a really a dark place to be, you know, not that Michael and you're right. It's a choice even, even going through that experience and having that difficult experience is still a choice moving forward.

[01:08:46] And, and, and you get to choose the world that you live in. And by choosing to be trusting you, you live in that trust. Yeah, that'd be your world. I appreciate that. You know, there's this old saying in country music about, , you never see a luggage rack on a hearse and , that it isn't really about the things in life.

[01:09:02] You know, that the best thing in life are things. And if we've learned anything, I mean, Colleen and I, we've had a lot of soul searching times about the restaurant because we, it has not been a financial success, but what we will remember and what we hang on to has nothing to do with how much money we've lost, , what's going to happen.

[01:09:24] Whether or not we're going to be able to keep this thing going. What we've learned is, is people like you, people that, you know, we've had people like when I walked through on Sundays, sometimes I get like 15 or 20, thank you's from people it's so humbling. It doesn't make me feel like I'm a big shot.

[01:09:41] It makes me realize, you know, I had a couple of Telus, you know, you don't know you saved our marriage, you know? Cause. They had grown apart. They didn't find very much that they could do together. And they started coming to Sundays to grateful Sundays and all of a sudden the grateful, you know what I mean?

[01:09:58] And those kinds of things are what we're always going to remember and hang on to as far as how this. Journey has, , worked out, you know, oh, I can tell you the countless people that I've met, um, have shared similar stories of just feeling like they were found again, like they found it. It's like, I call it the third place.

[01:10:20] They always say, you should find a third place, right. A place that's outside of your home and work. That feels just as comfortable and happy to be. And I feel like Michaels is that third place for so many people and you've just created this amazing thing. So, so let's talk, um, let's talk about how to make that financially solve it for you.

[01:10:39] Yeah, we should, you know, I wish I could. I mean, you know, we're facing, , some really difficult challenges with the inflation, you know, the cost of goods. We've raised the prices on the menu a little bit, but I mean, it becomes an expensive adventure to go out to eat and the, minimum wage has gone up and we have, we have this thing where.

[01:11:01] I mean, you know, I did grateful Sundays for free for the first three years, you know, and we were, we, you know, that was a, a large expense to pay the band out of our own money. But the thing is, is that I don't know where this is going to lead part of the problem right now that we're facing is that we we've been blessed.

[01:11:21] We had some money, you know, I had some earnings and some money in the bank from, um, you know, the business that I had and from my parents' home that I owned in Las Vegas that I sold and, and, you know, Coleen has had had some money in the bank and, you know, had a, had a savings thing.

[01:11:40] Well, we've where does point right now? Where, unless we borrow more money, like I I've got oh, $60,000 sitting in the bank and we're going to pay a $30,000 quarterly tax bill, which puts a. Where were, we don't have the capital, the pockets, the deep pockets to keep this thing going. If we can't somehow get into the black, instead of running in the red, which we've been running in the red all through the pandemic, we had a couple of months where we made money, but out of the 12 months we lost money nine months.

[01:12:18] You know what I'm saying? So well, any listeners that might be listening, , anyone has any ideas or philanthropic ideals. I mean, I would be happy to take on a partner that was younger, had some deep pockets and enthusiastic about, our vision for that. , I mean, I'm 70. I, I still feel really young, but I'm also losing my ability to keep my arms around the whole business in, in that sense. And I'm also starting to be really fearful of us, our ability to be able to keep it going.

[01:12:56] Cause we don't have that capital that we're going to be able to continue to keep it going. So, and it's not a lot. It's like, it's really interesting because the difference between, , success and failure at the end of the year is 5% down and 5% up to get it balanced. You know what I mean? So we're trying everything we can think of.

[01:13:18] Yeah. Well, if anyone is listening and has any ideas, , please share with Michael and you can find Michael on his website, Michael's on I also have the link there and a link to his LinkedIn. He's it? He also Michael's on main is an amazing place for any kind of event. I have personally been a part of.

[01:13:41] , fundraising events there for not only schools, but for, different like cancer, fundraisers and things of that nature. Bridal showers, painting events. It's right on a river. It's gorgeous. I've been there. I've seen a wedding reception there. So there's all kinds of events that could be done at Michael's on Maine, not to mention their delicious dinners in the great live music.

[01:14:04] So people should be checking it out. Other than that, Michael, is there any other place that they should be finding you online? They can email me directly at Michael Michael's on Perfect. So then the last question before you go, what are you sure of in life?

[01:14:27] It's the only thing I'm sure of too. It's fights my favorite question. I always want to know if we're going to answer, you know, and, and it's like if there's two things, people hate it's change in the way things are.

[01:14:44] Let's say a lot too. Yeah. It's all about learning to accept the present moment. Cause it's definitely arrived and you may as well get on board with it. Exactly. Enjoy the journey. Michael, thank you for making this journey more enjoyable for us. I appreciate it, my honor. Thanks for having me. 

Jolie Downs:

I loved Michael’s story. Michael grew up in Las Vegas surrounded by the musical greats. He lived a charmed life full of live music from a young age which influenced the rest of his days. As a teenager he was fully immersed in the music scene – he was 16 during the summer of love and he began experimenting with psychedelics. Taking psychedelics changed the way Michael saw the world – he learned to see through the illusion of things, he learned that life is not black and white and that there is a fluidity to everything. His experiences instilled within him a faith in the universe. He developed an understanding that there are different ways to look at our life experiences and he leaned into that learning, reading books and researching the study of life and the various ways of mind expansion.

This is a common occurrence after a psychedelic experience. Now psychedelics aren’t for everyone, as there is no substance in this world that is for everyone (I mean, I don’t even like coffee and most would find that an abhorrence), but there are a lot of great benefits that can come from a psychedelic experience. I share this not to try and convince you to try yourself but to remove any judgement that might be held – as humans tend to judge things they have never experienced. Safe amounts of psychedelics promote feelings of relaxation, improved well being, increased social connectedness, introspection, understanding and spiritual experiences. They have done psychedelic studies on cancer patients and dying patients and found that one dose of magic mushrooms greatly reduced anxiety, depression and cancer related demoralization while improving spiritual well-being and increased quality of life. In follow up studies on the same test group, 3 to 4.5 years later, 60 to 80% sustained the benefits felt from that one experience. Not only that, psychadelics is a growing practice among CEO and business leaders to help them reach a higher consciousness. The experience connects you to the universe and the people around you bringing a flow of new awareness and ideas. In fact, this year, The World Economic Forum, a gathering of the global elite in Switzerland will have access to a Medical Psychedelic House. I believe the research here will continue to be impressive and that eventually these substances will not only be legalized but harnessed and used to help with the greater good. 

Now during these years, Michael got to see the musical greats, he got to have random and fun experiences throughout his youth – Sinatra, Mel Torme, Mia Farrow, The Rat Pack  - he hung with the up and coming Led Zepplin, his band opened for the Doors – he was part of Hair the musical and yet Michael readily admits, he took his experiences for granted. How often do we ALL do this? You never know when you are living through history or simply an incredibly important part of your own life story. 

How many things have you done in the past few months, let alone the past year, that you’ve taken for granted, not seeing it for the beauty of what it is – a new experience, a new lesson, a gift, something that adds to the tapestry of your life. 

I would like to suggest a practice that I’ve adopted into my life and that has brought me immense benefit. I call it the “already accomplished bucket list” where you record the things in life you have already accomplished year by year. Anything that you have had the honor of experiencing that someone else may not have the opportunity to do should make this list. Nothing is too small. 

This process will bring a flood of gratitude and appreciation for life and all of those little every day things. It’s amazing what happens when you start taking a literal count of all your blessings. 

It is an absolute pleasure to review your life from this perspective, of looking at those things you took for granted, that may have felt as ‘every day’ and realizing how truly special it is. 

I have found this practice to be incredibly humbling and eye opening. In 2016, I had a really tough year. I kept saying, it was a horrible, no good, terrible year. 

Well, I keep that already accomplished bucket list going, and when I reviewed the things that I did during that horrible “no good” year – it was incredibly humbling. 

I had amazing experiences in 2016. I went to Chicago, I saw Bruce Springtsteen, experienced the amazing Safari West in CA, I went to the Virgin Islands, I was on TV (Let’s Make a Deal), won Grand Prize in a Sandsculpture contest and it was also the last full year spent with my father before he passed away. We ended that year with a trip to Disneyland with a lot of my family, my Dad, brothers, aunt, cousins and their kids. It was a truly magical experience that still brings me comfort and joy to this day. 

Life is a gift. Every day is a gift. 

It is so easy to get caught up in our day to day life – to get in the groundhog day mode with our head down and just doing our best to exist. I’ve found that keeping a bucket list makes life interesting while keeping an Already Accomplished Bucket List is like giving my life continuous jolts of gratitude. And It’s the easiest thing to do. Take out your phones right now and create a note in your app titled “already accomplished bucket list” – start writing down any little thing you had fun doing, experiencing or accomplishing. It’s your own personal ‘feel good’ list and will help remind you to not take these precious moments we’re given for granted. 

Michael went on to settle down and become a family man, working in the restaurant scene in Vegas. At one point, heroin was introduced into Michael’s life – and as he said, while they lied about the results of marijuana they did not lie about the results of heroin. Heroin, the highly addictive and destructive drug, the killer of relationships and therefore the killer of joy. I love what Michael said here – he thought that drugs were allowing him to experience life but they were actually stopping him from experiencing what life had to offer. He was stopping himself from feeling because he didn’t know how to cope with the pain of life in a healthy way. And how would he? This is not something we bother teaching children in school. It’s not something the majority of the population has been taught themselves so most are unable to teach it to their own children. It’s why so many are just struggling through life at the moment. We are facing a feelings crisis. The majority of the population has not figured out how to deal with their negative feelings in a healthy, proactive and positive way. As Michael shared, you have to stop lying to yourself and look at those emotions head on. Once you do fully face those feelings, some great advice on how to work them through came from a previous guest, Bracha Goetz, who explained that when we turn to our preferred addiction, what we are really trying to do is feed our soul. Here are the five, incredibly healthy ways you can feed your soul to help you deal with your difficult emotions. 

At the first level there are physical pleasures. Connecting with an object. You can turn on music, start dancing, feel movement in the body, do your favorite physical activity, go outside, feel the sunshine on your face, feel the breeze, be with nature – move and connect with a different kind of joy until you feel the need or the mood dissipate. 

At the second level, there is love. Connecting with another being. That love does not depend on other people. You can bring love into your life by simple thinking of another person or animal that you appreciate – you can bring love into your heart at any moment by feeling gratitude for any other being. 

At the third level there is Meaning, doing something meaningful. Connecting with the world. Reaching out to someone or some group to bring meaning or goodness, bringing pleasure into other people’s lives in some way. 

At the fourth level there is Creativity. Connecting to adding something new to the world. When you are creative you find yourself in that pleasurable zone and don’t feel that addiction need.

Finally, at the fifth level, there is spirituality and transcendence – Understanding how we are all connected with each other – a feeling of awe and bliss – the glimpses we get into that sense of awesomeness, that amazing and total connectedness in the universe, is what sustains and helps bring everlasting pleasure. It’s a knowing that once seen, cannot be shaken. 

Now, I am so grateful that Michael shared his story of addiction with us. I know it’s a story too many of us can relate to with the insane opiod and drug crisis we have been facing. Most families have been touched by someone with addiction and for those that are fully in the mix right now – feeling despair, feeling that hope is lost – let Michael’s story be a balm of hope to those families and a shining light of inspiration for those currently suffering from addiction. At 47 Michael was at the height of his drug addiction, arrested and in jail, but this moment, that I’m sure felt like the worst thing to happen to Michael at the time, turned into his greatest gift and put him on his path to recovery – Michael has recently celebrated 23 years. And that is truly something to celebrate. 

I really appreciated Michael’s story about group, I found it a powerful representation. Michael shared that when you are a drug addict or in early recovery, nobody trusts you. Your credibility is zero amongst those you love the most and no one believes what you have to say. This is completely understandable on the side of the family/friends and it is also destructive to the highly fragile soul shakily walking down the path of recovery. When people in his group meeting gave Michael a set of keys to the building, they were showing him that they trusted him and that one gesture, it made all the difference. It helped restore that internal self confidence because with the gift of the keys, they reminded Michael, that he is worthy. They reminded him that he is more than his addiction. This opened Michaels mind up of what he could be and he started to believe in himself again. 

This reminds me of a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

If you treat people as they are, they will become worse.

If you treat them as they could be, they will become better. 

When we treat people as if they were already their best self, we help them embody what they are capable of becoming. 

Moving forward, I would suggest we all work on treating the people in our lives as if they were already their very best self. Everyone has their personal struggles and you can be the person that provides the spark of light needed in someone else’s darkness. The power you have to make an impact on others lives is profound. With a simple positive suggestion, a compliment, an observation of strength, you can open a new way of thinking within someone. When Michael was in group, the Group Facilitator told Michael that he was good at this and asked if he had considered doing this in the long term. That Group Facilitator planted the seed. That seed sprouted and grew into Michael opening his own sober house and then turning that into a licensed treatment center. It’s absolutely incredible to think of all the people Michael helped during those years, all started because of the seed planted by someone else. 

This is your reminder that your words have power. 

What seeds are you planting in the people around you? 

Will you be proud of the growth that comes from what is planted? 

It’s something worth paying close attention to. 

Michael ran a successful recovery business until he retired from the industry. When his wife decided to go back to school to get her doctorate, Michael asked himself what it was that he really wanted to do. This is where life came full circle, with Michael purchasing Michael’s on Main and honoring his love of music by turning it into a live music venue in addition to a restaurant. 

When he looked at his restaurant calendar and saw a lag on Sundays, he collaborated with another partner, Santa Cruz’s own musical giant – Matt Hartle and together they created Grateful Sunday’s. One night a week of amazing Grateful Dead music. 

Grateful Sunday’s has become like a ‘third place’ for so very many people. 

For the last two years I have been going to grateful Sunday’s at Michaels on Main religiously, and I say religiously purposefully as Grateful Sunday’s is, for many, their personal Sunday church service. The ‘service’ being incredible music of the highest caliber and in close proximity, being led by Matt Hartle and his rotation of highly talented friends. Michaels on Main, affectionately known as MoM’s is a gift to the Santa Cruz community, creating this Grateful Sunday culture and giving us our very own local version of a musical Cheers. 

A beautiful “third place” conveniently located in Soquel amongst a gorgeous river and trees. 

I like to say I end and begin my week right there. Letting go of anything negative that may have come my way and filling me up with all the good energy that beautiful music and people create. 

I am so grateful for this weekly experience. And I know countless others are as well. Every single person I have met there has found a solace, a balm to the soul in finding this local treasure. 

One day Michael decided to follow his passion and by doing so, he created incredible joy for countless others. What an amazing gift that Michael has given to this community – I can tell you the gratitude comes from a very great many.  

I appreciated that Michael shared how this experience helped him become more authentic. I think this is important because so many don’t honor their authentic selves – so many were not taught to honor their authentic selves the way kids are today. For so many of us, we were taught to conform – so finally coming to a point where you embrace yourself fully and present yourself authentically, it feels like magic and it acts like magic too because once you embrace your authentic self, the happier you become and you find your other like-minded souls. 

You find your people. 

And We all need to find our people.

Finally, Michael made a comment about how the only constant is change – and oh how we’ve felt that over the roller coaster of these past couple of years. For Michael and others in the restaurant, travel and entertainment industries these changes were catastrophic. While Michael’s on Main has been a huge success in terms of bringing joy, happiness and connection to our community, the pandemic years have taken a toll and the financial success has not been seen. I talk about how smart it is to ask for help on this podcast quite often so I am reaching out to you listeners now and asking for your help. If you know of someone who would want to partner with Michael on keeping this venue going or if you have any helpful suggestions, please get In touch with Michael. If you are in the Santa Cruz area, consider Michael’s on Main for your family night out, date night, setting up your Paint and Sip nights, your showers, your birthday celebrations. They have a beautiful outdoor deck along a river and surrounded by gorgeous trees. Michaels on Main is a happy place to be. Let’s support these important businesses within our communities. 

I’ll leave you with this final thought from Michael – if there are two things people hate, it’s change and the way things are so you better learn how to love the present moment because it’s definitely arrived. So that is my wish for us all, that you put yourself on a path this is authentically yours and full of joy so that regardless of the outcome – you win. And Michael, thank you for making the journey so much more enjoyable for us along the way. 

Until next time. 

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