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:

A Rant, A Rant By Any Other Name

I’m behind on my blogging. Can this happen? Yes. Why do I blog? I do it Because. Because, is the reason. It is the same reason I make songs, or records, or little forts for cats to play in. Because is the best reason to do anything. I don’t blog here for the money. There are no ads on this site even though I get notes from companies saying “Don’t waste your traffic! Monetize your site today!” They want to put click-bait ads in front of my “users” (IE, readers, friends, you) and I don’t wish to do this. It isn’t worth the pennies to have them muck up the experience here and make it annoying. You can donate if you want to encourage my blogging, how about that? I’ll put up a “you can donate” widget. Entirely optional. Unlike the New York Times and other storied publications, I don’t track you and make you pay a buck after you’ve read ten articles or whatever. Who reads ten of my posts anyway? Have I even made that many posts? Oh my, yes, I just counted. 112 posts! Since I started this blog. It’s a regular institution.

Sometimes I can’t keep to the “one idea per post” format, and I bleat instead like a column, in the old Herb Caen sense. Many little observations and thoughts. This reduces the possibility of being read even further, and amplifies my sense of a tree falling in the woods. At the point one feels one is talking to oneself, one can speak freely, and perhaps should not.

Circling back, you are not “users,” you are not “traffic,” you are people, and I like you. So I wont subject you to click-bait here. There’s a permanent tsunami of corporations and individuals desperately trying to get one second of our attention any way they can and make part of a penny for their efforts. It’s gotten so even respected publications like the BBC use click-bait headlines, because I guess they feel they have to, in order to stay competitive. It sucks and the world is bad. I’m not prone to overstatement. Stop reading, now. I warned you.

Click-bait. Here’s the thing. I wrote a detailed and exhaustive article about this, some time ago. It is the definitive text on the subject, and I am waiting for my Nobel Prize. Here it is, if you want to learn more: Top 5 Reasons Why Click-Bait Is Responsible For The Demise Of Everything

You’re welcome.

More Complaining

There are many ways to release music these days, and all of them are wrong. Some are less bad in some ways, others simply horrible. The on-demand service that is the best for end-user experience IMO, is still Spotify. But they are also among the most determined to make all the money they can, pay out as little to music rights-holders as possible, burn through as many rounds of investors as they can bilk, getting absurdly rich on other peoples’ intellectual property and money before finally sinking. The CEO is a billionaire, I think. His name is Ek. He has made a billion and a half or so, from a company that is not profitable, and likely will not ever be. Other start-up chiefs also sit on vast fortunes for creating companies which only ever lost money. It’s comical, really. The new economy. Fail big. The executives are part of the loss. Pay them lots of money to try and launch a thing that can never actually stand up on its own. Genius.

Apple Music is different. The interface is dreadful but it has a large and growing user-base, and they don’t need to make money on the streaming service itself. Apple Music can lose money forever and Apple will never hurt from it, because they sell iThingys, and besides they have more money than God. Will they pay artists and songwriters a fair share because they can? Or will they too be greedy because it’s so fashionable to be greedy? I can see the boardroom discussion, all three seconds of it: “Should we increase royalty payouts to music rights-holders?” Short pause before entire room erupts in laughter and “Oh that’s a good one! Haha you say funny thing!” No, they will likely pay more only when forced to by law. But at least they have the option to be fair, and not have it ruin their business model. Maybe they’d even do the right thing, because doing the right thing is, well, right? Maybe?

For Spotify, ethics and fairness simply don’t come into it. The corporate rule is: Make money for your shareholders. If that is impossible to begin with, then where do you cut as much as possible? Music creators, of course! Let them starve. Corporations must have their fancy employee lounges and bonuses and team-building sex-yoga retreats in Bali. Spotify will burn through another billion and then tank, you heard it here. They’ll get bought by a bigger leviathan, be it Google or Amazon or whomever, or they’ll simply croak in a few years. Someone with a business model that doesn’t depend on streaming music will probably tack Spotify onto their brand to add “value” for their users. Then they’ll work out clever ways to not pay the artists and songwriters anyway, but by then the oceans will be swamping us and catastrophic weather events will be daily occurrences so who cares about any of this? I told you to stop reading. Oh, about our democracy. It all depends on voting in 2018. If the “Blue Wave” is significant enough, we can save the country and slow the end of civilization a wee bit, which still seems like a worthy thing to do. Stop reading.

The best thing about running my own blog with no editor is I can say absolutely whatever I want. It’s also a problem. You don’t know how careful I’ve been. You see, I really do NOT subscribe to the “no filter” approach to life. Yes, filter. Everyone filter, please, and let’s be careful what we say. Then life will be better. The bro-nonsense “no filter” attitude gave us today’s reality-TV “government.” I put government in quotes because they aren’t governing. They are destroying government, in cynical and nihilistic spasms of acute and total stupidity. Everyone will look back and say, gee, maybe we should have the EPA and State Dept. staffed with motivated and well qualified people, for the well-being of our society and the future of the world and our children, but, NO! They have to find out the hard way that this is stupid, and Putin is laughing his rectangular head off. Americans wrapped in the flag and waving crosses support a president who publicly licks the boots of foreign dictators. The opposite of patriotism, posing as patriotism. Hell, at least people who supported Reagan actually DID love the USA, in their way. They may have been nuts with their “trickle down” economics bile, but they weren’t traitors. No filter, indeed. I hope we get to the other side of this in decent enough shape that matters such as royalty rates and fairness in the music business don’t seem like trivial deck chairs on a Titanic of State plunging burning and broken into the freezing pitch-dark depths of oblivion.

Ahem.

Here is a rabbit.

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

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.

Ranty McRantface Walks In The Cemetery, Again

Today’s delightful morning read was How America Lost Its Mind. Posting without comment. I have nothing to add as yet. On to other subjects, and possible rant, as coffee sets in.

My solo recordings are now in Pandora, so you can make an Eric Din channel and wowza it’ll take you to all sortsa related musics magically selected from their vast music genome. I listened for a bit and one thing that popped up was Critical Mass, with my good friend Michael Valladares! Approval. You can hear my tracks on-demand if you have a premium account there, or just jump on the “radio” train and see where it takes you. Here’s a link.

Walked in the cemetery again, this time with a friend. We enjoyed reading headstones aloud, especially the older ones. One feature we noticed is when married couples share the same headstone, it’s almost always the husband’s name first. Often it’s in larger type than the “loving wife”‘s name. Patriarchy even in death. I wondered aloud what arguments and discussions did or didn’t take place, when the bereaved families were having those stones designed and carved.

I especially love the old, retired names. No one calls their child Abernathy or Cornelius anymore, but perhaps they should. Josephine and Winnifred top my list. Sebastian, already. I might have a kid, just so I can have a Sebastian.

Reality, what a thing. Facts. Truth. A square is a square, a circle is a circle. That, and that the earth is round, and that child slave-colonies do not exist secretly on Mars, these little facts have always been part of the steady foundation of reason and science that we wake up and go to sleep in. Gravity in its reliability is a law, not a theory, and it wont keep you on the ground less, if someone tweets that it is fake.

Everything is upside down. It can’t last, and thank god (or whatever you may like to thank) that facts are permanent and indelible whether they are known or not, and that lies remain lies no matter how often they are repeated by how ever many raving madmen.

Will the Constitution of the United States serve its function, now that the test case it was designed for is upon us? Will the men and women who populate the checks and balances remove the tumor? Either way, vulgarity and baseness have taken on a legitimacy for some, that I didn’t expect to see, really, in this lifetime. In fact it’s odd, that some “conservatives” have become so foul-mouthed and uncouth, when in my youth, I remember the older conservative types generally frowned upon using foul language and they’d tell their kids to “wash your mouth out with soap” if they said naughty words. I wish they’d be around to hear the Mooch guy, whatever his name was, shortest white house career ever. Now that was entertaining.

That’s when I realized this is not a government at all. Our federal government is set to “Away.” It’s a “reality TV” show driven by ratings and advertising revenue, with a cast of cynical and insane clowns who hate each other, wielding immense power while staggering in random and unpredictable ways like drunk children fighting over a flame-thrower.

A zombie apocalypse would be benign by comparison. Will the Union survive this? We’ve survived many challenges. This is a new one. All our awful presidents plus the good ones all had this thing in common: A desire to serve for the good of the nation, as they perceived it. I didn’t agree with many of them, but they clearly felt what they did was not exclusively in their own self-interest, but also for a greater good of some kind, for at least some cross-section of the public, if not for everyone. Anyway that’s gone, for now. What ever will happen next?

Popcorn sales are brisk.

Everything Is Wrong (Except The Things That Are Not)

The number of Wrong things is mounting. Each horror makes the others seem trivial by comparison. It’s Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” on gasoline. Each day we go to sleep and things have reached a new level of absurdity. Then in the morning, we wake up and things are twice as absurd again. We live in an article from The Onion and satire has lost its outline.

So we navigate our days, looking after ourselves and our communities the best we can.

In my corner of things that matter less than the demise of everything, we find the music biz becoming increasingly even more absurd (yes, it is possible). One Chris Castle has just posted a breakdown of what the corporate busy-bodies are trying to do now. Read it here with air-sickness bag.

Meanwhile the Democratic Party has come up with a slogan so tepid it makes skim milk look like your favorite beer. Get another air-sickness bag. Ready? Here it is:

“A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.”

They spent money and did focus groups to come up with that. Shut up. Look, the orange buffoon has a slogan. It’s meaningless and stupid but it’s a slogan, and a lot of people relate to it and it helped him only lose the popular vote by about 3 million. Slogans can help. The Democratic Party needs some help. A good slogan would help. This one is shite. I am sad.

What else, lead singers committing suicide. Chester Bennington, on his friend Chris Cornell’s birthday, in the same way, are you kidding me? Send in the zombies already, this can’t be real. These guys are so loved and so successful and so talented, what would make them miserable enough to do that? I do grieve for them and pre-dismiss any snarks about them. Clearly they had their reasons. Clearly they meant business. More sadness.

The unpresident wants to pardon himself. That’s great, I appreciate his work as a comedian. Firing everyone and everyone lawyering up against each other and doing exactly nothing good for anyone. It makes me think, for some reason, of the vacuum-beast in Yellow Submarine, which sucks up everything and everyone around itself until everything is gone and he stands there alone. Don’t go near that thing.

Small good things. One small good thing at a time. We can do these things and they have meaning and they help. Yesterday morning I saw a woman’s car stalled on a freeway off-ramp and a man was preparing to help push her car to safety. I pulled over and got out and helped. Lo and behold the guy was an old friend of mine, Steve Lew, fellow musician and fact-enthusiast. We chatted as the nice woman waited for a tow, we caught up and went on our merry ways. It felt nice. Steve sent me a young guitar student earlier this year. I recently taught her to play Ziggy Stardust. This made her very happy. This made me happy. The Gods smiled and were happy. Now I am happy. Good morning.

Ranty McRantface In The Age Of Contradictory Advice

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.

And here is the Great One:

Rantyface, out.

I Blog, Therefor I Rant

Good lord. I hear on NPR this morning that the Koch brothers, and some of the congresspersons they own, are dissatisfied with the health care elimination bill because they feel it is not “conservative enough.” First let’s dispense with “conservative” and never use that word again. They don’t like the bill because it’s insufficiently sadistic. Not enough people harmed and killed, not enough despair for their liking. The GOP requires maximum carnage and suffering among the working and middle classes, the young, the old, the poor, the ill, the struggling, and all women. They work to harm people, because it pleases them to harm people. How else to slice it? They don’t need any more money. Fiscal conservatism doesn’t come into it. They want to take away your health coverage because they don’t like you.

Poor and middle class white persons will be dumped like landfill alongside the poor of every race that the ass-hat in chief publicly insulted to win the Bigot vote. Now they too will see the real face of the GOP in power, and some will still screech “make America great! etc” even as they finally lose the health coverage they so desperately wanted to lose because it was signed into law by a black man.

I’m out here on the coast, in my “bubble,” knowing full well that progressive thought is dismissed or even reviled by so many of the very people who have benefited from it since labor unions and social welfare programs were invented. Socialism, the dirty word of post-cold-war hysteria, is the thing we drive our cars on. The pavement, the signs that point us to Los Angeles or Albuquerque or explain that it’s a one-way road, it is all socialism, my dears. So I suppose public roads too must be eliminated. Public schools, the DMV, everything, the Golden Gate Bridge. All of it has to be shut down or privatized because it is socialism, and socialism is Bad. I feel better now that I understand.

In sum, 2016 saw the single dumbest decision in the history of humankind. What is more, President Obama was a great president who was as reviled by the racists he so diligently tried to help, as he was under-appreciated by many of my fellow left-coasty wine-sipping progressives for whom nothing is good enough. The Brexit vote in the UK was similar. These elections depict a humanity that has gone insane. It’s a mass movement of masochism. It basically said, “things are not difficult enough for us, may we please also be flogged?” The GOP is happy to oblige.

The opinions expressed here are mine alone and I apologize for breathing. I’m glad that Mother Nature bats last. Once Upon A Time, The End