Prelude To Servitude

PRELUDE:   “Get out of my car,” I said evenly to the pledge. “Why?” “You can’t say that in my car.” “What, nigger?” “Yeah.” “Man, I’ve got lots of black friends. There’s a difference between blacks and niggers.” “Get the fuck out of my car,” I demanded. As the door closed behind him I shook my head in disgust, knowing it was a lost cause.

Twenty-years later they built the fence around our fraternity house the angry white minority of our brotherhood always wanted. Our fraternity house sits precariously along a set of railroad tracks separating the Haves from the Have-Nots.

The fence stands eight-feet tall and for everything I detest in this world. It stands against the laws of goodness, unity and acceptance. It stands as a symbol to the failings of our brotherhood and white men everywhere. For there is no need to accept and understand others once you’ve built a wall to exclude them.

I grew tired of explaining my “liberal” perspective and moved West to live in an exceptionally white town with a liberal white majority. Since then I’ve spent fourteen blissful years living a nature lover’s utopian dream, insulating myself from the reality of America’s shrinking middle-class and rising income inequity – which I believe to be the two main reasons for our nation’s current social unrest. Propagated by the natural extension of an unchecked, rampant Neo-Capitalist system that consolidates wealth in the top 1% by protecting millionaires, billionaires, Wall Street, insurance companies, big-business and multinational corporations – America’s middle class has weakened and become less financially secure. It’s this growing income disparity that has generated the mass-insecurity from which an angry and defiant Trump campaign has grown.

And so, our day of reckoning has arrived in the form of a hate-spewing, Neo-Capitalist businessman… and sadly, I as part of the politically inactive silent white majority know I’m complicit, by failing to actively support minorities and defend the democratic principals all working-class Americans owe our wealth, security and good fortune to.

My point being, the time has come for America’s silent white majority to take responsibility for their inaction and stand tall against the angry white minority who wish to build a wall of division in our country and along our Southern boarder.

Now is the time to scream, “Get the fuck out of my car!” to silence those who stand for Trump and against the American principal of, “liberty and justice for all” which unites our nation.

TO:

Now I ask you, who’s exhibiting “violent tendencies” here?

What scares me the most about this incident is that the officer honestly believes he did his job to the best of his ability and was justified in his actions. While it’s possible be critical of this woman’s reluctance to close her door, I would suggest that she had good reason to be scared and “uncooperative” as the events and discussion that followed ultimately proved.

Earlier today I read about a white male being discriminated against for having too high of an IQ Score to become a police officer. A state judge ruled against his appeal on the grounds that highly intelligent officers are more likely to quit the force after receiving expensive police training, which is a waste of state resources.

Good thing that cop from the video was hired instead, right? When did our country begin devaluing intellect and favoring mental mediocrity? I’m sorry, but I struggle to think of one vocation that benefits from a less intelligent labor force. Personally I’d argue that public safety, being the primary reason for police officers in the first place, benefits substantially when guns are in the hands of officers with “excessive” intellect,  rather than tactical training. Of course, basic morality and steady judgement would be nice too!

This video absolutely breaks my heart. Every action and reaction on both sides of the encounter is driven by fear. Both the woman and the officer fear for their safety which culminates in a disgusting show of what our law enforcement officials commonly consider “justifiable force.”

Personally, I think race relations on an individual basis are better today in our nation than ever before. There is more genuine openness and acceptance within our populace than the media or our personal news streams suggest, as America is becoming more diverse every day.

The real problems that need addressing are institutional. We have a top-down problem that’s perpetuated by a shrinking white majority that’s fearful of losing power, status and wealth. Scared of losing control, they’ve begun justifying their actions and governance by blaming minorities for our nation’s problems while systematically infringing on their civil liberties.

This bigotry and xenophobia is born from the same racist sentiment that’s plagued our nation since its inception – and it’s this fear which manifests as hatred that has brought about the rise of every Nationalist movement that’s ever existed.

A shrinking white majority fearful of losing power, blames the growing minority population for the nation’s troubles by pushing a scary and negative narrative to win the support of a fearful populace, effectively creating more divisiveness and friction in the country which feeds their agenda and ultimately comes to justify their unfair, unjust and patently undemocratic actions.

The growing police state in America is a problem. The rise of Nationalism in America is a bigger problem. Both our burgeoning militarized police presence and America’s angry white populace are born from the negative and fearful perspective that the world is a dangerous place and becoming increasingly so every day.

It is this sensationally ominous mental paradigm, one which is perpetuated by our 24-hour news agencies, who derive higher-earnings from higher-ratings, that causes everyday Americans to feel more fearful and less secure with the passing of every news cycle. And it’s this feeling of insecurity that has become an incubator for resentment, growing distrust and intolerance against anyone of differing values, race, religion, gender, beliefs, sexual orientation or status.

Fear and hate are not innate qualities. They are learned behaviors. That “white” cop and “black” woman are of one race, that of the human race – and they were both born as loving and trusting individuals. It’s their negative past experiences that molded the prism through which they view their current reality and drove their actions that regretful day. Neither of them were acting willfully during the moments of this encounter. They were both living on autopilot, propelled by past negative associations and events that directed her to exit the vehicle and him to become overly aggressive, escalating the situation to a confrontation that could have easily been avoided.

SERVITUDE:

And is this not what’s happening within our political arena at this very moment? Are we not living on autopilot ourselves, driven by past associations we give no thought or credence to? Are we not heading towards a confrontation that only the most radical Americans on both sides wish to see?

I don’t know, but what I do know with absolute certainty is that WE as a nation, who still champion the principals of democracy and justice for the world cannot let Trump, our media or anyone else perpetuate the negative, fear-based narrative that America is wildly unsafe and as such, we need more police protection.

It’s just another power grab using  McCarthyism tactics to enact more PatriotAct-esque legislation in an attempt to consolidate power in the Executive Branch to control the general public while simultaneously marginalizing minorities through social exclusion, all in the name of national protection.

Wake up America! WE, our policies and our allies are the reason nearly half the world’s populace live in fully democratic states, but that also means more than half of the world’s citizens still live in fully communist or partially democratic countries!

After traveling extensively over the past twenty-five years I can tell you that every partial-democracy and Communist state I’ve visited has two things in common. They all have an intensely strong police presence and their people live in fear of the law. All of their people, not just the poor. Nobody is safe under authoritarian rule. Just look at the recent events in Turkey as an example of a democratic nation that’s fallen under authoritarian control and has turned against their people in the name of moral imperatives.

In these authoritarian states, police officers are paid well to ensure their loyalty to the party. These institutions are not looking for the brightest applicants, they are looking for those with a propensity towards loyalty. Sound familiar? Our court system recently ruled that highly intellectual officers don’t fit the mold, not to combat overspending – but because intellectuals are harder to control and thus pose a threat to the status quo. Intelligent people encourage change, something police departments have little incentive to do so long as officers are being paid well and department budgets keep expanding. Our police and jail systems benefit from confrontation by using each encounter to statistically justify their existence. Sadly, that poor woman’s struggle gets counted as one more reason to hire another loyal police officer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I along with most affluent white people like the police. They serve and protect me very well. Sometimes I think they can be jerks, but I’ve always felt they’d have my back if shit ever went down – a sentiment few minority citizens have ever shared.

But right now, sitting here on my comfy couch, eating Tamari almonds and typing on my fancy MacBook Air I must confess to feeling less secure today than anytime since the height of the Cold War… and it’s certainly not because I fear the minorities of America.

It’s because I fear the angry, right-wing “conservative” Caucasians of America who have hijacked the Republican Party and are using hate-fueled rhetoric to shame the moderate Republican base into compliance. It’s because the rise of Nationalism in America would not only lead to division within our nation, an increase in racial tension and the continued need for a militarized police state, but would also serve to destabilize NATO and Western democracies around the world, opening the door for Russia and China to push their anti-democratic doctrine.

This election isn’t just a referendum on the intelligence or morality of the American public – it could be the fulcrum that serves to distance our allies, tipping us toward a more insular, pre-WWII foreign policy approach that creates a true super-power power vacuum and propels us towards a more dangerous and uncertain future. Americans cannot afford to stand silent against Trump anymore than the world can afford to have America stand silent against Communism.

I too am angry at our do-nothing party-politicking, self-serving asshole politicians. I abhor our unjust primary election process that utilizes super delegates to protect the power elite. I too want reform in political fundraising, social services, subsidies, EPA regulations, primary education, college student loans, healthcare, our military, environmental policy, monetary policy, banking policy, foreign policy…. EVERYTHING that is, except the very principals that have steered our nations’ moral compass from the days of accepting immigrants at Ellis Island through the social revolution of the 1960’s, till today. I’m proud of our nation and our accomplishments and I believe that our strength is our diversity! That the greater a melting pot we become, the more powerful we grow as an example of democracy and unity for the world. For it’s our nations’ ideology that shapes our future and drives the collective conciseness of the free world.

We have a unique opportunity this year to quiet the angry white minority and unify as nation against the bigotry and fear that underlies the Republican base. Every vote against Trump will serve to reassure the world that America will continue to be on the just side of history.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe a vote for Clinton is a vote for radical change. It is a vote for status quo. It is a vote to continue steadily on our current path – but it is without question a far better option than electing a selfishly childish, dangerously inconsistent, pathological lying, media whore narcissist with racist tendencies to the White House.

So I speak to you now, both angry Sanders supporters and moderate Republicans… I get it. You hate her face, her name, her voice, her hair, her StarTrek pant-suit, her everything – but I beg of you to look at her policy. Look at her qualifications. Look at her record and ask yourself who really makes you feel safer? A vindictive man with a pension for stirring up trouble, insulting people and picking fights, or a hard-ass woman whose been remarkably consistent in both her world-view and… well… yes… her unwavering Un-Likability!

With that said, I’m betting America chooses optimism over anger come November. Of course, that’s what most intellectuals thought in Britain on Brexit Day, but fortunately for us we have multiple prime time debates to help us make an informed and painful decision.

The world will be watching with bated breath. Let’s just hope calm and reason prevail that day with America voting in resounding opposition to a man who needs to, “Get out of OUR fucking car!”

Step Back America

I remember walking out of a bar in college with a pack of buzzed-up buddies. The streets smelled of hot pizza and sloppy women.

Everything was right in the world until our one friend, being the highly entertaining pretty-boy, loud mouth dick he was started talking trash to a big guy. “Really, again” we all thought, having grown tired of his arrogant bravado. You know the type. The guy who’s only tough when he knows someone has his back. So this time rather than stepping up, we all stepped back.

Our friend’s voice fell flat with the sobering realization that he was on his own. The “fight” lasted half a second. Crying, confused and angry that we refused to come to his defense he hurled garbled obscenities at us though his, “bwoken jer.” Picking him up off the sidewalk we felt a sad sense of satisfaction knowing he had gotten exactly what he deserved.

That’s what I see when I look at Donald Trump. Donald’s machismo is easy to like, but impossible to respect. He’s the shit talker without balls. He’s the trouble maker without a conscience. Donald’s the guy who rides in on a white stallion five minutes after the battle has ended to kick a dead guy in the head for a photo op, then tweets about the “epic beat down” while everyone else is busy washing fresh blood from their swollen hands.

He’s strong only when he has a crew standing behind him. Give him that security, whether it’s an army of lawyers or soldiers, and it’s war he will make – secure in knowing that he’ll never have to throw a punch or take a bullet.

Seriously, go through a list current political nominees and ask yourself who you’d want by your side in a street fight?

The Bern… would try desperately to make peace until he went grandpa-mad, defiantly spitting into his palms 1930’s pugilist style seconds before grabbing a t.v. remote from his Lazy Boy in hopes of fashioning a shiv from it only to get trampled to death in the may lay while exiting his recliner.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.01.29 PM

Senator Bernie Sanders reacting to news that food stamps don’t cover lox and bagels.

Rubio… irritable and feisty he’d work the body like an angry small intestine after a late night sweaty meat sandwich binge.

Momentarily stunned by a Miami LGBT crowd's insistence that he's "super gay" Rubio recovers by finally endorsing to the new Love Boat movie.

Momentarily stunned by a Miami LGBT crowd’s insistence that he’s “super gay” Rubio recovers by flip-flopping shirts and promising to endorse the new Love Boat movie.

Hillary… feeling supremely protected by her one-inch thick bulletproof mask of makeup fashioned from crushed tiger skulls and wombat urine, would take to gouging eyes, chewing ears and yanking testicles in hopes of finally harvesting enough skin to finish her life-size voodoo doll of Dick Cheney.

Hillary Clinton, photographed here at a 2012 Congressional hearing, explains why she's the boss and former House Speaker John Boener will always be her, "crybaby bitch."

Clinton, photographed here at a 2012 Congressional hearing, explains how she made Lucifer her bitch.

Cruz…. would drop to his knees and start praying to God for the courage to beat someone to death in the name of Puritan values with the giant bible he carries in his overpriced Prada briefcase, only to abandon his plan at the first sign of blood and proceed immediately to the nearest hospital in hopes of making bank off a civil lawsuit.

Trying to court working class voters today, the Cruz campaign released this portrait explaining that Cruz paid his way through law school working as a nude Christmas model. "I've never worked harder in my life," explained the Texas governor while sipping champagne at the Houston Yacht Club.

In an effort to court working class voters the Cruz campaign released this portrait today, explaining that Cruz paid his way through law school by working as a nude Christmas model. “I’ve never worked harder in my life,” explained the Texas senator while sipping champagne at the Houston Yacht Club.

Kasich… fresh off the boat from an Arctic winter survival retreat where he routinely used his own scrotum as an emergency blanket for afternoon power naps would deftly pull a blood stained baby seal club from his trench coat and set to using it.

John Kasich, being John Kasich.

John Kasich, being John Kasich.

And where would Donald be? The guy who picked the fight to begin with… he’d be chillin’ on the opposite corner sporting freshly pressed khakis enjoying a hot slice of pizza, chatting up sloppy ladies and launching useless f-bombs at the “idiots” fighting in the street.

Donald Trump, pictured here, disputes the alleged size of Ivanka's vagina while giving the keynote address at Trump university's new graduate pizza party.

Donald Trump disputes the purported size of Ivanka’s vagina while giving the keynote address at Trump University’s new graduate pizza party.

Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t care whether you lean left or right, you deserve a president who will stand front and center when the shit goes down.

Spoiler alert. That entertaining friend with the loud mouth turned out to be a douchbag no one could trust. Sadly it took us four-years to figure it out.

Sure hope we don’t make that mistake again.

Audi For Sale – Dude Not Included

This immaculately sculpted 2005 Audi Allroad Quattro is a meaty plate of majestic liger super-strength smothered in an orgy of Paul Walker inferno-infused man juice.

photo

A beast amongst boys: The 2005 Audi Allroad Quattro

 

An archetypal rhapsody of savory German panache, this 2.7 twin-turbo engine makes Nancy Reagan moist where it counts. With a maximum ground clearance of 8.2 inches and 258 ft-lbs of torque, this beast is ready to pound out the roughest terrain.

Underpinning this classically detailed all-leather lady-slayer is a Quattro IV all-wheel-drive system that features a unique electro hydraulically controlled torque-distribution system that redirects traction to where it’s needed most – aka. “positraction” which Marisa Tomei, the tagliatelle of saucy Sicilian succulence, agrees is undeniably hot…

With its metro-stylish walnut veneer dash and two-tone leather seating, this Starship inspired interior is sure to blow the curtains off every princess in the galaxy. Face it. You need this car the way Luke needed a handy from his sister.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.46.21 PM

Yeah dog, interstellar incest never felt so good!

 

Details:

$11,000 Skywalker-Firm.

Excellent condition. All leather. 72,000 easy-going star-miles. Moonroof. Six disk CD changer with a free Steve Winwood mix thrown in. Six speaker Bose premium sound system. Super-tinted peak-a-boo drug-dealer windows. One set fancy Thule bars. One Soprano’s extra-long-dead-body-sized rocket box. Four new tires.

Call Morris today at Darkside Motors: 307.690.8120

PS  – Yeah, seriously. This shit’s for sale and posted on Craiglist: http://wyoming.craigslist.org/cto/4874336711.html

Black Cat Conundrum

Somewhere there’s a black cat I owe an expensive sushi dinner to.

I’m exhausted, trying to focus through two drooping eyelids with a giant coffee and a tiny girl resting motionless to my right.

I’m surrounded by an ominous abyss of darkness. The only thing keeping me awake is the fearful mirage of a thousand nefarious roadside eyeballs smoldering dimly in my mind.  I’m fading fast..

and then it happens.

A black cat bolts from the left, intersecting my path and missing my front tire by a tail at best.

Jolted awake I’m immediately consumed with irrational superstitious fear. “Fuck!” I think. “How long does a black cat curse last anyway?”

Headlights appear in the distance. I turn my brights off. I’m on a flat stretch now. It’s straight as can be…

and then it happens.

The oncoming truck crosses the center line, veering into my lane without warning. I yank the wheel hard right and pass safely into the night with my passenger still sleeping blissfully beside me, unaware of her near fatal encounter.

Heart pounding, I drive on contemplating how many other black cats have crossed my path…

I woke up in Intensive Care three years ago unsure of how I’d gotten there. I remembered the gigantic pot brownie sundae I’d eaten, but little else.

Apparently my best friends had come by, scooped my naked body from my urine soaked bed and delivered me to the hospital. I’d had multiple seizures and I was in rough shape.

Sedated, I laid unconscious for two days.

I felt uneasy about leaving the hospital the following day. Embarrassed, I shyly admitted to being afraid of sleeping alone that night. I’d grown up with seizures and they had always come in my sleep, so I felt I had reason to worry.

I slept on a friend’s couch for a few nights before mustering the courage to return home to sleep alone. It’s the first time I ever felt fragile, like a fractured glider struggling to hold steady in a gentle breeze…

and then it happened.

Grateful to be alive I began waking each morning to a thankful mental mantra filling the corridors of my mind.

I started partying less and living more, dreaming less and accomplishing more. My false sense of security had been shattered and I was now living life with urgency.

We are surrounded by blessings and curses everyday, never knowing friend from foe. The lover who dumps you, the teacher who fails you, the illness that plagues you, the decision that torments you, the airline that screws you, the buddy who turns on you…

could all be your black cat.

Epilepsy has turned out to be a blessing for me. By accepting my greatest weakness I’ve gained a far more powerful ally.

Perhaps there’s a black cat somewhere patiently awaiting your invitation to sushi…?

My oblivious co-pilot crushes pie just prior to being saved by a gallivanting pussy.

My sleepy co-pilot crushes pie at Mollie’s Diner just hours before being saved by a gallivanting pussy.

The Path

______________

Without purpose, you’ll never focus.

Without focus, you’ll never achieve.

Without achieving, you’ll never be content.

Without being content, you’ll never be happy.

It all starts with purpose.

______________

My Father’s Day

I was twelve. It was Hanukkah and I was hiding in the men’s room of a dingy reform Synagogue near Mechanicsburg, PA.

My father had just informed me of the two prayers I’d need to learn to be Bar Mitzvahed and I was now doubled over on the toilet, stressing hard enough to shit blood diamonds. I was near tears, terrified of confronting my father. He had always scared me.

I exited the bathroom slowly, looked my father in the eye and told him I wasn’t going to be Bar Mitzvahed. “Why?” he asked. “Because it wouldn’t mean anything to me,” I said. He cracked a bad joke, said okay and never mentioned it again.

I’m pretty sure that was the moment my father started respecting me.

Eight years later my father sobered up and entered AA. Suddenly he was emotionally engaged and interested in my life. I found it highly annoying. I tried my best to dissuade him from flying west to accompany me on a road trip back east, but he insisted.

We were in the middle of Kansas when the lights went out. I was staring through the windshield, it was noon and yet it was dusk. The sky was the color of frozen coal and hail began pounding so heavy on the roof that we needed to yell to communicate.

Air raid sirens blared and windows shook as we entered the dimly lit lobby of a nearby motel. The second we got our room key I began insisting that I was going out to see a movie.

That’s how much I wanted to get the fuck away from my fucking father.

I lost the argument when the desk manager told us that there were three tornadoes in the area and the movie theater had been damaged. The next morning I awoke to my father doing yoga at the foot of my bed – sweaty and breathless wearing nothing but crusty, old-man, Fruit of the Loom, Tighty-Whities.

I hated him so much.

Hours later…

it’s sunny, I’m driving and I’m doing everything possible to make my father pay for twenty years of lost friendship. He asks me a simple question. I give a terse response. He shakes his head and says, “You’re a fucking asshole.”

I turn away, smirk and think, That’s awesome. I can definitely be friends with this guy.

That was the moment I started respecting my father – which was followed by ten wonderful years of friendship, love, trust and laughs.

Eleven years after his funeral my father’s actions continue to remind me that it’s never too late to script a new beginning – even if it means battling your asshole son to make it happen.

Two nearly identical assholes...

Two nearly identical assholes.

Universal Truth

There’s a perfectly manicured lawn in Southeastern Ohio. It runs flat and green toward the rolling hills of Appalachia.

There are no flowers or bushes on this lawn. No trees or toys. Nothing to distract you from the lone sign planted at its middle. The sign stands three feet tall, is white with black letters and reads:

Center Of The Universe

I burst out laughing and look around for someone, anyone to share this magnificent joke with.

The next day I’m sitting at my desk in the back of a small classroom. It’s the start of my second year of graduate school. One of my classmates, who I consider a best friend, sits down next to me. I ask her for help on my latest project, as I always do. She helps, as she always does. When we’re done I tell her my story about the sign and… silence.

She doesn’t laugh.

Instead she stares at me stone faced with the contempt of a righteous executioner and says, “That’s funny. I thought you considered yourself the center of the universe. You know the world doesn’t revolve around you Morris.”

I tried to argue, but the facts were in her favor. She was right. I was a self absorbed prick, readily taking from others rather than giving of myself.

I look back on that moment and think how unbelievably lucky I was to have a friend willing to speak her truth and set me straight. That one poignant observation forced me to reevaluate how I related to the world.

When I got home later that night I took out a blank flash card and wrote a single question on it:

Who Do You Want To Be?

I tacked that card up on my wall next to my bed and stared at it morning and night. When I moved, it moved with me. It became my principal guiding question, one which I continue to build my life around.

One essential lesson I took from that exchange is this: Just because you have lots of friends, doesn’t mean they respect you.

While being witty, talented, athletic, cool or entertaining will win you a popularity contest, it won’t win you any best friends.

To be considered a best friend you need to demonstrate a willingness to put the interests of others before your own. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has a best friend they consider selfish.

Just because a best friend of yours bails you out of jail, is there for you through your worst tragedy, speaks at your wedding or babysits your children, doesn’t mean they consider you a best friend of theirs.

I was wrong all those years ago to arrogantly assume Laura Jo DeCapua considered me a best friend – and today I thank her for teaching me that the only way to become someone’s best friend is to place them ahead of yourself and at the center of your universe.

Who knows, without her I might still be living obliviously, wondering why my best friends are always so slow to return my calls.

ljd sm 3

Laura Jo DeCapua, center, beams proudly knowing that her work is done here.

 

 

Indecision, regret & a bottle of cheap champagne

Your biggest regret in life will be something you failed to commit to, not anything you did wrong.

Most of us are scared of making the wrong decision, when it’s indecision we should really fear. Indecision is paralyzing. It’s what keeps us from moving forward.

We’ve all found ourselves lost, sitting at a stop sign, scanning the road for clues to point us in the right direction – and we’ve all stepped on the gas. We are fearless on the road, knowing that we can always correct course and wind up at our chosen destination – even if it means running an innocent, slow-driving, QVC loving, Craftmatic Adjustable Bed using grandma off the road to get there on time.

 

Left, right, forwards, backwards, it doesn’t matter – we’ve made our mind up and grandma needs to get her sweet-ass outta the way!

But in life… in life, we’re often that same slow driving grandma who sits way too long at every stop sign, afraid to move, waving others on while trying to determine when it’s her time to go.

In contrast, my grandmother refused to yield to any of the stop signs she encountered in life. She was resolute in her decisiveness and became my mentor and personal hero long before I ever learned to drive.

I was raised by my mother and my Granda Jane. My father and sister lived a few hours north, but it seemed much further away than that.

My grandmother was part Annie Oakley, part Jackie Kennedy. She bought me my first knife. She taught me to chop wood and shoot guns. She introduced me to golf, tennis, travel, art, politics, cuisine and classical music. She was far more intelligent and capable than the man she married, and that isn’t a knock on my grandfather, it’s just the simple truth.

She let me use massive, razor-sharp cooking knives long before I could see what was on the counter. She supervised as I stood on a stool chopping vegetables. Years later, when I was in grade school, I remember sitting by her side with the newspaper spread before us, listening intently as she explained the stock page. Her trust in me was unfailing, because she knew I would never defy her.

My grandmother was still auditing college classes at age eighty when she informed my grandfather that she was leaving him for her high school sweetheart. It wasn’t a discussion. It was a directive. Move. Get out of my way. I’m making a left turn, right the fuck now.

Everyone was surprised, but no one except my grandfather was shocked. When he asked why, she unapologetically answered, “I’ve lived my whole life caring for you. It’s time I take care of myself.”

Wow, right? That’s one hard-ass woman! Yup. That’s why I loved my grandma. She never minced words. You always knew exactly where you stood with her because she was the most direct and decisive person I’ve ever known – and she never let the expectations of others drive her decisions.

She was sure in life, confidently choosing decision over indecision, knowing that even the worst decisions lead you somewhere new.

My only regret in regard to my grandmother is meaningless to everyone but me.

The entire family met for her 90th birthday on a sunny fall day in Tucson, AZ. I had plans to splurge and buy her a bottle of her favorite champagne. Dom Perignon, which she had tasted only once before.

I held it I my hands and before I made it to the register my aunt saw the bottle and began chastising me. It was a waste of money she said. She handed me a bottle of Freixenet, deeming it a perfectly suitable replacement.

I remember looking around as if I was sitting at a stop sign, unsure of which way to go. In a moment of true indecision I caved and bought the Freixenet. That night, I watched on helplessly as my grandmother took a single sip of champagne before dismissively setting her glass aside. She died a few days later.

I think about that a lot more than I should. I’m telling you, it’s the things you want to do, but fail to follow through on that you’ll regret the most in life.

Today, I find consolation is her favorite quote, which she jokingly suggested be placed on her tombstone:

“If this is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’ll be lucky.”

True that grandma. True that.

photo

Left to right: Grandma Jane, my mother Martha and my aunt Michelle.

Make Isaac Hayden Audition for The Voice

Everyone has one voice that moves them more than any other – the voice left echoing in their soul long after the song has ended. It’s the voice of your favorite singer.

While you may be nameless and faceless to them, you are eternally bound, tethered by your connection to their music – which is what makes you a true fan.

I am a true fan of Isaac Hayden, which is why I’ve been sending him annoying text messages for the last two-weeks, trying to convince him to audition for NBC’s musical competition The Voice.

If you’d like to encourage Isaac and help convince him to audition, “like” this blog post on Facebook and share it with your friends. I am pledging $2 for every Facebook “like” this post gets (up to $2,500) in hopes of forcing Isaac to audition.

I’m not going to lie. This isn’t going to be easy. The only quality Isaac posses that rivals his voice, is his stubbornness. The more likes we get, the more support we show, the better chance we have of convincing him to compete, so “like” away!

What I’ve written below is something I should have told Isaac long ago. I’ve worded it as an open letter hoping that you might copy and send it to your favorite artist. I’m guessing they’d appreciate hearing from you.

Shine on people, shine on.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Dear {name your favorite singer here},

You have no idea how much your music means to me. You have no idea how often I listen to your music or how deeply your voice and lyrics affect me. Your gift, the one you deliver to me through thoughtful words and brilliantly executed tones, is a gift I truly cherish. You make me feel loved, understood and happy – like someone gives a shit about my sadness or success. Whether you realize it or not, you are a real friend to me.

Thank you for always being there for me, lifting me up from my despair and continually reminding me how beautiful life really is. Whether I’m feeling lonely on the road or worrying about {confess a fear here}, your music parts the clouds in my heart and brings light to my mind. You helped me through {reference a personal tragedy here} and I’ve danced my ass off to {enter your favorite song here} countless times.

I realize you don’t know me, but I want you to know that all your work, all the long nights you spent writing and practicing and early mornings you spent toiling away at a shitty job so you could continue making music – none of it was lost on me!

I appreciate your music more than you’ll ever know. You matter to me. What you do and who you are makes a difference in my life. So, thank you {enter artists’ name here} for being my only best friend I’ll never get to know.

Your friend forever,

{Your name here}

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Listen to Isaac Hayden here:

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 2.24.00 PM

What we think, we are

Question: How old are you?

Answer:

If I could count down from my end rather than up from my beginning, I’d tell you my true age – and still you’d learn far less about me than what you’ll glean from this page…  unless you’re smart enough that is, to close your mouth and open your mind and stop asking the one idiotic question from which you’ll never divine – who I am, what I believe or anything of any significance my brain could possibly conceive.

For time is relative and age is fucking fiction, a tale followed blindly by those searching for direction. Obliviously optimistic they cling to the illusion of longevity, worshiping anything and everything that offers them a modicum of false security.

Packed up tightly in their little box, fortified by imagined boundaries, they slide the lid shut rather than embracing life’s possibilities. Acting their age they engage in charades, taking on the personality of who and how they’re supposed to behave ––  all while passing judgement on those who refuses to bend, unwilling to subjugate themselves by attempting to fit in.

Everyday we wake up we’re each on the clock, never knowing how, when or where our gears will wind to an unsuspecting stop – so grow the fuck down and rise to your occasion, knowing that age and time are powerless against the gravity of youthful conviction.

ddfdfgdfgdfgfdgdf

Me, sporting my custom, “Grownups Are Losers” t-shirt.