Whelp, there’s always a New Year to magically change into something you weren’t last year


I saw this quote at Kottke.org:

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

Attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald, but was actually written by screenwriter Eric Roth for the film adaptation of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

If it’s any consolation or a pinch on your tuchis, Mr. President Elect Donald J. Trump probably read the same quote a year or two ago when he decided to run for office. It’s never too late to become president, an entrepreneur, a nurse, a doctor, a professor … or merely a better person.

The quote is a little long for a bumper sticker; but it’s about the same thing. “It’s never too late to be the You you always wanted to be!” These kinds of quotes definitely start hitting harder at the beginning of New Years. As if a New Year is when a person will magically change all there is about themselves and blossom into the person they just couldn’t quite become in 2016, or 2015, or 2014 … et al.

I have found myself ruminating on the idea that I can become someone I wasn’t last year or the year before. I don’t fall for it. It took a long time to get here, and I’m still forward moving … at least I hope anyway.

In my case, the person I want to become is a successful photographer with big budget projects, hot clients, and to let go of any shitty clients or work that doesn’t make me happy or satiate my creative spirit the way I supposedly think it should be.

I can’t help but be a bit cynical about success. I struggle with jealousy of other creatives, and often get angry rather than happy for other people’s successes.

I saw a quote attributed to photographer Chase Jarvis that said, “Play the long game. Be patient and know it takes time [to fulfill your ambition].” I saw it at fstoppers with other advice like:

The people you follow have been doing the above for years, and that’s why they have huge followings.

Don’t get me wrong. I have heard of people — and watched other creatives or photographers — do Lamborghini 0 to 150,000 MPH in what seems like a couple nano seconds. And I seem to examine my own path and it seems like I’m accelerating on the back of a turtle riding a snail, whose been cooked and served at a cheap French restaurant.

I have this conversation with our studio partner and one of my best friends Bill who shares that sort of cynicism about other photographers who seem to go from being an accountant to holding classes on how successful they are as a fashion photographer in less than six months.

There seems to be nothing more annoying than watching photographers post their asses off on social media hoping to garner respect, accolades, attention and new jobs. In its defense, social media is an amazing vehicle for artists. And like everything, it’s up to the artist to determine his or her involvement on social media.

I always keep in mind that social media is a deceptive front. I was at a dinner recently with seven other creative people, and the one person at the table I thought was the most successful and most creative talked about how difficult running her business is and how creativity plays such a minor role in her day-to-day life.

I’ve found that for years. Creativity is not a day-to-day luxury, and maybe … just maybe … anybody trying to tell you otherwise is fucking with you like an evangelical telling you that “the good news Gospel” is actually “good news”.

I lust over creative expression, but the time to do it is devoured by running my business. New Year’s only mean it’s time to get my paperwork together to send to my accountant. And start a new year of wondering if another client will commission me for my talent.

This last year, I failed at a few things. One was a themed monthly photo project. I stopped after six images. I also failed to continue vLogging, which I did several. Just didn’t keep it up weekly like I had hoped. I also feel that I failed to pick myself up after falling down and wiping myself off. Perhaps I got caught in the thought that, “I’ll start another creative side project again next year.” I’m not sure.

There are several keys to creativity. The main difference between a creative and, let’s say, everyone else is: ideating concepts and then executing them. It’s the follow through that sets folks apart. For me, the process of creating art is as important as the result. Quite possibly the hardest part is chipping away at the process that could take five or ten minutes or several long arduous weeks.

Fortunately, last year wasn’t all failures. My business has grown year over year since the economy tanked back in 2007-08. We worked with new and old clients that are certainly hiring us for the quality of our work. Also, I made great strides with pushing myself to a healthy equilibrium through diet and exercise. It’s not quite where I want to be, but it’s one of those on-going projects. Exercise is an investment. It’s playing the long game. I’ve also spent more time meditating than before. I do mind-calming exercises. I repeat mantras and concentrate on my breathing more. When I run long distance, I try to let my mind go blank. Or I repeat “Creativity” or “Calm” with every other step.

Twenty seventeen is a continuation of the long game, but I hope to introduce concrete creative experiences that help me grow and to keep chipping away at the same old same old that I was doing last year and hope to continue to do going forward.

Let’s do this!

 

Ode to my beloved Tina


Yesterday was my wife Tina’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Tina! I love you yesterday, today and tomorrow times a million! 

We booked an interiors shoot yesterday. And by “we” I mean Tina. But we were thrilled to have it. It’s a new client and we’ve been wanting to work with them for some time.

It was our last job of 2016. But booking it distracted us from celebrating Tina’s big birthday yesterday. This sounds completely cheeseballs, but we don’t like to leave our dog Talulah and our cat Zoe for too long at a time, and the thought of coming home, dressing up and going out for a celebration dinner was too stressful.

We decided that today would be a better day. So we’ll celebrate with a dinner out this evening.

Let me be clear on something, Tina is my everything. Without her, I would probably be committed. I don’t know what I would do. We spend almost every second of every minute of every hour together. I love her with so much of my heart, there’s hardly room for anybody else (Sorry, Jesus!).

Yesterday, I took a huge risk and kept from delivering a sappy Facebook Happy Birthday birthday wish dripping with love and affection for a few reasons. Mainly it was because I didn’t feel I had enough time to dedicate to it, and sloppily writing something for the sake of just doing it, didn’t feel right to me. My day’s creative juices were dedicated to performing on site for our job. Impressing the client stole my creativity for the day.

But this morning, I woke up with a new sense of guilt and frustration for letting yesterday slip by without devoting a thoughtful, love-laced dedication to my beloved wife and partner who inspires me, wows me, attracts me, thrills me, and completes me.

While still in bed, my thoughts went to my lovely angel and I looked over in the pale light and felt a pang of happiness. I thought I would write that sappy birthday dedication here, on this social media. For all to read. And for all to see.

I will call it, Four Things I love about My Beloved Tina.

  1. Tina’s Energy. There’s an energy that revolves around Tina that is unmistakable. It’s not on all the time. But when it is, it’s as attractive as any painting or art you could think of. On jobs, I wonder if they hire us or hire Tina. I think it’s more Tina. Sometimes when she sees me, she squeals with joy. She hugs and dances and laughs. When she wakes up and plays with our dog Talulah, it’s like the first time they’ve ever met and they play and laugh and bark and carry on. When she sees Zoe,  her heart sings and she scoops her up and cuddles her. When she’s alone in another part of our condo, she often sings to herself. This alone makes me swoon. Tina keeps a perpetual child-likeness. That’s to say, she expects everyone to be as kind as she is, and is often like Will Ferrel in Elf when he experiences that people aren’t.
  2. Tina’s Beauty. Tina’s a woman who stole my heart from day one. Her creativity often is embodied in her appearance, her choice of makeup and clothing. The way she does her hair. She often doesn’t realize it. Or she does, but she’s not always told. She expresses herself in what she wears and how she appears. I LOVE that about her. When we were dating, we went to a couple’s therapy group on the recommendation of one of our work mentors. We were one of the few couples in the room who weren’t there as the last step before their divorce. When other couples were asked to sit and stare into each others eyes for only a few minutes, they failed. We could do it like young lovers, unending and willfully. We still can. Our love life is better now than when we were dating. Perhaps it’s that and my perspective on love that keeps me head over heals for her. And I get to see her beauty every day, all day, and it makes me forever grateful and happy. One thing I’ve given a lot of thought to is the idea of sic transit gloria (or glory fades). And as our body’s grow older and our physical appearances change, I find the need to consider what that means for our love affair. My personal goal is to follow the leadership and example of all those couples who have seemingly stayed in love their entire lives. I anticipate it realistically and hope to understand it. Luckily, Tina’s beauty courses through her entirety of person. And my love for her is not strictly physical. Luckily, my heart pounds every time I see her. It’s like every day is my birthday. 
  3. Tina’s Conditional Love. You read that right. Conditional. None of that un-conditional bullshit. Tina’s a realist. I hope we both are. Our love for each other is holy-shit amazing! But thankfully it has conditions. I can’t just do anything, say anything, act the fool and expect Tina to be standing their naked offering fellatio for treating her like a bag of cat turds. I can’t treat Tina like Talulah’s diarrhea and say, “Whelp, you’re supposed to stick with me … we’re married … GOTCHA!” Growing up, I was taught and I thought love should be unconditional.  But there was a day when I realized that love has conditions, no matter what human (or deity) it’s coming from. Love should have conditions. It should be kept accountable. It should be malleable and open, but it should also make sure that anarchy is the worst form of love. One should dedicate empathy to it, but not mindless all acceptance. The day we go unconditional, the day we have to consider parting. I believe that it’s conditional love that promotes devotion to building our relationship, investing in it, watering it to grow and flourish. I love that.
  4. Tina’s Balance. No exaggeration, Tina has it all. She’s got a big personality at times, the most soothing and several beautiful idiosyncrasies between. In room full of family, Tina can put any Italian to shame by being the loudest person to get her story in above the cacophony of overpowering chatter. In a quiet room cuddling on the couch, she can calm a storm with her voice, her touch, her essence. She’s like a cat that purrs you to quiet your mind and find a zenful place of tranquil thoughts. She is grace. She is mercy. She is thoughtful. She is honest. She is emotional. And she is strong.

To Tina, I raise my glass, my candle, my voice.

When we’re down, we work together to ameliorate our woes. When we’re up, we are what the internet would consider viral. Viral to me anyway, because I have to “love” it every time I take another look.

Tina, I love you. Happy Birthday. Although belated. Forgive that. I hope. I needed time to properly devote a creative word dance to your importance in my life. To your energy, your beauty, your conditional love … and that your balance creates equilibrium for me, our family and our world.

Tina, je t’aime.

 

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.

 

It has come to this, the #ComeTrumPence is going to make me vomit #Trump #PussyGate


Like the rest of America, the leaked recording of Trump floored me.

It was like a cataclysmic world event, and I wanted to be first in line to consume the fallout as it rolled out. I scoured websites, FOX News included, looking for information and updates. I half assumed more Republicans would bail on Trump. And I’m not surprised that so many people whom I love are somehow still supporting him, namely through Facebook posts or reposts.

I have not and cannot seem to find any kind of understanding why and how anyone would support Trump, apart from the idea that supporting Hillary would be completely un-acceptable. And I kind of get that. Why? Because I was raised conservative. And there’s not a critical eye that most conservatives can throw onto any situation.

I scratch my head with the rest of the Trump unsupporters wondering how he got this far. I wonder how many books, articles and talking heads will examine this phenomenon for years to come.

For the most part, I’m quietly voting for Hillary. I make no effort to defend her past. If nothing else, I’m very critical of her. It would be a full-time job to completely dig into all the ins and outs of what people criticize her for.

I don’t think of her as the lesser of two evils. Trump should be disqualified from running for such an office. His actions, his demeanor, his track record continue to render him a big buffoon.

Had there been a more identifiable Republican in the race, I could have given them a fair shake at possibly winning my vote in November. Trump lost my vote forever when he made the comment about McCain and how disgraceful it was that he was fucking captured.

Really? A war veteran. A POW. A fucking patriot and a hero?

In whose mind is this kind of talk defensible, let alone coming from a “republican” the party that stands so proudly on the more-patriotic-than thou platform.

This election season has been nothing but a nightmare for me.

When a family member expresses support via social media for Trump or even for Hillary, I first wonder, “Why do you have to do this publicly?” We all know that this election is causing more and more division within this country. It makes me think people want to piss off half of their friends for nothing other than the thrill of pressing “Post” and seeing a couple awkward “likes.”

And now there’s this reprehensible #PussyGate bullshit.

I just looked at Facebook and saw how many Christian grandfathers with grandchildren, Christian fathers of little girls and boys, who find it okay to support a man identifying himself as the candidate to lead this country to “greatness” and at fifty fucking nine years old he is on a recording saying that he tried to fuck a married woman and that it’s okay to grab women by their pussies.

What the fuck.

And then the number of women who support the culture that allows this?

Devastating.

And women supporting Trump? How is this possible?

Republicans, especially evangelical “conservatives,” the self-declared masters of morality with their incessant insistence that they alone hold the key to pleasing the unseen god of the universe by embracing and holding Holy Bibles above their heads is supporting a disgrace of a man who has done more to violate Biblical values than any man I’ve ever met, and they have the gaul to support  a man who has mocked women, Americans with disabilities, veterans, judges, immigrants (like my own father), the working poor, 400 lb computer geeks, Muslims, Jews, refugees, and the list grows and bloats every day of every week as we near November.

Yes, we’ve watched Hillary, a career politician get caught in lies. Her email server is terrible. She’s probably done some horrendous things in support of her husband’s indiscretions. I happen to know women quite closely who have done the same thing.

We all know how to tell if a politician is lying, don’t we? When their mouths are open?

Are we all this stupid?

I’m appalled that we are okay with anything politicians get away with. But we live in a country overwrought with concepts of forgiveness for everyone except our enemies despite what Jesus ostensibly said about 70 times 7. Or rich people and camels. Or feeding the poor. Helping the sick and the destitute.

For almost twenty years, I’ve lived with a lot of anger regarding how men, namely Christian men, Christian business men, married Christian business men who go on trips in America and abroad, and they fuck and rape young, often very underage women who were sold into slavery and prostitution by their own fathers.

This is the type of man Trump is. A business man who has shown no remorse about not paying taxes, about sexual immoralities, about cheating, lying and deceiving to make a buck. And maybe that’s why so many men with such disgusting proclivities and abhorrent fantasies support him. They want to be him, a man who does what he wants and gets away with it.

What a leader.

What a con-artist, misogynistic, load of bullshit loser, mother fucking asshole.

Only a supporter of Trump could look at him and misconstrue “winning” with such a loser mentality.

The Republicans can’t claim they’ve cornered the market on moral superiority when their candidate for leadership can’t find his way out of a paper bag labeled “right & wrong.”

I’m a bit nauseous right now from hashing all this out. I think I might go throw up now.

Michael Rosenblum — “tell me what you watch and I will tell you what you are”


Over at that drivel rag Huffington Post, I read this blog  from Michael Rosenblum titled, “Donald Trump is Going to be Elected.”

It opens with:

The American people voted for [Trump] a long time ago.

They voted for him when The History Channel went from showing documentaries about the Second World War to Pawn Stars and Swamp People.

They voted for him when The Discovery Channel went from showing Lost Treasures of the Yangtze Valley to Naked and Afraid.

They voted for him when The Learning Channel moved from something you could learn from to My 600 Pound Life.

They voted for him when CBS went from airing Harvest of Shame to airing Big Brother.

These networks didn’t make these programming changes by accident. They were responding to what the American people actually wanted. And what they wanted was Naked and Afraid and Duck Dynasty.

I imagine a few readers will finish that segment scratching their head wondering, “Wut?”

If that’s the case, perhaps this response isn’t for you.

While the sentiment and this blog’s expression are not new, I found myself nodding my head. Hell, I remember watching the “History” channel circa 2003 wondering why they were giving credence to the possibility that the biblical plagues happened and how they might have happened with modern explanations. Or musings about the whereabouts of Noah’s Ark. Two things that never happened. History, nor science, recognizes them as happening. And yet, the History channel spent beaucoup bucks getting this kind of shit produced for people who need their skeptic views of the bible they accept to somehow be reconciled and possibly true.

The French may love food, the Italians may love opera. What we love is TV. We are TV culture. It defines who we are.

TV. Fucking TV.

Throw away your television. 

We cancelled our cable earlier this year. We don’t watch sports, stay as far away from 24-hour news cycles as humanly possible, and check out very little on network TV. You can find all those shows on more inexpensive resources anyway. The internets are loaded with content.

I primarily use my TV to watch movies. We subscribe to Netflix and Hulu. We can get over 50 channels with an antenna. I have a movie channel now that shows more great movies than I’ve wanted. I also tend to watch PBS’s local news show: Chicago Tonight. Sometimes NewsHour and Frontline. NOVA.

The great thing about PBS is the content isn’t loud. People aren’t insulting each other. It’s civil, informed discussion. Most times. It’s actually really fucking boring. And somehow that appeals to me.

Tina has some guilty pleasures on TV, and it’s been perhaps a little more difficult for her to quit the cable. But all in all, she’s so glad we did. I am, too.

We read more. Exercise more. Talk more. Sit on the back porch and lovingly gaze into each others eyes.

Twenty-four hour news is bullshit. It’s loud, obnoxious and if nothing else entertainment, a ruse, and confusing. People honestly think that they are getting the information they need if they watch 30 minutes of FOX followed by 30 minutes of CNN or MSNBC … while surfing Drudge, Brietbart, Facebook, WND, et al.

And those lines about the French and the Italians. Cultured assholes.

We Americans are cultured, too. Cultured on TV and sports. And chain, cookie-cutter restaurants. There is a political conversation you can overhear in this goddamn country that wasn’t inspired by the exact same words that everyone on TV from dawn to dusk isn’t talking about. We have no brains of our own.

We’re us vs. them. We lump entire groups of people into categories of good and bad. Positive and negative. My own family posts to Facebook that liberals are vile and disgusting and their ideas and policies must be stopped at all costs!

But when all you surround yourself with is shit that makes one group awful and another group superior, that’s how you start to treat people you love. It’s inadvertent. The doer doesn’t realize they’re doing it. They mask it in, “I want to inform others.” Or “I’m proud of what I believe in.” “I’m a straight shooter.” Or “I love others and I want this love to show via these hateful comments.”

And then there’s me. Writing this blog post. Probably offending someone. Or maybe not enough. Should I write in all caps so that it looks like I’m screaming?

Donald Trump is great TV.

He knows how to entertain.

He understands ratings.

Hillary Clinton is crap TV.

She may be smarter, better prepared, a better politician. It won’t matter. She is terrible entertainment.

When I lived in France as a student, I was completely unaware of America’s great cultures. Compared to the French, I had no culture. I was incapable of identifying them. We didn’t have the traditions in food and love of the arts. Our appreciation of most everything worth a damn paled in comparison. I remember one day waking up and realizing that our American culture was largely sports, sugary drinks, shit food and the weirdest, anti-Jesus capitalism in the universe.

I don’t know this to be true. It’s what I’ve been taught. Right?

When I went back to France in 2008 on my honeymoon, McCain announced his running mate Sarah Palin. Tina and I watched it on TV one night while munching baguette and sipping wine. We almost spit our wine when we heard her open her mouth. Palin was GREAT TV. And many ate her up. She paved the way for Trump to get as far as he has. He owes her a fist bump.

Rosenblum exits his blog with this:

In 1825, the great French gastronom Brillat de Savarind said, “tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”. Today, in America, we can safely say, “tell me what you watch and I will tell you what you are”.

I’ll tell you what I watch.

I watch people. My favorite things to photograph are people and places.

If I’m not photographing, I love sitting and watching people.

I guess that — based on Rosenblum’s logic — that — kind of — makes me a … a person.

 

I turn to you


rosie mae _0175-

“I ask you to turn to each other, not against each other as we move forward. Let us support one another. Let us help heal one another.”

– Loretta Lynch, July 8, 2016

Agoraphobia is getting more and more attractive.

I’m starting to have nightmares on a regular basis about murders. Not to self diagnose and to diagnose America … but I think we’re all suffering from PTSD.

I’m hoping that I wake up and this was all a bad dream.

Last night, a sniper took out five cops and injured more. This week, two more black men die with phone video to show the world. Just this week, a friend of mine — a person whom I only know through social media —  was murdered in her home in North Carolina. I refer to her in this old vLog I did back in 2009. Her name was Wendy Rae. See this article here for information. It’s fucking awful.

Fuck, man, I’m still trying to get over that attack last August when Bryce Williams shot and killed those two reporters while working. I’m still trying to get over the Charleston massacre, let alone the Pulse Nightclub bullshit and November 13 in Paris.

When I ride down the street on my bike with Tina, I look at people in cars and wonder if they’re going to execute a random act of violence against us. It plays out in my head. It scares me.

Shit, a lot of stuff plays out in my head.

I hate it.

Social media makes it worse. You have friends ranting and raving from their stereotypical points of view. You have the shitheads that no matter what happens, they’ll side with the NRA and rant against the president. Then you have the folks that scream, “Do something about the gun problem!”

Who the fuck knows what the problem is.

We’re living in a goddamn powder keg. While I am fond of this president and the last eight years, I know so many who aren’t. And that building tension is about to explode no matter who wins the chair in November.

If Hillary gets it, the rednecks and racists will scream bloody murder. They’ll collectively say, “We’ve already had eight years of a black man. Now we gotta deal with this white-y fucking bitch who broke the law and shit. That’s what FOX told me!”

And if Trump gets it, the rest of us will eloquently bitch and moan for four years using reasonably decent grammar and educated words.

I doubt I’m alone when I say that I would love to win the lottery, move out of the country and hide away from all this chaos for a while. I need a goddamn break from violence and negativity.

When I was in France a few weeks ago, there was one night that Tina and our travel partners went to dinner while in Marseille. The place we chose was a bad choice. And we got stuck with tourist level food at not so great prices. The night’s conversation was loaded with negative comments, and everyone was damn sure not to leave even the smallest tip.

So I went to the bathroom after we were leaving, and I told everyone I’d meet them outside. When I came back down from the toilets, I gave our waiter, who was very patient with us and not a bad waiter for sure, a tip. He did, after all, deal with our table’s lack of French. We were a bit loud. And he hooked us up with another table’s unfinished bottle of white wine.

Instead of going back with everyone, I told them politely I needed to take a walk for a minute. So I walked around the Old Port and got my bearings. This was my trip to celebrate my birthday. I also think that traveling abroad means embracing the negative experiences and doing one’s best to stay positive.

You know that old idea that you can give someone a swell of compliments, but one negative word can or might carry ten times more weight than all those positive words?

I feel the same way about how negativity affects every day life.

And boy are we affected.

I took the above photo last week, and I find it particularly apropos given all the events over the last year, or more … Racism, violence, bigotry …

Whether we know about it more because of social media or we’re living in an exceptionally violent time, I fucking need to take a walk and get away from it for a while. But I can’t seem to get far enough away from it all.

Man, I’m spent.

I’ve decided I need to be a force for positivity in my world. So when Loretta Lynch gave her speech today, I took notes. And that quote up there meant everything to me at this particular time … when I want to be on the blame team. I want to be negative. But my brain can’t take it anymore. My heart either.

I turn to you. And not against you.