Hell, if it exists, hath frozen over: I agree with Glenn Beck … for the first time ever?

This statement by Glenn Beck from his Facebook page couldn’t be more spot on in terms of what I expect from ALL the leadership and all of those who identify themselves as Republican as well as Christ-following Christian do-gooding, do-righting, do-righteousness and do-prouds. Post below. Emphasis mine. 

Every person, each of us must decide what is a bridge too far.

Mike Lee has obviously reached that point, where the moral compromise his party is asking him to make is simply beyond what is acceptable.

It is not acceptable to ask a moral, dignified man to cast his vote to help elect an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity.

If the consequence of standing against Trump and for principles is indeed the election of Hillary Clinton, so be it. At least it is a moral, ethical choice.

If she is elected, the world does not end…. Once elected, Hillary can be fought. Her tactics are blatant and juvenile, and battling her by means of political and procedural maneuvering or through the media , through public marches and online articles, all of that will be moral, worthy of man of principal.

Her nominees can be blocked, her proposed laws voted down.

The alternative does not offer a moral person the same opportunity. If one helps to elect an immoral man to the highest office, then one is merely validating his immorality, lewdness, and depravity.

But it’s OK, at least it is not her! Right??


Lee’s call for Trump to step down and withdraw from the race is respectful to him and to the process.

Trump stepping down does not guarantee a Clinton win, but it does guarantee that the Republican party still stands for something, still allows its members to maintain thier own self respect and that it still has a future.

How do you elevate public discourse

Yesterday I wrote some thoughts about #PussyGate.

The topic has infiltrated my brain and I cannot stop thinking about it. I’ve seen that Jerry Falwell Jr. is supportive of trump. Pat Robertson.

These are Christian leaders, and they aren’t giving much more than a frown to Trump. These are the people, the leaders, who should be elevating the public’s standard of morality by criticizing the man. Criticism doesn’t mean that they can’t still support him. But not criticizing him makes me think that they lack any relevance in the morality game. They should hang up their hats.

This is not the leadership that I grew up with.

When I was growing up in an evangelical Christian home, our parents, teachers, Sunday school teachers, and leaders were constantly teaching us about moral behaviors.

One time in High School, I was the president of our academic association. During an induction ceremony, each member of the association tapped new members during the induction part of the hour. Since I was president and to give a speech, I was seated on stage facing the rest of the student body. A teacher had given me a name of a student that I was to tap. We were told to locate that student in the crowd before hand so that we could tap them efficiently.

During an opening prayer, I must have kept my eyes open to search for the guy I would tap.

After the ceremony, one headmaster pulled me aside and said we needed to talk. He told me that he saw that I had my eyes open during the prayer. He explained that leadership means that when other students are watching, especially younger ones, it’s essential to do everything right. That means, closing your eyes because someone watching might misconstrue that behavior.

I felt like shit.

I still close my eyes during prayers, especially when my nieces are in the room. Even though I don’t pray to any god, I find it’s essential to be a good influence on them. I think that doing my best to expose my nieces to positive behavior, to be culturally aware, is positive. Of course if we ever had a discussion, I would gladly explain my position on god. But that’s not on the table when all they know is each meal is opened with a prayer.

We were also taught to respect women, sex, and our speech about both in both private and in public. To this day, I’m not sure I’ve ever participated in so-called locker room talk. I’ve heard some pretty shitty things said. And I’ve even asked guys to stop talking bullshit.

I’ve been on photo sets with women as naked and shaven as the day they were born, and I go out of my way to make sure I don’t do or say creepy shit … why? Because I was taught that leaders, upright men and women, don’t talk in a way that might upset another person.

We treat people the way we want to be treated.

Right, Jesus?

We were taught that was as essential to act above reproach even when no one was watching, because “God” was always watching. He was everywhere. That’s what we were told. That’s what we believed. I couldn’t masturbate without a level of guilt that Jesus was watching.

I still feel guilty when I think some thoughts. It’s residual conditioning from the discipline of my youth.

Our teachers taught us that immoral thoughts were as sinful as actions. In fact, there was no difference in the sin of thought versus action.

How many times was I told that? Let me count the times!

Another time after a basketball game, my coach gave me an earful after I lost my temper on the court. Losing one’s temper was a complete lack of proper public behavior.

But these same coaches, teachers, parents and leaders aren’t so much as criticizing a man so rife with sin, whether or acted upon or thought, that their hypocrisy is absolutely befuddling me.

That makes me wonder about this entire process of raising kids a certain way, but once they’re adults, let certain folks do whatever the fuck they want.

As long as a “law” isn’t broken, all’s fair in love and war and presidential campaigns.

Where are the leaders in the church, where are the teachers and parents who should be pulling Trump to the side and calling him out? Either publicly or privately?

Do you want to know why I was criticized for certain behavior? Because of “love.” The people around me wanted me to succeed. To guide the greater good, having people behave less like animals and more like civilized people makes for a better public discourse. When you’re part of a team, the leaders of the team might look at a weaker player and say, “Hey, you gotta improve this aspect of your play.” It’s not to piss that person off, it’s to help the rest of the team look better. To help the rest of the team win.

So why is it considered poor behavior to criticize Trump?

He’s a part of a team, a team that is getting leveled and battered for being the lousiest losers in the country.

If I could pull the whole of the world aside, I would advise them to behave less like quiet animals quietly enabling people like Trump to raise their standard of public and private behavior to a higher, less, well, um … a less deplorable standard.


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?


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. 


Embarking into my forties never felt so good

Forty years ago today, I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in them United States of America.

Flowers were blooming. Choirs were singing. Swarms of bees were buzzing. Beautiful women were leaping for joy. Babies were hiccuping. Dogs were barking.

Cats were meowing. Children were scribbling in coloring books. Mothers were shopping in Sears catalogs. Fathers were dreaming of a way to contact women to have affairs without their wives knowing about it.

Trash was being collected. Beers were being drunk. A pair of lips tugged on a cigarette. LSD trips were took. Pot was smoked.

Wars were waging. Daughters were being sold into the sex trade. Animals were going extinct.

It was another day the earth was swirling around the sun. One star of zillions in this great big universe.

The pale blue dot gained a Puerto Rican, who would later be adopted into a family of Dutch heritage. He’d grow up, become a photographer, marry a beautiful woman and have to pinch himself every day for the good fortune of landing on two feet.

Forty years is a landmark. We measure life in lots of ways. We measure in meals, in naps, in time between meals and naps. We measure in snacks, in weight, in fat and distance. We measure life in seconds at times, others in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and and in times like this … decades.

In my first decade, my mind was getting packed with information, stimulation, and socialization. It was a decade of playtime, schoolwork, homework, Sunday school, friends, family, and wonder. My body developed from baby to pre-teen. The years were laden with discipline, pain, thrill, excitement and love.

I didn’t have one iota of an original thought that influenced anyone else. I believe that I had creative, original thoughts but I didn’t have the wherewithal to write anything down. Children are, quite possibly, the most creative people around us. I felt creative in those years. Sometimes I approach work with the idea that I must harness my first decade self in my approach to current projects.

In my first decade, I held a camera or two in my hands during that time. My second decade was filled with more play time, more homework, more Sunday School, church, religion, faith, friends. It was marked by wonder and creativity. I found a written voice and a visual one. I loved and lost a first love. I wrote, photo’d, video’d. I traveled.

I explored original thought, all of which were tainted and steered by religious thought, traditions, pangs of guilt and adolescent craze.

In my third decade, I was playing, traveling, trading faith for nonbelief, finding new friends, removing old ones, and wondering about what was next. I was succeeding and failing. I was both a rebel and not one. I was perpetually scared of letting others down. Individuality was an internship turning into a mediocre part-time job.

In my forth decade, I still played, I traveled more. I retired faith completely. Found more new friends and lost other ones. People my age were dying. I got married. And all the while, I constantly kept wonder in the mix. I tried making individuality a full-time job, but found it to be a disappointment to others.

And now I start the fifth decade. Today. Labor Day Twenty Fifteen. And wonder remains. Individuality still remains a mystery to me.

I’m inspired by all that’s behind me to create all that’s in front of me.

With another decadal notch comes a tinge more concern/thought about mortality. It inspires a sense of determination to create more. To seize the day’s seconds, minutes, and hours in a white knuckled grip and give everything, family, friends, creativity and love more of a crying chance.  To love more. To hate less.

Yesterday is an investment into tomorrow.

Without the promise of afterlife of any kind, it casts a different shade of urgency. Without an afterlife, there’s no casual dilly dallying like our dog Talulah when she’s in the yard smelling every stump, tree, patch of grass and pole. When you’re blessed with a creative spirit, there is a constant insistence on making new, then moving on to the next project.

My dad tells me often that I am part of a bigger plan. A divine one. And I understand where he’s coming from. And it pains me when I disagree, tacitly or directly. I don’t want to disagree with anyone. Not even a movie or music that someone else likes and I don’t.

But if a divine being had influence over how well things worked out for me, that same divine being ignored/hurt/maimed the thousands upon thousands upon millions who wished for the same, similar or safety, and came up short. Way short.

When I revel in a creative photo, I remember a child dying of leukemia.

When I bask in the success of a big paycheck, I think of the child sold into slavery.

When I hold the woman of my dreams, I can’t help but consider all who have loved, lost, and lost again.

This so-called divinity that watched over my life, stood by with crossed arms and a nose in the air when so many … so so fucking many — who probably even attempted to love this being — he ignored them, their prayers, their wishes.

Why would a being like that care about me? A guy who gives no mention, no thought to its existence or involvement. No thanks?

I guess — from some standpoints — you could call that the definition of faith.

But that would be mental gymnastics.

The way I see it, I got here by inexplicable luck. Maybe not inexplicable. I worked my ass off. I’ve worked my ass off. Over the weekend, I gave my photographer expertise away to a friend. The results were BEAUTIFUL. My pay is results. Money helps me keep a roof over my wife’s head, food in my dog’s bowl and litter in my cat’s box. It keeps gas in my tank so I can visit my family, whom I love and cherish dearly.

Art, love, life … they are my passions.

I love the process of the creative spirit. I love to create and be creative.

It’s the process, not always the outcome, that drives that spirit.

Without children of my own, the only legacy I have to create an afterlife is creating things that outlive me. Whether they are thoughts, ideas, images, motion pictures, or other art.

I feel good about my position. I feel good about my marriage, my life, my friends, my professional network.

I feel good about the art I’ve been creating, and the reception to it.

I feel good about my health.

I’m inspired by my friends and family. I’m reminded too often by the passing of my loved ones around me. And I’m goddamn determined to do everything I do as well as I possibly fucking can.

Hey, Forty! Let’s do this thing.