Seeds In Concrete
When you’ve known someone for over 40 years, impressions are made, bonds created and in this case, brotherhood established.
Friends are the family we choose and when you’re lucky enough to have a handful of these, the ones that have lasted almost as long as you’ve been alive, you don’t question it, you simply water it and let it continue to grow. This is the story one of those friendships and how, in some ways, there’s more growth now than in the previous 40 years.
Welcome to “Seeds in Concrete”, a series about following your dreams and passions regardless of who you are, what you believe or where you come from.
Created by Joe Nieves (actor and dad) and myself, Rob Janicke, (SoundEvolution Music record label, writer, and dad as well).
You would know Joe Nieves from his roles on hit TV shows like How I Met Your Mother (Carl the Bartender), Tom Diaz, the dad on Disney’s Stuck in the Middle and dozens of other roles on Blue Bloods, NCIS, Modern Family, The Mentalist, All Rise, 24 and many more. Fewer of you would know him from Brooklyn, NY and as one of my closest friends beginning in 1st grade. We’ll get into that later.
Joe and I decided to embark on a project where we would discuss our friendship, our unconventional careers, becoming first time dads at 40 and of course our childhood in Brooklyn, NY which, history might dictate, we shouldn’t have turned out the way we did. This will start here, with us, and hopefully evolve into a series with others who have followed similar paths from our neighborhood and age group. We hope to add a podcast as well but for now, enjoy our first installment of Seeds in Concrete!
Truth be told, this project is harder than it seems. Everytime Joe and I scheduled and completed a phone call to get this kicked off, we talked about everything but the project. If you think about it, it makes sense. We talk all the time anyway but never with some public consumption aspect tied to it, so we just did what we do. It was time to focus though…so on the fourth or fifth attempt, we got into it.
We wanted to start by talking about how we decided to embark on our creative journeys in the first place. Joe wanted to be a professional football player to be honest. He played Pop Warner football through High School and a season of Division 3 College ball. He did act during those times in high school, community workshops and such, but truth be told, that was just to meet girls! Football was the bigger, more realistic goal as he saw it.
As it turns out, Joe wasn’t a jock. Sure he had talent and could play, but it wasn’t who he was inside. He was more comfortable with the actors, artists, and weirdos. This wasn’t a revelation to me though. We played and followed sports religiously as kids, but we had a love of music, movies and stand up comedy as well. As we got older, these passions became more important for both of us, even though we may not have fully realized it.
Sometimes life makes decisions for us. Gives us a roadmap we didn’t necessarily ask for. When we were 17 years old, Joe unfortunately lost his beloved mom, Veronica. I probably don’t have to explain how fragile we all were at 17 so you could only imagine the devastation caused. Joe needed a fresh start, something to focus on that wasn’t attached to his past.
I’m always talking about putting yourself out into the world, unleashing the energy only you know exists inside, and going for what you want. I say that now a lot in my 40’s. Joe Nieves did exactly that at 21.
When Joe arrived in California, he was a ghost. Another singular soul from Anywhere USA looking for a new life and a fresh start. Acting was his true passion and now, in a place that may as well have been as far away as Mars to a kid from Brooklyn, he could pursue his calling away from judgemental eyes.
My story has some similarities, only in the fact that I took a leap of faith and followed my heart as well. Ya see, what Joe did at 21, I did in my early 40’s. Big difference there. The glue though, the thing that links it all together, is we followed our hearts, no matter how (or when) we decided to finally do so.
I was 40 years old when my first child was born. I was almost 43 when my second child arrived. Joe became a father at essentially the same ages (I’m older than him by a few months but we were born in the same year) as I did. We both had a daughter first, then a son. By this time Joe was an accomplished actor with two young kids and I was creating and starting a record label/music management company.
We would talk a lot during these times. As first time dads at 40, we were kind of like “WTF!?” All of the close friends we have from the time we were five or six years old (and are still as close with today) were married with kids much earlier than we were, like most people. So we leaned on each other, as no one else we were friends with, was in this same position. On top of all that, working in unstable, creative fields added to the stress. We were two kids from a working class neighborhood in Brooklyn in the 70’s/80’s full of cops, firemen and bus drivers. Weren’t we supposed to do the same thing?
That paragraph you just read is really why this series came to be. Joe and I talk a lot about creativity and our love of music, film, art, etc. and we wanted to share this as we know there are so many more people out there just like us. People from geographical locations or family backgrounds which didn’t really foster such creativity.
This series is for anyone who feels like they’re alone in their pursuit of who they truly are but can’t quite get there. If two guys from Brooklyn (and trust me, this isn’t the same hipster Brooklyn some of you now know, not even close) can do it, so can you.
We hope you like this and will get something positive from it. Stay tuned for the second installment soon!
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