Wednesday, December 21, 2016

If not now, then when?

If not now, then when?
Doesn't matter if you can—
All that does is if you do.
Purple, lavender, or blue—
We all share a single earth.
Towns and cities are our hearth.
There, we sing & dance & dine—
Trading trinkets; drinking wine.
When we share, we're at our best—
Can't forget about the rest.
To improve, we must invest—
Only then, we'll pass the test.

Start 2017 by doing something great—it takes approximately 12 seconds and half an ounce of effort—and help us spread the word about our MLK Weekend of Service. We hope you'll join us for one of our incredible events, but even if you can't, following this link will bring us one step closer to repairing the world!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Hero We Deserve

He's the hero we deserve,
But, not the one we need right now.
We all know who we'd prefer,
But, instead we picked a lazy cow.
He knows he should be with her,
But, instead he'll get a big, white house.
We're all being immature,
In this wild game of cat & mouse.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Volume of Action

The volume of action—
It far exceeds words.
Some like to chirp—
I'll leave that to the birds.
Everyone's human—
We all get perturbed.
Humanity's lost when we're labeled disturbed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A mile wide, and an inch deep

Why does the mountain look so steep?
A mile wide, and an inch deep.
No way to say when we'll reach the peak.
We're just sitting here waiting, so to speak.
I've crossed the prairie—
I've swam the creek.
I've hopped a fence—
Been chased by sheep.
I lay at night, but never sleep.
I keep making promises I can't keep.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Waiting for the World to End

Now, part of me simply wants to drive on,
When no one knows what lies around the bend.
Won't hit the brakes until the road is gone—
Now, we're just waiting for the world to end.

Today, we have our maps and GPS—
Want to relay a message? Just press send.
If we know all the answers, why'd we guess?
Now, we're just waiting for the world to end.

To listen is to ask—you know what's best.
You're way above the fashion—all those trends.
You've made it here—it's time to take the test.
Still, we're just waiting for the world to end.

I want to know the answer, don't hold back.
We've got to get this country back on track.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Dark, Slippery Slope

The president who loves to grope—
Now, isn't that a slippery slope?
How can we say we're full of hope?
Our kids are out there slinging dope.
What can we do?
Let's ask the Pope—
He'd wash out all our mouths with soap.
It's tough to find a way to cope,
When radicals start to elope.
Before we're caught in his harpoon,
We've got to sing a different tune.
We'll find a way—
And, one day soon.
Or else, we'll end up on the moon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Unlikely Friends

Different is only one way to describe,
Two people who don't always...
Feel the same vibes.
Some fall to the left,
Some fall to the right—
That shouldn't imply that we all need to fight.
How can one half rejoice—
At the other half's plight?
How can we all move on—
With such hatred in sight?

For a world so divided,
There's no happy end.
We must reach out across,
Grabbing them by the hands.
We must open our ears,
And our hearts.

So join me today—
& let's start a new trend.
Here's to a future of unlikely friends.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Me? Well, I'm Feeling Sober

It doesn't make sense—
Why'd we vote for Mike Pence?
Sometimes, we're on the fence.
How could I be so dense?
Sure, we laughed at Ken Bone—
We read tweets on our phones.
Now the Don has our drones—
Tryna break up our homes.
How did we start with Bernie?
Got lost on our journey.
We blew the whole tourney—
She left on a gurney.
The Clintons are over—
So, stop picking clovers.
The Dems are hungover,
Me? Well, I'm feeling sober.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Turn The Other Cheek

Gotta turn the other cheek—
Never show 'em that you're weak.
The last 8 years were a peak,
For some, not others, so to speak.

Gotta get up off the ground—
We can take 'em pound for pound.
But, we better look around,
Finding those who make no sounds.

No, the answer isn't clear,
In a world so full of fear.
Throwing words of hate, like spears—
Words, intending to draw tears.

Must join in the melting pot—
You're alone, until you're not.
No one's gonna hold your spot;
Here's the ball, now take the shot.

Friday, November 11, 2016

What are we doing?

We all know what happened,
But, what are we doing?
Is protest the answer?
I don't know for sure.
We all know what happened,
But, what are we doing?
Is hatred the answer?
I don't want a war.
We don't know what's next,
And, that's how we got here.
The future's uncertain—
We've strayed from our core.
We don't know what's next,
And, that's how we got here.
How can we move on,
When the world is so sore?

Monday, July 18, 2016


Who is she?
The girl next door.
She doesn't live there anymore.
When she met me,
I wasn't sure,
If two plus two was even four.
Now I'm not sure—
Sure what to say.
The perfect message to relay.
Tell her she makes me feel—
Perhaps, I'll find the words one day.
Instead, for now, I'll just say,
And hope that she feels the same way.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Water Under The Bridge


I was supposed to graduate yesterday.  Instead, I’m sitting in a makeshift classroom on the seventh floor of the library for summer school.  Turns out I needed to take one more class.  But, to tell that story, I have to take you back to the beginning.  As I hope you’ll soon see, context is everything.
For the longest time I’ve been telling people I should have been an English major…instead, four years (and three weeks) later, I’m going to graduate with a BBA in Strategy & Management Consulting (whatever that is).  Regardless of what my diploma has printed on it, I’m a writer—always have been, always will be.  Being a writer, everything comes back to perspective.  We’re taught empathy at such a young age—our propensity to see the perspective of our peers is a defining characteristic of human beings.  Yet, for quite some time I felt like everyone around me had forgotten.  I sensed a lack of empathy in this world—a lack of perspective holding us back. 
I don’t want to live in a world where a Tinder profile is enough information to warrant a first date, but we do.  I don’t want to live in a world where a two-digit GPA is a better indicator of success than a two-page letter of recommendation, but we do.  I don’t want to live in a world where saving a dollar is more of a priority than saving the environment, but alas, I’m afraid we do.  The difficulty is that there’s no beginner’s guide for finding perspective.  I’m a faithful believer in the notion that ignorance is bliss—you never have to hear the answers to the questions you never ask.  The flip side of that, however, is that you’ll never truly find what you’re looking for if you’re not willing to get a little bit lost along the way.  Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  I’ve certainly taken my fair share of shots, but I think Gretzky’s insight is incomplete without the addition of one of my dad’s favorite lines, “Shooters keep shooting.”
What if Michael Jordan hung up his sneakers for good, after missing the cut for his Junior Varsity team?  The fact is that MJ was able to persevere before anyone had even the slightest notion of the person he would eventually become.  He believed in himself, even when nobody else did.  I like to believe that when you follow your passions, perspective finds you.  This story isn’t about Michael Jordan, though—this story is about me.  More specifically this is the story of how I finally found my perspective.


My freshman year was a roller coaster.  For quite some time, most people knew me as that kid with the blog…and yes, I used to write a blog, until quite recently—but, we’ll get back to that.  Perhaps more importantly, I decided to pledge a fraternity during my second semester at Emory, a decision which would redefine my entire collegiate experience.
It’s safe to say I fell in love with Greek life.  I rushed not knowing a thing about Phi Delta Theta, but after a week of partying I was glad to abandon my automatic bid as an AEPi legacy[1] and forge my own path on Emory’s campus.  Phi Delta Theta was an eclectic group of guys, with my pledge class including members from Santa Monica all the way to New Delhi and Taipei.  At the time I was initiated, there were exactly 100 brothers in the house.
Before we were initiated, though, we had to pledge.  Freshman year, the administration sent dozens of emails encouraging young men and women to join fraternities and sororities.  What they never tell students, however, is that every fraternity hazes.  There are varying degrees of nastiness when it comes to forcing 18-year-olds to binge drink and complete seemingly meaningless tasks.  Nevertheless, to claim that the fraternities on campus do not haze and to turn a blind eye to the pledging process until that is no longer possible seems to be the University’s only approach to reforming Greek Life.
            Most fraternity brothers are sworn to a lifetime of secrecy and discretion, but since my indefinite suspension from Phi Delta Theta during the summer of 2013, I see no reason to censor my recollection of the events as they took place during the best semester I’d never want to have again.


Four days after I officially joined Phi Delt, I hopped in a Toyota SUV with a couple of upperclassmen, and manned the wheel all seven hours to New Orleans, LA.  That year more than 20 brothers (and one pledge) made the trip southwest to honor a longstanding tradition—Mardi Gras.  They called me Mardi pledge the rest of the year.
Did we get hazed?  Sure, but what the media seems to miss about the hazing phenomenon is that we readily agreed to it.  Rolling Stone magazine even listed us as the eighth most out of control fraternity in the country.  Blaine McEvoy writes:
Recent infractions at this Atlanta house run the gamut from force-feeding pledges "unusual amounts" of items "not typical for eating" to having them sleep on a basement floor in just their boxers. But it's the requirement that new members participate in a Chuck Palahniuk-style "fight club" that clocks this brotherhood in at number eight.[2]

One brother was a Yankees fan and after he found out I was from Baltimore, he used to always make me do pushups in honor of my own childhood baseball hero.  I’d chant, “One for Cal Ripken Jr., two for Cal Ripken Jr…thirty for Cal Ripken Jr.,” as I banged out set after set, resisting the urge to laugh hysterically.  You get the idea.  The reality is that for the most part, we drank beer, we ate mayonnaise, and yes, one night we boxed each other with gloves, mouth guards and a referee.  Yet, suddenly, when the newly hired Dean of Students was quoted in the Emory Wheel saying that Phi Delt had organized a fight club, the news went viral overnight.
            Not everyone sided with the school, though.  Total Frat Move’s Veronica Rukh responded to the Rolling Stone article writing, “The horror! The only other thing that’s bringing them national attention is for having their new members participate in a pledge fight club.  This is the kind of punishment you get for creativity.”[3]  The Dean did not find our traditions creative.  Rather, she sought to make an example out of Phi Delt in an ongoing effort to crack down on hazing in fraternities.


It could be argued that my negligence during pledging was one of the primary reasons I ended up in the business school, because, on the night that I was scheduled to register for classes, I missed my enrollment time on opus.  Managerial Accounting was one of the only classes still available for rising sophomores so I decided to add it to my schedule.  My “A” in that class would prove to be both my first and last “A” in a b-school core, and it didn’t even count towards my major GPA.  Isn’t it funny how those things work?
That’s what my grades said—meanwhile, this was about the point in time when I realized how trivial grades were to me—I wanted to learn challenging concepts, not meaningless buzzwords.  I, simply, didn’t see the merit in memorizing definitions just to beat the curve.  It wasn’t that I was less motivated than my peers, it was that I had different priorities.
I think the biggest difference between me and most of my classmates was always that I saw education as a collaborative opportunity—not a competitive series of tasks.  I loathed the curve, and the arbitrary hierarchy it imposed on every student’s experience in the classroom.  I actively participated in all of my classes but, when it came to exams, I continually struggled for motivation.  One time someone told me “C’s get degrees.”  I think he meant it as a joke—but, somehow, along the way, that joke became a mantra.  My GPA may have suffered for it, but my education certainly did not.


I’ll always remember junior year as the year of the internship.  The pressure to land a top tier job in The City—especially at Goizueta—was overwhelming.  I didn’t find one until the week before graduation.  By the end of my streak of failed interviews at equally uninteresting corporations, I was 90% sure I had become a socialist, with little hope for personal happiness in my future.  Then, by some incredible stroke of luck, I found Baltimore’s Promise.
With me, the team grew from three to four, as we worked together to bring the public, private, and nonprofit sectors together in Baltimore to unite around the cause of raising healthy, educated youth from cradle to career.  I don’t know if you’ve seen Baltimore on the news recently; needless to say, there are a lot of problems yet to be solved.  Nevertheless, here I joined a team working around the clock to affect change on an institutional level—practicing the same mantras that I had been preaching for years.  This summer was the first time the notion of perspective really sank in and wouldn’t go away.  Which brings us to the present.


This year has seen its up and downs for me.  I still have no idea what I’m doing next year.  The only constant in my life for the past five years has been my blog—Student Parking Only.  At the beginning of the semester I swore, at all costs, to keep writing until I made it to 100,000 page views.  It was a goal I’d been working towards for as long as I could remember, and it was only fitting that I would make it before I graduated and wasn’t a student anymore.
That’s when I realized I had to stop.  I had to put an end to the closest thing I had to my life’s work—the blog.  Why’d I give up when I was so close?  Because, writing shouldn’t be about the page views—just like learning shouldn’t be about the grade.  Writing is an art—a process—that requires astute attention to detail and deliberation.  I stopped studying for mid-terms because I wasn’t learning anymore—I was memorizing.  Now, I wasn’t even writing blog posts anymore; I was, simply, typing—it went against everything I believed in.  So, that very night I decided to end Student Parking Only, once and for all.  The blog wasn’t perfect—it couldn’t be—it followed my life, with all its ups and downs, ebbs and flows.  If I never made it to 100,000, so be it—I didn’t care anymore.
What happened the next morning, moved me in a way that I had never been moved before.  A handful of devoted fans began sending in guest posts, lamenting the end of the blog—my blog.  It turns out, some of the same people who I had assumed were my biggest enemies, were actually my biggest fans.  It was my roommate, who sent the one that brought me to tears:
He told me I would never understand him, that none really could.
But I think people should try to understand, they really should.
Life’s about being you, and nobody else.
And for better or for worse, that’s what the kid felt.
He never took on a persona that was not strictly him,
He placed less focus on the losses, but more focus on the wins.
He would do anything for anyone, no matter the personal burdens they brought,
Because Jake Max is that kind of guy, like him or not.

That’s just his, perspective, though—and, you’re entitled to yours.  My humble perspective is that it never really mattered that I wasn’t an English major.  I spent far too long trying to figure out how to be happy, when the answer was right in front of my face the whole time.  I knew grades weren’t enough.  I knew money wasn’t enough.  By the end of it, not even the page views were enough—it didn’t matter if I ever made it to 100,000 or not.  All I needed was a little change in perspective.  Mine came out of nowhere like a slap across the face.
The Friday before graduation, I received an email from the dean regrettably informing me that I had failed intro to Computer Science and would not be graduating on time.  I still got to walk across the stage in my cap and gown, but the diploma they handed me was blank.  I pretended to smile as my parents and sister sat paralyzed in the crowd.  What should have been one of my proudest moments quickly became one of my darkest, overwhelmed by guilt and embarrassment.
I needed to take one more class, so naturally I picked “Writing History: Memoir.”  I’ve been talking about writing a memoir for years.  In fact, one of my favorite lines has always been, “Do it for the memoir.”  Sure, I did a lot of crazy shit along the way, but it wasn’t until I failed CompSci that it all started to come together.  My life’s certainly had its ups and downs, but I don’t regret a single moment.  I went 22 years without failing.  Turns out I’m not invincible—no one is.  More important than how we fail, though, is how we recover.  I finally had something worth writing about, so I wrote it.  That’s what writers do.  Now, it’s just water under the bridge.

[1] My father was Alpha Epsilon Pi and my mother was Alpha Epsilon Phi, both at Emory.
[2] Blaine McEvoy, “The Most Out-of-Control Fraternities in America,” Rolling Stone (August 28, 2013).
[3]Veronica Rukh. 2013. "Rolling Stone Creates Completely Bogus List Of The Ten Worst Fraternities In America. Total Frat Move. August.

Monday, February 22, 2016

On to the next thing

I started something new...a venture of sorts—an experiment.

Hopefully you'll find it interesting, at least. Perhaps, you'll like it even more than you liked this.

This is maxcommajake signing off one last time from SPO.

Want to see what I'm working on next?

Happy National Margarita Day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Not Safe For Work

Another guest entry, this time from Dylan O'Brien:

While working at pwc, I read that student parking only would have its last post.
I'm sorry pwc, but my work has to stop as we must raise our glasses for a toast.
Student parking only isn't good nor bad, It's a chance for the boys to sit around and laugh cause it's all too sad.
I've only been a follower for a year or so, But a year without spo, is a year full of woe.
I respect all the blogs and poetry that came from jake max. But I should really get back to work, Cause some accountant has to count these stacks.
I bid a farewell to my favorite blog, And pay my respects to jake max, kids a homie, and a dawg.

One More, From Mom

In the middle of the night
I woke in despair
To read the post I’ve long awaited
On the site where you’ve laid your soul bare
I have to admit
Your latest posts have left me questioning
Is my kid ok, or are his wounds really festering?
Your writing is bold and witty and funny
Sometimes it’s angry and pithy and punny
As your mom I understand that words are your outlet
Who knew how far you’d take this blog from the outset?
It’s the end of an era
One that had its highs and lows
The drama played out online
And at times you came to blows
But you put yourself out there
And for that you should be proud
You always stand by your convictions
Never aim to please the crowd
The people who know you
Understand who you are
We all love you for your passion
Your loyalty and  your eagerness to spar
I know you’re wondering where the road will lead next
Sometimes that’s scary and leaves you perplexed
No matter where life takes you
I know you’ll be fine
In the meantime we’re all grateful

It’s the end of the Jake Max whine