I got the call almost a week ago, early in the morning, the sunlight just starting to poke around the towering skyscrapers. When I saw the call was from Fernando, being that early, when he lives out in Los Angeles, I answered with just three words:
“F*^k. Dude. Who?”
“John Tovar man.”
“No way man… Seriously?”
“Yeah man…. Heart attack.”
“Jeez. Dude. F*^k.”
“Only 65 man.”
“Hold on. What?”
“Yeah man. He was 65 years old.”
“Jesus. Dude how is that possible?”
“We gotta get you healthy brother.”
“Nice segue. Dick. But I’m only 63.”
“So we have time for at least 4 or 5 more albums. Hahaha…!”
“Dude, seriously, i really thought John was older than that…”
“Yeah man,” he sighed.
“God this is so sad. John is a huge part of everything we accomplished man. Even hooking the two of us up together! You know…..”
“Oh yeah! That’s right! I know how much he meant to you bro. I called you first.”
“I appreciate that man. Yeah… he was the man. And now… jeez… It’s the end of an era.”
Our conversation continued a little longer. After we hung up, I quickly sank into this deep depression. And mourning. The reality was settling in… the memories starting to leak in from the walls and ceiling… the finality of it. Truly the end of an era…. For so many of us, and in so many ways.
The saddest news of this past week, the most heartbreaking, Tina Turner notwithstanding, won’t mean a thing to most people around the world. In fact for most people who even live in Miami or South Florida, the home and stomping grounds of longtime music manager John Tovar, it won’t mean much to them either.
For anyone in the music industry on the other hand, no matter where they live, it’s devastatingly sad news. Especially for those of us in the music industry AND from Miami.
A sad quiet stillness dominated my days after i got that call. It continued into each successive day since. All week. I’m guessing it’s been that way for pretty much everyone that knew him. I still haven’t called anyone. I havent wanted to talk about it. Didn’t want to write about it. Not yet. Didn’t want to see the rush of folks trying to be the first to post it to social media or say something pithy or profound.
John would’ve hated that himself. Frankly I wish we all would have made the time to say it to his face or hell, even over the phone, when he was alive. This is a regret I’ll have for the rest of my life.
At some point though, sooner than later, i knew I’d have to let it out, release the grief and the sorrow and, more importantly, celebrate the man who was a local legend for 40+ years, and nationally…, the best thing you could say about someone in the business: they always took his calls.
John Tovar was a huge part of my life, personally and professionally, as he was to so many artists and music business folk from the South Florida music scene. During different eras, it seemed like the whole scene was balancing on his shoulders.
For longtime readers of these Transcendence Diaries, you know him as The Big Man In Black. Or oftentimes just The Big Man. Someone I’ve written about extensively. Now you know. It was and always will be John Tovar.
The man entered our lives when we were still teenagers. And he continued to be there for over 30 years. God those years have flown by, haven’t they… Those initial years, in the beginning, when we were just kids playing in bars long before we were old enough to get into those bars. Still feels like yesterday in certain ways.
To many music lovers, they may not know the name, but they know the music he was responsible for bringing to the world — most notably just in terms of cash box or coverage, The Mavericks and Marilyn Manson. Just like those artists do, we all owe John a huge debt of gratitude. Especially considering that that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of artists that we all know and love who HE introduced us to.
That’s one of the many things that made John such a standout person. He was responsible for escorting hundreds of notable artists to the finish line. Many you’d know of. Others you wouldn’t. From there it was up to them what they did with it, what we all did with it.
I’ve heard people say that Tovar, which is what everybody called him back in the day, was at the right place at the right time. But I’ve always thought that was bullshit. Plenty of others were in those exact “right places at the right times” and they never had the impact John Tovar had on the scene. Nor the success for so many artists.
With John it was more than that. He happened to have great ears, an impeccable eye for talent, and this relentless thirst for justice, in an industry that never cared for such a thing as justice. For John Tovar it was a mission.
John recognized talent immediately. And he would do anything he could to fight and claw his way to the top to make sure that talent got heard and got the justice they deserved. By getting them as far up the ladder as he could. This is another aspect of the man that made him one of the greats. In an industry where there are very few of those.
If you signed with Tovar, you knew he would do everything he could for you. We, and when I say “we” here I’m referring to our first band, Broken Spectacles, signed with John in our late teens. We had worked hard for it, because by the time we came on the scene, John Tovar was already a legend.
At least to us he was, back then. He was physically large, in every measure. Long black hair that was always seemingly more greasy than it needed to be, black mustache and goatee, black jeans, black button down shirt or T-shirt, big black boots and a black sports coat. And compared to our short little lanky frames, usually wearing nothing but boxer shorts and T-shirts, he was a physically huge presence.
He was just as imposing in his manner. He was generally a quiet dude if you didn’t know him. And if he didn’t know you, he didn’t care nor pretend to. He didn’t see you in a club and flash you a smile. As so many tend to do. Most of the time he wore a kind of grimace, as if he were bothered by something. It’s funny looking back at it now. But back then, it was just intimidating as hell.
You couldn’t help but notice him everywhere you went that was musically bent. Because he was everywhere. Always looking for talent. Or because he needed his nightly fix of good music.
In the beginning we would see Tovar out and about. He was one of the few somebodies in that little scene. We continued to play out every chance we got.
Then suddenly he started showing up at every show. “Look… guys, we love what you’re doing… Eddie and Matt, this two headed monster thing you guys have…. We want to work with you. What can we do?” he said over a 3 to 4 plate meal at Dennys that filled half his side of the table. He spoke these words alongside his partner back then, Rich Ulloa. A legend in his own right.
This was a big moment. Signing with Tovar or Rich was a rare occurrence back then… they were just getting their engine warmed up for what was to come. Signing with these guys was a right of passage of the Miami music scene that every artist aspired to…. It put you on the map. Said something about you.
It wasn’t just that John could possibly get you somewhere, get you that big break you’d been dreaming about since you were in diapers. It was way more than that. At least to us. Something way more important.
John knew music. Good music. Great music. At a time when the only way to even access good music was on Sunday nights on Matt Pinfield’s 120 Minutes on MTV. Hair Metal or boy bands were what dominated popular music. For a while there it seemed like good music was dead and would never return.
Of course as we all know now, a small group of guys and gals from out in the Pacific Northwest changed all that. Someone called it “Grunge” and it quickly became co-opted, over played and over-powered by big money and commerce. But it did the trick. It got us all out of the hair metal rut we were stuck in.
None of this mattered to John. Not in the big picture. Because he still believed in great music. You could talk about the last 80 years of great music with him all night and into the next day. He knew it all. And if you just sat and listened, you learned a lot from the man.
But it was more than that if you were a still-unknown up and comer. Because John knew all the great music, and dug all the great music, and didn’t mind stating loudly and unequivocally how shitty the modern music of the day was, working with him had this effect of making you start to believe that maybe you had a chance of one day being great too. Not rich or popular or famous. He never talked about those things. But you could be great. At making music. And to a lot of us that’s all we cared about.
More than that. Deeper than that. Bands like us were constantly being courted back then, but with a bunch of casually-said and tricky little caveats. They wanted to turn us into a kind of quasi “rock-n-roll boy band” in those first few years.
Or they wanted us to keep writing the songs, keep singing the songs and keep fronting the band, but “just have older, better, more experienced musicians play the instruments on the tracks.” Or they’d want only one of us to stand in the middle and sing all the songs.
These caveats were countless and endless. If we would only make these small changes, platinum records were guaranteed. But John never once wanted to change a thing. And when he heard these stories, he would become palpably angry on our behalf. “Eddie Eddie Eddie. These guys are so full of shit… they wouldn’t know good music if it….”
It was precisely because of this, his integrity, his commitment to authenticity, that artists of all ages and musical genres wanted to impress him, wanted to please him, wanted to blow his mind. And frankly John wasn’t known for being the friendliest guy around. Kind of the polar opposite of it really. He was downright grouchy if things weren’t going his way.
So if you did a good show and had John smiling ear to ear ten to fifteen minutes afterwards, it meant a lot.
We started working with John and Rich pretty quickly after hitting the scene. The two of them set up a few showcases for us, major label execs flying down all the time. I’ll never forget that first one. Nor the many that came after. Because being so young and dumb, we believed we were “too damn good to “showcase” for anyone”.
So we continuously proceeded to sabotage every showcase these two generous men set up for us for a good year or two. To put it bluntly, we were unappreciative little monsters. John and Rich, eventually just John, flew down every big-time record label exec who had a name in the industry. And we just kept deliberately screwing around, to prove to the world that we were “too good to have to showcase for anyone”. Not kidding.
We’d drop acid a few hours before the shows, or play 20 minute versions of “Heard it through the grapevine” or “Stella Blue”, or get so drunk we could barely play or fall off the stage, or sometimes just yell at the record label execs till they got up and left the table.
We obviously didn’t get any of those deals. But that didn’t stop us. We continued to pound away, growing up a little bit, growing in size and scope and staff members. Becoming as much an organization as we were a band.
The reason i recount these stories and this phase of the band is because it illustrates something really profound, important and beautiful about John Tovar.
Even after all of that, after everything we put him through by being such ungrateful little assholes, we hooked back up with Tovar again and again and again. He wasn’t just a manager. He was a mentor, an advisor, an advocate, a cheerleader… a resource, in reality more of a secret weapon. He was also a friend. And he never gave up on us.
Seeing that very first debut show of the Mavericks was a revelation for all who witnessed it. A masterpiece of a moment. It’s all anyone could talk about that week. Just like seeing The Goods or Nil Lara or Diane Ward and Voidville or Natural Causes or Amanda Green for the first time.
What a lot of people outside the music business wouldn’t know is that John and Rich took a huge gamble on this Mavericks venture.
See, the guys in The Mavericks had already been in the Miami music scene for years, working out of various other popular bands. Which meant that they were “older”. In reality they probably weren’t more than 25-26. But trying to promote a band that “old” was a death wish. Yet John and Rich did it anyway. And it was a grand slam for both of them.
John Tovar was extremely generous in that way. He didn’t let on to it very often, especially not in public, but he had a huge heart. After Broken Spectacles broke up we all went out on our own. I quickly ended up in New York, sleeping on whoever’s couch i could find and living on one McDonald’s cheeseburger a day for months.
Why? Because John was headed there for some meetings and told me to get my ass up there, he’d pay for it if that was needed (it was), and he’d shop me to some execs when he could on his downtime. That’s how Acoustic In New York came to be. He finally got me the deal that had been so elusive for so many years. We got to the point of recording a full length album on the record label’s dime, but in the end, the release date kept getting pushed back. Eventually indefinitely.
This happens to artists all the time. In fact it happened to several of us from the scene that very year. The stories were sad. And hilarious.
You’d think that would’ve stopped John at that point. Working with me at least. But Tovar was loyal. To a fault sometimes. He was coming from a different era. Back when relationships in the business mattered, when they were cherished. But the business had changed. And he hated that.
Just to prove a point or because he really was the coolest guy from the business side in the music industry, about two years later, John called me and said something to the effect of “So Mr. Ed…. what’s this I hear about you recording a new album in a bunch of different languages? And calling yourself “the ambassador”?” He laughed. Heartily.
“Well you know… just trying to keep things interesting man”, I replied.
“And you’ve got… what’s her name… Uhhh… you know… Mrs Trophy Wife….”
“Yes. Now she has a beautiful voice Eddie.”
“Yeah she does. She’s awesome. And I’m telling you John… it gives things a really different sound with her…It’s special.”
“Well Mr Ambassador, you know I’ve got to hear it.”
We were doing the new album, Rise and Shine, at Cliff Rawnsley’s place, Sunflower Studios. John was working with Richard Clarvit by then, both of who had a tremendous effect, and influence, on us over the next few years.
Richard had no problem informing me that I was far too old to be still making music. I was 28. For the record, Richard was being helpful. It was the first of years worth of valuable advice. He suggested I go into management or something else behind the scenes to “reflect my new maturity”. But I wasn’t ready for it.
And Tovar wasn’t hearing it. Didn’t give it a second thought. Or even a first. He never cared about age. Or how old an artist was. Or better put, he may have cared, but he never mentioned it to me. He felt like it was something the music business would grow out of. And he was right. Just ahead of his time, as with so many things.
[As an aside, just because every time I remember it, I laugh. I called Zach Ziskin to vent about all this new talk I was hearing about me being “too old” to make music. I’ll never forget it. Zach says, “dude just remember the two rules. One, you’re always 28 years old. No matter many years pass. And two, if someone asks, you’re always either in the studio working on a new album or on tour.”]
Tovar and I signed yet another agreement with each other, A very different kind of deal. With different goals.
We all realized that John had collected a ton of knowledge about the business and how it operated. What was success? Was it getting a record deal? Well obviously not, as many of us proved four years earlier where we all got deals, recorded albums and never got to see them get released.
Success was in reality a collection of successful achievements, hit records, large fan bases, great album reviews, great press, massive radio airplay, etc. With a label or without one.
This time John was signing on to be a Consultant. In all facets of our career and the business. To help us achieve those goals. And in time, we did. One by one we checked off most of those boxes. And we couldn’t have done any of it without John Tovar. He was the difference maker.
And we were just one out of many many others he did the same things for. How he found the time or the energy, no one knows… But the man was unstoppable once he put his mind to something, once he went after seeking justice for an artist he believed deserved success. The man was a legend because his actions were legendary.
Looking back over the last 5-6 days, the thing I oddly keep remembering the most about John Tovar, out of all these years, decades, that have passed, is those Saturdays or Sundays where we’d have to speak real quick about something related to business and we’d end up talking for hours about the history of great music and the great artists who made it.
Because in the end it was more just coincidence that I was an artist and he was an artist manager. What both of us really were, more than anything else, were obsessed music fans. And there was nothing more enjoyable than just sitting around for hours talking to John about music
As you may have noticed, Princess Little Tree subtly cut me off mid-sentence with a “uhh…” this morning in our meeting. I’m accustomed to this, so it would be understandable if you didn’t notice it. And because I trust her implicitly, i stopped speaking. She felt I “was just about to get too passionate” in her words, and felt it best to cut me off.
I recognize My views are extreme and can be viewed as harsh because I dare To point out what would be the obvious to anyone who is not religious in the world, but I do so in a christian environment filled with christian people. That’s the only thing that makes it controversial in the least. And yet I admit I do Feel a tad of compunction for doing so, just out of consideration for the feelings of others who may not be aware of the things I say.
But I get the feeling you do…
The problem for me, the problem for so many all over the world right now, are the people who vote to disaffiliate — why can’t they just say separate? — from the Methodist Church, ostensibly because they don’t support the church because they are about to revolutionarily change its 200 year bylaws to openly accept the LGBTQ community… and personally yes, I’ve been having a very tough time with this.
Hence my tens of hours of studies this past week trying to understand the whole big picture of why more than half the Methodist community nationally is right this very minute voting to leave Methodism…. I wanted to understand. Turns out, it appears they just don’t like gay people. Or at least they believe their “god” doesn’t like gay people.
And as many people have pointed out, there are only 3, at best, references to homosexuality in the entire Bible. So this idea that it’s “sinful” “in the eyes of a god” is a bit far fetched seeing how human beings wrote the damn thing in the first place. And even they didn’t dedicate more than 2-3 sentences to it in a book that’s thousands of pages and was written over a span of time of more 800 years.
So are human beings really anti-homosexuality because it’s Bible based or against their religion, or is it something else?
Princess Little Tree felt that I was On the verge of letting my passion get the best of me, saying something out of line or offensive to some folks. She recognized immediately that I was Aiming my speech toward certain kinds of people…. Which I was In a way. Trying to understand more than anything… because it breaks my heart. It’s NOT what I signed Up for. But she was right. Despite my own beliefs and feelings, it wasn’t appropriate for me to start demonizing others so outspokenly.
I started attending Christ Church in New York for research purposes because of that supernatural spiritual experience I speak of, yes. Voices whispering in your ear “What you’re feeling is God’s love. Ed God loves you so much…”, an event that last for a good 4-5 minutes. Over and over again they whispered these kinds of ideas into my ears. Who wouldn’t pay attention to something like this? Only a fool wouldn’t return that Sunday a few days later after an experience like that…. At the very least just to see if it happened again.
(And it did. This time the voices said things like “this is your home Ed. These people are your family…come closer to God who loves you. Stay…” So i stayed a little longer. Kept coming back. I was still skeptical and cynical of religion… But I kept Coming back. Out of respect of and honor to “my idea of a potential God” and this experience of these voices, not a “normal” thing and I recognized that. I did not want to be one of those people we read about who miss out on some incredible divine gift because they’re stubborn or close minded. And I was Right to do what I did. It was indeed some kind of divine blessing. I get it. And I have been blessed multiple times by the decision i made.
I can honestly say I believe in a Divine Force, that which others call “God”. And though my view is that this Divine Force is a scientific phenomenon like gravity or electricity and yet at the same time is also conscious like sentient beings i.e. think dark matter and energy if you want the major key to understanding God, I still believe we are all speaking about the same thing. And though no I have not figured out the puzzling problem of Theodicy, I believe we will eventually… it’s most likely due to what we vibrate in our consciousness… combined with higher purposes that we are not or can not fathom from this level of Awareness….
And yes I can often FEEL the presence of, hear the voice of and connect with this Divine Force. I get what a gift that is. So yes in that respect I am “religious” or at least spiritual or “of God”, or “of believing in a God”. But again, as “a force with sentience and consciousness.”
But I became a Methodist precisely BECAUSE the church had such a wide diversity and gays were a big part of the congregation. It was the opposite of how “Christianity” is and is viewed in this country. Gay people serving me Communion?!?! Work trips alongside blacks and Hispanics and Indians and Asians?!?! It was a revelation to me. Black people taking me and welcoming me to their home country in africa?!?! So humbled. So grateful for those whispers…
But then all this. The plastic bags come off the faces and it is revealed that nothing’s changed.
American Christians for the most part are still exactly what the rest of us, the majority of us, in America believe them to be. Using religion to be the problem, and never part of the solution. Always dragging the rest of us back hundreds of years.
And trust me when I say that the rest of us, the majority of the American population are extremely resentful of having to deal with Christians and these shenanigans. Whether it’s Trump or Israel or gays or immigration or abortion, Americans do not look fondly on religious people, specifically Christians and the negative influence they have on society as a whole.
Then there are people like me who totally don’t make sense and boggle the mind of the “regular folk”. After 20 years they still think I’m “undercover for some secret project” or why else would I “attend a church”… when I’m clearly on the opposite side on all the issues, including the intellectual side of proclaiming there to be some invisible all knowing higher power. It doesn’t go over well in academic or intellectual circles. It’s baffling to 99.9% of my friends.
But I try to explain that “some churches are different” AND “because I had a supernatural spiritual experience” they would be perfectly fine had that happened to me through Krishna Consciousness or Buddhism or Avatar or Baha’i or Hinduism etc….
So why not accept that it happened to me through Christianity?!? Hell, I get it. It’s not optimal. It’s not what we expected. It’s not aligned with being “cool” nor “intellectual”. I get it. But it’s real. And it’s honest.
And it’s better to be honest about finding God through something as uncool as American Christianity than it is to walk around pretending that you’ve found God through practicing buddhist meditation yoga and sat sangs when you’ve never even heard the whispers or felt the Presence, which is what so many do.
The point is it’s worked up until this point because CC has always been so progressive, so ahead of the curve, caught up (almost) with modern society and the progress we’ve made. As you stated, we are still in perpetual repentance because of some of the mistakes we made in the past. I LOVE that. I can totally get on board with that. Especially if we continue. As has been hinted at regarding this 2024 General Conference and the potential changes the church might make.
Do people have any idea how revolutionary that is?!?! How exemplary that is to the world? The leadership it shows and will show?
For once the christian church actually shows the world it supports what’s RIGHT instead of old-world backwoods dogma?!?
People like me can step out of the shadows and consider the idea of embracing and connecting with a divine force…tens of thousands of them… hundreds of thousands worldwide. Hungry for spiritual fulfillment but far too ashamed to get even close to a religion because religions are far too close minded and exclusionary and harmful.
Because “the church”, i.e. “religion” will no longer be “the dark hearted uncompassionate unintelligent enemy” we’re always fighting. Religious people have no idea they’re viewed that way. Or maybe they do, but they just persist in their “who cares? We’re right because we have Jesus on our side and we’ll be proved right when He returns or in the afterlife”…. Which just further stokes the flames of the viewpoint that “religious people are ignorant and batshit crazy”. That’s the general viewpoint of Christians in America or Jews or Muslims. There are simply way too many fallacies involved in leaping toward embracing it.
I haven’t minded being part of that group in the minds of some because at CC we are NOT part of that group. We stand out and rise above because we truly are different.
But all this “separating from the UMC Organization because it’s too progressive” threatens the ability of people like me to stay true and loyal to the whole affair, not just Methodism, but Christianity as well.
After all, if it’s always going to be on the side of stifling equality and human rights then how can people like me stay a part of it? Let alone not openly fight it publicly?
So yes I got a little too passionate. I said some things in the wrong way. I was a bit too challenging… but it’s precisely because I’m fully on board with us aligning with the ideals of the Gospels. And I’d like us to preserve that.
Banning abortion or banning pastors from marrying gay couples or banning gay people from becoming clergy is NOT aligned with the ideals Jesus preached while he was alive.
And yes I’ve read what Paul says in Romans about gay people and I could Care less what Saul-Paul said. He’s not the foundation of the faith and practice. Jesus is.
I’m tired of this. Tired of the fight. Tired of the struggle. Tired of talking about it. Tired of writing about it.
So… We’ve received a lot of Messages asking us if we’re okay and “where the heck have you been? We are “okay”. I’d LOVE to say we are AWESOME like normal. And in certain arenas we are. For sure. The back pain issues I first spoke about 2 years ago have continued to get worse. So “where we’ve been” is doctors, Chiros, surgeons, pain management centers, imaging centers, etc etc. For those who ask…. My once herniated discs in L2-L5, which was causing all that pain, turned to ruptured discs about 9 months ago. The pain got worse and the legs got way worse. Now they’ve turned into collapsed discs. And the pain is way way worse. And so are the legs. For ease of understanding, there are no more discs in L2-L5. They’ve flattened. It’s bone against bone. And the gel that once filled the discs has now filled my spinal column and foramin pushing against a whole host of nerve bundles in the lumbar area and the ones specifically responsible for our legs. There’s foraminal stenosis, as one would guess, which just means those holes in our back bones that all our nerves slip in and out of, are filled with disc gel and are being squeezed. The back pain is beyond excruciating. In addition the leg pain is as well. But it’s more of a weakness, burning, tingling, on fire, and numb feeling. What it translates to is I now limp on both legs, which I admit makes me feel sorry for myself sometimes and embarrassed. I also kick things over all the time as I lose more and more control of my legs, and I occasionally fall over. It definitely sucks. The X-rays show the levoscoliosis that has formed — the spine twisting left to right to left etc constantly overcompensating everytime another disc ruptures and starts to flatten. Doctor says it’s a chicken or the egg dilemma: is the levoscoliosis causing the discs to rupture or are the collapsed discs causing the levoscoliosis… they all say it doesn’t matter at this point. There is some good news in all of this. For one thing, my outrageous writing 5-8 songs a week has returned. Most likely because there’s a lot now that I’m not able to do. Songwriting isn’t one of them. I haven’t written at this level or this speed since ‘06-‘08. And it feels awesome. Another thing, in late summer things suddenly changed for the worse. One minute i was normal me, sort of, not really i guess, but “okay”, just in a lot of pain and moaning groaning and screaming a lot. Then suddenly the pain became too unbearable and I became bed ridden. Couldn’t get out of the horizontal position, just lying there with tears steaming down my eyes moaning. This was the rock bottom. Then something miraculous: friends heard about it and sent us their medication. Not kidding. Doctors in NY are absolutely terrified of prescribing certain medicines. And they tell us that. Literally say to us “truth is son we are terrified of prescribing the kind of medications YOU need right now. We’re too Afraid of losing our licenses.” So instead they overcompensate and load you up with a bunch of meds you don’t need and that are much more dangerous for you. They freely admit that’s what they’re doing. They blame the New York Board of Medicine. So people like me just lie around horizontal unable to stand or sit…. moaning or screaming in pain all day every day. It’s like living in hell and having nightmares on top of it. But then in come these meds from friends. Suddenly I was out of pain. I could walk. I could sit at a desk. I could bend. It was AMAZING. A true miracle. You run out of these meds of course. So people like me and millions of other Americans are forced to buy them from Canadian or British pharmacies. Which don’t go through your insurance obviously. So it’s expensive as hell. But you get your life back. That’s an issue. It’s happening all over the country to tens of millions of Americans who wake up “sick” one day. A topic in and of itself. Where WE are now is in a race against my legs continuing to get worse and “losing mobility” or what they like to call “becoming non-ambulatory” which is a fancy way of saying “not be able to walk”. So we have been interviewing surgeons like crazy. The problem is I have what is called a “spinal deformity”, referring to the rollercoaster my spine has turned into from the levoscoliosis. So we need what’s called a “Spinal Deformity Specialist” to do the surgeries. There are about 3-5 surgeries I need depending on who you talk to. But every surgeon we’ve gone to has declined to be the one who’s going to do it. Which we totally understand. One surgeon, the top at his hospital, the top in his field, told us he couldn’t guarantee better than a 50/50 chance of improving me after surgery and to keep looking. another one gave us the old “you’re really young to be getting these surgeries. Let’s give it some time before we go putting you through all that.” We’ve heard this one before. 2 years ago. If we hadn’t listened to him, I’d be in a lot less pain and I’d be walking like a normal person. They say this because it’s a big task, with a big risk due to my spine. We get it. So our goal, our primary, our mission, is to just find ONE great surgeon who says “Yes, I think I can do this”. That’s it. It’s been harder than we thought. We’ve met with a lot of them. But we will keep on, stay positive, and we will find this one awesome surgeon. And we will resolve and heal my back and put this behind us. I see it. I feel it. If you want to help in consciousness, use whatever tools you feel comfortable with, Prayer, Primaries, visualizations, incantations or affirmations, positive thinking… toward:
We find the perfect surgeon for the job and he does it without any glitches and I’m healed.
2. Our insurance company stops denying everything our doctors and surgeons request and stop wasting everyone’s time and energy. They are monsters. We really need them to step up now. Before it’s too late.
Our doctor starts coming around and prescribing the right medications to treat what I actually have. Excruciating Level 8-10 chronic pain. (Last week he tried to give me an extremely toxic med for MS patients who have seizures! Not kidding. Has absolutely nothing to do with what I have. And he knows it. Told me. But like all of them, he’s scared to death to prescribe anything for pain etc.) BUT HE actually did say in our last appnt that THAT IS exactly what I need and he’s not averse to prescribing it and he will “soon”. So we wait for “soon”…. In the meantime Princess Little Tree has been AMAZING through this. She’s been strong, supportive, resolute, any and every positive adjective you can think of. But she has her moments. She cries a lot. She’ll see me hobble into the bedroom like an old man and just start crying. I can’t wash my own face — bending over like that kills me. Tying my shoes is excruciating. Or maybe I’ll kick something over without knowing it. It’s all a LOT for her to bear. Too much. And the funny thing about it, the irony of it all, is that as the sick person you actually feel worse about what you’re doing to your spouse than you do about how sick you are. It really messes with your self esteem. Forcing your spouse into something so challenging difficult and heartbreaking. For me it’s just been very humbling anger-inducing and embarrassing and yes I often feel shame for being like this. So if you know her, send some positive energy her way. Or a message or a text or a call or a prayer. Anything you can think of to help lift her spirits or support her. She’s taking the big hit and the heavy load with this. Not me. I promise as strange as that sounds, I believe it is true. Speaking of that, for those of you who have already known about this and have been helping along the way, THANK YOU! We don’t have words to express how grateful we’ve felt over this past year for you and everything you’ve done. You’ve taught us a LOT about the power of helping others and how it really is the most important thing we can do in life. We are very humbled grateful and appreciative for all of you and we love you all very much. You guys know me. It doesn’t get more positive. One of the reasons why I kept this quiet for so long. I was certain I was going to power my way through it in no time at all and it would be over. No need to share it. So didn’t feel like it was a big deal. But yeah so it’s a big deal now. BUT I remain super positive about it. And super hopeful. I KNOW we will get through this. We’re getting close now. Just keep thinking and seeing the same thing with us please. That’s it for now. Ambassador out.
Dearest Avatar friends, This morning, while participating in this “morning prayer group” thing on Zoom that started about 2 years ago with the onset of Covid and just kept growing and growing, I kept having this recurring thought: “what if we as Avatars approached our day to day lives with the same amount of commitment to participating as this morning prayer group does…? Imagine the possibilities…!”
I started to feel excitement inside.
Let me say for the record, since we all know each other from various Avatar Courses and that’s our particular connection point, that I’m not what one would call religious in any way, which admittedly does create a rather peculiar and surreal, if not downright controversial experience for everyone in this prayer group at times whenever we end up in more social conversations.
Everyone else who participates IS religious, grew up religious, believes or at least “has faith” in all the various tenets of some “religion”, and they take it very seriously. It’s serious reality to them. Whereas with me, I sincerely don’t get how anyone could say they think any of the ideas propagated by the thousands of manmade religions throughout human history hold any truth at all with a straight face. It all seems downright farcical to me, as I’m sure it does to anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of history and how these different religions originated.
But that comes with two caveats: one, I do and frankly always have had an intuitive feel and sense of something larger than us that seems to exist in our universe… a larger more all encompassing presence or consciousness that everyone can tap into, feel and connect with. The Tao if you will. A divine presence. Source. The Force. The Divine. Some kind of permanent pervasive energy that exists both outside of us and yet within us all at the same time. So I’m always interested in exploring that. Going deeper into it. To see what transpires….
Two, prayer in and of itself most likely didn’t start off as a religious practice in our slow and steady evolution as a species… even though it’s been co-opted by the major religions now, and commingled with ideologies like “worship” etc., In reality prayer is just another word for and form of focused attention on one particular thing, idea, thought or no-thought, with a variety of different goals… freeing or clearing the mind in order to transcend consciousness and experience pure awareness for a moment or two; or to connect with some kind of higher power within consciousness or pure awareness; or to seek comfort and serenity in times of trauma worry or stress; or to harness enough free attention particles in order to deliberately create something preferred for ourselves or someone else or the world or the environment around us….
As Avatars we understand perhaps better than anyone else the power of deliberately focused attention to create shift and transform reality. So the idea of prayer as a practice fascinates me. Regardless of religion, I dont see or feel any harm in prayer. Opposite. I see it as a noble goal, an intriguing ontological experiment from a scientific perspective… rather than a religious practice. The idea of committing to this experiment on a daily basis, again similar to meditation or even using the Avatar tools, is intriguing. A fascinating way to explore its possibilities and see what might transpire.
So…. This morning prayer group I speak of literally started out as a kind of survival or connection practice due to those sudden Covid lockdowns and the fear and unknowns associated with all of us suddenly faced with a mysterious global pandemic we knew nothing about. The future became very realistically uncertain for all of us in every corner of the world. A 5-10 minute gathering to “pray” with others, whether we even knew them or not, seemed an appropriate and beneficial idea.
The entire experience, done online over some kind of multi-person video service like Zoom or Skype etc. only lasts about ten minutes. That’s it. But every day Monday to Friday like clockwork. And not only has it not stopped after almost two years now, the attendance keeps growing. People from all over the US, many in different time zones. Everyone finds a way to show up for it. No matter where they are in the world or what “time” it is.
Consistency is the key to it I’ve noticed. No matter what happens to be “happening” in everybody’s day to day lives, or in the world at that particular moment, everyone finds a way to log into this thing. They might be out jogging, or at a parent’s house who just passed away, or in the car or on the subway, or just getting out of the shower (seriously), or still locked down in their home, by themselves or with a few family members….
But there they are, logged into Zoom, prepared to pray or meditate or at least listen for ten minutes; and then on with their day.
It’s been very educational for me, from a consciousness and cultural exploration perspective. It’s a fascinating little societal anomaly, this odd comittment people have to attend. But why?
As a longtime Avatar, we’ve tried a variety of different things through the years to try to encourage or grow “community” among all the Avatars all over the world, to increase connection, add consistency and (most excitingly perhaps) explore the possibilities of gathering the consciousness of many Avatars together at the exact same time to focus their attention on any one thing in order to create something(s).
Though at the same time, the tools themselves encourage a life deliberately lived, dependent on no one but one’s self. And that’s one of the most important and powerful aspects of awakening to the knowledge in the Avatar materials — suddenly not needing something or someone outside of one’s self in order to feel better or self improve or become more successful or happier or become enlightened or transcend….
For me there was enormous power in discovering this inherent ability we all possessed as a species but just never knew about because at some point we stopped passing it on to ourselves and generations that came afterwards. It was very freeing, liberating, empowering. Awakening to the reality that it was we who possessed all the answers and power to change shift transform create and discreate our individual and shared realities. Mind blowing really. As each of you already know.
But what about the power of community, connection with others, the potential for bigger reality shifts through working together, through harnessing the power of many working together toward one reality…?
In NYC we had a long-running Avatar Wizards group that met once a month. Going back about 15 years now. It went on for years. Because of its consistency and reliability, it really did foster a sense of community and for a few years got 25-40 people together from a rather large geographical area every month without fail. I can now say, looking back having had the experience, that it was an empowering experience, as well as a heart warming and comforting human connection and community experience as well.
My interest in sharing this with you all is in what could be achieved, in consciousness, and in each person’s day to day lives, and in the broader world that we live in and share with billions of others, if we as Avatars made that same kind of commitment to “regular practice”, just as this strange little morning prayer group i referenced earlier does..? Not a daily thing. But perhaps weekly, or monthly…
Consistency and reliability seem to be key. Those factors, consistency and reliability, come from commitment and dedication. Commitment and dedication come from a shared belief in the overarching mission or goal or perceived value or benefit, by at least one or two or more people.
I definitely feel a deep sense of perceived value and benefit from the regular practice of using the avatar tools; even just from regular reminders of the knowledge base that comes from re-reading and studying the materials.
So next up would be some kind of commitment to do or practice “something”. The kind of commitment that leads to the creation of something consistent and reliable for self and others. For whatever reason, it almost doesn’t seem to matter WHAT “it” is, if it is reliably consistent, people will tune in or participate in it. THAT is a mind blowing realization.
If a small group started that practice, freely permitted other like-minded folks to participate whenever they wanted to and invited others to do the same, the materials being studied more, the knowledge and insights being explored and digested more, the practice and using of the tools happening more, and more consistently…. imagine the possibilities.
Now that’s a noble goal. A potentiality that absolutely intrigues and fascinates me. Just we in this tiny little group live in 6 different countries. That is so random and yet cool. Based on the time zones, we as a group basically encircle the entire globe.
I propose that when each of us get a chance to contemplate it, let’s share what day(s) and time(s) we think might work best for us to do something…. Weekends keep popping up for me, that might “work best”…. But then I keep remembering that those morning prayer group Zooms take place at 8am on weekdays, which seems crazy considering most people have 9-5 jobs on weekdays. It goes to show that when the perceived benefit is strong enough, no normally idealized limitation of the “real world” will hold people back from committing to and doing something.
We already know that attention out, on making the world a better place, is a little known secret path to self improvement and making our own lives a better place. We also know the opposite is true: attention on self, a deliberate unselfish commitment to being the best we can be as individuals is a little known secret path to making the outside world a better place.
What if we did both? Simultaneously. Not limited to one in any moment in the typical binary fashion of going from one extreme to the other the way we as people tend to usually do — in one period working wholeheartedly on self and our own personal lives, then in a sudden “revelation” of guilt over how selfish we’ve been we jump to the other side and sacrifice everything in our personal lives for some bigger world transforming volunteer activity or cause… we all know the drill and how it plays out….
What if instead we do it more elegantly..? Every moment of every day is dedicated to taking care of self, as good stewards taking full responsibility for self and family and friends and community, knowing this is how healthy societies and civilizations thrive, but at the same time we commit to regular shared group gatherings and activities toward bigger goals with the intention to focus our collective attention on making the outside world we live in a better place? And we do it with dedication and commitment, creating a reliable stable reference point that in time is so dependable that it’s downright predictable.
From here the real question, the exciting next question , is what do we want to create? What changes and improvements do we want to see in the world? To start lead captain or lend ourselves to? I can think of many. And I dare say that inherent in the question is an understanding that the answer is not limited to just one.
Professor Scott Galloway recently published an essay about how difficult it is for men in today’s world to make friends, with some accompanying tips. We’ve been hearing about this issue for several years now, in bits and pieces… it has remained just beneath the surface of society’s more popular and topical current affairs speak since the anomaly was first observed.
We can note that the topic and all of its ramifications have been largely ignored to date in societal public discourse to make room for other topics perceived more popular valuable or important.
There are obvious reasons for this of course. With the recent advent of movements such as MeToo, Black Lives Matters, LGBTQ equality, LatinX, Immigration and even the longstanding Women’s Reproductive Rights movement, men, especially white straight men, have not only been made to seem a secondary consideration in modern society compared to these more pressing issues, they’ve also taken on the role of being the original and primary problem and cause that created the need for these movements in the first place.
Put in simpler terms, men are the problem. For everything and all that ails us as a collective society, men are the root cause. Say it out in a group or mention it on social media and you’ll see nodding approval as if it’s a given, or read angry tirades in agreement about how selfish greedy heartless self serving and evil men are; simply by the very nature that they were born men.
We also witness confirmation of this fact based on two more of the many overlooked side effects of this ongoing trend…. One of them being how younger generations of men, Gen Z and Millenials especially, have learned to present themselves out in the world as soft, harmless, and effeminate.
Gone are the days where a young man attempts to go out into the world and display his strength or resolve, toughness or courage, confidence, boldness or competitive ambition, or anything remotely once associated with masculinity. They have an intuitive knowing from growing up during the last 20 years that to express or display any traditional traits associated with being “manly” may lead to instant shunning by the world around them. And to anyone, young or old, man woman or somewhere in between, that’s a terrifying thought.
Now we witness younger generations of men deliberately dressing and acting to downplay their masculinity. As if they’re trying to hide the fact that they’re men. And forget about manliness. That’s become so taboo that it isn’t even a thought. Even masculinity feels dangerous to own or utter aloud.
We also see it in how men are portrayed in contemporary art and entertainment.
And indeed from a historical perspective this glaringly appears to be the case. We all know the history — although to be fair and historically accurate it has never truly been a purely “white men” problem. That’s a deeply short sighted viewpoint considering that human civilization, and it’s history, as we currently define it, started in the region of earth known as Mesopotamia — modern day Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey — approximately six to eight thousand years ago. And the various different tribal groups that occupied this area and fought each other for dominance over it were not what we call “white” or “Caucasian”. “White” came thousands of years later.
But yes, from the very beginning, MEN of various colors and races have ruled governed conquered and over-lorded since the advent of recorded history, always at the expense of women and any “minorities” in whatever geographical region or timeline we can look back on. It just wasn’t always “white” men. That’s a more recent trend in the larger scope of human history.
Now with that said, over the last 2300 years of that history, white men have been the primary victimizer of seemingly everybody else in the human population, a fact that has rendered men in today’s world toxic; any kind of concern or empathy toward men is now a thorny subject, problematic at best, or more accurately a stigma to be avoided at all costs in the grand scheme of righting the wrongs of the last 8,000 years.
Men, especially white straight men, in todays western societies are in a funky place. On the one hand they still run and control almost everything, from governments to big business, from the worlds largest churches and religions to banking and finance, art and entertainment, from the commodities that fuel the world to the secret societies that power the world.
Yet at the same time, they have become a hated and despised breed of human, the scapegoat for everything that is wrong with humanity and planet earth. And because of this fact the average white straight male walks around feeling horrible about himself. Just automatically. Not because they’ve done or not done anything. But just because. Most of the time it isn’t even conscious. Especially for those who’ve grown up in this environment over the last ten to fifteen years.
Even for those who are older and grew up in a different world entirely where white straight men could do no wrong. That narrative has changed so much, been flipped upside down and smashed on its head, that it would be impossible for any white straight male not to be aware of the heavy burden of animosity and discrimination that is being dumped on them on a constant basis. And accompanying it, as Galloway alludes to in his latest article, is a deep sense of shame, guilt, fear, isolation, loneliness, self loathing, drunkenness, drug abuse and higher suicide rates.
The tweet of the article did get a few of us talking about the subject. Albeit through more tweets and comments. Not an ideal place to converse or debate, but workable.
I replied, “Oddly this is not something we experience in the music industry; even from way back in the local days to now, it’s never been a thing. We do not find that we feel isolated or find it hard to make friends or difficult to reach out to each other. But I do notice it with guys outside of the various art and entertainment circles. Not sure what or why it is exactly…”
Dan Munro of Forbes magazine commented, “Ed FWIW: Music is often targeting a performance – and it’s often rehearsed and then performed w/ others (either in attendance or a live audience).By definition a “connected” activity.That connection is hard to establish/maintain – especially as we age. “Social” media isn’t it.”
“I was thinking a similar thing the last hour or so,” i said a bit later. “The way we artists and musicians started out in our early teens playing & hanging every day with ANY other guy or gal who cud play an instrument or sing or make a flyer or book shows or do promo, fix guitars, run audio or lighting or anything else that contributed to brining music to the masses….
It didn’t matter who what where or when we were coming from… we just became friends from wanting to play music together. From there we got to know each other. And no matter how different we may have been from one another on the surface, or socioeconomically, there was always this strong nearly sacred bond of music and music making that kept us friends… Never really thought about this before….” I said.
Dan: “Music is a very connected activity. Sports has some of that – and there are other hobbies/social activities that can create equally strong bonds …… BUT … “social” media has worked to divide and isolate us all. COVID didn’t help. So for “adult” men, friendship is harder.”
Now what Dan was saying made more sense to me. I’ve been hearing it more and more from guy friends I have who aren’t immersed in the arts or entertainment or activism worlds. And I said as much to Scott and Dan.
“I must admit I have heard this from a LOT of guy friends over the last 7 years or so… Definitely a trend. Various men complaining about loneliness isolation depression, almost always accompanied by “things not being what they used to be” where u cud just give a guy a call & go get a drink. There’s now a strange new trend hiding in men that compels them to feel more reluctant or resistant or afraid to open up and talk honestly with one another. But also with women… On the one hand, we live sleep and breathe to gain the attention and admiration of the femme; everything we do is in some small part at least based on our desire to attract women — and based on everything we know, they feel the same way. And yet we’re keenly aware of the pariah we’ve become in society at large just for being men in the first place.
And with gay men…, forget about it, most white straight men have no idea how to relate to or communicate with gay men. They/we can feel the judgement and criticism aimed our way from a hundred yards away. When encountering gay men, we as straight men, just by the fact itself, are made aware that there exists a general idea that we are rude crude sloppy ill mannered clumsy poorly dressed have no taste or fashion sense, and there’s a secret inside joke we’re just not getting. So we tend to shy away from interacting with gay men. No one wants to be reminded of how lame they are. And for whatever reason, amongst gay men, straight men are lame. And there’s no attempt on their part to cover up that stereotype when in their company.
To get back on point, regarding the crisis white straight men are facing now, I also believe this strange new phenomenon of men feeling more isolated and depressed partially stems from the advent of email & texting taking over picking up a phone and calling. It’s so easy to feign “oh yeah man I didn’t see your text/email till later”. That’s common now, to not be able to pick up a phone and reach someone in the moment. The voicemail is what you get. And let’s face it, even the voicemail, both having a greeting or leaving a voicemail message for another person seem to be disappearing, along with hundreds of other things as we transition into this new world of high tech, virtual connection and physical IRL isolation.
On Twitter i told the other guys involved in the conversation that was brewing that “One thing i don’t mind admitting is that the last 5 years have been BRUTAL for us men. Whether we’re personally guilty of anything or not. We walk around 24/7 in a cloud of shame & guilt knowing & observing how society feels about us. The MeToo, Woke and Cancel Culture movements seemed to kick that feeling into overdrive in society at large. No matter how we look at it, men are the problem. Men… are the enemy.”
Regardless of whether we were and are supporters of the MeToo cause or 100% against it — i was heavy into it ideologically and physically, felt it had been a long time coming and in terms of activism was as involved as i could be, attending marches and demonstrations, protesting in the streets, signing petitions, etc. — it was clear that it was happening and the way western society viewed and treated “men” was forever to change. And not in a good way. At least not at first.
Historically justified…? Definitely. We men of today are now paying the price for thousands of years of brutality and abuse of just about everyone in human history by men who came before us. And we get that. But it still doesn’t make it easy on us here now in modern times.
And that’s “men” in general. Made much worse if you possess none of the … hhhmm… let’s say “protective softeners” society has deemed appropriate to dole out to men to judge criticize or treat them less harshly, like being black brown red yellow or LGBTQ etc. Men of this kind may tend to find it a little easier to navigate through society without as much animosity and vitriol aimed at them constantly. White men, especially white straight men, do not. (Consider the entire premise for the existence of AppleTV’s stellar Morning Show.)
I dont feel “bad” about being a straight white man myself… but I do feel a strong apologetic sense of guilt by association for being born that way, especially over the last few years with everything the cartoonish Donald Trump brought to the forefront of collective consciousness here in the United States.
The sudden appearance of this strange deranged white straight man and everything that was revealed about his personal beliefs and habits, so arrogant, ignorant, self centered, deluded, prejudiced, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, white-centrist, religiously extreme, egomaniacal and just plain dumb…he really shone a light on a serious problem we had and still have here in the U.S. with white straight men. Especially coming out of the more refined intelligent respectful civil and gentile 8 years of the Obama administration.
The Obama years lulled us to sleep to a certain degree, because he epitomized the transcendent man in so many ways, as close as we’d ever gotten in politics and governance at least; and for one brief 8 year period we were all encouraged to believe that Obama was going to be the norm from now on when it came to “men” in western society, he permitted us to forget just how monstrous men in general can be and often are in nearly all human societies.
Donald Trump on the other hand, and this shockingly large parade of millions of other American men just like him who were suddenly unleashed upon society with all their arrogant ignorance, mean spiritedness and phobic tendencies, awakened a reminder in society that these types of people, these white straight men of the past with all their prejudices and ignoble tendencies hadn’t transcended or become enlightened. They had just been in hiding for the better part of 8 years; they did in fact still exist; they were even more angry and filled with even more hatred for anyone who was different than them. And they were everywhere.
The problem we as a society had and still have with white straight men (although here i will admit i am not sold on the idea that being white or straight inherently have much to do with the problems men inflict on societies) was made much clearer to us all in light of the surprisingly large following Donald Trump turned out to have.
It was indeed, as anyone will admit, a shocking revelation. He was by all accounts a loud boisterous duplicitous corrupt morally bankrupt insecure destructive and sad clown of a man, uneducated and ignorant, selfishly unconcerned with anything but himself, and at worst, just another horrible human being in the shape of a white straight male in desperate need of serious mental and emotional help. Imagine a woman running for president casually saying in a campaign interview “men love it when you grab their dicks”. The guy was a disturbing sociopathic hot mess.
But none of that seemed to matter to tens of millions of “regular Americans”, men and women, the large majority being white, straight and christian. Mass guilt by association suddenly crash landed down on all of us who were white straight men. Not to mention all the other creeps who were quickly ushered through our collective hall of current events and then expediently “cancelled” over the next 5 years for various sexual crimes, harassment or misconduct. The closet door flung open and out stumbled the likes of Jeffery Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brian Warner AKA Marilyn Manson, Armie Hammer, Alec Baldwin, Charlie Rose, Danny Masterson, Louise C.K., the list at this point is too large to keep track of…. No matter where we turned, men were being revealed to be not just the villains of human history, but also real world entitled assholes in the here now.
It’s disarming waking up one day to recognize that you yourself demographically fit smack dab in the middle of that illustrious group of douchebags. At least on the surface. You may not even get it at first — it took me a few years to have the revelation personally that I was in any way similar to or associated with by extension any of these creepy men. But what happens is you start to notice that words of hatred and disgust are being used all around you in the press and in the streets about “white straight men”, and you simply can’t help it… one day it suddenly dawns on you that you are actually one of them.
Many of us, most of us, are not in fact anything like Donald Trump, Bernie Maddoff or Harvey Weinstein or any of the men listed above. But i will say that simply because we are and were raised to be “men” we do tend to come with our own set of serious issues and tendencies to be selfish, self centered, arrogant, close minded, competitive, abusive, entitled, prideful, etc. etc. Even though, yes, many of us eagerly and passionately have been actively supporting “woke” causes since that trend started.
From economic equality to women’s health rights, MeToo & BLM, immigration and prison reform, LGBTQ issues, reparations, many of us straight white men heavily support these issues, speaking for myself and my band and friends group, we’re in the streets for those… … and plenty of other white straight males are too. Actively fighting from boardroom to recording studio to farm and ranch to the dinner table to right in the streets for a whole host of causes whose time is right now as the world is waking up. But the stigma of the damage done by our group collectively is hard to shake off. It’s just there. In the air. On us. On top of us. And we really can’t deny it. All we can do is just promise to do better than those that came before us.
(As a side note, though i agree with some/most of the tenets of the “woke” ideology and movement, I personally don’t like the term “Woke” itself, for the most obvious and surface reason, in that it obviously originated from and perpetuates having a lack of education and the use of bad grammar because of that, when it’s clear that what is meant by it is “to be awake”, “to be awakened” or “to be enlightened” (Think The Matrix movies, or Buddhism or the New Age movement or Activism in general…).
Some of us have been working on this (r)evolutionary cause for decades in our own lives, influenced by others who came along decades before us; all of us promoting and working hard to foster equality and enlightenment and WAKING up in order to make the world a better place. So suddenly co-opting this already very large, long standing cultural movement and attaching a label to it that, deliberately or not, denotes a lack of education and poor grammar leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.
But hey that’s just me. I believe the various aspects of the movement itself would be more embraced, more supported, less maligned, and further served if we were not all being forced to deliberately use bad grammar when referring to “waking up” or “being awake”.
Admittedly by this point in the day, still ostensibly engaged in conversation with Scott and Dan about the curse and crisis of the modern white straight male, I was also deep down the rabbit hole of the issues involved… lost in my own rambling thoughts about a variety of side and sub-topics…
Dan Munro commented… “… major cultural/economic shifts have contributed to this stigma you reference Ed.”
Women as primary breadwinner on the rise
Economic collapses of 2008 – and then COVID
Here in US – aging population where family (and activities) are more consuming
Erosion of “middle-class” lifestyle, etc…
Even though there’s a current backlash against how overboard the man bashing has been and the constant virtue signaling by the media through a very loud culture of “cancelling” anything that is remotely male white or straight, there is clearly cause for it. And yet now it’s hard not to notice how far the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, at least when perusing modern entertainment to digest, with such a high degree of black brown native Asian female gay or trans content being injected into tv or film….
For the record, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, because it’s no different than what we just experienced for the last 100 years with almost everything being casted as and aimed at a white straight christian centered audience. This is just the extreme we seem to always swing to as the pendulum of change slowly winds down and rebalances after major cultural shifts.
(The only real issue one can take with this trend, and it’s definitely a viable stand to take, is toward this new tendency of deliberately altering the world’s most famous and beloved historical events or period piece stories and creating falsehoods about human history by changing historically white or male figures into black or female. For the record, and I believe this to be important, these opportunistic Hollywood “woke promoters” altering everything in the name of being more inclusive but in reality doing so just to enlarge their audience and make more money are creating an entire generation ignorant of actual history.)
(This is tragically — and one might say hilariously — ironic since it’s history itself which we say we have a problem with and use as the primary motivator behind the whole movement. But by inserting a black, latino, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, gay or transgender person into new remakes of classic Jane Austen, Charles Dickens or Shakespearean period pieces, we completely defeat and deflate the purpose of having a solid understanding and knowledge of the actual human history we’re trying to understand in order to motivate and instigate changes for the better in the modern age. Again it’s just that pendulum of change swinging too far to the extreme, in this case wildly so and to the detriment of the cause itself.)
So with all of this male bashing and the inherent guilt and shame that comes with it if you fit that mold, one must admit that we still have it made. White straight men are still primarily the super heroes and the action adventure stars of Hollywood blockbusters, global politics, corporate boardrooms, and nation governance all over the earth.
We can’t take the burden of self effacing shame and guilt that’s been foisted upon us by woke society and start complaining that suddenly our lives are over and all opportunity is lost forever. It’s simply not true. We white straight males of the modern world still quite possibly have more opportunity in more categories and areas of life to this day than any other group in the world.
Experts in a variety of different academic and social science arenas, especially in the fields of healthcare, mental health and medicine have been reporting for years now that a tragic crisis of loneliness depression isolation despair alcoholism drug abuse and suicide is brewing and growing ever larger amongst this particular group: men, especially of the white and straight variety. The modern man has absolutely no idea what to do with himself, barely understands what just transpired over the last seven years, doesn’t understand why they themselves are being personally pointed out, blamed, judged, and criticized so harshly, and shunned so vehemently by society at large and in their own communities.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that because white straight men have been in control for so long in human history, and literally monopolized nearly every archetype, icon and reference point of global human society for millennia, when the woke backlash arrived, it was traveling at such an incredible speed, was filled with so much anger, hatred and resentment that it didn’t care who got in the way or got trampled by it. We never even bothered to check who may or may not have been a viable target versus just collateral damage.
See below for some examples of the phenomenon though…
Women cook. But men are called Chef. Women are great musicians and fill a variety of first chairs zzall over the world. But men comprise the majority of the world’s most famous composers and conductors. Women sew. But it’s men’s names that adorn the labels of the world’s most sought after luxury fashion brands and designers. And when a gentleman needs the best tailor, he goes to a man. Women teach. And some of them do write. But it’s men who are the great literary giants they write and teach about. A higher percentage of women on earth in modern times get educated and earn their Ph.Ds, to study the greatest minds of philosophy, history, psychology, ontology, cosmology and physics, the vast majority of which are…. men.
What film aficionado doesn’t enjoy a good debate about who the greatest filmmakers of all time are? All of them men (Katherine Bigelow comes to mind, sure, but she’s not being mentioned in the same breath as Scorsese Spielberg Baumbach The Andersons or Coppola et al.) The same goes for “the greatest bands or musical artists of all time” lists that people love to create and then argue about. They usually start with The Beatles or Dylan or Elvis or Led Zeppelin or the Stones. All men of course. (One has to consistently remind people of Joni Mitchell or Kate Bush in order that they might find room in their list to insert them; where they clearly belong. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Popes, Emperors, Supreme Leaders, all men. (Except the few exceptions, which is why there’s always such a big brouhaha made over these occasional exceptions.) The greatest mind of science? Einstein. The greatest inventor of all time? Edison; or maybe Steve Jobs now. The greatest industrialists and financiers? Henry Ford. Rockefeller. JP Morgan. Et al. And we’re just touching the tip of the iceberg here.
On a grander scale, all the various “messiahs” humanity has invented and worshipped over the last 6,000 years, whose “returns” are eagerly anticipated to bring about centuries of peace on earth or redeem our sin-damaged souls in one way or another… all men. So too all the various prophets of old and new who advise and warn us of these coming messiahs. Even His Manliness The Damai Llama, a living here-now messiah of the Tibetan Buddhist faith, is of course… a man.
The great kings, emperors, rulers, leaders, conquerors, explorers and adventurers throughout (human) time… all men. (Sure, feel free to throw one of the few queen’s names in the list if you’d like, if for no other reason than to further cement the point being made due to how few there are.)
Then there’s the more mundane, long-lasting cultural and commercial icons who are so deeply embedded in our psyche, our holidays, our traditions, our cultures, their names uttered so frequently and nonchalantly that we don’t even consider gender when mentioning them… And yet what do we find..? Santa Clause, and yes even his reign deer, the Grinch, snowmen, the abominable snowman, Bigfoot, Peter Pan, Paul Bunyan, Daniel Boone, the Founding Fathers, Davy Crockett, the Easter Bunny, Captain Crunch, Captain Morgan, Captain Kangeroo, Captain Ahab, Captain America, Captain Kirk, Julius Caesar, Achilles, Apollo, Hercules, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Ghengis Khan, Alexander the Great, Xerxes, King Cyrus, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israel, Jacob, Moses, Father Time, Voltaire, Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky, Chairman Mao, Prince Valiant, Prince Charming, Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur, Van Gogh, Picasso, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Beethoven and Mozart, Wagner, Liszt, Chopin, Jack the Ripper, Jack Nicholson, Jack Nicholas, Jackie Robinson, Jack Frost, Jack of all trades, Jack and the Beanstalk, the giant he encounters, the Jolly Green Giant, the Boy Who Cried Wolf, the Man from UNCLE, Mr. Clean, pirates, cowboys, rockstars, DJs, MCs, boy bands, boy toys, boy wonder, Man of the Hour, International Man of Mystery, Man Child, Man about town, Ladies Man, Manwich… God, etc….
This list literally can go on for hours if one took the time… I’m just doing it off the top of my head for fun. Imagine taking a few minutes to google it. (!!!) What we’d discover is an entire species’ culture historically dominated by male archetypes from the very beginning of their ascent out of the mud till this very day.
It’s no wonder there’s been a collective backlash against men in modern times. The inequality and disparity between men and women has been with us since the very beginning. And people in general, of all ages races and genders have suddenly decided that it’s not okay. Which admittedly, it’s not. Because of this fact, and the blame and finger pointing aimed at men now, they are turning, deliberately or not, to despair confusion drink drugs self isolation poor work performance unhealthy eating and living habits suicide or angrily lashing out with senseless mass killings.
As I stated earlier, I’ve not found it happening to me personally. Nor to many of my friends in the arts entertainment or activism fields, but I do hear about it on a daily basis from male friends in every other field of life. There’s the general confusion about why THEY are being blamed personally, the anger and bitterness, the rage, the loneliness, the depression. It’s all very real.
I do not believe this was or is our end-goal when we started these various movements to make the world a better place. No one stood up and declared “let’s decimate devastate and destroy all white straight men everywhere!” But that’s precisely what we’re doing, deliberately or not.
I do believe we need to stop, take stock of the damage we are doing to this particular group and begin to assess how we can assist white straight men through this challenging time of major cultural transition.
Besides it just being the right thing to do from a compassionate point of view — and if we are not coming to these movements and promoting these causes and great cultural transformations from a place of compassion, then what ARE we doing? — we already know what happens to any group in a society who reaches their boiling point when feeling too harshly criticized or ostracized or left out from society.
January 6th was just one example. And if that event didn’t scare the living hell out of you, then you’re one of those so deeply entrenched in the white straight christian male group that you’re just not seeing that particular historical moment for the terrifying event it was.
But again, that’s just one example of what can happen in a country or community or society when one specific group of people begin to feel that kind of desperation. The weak will fall to the wayside quickly through various forms of self destruction; the stronger ones will unite in their pain and begin to angrily lash out as we witnessed on January 6th or on any number of occasions throughout human history (think French Revolution, etc.) As a society built upon both compassion for all human beings and self preservation as a species we must do our best to avoid these outcomes.
Side note: was speaking to a younger female about this, a Gen Z, for the last few weeks about this subject. Our main topics have been about how incredibly challenging it’s going to be for humanity as a whole to change all of the nomenclature we take for granted as a society that uses gender related terminology to express a variety of different points…
“Get some balls”. “Now that guy’s got some big balls!” “Talk about cojones!” “Man up.”. “Every man for himself”. “Man of the hour”. “Man of the people”. “Man on the street”. “Man of few words”. “Are we not men?” “Get out there and be a man”. “Who’s the man?”. “A yes man”. “Con man”. “He man”. “Hitman”. “Gentleman”. “Ladies man”. “Leading man”. “Main man”. “Medicine man”. “Craftsman”. “Cleaning lady”. “Milkman”. “Law man”. “Lawn man”. “Sheriff”. “Pool man”. “No man is an island”. “Manmade”. “One man band”. “Man-of-war”. “Come on in guys”. “Men are from mars.” “One small step for man…”. “Take it like a man”. “Damn that’s gay”. “Dude you’re so gay.” “Don’t be such a homo”. “Don’t be such a pussy”. “Don’t be such a girl”. “Come on guys, let’s do it!” “The boys are back!” “When mankind first emerged…” “The first man to walk on the moon”. “Are you a lady now? You want me to get you a tampon?” “Dude”. “Bro”. “Man…”. “Guy”. “Chief”. The list goes on and on….
Interestingly she shared with me that she doesn’t mind being called “dude”. But she corrects people if they call her “man” or “guy/guys”, even if it’s one of her friends. Frankly I found that to be odd. Personally I see “man”, “dude” and “guys” to be genetically neutral gender-free terms that can apply safely and equally to men or women or anyone in between. But that could just be my generation, or gender, speaking.
Hence the need and importance of multi-generational dialogue about these issues.
Had texted her earlier in the week to say,
“Of course NOW because we’ve had the discussion. I’m seeing real life examples of how this male gender thing and the inherent challenges we still face in our societal nomenclature plays out on a daily hourly basis all over the place….”
— “I hired you because you had the most balls / bollocks of all the recruits”…. is nonchalantly said to a girl.
— Then there’s the classic double standard: “the more girls a guy gets with, the more of a stud he is, the cooler, more handsome, more attractive, more desirable he is; the more guys a girl sleeps with, the more of an immoral slut of questionable values she is and the less appealing and desirable she is as a potential wife/life partner”.
— the World Cup is possibly the biggest event in the world. But what it really is is the Men’s World Cup. We just take that fact for granted. Just like the short-sightedly named World Series, or the Super Bowl. Huge events. All men. Now the “women’s World Cup” is called the “women’s World Cup” and it’s in the sport “Women’s Soccer”, not football, immediately denigrating the event, or at least relegating it to a much lower status on the importance scale of global sporting events. And it’s pretty much ignored except by females or those who are super into “women’s soccer”. Men play football. Women play soccer. Weird. And women “soccer players”, as opposed to “footballers” i.e. men, don’t even get paid enough to play the sport, let alone make a good living from it, so they are forced to have to get “donations”…. often from male Footballers, who bring in tens of millions of dollars per year in salaries and bonuses. It’s an astounding example of just one of the many disparities that exist between men and women.
[It may be helpful to explore the inherently historical contexts and reasons for these gender-based stereotypes, if even just to touch on them briefly; there are obviously deep seated Darwinian or evolutionary reasons why this particular double standard has had such a stronghold on human society. A human male who is strong and tough, and handsome and attractive, to both men and women, and desired by many females portends a certain unspeakable but solidly entrenched strength, charm, physical and mental health, affability, ease and ability to get along and move around in a societal group and thus tends to equate to more security for the family, i.e. more guaranteed survival for himself and “his group”. A woman who is chaste and “virtuous”and committed to one man and her family and doesn’t spend time focusing on her looks or being attractive or taking action to be attractive to or be with a lot of male humans is reliable and trustworthy, and more importantly has allegedly spent that time building up the necessary skill sets to better take care of the home, the children, the community, the family…. i.e. she’s more reliable to guarantee the survival of the family either alone or partnered with a man. (Again, historically speaking… anthropologically speaking…) At the same time the male human is out hunting gathering bringing home food or (some form of) “money”, or some other “important commodity”. This renders the female a more reliable and desirable life mate for the guaranteed survival of the standard prototypical human family. These ideas, these deeply rooted subconscious concepts didn’t come out of nowhere, nor did they originate from some form of unfair gender bias; they naturally evolved from early humans observing what worked and didn’t work for the earliest human civilizations or tribal groups as they made their way through thousands of years of fighting for our very survival as a species.]
“The point is,” i commented to the guys in our ongoing discussion on Twitter, “we have a lot of work to do. 1. Just to reach gender equality. And 2, we have a lot of sorting out still to do of how to change all the verbiage that are norms in all the earth societies. And 3, we have to course-correct back to the middle from the extreme male hatred that has destroyed three generations of men in western society so they stop walking around feeling like villains just due to their association with history and older men in general.”
Obviously I digressed a bit here toward the end. But we’ll keep exploring. More later. Lots more. We’re still in the beginning of trying to integrate these various issues as a society. Regarding gender, I must admit I am exhausted by being a white straight male and the constant barrage of negativity that is thrown our way. Don’t get me wrong. I get that we still have it made compared to our female and black and brown and LGBTQ brothers and sisters…. It’s true.
But that heavy burly bear of shame and burden that now sits on our backs 24/7 placed there a few years ago by society and seems to apply to all of us no matter how young or old we are, no matter what generation we’re from, and no matter what we’ve ever done or not done acts as a constant reminder that there is something inherently wrong with us just because we were born white straight and male. It’s bothersome. It’s constant. It’s mentally and emotionally disturbing. It hurts.
As a scant selection of American newspapers reported this morning — read the New York Times article here — the Islamic Republic of Iran — the title of the official government of the country of Iran composed of a twisted and corrupt bunch of sexist all-male barbarian murderers who cowardly shroud themselves behind the guise of “religion” (in this case Islam) — announced today that they will disband the so-called “Morality Police”. They also commented that they “might consider loosening laws on how they force women to dress.” (Think “Hijab”).
No you haven’t time-traveled back to the Middle Ages. It’s still the 21st Century. The government of Iran, along with the rest of the Middle East and the Islamic world just doesn’t know it. The dying old guard of the Islamic Republic of Iran may view this breadcrumb as a generous compromise to the Iranian people in hopes it might somehow save them from being overthrown and brought to Justice. But it won’t.
Iranian women do not care about a bunch of old sexist racist homophonic power hungry men “loosening laws on how they are forced to dress”. What they want are equal rights, human rights, absolute and total freedom and autonomy of thought, dress, movement and expression. And they will accept nothing less.
The major faux pas by the New York Times editors in the article above is referring to the “protests” in Iran when over the last few weeks tens of thousands of Iranians both in and outside of Iran have repeatedly asked the media and government officials to stop referring to them as “protests” and instead call the movement what it is: a revolution. They have also asked repeatedly to stop being referred to as “protestors” on social media. And in fact what we have seen is a rapid decline in the originally popular hashtag “IranProtests” be reduced to non-trending as “IranRevolution” is now the most trending hashtag related to the noble cause of this Iranian movement.
The news comes after 75 days of street protests, marches, strikes and demonstrations not only in the country of Iran but in many countries all over the world. The protests originally started after the Morality Police beat to death a 22 year old girl named Mahsa Amini for “not wearing her head scarf properly”. She was rushed to a hospital and within less than a day she was pronounced dead.
The people of the country erupted in protests over the barbarous murder of the young girl, who had done absolutely nothing wrong and was in fact dressed in proper Hijab. The interesting thing about this particular event was that it was not particularly unique — the Iranian government, led by a hardliner religious extremist who goes by the name of Ayatollah Khamenei, a man who is only important in his own deluded mind & labels himself “The Supreme Leader” of the entire country — has been routinely beating women of all ages and classes for how they dress since they took over the country of Iran 43 years ago.
Since the protests began, Khamenei’s government has arrested more than 20,000 innocent protestors, sentenced many to execution without trials, has killed more than 2,000 people at least, many of them just children, some of them as young as 10 years old. THIS is what lit the match of this raging revolutionary fire.
This was different. It will take historians and pundits decades to unpack why this particular event unfolded the way it did and why it led to such an enormous uproar and a sincere attempt at a revolutionary overthrow of a long standing dictatorship that has broad support from both Russia and China. But so far these facts we know are what, at least in part, led to the incredible shift from complacent acceptance of fascism by the Iranian people to full fledged protests, and then soon after, cries for revolution…
To begin with the protests and outcries started with the young people of the country. VERY YOUNG. Gen Z started this revolution. They tend not to believe the old fashioned religious indoctrination that’s been such a bane on the existence of humankind over the last 3,000 years.
They also recognize that the old patriarchal guard of being ruled by old men is over in most countries around the world. And they were willing to fight to end that in their own country, put their lives on the line for it and even die for it. And many of them did. And have died. Young healthy bright brave intelligent children of the revolution turned martyrs to inspire older people to step out of their homes and fight for the just cause of freedom.
It has been nothing less than mesmerizing deeply moving and inspirational to watch them in action over these past 3 months. To witness young high school student Nika Shakarami , 16 years old, sing to her classmates in public — the first time anyone in the world had seen a female do this in Iran in almost 45 years was THE MOST INSPIRING EVENT OF 2022. Period.
For doing so she was kidnapped and beaten to death by the ISRG (Islamic Republican Guard) so brutally that her head was bashed into pieces and her face was unrecognizable to her family or anyone else for that matter. These are the kinds of animals the brave and beautiful Persian people face in their struggle for liberty, equality and basic human dignity.
The men who lead, work in and work for the alleged government of Iran are not people; they are monsters, whose time of extinction came hundreds of years ago, while the rest of humanity evolved. This is precisely why the only way they are able to put on the airs of “government officials” or pretend they started a government or still lead one in modern times is through extreme violence, brute force, fear, threats, kidnapping, mass arrests and executions of its citizenry, and highly censored, government controlled media in all formats.
They disguise themselves with self-imposed religious titles and costumes, quoting alleged “Holy Books” and participating in daily and annual religious rituals in order to attempt to hide behind religion, as opposed to sincerely embracing and practicing the tenets of love, peace, honesty, charity, forgiveness and reconciliation of one; their transparently shallow attempts to mask the wickedness and barbarity of their actions and methods of control don’t fool anyone. Especially not the young people of the country, as we’ve now witnessed firsthand over the last three months.
After the Iranian government murdered 16 year old Nika Shakarami for singing, they then held on to her body for days and refused to give it back to her family, until they paid a huge ransom for it.
Every time I watch the footage of her few brief seconds of innocently singing up there on that makeshift stage, I ball my eyes out like a baby. If anyone lit the match that turned the protests into a full fledged revolution calling for complete government overthrow, it was her brave actions that afternoon. I still cannot watch that footage without crying. But I also always feel extremely inspired and grateful and in awe of her. If she can do it, so too can the rest of us.
Secondly, the Iranian youth are connected to the world through technology and are well aware that freedom, democracy, equality for all, human rights and fairness in a Justice system exist in most of the world. Especially the free world. And Iran is a modern country very tuned in and well aware of the free world and very intent on becoming free themselves.
They know that their country has no business being led by a bunch of self-serving thugs who put themselves at the seat of power and then control an entire country through fake news, false propaganda, secret disappearances, arrests, beatings, violent rapes and murder.
Thirdly they are able to harness the power of said technology to get their message out to the rest of the world and ask for help. This they did. Despite the government regularly turning the internet off completely for days and weeks at a time. They bypassed this through VPN technology.
Fourthly, many of us in the activist communities around the globe saw their messages and video footage, heard their cries to be seen and heard, to be supported and helped in any way possible, and we acted. Boy did we act.
This was the first time I participated in an ongoing activist cause primarily through social media and technology platforms rather than in the streets. Unlike the recent BLM (Black Lives Matter) or MeToo or LGBTQ causes that many of us have so actively and boisterously supported in the streets all over the U.S., acting to support the cause of #IranProtests and then #IranRevolution was not possible in the streets in America. There simply wasn’t enough support for it nor even interest in it by the American people. Globally this cause was being fought and supported online, on social media and using technology.
In many ways this was a turning point that I believe will have very big implications for other people’s movements over the next few years as more and more autocracies and dictatorships crumble under the weight of a newly coalesced more compassionate and humane global citizenry.
Instead of large marches through streets and over bridges chanting and singing and sign waving, a rather small group of us — and even now it still seems to be just a few thousand of us — around the world came together to share every single video and photo and news story leaked out of Iran with the rest of the world. On any given day I will Tweet at least 100+ posts about Iran to my Followers. Those then get picked up by others, who in turn do the same thing.
We got the hacker group Anonymous involved very quickly and they have been a tremendous help. We also simultaneously bombarded government officials from the UN and any other country who would listen to get behind the movement and help in any way they can.
To their credit countries like Canada, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and France have all been helpful. The United States has done nothing to help. But then again the United States likes it’s apartheid states and dictatorships and spends hundreds of billions a year to keep them alive.
Think Chile, China, Israel or Saudi Arabia. Not to mention Afghanistan or Libya which it left in shambles to become Islamic terrorist states and breeding grounds. The US doesn’t like democracies so much. It only uncomfortably endures them.
On a personal note, I also recorded several messages of solidarity with the Iranian people in their struggle in both Farsi and English and spread them around social media to get the word out that “we hear you we see you we support you we fight with you” at the very beginning of the breakout of the protests. One can watch those messages here. The gratitude expressed by the Iranian people was immense. They truly appreciate any help they can get from the outside world.
I also produced a two hour video documentary explaining what was happening in Iran right now and the history behind it and what led up to it to help Americans understand why this was and still is such an important global event, in my opinion more important for world peace than the Russia-Ukraine war. One can watch those videos here.
I also did several TV appearances to help spread the word both to Americans and to the Iranian diaspora around the world to show our support for their noble cause.
But the real key to ALL of this is that we who are fighting for this Iranian cause, whether in or out of Iran, whether Iranian or American or French or Dutch, are now WAY beyond protests. We are beyond a few simple changes being made while the government stays as it is.
Our goal, the only goal is to achieve a full on people’s democratic revolution that provides and guarantees full democratic freedoms, equality and human rights for all the people of Iran. Especially women. Because they are the most disenfranchised. But truly the fight is for all Iranian citizens.
“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice than you are a comrade of mine.” —Che Guevara
What we are looking for and will achieve in Iran….
1. Women presently are forced by the government — all are men — to dress a certain way, with their clothes their hair their makeup their shoes, you name it. While men are allowed to dress however they want to. The reason for this is because if they didn’t hide themselves they would unfairly entice men to do bad things. (Insert laughter and then righteous indignant RAGE here!!!) This must and will end immediately.
2. Women are not allowed to sing in public nor record musical albums, again out of the fear that it would entice men to do bad things. I know this because i visited many music stores in Iran while on a Diplomatic Mission there and i was shocked to see whole record stores filled with CDs of only MEN! It was both hysterical and creepy. This must and will end.
3. An Iranian woman’s testimony to the police or in court is only equal to HALF that of a man’s. When I asked why this was i was told that “it would be impossible to trust a woman to full testimony because they are like delicate flowers and as such are ruled by their emotions and not by their minds or logic.” So it takes the testimony of TWO women to equal the testimony of one man. Now imagine what this portends in cases where a man or a group of men rape one woman. Get it? (Insert more indignant RAGE here!!!!!) This must and will end.
4. People of the LGBTQ community are not just denied any human rights to be how they are or wish to be; they are routinely arrested for being so and often murdered for it. This must and will end.
5. Although Jews and Christians are allowed religious freedom in Iran, though not as much as Muslims since the country is literally a Theocracy ie a country governed by one religion, in this case Islam, every other religion is outlawed. Buddhists, Bahais, Hindus, Sufis, Zoroastrians, even and especially atheists (which i still contend IS a religion) are all subject to arrest or beatings or execution for practicing the faith of their preference. This must and will end.
6. And to segue from there and keep this short and to the point, the country of Iran is governed by an unelected all-male fascist dictatorship who put themselves in power. The people have no say who leads or governs them. The so-called presidential candidates are chosen by the so-called Supreme Leader. The people don’t care about voting for president because they know he does nothing and has no actual power. He’s simply a mouthpiece for the Supreme Leader. No different than China or Russia et al.
The people of Iran want nothing less than full representative democracy. A transparent government of their choosing. With limits on power, term limits and no corruption or religion attached to their government. Complete separation of church and state. They don’t want a Supreme Leader. This isn’t Star Wars. They want a president, a Senate, a House of Parliament and a fair and honest judicial system.
They also want basic human rights guaranteed to everyone. Freedom of speech, assembly, religion, the press, all without fear of being kidnapped from their homes or arrested or beaten or murdered in the middle of the night. They are no different than you or me or anyone else who lives in a democratic republic around the world.
So although today seems like a win for the people of Iran and those of us who have been fighting with them for the last 3 months, it is only a start, and in reality it is more of a desperate last minute of the game play by a terrified group of old dogs who know their time is up.
Yes, getting rid of the so-called morality police is progress. But the only real win, the only acceptable goal the Iranian people will accept now and are fighting for now is for Khamenei and the entire Islamic Republic government of washed out old men to STEP DOWN NOW, LEAVE and HAND THE COUNTRY BACK TO THE PEOPLE.
If they do not, the peaceful protests will very soon turn into nationwide strikes that will shut the entire country down. After that it will turn into an armed people 40 million strong forcing these monsters out or executing them themselves and taking their country back as we’ve seen in numerous countries around the world throughout history.
For those of us on the outside working with the Iranian people in their bold and noble struggle for freedom, we say: WE ARE WITH YOU. WE SEE YOU. WE HEAR YOU. WE SUPPORT YOU. WE FIGHT WITH YOU.
So last night just before bed, I sat down with the Guild D-15M just to mess around a little with the new open tuning. After a while, I had found something relatively engaging snd began fleshing it out. Knowing full well it’s still in its infancy stage, I thought “you know, people might enjoy seeing a more natural you in your element doing what you do. No lights or cameras or hair or makeup. Just you sitting here at the end of the day fleshing out a new tune….” So I just recorded it with the phone to say hello and good night to folks. The whole time I was playing/writing THIS song, I was thinking about my longtime friend more like a brother Craig Gordon, who’s just been over the top sick for years. These thoughts snd images of him, probably laying in bed, none too happy, were the thematic foundation of the song. Underneath it…. So I started leaning toward titling it “everybody needs a little healing”. Because let’s face it, it’s not just Craig. Somethings changed in our world. Each of us, all of us, have an exorbitant amount of people we know in our personal lives who are “sick” from something now. Friends snd family alike. In this moment. It’s become challenging now, a new challenge, our latest challenge, even if you’re physically challenged by something yourself, or healthy and well, to deal with how many “people who are sick” we know or hear about every day or few days. Hence the title of the song. Craig was the vision floating through my mind as I played and wrote the song. The impetus. He titled it. And yet it was bigger…. Posted the song to the usual places. Was exhausted. Just wanted that bed. And BAM I look at my phone snd there’s this new message. At midnight (which admittedly isn’t strange for ME…) but it’s from Craig, who’s an early bird. “In the ER again now”. I literally dropped the damn phone. Hold on…. I’m writing a song of healing about this poor guy who’s been sick for the last hour, and for the last hour he’s been in the ER?!?! What’s funny is that — and this is another thing that’s changed in our collective reality — this stuff happens to us all the time now. It’s not just daily. It’s several times a day. (I believe, at least in this moment) that as we’ve become more snd more connected socially through technology, it is causing us to become more connected in consciousness. What we used to perhaps call “psychically”. But we don’t need that term anymore. We’re just becoming a lot more connected in consciousness to everyone. Things like ESP or mind reading all seem so 20th century now, because we’ve gone beyond it now. Shooting for something much bigger snd grander. We’re experiencing it NOW. So there’s no need to say “can’t wait to see what it leads to…). It’s happening as we speak, as I type these words…. Craig ole boy, we need you back. NO, we can’t imagine what you’re going through or how tough or challenging it is emotionally or mentally, besides physically. But we can acknowledge it. And we can keep you on our minds 24/7 and send you strength snd support and positivity snd a whole lot of prayers. And we can write soothing songs of love and healing for you. Get well bro. Love you man, E
Starting to catch up on texts now. Feeling better after Wednesday’s peocedure 👍. Last night i read one where someone, younger, had texted me asking me “how do you know if you want to be an artist? How do you know if you’re good?” I must have replied right before falling asleep, because I didn’t remember any of this until I saw it this morning. But I did indeed reply.
“Well to begin with, those are two totally different things. Im not even sure they’re related. And secondly, an artist never questions those things. An artist knows they’re an artist from early on. You know this, right? (Not to say it’s not a valid or interesting question… as a contemplation maybe…) but it’s not something an artist thinks about or asks… because it implies art as some sort of vocation one chooses. Like choosing a college to choose a major to choose a career….
“But art doesn’t work that way. There’s no choosing going on. Artists already know they’re an artist. Because every waking moment of their entire life since they can remember has been spent thinking about, planning and creating art. See? You either know because you KNOW, because you’ve always known, as any artist does, or you don’t know.
“Pretty much the same thing with being “good” as you called it. (Assume and see quotes around the word “good” from now on; because we can’t use that term without having it in quotes. It’s just too subjective and insignificant to the subject to not have in quotes.) Not sure being good is related to art to be honest.
“Craftsman are good. People can have good skillsets. But that doesn’t make them artists. And vice versa. We all know people who are really skilled at something, heck even like playing the piano or something “in the arts” but they’re not artists. And vice versa. Some of the greatest artists of all time were never very skilled at anything. You know? Because art transcends all that.
“That’s an important point. The other, perhaps more important here, is that being good is such a subjective idea, it’s so momentary and fleeting, completely dependent on the viewer the audience the culture and geography and time they’re from, their mood… artists know this… and trust me, artists are never wondering if they’re good. Number one, they’re way beyond that. They KNOW they’re good. Always have. What they’re focused on is getting better and being fucking great. On transcending the art form itself.
“You mentioned earlier that you’re “still working on your technique”. But remember, technique has very little to do with being an artist. It can’t hurt. Unless it does. Then you need to be prepared to scrap it entirely. If it ever threatens your art.”
“If I’m not focusing on technique what am i focusing on?”
“On creating incredible art! Silly. Look, technique is just one of those things along for the ride for a while. Until it’s no longer useful. Then you ditch it to create better art. Because you’re an artist. Not a technician. You wanna become a radiologist? Master a technique. You’ll do a lot of good in the world and you’ll make a lot of money. Both of which are awesome.
“So you didn’t practice a lot when you were a kid?”
“Hell yeah I practiced. Obsessively. From the moment I got my first guitar I did nothing but play guitar. And years before that it was the piano. Every day all day long. But once I got that guitar man all i did was practice guitar. First thing I did when I woke up, before getting dressed for school. First thing I did when I got home from school till dinner. And then all night till I fell asleep. Obsessively.
“And very soon after it turned into being more about songwriting. The guitar itself became secondary to the real art-form, writing songs. Creating. I realized pretty early on that there were a lot of people out there who were very “skilled” at playing the guitar, or any instrument, and they could practice twenty hours a day and may become great at it or not, but they weren’t creating anything new. They weren’t pulling new creations of artistic divinity out of thin air. They were just getting really good on the guitar. Or piano. Or violin. More power to them.
“But I recognized early on that wasn’t art. That was technical skill. I was about ten when that hit me. And if there’s one thing an artist doesn’t have its patience to develop technical skill. Too busy trying to create something out of thin air. That’s what artists do.
“Think of Einstein and his theory of relativity. Pulled that thing out of thin air. Or that John Lennon quote where he said “give me a tuba and I’ll create art with it… because that’s what we do.” See? His playing the guitar was totally secondary to his art form. Really just a tool. But he could have had any tool. It wouldn’t have mattered.
“How do you ever reach the point where you think you’re as good as the artists you really love and admire? Who inspired you?”
“Well again, with that “good” idea again. Look, an artist knows they’re the shit from the day they’re born. It’s a knowing. You’re not comparing yourself to anyone. You KNOW you’re incredible. You know you’re the future. You know you’re creating magic. And it’s got nothing to do with other people. You just know that what you’re doing, who you are, is important. Really important.
“And trust me, you need to KNOW this. Because artists sacrifice their entire lives for their art. They sacrifice fitting in, friendships, being a part of the gang, relationships, feeling a part of society, marriages and kids, feeling “normal”, having money…. on and on. Because you’re so completely obsessed with and committed to creating art, creating the next big thing, besting yourself, transcending art and life itself, you end up sacrificing almost everything else in life because of this obsession and commitment to being a great artist. So you HAVE to KNOW.
“And it’s not arrogance. It’s a confident knowing. People who accuse you of arrogance don’t feel that way about themselves. So they don’t know. To them it may actually seem like arrogance, because they’ve never felt that way about themselves. They don’t wake up living 24 hours a day thinking they’re one of the greatest artists in human history. Great artists do. It’s just part of their nature. No one is going to talk them out of it.
“Do art from that space. From that place of being. Like Mozart. Or Van Gogh. Or Eddie Van Halen. But as YOU. One of the greatest most important artists of all time. You know already if you’re that or not. You always have. Now just go be it and do it.”
So if you haven’t noticed, it’s been a while. You know a lot of times if someone is absent for a while it’s simply due to the fact that they’re really busy and having a blast living life. Other times it might be something more challenging. Truth is, we don’t know unless they tell us. For the last few months Princess little tree and I have been unfortunately going through something more on the challenging side, while strangely also being really busy and (attempting to at least) having a blast enjoying living life. It honestly didn’t even occur to me until the last day or two to even share this with anyone. Not kidding. Even my closest friends who I communicate with on a daily basis via text will find this news entirely new. I’ve thought about this strange fact a little today. Part of it is just black and white practical: I’ve been in so much pain for the last few months that I haven’t thought about or done anything except just trying to get thru the next minute. (Pain is an incredible phenomenon. One of the reasons I finally decided to let this loose is because I’ve discovered some fascinating things about consciousness from being in excruciating pain, and over the next few weeks and months will most likely make note of them as they occur to me. So step one would be to let everyone know what’s going on so we have some context.) I can hear you now… “Ambassador get to the freaking point man, Jesus!” Yeah I know. That’s the thing about not telling anyone something for a long time… You’re way ahead of them in your thoughts about it. Meantime, they don’t even know what you’re talking about. Long story short, we’re facing a challenge with my spine. Yep. I know. Sounds crazy. Waited too long to tell anyone. It’s been a few months now. We’re already through the chiro, X-rays, cat-scans, orthopedic doctors, MRIs, radiologists, physical therapy, second and third opinions etc. We’re also already well into the denial shock trauma anger sadness and fear phases as a family. I wish I could tell you “it’s this one thing and this is the game-plan”. Truth is, it’s a multiple of different issues. We’re as shocked as anyone else would be. The doctors have prioritized which are the most pressing in importance and we’ll be dealing with them in that order. If you’re into that kind of thing or interested, we can break down the details in a separate message. It’s three pages of insanely technical medical-speak that features the word “severe” a lot. We are still in a state of mild shock about it, just typing it here, contemplating it, and we’ve been dealing with this for a few months now. Still doesn’t sound real to me, even though I’m experiencing it on a daily minute to minute basis. Just seems like we’re talking about someone else’s life. (I really believe now that the human mind does tend to warden off certain things when they seem “too big or horrible” to us. It puts up a metaphorical hand and says “Nah, not me.” It’s fascinating.) Unfortunately pain is a major factor in this particular issue. So it’s hard to stay in denial. When you picture that “pain-chart” at the doctors office, the one with the faces on it from level 0 pain to level 10, I always figured level 10 pain would be akin to getting shot or stabbed or tortured or having a limb cut off… level 10 is the highest number on the chart. Again, for context, so as a human community we can effectively communicate with one another. Charts are a great thing. So you have to go to the worst possible things you can imagine to get your head around level 10 pain. For about two months now I’ve been in level 7-9 pain. Excruciating is the most appropriate word I have found for it. Yes, to answer your next logical question, i am on a lot of medications for it. 4-7 different ones, depending on the hour, all day long. My mind is a dark murky slow-churning swamp most of the time. But better than being in excruciating pain. Re the denial, part of the reason I’m in this situation is because I just “ignored it” for so long. We’ve been told by the doctors that men have this unfortunate supernatural predilection for doing this compared to women, thinking if they ignore it it’ll go away or that they can “tough it out” or “power through it”. Because they’re “a man”. They’re strong. Tough. That’s what I did. I know a lot of guys that tend to do that. With a lot of different things. I actually worked out more over the last year thinking “I just need to get stronger and I’ll beat this pain whatever it is”. It’s funny looking back now. But in a really sad way, because I ended up doing a lot more damage. Yes my wife is really really mad. But her fear presently outweighs her anger thank God. Or not. Depends on how you look at it. The hardest part of this I’ll tell you flat out is #1, dealing with the pain. Because it’s a constant. It’s chronic. Your mind plays tricks on you. It fantasizes about “ending things so you can just get out of pain”. You have to be hyper-vigilant to defeat those thoughts. That’s the second hardest thing: trying to keep your sanity, remember who you are and remind yourself that you freaking love being alive. The third hardest thing, for me, hands down, is watching what it’s doing to my wife and not being able to help her as i normally do with everything. Seeing her sadness, watching her break down and cry out of fear or feeling sorry for us. It’s heart breaking. It crushes my soul. For obvious reasons. Bottomline, and here’s where it gets juicy from a widened-back philosophical human perspective, we’re at that point in the journey where we’re done examining researching exploring and talking to different experts in their field etc. The bottomline according to the doctors is I “need at least two separate surgeries or there’s a good chance I will be non-ambulatory in less than a year.” Yes we also had to ask what does “non-ambulatory” mean? We had no idea. Who does? So yeah. We are as can be expected still in complete shock. But we’re also positive and ploughing ahead. It seems like it happened overnight. But they say it’s been progressing for a good ten years and that I “evidently just have a high tolerance for pain”. This Wednesday I’m going in for spinal injections to reduce the inflammation, which should help reduce the pain and help us get to the next phase where we can schedule the first surgery. They will either do one long surgery to address three different issues or two separate smaller ones. I know a lot of us in the world of art entertainment and intellect are not religious by nature, which i think is totally logical and understandable; and yet ironically most are “spiritual” in one sense or another. Especially if you’re friends with me or PLT. As I told a mentor of mine, who happens to be a pastor, a few weeks back, I “would never ask anyone to pray for me for healing or to miraculously take this away, because there’s just way too much suffering in the world. Why on earth would I ever presume to request that I get a miracle when other people are suffering so much worse than I am?” Thats kind of where I land when it comes to this. My wife and my mom are not happy that I feel that way. But man I just don’t feel like I need it compared to other folks who have it much worse. What I will ask and am asking for is that whatever cool magical beautiful spiritual thing you do in your day to day practice, put in a good word for me that I am able to deal with and integrate the mental and emotional challenges of this kind of thing. I’m having a tough time with anger, becoming easily annoyed and impatient. If you know me personally, you know that’s not like me. I’m a little perplexed by it. If anything, the Ambassador is a happy go lucky guy. But not lately. I will say though that this experience has radically transformed my relationship with music, playing the guitar — honestly it’s more like bonding and becoming one with the guitar, and with songwriting and composition. I cannot adequately express with words how much joy playing the guitar and exploring different guitars has provided me with in the last few months since we got this news. It’s been a life saver. More than anything, I’d like to ask you to send positive vibes to and for my wife. You know princess little tree is the sweetest person in the world. She’s like an angel on earth in human form. This has been hard for her. More than hard. And she’s had to pick up a lot of slack for both of us. Besides dealing with all the emotional challenges of this kind of event, which she doesn’t have much time to do because of the practical logistics of doing everything we need to to get through the process to fix this. I honestly cannot imagine it — I freak OUT if she even gets a migraine! I go into a freaking panic inside. But she’s been dealing with this now for a few months. And so far she’s really hanging in there. Trying to integrate it emotionally in the mornings with friends and family before I wake up so she has a brave face during the day. But it’s going to get more real starting this week. So I’d like to ask us all to lift her up and send her positive vibes and strength and courage, remembering the Divine’s infinite love and power. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers if that’s your thing. As for me, to be perfectly honest I am not afraid. I am not worried. I’m strangely calm and confident about the path forward. The pain is unbearable and I’d like it to stop. We’re working on that. We have a good team. And a good plan. I get that life is an awesome adventure of ups AND downs. And that’s what makes it super fun and exciting. Way better than not being alive. Obviously I’m very hopeful and determined for the best possible outcome. We will keep you posted.
There are a myriad of reasons why someone might exclaim “damn I love the internet!” Even in this age where there’s so much internet bashing going on. I have this ‘68 Hofner acoustic guitar that I bought used by auction years ago. It’s in rough shape, but it sounds amazing! The guys in the band already know this. But out of the 20-25 acoustics I have, even over Gibson, Taylor, Martin, Fender, Epiphone, this just might be favorite. It has this rich full body punchy sound that just gets you way down deep. I wanted to find out what model it is, look for others in similar years, and see if there were other models that might be even better to try. NOBODY talks about Hofner acoustic guitars. It’s just not a thing. The violin bass, sure. Mccartney made sure of that. But guitar players don’t rave or even talk about Hofner. Last night I found this guy in the UK who created a whole website dedicated to vintage Hofner acoustic guitars. He’s been maintaining it since 1987! He’s more obsessed than I am.
So I emailed him, sent him a donation to maintain his site. And he just replied back saying if i sent him some pix of my German handcrafted beauty he’d check it out and fill me in on the model and history of it. Damn I love the internet.