The power of equality, sex magik, twenty five year olds and you


Twenty five years ago, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) released Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which included the popular, radio-played tracks “Under the Bridge” and “Give It Away.”

I recently added a couple of songs from the album to my workout playlist, and glory day memories are flooding back into my mind each time one of those songs comes on.

At the time the album came out, I was a sophomore in high school. The same year my brother Jon asked me learn the bass guitar and start playing in his band Creamy Velour.

As I learned, I naturally drifted toward inspiration from those who are doing it better. And bassist Flea quickly became one of heroes when I was learning bass.

I listened to Blood Sugar Sex Magik on repeat for days if not months. I loved every song on the album, and would finger the bass rhythms on my knees, or steering wheel, or wherever. I wanted to learn to slap and pop. I practiced for hours on ideas that I thought were very similar to Flea’s abilities.

Back then, however, I was also astoundingly in love with Jesus and my faith, and many of the lyrics challenged my faith, especially those sexual in nature.

The mention or topic of Sex — especially from a secular source — could single handedly twist my psyche into a guilty sweaty mess. Where I come from Jesus was literally everywhere. Teachers, parents, leaders told me he was “omnipresent” (everywhere at the same time) which supposedly should cause calm and security. It meant you’re always protected.

Omnipresence also became a large reason I dumped the faith.

If God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit is everywhere, that means when a child is dying of leukemia on a hospital gurney, those three fuckers are standing there watching him or her suffer.

People trapped in a burning building. Those three are there. Laughing? Crying? Maybe. But they’re definitely impotent.
A man running down hundreds of people with a truck in Nice, France, those three were there. Watching. Arms crossed. Impotent.
A black man became our president … hey wait, those three were there. Fist bump. Wiggle fingers.

Omnipresence to an adolescent meant Jesus did everything I did.

Brushed Teeth.
Played Soccer.
Did homework.
Masturbated.
My Buddy Jesus.

He also listened to the same music I did.

One song, “Sir Psycho Sexy,” I could repeat the lyrics to … up to a point … and then I’d stop. I figuratively shoved my index fingers into each ear and hummed, “Lalalalalalala!!!”

Here are some lyrics from the second verse:

Deep inside the garden of Eden
Standing there with my hard on bleedin’
There’s a devil in my dick and some demons in my semen
Good God no that would be treason
Believe me Eve she gave good reason
Body looking too good not to be squeezin’
Creamy beaver hotter than a fever
I’m a givin’ ’cause she’s the receiver
I won’t and I don’t hang up until I please her
Makin’ her feel like an over achiever
I take it away for a minute just to tease her
Then I give it back a little bit deeper

Can you imagine me, singing “Standing there with my hard on bleedin'” arm in arm with Jesus as we swayed back and forth?

To a 16 year old Christian, that shit was a train wreck. In one moment, you’re singing along. In another, you’re hoping no one else knows how well you sing a long. Even with headphones on — and no one but Jesus could hear the lyrics — the power of guilt overwhelmed me. But Flea’s bass lines were too important not to listen to. And there was my struggle. The utilitarian thought that there was a greater good involved.

I’ve long since given up on Jesus. It’s a concept that doesn’t work for me. I’m not really sure how it works for anyone, but I get it at the same time. As an insider, I thought it was the best, and told many about it, and brought several to similar beliefs.

The transition away was largely thanks to conceding that my life was much more secular than religious. The concepts and ideas that drove most of my decisions weren’t Biblical logic or informed by Biblical ideas. Biblical ideas aren’t very clear and they certainly aren’t advisable for modern living. For example, marriage is a confusing mess in the bible. And if it weren’t for observing my grandparents grow old together, watching my gramps take care of my gram in sickness and declining health, I would have never understood the importance of marriage. I would have likely lived single my entire life.

Or race. Race in the bible is a tough one. At one end, you have one culture enslaving another. And when the Jews were enslaved, that sucked. But when the Jews enslaved others, okay! You have God’s approval of enemies made of Jews versus everyone. Or everyone versus the Jews. Slavery was okay. Bashing babies against rocks, thumbs up! And then you have Jesus, entering the world from heaven through a magikal birth canal. He commanded to embrace other races, other cultures, other ideas, the downtrodden, the assholes, the sick, the poor, everyone.

It’s those little commandments of enemy love, equality and forgiveness that also informed my decision to evaluate and evacuate the faith.

I knew the bible better than most people, I scoured it for answers to my often debilitating questions, and was surprised by others insistence that the God and the Bible were clear, not confusing, and never inconsistent.

The power of equality.

The opening track on Blood Sex is called “The Power of Equality.”

In my teenage years, I would have told you that’s what Jesus taught and thought. But if you observe the current zeitgeist among religious folks, equality isn’t for everyone. It’s only for like-minded folks with a penchant for saying, “We get on our knees for Jesus.”  You’re free — but only free to think exactly like us about the economy, race superiority, abortion, gay marriage, and whether or not to say “Merry Christmas” or not.

The lyrics from the song go:

American equality has always been sour
An attitude I would like to devour
My name is peace, this is my hour
Can I get just a little bit of power

The power of equality
Is not yet what it ought to be
It fills me up like a hollow tree
The power of equality

What was great about growing up in the Bible belt, in an above upper middle class neighborhood and attending an evangelical private school, it was a constant white out. White was everywhere. There were two black people in my my class during certain periods of my school career. But for the most part, our ability to stay away from any people of color was easy.

One time at the mall, there was a wall devoted to posters depicting history lessons created by local school children. My Dad and I were staring at the wall when he said, “Notice there are no black kid’s names on any of the work.”

I stopped and looked at him, and stared back at the posters. There were three — what I would consider obvious — black names. I pointed it out. There was silence.

I’ve never forgotten that moment. And it returns for many reasons. The names of the children weren’t even on my radar. I was probably critical of the art or materials used. Or looking for any inaccuracies. But that was the height of some of my experiences that read even remotely like racism.

I mean, I saw little bits of racism here and there. My first job was at a little sandwich and ice cream shop. My boss Hubert scheduled me four times a week; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I was the only white guy working with another black busboy, two black waitresses, a black dishwasher and a black cook. With my Puerto Rican blood, the sun darkened me every summer to a deep brown and more than once I was asked of I was black. I have big hair and I’m cool, so I figured that played a role.

But I’d see racism at work between our boss and my coworkers. My Tuesday and Thursday coworkers weren’t treated as well as the Monday, Wednesday and Friday staff.

You also saw a bit of racism in the way customers were perceived. If a black family sat inside at a table, waitresses wouldn’t take good care of them, because they either don’t tip or don’t tip more than change. It was a stereotype, but even my black waitress friends knew it and loathed it.

Percentage wise, you saw more black customers come to the counter for takeout.

But the level of racism I experienced and observed wasn’t anything to shake a stick at. I was nonplused by it. A word here. A phrase there. I heard of racist acts and may have heard some racist locker room talk, but I was taught to raise the bar of public discourse, so I either spoke out against it or quietly moved on if it wasn’t worth my time.

I also blame my bubble, though, for not being able to perceive racism. When O.J. Simpson was on trial, my little pathetic excuse for a brain and for education was completely naive to the entirety of the race issues in the United States.

I largely thank my experience abroad in France for opening my eyes a little bit to being able to decipher racism and how it exists. I mentioned above that I tan well. In France, I looked a little bit Mediterranean and a lot Arabic. The woman who housed me called me, “un Arab” or “l’Arab.” To my face. It was the first time I witnesses nationalism on a French vs. Islam scale.

Though, it wasn’t until I moved out of the south that I saw racism and violence in this country. In my 20s, I was in a bar in Chicago one night and some construction guys started a fight with some of my black friends from work. The racist slurs these white guys were throwing broke my mind. City life was supposed to be anything but racist. 

But these white guys were punching for dear life at my friends because they thought race was a reasonable factor to start beating on strangers in public.

The long and longer of it

I could go into far greater detail about other forms of inequality. As a recovering evangelical, I had to move far to overcome thoughts against homosexuality and all kinds of diversity. I didn’t realize how much of a racist I probably was and still am thanks to an upbringing of white, male privilege. And when all you get to do is be all white and privileged, most people never realize what white privilege actually means. I can only thank summers of tans and the occasional odd look or unkind word for even a smidgen of understanding.

I’ll wrap this post up with a cut and paste of more lyrics from the “Power of Equality” song. Or listen to it above or here. This song was 25 years ago. Current public relations show that we are no further forward, if not years backwards. And it hurts my head.

Right or wrong, my song is strong
You don’t like it, get along
Say what I want, do what I can
Death to the message of the Ku Klux Klan
I don’t buy supremacy
Media chief, you menance me
The people you say cause all the crime
Wake up motherfucker and smell the slime
Blackest anger, whitest fear
Can you hear me, am I clear
My name is peace, this is my hour
Can I get just a little bit of power

The whole problem with the world


A skeptic friend on Facebook posted the following quote and attributed it to Bertrand Russell:

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

I found my mouse attracting itself toward the “love” option and clicking it, but the skeptic in me highlighted the quote and googled it. My google results showed that it’s unknown who said it, according to this page at wikiquote. But who knows what’s what on the internet? I don’t.

Full of Doubts; I think that’s my middle name.

I struggle with doubts all the time. Self doubts. Doubting others. Doubting others perceptions of the universe, the world, the neighborhood, of me.

I wonder if it’s my job to respond to my friend and say, “Great quote, but the skeptic in me questioned its attribution and a Google search resulted in showing it might not be Russell.”

I’m pretty sure I’m starting to hate the Internet and social media in general. Over the past six or seven months, I’ve tried scaling back on mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I’ve found myself trying not to respond on people’s posts, whether I agree with them or not.

I’m wondering if the Internets aren’t making people stupider. While it’s chock full of information, it’s even more full of bullshit. Memes are the fruits of the devil.

Fortunately, it seems that email forwards are nearly extinct. I think the last dinosaur lives in my building on the first floor. His diet consists of mass quantities of diet Coke, Cubs games, pancake breakfasts at his church, and the adrenaline rush of forwarding the insane stupidity to his email list.

But people like my Dad, Aunts, and Aunts-in-laws have transferred their email forwarding energy to the Facebook for that adrenaline rush.

Then there are my own skeptical friends who post quotes, and I’m skeptical of them, too.

That quote, though, that quote is something that resonates with me. Over the last several years, I’ve been to a few funerals. My maternal Grandfather passed this year. We weren’t close, and it wasn’t upsetting so much to me. I had to check my pulse a few times to see if I was still living. Why wasn’t I upset by this? I found myself in tears after hearing that Gwen Ifill passed, and I didn’t well up at all when Gramps went.

But at Grandpa’s funeral, his remembrance ceremony included speeches claiming that the speaker “knew” that my grandpa was now with Jesus.

People KNOW that a man who died is with Jesus. Jesus, the savior of the world. A guy who supposedly is God. Three in one. A guy who was born 2,000 years ago and used a virgin’s womb and vaginal canal as the tunnel between heaven and earth.

People claim to KNOW that Jesus did this for certainty.

And the tunnel that Jesus used to return to heaven was ascending, literally destroying gravity without ropes or wires … he went up and up and up until he returned to the right side of his “father” and his brother, Holy Ghost. Or hisself. The triune.

And people KNOW this without Google, or the Internet, or an email forward or a meme on the Internet.

They KNOW. Indisputable knowledge. Trademarked Good News, Gospel Greatness. There was no way I was going to walk up to the pastor after my grandpa’s funeral and say, “How do you know my grandpa’s with Jesus?”

Did this pastor ascend up and up and up into heaven while no one was looking, transfer through a tunnel into heaven, see Jesus and Grandpa hug and hold hands?

No, I’m pretty sure he didn’t. No one has seen heaven except the dead. No one except the dead and little boy Colton Burpo who mopped up a shitload of book sales after his daddy wrote a book for him (see Heaven is for Real.”)

Fools and Fanatics. Them there are the people who are full of certainty.

Or maybe it’s the fools and fanatics who are full of doubt.

That quote only makes one kind of person feel better and sheds uncertainty on the other kind of person.

What’s the harm in thinking Grandpa is literally with Jesus? I guess it doesn’t hurt anybody. Or maybe no one really thinks Grandpa and Grandma are literally with Jesus. Being with Jesus is funeral code for “they’re dead.”

It’s the certainty that bothers me. “I know Grandpa is with the dude who I believe created the Universe.”

“I know I’m going to heaven.”

“I know … you’re going to hell.”

These are statements of certainty.

They aren’t, “I know this steak tastes amazing” or “I love it when I get a check for $20,000” or “I know my wife is next to me in bed.”

If she weren’t really next to me, but actually next to a gigolo in Vegas, I’d still have more knowledge than knowing that Grandpa was with Jesus.

My concern is that once you allow yourself to think you’re certain that Grandpa is sitting in Jesus’ lap hugging each other in the afterlife, what else are you able to convince yourself of … with damned certainty?

What is the harm in saying, “I loved Grandpa. He was a great man who lived a great life (truths), and now that he’s gone, I want to believe that he’s with Jesus, who he had lived his life for and who promised him eternal life so long as he accepted Jesus into his heart. Because I can’t see it, I will have to believe this idea to be true.”

That to me is like Hillary Clinton railing against rich people when she herself is rich.

I don’t know if Grandpa is with Jesus. I don’t know if he’s not with Jesus. There’s absolutely NO way to know. There’s no way to know that God is real or is not real. There are good arguments for his existence and good arguments against.

I have no idea if Tina really loves me, but I have a pretty good feeling she does. She acts like it almost 95% of the time. Then there’s that 5% of the time when she wants to scream, “I hate you, Jeremy! You asshole. I hate you, hate you, hate you!”

If it weren’t for 95% of her behavior indicating otherwise, I wonder if I would be more skeptical.

I can’t find myself to accept that God, Jesus and the Spirit are (is?) so trivial that he/they/it would let two perfect people’s disobedience be the rational to allow death, disease, pain in childbirth & toiling the earth and the only way to survive death’s inevitability is to express the following thought, “Jesus, I’m a sinner. Come into my heart.” The ticket price for eternal life in heaven is a thought. The ticket price for eternal pain and suffering is an oppositional thought.

Is this really an idea worth fighting for? Is Jesus really the vaginal canal to heaven?

Do you remember who you were for all of the history of the universe before you were born? Why not? Why didn’t you have consciousness before you were born, but after you were born and you did or didn’t accept Jesus would that dictate whether you felt the eternal burn of hell or the eternal bliss of heaven?

I’m good with “I don’t know” and I don’t know why. I don’t think it makes me wiser. I don’t think it makes me a fool.

I’m the wisest fool I know, I believe that with fantastic fanaticism.

And that’s the problem with the world.

Honk.

 

A few thoughts on the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America


I imagine most of America, and the world, is reviewing yesterday’s election results with some sort of excitement.

Whether your excitement is emboldened or deflated, or somewhere in between, that’s certainly up for grabs.
I’m not thrilled about the results. But I get it. Hillary just wasn’t an “It” candidate. The negatives were stacked against her. Just being a female democrat, following our first black, two term democratic president, was enough to knock her out of the possible victory lap.
The fact that she never owned up to being a wealthy, elitist worked against her.
Her email scandals and the history of being railed for different “failures”. Hell, standing by her man despite all the philandering bullshit.
I wasn’t surprised last night. I wasn’t shocked or appalled.
Every time I saw polls showing Hillary’s potential win, I reminded myself that anything could happen. And until that one lady sung, I had to stay open minded to the results.
As early as last spring, I have texts to friends referring to our next President … President Trump.
When Nate Silver was posting that the Cubs had less of a chance to win the World Series as Trump, then they went on to win … that to me was a wake up that the pollsters and analysts were easily proved wrong.
Those things all created a sense of malaise and insecurity among independents, including myself. It discredited her appearance of strength. And strength and charisma are two of the greatest presidential qualities that attract sheep — I mean people.
I’m not surprised by the results of the election. Trump is going to make America great again. He’s going to disassemble the IRS. He’s going to make our economy boom.
He’s going to make us all winners.
Trump’s win is also a win for evangelicals. One, we shouldn’t disregard Trump’s running mate and his future influence.
And there’s also the idea that people “prayed” for this result and the result was positive.
Not that no one prayed for a different outcome during the last two elections.
I have an optimistic approach to what’s next, only because this election reflects historical trends, the pingpong effect of democrats in power followed by “republicans,” whatever that means.
I also hope that evangelicals bolster a “Christian” outlook of pushing Trump to elevate public discourse. To hold Trump to “Christian” values of mercy, forgiveness, acceptance of foreigners, of enemies, of those that are different and to fiscal responsibility.
I’m also realistic, and don’t have too high of hopes that that will happen.
Onward and upward, America.
Let’s do this.

D to the O to the N to the A L D, mother fucking T-RUMP


Tina and I voted today. As you might imagine, as I leaned in, dragging my pen toward the letters H I L L A R Y, my pen swerved at the last second and scratched a huge notch next to another name on the ballet.

Yes, indeed, I voted for Trump. That’s right.

D to the O to the N to the A L D, mother fucking T-RUMP.

We need change in America, and he’s obviously the only man who can bring that change.

Think about it. He’s a businessman. Not a lifelong politician. He doesn’t have lobbyists in his back pocket or on his shoulders guiding his thoughts and decisions.

Trump makes more sense. His plans to make America great again are filled with salient, concrete examples of plans to ameliorate this fucked up country of ours.

With all the violence, lackluster economic growth, and terrorism on the rise, we need a man … a man with real balls … real, hairy stones that doesn’t cower in any of the corners of the Oval Office.

We need a man with a STRONG beautiful woman on his arm. That way he can look good walking into all those presidential dinners, and international, black-tie affairs.

We need someone with beautiful hair to guide us through the next four years of cranking America’s amazingness up to the standard of life that Donald Trump is eager to establish like a towering building over the diverse landscape that is today’s dystopian UnUnited States of CrapMerica.

We need a leader backed by Evangelical Christians. Wait, white evangelical Christians … who know exactly what the leadership should look like in this country … people who can obviously figure out better than any other Christian what the bible means about morality, marriage, economics, science, and world events. People who don’t trifle over the nuances of bible verses to the point of so many confused sects that only stars outnumber differences of biblical opinion.

Frankly, we need someone pompous, conniving, manipulative and dastardly … you know … like Trump. We need someone who knows commitment only means “only until you get bored or your wife gets ugly and a new, hot option becomes available.”

We need a man who failed at as many businesses as almost all of America’s failures have experienced since she was born.

We don’t need someone like Crooked Hillary whose primary goal will be to destroy America and to make Isis GREAT … for the first time.

We can’t have a grandma in the Oval Office. All she would want to do is babysit her grandkids while sipping on Ensure, flipping through AARP magazine. This is a woman so damn near her deathbed, her gun-loving haters wouldn’t need to express their 2nd amendment rights on her … thank goodness a mild cold could take her out.

Who do we want making decisions on a Supreme Court Justice who could weigh in on women’s rights via Roe v. Wade? Definitely not a vagina-clad woman. We don’t want to take the rights away from white men who need to keep vagina’s grabbed for their pleasures.

NO.

We need a strong, baboon man guiding this country into the opulent foyer of our future great home of Great America.

This pathetic excuse of a country needs Trump. And I’m glad my pen steered me far from marking Hillary on my Illinois ballot so I could vote for making this country the Great country that only a GREAT big failure can guide us to.

Take a peek at our TraVlog from our trip to Marseille last May


If we’re not friends on Facebook, you haven’t been able to follow along my traVlogs showing our trip to celebrate my 40th birthday.

I finally figured out how to share the videos here. This one below is the last one I shared. I’ll add another post soon with previous episodes.

If nothing else, check out the drone footage toward the end of a calanque we hiked to.

Enjoy!

VOX: Donald Trump didn’t just destroy himself. Hillary Clinton destroyed him.


Mind you, I read all positive responses to Hillary kicking Donald’s ass cynically. But this Vox assessment flittered my flatters in a tingly way:

The third and final presidential debate has ended, and it can now be said: Hillary Clinton crushed Donald Trump in the most effective series of debate performances in modern political history.

The polling tells the story. As Nate Silver notes, on the eve of the first presidential debate, Clinton led by 1.5 points. Before the second, she was up by 5.6 points. Before the third, she was winning by 7.1 points. And now, writing after the third debate — a debate in which Trump said he would keep the nation “in suspense” about whether there would be a peaceful transition of power, bragged about not apologizing to his wife, and called Clinton “such a nasty woman” — it’s clear that Trump did himself no favors. Early polls also suggest Clinton won.

Perhaps my favorite strategy:

It began in the first debate. “Donald,” she kept saying. No one quite knows why Trump so loathes the sound of his first name, but he does. He quickly tried to shame Clinton into showing him more respect. “Secretary Clinton — yes, is that okay?” he said, after she once again called him Donald. “Good. I want you to be very happy. It’s very important to me.”

Clinton’s next answer: “In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis…”