Monday, November 19, 2018

Navigating The Holidays

I don’t necessarily expect most of you to understand or relate to this, but for many of us out there, this week begins the toughest period of the year (it extends through the New Year). The “Holidays” mean something entirely different to many of us, meaning that they're not a particularly uplifting time and we do our best to navigate the trenches of childhood trauma and the ghosts of holidays past and get through them. Please remember that some of us willfully choose to isolate during this time of year. Please don’t take it personally if we don’t accept your offer to dine. Please don't think it's okay to push us or guilt us into taking part.

That being said, some people need the exact opposite. There are many who aren’t coping as well and some of those people don’t have homes or families or communities to visit. The silence that can accompany Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.; for those who find themselves alone, can be devastating. This year, as we are amidst in record suicide and addiction rates, perhaps we can make a more concerted effort to step up our game. Maybe we can reach out to those “Holiday Orphans” we all know and check on them. You might even ask them to join you. The caveat being, of course, if they say no, please don't take it personally. The trick, I suppose, is to really take the time to find out what the people you love need. It's not easy, but love is never easy.

To others in my tribe feeling the heaviness of this time of year: Hang in there. It’ll be over soon.

Friday, November 16, 2018

"The Last Time"

In the hills above the murky waters flowing with the blood of ancestors and madmen and jilted lovers, we found a dirt path leading up the side and down into the old, dirty town. We scurried along, kicking bottles and rocks, seeing children playing in dying fields, dogs missing legs, with hunger and desperation in their eyes.

I finally found the guy, sitting in the back of a rusted out Ford Ranchero. His smile was more welcoming than threatening. My middle school Spanish proved useless, but he knew what we wanted.

We waited for a few minutes, watching birds pick at a carcass under a straw umbrella nearby, with the nauseating smell of death hanging in the air.

“This is the last time, baby,” she scolded.

“Of course,” I lied. I studied her eyes, doing my best to ignore the tears welling up.

Pretty soon, I was in the front seat of that rust bucket, elbow in the cup holder, eyes half-mast, waiting for sweet oblivion. Out of the corner, I could see her wearily being led away into a room to pay off my sickness.

Maybe death chases us from the day we’re born. My father always told me that some secrets should stay buried, but I can’t think of that day now without sobbing like a baby. The ghosts are never far away; always ready to feed on whatever is left of your soul.

Sometimes, before nodding off, I call out her name, in a sobbing bestial wail, to an empty sky or a god that knows my sins. In the end, it’s always useless.

But wherever you are tonight, please forgive me. I am sick again, my love. Thirty years of sickness. But I promise, this is the last time..

(note: This is obviously fiction)

Friday, June 22, 2018

On Complicity And Denial

One great shame of American politics is that it forces anyone who dares to undertake an authentic examination of our history, culture and values, to tear apart the carefully orchestrated origin story we've fictionalized for so long to suit our own emotional needs. It requires that we lay bare the kinds of things we were forced to absorb as children; a history that was constructed to make us feel better, as long as we didn't have to look too close at the foundation or the collapsing brickwork of our deluded narrative.

I don't believe much has changed when I see the self-congratulatory claptrap being taught to young people today; and any glance of the evening news will feature a Pathological Narcissist and Presidential Man-Child, wielding his insecurity as a weapon, demanding that everyone play the game he wants to play on the playground while he manipulates the rules to his advantage as he goes along. Sadly, one of the biggest lies we continue to tell empathetic children in 2018 is that they could someday grow up to be President.

Someday, I hope we'll have the courage to be honest with ourselves about who we are and where we're headed. Until then, it will continue to get uglier and more polarized and abrasive; and we'll continue to deny that the house is on fire.. or even worse, those of us so psychologically attached to this narrative will attempt to call on some notion of greatness and insist that it'll be fine (safe to say that they're the most isolated). It can't be - Not until every last one of us is willing to relinquish our childhood attachment to a carefully constructed lie and recreate a world that works for everyone and excludes no one.

I don't have much faith in this possibility. A rigorous moral and cultural self-examination is Painful. Illusion is a warm blanket we've had since childhood. We like our heroes and our story too much to examine, let alone abandon them. Truth is a necessary casualty.

Complicity and Denial. They're both one hell of a drug.



Monday, January 22, 2018

"The Trains At Our Parties Are The Best In Rome. They're The Best Because They Go Nowhere..."

Watching Paolo Sorrentino's masterpiece "The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza)" with my morning coffee. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

It's a film set against the breathtaking backdrop of Rome - with striking, picturesque shots of the Eternal City throughout - but it's focus quickly turns inward; on the inherent loneliness of a writer's human condition, even in the midst of his own narcissism, self-loathing and nocturnal discomfort. The various gatherings and bacchanals of the grotesque, self-absorted Roman upper class (his social circle) prove to be a kind of charade. Even the decadence masks loneliness.

The meaning is found in the passion; in being a connoisseur of Art, in the fleeting nature of love, sex and human connection, and in savoring those rare, simple moments where human beings can overcome their fear and crippling self-doubt just long enough to take off their masks.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Moments.

As I've said before, the world is not perfect, and no one is going to absolve you of loneliness or stand between you and death. Life can be cruel and unfair and disputatious, but still, there are spaces for unfathomable beauty. There are these really good moments that happen in a life; moments of profound connection, moments of considerable gratitude, moments of feeling completely at home in this bulging, lopsided, high-tech, low-touch world.

It’s in that first kiss or that rolling landscape out of the car window or in the last three seconds of your favorite song. Even in a time of elephantine greed, where tribal differences and sanguinary rhetoric seem to create an insurmountable chasm between us, there are daily triumphs, moments where human kindness seems like the strongest force in the universe; where magic seems to permeate the veil and the glowing light of human potential spills through all the cracks and bridges that all too painful distance between fear and love.

I guess what I'm trying to say this morning, is if you have something, anything, to hold on to in this word; a dream, a hope, a goal, the joy and laughter of your children or the arms of someone who is brave enough to love you for exactly who you are.. hold the f*ck on and don’t let go. This ride ends, y’all.

Go out and be Amazing today. I Love You somethin' fierce..

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Find Your People, Take The Ride..

One of the most melancholic realizations I’ve come to with advancing age is that you can’t make old friends. I’m sure a lot of people are meant to drift in-and-out of your life, but some of them leave a mark that stays with you: it gets in your clothes and your soul and it stains, like coffee or blood.

Throughout this blessed banquet of life, I’ve been lucky enough, at various intervals, to meet the kind of people who could use the power of art and love and language to describe world’s beyond my own internal humdrum suburbia (I won't name names here, because I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable). The kind of people who, when you hear them passionately converse, or when you exchange ideas, it’s like they're singing private arias to you about the beauty and mystery and immensity of life. The connection is so Real, they feel like a travel guide for your soul.

When you were younger and idealistic about possibilities, being with these kinds of people was like sitting next to a movie trailer for your future – if you could somehow summon the courage to buy the ticket and take the ride. There were cultural and poetic and spiritual exchanges with them that you can recall in their entirety. They awakened you. They challenged you. They inspired you. They excited you. It felt like Promethean fire. These are the kind of people that Handed you things that could change your life- books and records and films – things that you knew from the second you held them in your hand were gonna blow your freaky mind.

For me, these were also the same kind of people who stuck around after my bands played shows and helped me come down and drift into a sacred space and rechannel my crazy stage energy. You know who I’m talking about.. The 2 A.M. people (holler if you here me.. but not too loud, you might wake somebody up!). You’d go back to each other’s places, and after all that noise, they’d sit you down and play Captain Beefheart or Marie Queenie Lyons or Ornette Coleman or Townes Van Zandt for you for the first time. Quiet moments of sharing and discovery, like love notes being passed back and forth. Records just sound different and more magical in the wee small hours. These are the people you’d see a Godard film with for the first time and then talk about it over coffee for four hours. The people you'd pour the contents of your soul out to. The guy who wasn’t afraid to be a loud, drunken romantic poet. Or the girl who you had a crush on who told you that Nine Stories was just as important as Catcher In The Rye and then launched into a passionate dissertation.

I guess, if we’re being real, people like them run the gamut from deep momentary connections to rabble-rousing real deal soulmates, but whatever you want to call them, they had (and still have) the power to change the way you looked at everything. They were the ones you could tell out loud all the jokes you’d been laughing to in your head your entire life.

I've always secretly hoped I've been that person to someone along their journey. But, either way, if you find that connection, I beg you: just dive into it, baby. Go all in. Take the ride. And then write about it or sing about it or make a film about it. Because we all need to feel a little less lonely, and we all want to believe that there’s still a little magic out there in the realm of human connection..



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Don't Take The Red Pill -- It's Bullshit.

I'd like to say otherwise, but I found “The Red Pill” to be rather insulting. I tried hard to put my confirmation bias aside and strive to accept something I couldn’t understand, but, as the film progressed, I continued to grow more and more angry at how effortlessly these men were able to blame complex communication problems in our societal structure directly on women. In my mind’s rigidity, I began to liken most of these people to American Islamists. What they were espousing, though veiled in transparently false notions of equality and compassion, seemed to represent moral cowardice of the highest order. Over and over, the film featured men griping about losing power and control. What these men failed to acknowledge, at all, was the fact that before the war on drugs or the war on terror, there had long been a protracted war waged against female empowerment and sexual desire. The number of victims is impossible to calculate: suffice to say it is in the Billions. And like every other stupid thing we continue to wage war on, it’s a war that won’t be won because it’s a misguided war against nature itself. Yet, there was no acknowledgement of this fact from the Men’s Right’s Advocates featured. At all.

What I’d like to tell these “Red Pill-ers” is: Contrary to your beliefs, women Are sexual creatures and they Are Not property. For thousands of years, men around the world have gone to ludicrous lengths to attempt to control the female libido; everything from witch burning to genital mutilation to suffocating corsets to paternalistic insults about “insatiable” sluts and whores. For hundreds of years, the amount of debilitating scorn heaped upon any woman who had chosen to be more generous or free or open with her sexuality was met with absolute male resistance and, more often than not, dominance and control. This paradigm remains intact in many parts of the world, as anyone who has seen what cruel and repressive Islamic Theocracies have done to woman living under their control (which often includes rape, torture, and murder, among other unmentionable things), knows full well.

Look, I understand that the comparison may be offensive. I’m not really trying to say you’re a member of the Taliban or something, but I do hope you’re at least willing to consider that your unhappiness is not the fault of women, whether it be a particular woman, societal customs and norms, or the female population in general (you really frighten me if you think like that).

But here’s an alternative idea, fellas - If you find yourself disgruntled and depressed about the amount, or the lack of sexual/romantic opportunity in your life, stop blaming women. Instead, you could perhaps work to insure that women have Full Equal Access to power, wealth, status, respect, dignity, opportunity, etc. Make that happen.. and then watch the magic. Your communication and your circumstances are likely to greatly improve.