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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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
OK peculiar food confessions? Sometimes I really love V8. I mean over top freakout obsess love savor and gulp V8. Also, cottage cheese with pineapple. Lo-fat cottage cheese with pineapple chunks from a can. Instant summer and takes me to childhood back in the innocent days of Nixon and Viet Nam when things were normal. Wait. Wow, I totally digressed there. No matter. One of my sweet cats is dying, Chris Cornell just died, a David Brooks column just made sense to me (!!??) so, why pretend to be organized in my thoughts? It’s mayhem, chaos. The age of too much information has caught up with me. Remember the Police song, Too Much Information? Sting singing about being overwhelmed with info in like, 1981? How quaint! There’s no need for research anymore, or paragraphs. Make up your own facts, it’s easy! I myself am a ten foot tall lizard alien sent to make contact with William Shatner. Believe me. Everything is on blast, our little devices cue us to say “talk later” or “can’t talk now” or “fuck you and the horse you rode in on” and it’s so easy to mistakenly hit the wrong one. You could end a marriage or start WW3 with a butt-tweet and the machines will be none the wiser. Artificial intelligence? We have artificial stupidity and it’s congealed into a ridiculous orange zeppelin, crashing and burning in slow motion while an ancient radio voice cries, “oh the humanity.” It gets top ratings and ad revenues are brisk. I also like sourdough. Sourdough with gluten. Sourdough and Brie and white wine in California in springtime. Still there are birds.
Things have become so ridiculous politically, it’s basically impossible to keep track of appalling developments. But I was happy to read an article this morning by a Republican former judge and rational conservative, Mark P. Painter. The headline is plain, It’s time to impeach Trump. His points are unassailable and he says “Horsefeathers.” No opportunity to say “Horsefeathers” should be missed but I digress.
There’s something comical about Russia sabotaging our election to their liking, in much the same way the USA has done to other countries around the world over the years. The GOP’s greatest 20th century hero, Ronald Reagan, “won” the cold war, so the GOP narrative goes, and now, 30-some years later, Russia’s favorite oaf slouches in Reagan’s chair.
As a lifelong leftie liberal democratic socialist environmentalist hippie ska-punkin’ tree-huggin’ critter-lovin’ peacenik and registered Democrat, I am fascinated by the collapse of the GOP. Grand old party. It’s not looking grand. It’s certainly old.
I had a grand old great-uncle who was a conservative. He took me fishing and gave me beer when I was like, 9 or something. Totes loved the dude. He voted Republican mostly and he was a WW2 vet and successful attorney. I remember him to be a reasonable man. A funny and clever man. He regretted voting for Nixon and applauded his impeachment. I can’t begin to imagine what he would think, now.
We argued once about legalizing pot. I smoked it at the time, when it was still illegal. “Why are your bourbon and cigar legal, and pot is not?” I pestered. I encouraged him to listen to reggae and bongload, also to no avail. It was almost a non-event in November of 2016, when marijuana became officially legal in California and elsewhere. The law is just catching up with long-established reality. But I wonder if my conservative lawyer great-uncle would try it now. I like to think of him giggling uncontrollably like a teenager before earnestly ordering pizza and listening to Led Zeppelin 1 over and over again.
My grand old great-uncle would be dismayed by current events, but it wouldn’t stop him fishing. It wouldn’t stop him arguing his case in or out of court. He would say “Horsefeathers.” He used to say things like that. And “bag of worms.” Yes, he said “bag of worms,” and on one occasion I distinctly remember him saying “Poppycock.”
Bill McKibben calls it a “War On Climate Change” now, in this age of “War On” every little thing. I guess that might get more attention to this single most important subject in the history of everything. From Democracy Now! this morning:
Here’s an excerpt of the part I find most important in RE: how we vote in November:
Bernie refused to concede. He didn’t back down. He didn’t do what everyone told him he should do. He kept in the race through the final meeting about the platform in Orlando two weeks before the convention. And he did that in order to ensure that he’d have leverage in those discussions..
..And as a result, by staring them down, the platform, at the last-minute, turned markedly more progressive. Among other things, there’s a call in there for an emergency climate summit within the first hundred days of a new administration, designed to — and it says this in the platform — mobilize us for something like a World War II approach to climate change. We’ll see if we can hold them to it.
– Bill McKibben
That is one reason I am following through with my support for Bernie Sanders, by voting for the Democratic Party ticket in 2016. And then this year can be over please, thank you.
There is a certain sick entertainment value to having a presidential candidate tweet at 3AM that Miss America is fat. And that many Americans seem determined to elect a boy with no qualifications and every horrible trait a person can have. Charles M. Blow in his NYT column articulates this perfectly. There’s a certain hilarity to the fact that grown persons want to provide a maladjusted toddler with nuclear weapons.
In the race also, are two other candidates. The Libertarian doesn’t know the name of a single foreign leader and he’s a right-wing nut. Yet he’ll pull some votes from right and left, and this too is good for an uneasy chuckle. We also have a Green Party candidate who will pull a significant number of votes away from the sole qualified candidate in the race, Hillary Clinton.
The laughing stops when you realize that most of the unworthy brat’s followers will vote for him, no matter what he says or does. And that many rational people seem to be missing this point, as they prepare to make protest votes for candidates who are not only unqualified, but also have exactly no chance of winning a single state. Thus, the unworthy brat can win. It is not funny.
There was one other qualified candidate in the race, his name is Bernie Sanders. He has endorsed and is campaigning for Hillary Clinton. I agree with him, and I am voting Dem even here in sunny “Blue State” California. Because this election is weird. It’s so weird it makes weird look normal. Anything could happen, and it’s an emergency situation. We must not allow our nation to be led and represented by its most horrible specimen.
To abandon the Democratic Party nominee in the general election would be to render all the efforts we made behind Bernie Sanders a complete waste. Please don’t do that. Please vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, support her campaign in whatever ways you can, and encourage others to do so. After that business is done, we can address everything else, but first we must put a grown-up in the White House. And hopefully bury the GOP down the entire ticket for ever subjecting us to this shameful display.