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.

Dr. King Was Not Selling Trucks

This morning I listened to Democracy Now’s coverage of the automobile advertisement that ran during the Super Bowl, featuring the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., excerpted from his speech of February 4, 1968. On the anniversary of that speech, an ad for RAM trucks used King’s voice. How ever did we come to a place, where a corporation, their ad agency, the broadcasting network, everyone in every step along the way, allowed a thing like that to be produced, and aired? Certainly someone, in one of those meetings where this was conceived, must have shouted, had a meltdown, protested, refused? They took King’s words not merely out of context, but in direct contradiction to the very points he made, in that very speech. DN! breaks it down pretty well, you can check out their segment on it here.

Where has our collective conscience gone? How tolerant of untruths have we become? In the eagerness to make a buck, not merely the corporations and individuals that made the advertisement went along with it, but someone representing the King estate must have, as well. It’s their right, legally. They can license his words and voice and likeness, any which way they choose to. But why? To what end? Have they abdicated responsibility, or did somehow they think this was an appropriate use of Dr. King’s recorded words?

It’s one thing when a song you love gets dumped into a commercial. And who can be mad at anyone who owns a copyright, wanting to cash in on it if they can? Everyone needs money. Now more than ever. Capitalism not merely won but it won with a vengeance, glorifying consumerism and greed and making a mockery of basic human values like compassion and brotherhood. Nature bats last and nature is at bat, swinging for the fences, and instead of an intelligent, science-based and community-based federal government, the United States is squatted upon by a political party with no apparent values whatsoever, other than meanness and greed. It is in this context that The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, a biblical figure, a hero if there ever was one, one of the most important human voices of the Twentieth or any century, has his voice appropriated to glorify a goddamn truck. Using images of soldiers, for God’s sake. They couldn’t be more perverse in their violation of the meaning and intent of Dr. King’s words if they tried.

All this, while the most prominent voice in our country now, is one which only lies, all of the time, only self-glorifies, only belittles and insults, only disgraces himself and humanity with his every shallow poisoned breath, morning and night. The precise moral opposite of a Martin Luther King has been made the loudest voice, by our system of broadcast and advertising revenue, of click-bait, worship of spectacle, failure of imagination, apathy, laziness, and acute, howling stupidity.

This year I celebrated King’s birthday consciously. This year, for me, it wasn’t just a day when the schools and banks are closed, which is the depth to which I usually observe a holiday. This year I happened to listen, coincidentally, to the very speech in question here, and marveled at its prescience, its relevance, its power.

I just found it again on YouTube, so I will post it here. I’m listening again as I write. Appreciating and savoring the words of an intellectual, a man of conscience, a man of moral courage, whose voice calls us together, and inspires, and heals. Re-tasking this recording to sell cars surpasses irony and tastelessness to such a degree, I don’t even know if there’s a word for it. But such are these times. Thankfully, this recording survives intact, its intention clear, its meaning immortal.

There are some glitches in the audio there, it sounds like it was copied from a vinyl record which skips a bit, but mostly it’s intact.

Here’s King speaking to an anti-Vietnam war rally at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, April 27, 1967

Profanity and What Is Profane

NPR just published an article explaining their decision to publish the word shithole. Grownups. Had a discussion. About the pros and cons. Of saying “shithole.” In a news broadcast. “Shithole” was on the cover of a bunch of respectable papers and magazines yesterday. Because the context was so egregious, and because it came from the president of the United States. What an accomplishment. Again we are embarrassed and made a pariah to the world. The shithole presidency.

When I was a young kid in the 70’s I associated conservatives with our neighbors down the street, a nice old retired couple I knew only as the Hamiltons. I never got their first names. He was Mr. and she was Mrs. Hamilton and they let us come over and watch cartoons. They never used “curse words,” as he called them, and foul language was forbidden in their house. They flew the American flag on the appropriate days, and they voted conservative. I think he was a war veteran. She made cookies. We ate many. It was the closest thing to a “white picket fence” household I encountered in my oh-so-Berkeley youth. I really liked the Hamiltons. I was happy to mind my words and respect their house rules. Those were good cookies. These were good neighbors.

Lenny Bruce died in 1966, a year after I was born. In my teens I discovered his story and his work and he became a hero to me. His use of “profanity” got him arrested and persecuted, and precipitated a discussion on what is profane, what is freedom of speech, what is freedom of expression. He used whatever words he wanted to as part of his art. He wasn’t going to censor himself for anyone. It was brave, and dangerous, for him. He won, ultimately, at great personal cost, clearing the path for Richard Pryor and Bill Hicks and countless others who came after. But what do those words mean now?

I try to avoid them, in my own language, unless they’re really necessary to make a particular point. Using the “seven words you can’t say on television” that George Carlin spoke of, hasn’t seemed particularly rebellious or dangerous or interesting to me, in decades. There came a point when it seemed that stand-up comedians spent half their stage-time saying f- this and mother-f that. Eddie Murphy did a hilarious bit imitating Bill Cosby berating him and then Richard Pryor berating Cosby in response on this subject.. google it if you like, it’s quite funny. That was back in the 80’s. That’s how old this is. After Rage Against The Machine hit in the 90’s, I noticed bands yelling “motherfucker” constantly, and it seemed so.. frat housey by then! And tedious. Like it had gone full circle, from rebellion to conformity. Movies, cable TV, endlessly flogging the four-letter words like there’s still any cultural point to it. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton would be appalled. I just find it boring and unimaginative.

Maybe proper language is the new edgy. Maybe the infestation of the white house by foul-mouthed bigots has rendered four-letter words obsolete. Maybe Lenny Bruce would consider them un-cool now, and speak in elegant Shakespearean verse? Maybe the Hamiltons would vote for Bernie Sanders! I don’t think they’d vote for the “curse words” guy. They’d have him wash his mouth out with soap.

Presidents are supposed to set a good example. Say smart, presidential things, and demonstrate dignity, respect, and class. 45 does the opposite. What is profane is his statement about “shithole countries.” What is profane is the attitude behind it. What is profane is racism and bigotry and small-mindedness and willful ignorance and that hair. What is profane is the GOP that allowed and still allows this.

Here are a few organizations you can engage, for effective ways to help reduce the profanity in our 2018 mid-term elections:

swingleft.org

indivisible.org

moveon.org

and of course berniesanders.com

Here are some words which are not profane.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

-Emma Lazarus

Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby Happy New Year!

Making this song summed up the second half of 2017 for me somehow. It’s redundant to say I’ve had enough of last year, who hasn’t?! I’m looking forward to good doings in 2018! Let’s go.

I wrote and recorded that in October right after the North Bay fires. BandCamp didn’t make me shorten the title, bless their hearts. I had to shorten it to distribute to iTunes, Spotify, etc. Oh the humanity!

My fellow Uptone Mike Stevens played drums. I played acoustic guitars and sang. There’s just one electric guitar part on the song, the 8 bar solo in the middle. We turned Mikey’s old Champ amp up to eleven and I let ‘er rip on the same mutant “Tele” hybrid I’ve been playing since 1983. This thing:

The guitar, not the cat. The cat helped me do overdubs at home later.


In 1970 they said it’s gettin’ hot,
And we should ride our bikes and burning fossils we should stop,
Exxon Mobile said it’s a liberal hoax,
And global warming was the butt of all their jokes,
Now, all these improvements are making matters worse,
Upgraded my system, and now it doesn’t work,
If this is winning, then I’d prefer to lose,
If they say march and fight then I will eat my boots,

Cos baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby I love you

The sky is falling, alerts are comin’ fast,
There’s no water pressure and you cannot find some gas,
We must evacuate but there’s nowhere to go,
747 dumpin’ red upon the glow,
The roads are jammed but we gotta move,
Can’t stay here, well, we can’t go there,
Grab important papers, pictures of the fam,
Keys and wallets phone and we just gotta scram,

Cos baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby I love you

I know you’re busy ‘cos you got things to do,
But the gleaming of the moon in your eye,
Is the whole universe, shining through the multiverse,
Oh the things that come to mind,
I’d drop my job, leave my home and close the tab out at the bar where I spend way too much time,
I’d sell the car and buy a ticket to the middle of nowhere if that’s a place you’d like,

Cos baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby I love you

© 2017 Eric Roy Dinwiddie
King Roy Music, BMI


Released December 21, 2017
Eric Din: Guitars, Bass, Vocals (and Triangle!)
Mike Stevens: Drums (and Tambourine!)
Cover Artwork: Shannon Wheeler
Recorded at Lost Monkey Studio (and Din’s house!)

Happy New Year, Babies!

A Frog Symphony, God’s Mercy, And Sweet Home Alabama

It’s fair to say that I like the sound of winter. Cold air seems to carry sound waves differently than warm air. I don’t know the physics of it but it must be true just as sound carries differently in water. I could google the science of it but why spoil the mystery. I could put a question mark on that last sentence for proper grammar but that would spoil the meaning. In fact when one writes one can do whatever one wants and punctuate or not at whim. Re-task words to suit one’s porpoise. Art is the same way. Freedom.

One of the most beautiful symphonies I’ve heard was performed by frogs. In a large meadow after a spring rain and they were making more frogs. Or discussing it. It was a large group discussion among many frogs. They would reach crescendos of chirpling in a sort of rhythm that became united and then separated in fractal deliciousness and occasionally fall silent. Then one frog would chirp and another across the meadow would chime in and then a thousand frogs would sing and echo through the valley and then they’d fall silent and the cycle would repeat. I forgot to mention the creek. There’s a creek in the middle of the meadow and in the pauses between choruses the little waterfalls set the stage for the next passage. All of this is true.

There’s so damn much ugliness in the world these days. The US government is on ugly-overdrive. Patriarchy is having an ugly-fit, grappling desperately to hold onto its ugly past. It won’t work. Women are announcing their candidacies for office in record numbers from sea to shining sea. May they win and may this ugliness wane for the love of god. God. There’s a fascinating term. The gross hypocrisy of the GOP and its professed allegiance to Jesus Christ, champion of the poor and downtrodden, while acting in stark opposite to what Jesus would ever do. I am so very glad the swine in Alabama LOST and that Doug Jones won. I liked Doug Jones’ victory speech too, quoting Martin Luther King, very promising.

I have friends who should run for office. I bet you do too. Maybe you should. Democracy will belong to those who show up. It will never ever be perfect. We make a terrible mistake if we want perfection. The whole point of Democracy is it’s an attempt at a most not bad society. If only corporations and villains show up, then its dystopia and misery and doom. Those things are bad. So yes, we should get rid of the Electoral College, a racist anachronism which disproportionately favors red states and reduces California voters’ influence in national campaigns. Yes, we should repeal “Citizens United” which is the precise opposite of its Orwellian name. Yes, gerrymandering and voter suppression and all these things can make the game seem hopeless, and we won’t fix all of them at once, we may not fix all of them at all, politics was and will remain corrupt and ugly, BUT! Doug Jones won. Doug Jones won because black women and men (and enough progressive white folks) in Alabama made him win. And that is NOT ugly! It’s beautiful, and it can be repeated in races throughout the country.

The mid-term elections are soon, now. Mercifully they are less than a year away. Amid all the disasters of the last two years, storms and fires and the sometimes overwhelming mounting horror of a government that has chosen to deny that climate change is upon us, while embracing white supremacy and misogyny and bigotry of every kind, oh, and while reaching into the pockets of working men and women, removing their wallets and handing them to the very goddamn super-rich, while doubling down on fossil fuels and making us an embarrassment and pariah on the world stage, IT IS PRETTY EASY TO FALL INTO DESPAIR! But we don’t have to, and we ought not to. And I for one am going to think of the voters of Alabama, God bless their sweet hearts, the ones who rejected every foul thing embodied in Roy Moore and those who endorsed him, this in the state where much of the civil rights and voting rights movement played out and people died for the right to vote in the 1960s, yes I am going to think of them, when I need a dose of positivity and optimism, and I am going to CHOOSE to be active and participate and live and give and thrive, because this world belongs to all of us, and we can make it better for ourselves and each other.

That and I’m going to release a song in the next few days for the holidays. I didn’t do any Christmas shopping this year, I made a song and I’m giving it to all my friends and fam near and far by means of Interwebs. I’m excited to share it. It has “Love” in the title, which will surprise no one who knows me. It also contains rock and roll.

Them’s all my thoughts this morning, just felt like sharing. Run for office! I’ll vote for you! Let’s do this.

Here’s a porpoise.

And what the hell, this, because hell yes.

Uptones and Friends’ North Bay Fire Relief Benefit Follow-Up

The Uptones were motivated to get together by the horrible fires here in California. All of us have friends and family affected directly or indirectly by these disasters, so when Moose floated the idea of a benefit show at Ashkenaz, we pounced. As did our friends in Skank Bank, Matt Jaffe & the Distractions, and The Recyclists. We had a great turnout and a wonderful time and raised $1,780 for the fire relief effort. A huge thanks to everyone who attended or contributed from afar.

We donated the proceeds to the North Bay Fire Relief fund, run by Redwood Credit Union. You can learn about the fund and their efforts at https://www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief, and you can also donate there. For details about how they are distributing the funds they raise, here’s a direct link to that info. Fire survivors in need of assistance can apply for it there as well.

Ben suggested I deliver the checks in person, so I got in touch with Tracy Mooberry, who works for the group that manages the fund, and drove up to her office in Santa Rosa yesterday, and yes, we took a selfie.

$1,680 from the ticket sales and donations, and another check for $100 that one generous attendee at the event wanted to write directly to the relief fund.

We hope this helps at least in some small ways. Thankfully MANY others have stepped up and donated very generously to this and other organizations who are providing much needed help and relief where it’s needed. I’m also heartened to see how MANY musicians and artists immediately organized fundraising concerts and events. May our communities heal and recover. The love in the air is thicker than smoke.

AAAAAAAAUGH!!!

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.

Good morning.

Why?

It seems to me somewhere between absurd and offensive when politicians or pundits or anyone else claims to know when it is OK or not to talk about something. I think we can talk about anything we like whenever we like. Guns it is, now, again.

Gun stocks went up after the Vegas shooting, as they do with such events. The NRA represents gun manufacturers, and they profit from gun violence. I can’t imagine a more sinister organization.

I don’t like guns. I certainly don’t love them, as some people claim to. I find that sentiment bizarre, honestly, and even sick. Own them if you must, be responsible and careful with them, but love them? I don’t follow. I love my guitar, it’s an inanimate object too, and I love it. Cars, I understand loving cars, polluting and dangerous machines though they are, I still get it, the love part – connecting to freedom and mobility, the open road – I can love cars. But somehow America also has a love for guns. Why?

Guns are at best a necessary evil, made necessary simply because other people have them. They are instruments of self-defense or aggression, justice or oppression. Guns in the hands of potential enemies make necessary the having of guns. It’s an ugly circle that started long ago. But what they do is maim and kill. That’s their function. How does anyone love that? Perhaps they are using a definition of the word “love” that I am not familiar with.

Much has been said about this week’s calamity in Las Vegas. I keep hearing the word “investigate” – on NPR and elsewhere – they’re investigating to find out the motive behind the crime.

The guy snapped. He snapped as men sometimes do. People debate whether he was insane or not, of course he was insane. Anyone who does that is insane, or there is no such thing as insanity.

The weapons he had purchased under our lax gun laws made certain that he was able to kill and maim a maximum number of people when he snapped. That is because of the efforts of the NRA. Because of their complete success in preventing any reasonable gun regulations.

I’m not so interested in the motives of the guy who shot all those innocent people, after all we can only speculate. I am interested in the motives of the NRA. Is it just money? Because they sure are raking it in. And the more violent our society is, the more money the weapons manufactures make. What is behind their sociopathy, and why are so many congresspersons so readily purchased by them?

As for the psychology of why some men snap and do this sort of thing, I found this article –
Why The Vegas Shooting Happened, and Why Men Keep Doing This – by Charlie Hoehn, good food for thought. I’m not sure if I agree with all of his assertions and conclusions, but I am certain he’s talking about some of the root causes of these terrible acts. Loneliness and isolation do drive people crazy, and there’s a lot of loneliness and isolation to go around these days.

I’m weary of the killing, the hating, the endless propaganda and lying, the gerrymandering, bullying, bigoted monstrosities yelling at us to become less kind, less thoughtful, more angry, and more fearful. “Resistance” is a word we use often lately, and I embrace it and I’ll tell you my resistance today comes in the form of simple humble compassion and empathy for all beings. Sometimes we can and should affirm to ourselves and maybe others, that we will not have our humanity reduced because others have chosen darkness.

Another day, another opportunity to be kind and thoughtful and generous in the small or big ways that we can.

What the hell. After such a meandering post I suppose I’ll include my song about guns. This is one of the last studio recordings by The Uptones, from 2009 I think it was. Followed by an XTC song that offers a practical solution. And one from Nirvana just.. because. And then “Why?” by The Specials, from their final release, and, that just gave me the title for this post.

Be safe ya’ll. Peace and Love, already.

-Dinny


Here are some resources to defeat the NRA if you have time or some money to contribute:

Everytown for Gun Safety is an organization committed to opposing the NRA and enacting reasonable gun laws. I sent them twenty bucks. A drop in the bucket but hopefully it helps. Join me?

This Rolling Stone article from 2014 offers some strategies and 411: How to Beat the NRA In 7 (Not-So-Easy) Steps

The image below says it all. If someone knows who to credit it to, please let me know. Thanks.

Doing The Time Warp With Engine

One of my favorite bands in the roaring 90’s was this four-piece from Berkeley called Engine. Their name suited their music perfectly. They sounded like a well-tuned engine made of guitars and drums. They had that synergy some combos have that makes them sound bigger than the sum of their parts. I enjoyed watching them melt stages in San Francisco often, when the South of Market live music scene was in full swing both over- and under-ground. It was a good time for bands, and Engine gained a loyal following, recorded an album, and signed to Caroline Records. Boom, suddenly they had to change their name. Another band owned “Engine,” and I and other Engine fans were dismayed. I expect the band was too. Anyway, they quickly adjusted their name, and went on some major tours with Jawbreaker, Counting Crows and other hot acts of the time, did a few more records and then disbanded. Reunited recently to play the big “Riot Fest” concert in Chicago, they decided to book a Bay Area show as well. I have my ticket. It’ll probably sell out, so I’d suggest getting yours now if you want to go. Somewhat rare in the world of band reunions, they have all four original members, the only four guys in the band at any stage back in the day. I think that’s neat. Also somewhat rare among rock bands, they don’t do any covers. I don’t think they ever did. They wrote all of their material, and each song frames the others, creating a sort of Engine-world that you can walk into and explore. I visited there often, and I look forward to jumping down that rabbit hole on Oct. 21. There’s talk of more gigs, and I would love to see that as well, but, there’s also talk that the earth is flat, so, you know, don’t sleep on it. Oh, one more silly thing. They were called “Alternative” as a genre, as was anything with a guitar after Nirvana. I think when “Alternative” became a popular music genre name, the American music biz began its final descent into total brain-death. The band plays Rock music. Or Punk, if you must. Now that’s sorted. A great band with a name they had to change, filed under “Alternative,” with lyrics about identity crises and alienation. It’s perfect. Oh, and their guitar and bass riffs are killer. And they’re my friends. Here’s the FB event page. Bye now.

A Wee Dream About My Not Wee Dad

Had a dream last night that my dad was dying, and we were all in the house I grew up in on Josephine Street in Berkeley. In reality my dad died suddenly about two years ago while I was away. The dream was nice and as these things go, his presence was very life-like and seemingly real. He texted me, which is funny, because he never actually used text messages. In my dream, he texted me from the next room, even though we were having a vocal conversation at the same time, as people do these days. He wrote: “Deep clay.”

We talked a little about how people live on in their loved ones’ memories, and I felt then a sense of responsibility somehow, to remember him as accurately as I can. I don’t believe I have ever had that particular thought, before this dream. Luckily it’s not hard to remember him, as I had the good fortune of knowing my dad very well. And he was quite unique, not an easy person to forget. This was a nice visit, although a little strange. He knew, in the dream, that he was dying, and he seemed not entirely concerned about it. As for what he texted me, I’ll just leave that without expressing an interpretation of it, for the words are fine just as they are.