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, 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.
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 in orchestras all 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, 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 Child, Manwich…
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.
Lent has officially begun for those who celebrate it. For non-Christians, look at it as a very long red carpet that takes 40 days to walk down and eventually leads to and ends at the death and alleged Reserection of the Jewish rebel Jesus of Nazareth, what in the commercial world is known as Easter. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, events most people have heard of, are all related to this holiday of the Christian faith tradition. [For historical clarification, “Easter” is a much older pagan holiday that predates Christianity by hundreds of years that was annexed by the Romans. For hundreds of years prior to Jesus it celebrated the spring equinox and the rebirth of the goddess from winter’s crone to spring’s beautiful young goddess of the harvest. Persians still celebrate the original intention of the holiday in Norooz. (The Romans also pulled the same switcharoo when they turned the centuries old holiday of Yule, which celebrated the winter equinox and the goddess Mithras, into “Christmas”, not having any idea of the actual birth day of Jesus, a fact we are still in the dark about. But don’t shoot the messenger. These are just important points of fact for context.)] Over the past week we have once again started to personally participate in different small groups and forums with spiritually like minded folk to more deeply explore Lent and the Lenten practice. [Note: Despite my more extreme cynical skeptical and agnostic views of the christian faith tradition from knowing far too well the questionable origins of it, I still find the opportunity to gain deeply needed spiritual fulfillment and social engagement from the practice helpful. And helpful is always good. So rather than let the gross imperial nature of Christianity as a whole (and lest we forget, Christianity, especially as it relates to the wicked and nefarious Holy Roman Empire, Vatican and Catholic Church, has been one of the most destructive and harmful institutions in human history, full stop) darken my heart and bar me from something that might do me some good, I embrace the more noble paths it has to offer, just as I do with Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism, Krishnaism, and even Islam. All heinously brutal and deadly power structures, but each offering their own moments of sublimely poetic spiritual nuggets. If you got through that last paragraph head intact, gold star for you! This last week the discussion subject has been about “what does it mean to take up the cross” as Jesus advised? We’ve heard a variety of answers from people. One point of note we encountered was interesting: there’s a real distinction between the common phrases “to take up the cross” and “your cross to bear”, even though many people use the phrases interchangeably. “To take up the cross” implies more of a mission. Something you proactively do. “Your cross to bear” has a more passive implication, implying a burden you must carry whether you want to or not. Very different indeed. The one thing I heard from others more than anything that stuck my attention was how people in today’s modern world have shifted in their own minds the meaning of Jesus’s admonition to “take up the cross” into a more new age call to “get more active and ambitious in achieving their own goals.” As if he was some metaphysical self-help guru or success coach helping people become wealthier or more successful. That’s a rather peculiar take on a message that came from a man who encouraged his followers to abandon their jobs, money, homes and worldly possessions to more wholeheartedly go out and serve people. I copied and pasted some comments I made this week to various friends in some group chats below… I believe it’s obvious what taking up the cross means in this context of following Jesus and what he advised. “Loving God with all your heart and serving your neighbor as yourself”. I.E. helping others. Serving those in need. Helping your community. It’s not really about the self at all, and certainly not about ones personal ambitions. Volunteer. Serve others. Help wherever there is a need. Forget the self and reach out to and for other peoples. Give everything you have and more. Jesus wasn’t talking about our personal goals or primaries. That’s just the new age materialistic view modern people turn it into because they’re so afraid of giving up their materialistic way of life so they can’t even consider what it really means. We’ve turned Jesus into a new age motivational speaker ala Joel Osteen because that better suits our mentality and desires in this day and age. But it couldn’t be more removed from his actual teachings. What did Jesus ask Simon / peter to do? Get primary about catching more fish?!?! Hell no. He said quit fishing altogether and come follow me and help me HELP PEOPLE. What about Saul/PAUL? Did he ask Saul to get more ambitious about working for the Romans and Jews to go kill even more Christians? Heck no. He blinded him for three days to get his attention and told him to join him in helping people get closer to God, become better people, and spread the good word of love and forgiveness and charity and giving. Did he ask Matthew to get more primary about collecting even more taxes and make even more money for himself to rise up higher in his career? No. He said quit collecting taxes, forget your career and come follow me and let’s help some people. Personal success and collecting money ONLY helps in so far as it permits us more time to be of service to others and make the world a better place. Collecting houses and material possessions is the exact opposite of taking up the cross. It’s a burden that distracts us from taking up the cross and helping make a positive difference in the world around us. Think of the TV show Billions. These are the exact people Jesus would be going after if he were alive today. Someone replied to me: “well Jesus taking the up the cross was HIS mission. My taking up the cross may be different. He didn’t say “go feed people.”” But of course, yes he did. That’s exactly what he said. And he certainly didn’t say “hey go create your own mission and if that’s becoming super successful and rich so you can live in a giant house ten times bigger than your own needs, so be it, that’s your cross.” The cross just represents his moving forward with his ministry despite the fact that he knew he was going to be killed (on the cross). And he encouraged and sometimes pleaded for others to join him. So we have to ask “what was his ministry?” His ministry was helping people. He could have quit. Started playing by the rules. To avoid getting killed. But he didn’t. He went forward toward the cross. Kept on with his ministry. Of course it wasn’t just about feeding people… it was also…
speaking truth to power against lies, money grubbing, being greedy and materialistic instead of sharing ones money with others who are needy.
encouraging people to be honest, have integrity, be more virtuous, less villainous.
encouraging people to not be greedy with their time but using it to volunteer and help others…. and help the community around them.
helping people not be so self focused on personal success and fame and approval but to humble themselves to get closer to god and serve those who are more needy. That was his whole trip. It’s hard for us now because we live in a deliberately materialistically society based on consumer capitalism to keep everyone buying so the society runs smoothly. So we’re blinded by that. So that other way of living is hard for us to contemplate let alone even consider imagining for ourselves. I get it. I’m the worst. But I do remain hopeful that every step I take in the direction of helping others and selfless service brings me closer to at least knowing that cross is there to take up. I even look at the little things… marching for Black Lives Matter, or LGBTQ rights, donations to Feeding America, taking those few extra minutes each day to sing happy birthday to people, or calling older folks who are in lockdown and might be lonely, remembering to text friends to tell them they’re awesome and I appreciate them. The thing is that we live in a very public and very selfish and competitive world now. Its always been this way. But it’s gotten much much worse. Getting a lot of money and fame has become the predominate way to stand out and feel good about yourself or others. Gone are the days when good deeds make someone cool or famous or popular. I’m Gen X, and if there’s one primary aspect of Gen X it’s that we shunned attention. Being UNcool and UNpopular were our calling cards. We tried hard to NOT try hard. We absolutely disdained the money grubbing extreme bougiouse ambitious trying and showing off of the boomers. Hence the nickname Slackers. It’s not that we didn’t care. We cared. A lot. We just didn’t care about those kinds of things. We did hallucinogens to explore consciousness. Our focus was the intellect the spirit the community the climate justice and quality rights for all. The world. Our souls. When we think of the anti-heroes of generation x we think of Matt Dillon in The Outsiders or Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club or Tyler Durden in Fight Club. Three of my personal favs. Deliberarely shunning the materialistic societal norms of working hard to buy more stuff and climb the corporate ladder to look better in the eyes of others. Get that new car. Lease it if you can’t afford it. Buy that new house. Brag about your new job so you can tell your friends about it over dinner at that new place in town. Made me sick back then as a kid. Still makes me sick. There’s also Ferris Beuller… skip school which is what society says you’re supposed to be doing and instead go take advantage of being alive and enjoy it. The boomers were materialistic posers. Authenticity and sucking the nectar out of each minute was our thing. NOW it’s all changed of course. The new gens are not just focused but obsessed with proving to other people they exist and they’re relevant by showing it off publicly and from getting the approval of others. They don’t go look at mountains. They Instagram mountains. If they happen to see a mountain while they’re at it, so be it. But that’s not the goal. It’s a sad state of affairs. And we’re all to blame for letting things get this bad for them. The end result being that they’re so obsessed with keeping up appearances to prove their self worth through the eyes of others that service to others has all but left their cultural consciousness. If they march for some cause it’s to get a good shot for Snapchat or Insta, more like attending a rave. Social media celebrities and influencers have become their heroes. You ask “so what’s their cause? What’s their big mission?” And they respond “what? Being famous silly!” It’s fucked up. I’ll share a little anecdote with you here because it’s appropriate for where we’re at in this post. Our oldest daughter was in lockdown with us for almost a year. And one day my music career came up. Fast forwarding twenty minutes into the conversation she asks me “hold on now! You and your band deliberately tried to NOT have hit songs?!?! What the f*^k?!?” “Yeah dude. If I heard us skating too close to something that sounded commercial I knew we were on the wrong track and I’d change it up to make it more experimental or artistic. Our goal wasn’t to have hits. It was to be cool, smart, artistic. More like Picasso or Einstein or David Lynch.” “But You’re IN the music business! Having hits is your goal!” “Nah dude. Being known as brilliant artists is our goal little dude. Ask mom.” Princess Little Tree chimed in: “Honey I couldn’t believe it either. When I first met Ed and he told me about Rise and Shine and how he was singing in ten different languages and the songs were all five to ten minutes long… I asked him “how is thst ever going to be played on the radio?” And he replied “well hopefully it never will be.” I couldn’t believe it! I thought he was joking! But he wasn’t. His goals were totally different than what we normally think for musicians. He thought he was Michaelangelo! I had to BEG him to make ONE album just for me that was commercial. Just as a favor to me. Which he did thank God. Ballad On Third Avenue. But i had to produce it for them!!!! So we could eat and have a roof over our heads! Silly boy!” So yeah that’s a bit off topic. But it exemplifies the differences in generations. Gen X takes pride in shunning the cultural norms of fitting in, sucking the corporate teet to show off for the approval of others. Celebrity means nothing if you didn’t get there authentically and organically and on your own terms. And to us there has to be a big dose of being of service. Helping others. To serving the world. We take up the cross by not giving in to societal pressures that tell you that you have to show off or fit in or be somebody in the eyes of others regardless of what you’re actually doing to help people or not. We are committed and determined to work tirelessly till everyone enjoys equal rights, till homelessness and hunger are eradicated, till everyone is accepted and embraced for who they are, till political lobbying is outlawed, till politicians start actually working for us as they’re supposed to, till the imperialistic power structures that have dominated human society are brought to their knees. So corporations don’t pay 40% fewer taxes than hard working struggling people, and on and on and on. We’ve accomplished a lot. But we’re just getting started. Join us.
2 weeks ago we were down in Florida due to our dad passing away from the virus. Got home Monday and the next day we learned that our eldest cousin, my uncle’s firstborn, passed away suddenly. A few days later my buddy Stretch called me crying because he just learned his 30 year old nephew had died. A few days later our drummer Infinito learned that his mom had died from the virus down in Bolivia. We spoke this morning, both of us crying. He’s devastated. Justifiably so. As I type all this it seems impossible that it can all be real. Denial. I’ve been sick with various maladies for a few weeks. Saw four different doctors this week. Hard to even keep track of the different things we’re talking to the doctors about. It’s occurred to me that this physical breakdown is probably due to the impossible task of trying to mentally and emotionally integrate this bombardment of tragedy and death everywhere. One death overshadows the one before and so on. And then you come back to that prior one. And then back to the next one and the next. An endless cycle. What I’ve been trying to do at a minimum is stay in touch with family and friends as much as possible to communicate with and support them through this hard time. Physically I’m down for the count. I think that’s part of the process. Mentally I’m in a foggy daze. Not even aure what I feel. I know what I’m supposed to feel. But it’s too much. Too heavy. My brother texted me earlier and just wrote “horrible times man” about all of it. There’s a part of me that wants to acknowledge that. Hard to argue with it. Another part of me wants to believe that any minute we’re going to come out of it and everything is going to be great again. And admittedly things are “great” for some people; those who haven’t been touched in any way by the virus. Though I do believe we were all traumatized if not permanently scarred by the surreal insanity and horror of the last four years we just came out of. For many of us we weren’t around for the tragedy and chaos of the 60s or vietnam or watergate etc. These were just stories we read about years later. We didn’t fully understand the deep seated trauma those years had on society or each person individually. It really wasn’t until the last few years that we had a personal experience of it ourselves. That kind of shock and horror. A visceral experience. The way it kept builidng, each day worse than the last, going to bed each night and waking up everyday for years terrified of what we’d hear next from the White House. The way it continued to get worse and worse and culminated in a horrific tragic and terrifying ending on January 6th. I’d like to report that the survival of the republic as evidenced by the surreal inauguration healed all the wounds inflected. Granted it was a relief. They tried hard. They did their best. We all did. But we’ll always look back at those weeks as a swirling mess of emotions. How could we not? We had just come out of the capital riots and mass deaths were still circling our day to day lives hourly. As valiant an attempt as the inauguration tried to be — and it had many moments, it couldn’t, and shouldn’t, dispel the shock we had and have all lived through. A part of me feels that we owe it to ourselves and to those who passed to remember. To grieve. To mourn. To contemplate. Not forever perhaps. But definitely not cut it too short. Frankly I’m not sure I’d be able to cut it short even if I wanted to. I’m trying to do what’s right. To feel what’s right. To be respectful of the near half a million of our fellow citizens who have died this past year. And as well to honor the anger I feel toward the pansy-assed members of the GOP who didn’t have the courage or nobility to stand up for what’s right or sacred in our democracy. I miss guys like John McCain a lot. Mitt Romney comes to mind. Thank God for him. But we need more of them. It can’t just be 5 to 10 Republicans out of tens of millions who see things straight. What’s to stop it from happening again? I can hear friends now advising me that I’m confusing and conflating the issues. This mass explosion of death all around us with the deeply divided politics destroying us from within. But it’s hard for me not to. Both events have deeply affected us. I’ll never dismissively ignore division or coups or civil wars in other countries again, as if “it’s not my business”. Nor will I ever again take for granted the cooperative peace and unity we enjoy in the U.S. That’s something to cherish and work on maintaining. It’s a noble goal. In my mind i keep hearing that scene from All That Jazz play… “Death man… death man… Death is in… death is in….” If we picture the Vietnam memorial in DC, as large and foreboding as it is, we’d need ten of those to honor the fallen of just the past year. None of us are getting away from that reality unscathed. Only the coldest and most heartless among us perhaps. Don’t get me wrong. I want to. I’m beyond overwhelmed and over it like everyone else. People are now starting to talk about the coming “roaring 20s”… I find it hard to go there still being surrounded by so many passing. It feels disrespectful. In Tenet, people from the future are willing to destroy everyone in the past in order to save themselves in the future. Part of me feels like that’s what we’re trying to do now… Sacrificially ignoring everyone who has stacked up in the afterlife in order to move on with all of us who are “still alive”. But that may just be part of the grieving and integration process. I get that. I think it may come down to those who have lost someone and those who haven’t. At some point we do all have to move on. If we had any hard proof of an afterlife maybe we could pick and choose… But we don’t. So the only thing we do have is our innate instinct as organic life forms to keep going, here, in life. We owe it to them I suppose. Or not. I’m torn about that theory frankly. Again, probably part of the grieving process. I guess what it comes down to for me is this deeply rooted feeling that we need to do our absolute best to honor those who passed this past 12 months. We didn’t do a good job of it over the last year. Due to inept leadership we ignored and denied and dishonored our dead because it wasn’t “politically convenient”. It was the greatest shared national shame I’ve ever experienced since I’ve been alive. Luckily that’s changed. But we still have work to do. We need to acknowledge our shared loss, name them in our hearts and out loud, remember them, honor them, recognize that it’s okay that we miss them and love them and mourn for them. And then eventually, hopefully, we can all heal.
In the mid-90s just after Broken Spectacles broke up I felt a little lost for a while. We were all going to go solo from there. I wasnt quite sure what my “thing” was after being part of the “Eddie and Matt” monster for so long.
Caught a local Marilyn Manson show one night… Cant remember why. Brian was a fellow scenester, but it wasn’t our style of music. Just something to do. Turns out that show had a major impact on me and the direction I would go in over the next decade.
What I witnessed that night was similar to many other Manson shows thru the years. An onslaught of shock schtick pain hatred horror and extreme negativity. All in the name of doing something different to get attention. We were accustomed to it in the local scene, because we’d watched Brian and the guys come up since the beginning.
It was never about the music. It was more of a voyeuristic thing to see who he was going to hit or whip or torture or gag or what he was gojng to pee on or set afire. In the beginning, we were all so young, it was I suppose just another “thing” we did being part of the scene. It was a happening. Just like any other show.
But this night was a few years later. I remember standing there, as this loud pounding aggressive music raged against a backdrop of posters that read “your parents hate you” god hates you” etc. thinking to myself “well this is becoming a viable thing now, this kind of deep level negativity as an influence. Imagine the polar opposite of that. That… that could be YOUR thing man. That already IS your thing. You just need to develop it more overtly so it’s clear what it is and so it has an actual effect.
After hearing that in my head I left the venue. A song or two in. I got what I came for. I entered that show feeling a bit lost and without a mission. I left a half hour later with a very clear mission. I was the anti-Manson. The Ambassador. Ah hah! In any way i could i would use the albums and the shows as a positive influence to affirm life and joy and peace and love. It was simple.
True story. Hadn’t thought about this or even remembered it till seeing this story this weekend.