Always For A Moment

Haven’t posted here in a while! Been busy. Here’s my latest song, hot off the presses. Hope you enjoy! It’s a free download or you can buy it if you like. Please feel free to share this any ol’ which-way ya care to. This is me on guitar and vocals and bass, Michael Urbano on drums. Michael Rosen recorded and mixed it at his studio. Myles Boisen mastered it up. Shannon Wheeler drew the cover. These gents all did such beautiful work, and I’m so very grateful to them. Happens to be ready on this holiday, so, I’m glad to share this today! <3

Matt Jaffe – “Blast Off” Full Album Is Out!

Well look who’s here! The full album version of Matt Jaffe’s debut, produced by Matthew King Kaufman with yours truly on guitar, has finally been released into the wild. This was a really fun record to make, and it’s a wonderful listen. I have bleated often about what a great songwriter this kid is. Here’s why! Also, Alex Coltharp and Sammie Fisher, what a scorching rhythm section. Yep, it was a slice! Listening now brings the moments back. Matt J and I both played guitar on everything here except the title track, which Matt produced solo at his home studio. Blast Off, babies! On iTunes and Spotify and probably other wabbit holes I am sure.

Looking Backward

If a company has a failed product or campaign they do an “autopsy” to try and understand what happened in the hope of not repeating mistakes. I don’t know if the Democratic Party has done this intelligently regarding 2016. I try not to dwell on this, and we need to look forward, but I’ll tell you my take for what it’s worth. I say this as one citizen with one voice, and in a democracy one voice is important, and out of many we are one, and all that good stuff.

I think the Clinton campaign should have put Bernie Sanders on the ticket as VP / running mate and Sanders should have accepted. The progressive / left of which I am definitely a part, would have voted along with more mainstream middle-right voters, and the Dem ticket would have won in a landslide. Instead, they put Tim Kaine on the ticket. I actually had to look this up just now, because I couldn’t even remember the guy’s name. A potato would have been more exciting. They didn’t even ask Bernie, did they?

The progressive / left was utterly demoralized and disgusted by the way the Sanders campaign was torpedoed, and that led some people to stay home or vote 3rd party. There’s little room for that in a gerrymandered system with the Electoral College and “Citizens United” (Orwellian double-speak at its finest), and CNN pointing its damn camera at the “reality TV” clown’s podium for hours, talking about his stupid ass while WAITING for him to speak. Yes, and they did this while Bernie Sanders rallies were taking place simultaneously with overflow crowds everywhere he went, and he went basically everywhere. The Clinton campaign ignored states they thought they had in the bag, not realizing the populist mood and desperation of people who wanted to vote for anything that said “Wall Street bad, Main street good!” which Bernie Sanders said and meant, and the orange buffoon said and did not mean.

Autopsy: the Clinton campaign won the popular vote by nearly three million. Three million. Three million living breathing human citizens of this beautiful country, correctly voted against this disaster, and their votes did not elect the president because of the Electoral College, which was written to placate goddamn slaveowners a century and a half ago. I congratulate Clinton on her win, she would have been a decent president, possibly a great one, who knows? Would she have leaned into her more humanist tendencies, or her more hawkish ones? We will never know. We do know she is qualified for that office, and that the current infestation of the white house is most definitely not. She’s over-qualified for god’s sake, what were people missing? A two term senator, Secretary of State, oh, and she lived in the white house for 8 years and was deeply involved in policy at the highest level the whole time. I actually can understand why her campaign might have thought there was no way the raging orange walking lobotomy could possibly defeat her, because that was a rational conclusion to make!

What happened was irrational. Autopsy not easy to perform. There are so many pieces to it, and not one of us is privy to all of the relevant information. No one can see the whole picture. We can try, though, and by doing so we may learn some helpful things.

We know now that Russians were poking away at our social networks, riling people up to increase angers and divisions that were already there. We don’t know how much of an effect that had.

We also don’t know what sort of blackmail the ridiculous commander in chief is vulnerable to from his extensive ties to Russian mobsters, but we do see him passionately servicing Vladimir Putin with his mouth. Putin won. He’s loving this. He’s been working on this since the Cold War. Yet people in this country, American citizens, are still howling “Make America great!” even as our attempt at civil government of the people by the people for the people is put in its worst peril since the Civil War, by their traitorous babbling hero. I have no doubt the remaining “MAGA” crowd really does think they’re patriots. Though they have become the opposite.

Silver linings. What are they? This sure is one immense and horrible dark cloud. What flowers are growing from this biblical turd? Well, for one thing, women are running for office in record numbers. Also, early special elections in 2018 have shown a strong trend flipping Blue, even in some historically beet-Red districts. This is good.

And bless their sweet hearts, a group of high school kids from Florida, motivated by unimaginable grief, have stepped up with unity, courage, inclusiveness and eloquence, and they are great. They are America, and they are great.

Make America great “again” is a non-starter. That’s more Orwellian double-speak. What “MAGA” means is bring back white supremacy, do not go forward, oppress people of color, women and LGBT folks, build walls, be afraid, hate and close your mind and be limited, uninformed and miserable. Who really wants that? Thankfully the vast majority of us do not.

I voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton after strongly supporting Bernie Sanders in the primary. For my part of the autopsy, I would like to be able to say I campaigned hard for Clinton, but I did not. On election day I walked to my polling place and had a Star Wars “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” moment. As I waited in line I thought, “damn, couldn’t I have put in an afternoon of cold-calling swing voters, or something?” Because I did almost nothing. Before, in the primary, I helped raise over $3,500 for the Sanders campaign, and a number of people told me my early posts about Bernie made them look closer and get onboard. Then it became this huge groundswell I had a small role in creating, and I was proud of that.

After the Bernie wing was amputated, discussions among some of my friends got ugly. I put it aside. I couldn’t grieve it much. I wrote it off to politics as usual and said, OK, now I’ll vote for Clinton. And to my dismay, I got some really harsh blowback from that! Yes, in fact someone even called me a “Good German” for going along with it. That’s funny of course because I am half German! But I was taken aback. An intellectual, a person I know to be educated and smart, and for all I knew, kind and thoughtful, saw fit to equate my public declaration that I was voting for the Dem candidate and not a 3rd party, and that I was not writing in Bernie, she figured this made me a “Good German.” Or at least, she was willing to say that at the time, to make her point. I wonder, looking back, whether our discussions were or were not, in subtle or not so subtle ways, affected by nefarious actors and bots? Regardless, I walked away. I gave it some minimal effort but after a few interactions like that I just said to hell with it, Clinton will win, business as usual, I’ll vote like I always do and hopefully get another Bernie type opportunity later, done. So. Autopsy. It was not business as usual at all, and by the time I got that “bad feeling” on election day there was no way to move the needle.

Move the needle. That’s what democracy involves, right? You show up, you can do something. You don’t show up, others will do something. I write my little autopsy not to beat myself or anyone else up, just to observe. Maybe someone who reads this maybe shared some of my experiences, and may gain some insight from it. Why do I write this? Maybe because I’ve thought about it a lot. I really was bewildered by much of what happened in the last few years. Starting with the GOP treatment of president Obama. I mean, why? He was a great centrist corporate-friendly middle-of-the-road nice extremely smart family man whom they opposed on every single issue because of one thing. One thing. I didn’t think they would do that. Not so extremely and blatantly. It was heartbreaking and horrible. Rather than show us we have gone beyond racism, Barack Obama’s presidency revealed that the GOP is racist to its core. Or at least, they are willing to play to the racist part of their base, which is functionally the same as being racist. And now, you know, a white supremacist in the white house who screws around on his wife and brags about assaulting women and is loved by white Evangelical Christians. Could you make this stuff up?

It all has to go. At least finally the GOP is clearly exposed for what they are. What they are willing to go along with. They’re insulting kids who are grieving their murdered friends for the love of God, how low can you even possibly go? We must remove them from office.

Why am I on about this? What energizes me this morning? How am I again shaken out of resignation and sadness, and again toward action and resolve, to try and help improve matters for humanity and our sweet and only earth? What could possibly be the thing that inspires me so? Ladies and gentlemen, this:

Looking Forward

I am looking forward to the mid-term elections in November. I am looking forward to the elections because of the newly motivated and determined youth from Florida and all over this country and the world. I am looking forward to standing with them and the next generations behind them, as one by one they come of age and vote.

I’ve decided to stay on FB and Twitter during this period leading up to the election. After that I’ll revisit the question of whether I want to be the product in someone else’s mind-wrecking data-mining scheme.

Zuckerberg has a lot to answer for. I envision him getting a talking boil like Richard E. Grant in “How To Get Ahead In Advertising” (very funny and relevant movie, check it out). That would be fitting. Move fast and break things indeed. You broke some things, Mark.

I see some of my friends in FB have had enough, and are leaving. I fully understand. Depending on how 2018 mid-term elections go, I’ll stay or I wont. But I can’t leave now. Not with the kids showing up and using the social networks to organize and vote the NRA out.

I’ll do what I can to help offset the incessant noise of Russian bots and stupid trolls and idiotic wingnut propaganda. Because right and wrong are things, and the kids are right.  Their current activism is unprecedented and brilliant and we need to stand with them.

Move gracefully and fix things.

I’m With The Kids

Sometimes you just know there’s a shift going on. It may be hard to see all dimensions of the time we are living in, especially in times of great flux. Later in hindsight maybe we gather more understanding and say “A-ha, that is what was going on!”

Well in the third week of February, 2018, the youth of America decided to mobilize, and throw out the old greedy bastards who love money and guns more than they love children. This is what the kids are saying, I am just quoting them. Paraphrasing, rather. I agree with them. I am on their side. I think we should all be.

All they want, is to have their rights protected. Their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do those items ring a bell? The entire GOP, and certainly also many Democrats, accept money from the NRA. Together, they work to deprive innocent young people of their lives. Their liberty. Their pursuit of happiness.

As such the kids standing up are patriots claiming their rights, and those who oppose them are simply in the wrong. Remember right and wrong? Those are things. The kids remember the concept of right and wrong, and the servants of the NRA apparently do not. Or if they do remember, then they have simply chosen to be evil.

Right and wrong. Good and evil. Choices.

I’m with the kids.

Blasting With The Blasters

Saw The Blasters last night at Hopmonk in Novato and they blew the roof off. They’ve been playing for about 40 years now and still have most of their original lineup. The rhythm section is preposterous. One of the best rock and roll drum (Bill Bateman) and bass (John Bazz) teams you’ll ever find. There’s so much subtlety and dynamics and power in their playing – the kind of tightness you get from spending most of your life on the road. The only other time I saw them was in the 1980’s, and I had fond memories of that gig, so naturally I went last night with high expectations. The band exceeded them tenfold. Phil Alvin is in great voice, and lead guitarist Keith Wyatt is an absolute maniac. He played an old gold-top Les Paul through a small combo amp and just went berserk. A completely committed player, he took some long solos that only built in energy and fire and kept building when I thought there was no higher to go. The band scorched along for an hour and ten minutes or so and by the end I had a smile I couldn’t erase if I tried. I went with my old friend and musical partner in crime, Michael Valladares, and after the show we ran into Bateman and Wyatt out back on our way to our ride. We went full fan-boy on ’em and gushed because what else was there to do? We thanked them for a soul-lifting no-bullshit rock n’ roll experience and floated home. Absent was Dave Alvin, who wrote many of their songs, but he was present nonetheless in his songs. A deep catalog of heartfelt rockabilly and rock n’ roll anthems, many of them penned in his youth in Downey, California. There’s something uniquely special about a group of older musicians doing something they’ve spent their lives doing, with joy and abandon, live in concert, in a smallish venue with great sound. One of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. Catch ’em if you can! That is all.

Humble To Be Human

A peculiar observation of Vice President Pence: he’s white. I mean, white people aren’t usually white, as such. We can be sort of tan, or pink, orange even, but not white. Pence is white. White like a piece of white paper. There’s no pigment. He must bleach himself. No one can be that white. It’s unnatural. He and Jeff Sessions must go to the same bleaching spa. It must be a thing. They are of course also White Men in another sense. Champions of the expiring monsters of idiot patriarchy, white supremacy, theocracy, Pat Boone and every other bad thing on earth. They oppose all forms of freedom for anyone but themselves. And perhaps for other old men who also attend the bleaching salon. But even the bleached old men are sniping at each other now, as their rusted ship of bigoted fools plows at full steam for the jagged rocks of destiny’s shore.

Ahem. I’m white, according to convention. European-American. English, Scottish, Scandinavian, German. I took the mail-in spit-test, perhaps hoping for a surprise, but nope. Alabaster. Lily. Caucasian. Typical of straight white males, I didn’t spend much time thinking about my gender or race, while growing up. You’re born into your skin and gender and that’s it. Fate dealt me these privileged cards, and I don’t worry much about getting shot if I happen to get pulled over by the police. I was actually mistaken for a bank robber once, faced a small army of police with their guns drawn on me, and I survived. I’ll save that story for another post, it’s amusing. But we can’t escape our race, can we? It strikes me as odd, because it’s a fiction that we are different. That our worths are different. That our lives matter more or less. All of it is human-manufactured fiction that goes back centuries. In ancient Rome more than a third of the people were slaves. Our little baby nation practiced slavery just a few generations ago, yet some say “get over it” like it were anything less than a catastrophic crime against humanity that lasted for centuries. We’re all still affected by its legacy, our souls wrestle with it daily in myriad ways.

The weird kids screeching “you will not replace us” with tiki-torches last year displayed something I naively thought was gone. I thought that was in the past. These are kids who want to attend the bleaching salon, but can’t afford it! They want to be privileged slave-owning masters and they wont be. They want women to be second-class citizens again, and they wont be. Mike Pence probably sees “The Handmaids Tale” as a blueprint rather than a cautionary tale. But he is in a tiny minority. The United States of America are vast and multivarious. Our diversity is our strength. Bigotry will not win out. But its poison causes harm every day and its champions are in power for this dreadful moment.

I sometimes laugh at the comedy playing out in DC. It’s bloody entertaining, to see this lumbering wreckage, this blovious orange farce of a man, pretending to be president, and his clown men fanning him. It’s funny. It’s funny, but the harm it causes is anything but funny. Our poor country. Our poor world. It’s so sad.

What do I do, as a white man? This garbage presidency has shifted the context of whiteness, and of maleness, a bit. Religion, too. Oh, I left out Christian, in my self-privilege-assessment. Protestant. Lutheran and Baptist. Not practicing any of these, mind you! But that’s my heritage, my background. Other than vote and try and be fair and kind in my affairs, I don’t know what to do. I don’t have answers. I have questions.

Why did people think we couldn’t elect a Catholic president? Kennedy sorted that out. Why did people tell me, when I supported Barack Obama’s campaign from the very day he announced, that he couldn’t win in this country? That we hadn’t evolved that far yet? Why also did people say more recently that Bernie Sanders could not win because he’s Jewish, or too old? A female president is as inevitable as the dawn, and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about 3 million.

For all of our flaws, our terrible history, our wars, our bigotries and our mistakes, this country is and will remain a nation of diversity, a nation of immigrants from all over the world. Unless you are a Native American you can only be several generations down from immigrants here, so the exclusionary rhetoric of division and fear vomited on us by the orange buffoon is patently absurd.

And what of racial pride? Why do we do that? Am I proud to be white? Am I proud to be straight? Am I proud to be an American? Or am I ashamed of these things? No, goddammit! I’m proud to be a human being! I am proud to share this precious and improbable world with humans, and critters, and plants and oceans and trees and air and joy and love! I am proud to be under the stars in a canopy of oxygen and nitrogen just right for breathing, and walking and swimming and running and playing music and living! And I’ve never hated a person in my life, least of all for their gender or race! Because why would you ever? What could be more boring, or impoverishing, or unpleasant, than that? To live that way, in fear, in bitterness, in grief, in the sadness and isolation and ignorance that bigotry requires. Why? Why choose that horrible darkness, when there is so much glory and light?

The “greatest nation on earth.” When did we start that? “One nation under God.” What unmitigated and utter bollocks. The presidents all ending their speeches with “God bless the United States of America.” Ridiculous. God bless the world. And everyone in it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is my interpretation, of the “American way.” God bless the whole world. Whatever your interpretation or understanding of God may or may not be, we can all rest assured, He, She, Them or It does not recognize our silly borders. Does not favor a race, or a gender or a country. Or a species, or anything for that matter. God is everything, and God is love. God does not discriminate. So why should we?

I am more pleased, than proud, I think. Amazed to have eyes and ears and senses and a body, with which to perceive the short time I have on this magnificent planet in an infinite and incomprehensible universe. Proud? Sure, I can be proud. But maybe humble is the better path? Humble to be American. Humble to be my race and gender. Humble to be human. Yes, I like that better.

I love humanity and I am humble to be in it, and you will never find me at the bleaching salon.

God bless You.