Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"Is A Dream A Lie If It Don't Come True, Or Is It Something Worse?"

When I was probably 12 years old, I started to spend the money I earned doing little odd jobs on records. I had memories of growing up listening to the "Born In The USA" record in my Dad's truck a few years earlier. It was the one thing, besides Baseball, that we could always agree on and talk about.

That summer, over the course of two days, I brought home two used records by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band: "The River" and "Darkness On The Edge Of Town." I probably bought them, in a way, to try desperately to somehow be closer to my Dad, who was drifting further and further away. The kicker is: It brought me closer to Knowing Myself than anything else I'd ever come across. Both records were an absolute game changer for me. I sat there, headphones on, mesmerized by the vivid imagery of an America I longed for in my heart; a place where men found meaning through faith and work and wore their hearts on their sleeves.

Springsteen's music whispered "strap on your boots, keep fighting for what you believe in, the magic is gonna find you, you're gonna be alright." It made me realize that you could strip away the layers of the fashion show and be vulnerable and honest, that you could pour your own heart and story into the music and it would be better for it. It was like a sonic salvation or a rock n' roll baptism, peppered with acoustic heartache and the kind of raw sincerity that was so lacking in the pop music I heard on the radio. It sounds ridiculous, but those records were also a revelation because they helped me to begin to understand that it was possible to use music to navigate through the dark spaces of my own life until that sacred light emerged emerge and the healing waters soothed me. It was church for me.

There were many years after that, listening to punk rock or God Knows what else, that I was too cool to admit to liking the E Street Band. But no matter where I've been in my life, no matter what I was struggling with or evolving into becoming, I could always throw my headphones on and find my way back to Church to Feel The Real.

And the older I get, the more it means..

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Boogie Man.

Listen, the Boogie Man we've been collectively calling "2016" is more properly called "Addiction" and/or "Under-Treated Mental Illness." It's as Real as can be, and it's keeping a great many of us from not only reaching our fullest potential, but from actually growing old.

We can eulogize the genius of the creative people we've loved and lost to "2016", but let us not fail to absorb the bracing reality that undercuts their tragic passing.

What I want to say is This: If you need Help - If you need a friend or an ear or someone to help push you in the direction of getting some sort of treatment, to take you to a meeting, to connect you with people that can help: I'm here. And I hope you are there, too, for the people you love struggling with these demons in and around your life. Listen to them. Encourage them. Love them. Let them know you care about them so damn much. Love them until it hurts.

And perhaps we should consider honoring the people we've already lost, both in the world of the arts and in our own lives, by demanding better access to quality Mental Health Care from our elected leaders. Perhaps we should be more careful and judicious about criminalizing addiction and destroying the lives of young people who are struggling through an Unimaginable Hell.

Baby Steps. One day at a time. Unfortunately, one of the melancholic lessons we reluctantly absorb as we move through this life is that Wisdom and Grace come on slowly, while pain, anger and longing hit the heart and brain with electrical speed.

Maybe this is the time to be radically compassionate. The only chance we have of beating these things is by Loving Each Other.


"We are not cured. What we have is a daily reprieve, contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition."