That was a quote from Charlie Brown. Charles M. Schulz, rather. He spoke eloquently when he said “AAAAAAAAUGH!!!” He might not have used as many A’s. But the meaning is clear. It defies analysis because it is so clear.
Off we go. The wheels of justice begin to turn and we hope it’s not too late. Too late for what? Oh, we don’t know, survival of the planet, restoral of our crippled democracy, nuclear war avoidance, little things like that.
For god’s sake. My atheism is failing. I’ve been talking to god on a regular basis. It’s not the god they capitalize and call He. It’s a pan-gendered all-compassionate loving god which hates no one and flows with infinite kindness and mercy for everyone. It doesn’t have a name, nor a religion. It contains each and every bit of anything that exists or ever did or will exist, including each of us, part and parcel, and it has always existed and it will never die. You can’t call it the “one true god” because it takes as many forms as there are ways to perceive it, so you can’t write intelligently about it, and anyone who claims to speak for it is a fraud.
The coffee is good this morning. I’m writing fast because I have to go. Where? A walk in the cemetery. With a friend. That is my first errand. Then teach guitar to some kids. Then go see my BandWorks class do their final concert at the Ivy Room. Somewhere in there discuss situations around the north bay fires with my fam. Walks in cemetery are a ritual for me now. Post-dad’s-death, and as a way of gaining perspective, and maybe because I’m part Goth. I’ve blogged about it here a bit. And will likely do again. It’s a theme. Impermanence. Life, precious life. Stones, that say “Beloved Mother and Wife, 1898-1939,” representing a consciousness, a being, a soul if you will, a part of the beautiful infinity that I in my failed atheism will call God.
I love it when other people rant. It’s so entertaining! Myself, not so much. Usually after a rant I feel sheepish and a day or so later want to pull it down. This or that detail was imprecise and maybe this bit hurt someone’s feelings. I really don’t like the idea of bumming anyone out so the tendency might be to never ever talk.
This is contrary to current popular direction, is it not? Ranting is a career choice for many. I think ranting is the act of speaking without thinking. It’s not an intellectual pursuit. It’s “no filter” and other dumb things.
It’s best if executive officers do not rant. The former CEO of Uber ranted his way out. Unlike Rush Limbaugh, he was not rewarded for his ranting. Entertainers can rant and they do. It’s entertaining. Heads of state should not rant. The president should not rant. President Obama never ranted.
The buffoon-in-chief only rants. He’s in the entertainment business and furthers his “brand” and that’s it. What example is set for our kids? I mean this question seriously and I know it’s a discussion widely had among teachers, parents, any reasonable human being – how to frame this firehose of idiocy for our young impressionable beautiful kids.
President Obama set a fantastic example of behavior for men and boys. I’m not talking about his administration’s policies or anything like that now, I’m talking about him. He thinks before he speaks. He researches, he listens, he’s careful, respectful. He demonstrates as any reasonable man should, how we would like our young men and boys to grow up and behave. Now we have the opposite. The exact opposite. How to frame that? How to discuss it with young’uns? “You can grow up and be a scientist, an astronaut, or you can even one day be president of the United States!” Well damb, I’m not saying that this week. This gauche gold-curtained infestation of our nation’s highest office is among other calamities, a dreadful message to our kids. Here, boys and men, is exactly how you should never behave. It was naked and known, in the campaign, no secret. A minority of Americans, via the Electoral College, placed at the helm of state, a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women.
Son, don’t be like that. Do not be like the president of the United States.
A friend once gave me some advice that I try every day to follow. Note I said “try” – for I am by no means a master at this. She basically said it’s best to act skillfully and not impulsively. Basic, simple thing, right? Man, it’s complicated for me. As an artist, I act impulsively, or I don’t create anything. The essence of writer’s block for me, was, simply being a self-editor before I let myself blurt. Fear of judgement, fear of not being good enough, fear of making something that sucks. So I didn’t make anything. I don’t have that problem now, writer’s block is gone from me and I don’t think it will return. I’ve become comfortable finally with the fact that sometimes I love the things I create, and sometimes I don’t. There’s songs I love one day and hate the next. It’s OK.
How must it be to never care? To be so void of self-reflection that you can rant all the time with no regard for truth or the feelings of others? I occasionally listen to AM talk radio when I need to suffer, and look, there’s guys on there, 24/7 for decades now, seething with rage and stupidity and narcissism, setting their example to humanity. It has an effect. They elected their guy. And the sickest part is they just do it for the money. It’s a game, it’s lucrative, Rush Limbaugh is very rich. Who knows what he actually believes? It doesn’t matter. His minions believe his garbage, and turn it into policy with their votes.
This quote from Bertrand Russell has vexed me from the day I read it years ago:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
I wrestle with that every day. As an artist, and as a man. Many of the best things I’ve ever done, the best songs I’ve written, the best solos I’ve played, even some of my rants, have been spontaneous outbursts and I look back on them with pride and no regret. In all caps: THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE!!!! Good lord, no. I’m awash in regrets over some of the things I’ve done and created and said, spontaneously. How to know when to shoot from the hip, and when to stop and reflect, listen, be silent, consider, be careful? I’m working on it. Thought I’d share in case anyone else who may read this, might also struggle in this way. You are not alone! I say a little prayer each morning, hoping to act skillfully, but not censor myself out of existence. And hoping that when I do act impulsively, it’s right and good, and something I can look back upon later and smile, rather than cringe.
Oh, and to my ranting friends, THANK YOU!! You often inspire me, and I love you.
Here’s some thoughtful and calming advice from Bill Hicks.
As the rain continues to pour on our thirsty California, I’m reflecting on the last year a bit, and considering what to do next. While the debacles of 2016 played out, I spent some time writing and recording new music. I released four new songs as “Peace and Love and Rock and Roll part 1” as the new year arrived. Nearly everything about it is a first for me. I’ve never done a solo record before, I’ve always worked with bands. Never self-released anything before, or self-produced.
I’m glad I did it, and I have decided to do more. I made a new website to host my records, and after thinking very hard about it for almost two seconds, decided to call it peaceandloveandrockandroll.com. You can pick the EP up there instantly in download/digital form, or even order a physical CD if you like, from the very small batch I made.
Wishing you all a good start to this strange new year. I am going to go swim in the rain now.
Peace and Love and Rock and Roll to you and yours,