Thursday, October 29, 2009

One more thing...

So when I started the challenge, I said that by the end I would be 5 days in the future. So as not to dissapoint, I will prove it to you.

On Tuesday November 3rd these things will happen:

The Obama Administration will announce that it is vital that we pass a substantive bill on Health Care Reform

The Los Angeles Lakers will defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder

John Gosselin will issue a statement suggesting that he is in some way frustrated with Kate

And Jay-Z and Beyonce will break up

There it is, the future, be prepared.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Challenge Concludes

Well, well, well! Here we are commentary number 30 in day 30 and I even got it in Eastern Standard Time. I made it! With your help of course and seven commentaries in one day. I've learned a ton. First and foremost, I learned that I can challenge myself and stick to something. I oftentimes consider myself too busy to follow through on anything. My time is occupied with work, my little boys, my band, and my wonderful relationship. I regularly feel like a jack of all trades and master of none. But I've been told that I'm not that far from being a Renaissance Man (thanks LJ). Don't get me started about the problematic realities of celebrating the "Renaissance". For today I will except anything that has a positive connotation. Bell Hooks tells us that we need to nurture our own "spiritual growth". Sometimes I'm not that good at taking care of myself. And if I can't take care of myself than I'm no good to anyone else. But today I've accomplished a small goal. And I'm happy about it. I haven't stopped racism, sexism or homophobia. I have explored gentrification, love and white privilige. I've also had the opportunity to take a humorous look at several events like Balloon Boy, Kanye and Taylor, and "Hot Springs". And so I'm here with each of you. My hits have almost tripled during this challenge. Thanks for taking time to hear what I have to say. It means a lot. Seriously.

As far as the future, I will continue to write blogs. I'm going to take a couple of days off but I will be back! And who knows maybe I'll have a new challenge down the road.

Finally, thanks to Julie Powell. She taught me that deadlines can be a good thing. Who knew?

White Privilege part 5

So as most of you know a while back I wrote several posts about white privilege. I received tons of responses and have yet to formally respond. It’s not going to happen today but I promise to get to it. I just want to make a point. I think some people think I write about white privilege as a way of exposing how all white people are inherently evil. For the record, this is not true. Far from it. I believe in one race. I’m just not one of those people that get’s all sappy about it because I believe that a lot of people use “we are all the same” as a way to prevent doing the necessary work to create substantive change in terms of racism. You see many people say “I’m not racist”. By doing so they eliminate themselves from the problem. By taking no ownership over the existence of racism we are forced to find the “actual racists” and confront them. However in today's society there are so few people that actually acknowledge being out and out racists. Are we to believe that this handful of individuals (ie. Skinheads and KKK members) are the only ones responsible for racism in the US? I beg to differ. I think everyone has some culpability when it comes to racism and everyone has a role in the solution. I believe that examining privilege is a blueprint for individuals to confront the root causes of oppression and begin the intense process of healing from racism. And there's the rub, it's difficult, you have to ask yourself hard questions. It requires a fearless "moral inventory" and reveals some realities many don't want to think about. Alas this is the only way we will have change. This is the only way that white people, black people, and all people will truly live in harmony. I advocate for hearing me out. What if I'm right? What if examining your own privilege and socialized racism puts you on a path towards recovery? Wouldn't it be worth it? This is all I'm saying people. Keep it in mind.


I’m currently on a cross country tour. And what is the one thing that is universal across the United States, the unifying thread of our society? Wal-Mart. You guessed it. So…

Is it bad to shop at Wal-Mart. The short answer is yes. But the longer answer is more important. Consumer politics can be extremely classist. In the case of Wal-Mart, some people with the financial flexibility to spend a little more money, make the political choice not to use their purchasing power at Wal-Mart (aka The Evil Empire). Another demographic that refuses to shop at The Evil Empire, are young politically minded people. Many of them were raised in privileged households. Some of these individuals make the choice not to patron The Evil Empire. This decision is not a very difficult one, as the Evil Empire is designed for families on a budget, since most American families consider themselves to be on a budget, most people shop at Wal-Mart. This unfortunately contributes to the tremendous war chest that is the Walton Family (Owners of The Evil Empire). This allows the Walton's to continue to travel the world, destroying Eco-systems and assassinating smaller local businesses. These are reasons to not to spend your money there. I commend your decision. But under no circumstances should you be judgmental of people that do shop or work at The Evil Empire. Because we have a dependency on this institution. So many of us are struggling to make a dollar and don’t have the time to visit five stores that are all more expensive and inconvenient than The Evil Empire. Some of y’all might think this is an excuse. It’s not. I personally have been known to shop at The Evil Empire. I’m not proud of it. In fact every day I plan on never returning. My children know the appropriate name for Wal-Mart, The Evil Empire. But they also know the name Wal-Mart and that shows you how pervasive this monster is. I long for the day that the Walton's lose every penny and I plan on working towards that goal. In the meantime, the vast majority of people in the US will shop there. Those of you that have broken from this evil institution, are no better than the people that shop there. And I think that for people to really break away from The Evil Empire, we need empathy. We can defeat Wal-Mart together, after all we are the ones that gave them their power. To get there let’s try and be a little more understanding. I’ll meet you half way. I’ll double my efforts never to return to the Evil Empire as long as you don’t try and imply that I’m as evil as the Walton's if I fall short. Deal?


So y'all. I'm four behind in my posts and don't know if I'll make it. I definitely suggest that you keep checking in to see if I'm going to make it. Anyway I need to explain why it is that I've fallen behind. Being Sick!!! So if you don't know the story here it is. On Tuesday October 13th I got sick with something that by all indications was H1N1. I was scheduled to leave on tour with my band, Broadcast Live on October 16th. I was completely knocked out and couldn't leave. I didn't post for days. I finally recovered and took a plane to Bozeman, Montana (State where my mother was raised). The problem has been that even though I'm clearly over the flu symptoms, I'm still sick with something that appears to be a head cold. So some days I feel almost great and other days I feel like poo-poo. Needless to say this has resulted in a several commentary backlog. So now here I am at Commentary #27. I've survived H1N1 and continue to struggle with a cold. I've spent obscene amounts of time in a tiny, thoroughly unspacious Subaru, and slept on couches and/or living room floors (with a motel stop or two). And after all of this I'm still in striking distance of my goal. You know what this means people, I'm Hardcore. You know how 50 cent is a hardcore gangster? I'm a hardcore blogger, straight up. So don't hate on my possible failure, instead celebrate my ferocious spirit. I've got seven hours to complete three more entries. And here is the catch. We're driving to Stanford from Oakland to perform a show at the University. Sound check starts at 7pm, show at 8. The show will probably go until ten. We also have setup and breakdown. We will probably leave Stanford at 11 and return to Oakland around Midnight. When will I have the time to write these blog entries? Nobody knows. Do you believe in me? Stay tuned.

Challenge update

Hey y'all. So here is the update. If y'all remember I posed a challenge to myself 30 days ago. The goal: to write 30 commentaries in 30 days. I just counted and I've written 26 and today is the last day. So tune in and see if I get the last four in before the deadline, midnight tonight. Luckily I will be using Pacific Standart Time. This time I'm actually justified as I'm currently sitting in a kitchen in Oakland, CA. Wish me luck!

The Politics of Love

After writing the previous post, I've decided that it would be good to talk about a healing topic.

In her book All About Love, New Visions, Bell Hooks quotes Erich Fromm in an attempt to define love. The quote says that love is "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." I would have to say that I can't agree more. She defines the spirit as "an animating principle in the self". She points out that you don't have to believe in God to believe in "spirit". I believe in the "animating principle in the self". It's this aspect of our consciousness that reacts to a particular song or poem. The same part of us that reacts to being in love. The part of us that appreciates work that we believe in. I definitely believe that when that part of our selves is neglected, we experience a loss of love. By choosing to nurture the "spirit" within ourselves and simultaneously pledging to prioritize the spiritual development of another person, you've started the road to love. I think we all need this.

Hooks goes on to point out that abuse can't exist within love. Meaning you can't be simultaneously "prioritizing a person's spiritual growth" and abusing them. I wonder how things might be different if the young people involved in the attack in Richmond, CA were raised with this philosophy as a guiding principle in their daily lives. I think that things would be different. But that's not how it is.

And so it's up to those of us that prioritize justice, to prioritize loving ourselves and the ones closest to us. It's from that starting point that we can be an example to people that haven't experienced love. Many of us that are educated and inspired by social change, have yet to experience or share love. And that is where we are letting down society as a whole. It is our responsibility to ourselves to prioritize love and spiritual growth, so that we can bring about the changes we hope to see in this world.

Thanks Bell Hooks.

Our Greatest Failure...

Hey everybody. As you know many of my posts are steeped in humor and sarcasm. I want to make clear that this is not one of those posts. This is a serious subject about a horrific crime. I'm saying this because the entry is about a sexual assault and some people may want to stop reading. I will say that I have no intention of getting into any details whatsoever but I still recognize that subjects like this can be triggering. Because I'm in Oakland and this attack happened so close to where I'm currently located, I've decided to comment.

I'm not going to provide any details or links, if you haven't heard about it and are interested you will have to google it. All I will say is that a fifteen year old girl was sexually assaulted by several people outside a homecoming dance in Richmond, CA. In addition to the attack it appears that at least 10 people witnessed the event as spectators. I'm going to pause for a second...

I believe that events like this one reveal one of the greatest failures of the United States of America. This country has perpetuated an illusion that we have advanced the rights of women. There seems to be a collective view of shock and horror when examining the rights of women in certain countries around the world. There are atrocious things that women endure around the globe such as female circumcision, honor killings, and forced marriages of little girls. We should be horrified by these atrocities. It just feels to me that the judgment, our country makes about acts in other nations, carries an air of: "We would never allow such barbaric activities in our country". Now I recognize that there are nations that have laws that actually re-enforce horrific abuses of women. And I know that our nation has a lot of laws concerning violence against women. But let's forget for a moment that these attackers in Richmond will probably go to jail.

Let's instead ask ourselves: How often does this happen? Every week there is a new story that captures the national spotlight about some horrific act against a woman or girl. For every one of these stories you can bet there are hundreds if not thousands that don't grab national attention, not to mention the attacks that go unreported altogether. It is true that many of these attackers will be held accountable in some way, but it doesn't appear that we've done anything to prevent this type of violence. On the contrary, it seems that women are less safe today than forty years ago. I may be wrong, I'm not claiming to be an expert on this. However it seems very clear that there is a prevalent culture of sexual assault in this nation and it doesn't appear that any laws that have been enacted over the years, have done anything to change that.

And I believe this maybe society's greatest failure. Our total inability to create true equality in our nation. Equality is the basis for respect and an equalizer against hatred. And our country is like a snake oil salesman, selling us a line that we are in a nation where everyone is equals. Most of us don't buy it hook line and sinker but we do drink the Kook-Aid a little bit. We tell ourselves that things aren't as bad as other places. Tell that to this young girl in Richmond or the countless other women that are survivors of unspeakable violence in the United States. Sometimes I think things are just as barbaric here as they are anywhere else.

Redwood Trees

OK so how many of you out there have seen a Giant Redwood Tree up close? I just want to say for the record, they are big. I'm mean really big, like humongous. There is no way for you to not feel like an elf, hobbit or ewok, standing next to them. Have I mentioned that they are giant. Alright let me explain. I was in the Redwoods with three other people. Some of the trees are so big, that if we wanted to hold hands and attempt to surround the tree, we might make it halfway around before running out of armlength. That's a big tree people. Anyway it got me thinking.

Trees are pretty important. Don't you think? We need them. So I've decided to become a tree-hugger. I invite you all to join me. We all should hug as many trees as possible to show our collective gratitude for this thing called Oxygen. Which reminds me...

One time during a concert of mine, I was performing a song, entitled Oxygen, that is about this very subject as well as countless others. After the show a young woman came up to me and said, "I was feeling that song especially when you talked about the trees". For the next five years of my life that sentence has been the butt of many jokes between my friends and I. You see most of us have an aversion to individuals that seem to prioritize trees over people. People that are more interested in preserving some woods over fighting racism and sexism. I understand that frustration. But I've concluded today that we need to reclaim tree-huggin'.

Let's be honest trees are important, extremely helpful, and down right essential. So let's not let a few weed smokin, dread lock wearing, tree-huggin' hippies with no in-depth political analysis, rob us from our connection with the trees. We need the trees too. So if you are a hip, stylish Brooklynite, listening to TV on the Radio on your Ipod. Don't be afraid to stop and hug a tree. After all, trees have been known to grow in Brooklyn. And if you are a young upwardly mobile professional, interested in leftist politics that don't require you to grow dreads and start listening to Phish; on your way to work, stop your car and hug a tree, you'll feel better, I promise.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spades, The Peoples Card Game

Have you ever played Spades? If you have great. If you haven't than you clearly aren't down with the people. But don't worry, after I'm done you will see the error of your ways and immediately join the people in this fun loving card game. Now let me explain a little about it to you. You also can go to Wikipedia in order to get the random facts I'm about to reference. Spades is a part of the Whist Family of card games. What is the Whist family of card games you ask? Great question. Well you might be familiar with Hearts or Bridge, both games are members of the Whist Family Tree. Whist itself is a card game that dates back to 18th/19th century England. In the 30's, the offshoot known as Spades was born, apparently in Cincinnati, OH. The rules are somewhat complicated to explain but it is easy to pickup. Just remember High Joker, Low Joker, deuce of diamonds, deuce of spades, any variation of the game that doesn't contain those cards is unacceptable. The rest of it you will have to learn on your own. How you ask? Well there are lots of ways. One surefire way is to find your local former inmate, they will undoubtedly be able to explain.

Which gets me back to my previous assertion that Spades is the game of the people. How did I come to such a conclusion? Primarily because I've proclaimed it so. I've also experienced intense camaraderie while playing spades. It's the perfect blend of good-hearted junk talking, friendly competition, and laughter inducement and therefore is almost always a good time. I have seen the occasional Spade Game get out of hand, but those are atypical occurrences. When you are on a block in Any-City USA in the summertime, the grills are fired up and people are outside having fun, once you see the card table get pulled out, you know the fun is about to increase. And that my friends is why Spades is the peoples card game. And if that wasn't a good enough reason, Spades was born in Cincinnati, birthplace of Bootsy Collins, further cementing it's position as Card Game of the People. So if you haven't played, start playing.

Blunts and Hot Springs

First thing for the record. I do not in anyway condone the use of illegal substances. Even those substances that come from a plant that is quite useful. Even if I think it is fairly ludicrous to make a plant illegal.

Second thing for the record. I haven't smoked marijuana this entire millennium. True story. Well not entirely. The last time I smoked weed was 2am Eastern Standard Time 2001. I've chosen for that day to operate on Pacific Standard Time, even though I was in Albany, NY, so that I can state that I haven't puffed trees this entire millennium. There also was a brownie incident in 2001, but hey a brownie is a brownie.

Finally I definitely do not in any way condone individuals that haven't smoked this entire millennium (aka the 3rd millennium), rolling blunts for other individuals that have smoked this millennium.

With one exception.

When said, non-weed smoker, is on tour, with people that are typically non-weed smokers (although not exclusively) and have been gifted a fair amount of kind bud from some weed heads in Eugene, OR and do not possess the skills for which to roll their own blunt. All of these unique exceptions combined with hot springs in Anywhereville, OR, coalesce to create the appropriate situation for a hypothetical non-3rd millennium (AD) weed smoker to roll a blunt, or a dutch as it may be appropriately referred to.

None of this in any way applies to me but I just happen to be in a hotel in Grants Pass, OR and thought it might be a good conversation piece. I love hot springs.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Corner Stores and Hate

I'm in Seattle today, and I've learned something very important. It's amazing how cities can be so similar across the country sharing things like cool hip shops, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Ben and Jerry's. That said, the more you travel, the more you can see the various idiosyncrasies that make certain cities unique. Seattle has coffee shops, more than New York and that's a lot. Of course this happens to be the week that I've chosen to give up coffee. It hasn't been easy but I've succeeded thus far.

So tonight I decided to walk and get something to drink while I waited for our show to start. Everyone else had gone to the local coffee shop to get caffeinated. I decided I would go to the closest corner store and get a Vitamin Water. Sorry I know that was just like an ad, but at least they're paying me $50,000 for it. I had to walk three blocks to find a 7-11 and it wasn't on a corner. And I realized that other cities don't have corner stores. In Albany, which is like a super tiny model of NYC we have corner stores. Lots of them. When I walk out my front door, and think it would be great to buy an Incredible Chocolate Cone, I have at least 5 corner stores within a 2 block radius to chose from.

The moral of the story was suppose to be that New York is superior because of the prevalence of corner stores. Unfortunately, while I was writing this post, some non-descript "frat type" guy, ran up to the house we are staying in, and ripped the rainbow flag from the front of the house, while we sat in the living room. And so the conclusion is, that although some cities may not have corner stores, all cities seem to have Hate. And that's why we have to keep fighting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Health Care, lil Wayne, and Berard Kerik

Well today Senate Democrats decide that they are going to try to include a public option that states can opt out of. Moderate Democrats maintained their opposition. Olympia Snowe also maintained her opposition to a public option without a trigger and republicans not named Snowe vowed not to vote for anything that in any way allows any human being to have health care in any form. In the meantime 36 moderate (Blue Dog) Dems threatened not to vote for the House Bill because it costs too much. Republican House members vowed to sing John Denver songs until 'Mericans forgot that there is such as thing as health care. Nancy Pelosi said that health care is important. The Obama administration re-iterated that the public option is the best vehicle for competition in the health care marketplace, but noted that the public option is not the entirety of health care. The administration also privately acknowledged that it likes the trigger idea because Snow likes it and she will make the bill bi-partisan. And so in a nutshell we are in the same exact place that we were two months ago except now states can possibly opt out of the public option that may or may not ever exist.

And if that wasn't enough, Lil' Wayne is going to jail. What are we gonna do? Well hopefully my dear brother Wayne will come up with some lyrics that are more meaningful than: I told her to back it up like Burp, Burp and make that ass jump like Schzerp Schzerp. Come on Bro. I'm rooting for you.

And last but not least Bernard Kerik. If you don't remember him he was the former NYC Commissioner of Police. He was nominated to be the first head of Homeland Security. I didn't know a lot about him when he was nominated. But I did know this: when people are concerned about losing their "civil liberties" and you nominate a head to a new department, that many people are convinced was created for the exact purpose of eliminating our "civil liberties", can you make sure the person doesn't look like a Nazi? I know I just profiled Bernard Kerik but have you ever seen this guy. He literally looks like he just walked off the cover of Fascism Magazine. Anyway he was just indicted on charges of making false statements to White House officials when he was nominated for Homeland Security. Wow GW can pick em'!

Gentrification Part 2

Ohh so you thought you caught me sleeping huh? Yes it is true I did not post a single entry yesterday. But today I will respond by posting two in a row. Bladowwww. That's right.

Here goes. So a little while back I wrote and entry about gentrification. Yesterday I attended a workshop presented by Evan Greer (the well known folk musician that my band is currently on tour with) and Seantel Chamberlain (My amazingly talented bandmate) The workshop was entitled: Queers, Communities, and Gentrification and was extremely informative and challenging. So in honor of their work today I will revisit the topic of gentrification. Last time I wrote on the subject, I posed four questions and today I'm going to try and answer them. So here goes:

1. Who is most responsible for gentrification left-leaning or right-leaning people?

I don't know. Quite frankly it is a poorly phrased question. Obviously there are many elements to gentrification, and the various elements represent a diversity of political perspectives. What I was really getting at is the second question.

2. Why are liberals and radicals involved in gentrification at all?

This is the key question. While developers may represent right wing interests as well as politicians in some cases. It is very rare that you will find a bunch of republicans moving into a poor, people of color neighborhood, displacing that group. Almost always the people that originally gentrify a community are liberals or radicals. The reason is simple, liberals or radicals or more likely to feel comfortable living among inner city people of color. The problem is the first wave of people make it more comfortable for the second wave. The second wave of people are less concerned with community, more concerned with property values and the process begins. Once gentrification starts to take hold, the developers, politicians, and police all work to facilitate the process, in many cases they have been working for this all along. Yet after all of these words, I still haven't answered the question. The answer is simple: Ignorance. Many of us are ignorant of the impact of our living choices. We don't realize how we could possibly be contributing to gentrification and therefore don't do anything to prevent it. Ultimately we can't claim to be opposed to gentrification and simultaneously actively assist in it's process, it's a contradiction.

3. What are legitimate responses to gentrification?

There is a whole gamut of responses to gentrification. If you want to know how my band, Broadcast Live, feels about it. Go to myspace and listen to the song, Boomerang Metropolis. The truth is there is a gamut of ways people to react to gentrification. Some people will punch other people in the face, that's a response. I'm not calling it a legitimate one put it is certainly "a" response. I think educational programs for the community, created by members of the community are helpful. Explain to people what gentrification is and how it is happening. An organized community is a powerful force and much more likely to prevent gentrification, than a disorganized one.

4. What kind of solutions can communities implement to curb gentrification?

One solution are Community Land Trusts. The basic objectives of a Community Land Trust according to Wikipedia are to:
* Gain control over local land use and reduce absentee ownership
* Provide affordable housing for lower income residents in the community
* Promote resident ownership and control of housing
* Keep housing affordable for future residents
* Capture the value of public investment for long-term community benefit
* Build a strong base for community action
Basically people from a community get together to raise money for a Not-Profit entity that can own property in a neighborhood. This helps prevent "real estate speculation" and mitigates gentrification. Awesome, now let's all go out and either a. create a local Community Owned Land Trust or b. donate some $$ to the already existing Community Owned Land Trust. We ready? Go team!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Balloon Boy and Joe Arpaio

So my fever induced hiatus made me somehow miss the story of the year, Balloon Boy. Now I think the political implications of this story are very important, so I've compiled a list of resources for all of you to be as up to date as possible so check out this, this, and definitely this!

Great now on to Joe Arpaio. Joe who? Joe Arpaio! The winner of the Frank Rizzo award, given for local law enforcement officials that take facism to new heights. That's who. Well if you haven't heard of him, now would be a great time to find out about him. He is the Sherrif of Maricopa County in Arizona. Amazingly he actually looks more sinister than even the great Frank Rizzo, the deceased maniacal chief of police and mayor of Philadelphia. A few years back, Joe (that's Joe Arpaio to you!) decided it was silly for women prisoners to have access to abortions. For a while he was requiring that women prisoners get a court order to obtain their legally granted rights to "get timely, safe and legal abortion care." Since the ACLU pushed him around in court he relented. Now he is only requiring that the women pre-pay for their transportation and security costs before receiving treatment. The ACLU is taking him to court on this very matter today.

But wait there's more. You don't get the Frank Rizzo Award without taking fascism to new heights. And Joe certainly is. Janet Napalitano (former Arizona Governor and current head of Homeland Security) recently revoked his authority to essentially "act" as a federal agent in conducting sweeeps of illegal immigrants. Joe's response is to do it anyway. "I don't take orders from the Federal Government" he explained. But that's not all. How does he go about conducting his sweeps? You know he goes around looking for people that "look like they just came from Mexico" he explains. He's gone on to point out that there are various ways people talk and act if they are illegal.

Arpaio's fascist cred still has a lot more to it. He's known for cutting prisoners meals down to two a day and feeding them moldy bread. He started the first female and juvenile chain gangs in Arizona. And he marched inmates through the streets in pink underwear, citing pink as a calming color. He also pulled over Elvis Presley once.

While surfing about Joe I came across a piece of art work that called Arpaio, Arpayoso, meaning clown in Spanish. That's good but I think I have a better one. ArpayASSHOLE. What do you think? I personally like the sound of it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Interracial Marriage and Dating

Hey y'all. I'm in Bozeman, Montana. I just joined up with my band's tour (Broadcast Live). What this means is that now I'm on tour for the rest of the challenge. I'm not sure exactly how many posts I have left to make, I'll look up all of that info and get back to you. Regardless my posts now will be at random times, not my typical midnight or so. Although this one might come to you around that time. But to me it's 9pm Mountain Time. That's right I said Mountain Time. Anyway on to a post.

So yesterday I mentioned briefly that Judge Keith Bardwell from Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward in Louisiana, denied a marriage license based on the fact that the couple in question was an interracial couple. As a child of an interracial marriage, I couldn't help but chuckle a little. You just want to find the judge and say "What planet are you on?" I've never been as concerned with overt racism as I am with more subtle forms of discrimination. It's easier to call out overt racism and hold the perpetrators accountable. Or maybe I'm wrong. The outcry over this action has spurned calls from as high up as Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu calling for the removal of Bardwell's license. The problem is that it turns out to be quite difficult to punish a judge like this and it can take as long as a year. You can read about it here. The obvious question is: What or who else does this Judge have authority over? I will look into it. But if he does more than just marriage licenses than there are much bigger concerns. I know I wouldn't want to be in front of him facing any legal issue whatsoever. The thing is, he's been a judge for 30 years. How many cases has he presided over. How many people has he sent to jail? That's what I want to know. And it's nothing to chuckle over.
However to make clear that it is also not funny to discriminate against interracial couples, I will quickly revisit the case of Jack Johnson. He was the first heavyweight champion. He also dated white women sometimes. Well today thanks to Senator John McCain(believe it or not), President Obama is considering pardoning Johnson posthumously for his 1913 conviction for dating a white woman. I'm not sure why Obama is stalling, I assume it's just to make a proper announcement. For now Johnson still has the conviction on his record. Johnson had to leave the country to escape prison from the conviction. He also served 10 months in jail. It literally ruined his career. It's a very disheartening story and a reminder of why we need to take situations like the one in Louisiana very seriously. It's not a joke at all.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Responses from the challenge.

So since I started the challenge i haven't given any responses so here goes:

Follow the rules or be cast out as a jerk.

I think that this sentence is the crux of where we disagree. Rulebreaking is a concept that is near and dear to my heart and I hope you don't cast me out as a jerk.

Romantic Comedies:
I hypothesize that Sleepless in Seatle is a superior romantic comedy than when Harry Met Sally.

Don't make an argument that you don't believe in yourself.

Long live Westley.

I would say thanks for battling with Colin, but his argument was so absurd that it wasn't worth your time. As for Westley I will find him and say "To the pain"... ...And no, Princess Bride in not better than When Harry Met Sally, not even close.

Bull Durham

Excellent Choice. Great Effort. No Chance.

Civil Liberties
I get frustrated being on the wrong end of lengthy and pointed jabs at the white men.

What LJ said.

Where in this post is GH attacking people for being white and male?

Brilliant. Thank you.

Roman Polanski
Why shouldn't any human say "poor friend" when their friends are caught in the abstract pincers of the injustice system?

Agreed. However if you are advocating for a friend that has committed a crime that has caused pain and suffering to people, you have to simultaneously acknowledge the severity of those actions.

Mackenzie Phillips
I object (again) to your use of a the label, "priveleged well off man"...

I merely stated 4 facts. That John Phillips was privileged, well off, male and never held accountable. I made no additional comments about these facts. I made no conclusions. I stated them merely for the record. I'm not sure why you would argue with me about that.

Dead Peasants

And if the company just happens to have dangerous, unhealthy working conditions, all the better for them...


Change 'rich people' to black people, or gay people, see if your argument holds up. I bet you (will) see how discriminatory you're being.

I think that is a great idea. The problem is that I reread my post and I never mention rich people. Not even once. So I decided to create a few sentences and try out your exercise. Here goes: Black people control 90% of the wealth in the United States. Gay people account for three-quarters of the worlds income. The average annual income of the top .1% of U.S. Citizens is 3 million, damn those are some Black... People! As a result of the Bush Tax Cuts, those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000; wow Gay people have it pretty good. This game is great I'm going to do it all the time. Thanks Charlie.


If Albizu Campos was guilty as the courts found him, and he was sentenced to 80 years, well, you take your chances when you commit crimes.

Charlie didn't my godfather tell you that you don't ever dis Albizu Campos to a Puerto Rican? (inside joke) Albizu Campos said: "The good people of the U. S. are not to be blamed for the shameless conduct of certain government officials." As a result, you never saw innocent civilians killed as a result of his efforts. Don Pedro Albizu Campos was a nationalist that fought for Puerto Rican Independence. Puerto Rico continues to be the oldest colony in the world. Since 1492 an uncountable amount of atrocities have been brought upon our beautiful island. The U.S. Government has committed it's share of atrocities on the Puerto Rican people, such as the forced sterilization of thousands of Puerto Rican Women. In the seventies Jimmy Carter summoned a study to understand the relationship between the Unites States and Puerto Rico. The study concluded that U.S. treatment of Puerto Rico was so abhorrent, that it was appropriate to release, Oscar Collazo (the man that attempted to kill Harry Truman) as well as Irving Flores Rodriguez, Lolita Lebron, and Rafael Cancel-Miranda (three individuals that opened fire in Congress, wounding 4 congressman). Let me make the record clear, if you have a problem with Albizu Campos and the tactics he employed, I'm willing to discuss it. That said in order for me to have that conversation you better first recognize that they are no different than the tactics of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Thanks for writing this.

No. Thank you.

Rush Limbaugh


I listen to Rush about 5 minutes a week

There's the problem.

Sorbet and Interracial Marriage
That judge, or minister, who ever he might be, might be the dumbest person of the week.

I couldn't agree more.

I'm Back, Sorbet Bars, and Interracial Marriage


That is me singing. That's right singing. Why do you ask? 'Cause I'm back MoFos. And boy was it rough. I mean I was knocked out. My fever reached 103.4, my throat became so inflamed that I would almost cry every time I had to swallow. I can't even tell you how difficult this was. Several days ago I posted that I was too sick to write. After that I was too sick to even do that. I almost certainly had the flu, probably H1N1. What I can tell you is: it's bad. This may be the sickest I've ever felt. So be ready people. You want lot's of elderberry, echinacea, goldenseal, vitamin C and a pantry fool of random herbs you've never heard of (and somewhere between 2 and 16 tylenol or motrin caplets). That's how I made it through. And the other thing you will need is...

Julie's Organic Pure Delight Blackberry Sorbet Bars.

Julie's Sorbet Bars are made with real fruit, certified organic and non-dairy. And best of all only 60 Calories per bar. It's all the goodness of nature's bounty blended with the finest organic ingredients produce a simple yet elegant frozen dessert.

That's right I just wrote down the description from the box. That's how impressed I am. They are as I said in a text message, to my partner LJ, (the person that procured said sorbet bars)"a mini-miracle!" Quite literally. And yes Julie is paying me $10,000 to write this down. But hey, I gotta eat sometime.

And Ohh yeah, a judge in Louisianna decided not to issue a marriage license to a couple based on the fact that their union is... "INTERRACIAL".

More on that, later in the program.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obama vs. Fox News

Alright y'all I'm mad sick. Right now I'm rocking a 101.4. Word is bond. So I will crawl into bed shortly and continue my 20 hour bed time extravaganza. That said I've said several times that Barack Obama and I are homies. He reads my blog religously. True story. It became obvious when I looked at the New York Times and saw this headline: Obama Agrees With Ghetto Hippie, Fox News are a Bunch of Haters. You can read it for yourself here.

OK I lied about the name of the headline. And the whole part of him reading my blog or caring that I exist. In all seriousness I don't think it is coincidence that the Obama Administration declared war with FOX at the same time that I declared them the biggest Hater TV Station in the History of Television. Disregard the fact that the NY Times article came out before my blog entry. Clearly they are using some type of brain scan on me and stealing my ideas... to Copyright court!

... or maybe to bed to recover from my fever induced delirium, we'll see.

You're not Black, You're Puerto Rican

I wrote this one a while back and never edited it. I don't have time to do so now so I will just give it to you as is, your poem of the week:

“You’re not Black, you’re Puerto Rican”

The words of school children both black and white.

I’m Puerto Rican:
Rice and Beans Conga rhythms and Plantains

What if I declared myself to be Native American,
Maybe the kids would have said:
“Yes you are,
You are the descendants of Arawak people colonized by imperialists-“
and then again,
They probably would have said:
“You’re not Native American, you’re Puerto Rican”

Children’s words move in sharp contrast to the words of my white mother,

“You will always be Black”, Malcolm X said so.
But school children didn’t know Malcolm X in the eighties.

But they did know the word nappy and bestowed that designation on me
Hey “Nappy” they would say in the hall.
I wore my name on my head like a round dunce cap
Afro’s weren’t cool in the eighties
But I could remember the seventies
My father sported a black beret with an Afro hangin’ out the side and his skin was Black

One day he picked me up at my friend’s house,
Their father stared at mine,
They were white, my father was Black,
And so I was told that I couldn’t hang out with them kids anymore,
Their daddy didn’t want them hangin’ out with no nigger kids.
I guess he hadn’t noticed that my high yellow complexion and “Nappy” hair
Might be a sign of a dark skinned ancestry.
But then again
We weren’t Black, we were Puerto Rican.

Children’s words brought me to the barber shop
“Cut off my locks, I don’t wanna be called Nappy.”
My head was sheared like a lambs wool coat
And my spirit was domesticated like
A grooomed poodle
The truth is you can’t love being black
If you’re not black…

…I stared into the casket at my my father’s dead black face
My spirit traveled generations back in time and I saw
I met my great, great, great, great grandparents
In a dream,
They were shackled and dragged aboard boats
Extracted from their home and transplanted
To the island of Borikken,
AKA Puerto Rico,
They fled their so-called masters
And built a maroon called Loiza-
This was where my grandfather was born
And he spoke Spanish,
And he was blacker than most Black people.
I saw him board an airplane with
The same fear that his ancestors felt
In the middle passage-
He would come to know a new middle passage
On an airplane between San Juan and JFK
And live in a maroon called the South Bronx

History and Truth almost became clear to me
As I begun to understand myself and my history

I forgot that Confusion
Is always sitting around the corner,
Lurking in memories
A crafty theoretician,
Always armed with doubt
The ammunition of oppression,
Realizing that words can do more damage
Than fist or shackle or whip

My dream was interrupted –

As I slowly began to come to consciousness
I stared into the face of an African,
I believe he was my grandfather,
And he said to me…

“You’re not black, you’re Puerto Rican”

Monday, October 12, 2009


Here it is, another Leftist Sports Blog Entry:

The NFL stands for No Fucking democrats League, or so I just found out. For those of you that would rather eat moth balls, melted into a beet and sage puree, than watch professional sports, the NFL is the National Football League. News broke last week that Rush Limbaugh was looking to buy the St. Louis Rams along with Dave Checkets the current owner of the St Louis Blues Hockey Team.

Those of you familiar with politics, but not with sports, may wonder why Rush would be interested in owning a football team. Well Rush has a history in sports. Early in his career he worked for the Kansas City Royals baseball team. Most recently he was employed by ESPN, in 2003, as an NFL commentator. That of course didn't last very long. A few weeks into the season, Rush said that Donovan McNabb (one of the best quarterbacks of the past ten years) was only considered to be good because the media wanted to see a "black" quarterback succeed. As a result of his comments, Limbaugh was forced to resign.

According to Scoop Jackson at ESPN, Black Americans make up 61-65% of the players in the National Football League. Also according to Scoop, only one NFL owner backed Barack Obama. Based on those numbers, one could surmise that there are approximately 31 teams owned by Republicans and one owned by a Democrat. Ironically the team that did support Obama, the Pittsburgh Steelers, happens to be Rush's favorite team.

Anyway as a result of Limbaugh's bid to own an NFL team, The NFL Players Association, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and several key players have spoken against Limbaugh owning a team. Now in case you were looking for reasons as to why it might be problematic for Limbaugh to own a football team in a predominantly Black American League you can watch the video of Barack the Magic Negro. A song first played on Rush's show.

I use to be a big time football fan. I've since become a part-time fan. I still love the game, although I do think it is pretty brutal and counter-productive to the long term health of it's players. But I moved away from the game primarily because of it's unspoken link to reactionary politics. Now most of the time it's subtle. There just seems to be an underlying sentiment that Football is the sport of 'Merica and 'Merica is the country that bombs Iraqi children and if you don't like it, move to Cuba. I've always known that Football was a conservative sport but I would never have guessed that it's ownership was almost entirely Republican. That was pretty surprising.
The nation is made up of 16% Black Americans give or take. While the NFL players are over 60% Black Americans. And yet virtually none of it's ownership supports the nations first black president, while simultaneously claiming to be the foundation of patriotism. No wonder Rush Limbaugh wants to buy a team. He would probably fit right in.

The Politics of Plumbing

Yesterday I fixed some of the plumbing in my mom's house. Before she moved in, I redid most of the plumbing and had one section that needed to be finished. After months of procrastinating, yesterday was the day. The basics of plumbing are really easy. It's actually amazing to me because I use to think it was the most intimidating aspect of home repair. Chris Mercogliano, former director of the Albany Free School, author of In Defense of Childhood and my plumbing mentor, taught me that "plumbing is sculpture." And it's very true. Plumbing is easier than most people would think but when it becomes difficult, that's when you have to become a sculptor. Yesterday I had to deal with the work of a lazy plumber that preceded me (not a very good sculptor).

For those of you who don't know about plumbing, I'll explain a couple of things. First of all I was working on supply lines, which is the hot and cold water that travels to your sink, shower and washing machine. They are very different than drain lines. Now you have several pipe options to chose from when installing supply lines. Back in the day they used wood pipes (probably not ideal) and later on lead pipes (clearly not ideal) and than the pipes that I ran into yesterday iron pipes (also not ideal).

The previous plumber was installing copper pipes (much better than wood, lead or iron) and ran into the dreaded "Iron Pipe". Now this person certainly knew that iron builds up sediment and essentially turns into a clogged artery. This is why he/she was using copper undoubtedly. (I've just decided that in honor of John McCain we will, from here on out, refer to "the previous plumber" as "Jo the plumber". I left off the "e" to preserve gender neutrality.) So when Jo ran into a section of iron pipe that was pressed up against the floor boards and running through a floor joist, Jo decided it wasn't worth it to fix it properly. Instead Jo left the pipe their and just connected to it. And now it was my turn. "Piece of cake mom I should be done in an hour." I got started ripping out the copper pipe and replacing it with PEX (more flexible than copper) and there it was the IRON PIPE. I wasn't intimidated at first. "I will either leave it there and run around it or I will rip it out." Than I figured out why Jo decided not to bother. There was no way to run around it without ripping out the joist. For those that know carpentry, you don't want to rip out a joist and it's not easy. And it was "almost" impossible to cut the pipe out. I stared and stared and of course had to call my friend Skye, who is the person I call for all things related to home repair and asked to borrow his reciprocating saw. I grabbed it and was able to cut one pipe out. The problem is I knew that I couldn't cut the other one out, it was almost impossible. It was sandwiched between a joist and a thick iron drain pipe. I didn't know what to do. I was about to accept defeat and run away crying, leaving my mom without any water at all in her house. In a moment of desperation, I grabbed a sledge hammer and just started hitting the pipe with no real idea how that would accomplish anything. I did it for five minutes. Finally something happened, the pipe dropped. It was just a little bit, but I could now get to it with the saw and wallah, I cut it loose. In ten minutes I had finished the rest of the job and for the first time in 6 months my mom could use the sink in her downstairs bathroom.

The moral of the story is: When building a sculpture don't be afraid to use a sledgehammer if you have to.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


So I just got back from an amazing commitment ceremony. (If you don't know what a commitment ceremony is, it's like a wedding, just without the patriarchal connotations of one. A place where the community serves as the witness instead of a church or state official) It was a wonderful event. It got me thinking that we often take these kind of events for granted. When we are able to convene our communities together, a lot of things happen.

Now let me clarify what I'm not talking about. I'm not talking about the type of events that some of us have in our families that are so excruciating, your brain slowly melts the entire time that you are present. You know what I'm talking about, when your second cousin's cousin is getting married and your mom guilts you into going. You bring your partner and together you struggle to get through comments like, "I have Mexicans that work for me that would love to live in that port-o-poty" (Real quote from a real wedding I attended).

I'm talking about a ceremony and party where it doesn't matter how you define your gender, where people get equally excited to dance to Bigger Than Hip Hop (Dead Prez) as they do for It Takes Two (Rob Base). The kind of event where every shade of skin tone is present and no-one seems to even think about it, except when I Don't Want To be a Player is on and the whole dance floor screams "Boricua, Morena, Boricua Morena".

What we take for granted about these events is how necessary they are in solidifying community. A ceremony like this is an extraordinary undertaking and completely stressful. Even if your merely attending, it can be stressful. If you are related to the people involved you definitely need a chill pill before it gets under way. But when it's all said and done, and your stomping your feet to "Real Love, I'm searchin' for a real love", you forget that your vexed about anything. If you are trying to build an alternative lifestyle and share it with people close to you, you need to take moments like this, where you celebrate and let go. It's like drinking water.

Thanks G + T. We all needed it and y'all deserve it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

Hey everybody. It's good to be here today. (Hey Charlie you are making my month with all of the responses, I'll get back to you soon but in the meantime you should check LJ's response to you on the erosion of civil liberties... And oh yeah we'll see you tomorrow!)And now on to the big news!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Norwegian Nobel Committee for selecting me, of all people, for the Nobel Peace Prize. I really wasn't expecting it. This award is not simply about my administration... Sorry I confused myself with Barack Obama for a second. It happens all of the time.

I was perusing through and I was surprised to see the following headline: Obama: Nobel Peace Prize is 'call to action' . Wow that's a pretty big deal. I immediately had this urge to visit and instead of resisting the temptation I decided to go for it. This is what I found: Fat City: West Virginia Town Braces for TV Show Depiction. I'm not even kidding. That was the main story. Next to it, the secondary headline (without a picture) was: Obama's Peace Prize Draws Criticism, Even From Some Liberals. I swear that is priceless.

The Definition of a hater according to Wikipedia is:

Hater(person), a person who harbors intense feelings of dislike. Often used as a slang term for such a person when the reason for the dislike is perceived as unfounded or rooted in prejudice.

I'm fairly certain that this definition absolutely positively, 100% describes FOX News. So, just in case it hasn't been stated before, I'm proclaiming right now that:

FOX News is the biggest hater television station in the history of T.V.

The good news for Obama is that according to comedian Katt Williams, it's really a compliment. See for yourself and think of Sean Hannity.

Albizu Campos

So yesterday I wrote a posting about a stabbing in my neighborhood. The tone was possibly a little opinionated (I know that's a first for me). One of the reasons I was frustrated was that it happened on my sons birthday. So in honor of my favorite six-year old I'm writing a commentary about his namesake.

"Dad I found a website of Albizu Campos" exclaimed my five year old (he just turned six). He elaborates by explaining: "I typed my name in the computer and clicked it and than I found his website." This really could be a Google commercial. The kid was so excited that he could spell his name that he wanted to try it out. And thanks to Google he was able to get a history lesson.

After that my son Albizu went on to say: "Did you know that Don Pedro Albizu Campos was the leader of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico, dedicating his life to the cause for Puerto Rican Independence? Did you know he served in the US infantry and attended the Univeristy of Vermont and eventually studied at Harvard? Did you know that one his earliest inspirations for Puerto Rican Independence was his close work with members of the IRA working towards Irish Independence?"

"Wow this Google think is more impressive than I thought." I said in response.

He continued: "Albizu was linked to an attempted assasination of Harry Truman as well as the shooting of several congressman in the fifties. He was imprisoned several times until he was finally tortured through over exposure to radiation. To this day he is a national hero of Puerto Rico."

Now that was impressive. I mean the kid just learned to spell and now he is breaking down the life work of one of Puerto Rico's most famous sons. This stuff really works!

...Alright you got me I made most of it up. He doesn't know that Albizu Campos went to Harvard or that Harvard even exists. The only part that was true was him typing his name in that no-frills search engine and recognizing the picture of his namesake on a website. To be honest I'm so impressed with that, it's hard to even contain.

I love you my little homie. Forever.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Hey y'all, don't worry I haven't missed my deadline. The challenge is for 30 Commentaries in 30 days. So even though I'm forty minutes past midnight, I'm still on track.

So this afternoon there was a stabbing on my street. I live in the South End of Albany, NY. The victim was a young man that I've seen around. I don't know him but we have talked before. He is in critical condition right now.

Anyway it's gotten me thinking about the connections between violence and poverty. I think when it comes to inner-city violence, people often fail to look at it's source. I think generally many of us understand that violence comes from systemic problems. It's when it happens close to home (like half a football field from where your kids play) that we can't clearly see the local connections.

In Albany, we have a deplorable inner city education system. The district has simply failed at properly educating black and latino youth for the most part. Unlike, Harlem, Albany has no coherent programs that are implemented by people of color to successfully address these inadaquecies. So what we are left with is a population of young people without a good education and few legitimate employment options. Of course in situations like this, many young people resort to under-the-table incomes. These are dangerous fields because of tremendous competition.
The end result is often violence. The culprit is poverty. If you eliminate the poverty, you eliminate a good percentage of inner city violence.

I'm not saying that today's incident was a result of poverty or illegal entrepenurship, I'm not aware of enough details to make that assessment.
I do know that the majority of the violence in our community is a result of poverty and the enterprises that sprout up as a result.

If you want to see it change, than you have to be working on true community organizing under the leadership of people of color from the neighborhoods that are most affected by poverty. Otherwise, ,in some way, you are part of the problem. Capitalism works in such a way that their is not enough pie to go around. If you have a slice, that means someone else doesn't. I'm not saying give your slice away, I'm just saying use some of the energy provided by said slice to help change the distribution of pie. If that's what you do, than you are involved in the solution and than I will listen to your complaints. However if aren't really doing jack and your doing well for yourself, I don't want to hear you complain about violence in the community. I'm sorry. I'm just not the one.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Alright ya'll. I'm tired. No really I have droopy eyes. I'm going to make it short and sweet tonight. That's right I'm going to break down gentrification in a tiny blog entry. No not really. This is a topic that is very important to me. One that I am conflicted about. I'm going to introduce the subject tonight and ask some questions. Than I will revisit the topic again, during the challenge. Here is how Wikipedia defines gentrification: "Gentrification and urban gentrification denote the socio-economic, commercial, and demographic change in an urban area resulting from wealthier people buying housing property in a poor community."

So here are some of my questions:

Who is most responsible for gentrification left-leaning or right-leaning people?

Why are liberals and radicals involved in gentrification at all?

What are legitimate responses to gentrification?

What kind of solutions can communities implement to curb gentrification?

Those are my questions for y'all to ponder. My last thoughts for now are: Gentrification Sucks!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dead Peasants

How many of you out there have seen Michael Moore's new film, Capitalism: A Love Story? It is pretty decent and as usual maddening. I say maddening because as most of you know, Moore always shows you scenes that literally make you want to scream in rage. Well I learned something new. I learned about "Dead Peasant Insurance". If you haven't seen the film, you are probably wondering what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Corporate-Owned Life Insurance policies. I'm not going to recite all of the details of said insurance. You can just go to Wikipedia like I did. If you don't have the patience for that I'll give you a brief synopsis. Back in the day companies began taking out life insurance policies on their key personnel or executives. The idea was that if one of these individuals were to suddenly die, the company would be at a loss and should be able to insure themselves from such an accident. Later on, companies began to take out insurance policies on non-key employees, AKA "Peasants". They could do this without an employee's knowledge until 2006. The Winn Dixie chain took out 36,000 of these policies and they became referred to as "Dead Peasant Policies" in internal memos between the chain and it's insurer.

To get a clearer picture let's call you Billy Bob Doe and it's the year 2005. You work at Bank of America as a teller. Than you die. Your whole family is sad. "I miss Billy Bob" is the general sentiment at your funeral. Now the fam is having a hard time because they counted on you to bring home the Tofu. Your funeral costs a few bucks and the whole family is in a big hole, after all you didn't take out a life insurance policy. So your wife and kids are actually in debt for tens of thousands of dollars while simultaneously coping with the loss of you. Whose going to bring little Eloise Bob and Alloisius Bob to their soccer games, now that mom (Maria Bob) has to work two jobs? In the meantime an insurance company is in the process of cutting a check for say $1,000,000 to give to Bank of America to compensate them for your loss. And the best part is your family will never know.

Since 2006 companies have been required to get permission from the employee before taking out a policy. Imagine filling out a bunch of papers for your employment and you don't realize you are signing permission to allow your employer to take out an insurance policy in your name, that your family will never get money for. And according to Houston-based attorney Michael Myers (not from SNL or Halloween), businesses often skip that step altogether. In the movie Capitalism, Michael Moore points out that individuals without health insurance die on average, 3-5 years earlier than those that are insured. So if you are a company like Wal-Mart that has over 1.5 million employees, it's in your best interest not to offer health coverage to your employees because they will die sooner and you will get paid more money.

How on earth did I not know about this? Tell me people. I know I shouldn't be surprised, after all our economic system has never cared about the average Billy Bob Doe, and has always done every sneaky underhanded trick in the book to squeeze a dollar from the lifeblood of every Billy and Maria they can find. It just amazes me that with all of the so-called "progress" this country has made, that companies can actually reach a new low in this millennium.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

mackenzie phillips

OK so I figure since I wrote about Roman Polanski yesterday, I might as well keep going and write about Mackenzie Phillips... If you don't know the story, Mackenzie Phillips was involved in a sexual relationship with her father, John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas. It began as an assault on her fathers part and evolved into a consensual adult relationship. California Dreamin' will never sound quite the same. Actually I guess this is another case of a priveleged well off man never being held accountable. He died in 2001. It is a really sad and disturbing story. Clearly Mackenzie didn't have a healthy childhood. She was thrown into the world of Hollywood at a really young age and also addicted to drugs at a really young age. I hope by revealing this aweful chapter of her life she can find a way to move forward and heal.

Her sister, Chynna Phillips from the world famous trio Wilson Phillips and current Christian Singer has some advice for Mackenzie:

"Get the Lord on board".

Her brother Tamerlane follower of Indian Guru Nityananda has some advice for all of us:

"My family is and always will be a decrepit bowl of dog urine compared to Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. That is how great Nityananda is. Worship Nityananda, not the Phillips family. Nityananda can protect you,"

Maybe her family isn't the best source of support...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Roman Polanski

Well well well. I'm just going to get right into this. What the hell is the deal with all of these entertainers treating Roman Polanski like a helpless victim? So many people have been like "poor Roman". I'm sorry are you fucking kidding me? Seriously? I am not going to even write the words that Polanski is guilty of. All we need to know is that there is not a single person I've read (including Roman himself) that denies he did it. So what pray tell is the reason why he is being treated like a fucking victim? I find it mind boggling. Sorry y'all I usually try not to swear but what the fuck?

It does bring up several important questions for me. As most of you know I do not believe in prisons. And simultaneously I believe in accountability. What I truly believe in is restorative justice. In the case of Roman Polanski, his victim wants him to be left alone. She is removed enough from the situation to make a rational decision. I certainly respect that. It doesn't make Polanski a victim but maybe in the end he shouldn't be locked up. That doesn't mean we have to act outraged by his current treatment. But the point is what can we do in these kinds of situations? To be honest I don't know and don't feel qualified to respond. I believe people like Polanski must be held accountable and at the same time I don't think we have a justice system that can hand out justice in a just manner. In the meantime, victims don't have many choices. And this brings up one of the most important questions we as radicals and revolutionaries need to answer. What kind of justice system would we like to see?

I mentioned a while back, before Polanski was arrested, that he and Michael Vick were treated quite differently. I surmised that if Polanski was black he would be seen as much more evil. I still believe that. But I don't want to lose sight of the primary issue at hand in this situation. As Leslie Morgan Steiner writes in her article published on, the only important question is: "How do we as a society prevent violence against women, and minimize suffering of women who've already been victimized?"

I do not claim to have the answer, but we as men have a very obvious starting point: confronting the sexism that exists within ourselves. I know I have a lot of work to do. Or as my mother(RIP) would probably say: "You've got a long way to go kid". That's very true. Today is a great day to keep working...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Are we addicted to rioting? ...My thoughts

So here we are in day 4 of the challenge and I’m feeling proud of myself. Four commentaries in four days, it’s truly amazing...

Today’s topic: Are we addicted to rioting? Is a response to an article written by my good friend and fellow musician Ryan Harvey. I recommend reading his article here. The premise of the article is to explore the tactics of individuals in the modern anarchist movement using the metaphor of addiction. I’m sitting in a club (The Red Square) in Albany, listening to loud, but good music. I’m about to perform in an hour or so. As a result I will not be as in depth as Ryan.
First of all let’s get one thing clear. I am an anarchist. Yes I believe in lawlessness and bloody mayhem(Just kidding). I believe that people don’t need governments (i.e. The State) in order to have a flourishing functional society. I believe we can have an egalitarian society by utilizing a direct democracy model that encourages communities to create autonomous collectives that can collaborate to develop practices to serve the needs of the people. And require that all individuals wear black bandannas across their faces (kidding).

OK back to Ryan’s article. In answer to his question, yes we are addicted to rioting. Not all of us of course. Some of us are social rioters and others like me are in recovery. I really do think that there are a good number of people that are consumed by the rush. I know for me, going to A16 (The IMF and World Bank Protests in Washington DC, April 16, 2000) was amazing. Feeling the power of large numbers taking to the streets was certainly intoxicating. It was extremely exciting. I remember feeling like the revolution was upon us. I’ve only felt that type of energy a few times in my life and it’s extremely powerful. Are many of us in search of the next Seattle? I think so. I do not blame people for that. I would not be opposed to another Seattle but Ryan’s point is not that it is bad to wish for upheaval in the streets, or that it is morally wrong to fuck some sh** up. He wants to know if we are being productive.

If we are talking about the young anarchist/anti-capitalist movement that hits the streets during big wig gatherings like the g20, than I would say: no we don't seem to be extremely productive lately. It’s a valid point that we have to examine. At the same time it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go. We just need to first answer the questions Ryan is asking like:
"What is your goal?"
"Will it make you stronger?"
"Will it hurt your organizing efforts?"
"What do you need to do to achieve your goal?"

Questions like this can’t be asked enough. And when we ask critical questions of ourselves we will be have more successful outcomes. Now is as good a time as any.

There is one point of contention I have with Ryan’s article. I texted him saying that I think he over-generalized us anarchists. I was once a part of an anarchist collective that was provocative, passionate and extremely problematic. I became disillusioned and frustrated with the organization and would often find myself being extraordinarily critical. Most of my critiques were accurate but there was one problem. I was analyzing the privileged, racist patriarchal paradigm of our organization and the effects of white supremacy on our efforts and overlooked the positive contributions of our collective. When overlooking the brighter aspects of our work, it’s not a surprise that the contributions of women were the most under appreciated. Anarchist orgs across the country have positive vital contributions made by women that often get lost in the problematic actions of a larger whole. The same is true of Anarchist People of Color.

I think Ryan inadvertently doesn't clarify these distinctions. Luckily for us his music rarely makes this type of omission. I don’t believe that this discredits his overall point. It’s just important that all of us acknowledge the manner in which patriarchy and white privilege are responsible for the problematic tendencies of our movement.

And that's it for now. (I'm about to go on stage and have a blast.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Erosion of our Civil Liberties

Alright so yesterday I said that I was getting up to date on current events. Well I'm going to backslide a little. Not to say that "The Erosion of Our Civil Liberties" is not a current event. It's just that this was a hot topic few years back when we were being ruled by the Bush/Cheney combo. At the time it was always something I wanted to write about. But now I'm a famous blogger with tens of people reading my rants. So I guess there is no time like the present. I know I'm going backwards and the hope was that I would be going forward. Don't worry I still plan to reach my goal of transporting myself at least five days in the future when I'm done with this challenge.

One of the most powerful choruses heard during the Bush Years was "they are destroying our civil liberties". I have to be honest, that statement always irked me. It's not that I believe that George or Richard were protectors of any liberties that we may have or had. I just always wondered this, when was the time period that we had all of these liberties that you are pissed to be losing? Or more importantly who are you talking about when you say "we"?

Now first off let me make a few things clear, laws like the USA Patriot Act and programs like the NSA wiretapping program certainly work to destroy some of the basic "so called" freedoms that we may posses in this country. And I understand that someone can examine some of the laws written in the US Constitution and infer that people should maintain certain rights that would be respected by the US Government. But here's what I'm saying. Has there ever been a time where enough people were treated in a manner that suggests that there was something close to universal recognition of certain inalienable rights?

When you say things like "they are eroding our civil rights?", you are implying that "we" had rights previously. This brings us back to my earlier question, who are you talking about when you say "we"? Are you only talking about American Citizens? Or are you talking about illegal immigrants or foreign citizens that have been directly impacted by US imperialism? Because you would be hard pressed to find many Guatemalan Peasants, that lived through the US sponsored genocide that killed 200,000 people, that would claim to have felt any civil liberties during this time. When you say "we" do you mean white Americans? Because you certainly can't be referring to Black Americans that lived through Jim Crow or Slavery. You can't be talking about Emmit Till. And you can't be talking about Japanese Americans that were interned in concentration camps during WWII. You can't be talking about Native Americans that were forced to walk the trail of tears, or inhale small pox infested blankets, or live in forced poverty on US reservations. Are you talking about white men? Because you certainly couldn't be talking about the women that were seen as property of their husbands and didn't have the right to vote for the first 100+ years of this nation's history and still can't get equal pay for equal work. Are you talking about straight Americans? Because you can't be gay and serve in the military. ...Not that the military is a good thing.

I know I just went off. Ultimately what I'm trying to say is that your government has never universally granted the "so called" rights of the constitution to everyone. So don't say "our" when talking about the erosion of civil liberties. For two reasons. One maybe you never had the liberties that you think you had. Or two maybe you're one of the only ones that did...

Romantic Comedies

So awhile back I wrote that I hold the belief that When Harry Met Sally is the best Romantic Comedy ever. I said I was willing to entertain other possibilities. I have. And I have determined that When Harry Met Sally is hands down the best Romantic Comedy ever period, end of story.

I put Boomerang at number two and Say Anything at number three. I will accept disagreement with those two but I have found no evidence that anything comes close to Harry and Sally.

Yes I know this is not a commentary. I'm working on it. Geez.