Angels Don’t Tip: A Conversation with Cole Haden and a Model/Actriz Bicoastal Binge
By Charlie and J Wolfe
I have been putting off writing this for as long as possible. Initially labeling this procrastination as a byproduct of a relatively apathetic lifestyle. But boredom usually allows permission for more vulnerable truths to surface, and staring at my computer screen whilst trying exceedingly hard to distract myself becomes a conduit for these truths to blindside me. I realize that this procrastination is not related to apathy but to dissociation. Because to write about Model/Actriz, and Cole Haden in particular, means admitting something that I would rather not publicly acknowledge on a good day. On a bad day I’d rather not acknowledge at all. Which is that Model/Actriz is better than my band, and Cole Haden is one of, if not the most original individuals I have ever met. That may be self effacing but the “insecure musician” trope is all too real and normally the only real tools musicians–and all artists for that matter–have to stave off this feeling of inferiority is to mercilessly talk shit about those we feel are better than us. But there are moments when that is simply not an option. When you feel that to slander someone else’s art in the hopes of feeling better about your own would be empirically untrue, and ultimately harm you more than it would help you. Model/Actriz is one of those bands to everyone that witnesses them, either from the crowd or through the speakers.
I first met Cole this past October outside the Mercury Lounge in the East Village of New York. Our bands were playing a show together that night which was something I was palpably excited for, especially after being on tour for seven weeks leading up to that point and having to suffer through some of the most debilitating local openers this country has to offer. (This is not to imply that the title of “local opener” is remotely applicable to Model/Actriz, it is only to categorize the musical order of the evening). My band was soundchecking when the members of Model/Actriz started filing into the venue. I subconsciously felt the need to look up from tuning my bass a few moments before Cole walked into the room. This was due to the fact that his presence is so big that it literally arrives before him and leaves days after he has left. After soundcheck, I walked up to let them know our amps and drums were available to them if they needed anything. They were all exceedingly nice humans, which threw me off a little bit because you never know who is going to punish you for offering up your equipment (it happens more than you’d think.) The show went great and Model/Actriz blew us out of the water. After that Cole and I exchanged numbers and loosely kept in contact, at one point he began texting me in Russian just because he wanted to.
Last month Model/Actriz played a show in New York and a show in LA. Jess went to the New York show and I went to the LA one. Sandwiched in between these two shows was an interview with Cole, myself, and Jess. Where my understanding and respect for Cole Haden grew exponentially. He speaks with a composure and intelligence that seems completely rooted in a devotion to creativity and self expression, and self awareness for that matter.
Jess: My first question is, where are you from? Do you feel a connection to it and where will you die?
Cole: OK. I love the third part. So I'm from Delaware, from a town named Lewes, and I lived in the southern area adjacent to Lewes, classically old Jack Sparrow. The nearest beach is Bethany, and I think I only draw attention to being near the beach because I feel like that is what informs my inner compass, like being near water or like knowing always how I am positioned in reference to the nearest body of water, has given me a sense of direction.
Jess: A swimmer.
Cole: A swimmer. Exactly.
Jess: It's the inner hurricane.
Cole: Yeah, I'm just a whale caught in a bag.
Cole: And I do feel a connection. I feel more of a connection now because the connection I felt as a kid, felt like I was more of a victim of the isolation, of a yearning for things I wasn't getting. Now that I've lived in places that in my mind were places that had solutions to my discontent, it allows me to go back to Delaware without that yearning. I definitely enjoy it more. It's a very seasonal place, like in the summer, the undercurrent being a local is like you are an observer of the culture that comes to you by watching all the tourists, like I always felt like a voyeur to these sort of metropolitan people that came. And then in the winter, when nobody was there, it's very lonely and desolate and that part I felt made me more self-motivated to surround myself in my headspace.
I have a problem where I come in close contact with death by almost getting hit by a bus, but my heart never falters. I could spit into death's mouth that's how close it is coming to me. And I still just like to go about my day. I feel like that's a part of living in New York. It's just constantly having to put up a screen that can be faded on a continuum of like how much you interact with the outside world just to keep yourself sane. So okay...
Charlie: Wait so is that spitting into death's mouth to avoid the kiss of death?
Cole: I guess, like in a non-depressing way I would kind of want to kill myself. If I was going to die, one of the things I'm afraid of is like falling off of a building at a great height. So because that is one of my biggest fears, I have to say that overcoming that is maybe the last thing I do. So maybe I throw myself off a building at the end of it all because I would have to literally do everything else that I want to do before I do that as my final act. And then you can scoop me up and spread me around the marshes.
Charlie: What were you not getting in Delaware and what are these things that you needed and that you still do need or want to do that you aren't getting currently?
Cole: Hmm, I think what I wasn't getting in Delaware has less to do with the location. More so it's like, what did I not know about myself then that I didn't know I had the power and need to give myself? And I guess I have maybe like a penchant for escapism and thinking that there is always a chase to get to somewhere. And I'm constantly finding new ways that I've been deceiving myself into thinking the answers are anywhere other than inside of myself to fulfill them, you know...
Cole: I guess or just that like, you know, every person that I can dream of being is embedded only in my ability to let me become that.
Brooklyn, New York, December 4, 2021
I’m used to watching Cole perform in intimate spaces, and to watching him pull intimacy out of thin air and push it deep into an audience's chest. When I entered The Sultan Room I wondered how he was going to utilize it because it is a very unique place. It felt that throughout his first few songs he was also examining the room and wondering himself what performance might come with it. He is a performer who exploits, acknowledges and cherises space. The Sultan Room creates a mosaic behind it’s performers that makes you feel as though you are looking at the sky, standing in a field as acid rain pours over you. Model/Actriz creates a similar feeling except it’s more like sitting in an uncomfortable chair across from one of your parents in dead silence, as you wait for your opportunity to speak each of your organs screams to be heard.
Cole: So when I was in Delaware, it's like this trial essentially.
Jess: I feel like that's something that happens when you're young, you know, there are so many parts of you that think that all the things you want are in other places and I guess that's something you learn as you get older and you go to those places you dream of and you're like, oh, it was me always.
Cole: Pretty much. Yeah.
Charlie: So a friend of mine said this to me the other day, which I've been thinking about a lot, they were talking about the importance for young people to try new things and find a passion or just find something they're interested in because it ends up being this extroverted way of studying solipsism. By studying something and finding a passion within something, you are learning a little bit more about your own identity. So I guess where I'm going with this is: did finding your own musical voice or getting involved with music, did that perpetuate this feeling, this penchant for escapism, you were talking about earlier? Or how has that helped you? Or has it not helped you at all?
Cole: I think that is a perpetual challenge, not being satisfied with something until it feels like it's fulfilling a need. I'm trying to answer this in a way that feels like more than just my dissertation on music making. I guess it's an interesting thing, my creative process right now, I've been feeling pretty lost recently. So my kind of antidote to that feeling has been typing up all of my journals from the past, like, six years. I haven't really been able to journal recently or I just haven't really known what I want to say. It's like, I don't know where I'm standing in myself right now, and I don't know where the next step within myself I want to take is. So I'm like, okay, what was the path for me to get to this point? So typing up the journals and reading every word that I wrote up until this point, reminding myself of the internal journey that I've had has helped me heal more in my body, I guess. I think I just became nauseous with the feeling that I was distracting myself from feeling things and realizing how much I had distracted myself and like in a very literal sense. Like doing anything else but being inside of my body.
Jess: Do you feel like your music is an embodied thing? Do you feel like the process of making music is embodied?
Cole: Explain more..
Jess: Well, like, you know, I'm thinking about how you said that you've been feeling like, you know, a little lost and disconnected and disassociated and maybe in the past you were making more music, so I'm just curious about maybe the connection between music and embodiment for you. Like my sense of it would be that, performing for you is probably an embodied experience because I feel like you're someone who really throws yourself into performing, but what about behind the scenes? Is that just as outward as performing is for you?
Cole: I'd say that it is. But you know, it's like my favorite art process .... to me that is the most clear headed view I get of myself. And the kind of gratification I get from that uninhibited, or to me that's just the most natural way of expressing myself as an individual. What I have to realize about myself is that being on stage is the conduit that writing has some of the characteristics of, however, is not the same. It's just a lot slower. And insular.
Charlie: That's all that's really interesting. I guess my only follow up question to that is, I keep thinking about this penchant for escapism that you used. I really like that. Do you view your relationship with words, of being a lyricist, and your relationship with live performance...I guess what Jess was touching up on like, are these things in your life another example of that escapism? Are the two things mutually exclusive? What I'm asking is, does the escapism get you closer to who you are? Or is the escapism, like what Jess was saying, more dissociative and pushes you further away from that? If that makes any sense.
Cole: I guess as far as performing goes, to me, that feels the complete opposite of escaping anything. I guess that's what I long for that I have trouble giving myself when I'm the only person holding myself accountable. When you're on stage and you are claiming that space with lights on you. Or being almost like trapped in a naked place is the most reliable bodily experience I can give myself because every time it feels like I am blessed with the ability to be in my body. Where any other time where the stakes are not as high I find that when given the option it's just a scary place to be. So part of the personal growth that I try to do. It's just finding less and less ways to be afraid of that so that that kind of experience onstage can translate into non-onstage life.
Jess: Conquering your fears.
Cole: Yeah, I'm literally killing myself.
Jess: I almost feel like we're psychoanalyzing you more than we are interviewing you, which is cool.
Charlie: Sorry. Yes. Well, it's just super interesting because I also like that you use the word accountability because I can't think of a situation that's any more holding you accountable, like being on stage, like you have a roomful of people that are holding you accountable for what you do and what you don't do.
Cole:Yeah. And what you don't do. And that to me is, you know, I don't like don't for some reason, when you say what you don't do, I'm just like, you don't have to do everything, you know? I am drawn to things that kind of write themselves, so if I just think about what will surprise me, that lives outside of the realm of criticism in my brain. I'm not trying to achieve something other than just what will surprise me. To me there is no metric for good or bad on that.
I watched as Cole walked like a Gazelle around the room. Reflecting, it quite reminds me of how Cole described his writing process. He found his way on top of a bar that curved around the venue (which is half-moon shaped) and split the crowd in half. He wound up at the end of the bar where I stood intrigued on a set of stairs. There’s something very magical that happens when he makes eye contact with you while he is performing, he makes you feel incredibly seen. He makes you feel as though you are a part of something, because each performance is unique and unlike any other he has done before. Even if you are only involved for a brief moment afterwards you feel less afraid of being seen, of being spoken to, of speaking. Cole’s performance draws from and draws out emotion and movement. If I were to see people standing still at a Model/Actriz show it would feel quite awkward, like I was watching industry plants who refused to have a real experience. He involves the people around him and forces people to be immersed in the world he is creating in a way that is undeniable.
Jess: Another question I have which sort of relates to this in a way, is, are you a people person? (everyone goes ooooh).
Cole: I'm a cat person.
Jess: Would you prefer an audience of all cats?
Cole:I don't know. The thing is, and this lives outside of my fandom of "Cats the Musical", by the way, it's just like, I really, really respect cats demeanors. And I think that I am like a cat in the sense that I am a people person, but cats have a timer and if you use their timer and it becomes irritable, there is no amount of positive affirmation or treat giving or like anything to fix that. There is no way to refill the battery besides the cat being able to refill it by themselves. You know? Like the cat has a battery to expend, but it can only be refilled when it is alone, where a dog doesn't need that. If the battery's depleted, then all you have to do is give it some attention. You can refill the battery being an external source.
The music only drills these things in. The way Model/Actriz’s songs allow for Cole’s performance actually quite reminds me of what we’re trying to do here at Fatty Strap. The music is amazing, all of the band members are tight, the songs are unique yet the music feels like a backdrop for expression. The music is a director of experience, which is exactly what I attempt to write about when I write about music.
At times, their music seems to steal sounds from a child’s nightmare, capturing the things that lurk in the corners of a house and make people pull their toes under the covers once they realize they have been out for too long. Like the longer they’re out the bigger the risk. Like how many monsters can we fit in one house? In some ways, their music reminds me of The Babadook, which is one of the highest compliments you can receive from me (I expect arguments about this). Each of the musicians in this band contributes something both aesthetically and performatively, they all play their part. Together Cole, Ruben, Jack and Aaron all look beautiful. As they play it feels like they all stay in sync using clairvoyance as a technique. It’s as if they’re not allowed to smile while they’re on stage, or maybe ever for that matter. Cole has them on a leash and as he dances around the room, they all stay nice and put in this way that creates such a striking and well-balanced performance.
Having such an amazing conversation with Cole the day before watching Model/Actriz perform gave me an experience that made the whole thing feel more real, because I had an intimate conversation with Cole and laughed over what it means to perform just hours before watching him do it.
Charlie: Well. You know, also, I kind of wanted to say, because Jess, earlier you said we're kind of just psychoanalyzing you right now, Cole, but I really hope you don't feel like a lab rat. But quite frankly, there aren’t too many people that I'd want to psychoanalyze, you know, I just feel like most people are inherently a little boring. But so I'm having fun psychoanalyzing you. I hope you feel it’s fun.
Jess: The psychoanalysis has happened so naturally.
Cole: Oh, there is no part of this that I feel poked or prodded about.
Charlie: Okay, good.
Jess: Do you want to feel poked or prodded like a little bit?
Cole: No, you're doing great. Yeah, no. I would say feeling poked and prodded is never a good feeling.
Jess: Drains the battery.
Cole: Yeah, it does. And I mean, there was a time, though, that I thought that that was fun to do with people...
Jess: Yeah to make people a little uncomfortable.
Cole: A little bit.
Jess: Yeah, I had a phase like that too.
Cole: Yeah, and it's just nobody likes to feel uncomfortable Or people want to feel like they are participating in making themselves uncomfortable.
Jess: They have to consent to it.
Cole: Exactly. So asking questions like, how is your relationship with your father? I would lean into the fact, just like almost projecting onto them. Like, I was able to be clairvoyant in that way, where I'm like, Oh my God, you're such a jock…what's your issue with your dad? And they would be like, what? They totally wouldn't have any issues at all. Maybe that's where I felt the safest, in making people feel uncomfortable because I could literally paint whatever mental issues I wanted onto them as a pretend therapist.
Charlie: Well, but in a way, aren't you? I mean, Jess I feel like you and I also have a tendency to do that. I would say in a way, though, Cole…is that not kind of another expression of creativity. And another way that you are extrovertedly learning about your own identity by kind of having fun with playing with other people's perceived first impressions?
Cole: Is that what a therapist is…is a therapist just someone who is trying to figure themselves out?
Charlie: Yes, absolutely, totally.
Jess: Yeah. I mean, with my therapist, there will be times where she'll be like, look like I'm really invested in being here as part of your support system and I relate to a lot of your problems personally. And I'm like, what…
Cole: Wow, how long have you been going to her?
Jess: It's been like two and a half years.
Cole: That's pretty good. I don't think I've ever had a therapist for that long.
Cole: Yeah. But I long for that.
Charlie: Honestly same here. Mine just dumped me.
Jess: Your therapist dubbed you?
Charlie: I got dumped, you guys.
Jess: No way. You must be a toxic dude.
Charlie: No, she got like she got a promotion. And left me behind.
Jess: That happened to my therapist, too. Except she started her own practice and moved to Connecticut towards the "end" of the pandemic. And she was like, yeah, you need to pay me x amount of money to continue to see me. And I was like, I can't. And she was like, I'll make an exception for you.
Charlie: Damn, I did not get an exception made for me.
Jess: Yeah. She also tells me all the time that she thinks I'm going to be a therapist, which coming from your therapist is also a very special thing. And she thinks I look like David Bowie.
Cole: I don't know about that.
Charlie: I don't see David Bowie.
Cole: I don't think that at all.
Jess: Yeah, she's said other people, too, but that one was funny. Anyways, how does your social life play a role... (laughter) Oh, man, I meant to make a joke before I said this. I meant to say, so what's your relationship like with your father?
Charlie: I was going to ask the same thing
Jess: But anyway, how does your social life play into your art making?
Cole: Into my art making? Well, if you haven't heard, we've been in the middle of a pandemic for the last year and a half and so I haven't really seen people, but, no. How does my social life play into my art making?
Jess: I just didn't want to limit it to music.
Cole: Yeah, I appreciate that. I am working on some other non-music related things, but I've never really thought about my... like it has to play into it somehow, right. Like, I guess, OK, so I just need to compartmentalize. Yeah, so like for Model/Actriz, for example, what I feel my role in the music is is like translating the way I feel in a club, for instance. Like the danger word is impressionistic. You know, lyrics that are called impressionistic to me, it just feels like it can so often be lyrics that are just like nothing, you know or like, giving the excuse to be about something for the sake of being just a beautiful string of images. I'm making a river on the table with my hands, Charlie. Just so you can make the visual.
Charlie: OK, gotcha.
Cole: I guess my challenge to myself was to take the idea of things being maybe like non sequitur or I'm trying to think, I had a kind of reference in my brain. Well, it's like, you know, Lana Del Rey. It's writing very personal lyrics, but really builds a world, in her case, it's, you know, Americana. I was thinking about a world that extends beyond just what I'm feeling. What does the room that I'm standing in with all of like…I'm just like trying not to have a stroke. So. The composition process of the lyrics always comes last. So finding the sounds of the record is like walking around blindly through a room, feeling the limits of the floor or wall, bumping into things, maybe, and then once you have written all the music. It's like, OK, these are the limits of the room that we're in. Let's turn the lights on and see what is in this room and then let's kind of like take things out, or like interior design this room. I got the lyrics that I wanted to write by just imagining something like a prop house or an attic. The album is very personal to me, but I wanted it to feel like everyone was in an attic, and seeing all of these things in boxes, disorganized. The feeling of memories embedded in a house, you know, rather than telling a story as you're experiencing it.
Charlie: Well, yeah, it's like, you know, I think about this thing all the time. What is it? Poets are those that muddy their waters to make them appear deep. And it seems like your approach is very much the antithesis of that.
Jess: You just are deep.
Charlie: Yeah, you just are deep Cole. Wow.
Cole: Oh my god. Well, may I take your hat sir?
Los Angeles, California, December 11th, 2021
It took me 40 minutes with no traffic to get from my humble abode, deep in the clutches of the San Fernando Valley, to get to the newly formed downtown venue Don Quixote. Which to my knowledge was formerly used as a quinceañera hall. Which upon learning felt weirdly appropriate for Model/Actriz’ vibe. A weird contrast of sounds and colors that feel familiar but completely foreign at the same time. I believe uncanny is the word.
I arrived late and was forced to leave my car in a hazardous towing section of the neighborhood, which cemented my decision to not see the headliner of the evening, ESG. Entering the venue I was almost immediately greeted by the band's drummer Ruben who was coming out from backstage by chance. I expressed my excitement for the show and then relieved him of the chore of small talk before a show. I then wiggled my way through the old dancing all to an area right by the front of the stage and waited patiently for the show to begin.
Charlie: Well, actually, Jess, unless you have another question you want to ask right now, I do have a…sorry what?
Cole: You asked about my relationship with my dad? Yes, and I will give an answer to that. I think my dad is not a poet, but lives his life as a poet.
Cole: He's an imposter. I think that his life is very interesting to observe, especially his decision making process because he has no real creative endeavor at all, for himself or for anyone at any point, however, I don't even know how to really expand on it in a concise way…but my relationship, and I thought about this recently, I've really just looked at his life as like a poetic saga and he's someone I like to psychoanalyze. Yeah, but his life is just poetry to me right now.
Charlie: I know that isn't that just kind of a common thread with all of our fathers? Just somebody that we would love to psychoanalyze at any given part of the day?
Jess: Yeah, I'm more of a mommy analyzer, or at least historically I have been, but recently I'm starting...
Cole: All the moms of history.
Jess: Yeah. You know, with the juggs and stuff, there's a lot to analyze.
Cole:Did you see the Mrs. Doubtfire musical? You should, she's got a great pair of jugs.
A day before the show, Cole had texted me saying he still hadn’t figured out what he was going to wear for the evening. Which under any other circumstance I wouldn’t have even responded to but Cole’s outfits are just as intriguing and dynamic as his stage presence. So as I waited for them to take the stage, I had a thought that I have never had in my life up until this point. “What on earth is Cole going to wear tonight?”
When the lights went down and Model/Actriz began to play I had two thoughts. The first was this venue was never meant to sonically support a band of a decibel level higher than that of a 15 year old’s birthday party, so I absolutely couldn’t hear shit. This however, was not the immersion remover I thought it would be. The effect of poor volume and clarity of sound actually just made me focus on Cole all the more. Which brings me to my second thought, Cole looked absolutely striking. His heels must have been seven inches high and the rest of his body was nothing more than an amalgamation of fringe and lace that contorted his anatomy more than he was already doing on his own. I was transfixed on him for the entire performance, as every other person in that auditorium was too. At one point Cole had ascended to the second story balcony and began an almost erotic dance whilst dangling over the railing. Which is when another thought hit me. Cole has this otherworldly ability to transcend tropes. What I mean by that is when he began to climb the side of the stage to the balcony, I wasn’t thinking “great, another band with a propensity for over the top stage antics.” I was mesmerized by this weird, atypical beauty. Standing in an old worn out quinceañera, watching a man in fringe and seven inch boots towering 25 above a room of 500 attendee’s and commanding every single one’s attention. It was beautiful. Which is a word that on the surface is not applicable to Model/Actriz but in reality is the only word to describe them.
Charlie: Well, I have one question before I want to ask my hypothetical, and it's actually something that I've really wanted to ask you Cole. So, I personally go through these waves of, and I know it's kind of stale at this point, and I think it's too easy for me to call it imposter syndrome because that's not exactly what I'm talking about, but like these waves of being a musician in a band and having all of these conflicting thoughts about my band and just, you know, sometimes feeling extremely confident in what I'm doing and sometimes just not at all. That it's just kind of a joke. It's also moments of super real insecurity in regards to what other people think of what I'm doing and then vice versa moments when I truly don't care. And I guess what I'm asking is, how do you feel about Model/Actriz? Like as honest as you will let yourself be like, what are your thoughts on your own band, today?
Cole: I think that I enjoy this question. I guess of the four of us in the band, and I can't really speak for everyone, I know the band is very democratic. We're all very invested in the project. However, I feel perhaps a divine-ish draw to expressing myself, and the band, partially for my own sanity because it takes out so much of my time, has had to become the primary conduit. It is different from other music I might write by myself, but I am always looking for where the intersection is of me in this band? So how does that reflect the way I feel about my band is that...I feel like I am maybe less afraid of risks. Because what's at stake for me is building a career around something that doesn't reflect me at all. Like that is my fear. How much time I spent with that, although it is not a solo project by any means, specifically because of my role being the most, you know, it's like a form of character.
Charlie: I mean, yeah, you are the focal point.
Cole: Right. So it's like, I want that character on stage, in the music, in the writing and in the visual representation to, you know, in the end, make me feel like I did write by myself. And it's not utterly dependent on the band.
Charlie: OK. Allow me to be a therapist for one more second, because you said something so interesting because you said what's at stake is building a career around something that doesn't reflect you at all. But then you also use the word character to describe your role in the band, which feels like you are separating yourself from the person that is the lead singer of Model/Actriz.
Cole: Well, it's just like not every version of myself at every point, like our music is always developing or we're always changing. So I'm always finding new ways to put myself into it.
Charlie: Right, right.
Cole: You know, it is not a total glimpse of my whole person, right?
Charlie: That makes sense.
Cole: You know, I guess, that’s why I say I can't rely on just the fans to be what makes or breaks my ability to like feel fulfilled personally with art.
Cole: Because, you know, I can write music outside of that. However, just because time is such a precious currency, like there are only so many hours in the day and so many of my hours in the day are for this. So how can I scale my like balance of myself in that, in a way that feels like I'm excited to spend that amount of hours, and that when I leave I don't feel like I'm escaping to go do my real thing, you know?
Charlie: Yeah, totally. That makes complete sense, actually.
Cole: So is that an answer to that question?
Charlie: Yeah. Thank you.
Jess: Very thorough.
My eyes directed back towards the stage one time during Cole's absence from it and I saw something else beautiful. Their guitarist Jack Wetmore was fiercely fixated on Cole, but it was not a look of disapproval or anguish as I have glared at my bandmates many times in the midst of a questionable choice during a performance. No, this was a look of complete trust and admiration of Jack’s bandmate. As if he couldn’t have felt closer to Cole even if he tried. It was also a look of protection. Anyone who took a second to look at Jack’s face in that moment would know that in the blink of an eye he would throw down his guitar and tear his way through everyone in that crowd if anyone had laid a hand on Cole.
That realization was during their last song. After it was done the band left the stage and I left the venue. Feeling even more sure of myself that Model/Actriz is one of the best bands in America right now.
Charlie: Without further ado, I'm going to ask you my hypothetical if that's OK.
Cole: OK. OK.
Charlie: So can you hear me OK? Yes. OK. So you're walking down the street one day, right?
Charlie: And out of nowhere, an angel descends from heaven, right? This angel is the complete kindergarten understanding of what an angel looks like. It's got the wings. It's got the halo. Everything you thought about heaven and hell is actually real. Or if you didn't think about it, you were wrong because it's real. Angel descends from heaven, right? Stops you on the street and points to a man and says, “that guy will kill himself tomorrow, right? Unless you, Cole, decide to commit your life to becoming the next world champion bodybuilder.” Now, you are never going to see this guy across the street for the rest of your life again. If he kills himself tomorrow, your life will be impacted no differently than it would on any other given day. But if you do decide to commit the rest of your life to becoming a world champion bodybuilder, that man won't kill himself, and he'll go on to live a pretty good life. Like he may start a nonprofit organization that, you know, feeds some kids in Africa, right? Like, he's not going to be Martin Luther King Jr., but he's a good dude, and he'll do a lot of good stuff with his life. OK, so the question is, do you give up everything and get in a really great shape to save this pretty good guy? Or do you just kind of let it be?
Cole: World champion bodybuilder?
Charlie: I'd like to be fair, if you do go for the World Championship you do have a pretty good shot at getting it. So it's not like there's nothing in it for you.
Cole: I guess, you know, to me, I'm like, this is a simple thing. At first I was just like, he's going to kill himself. And then I just think about just like, what does it mean to pursue being a world champion bodybuilder, you know? Like how much effort is going to keep this man from killing himself? Like, do I just get a gym membership or like, do I actually need to Google bodybuilding how to's?
Charlie: Oh, no. Cole, your life does become I'm a bodybuilder.
Jess: Do you need a visual reference for like?
Cole: I think that that cleared it up for me and I think that man's going to kill himself.
Charlie: And well, look, and I will say to the like, if you do decide to become a bodybuilder you will find a really deep sense of meaning in your life. It's not like everything just went to shit and you're just in really great shape and maybe you have a world title.
Cole: I think it's really fucked up of this angel to put me in this position.
Charlie: Oh, totally.
Cole: It would almost make me resent God. I would say, “why am I responsible for this man? Fuck you, God, period.”
Charlie: That's the best answer I've gotten so far. Thank you.
Cole: You're welcome. I don't think God's like that, I think God's a little bit more for tying the knot. You know, it's like, God isn't going to put you in that position because it really is every man for himself, you know, a man in the “every” sense. Every person for themselves. Have you seen what these angels actually look like, just like millions of eyes?
Jess: Have you seen them?
Cole: Yeah, you don't see them? They're just like, ugh they're the worst, they don't tip.