The Do-ing Game: Why the Ball is Always in Your Court
Meet Stefan Marolachakis
Writer, musician and co-host of the Open Run podcast.
Occupations, affiliations, and projects.
People Who Do focuses on those who excel at moving forward throughout their passions in life, why is it important to you to “do”?
I guess the short answer is that there’s just never a shortage of itches to scratch. My life has always been more of a juggling act than anything: when I was a full-time touring musician, I was always staying up late after shows to record podcasts, or setting my computer on top of the washing machine at the laundromat so I could file a piece while cleaning up my act. The rub is, and has always been, figuring out how to make time for both the things that entertain you and the things that sustain you.
To date, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
The deadly sin! Well, I’m proud that Jesse and I were able to combine our need to stay in touch after he moved to LA with our shared love of basketball to create our show, Open Run. As a result, I got to talk to one of my childhood heroes, Charles Oakley, the day after the Knicks organization did him dirty. And we got to sit down with LeBron James for two hours and hear the inside story of the legendary NBA Finals Game 7 block from the man himself.
I also felt really proud when my old band Caveman sold out Bowery Ballroom for the first time. As a New Yorker, that was a badge of honor moment. I maybe might have kind of cried just a little bit while we were playing that show, no big deal. Broadly speaking, I’m just excited that the things I love—writing, making music, hanging out—have brought me all over the world.
What's your favorite part of co-hosting Open Run?
I turn on the television and watch generational talents do things I could never have predicted—and then I get to talk about it with them. And I get to do this with one of my best friends, who also happens to be one of the smartest and funniest people I’ve ever known. It’s one thing to talk about the NBA as this thing we gaze upon from afar, it’s quite another to have people like LeBron James and Chris Paul share with you what goes through their mind as they’re pushing the ball up the court during the closing moments of a Game 7. Plus, Open Run has never just been about basketball. We’ve always wanted to showcase the other facets of the athletes’ personalities, and highlight the fact that the modern NBA is about a lot more than just getting buckets.
#1 motivating mantra to get through tough moments.
When I die, it’s not going to say “wish I’d played it cooler” on my gravestone.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned so far this year?
Nobody knows for sure where Robert Johnson is buried. His death certificate simply lists his burial site as Zion Church, which means there are three different cemeteries in Mississippi that could be his final resting place.
What’s your favorite lesson you’ve ever learned?
One of my favorite artists told me this a couple years ago, and it never fails to add a helpful dose of perspective when I need it: Every lifestyle comes with its own brand of bullshit. You just have to try to pick the kind of bullshit you can tolerate the best.
What's your go-to song to put you in a better mood?
Lately it’s been “Ryderz” by Hudson Mohawke. That one’ll have you stomping around your neighborhood nodding at strangers and leaving footprints in the pavement.
Favorite method for logging any kind of inspiration.
I love the notebooks made by this company called Leuchtturm1917. I tend to go with their black unruled one. The great thing about their notebooks is that they come with numbered pages and a table of contents so you can easily organize your thoughts, no matter how rambling they might get. In his wonderful memoir The Accidental Life, Terry McDonell shares an anecdote about writer Peter Matthiessen’s style of journaling that I really dig: over the course of the day, Matthiessen would log brief notes on the right-hand pages of his notebooks; then, come evening, he would use the left-hand pages to take a stab at turning those events into “usable copy.” I haven’t embraced this style yet, but I’d like to make that my M.O. eventually.
Top 5 people you would invite to a dinner party.
Martin Scorsese, Walt Frazier, George Plimpton, GZA, and Jack Nicholson at The Ear Inn.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone right now?
Waiting around for a more convenient moment to do something is a surefire way of making sure you never get it done.
What’s the next goal?
For the last few years, I’ve been doing an annual week-long canoe trip with three of my oldest friends. We get all the way off the grid. No phones or modern technology of any kind. These trips remind me of just how much of one’s day-to-day living is driven by manufactured need. So my next goal is to try to tap into that feeling the other 51 weeks of the year. People like talking about multitasking but that’s fool’s gold. One thing at a time. Whenever I remember to banish my phone from my bedroom and replace it with a book, good things happen.
By "do-ing", you create your own unique legacy. How do you want your legacy to be remembered?
My biggest hope is that, at the end of the day, I will have somehow helped to increase the overall empathy quotient by at least a microscopic amount.