FOR THE KIDS …

I work in the arts. 

And if you aren’t aware of it, there are a lot of people in the arts who are gay. Therefore, I have many gay friends. 

I have said many times and written many times, that I don’t pretend to understand homosexuality. Now, don’t confuse that statement with me saying I condemn it or hate it or love it or embrace it or whatever. It is an honest statement from a pure place. I don’t understand it. 

Having said that, I don’t actually understand heterosexuality either. I don’t understand any of it. 

I participate in heterosexuality. But only because it was always a natural (frustrating, debilitating and life-altering) primal urge. But I never truly understood it. 

I mean, why do you see someone on the other side of the room and suddenly have this crazy pull toward them? Why do you have an almost unstoppable desire to be next to them and touch them and kiss them on the mouth? (yuck!) 

Nothing about sexuality makes any real sense. 

This was the point and focus of my little hit song (around 20 years ago) called “Babies.” It was about how illogical it is to spend some time with someone, then get so emotionally attached to them that you are willing to take a sledgehammer to your perfect life, just to put them in it. And then, to make matters worse, you willingly make more humans with them? 

Good lord! What are we doing, people?!?!

But this is the nature of attraction and human sexuality. We can put the nicest, most wholesome face we can find on it, but at some point everybody’s mom and dad were trying to get freaky. 

I know, I know…gross. 

Anyway …

My original point was that I know a lot of gay people. And I don’t know why they’re gay. And maybe they don’t even know. And it’s actually none of my business. 

What I can tell you is that some of the best people I’ve ever known are gay.  

I can tell you that some of the most brilliant geniuses I’ve ever known are gay. And I can tell you that some (probably more than you would be comfortable knowing about) of the songs you sing in church were written or arranged by a gay person. 

Trust me. I’m not an expert on many things. But I am on this. And it is a certainty. 

And yet, homosexuality is always going to be at odds with the Christian religion. As long as those certain bible verses are there to read, there will be issues for people who have issues. 

I tend to have the same approach to all of this as I do to those who eat shrimp and pork, when there are verses in the bible that clearly say to not eat shrimp and pork (even though there is a lot of science showing shrimp and pork to be healthy foods). 

I just say, “I don’t know” and move on. 

If you love shrimp and eat it regularly, and it seems to work for you, who am I to tell you not to eat it? I mean, I can tell you what Leviticus 11 says about it. But you ultimately have to decide if shrimp is going to send you to hell or not. But I digress …

Several years ago, a couple of my gay friends were staying at my house. My son was 4-years-old at the time. They were unaware that anyone was in the house, and were stealing a kiss (they are partners). 

My son was playing upstairs (they didn’t know this) and in eye-sight of them. I was just coming upstairs from the office, and stepped in front of him just in time for him to miss the kiss. 

Later that day, I asked my friend if they would refrain from the PDA around my son. And this was my only objection …

At the time, my son wanted to marry the dog and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to marry the dog. He loved the dog. Why couldn’t he marry the dog? Then, when I told him it was a non starter, that he’d have to marry a person…usually a girl…he decided he needed to marry his cousin. After all, she was cool and he loved her. 

Then, I told him he couldn’t marry his cousin either. It was against the law. He then decided he wanted to marry his mom. I had to crush his dreams, yet again, because she was already married…TO ME. 

These were the daily conversations I was having with a freaking 4-year-old. 

Why?

Was my son into beastiality? Was he into incest? Was he trying to tell us his own personal truth about his sexuality? Was he trying to be his most authentic self? Was he screaming for the acceptance of his non-traditional, non-binary way of approaching sex? 

No. 

HE. WAS. FOUR.

He also had very deep opinions on Santa Claus and how we should leave real peppermint sticks on the tree for him, as well as reindeer food for Rudolph, every Christmas Eve. He regularly wore capes throughout the house and could even fly by simply stretching out his arms. He built entire empires out of legos, in his play room. Sometimes, he would tear down those empires and transform them into two competing monsters that ultimately killed each other. 

That’s what 4-year-old boys do. The borders that separate fact from fiction don’t yet exist in their underdeveloped brains. 

So, when I asked my friend to refrain from PDA in front of my 4-year-old it was for one reason, and ONE reason only…

I wasn’t ready to have that conversation with him, yet. 

That was it. 

I told my friend that we were having so many complicated conversations, at the moment, I simply didn’t want to add another one into that mix. That’s all. 

My friend was gracious and understood and actually agreed with me that it would be a lot to talk about with a 4-year-old. And that was that. 

My son is now 15 and still hasn’t ever had a girlfriend (to my knowledge). But he does understand sex and straight versus gay and trans and all the stuff and the things. We think he’s a straight kid. But I’ll be honest, until I see you see an actual girlfriend, you never know. Even then, you can never really know. 

Because sex is complicated. 

That’s why it should be reserved for people who at least have a somewhat developed brain. And even those people still participate in insanity when it comes to sex. 

Because sex is complicated. 

Disney released a Buzz Lightyear movie over the weekend, and it’s not doing very well (at least, by Disney standards). 

I haven’t seen it because I don’t see anything. I haven’t even seen Top Gun yet. But apparently, there is a same sex kiss in the film. 

Okay, whatever. Adults watched Mitch and Cam kiss each other for years, on Modern Family. That wall has been broken many, many times. 

But keep in mind, in a Pixar film, this had to be very deliberate, in order to lock it into the concrete of those movies. Nothing in an animated film is haphazard or “just something spontaneous the actors did.” Every minuscule movement and sound is always pre-planned down to the one and zero. 

So, this is Disney’s attempt to normalize this with children. 

And if you’re gay, I understand the argument. We’ve seen heterosexual kisses on children’s screens for decades. The whole premise of Snow White is based on a kiss…between a man and a woman. 

So, what’s the big deal with two men (I’m assuming it’s two men) if we are truly accepting as a society? Also, if you’re in a same sex relationship and you have children and you work at a film studio, and they never see their parents’ type of relationship depicted on the screen, you may want to step up and make that happen. 

I get that. 

But I think it goes back to the conversations so many are not ready to have…YET. 

If my (then) 4-year-old saw Buzz kissing a guy, or being kissed by a guy, the endless (and I mean endless) questions that would lead to more questions that would lead to more questions would envelop my entire life and nobody would ever be able to focus on anything else. 

Because, did I tell you the kid wanted to marry the dog? 

When I sit down with my kids to watch a Disney film, what I want to see is something that doesn’t make me have to have difficult conversations with 4-year-olds. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be allowed to make you think or re-think something. We all loved films like Frozen and The Lion King and Inside Out. 

But, I would imagine the reason people are panning this film, aside from the fact that it may not be any good, is that people are all kind of exhausted by having to “have a real conversation” about everything under the sun, every damn day of their lives. 

The LBGQT.A…bcd894 (they lost me after Q) community, just like every other community in our country, has stated its case. We get it. We hear you. We’ve heard you for many years. We don’t hate you. 

Can you just give everybody an hour and some change, every once in a while, without us all having to talk about this stuff with our young kids? 

That’s all people are asking. 

You’d think Disney, the producers of more entertainment comfort food that anyone in history, might understand that. 

R  

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8 RULES AND THE ENDLESS BLACK RIBBON…

Of all the things I think government has screwed up, it isn’t one of them. 

I’m speaking of the great, American interstate system. 

I was raised on the asphalt of this amazing achievement, that weaves and twists and turns its way from the tip of Maine to the Tijuana border. And when you’re a kid, you think everything that is has always been. But my dad would often talk about how when he was my age (and also traveling the country), this or that turnpike wasn’t there or this particular junction hadn’t yet been built. 

My dad toured the country back when it was all connected through Route 66. But I was a child of the 70s. So, I saw them pretty much finish the grand public work and I’ve used it to every advantage ever since. 

The interstate was devised and started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in 1956. It was actually designed for the military to be able to transport machinery and troops anywhere in the country, easily and quickly. And, at first, the president looked for private investment so as to keep it something the tax payers didn’t have to fund. 

But it became very clear, pretty quickly, that the undertaking would be far too enormous for any group of private investors to be able to manage. So, in late June of 1956, Eisenhower signed legislation that began construction on this remarkable project.

I love the fact that he went to private money first and exhausted that resource. That’s all Libertarians ask for – try everything but government FIRST. I wasn’t around then, but I think I would like Ike. 

Still, some things should be under the charge of the collective. Roads and bridges fall in that category. 

It only took 36 years to officially complete the American interstate. And if you’ve ever travelled it extensively, you won’t be able to keep from being amazed that that time line. 

The endless (and I mean endless) mile upon mile of West Texas, to the unbelievably treacherous terrain of the Rockies, to the swamps of south Georgia, to the spaghetti-like off ramps and overpasses of places like Chicago and New York, all work together in a beautiful harmony from coast to coast. 

I personally believe the American interstate system to be kind of a world wonder. 

Anybody, from anywhere, can pretty much hit the road right now, and drive to anywhere in this nation. All the signs will look the same. All the corresponding numbers will make the same sense in the north as they do in the south. The main arteries are well marked and plotted. The offshoot veins can take you literally anywhere you want to go. 

Most of these roads are safe, well lit and easy to navigate. It’s truly a wonder. 

I believe every American should take a cross-country road trip at some point in their lives. It’s easy to do and you will learn something along the way. 

People forget that traveling across this country (or any country) was perilous and deadly for a long time. Now, you can jump on I-40 and have your choice of cuisine and lodging pretty much all the way to the coast. 

I’m a hardcore fan and a self-proclaimed ambassador of the road the trip. There’s nothing quite like watching the terrain change, right before your eyes, as you travel west. It always makes me thankful I was born in this time in history. 

I try to take a cross-country road trip every couple of years or so. It’s therapeutic for me and yeps me clear my head. I’ve done it so many times I don’t need a map or an app. I know how to get through St. Louis. I know how to prepare for Texas. I know when to stop for the night and when to keep pressing on. 

But on one particular trip, back in 2014, I took a route I don’t normally take, from Nashville to L.A. I hadn’t been through Denver and the Rockies in a while. So, I decided on the northern, I-70 route. 

My dad casually told me, as I was pulling out, “Remember not to go west of Denver after dark.” 

This is something we all know. West of Denver is a crazy drive in the dark. But, of course, as I got through Denver, it was only 8 or 9 at night and I was deep in thought and I had a full tank of gas and I just wasn’t thinking. So, I inadvertently kept driving . 

Suddenly, I found myself at a crazy elevation, twisting and turning and realizing I had broken the cardinal rule of driving through Colorado. 

So, I got to a place called Dillon and pulled over for the night. 

I got a not-so-cheap room and turned in about 2 am. At 4 am I woke up, thinking I was having a heart attack. I called down to the front desk to see if there was a hospital close. The young lady on the other end of the phone said, “Sir, I get this call almost every night. Remember that you’re almost 10 thousand feet above sea level. You’re probably not having a heart attack. You just need to relax and adjust to the elevation.” 

And she was right. I took a tepid shower, collected myself, and tried to adjust my breathing. 

The next day, as I was having breakfast, I thought about what would’ve happened if I’d actually died in Dillon, Colorado, all alone, without anybody with me. I wished that I’d made the drive with my dad…or my son. 

And that thought stuck with me for the rest of the drive to L.A. 

What kind of conversations might we have? What secrets might be revealed? What lessons might be learned?

Since that trip, I have made the trip with both my father AND my son. But that particular event stayed with me.

The thoughts along that highway, morphed into a fictional idea, somewhere around Salt Lake. And by the time I was pulling into the horrific L.A. traffic, I had written an entire story called 8 Rules. 

I spent 2015, crafting it into a screenplay specifically for a young actor I knew. But after a couple of years of learning, first hand, how very few scripts actually become movies, I decided to reverse engineer it into a novel, so that I could share it with my readers. 

I toyed with the idea of pressing physical books, this year, but that process is involved and expensive. And you have to have a guaranteed number of sales to make it make sense. 

I believe it will be published one day, and the script is actually under option right now, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share the PDF with everyone who might be interested in it. 

It’s a father/sonroad trip. In a badass car. Headed toward a mysterious destination. With unexpected revelations along the way. At the end of it, there is reconciliation and purpose and…well…forgiveness. 

This story is unapologetically about dudes…for dudes. But the ladies will probably love it as well. It’s about the conversations you maybe wish you’d had with your father or with your son or with yourself. It’s about being a man…and becoming a man. And what does all that mean in today’s world? 

It’s about gorgeous cars, long, lost girlfriends and newfound love. It’s about regrets, unconventional skills and finding that beautifully decent dangerous man we’re all looking for inside ourselves.

It’s about a type of healing you can only get on the highway, with everything stretched out in front of you like a road that leads to anywhere.

The link is below if you’d like to read it. This Father’s Day weekend is a good time to take it in. And it’s totally free for everyone. All we ask is that you consider a tip of some kind if you enjoy the ride. 

And maybe, one day, when we can afford gasoline again, it will inspire you to take what I call, the 8 Rules drive, with your own father or son. 

The interstate is right there waiting for you. 

Happy Father’s Day!  

R

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PISSED …

I have a long fuse. 

I’m one of those guys who is really easy going and doesn’t like conflict. And most of the time I can joke my way out of most anything. I don’t take life all that seriously. I think a lot of what we place importance on is absurd. And sometimes I wonder if any of this is even real, in the first place. 

My (then) 7-year-old son believed the entire human experience was all just a video game. Sometimes, I’m inclined to believe he was right. 

I definitely believe almost none of what we’re going through right now will matter in a hundred years. Or will it?  

Either way, I’m just not all that concerned – most of the time – about what everybody else is concerned about. 

I have some faith principles. But I don’t let them erase my sense of wonder and mystery. I don’t allow them to place me in some rigid construct that keeps me from saying, every once in a while, “I honestly don’t know.” 

I also have a set of political principles. But I don’t allow them to force me into small corners or small ways of looking at the world. Believing in political principles and living in the real world, with human dynamics and variables, are sometimes two different things.  

And if you forget about the humans on the way to your utopian belief system, you’ve forgotten pretty much everything. 

These are all the things I believe and (usually) live by. 

My family can tell you I’m fairly gentle. I don’t yell. I try to impart even bad news with a smile. I try to keep all my crazy folded up and in a tidy little place in my brain and soul, where only I have to deal with it. 

But then, one day, someone will push the wrong button or tweak the wrong nerve. Something will trigger the inner Viking in me, and I will come out swinging like a prize fighter on meth. The problem with people like me is it takes a really long time for me to get to that point. But once I do, there’s no going back. EVER. 

Today I woke up triggered and I spent the entire morning trying to figure out why. Then it came to me…

I do the thing you should never do. I read social media before I go to bed. And I read it when I wake up in the morning. If I weren’t a commentary person, who makes part of his living responding to cultural movement, I probably wouldn’t even be on social media. But here we are. 

Anyway…

Last week (and last night, in particular), I started seeing posts basically letting Joe Biden off the hook for gas prices. After all, gas prices are skyrocketing around the world. Not just America. Also, the oil companies are making record profits. See, you’re watching corporate greed. Not government incompetence.

That is the new narrative. And people are honestly trying to obfuscate for this man. They are standing flat footed, with a straight face, telling us all in our human ears, that this isn’t about pipelines or trade policies or energy polices. We’re just going though a bad time in the world. Oh well. What are you gonna do?

Last week Robert De Niro sat on a couch, on the Stephen Cobert show, and talked about Joe Biden as if he were a victim in all of this. That he was “doing the best he could” and that we’re just going to have to all work together or…whatever…I stopped listening after that. 

Yes. When the price of gas jumps 50 cents a gallon, it might not have anything to do with a sitting president. It could absolutely be a dip in some market hallway around the world, or a tragic accident to some refinery, somewhere. 

Small ticks up or down probably have very little to do with executive policies and more to do with markets fluctuating. 

But when the price of gasoline DOUBLES in a year – and I think this is what triggered me, because I saw a memory come up on Facebook, where I was flabbergasted to be paying $2.85 at Costco, for gas…ONE YEAR AGO, YESTERDAY – make no mistake…THAT. IS. ON. PURPOSE.  

The reasonable part of me wants to calmly and methodically explain what is happening globally with the fossil fuel (which, we could debate the term “fossil” fuel) industry and why this is affecting the price of everything (which, if you don’t understand how fuel prices affect the price of your tomato at the grocery store, please stop reading this right now. You definitely won’t be smart enough to understand the rest of it) and that it’s not just an American, but global shift in energy sourcing, therefore the entire globe is affected. 

I could go into a beautifully worded soliloquy about how Russian power needing to have been kept in check by our executive policies. Or I might even go into a conspiratorial essay on American policy makers having questionable ties to Ukraine and their energy sector, thus the over-the-top cash payment to them. 

But, to be honest, all of that is so tedious and, quite frankly, boring. 

The fact is…I’m pissed. 

None of this is necessary. As I was walking my dog this morning, listening to the radio, I heard a news break report that we now have 8.5% inflation (highest in 40 years) and the Dow plummeted 600 points as well as crypto currency values being cut in half. 

You still want to take up for your guy? 

Look, when you work out – lift weights or do high Intensity work – you are signaling.

People think it’s about burning calories or making food rush to the muscles or whatever.

That’s not it.

You’re sending signals to your brain that say, “hey bro…we gotta adapt to this stressor this fool is putting on his chest right now.”

If you send enough signals, your brain will react and force your muscles to grow, to live up to the challenges you are constantly placing on them. That’s the essence of adaptation and muscle hypertrophy (growth).

Signaling is everything.

We give engagement rings as signals. We dress as signals. We send signals by what kind of car we drive or how our house is organized.

By the same token, government leaders send signals to businesses. And businesses respond like muscles do – they either contract or expand.

I’ve heard a lot of people saying that shutting down a pipeline is insignificant when it comes to our current energy problems.

And they are correct in pure dollars and cents. Just like if you only did one push-up it wouldn’t affect anything in your body.

But it’s all about signaling.

If you signal to the energy sector that we are going to stop using oil as the main source of energy, now and forever, you’re going to cause that market to respond.

If you send them signals that we’re going to actively allow oil to flow as easily and cheaply as possible, that also brings a response.

For those who think our current gas situation is unfixable and for those who have just insisted that I engage with them in what they have called “thoughtful debate” on this subject, THIS is one of the main issues and something people fail to take into account.

*Also, I don’t know you. Don’t care one bit about “thoughtful debate” with you.*

You can’t tell an entire industry that your ultimate goal is their extinction, then SIGNAL to them that it’s actually happening on your watch, and then expect them to react the way you want them to react.

It’s very much like signaling to your brain that you are never going to move your body in any kind of strenuous way, then expecting bulging, toned muscles.

Your brain simply won’t do that work for you. You have to let it know what’s up.

We react to the signals.

And if you don’t know that the signals that have been sent for the last 18 months have had a reaction, I guess I just can’t help you anymore. 


I’m done. Period. 

If you’re still wringing your hands over January 6th, you’re behind. Every time I fill up my gas tank, part of me kinda wishes the January 6th people had actually gotten what they wanted. Yes. I said what I said. 

If you’ve ever had an argument with an ignorant teenager, you know when you get to that point where you are just done talking on their level. And you can feel when it’s time for the adults to make the decisions and stop allowing the children to think they are on equal intellectual and emotion footing with people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about. 

Well, that’s where I am with all of this. I’ve had enough of stupid conversations. I’ve had enough Trump this or Trump that. 

The very foundations of our economic and social structures are coming apart. And the problem is, a lot of it – maybe most of it – is by design. And it’s by design because people are believing and buying into incomplete science or they are, as I stated earlier, pushing so hard for that utopian destination, that they’re forgetting that there are actual humans in the balance…right here, right now. 

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court justice was almost murdered last week, and nobody ran it on their news air, as the lead story. We’re literally talking about the plot to the Pelican Brief, and it was buried 26 pages deep in the New York Times. 

^ Dude who tried to kill Brett Kavanaugh. I refuse to publish his name.

Don’t we all know what is what, now? Can’t we stop pretending? 

I am DONE defending my side of the argument. I shouldn’t have to, anymore. Everything I’ve ever voted for usually resulted in something at least manageable and sane. And I’m not talking about Tweets that make people “shook.” I’m talking about actual policies that make sense and keep things on the rails. 

Because, right now…the rails are coming apart. 

So, from now on, you have to justify your own madness to me. 

I am no longer on defense. The fuse is lit. And you will be dismissed out of hand for willful ignorance, and relegated to the “people I don’t find to be all that smart” bin of my life. 

Trust me. I’m being very nice, here, and following my own rule of “no pejoratives.” Because the first draft of this blog was full of them. 

I had to remove those…as well as all the “F” bombs. 

This version isn’t as satisfying. But, kids read it. 

So … 


R

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SHOW TIME …

Show trial. 

Anybody remember that phrase from the cold war? 

Those of us who hid under desks, during a nuclear attack drill, and went to the theater to see Firefox, and chanted U.S.A! U.S.A! IN the theater, at Rocky 4, and know what “Wolverine!” means, know what that phrase refers to. 

The U.S.S.R. used to hold these televised events, showing the cameras (and the world), what happened to Communists-not-in-good-standing with the Kremlin. 

They are staged events. They had a producer and cast of characters (the defendants VS the state) and the outcomes were already determined. 

We, here in America, mocked such things. We knew what was happening. We knew the fix was in and that somebody was about to go to Siberia and live out their days in a frozen hell…if they didn’t commit suicide before they got there. And we could stand in our solemn pride that nothing like that would ever happen here in the land of the free. 

U.S.A! U.S.A! Cue flag waving, fireworks and Lee Greenwood song. 

Being Patriotic isn’t about agreeing with everything your country does. It doesn’t mean supporting your country, blindly. It’s not about amber waves of grain or purple mountains majesty or any of that. It means loving the principles on which the nation is founded. The idea of America is one of the best ones ever devised in the history of mankind. And the sacrifices made to keep those ideas (and ideals) alive, is certainly worthy of praise and honor. 

However, being patriotic also means having a healthy skepticism of governmental structures and actions. The whole point of America is to be allowed to question the whole thing. It’s about being allowed to get in somebody’s face and challenge them, no matter who they are or what office they hold. 

When Republicans are in office, the national press calls this “speaking truth to power.” When Democrats are in office, the press calls it “sedition.” 

I kinda get confused sometimes. But don’t worry…there are always experts and fact checkers on Facebook to help me sort it all out.  

Thursday night, America is holding a good, old-fashioned show trial for the country, complete with a producer and cast of pre-convicted characters. We see cameras in the courtroom (or congress) all the time. That’s nothing new. But to actually have a producer and prime time spot, on Network TV, is kinda not normal. 

Although we did some of that ourselves, back during the McCarthy era. And nobody in Hollywood will ever let us forget it. I man, it wasn’t cool. Right?

But, hey, in this case, apparently it’s for the right reasons. Right? We’re going to watch those January 6th people get what they deserve, finally. Or something like that. Right?

2020 was a year of more riots and uprisings and property destruction than I can remember in my lifetime. Some estimates say that the insurance claims for destroyed property, made in 2020 alone, dwarf those of any year in the 21st century. There were riots and protests and vandalism and the tearing down of statues and the burning of buildings (in my own hometown of Nashville, our courthouse was set on fire during a BLM march). 

And all of this was done during a time when everybody was supposed to be sheltering inside their homes. You know…to save lives. 

For those of us who just wanted to be safe and raise our kids and have nice days and try to remain in a state of semi-normalcy, that year was one of the weirdest on record and one of the hardest to remain steady through. 

So many things were being hurled at us at once…

You’re about to die if you go to a party. Also, if you don’t go to the upcoming march, you’re a racist. Also, if you don’t speak up and post some oversimplified trope to encapsulate something complicated, you’re part of the problem. Also, if you remain silent, you’re part of the problem. Also, if you say the wrong thing, we will cancel you and your livelihood. 

We’re keeping score. 

Also, we’re going to circumvent our own election laws to make sure nobody has to actually go to the polls on election day. Also, if you don’t get out and march about it, you are a racist. 

Also, we can stop counting the votes if we want to. Also, we found a few thousand more votes in the back room. None of your business, racist! Also, they ALL went for ONE candidate. Also, shut up about it or we will remove you from social media and silence you indefinitely. 

Also…did we say you’re a racist? 

Now, get your vaccine, stop sharing doctor videos, double up on your mask and shut up. Otherwise, you will be seen as the domestic terrorist we already know you are.  

Did anybody else feel like that? Just me? 

Then, when the vote turned out to be something nobody expected, a furor kind of burned through the people who had been getting that treatment all summer and fall, culminating in a January 6th fiasco that so perfectly played into the hands of the ones holding the cameras, it almost looked scripted. 

The visuals were just horrible. And it illustrated, once again, why people should never go to a march. EVER. 

When you get large numbers of people together and then rile them up, somebody is going to do something stupid. It is a mathematical certainty. And peaceful protestors should all use the Doctor King protesting handbook, or not go. If you’re not willing to physically shut some idiot down, who is making your cause look bad, you shouldn’t be there in the first place. 

There is no room for error if you are a certain side. NONE. And the fact that people haven’t realized this yet, makes me wonder if they’re not as obtuse as the press already thinks they are.

But I digress …

I taught an online music business course last year. And we had an entire section on festivals. I hate them. Deeply, deeply hate them. I don’t find Woodstock romantic. I don’t want to attend a festival or ever perform at another one. 

Crowds are unpredictable. Period. 

Especially if they are assembled to protest something angering them. All it takes is that ONE guy, who can’t contain his outrage and CNN has all the footage they need for the next six months of news casts, to tell everybody in an airport who the good guys and bad guys are. 

So, yeah…January 6th looked really bad on camera.

But as I watched it play out on my TV, I DID have a question or two…

First, why can’t Americans simply walk into the Capital any time they want? We pay for it. It’s our building. It’s our government. And not one salary paid up there, from the rookie janitor to the ranking senator, isn’t first extracted from some hard working American’s bank account. 

It is ALL tax money. And taxes are taken…by law. 

Look, January 6th isn’t my style. It made my skin crawl. 

BUT…

I think it would do elected officials well to constantly remember who they work for. In every case, those officials ran from the incoming public, on that day, and tried to hide from them, thinking their own lives were in jeopardy. I did wonder why nobody tried to greet any of them or talk to any of them. After all, America is supposed to be about representative government. Not a ruling class that hides from the rabble. 

You can say what you want about January 6th, but it was born in the spirit of protest. Those marble buildings up there, in D.C., belong to the people. And yet we’ve turned them into fortresses where the representatives hide themselves away for years on end, making deals in the back rooms, bringing home the bacon for their districts, and using that rotunda as an austere backdrop to get their faces on news shows, and raising their value as influencers. 

The fact that so many people were emotionally crushed by seeing what was happening on that day, is a good judge of where the people have their trust, now. It’s a great indicator of what our actual religion has become. 

See, many people didn’t see January 6th as just a bunch of people storming a building they, themselves, own. They saw it as an affront to the gods of statism and compliance. They saw it as the unruly and belligerent unwashed, disrespecting and defaming the sacred temple where all social justice will ultimately be meted out. 

The January 6-ers didn’t just storm the capital. For some, they were desecrating the church of rules and power. 

I have personally always believed that Rock & Roll ceased being Rock & Roll, once they had themselves a hall of fame. It institutionalized and canonized something that was born in rebellion and wild experimentation. And it put walls around something that was never designed to be put behind walls. 

That is the same with America. 

Thinking that American institutions are supposed to only be about armed guards and iron cast statues, forgets what we’re based in…dissent. 

Personally, I use my American dissent badge to write about and challenge ideas, from a keyboard or a microphone. And even that is getting dicey, these days. 

Some people decided to storm into the Capital building to register their complaints. That was a bad idea. But it wasn’t a completely UN American notion. We’ve done that kind of thing before. I mean, that’s basically how our country started in the first place. 

Only now, you will find yourself on trial for “sedition” for doing it. 

But hey, at least there will be a producer and good lighting.        

R

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SLEEPING GIANTS …

“If you’re not going to change the world, what’s the point of this?”

That is an exact quote from a young film maker, I saw on some commercial advertising some new network or series or something or other. And I realized that THAT was the problem …

Everybody in the arts – and, actually, every line of work, these days – doesn’t simply want to do their job or get a little better than they were yesterday or make small moves or become something unique. Everything is about being a “change agent.” 

The coin of the realm is to have a hot take or an angle nobody else has. Nobody wants to be just a great player and team mate, anymore. They all want to be the one who changed the game.  

Because, apparently, the world is always in need of change, every waking minute of every single day. 

Look, I love the idea of people feeling empowered and going after the thing nobody else has gone after and reaching for the stars and whatever metaphors or cliches you want to attach to it. I’m all in. Do it, kids! 

However, it has been my experience that people who are trying to change the world, never do. They usually just end up leaving a bunch of strident, agenda-based work in their wake, that only relates to the time in which they live. 

The true world changers are usually just trying to get something right or solving a nagging problem. They aren’t normally self-important enough to think they are changing the world. They’re just obsessed with an idea or a concept. 

Could we all have electric lights in our house? What if every person in America owned a car? We should call ourselves the Beatles and write our own songs. I’ll bet we could get a lot more gigs. I think we can put real dinosaurs on the screen. What if every person on earth could have a computer in their phone? 

That’s how it actually happens. 

The problem with actively trying to change the world is you end up looking for things to change, that may not actually need to be changed. There’s nothing wrong with saying “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Children of all ages.” Like…AT. ALL.

If someone identifies as “non-binary” they will still feel welcome. They’ll just categorize themselves as one of the “children of all ages.” 

But I digress …

My point is that so many people, especially in my business, get really precious about what they do and the impact they think they’re having on culture. And that can become their primary focus. And in the rush to re-shape the world, they forget to simply do a smoking record or make a great film or tell a wonderful story. In the attempt to change people they forget to move people. 

My personal opinion is that this can become the enemy of your gift. 

Right now, because the world is in such a tumultuous place when it comes to ideas and ideals, it’s easy for artists to lose sight of their prime directive…to reverberate with humanity. And they find themselves not knowing what will resonate anymore. 

Film makers, in particular, are in a weird place right now, because they are all trying to make films that will work for an international audience – especially China. So nobody wants to be too American or too patriotic or too “West good/East bad” or too critical of communism. This is one of the big problems our film project has run into. 

American Idol is on ABC, which is owned by Disney. And Disney is very concerned with their Asian market. Probably more than their American one. Once they see the story and see what actually happens (or happened) in China, with orphans, will they even allow us to license footage or use the Idol name in the film? 

This question comes up more than you might think. And I promise you it comes up in every discussion, in every boardroom, at every film studio making a project. Because a lot of the money financing films, these days, comes straight from China. 

The middle-American audience isn’t even considered anymore.  

Meanwhile, sitting out there, waiting to be touched with a song or a book, or a movie, is this sleeping giant, thirsty for someone to just acknowledge they exist. 

This weekend, Tom Cruise and long awaited sequel to Top Gun, tapped into that audience with a resonance that is hard to deny. 146 million dollars at the BOX OFFICE, first weekend out. 

This is a world where nobody goes to the movies anymore. But they will for the right movie. 

You’re going to hear a lot about why this happened: People are finally free of Covid. Memorial Day weekend. 80’s nostalgia. Tom Cruise. Cool flying scenes, etc, etc. 

And all of that is true. However, a year ago, when a lot of the country was still shut down, there was a little film that did HUGE business at the box office, called Ghostbusters Legacy. Nobody talks much about it, but they did almost 50 million on their first weekend, in a world half shut down. 

Now, it, too, was a re-boot of sorts and it had a global brand attached to it and a bone fide movie star (Paul Rudd) in it. 

But it also had this interesting ad campaign that I thought was brilliant. “Man-on-the-street” type interviews, with people just leaving the theater, like they used to do years ago. Moms and dads, standing with their kids, hugging them, talking about how both generations loved it. And the subtext was that this was a family film that would bring you closer together. 

Straight up middle American values and unabashed positivity. Just come to this movie and feel good about yourself for a minute. Not just yourself, but your family, your community, your town, your state…your country. 

You can feel good about having liked the first Ghost Busters, even if it was made in the 80’s when everybody was a racist and a sexist and a homophobe and God knows what else. 

That was the underlying message. And that is the message of Top Gun 2 and what it’s tapping into, whether they even know it or not. 

People are sick of being preached to and chastised for just trying to live their lives and raise their kids. They are tired of being thrown into some social justice experiment blender, when they’ve done nothing wrong except try to make their way through life as best they can. 

They don’t want to be taught anymore lessons. They don’t want to have to constantly wade through touchy subjects while being entertained. They’re exhausted. They need a reprieve. Mr. Cruise gave then that this weekend. And they thanked him by emptying their pockets. 

I hope the world of entertainment takes note of this.

There’s an audience out there who will respond and resonate, if you simply do a great piece of work that doesn’t denigrate them or who’s primary focus isn’t to “change them” in some way. 

There’s time to change the world and talk about issues and pull back the curtain on secrets and expose hypocrisy and make a statement and make the uncomfortable comfortable and make the comfortable uncomfortable and all of that. 

But sometimes it’s okay to let people – Americans – feel good for a minute.      

R

THE ADMISSION …

Who controls the price of gasoline?

That is a question nobody seems to really know. 

Does the President of the United States control it? Do the oil companies? Is the price set by the market? Is it set by speculators? Is it set by OPEC? Is it set by a room full of secret manipulators, in some star chamber, somewhere? 

The answer is…yes. 

ALL of those entities have a part to play in how much we pay at the pump. The very lifeblood of how humans live on this planet is completely out of the control of 99.9 percent of its inhabitants. 

But here’s the good news…

It is in EVERYBODY’S interest for all humans to be able to get cheap enough fuel to do all the things we do. 

Even people in the star chamber have to eat. And trucks – burning fuel – bring the food. Even if you’re bringing it from a local farm, you have to use fuel to get it to the fancy “farm-to-table” restaurant. 

The people who work for oil companies have to go to the hospital from time to time. So they will need to (first) get there. But then they will probably need a half dozen products, from IV bags to plastic packaging on bandages, that are made from petroleum. 

There is no incentive to jack up oil prices beyond the reach of the consumer…unless you are a true believer.  

If you truly believe that oil and its production are ruining the planet, you will do what is necessary to rid the world of it. Why wouldn’t you? I mean, you DO believe…don’t you?

Last week, the President made an astounding admission. He, in a speech, in Asia, basically admitted that the powers-that-be are “transitioning” us off of fossil fuels. Those are his words. Not mine. 

This is why we’re about to see 5-dollar-a-gallon gasoline normalized.  If you think the price is going to go down once all this hubbub in Russia is over, think again. 

I heard the CEO of a major car manufacturer on the radio, a couple of years ago, admit that the strategy is to get all gasoline-only vehicles off the road in the next decade. 

That means when you’re sitting around your kitchen table, doing the budget and the math and thinking about getting a new car, there will have to be forces driving you toward an electric vehicle decision. But, so far, the electric cars haven’t been cool enough or stable enough to make people want them. They haven’t had a long enough range or they haven’t been built for carrying enough people or whatever. 

The ones that HAVE done all of that (Tesla) have been too expensive for the average human to buy. 

But, hey…what if gasoline was so expensive that the math started making sense? 

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. At. All. But I DO listen to the words people actually say with their human mouths. And if the leader of the free world says openly, that we are transitioning off of fossil fuels, it must mean he has something to do with it. Right? I mean, otherwise, how would he know? 

Look, nobody loves gasoline. We’re all driving around in 2000 pound bombs all the time. Whenever I fill up my gas tank, and drip excess gas on the concrete, then watch that dude smoking a cigarette, letting the ashes fall dangerously near the pool of God-knows-what, at his feet, and I just pray there’s not enough gasoline in that dark puddle to blow up the entire Stuckies, I do feel like we as humans should’ve figured out a better way by now. 

But I also hate that we don’t currently seem to have a choice in the matter. And I hate that it’s being done based on science with a point of view and an agenda. 

Let me explain …

I believe in the theory and concept of the body having two fuel sources available to it. As I sit here typing this, I haven’t eaten in almost 24 hours, and I’m not the least bit hungry. That’s because I’m running on stored fat. That’s my current fuel source. That fat is metabolized in my liver and the end result is something called ketones

My belief is that ketones are a great source of fuel for my brain and other organs. I feel amazing most of the time. My blood sugar and mood is always stable. And I find myself being a better human being running on this fuel rather than constantly having to shovel glucose down my neck. 

I also believe that we, in the west, have become primarily “sugar burners” and that is the source of many of our diseases and ailments. 

However, there are those who challenge that view. There are plenty of smart people who will tell you that the whole “ketogenic” thing is stupid or unsafe or, at best, a temporary fix. And they preach the gospel of carbohydrates and glucose. In fact, the U.S. government itself does this.

But what if I was so convinced that I could save the human race, if I could only get them to switch to this alternative fuel, that I was willing to shift everything; every food system on earth, to make it happen? 

What if I was certain I could stop cancer in its tracks by forcing people to eat a certain way? Wouldn’t that be worth it? What if I could end heart disease by banning certain foods and making others so expensive nobody would ever be able to afford them? Isn’t that a “greater good” move? 

The answer is, yes…you COULD end a lot of diseases if you simply manipulated people into eating certain things and abstaining from other things. But guess what? That would be tyranny. 

These kinds of questions are the ones that separate statists from libertarians. The statist says, “let’s fix it through the levers of government. We have the power and control.” 

The libertarian says, “Let’s encourage and pursuade and enlighten. Then, let’s let each individual make their own choice.” 

That is the very essence of personal agency; to be able to eat or drink whatever you want, without anyone from the state interfering. By that same token, a true libertarian approach to energy would be an all-of-the-above approach. 

Let’s make all of it as affordable and accessible as possible. Then, let the different modes of energy fight it out in the market place. If you can build the coolest electric car ever made, with an 800-mile range, for the price of a used Camry, YOU WIN! 

If not, keep the Camry and have cheap gasoline available to you. 

The problem is there are still those who willing fall on their sword for the “cause” of thinking they’re saving the planet. And they are perfectly happy for you to suffer in the process.   

At the moment, our “betters” are deciding how much glucose we can actually eat. Because they know beyond all doubt, that we will run better and more efficiently, on ketones. 

Here’s the thing, though …

Everybody isn’t operating from the same place. Bodies are different. Micro-biomes are different. Every human being on the planet has a different physiology and food history. Also, people are in different places in their lives. 

Sometimes you are 15-years-old and have almost no fat or glycogen stores to use, and you NEED carbohydrates. Sometimes, you just WANT carbohydrates. 

And who the hell am I to tell anybody what they should or shouldn’t eat? Put another way – who am I to tell someone which fuel source they should use?      

The next time you fill up your gas tank, just remember that someone, somewhere is doing that very thing…for your car.

R

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HEARTS, GUNS, AND DOGS …

Almost ten years ago, I wrote this blog. It was right after Sandy Hook and nobody could get their minds around the horror of school kids being slaughtered like that. And yet, here we are again. Dear God. 

This was written before Covid. Before MAGA. Before Twitter ruled the world. And yet, it feels like it could’ve been written yesterday …

15 Years ago, I wrote a song called “Nicole Hadley’s Heart”. 

The song was a tribute to a girl who’d been slain in a school shooting in Paducah, Kentucky. All her vital organs had been successfully transplanted to other people, including her heart, which was successfully transplanted into a 51-year-old man. 

Randy Thomas and I thought the story was song-worthy. A vocal group called A Cross Between found it compelling enough to record. And the Hadley family not only signed off on it but embraced it as an anthem and used it as therapy for their loss. 

The song was going out as a radio single and that launch was combined with an organ donation drive. The news media was there and it was going to be a big deal. 

On the day the song was released…Columbine happened. The song was instantly pulled from radio. The label deemed it too insensitive for the current moment, and no one ever heard it. But before the incident at Columbine started to unfold, and we all still thought the Paducah tragedy was an isolated event, I got a chance to have lunch with Gwen and Chuck Hadley, Nicole’s parents. They spoke…I listened.

They told me many grizzly details of the shooting I would’ve really rather not known, but felt obligated to hear. After all, I had written a song about their daughter. As they brought forth detail after detail, in an almost cathartic fashion, I got a glimpse into the mind of this troubled 14-year-old boy (the shooter), who was obsessed with their daughter and who was clearly an outsider. 

He sounded like so many other kids we’ve unfortunately had to hear and read about in recent years. But one detail of the case really bothered me as an artist. Apparently, this young man had become obsessed with the movie “The Basketball Diaries,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He had seen the film 116 times and when the police went through his room they found a TV and VCR, with the movie in question paused on a particular scene.

You see, this film is set in high-school and at some point the lead character (played by DiCaprio) dreams of going on a shooting rampage through the place. In this dream sequence, he walks in (in slow motion) with an automatic rifle in each arm, and starts blowing people away; kids, teachers, school officials…everybody. 

It’s bloody and graphic and disturbing. The young man who killed Nicole Hadley told people at school (including the principal) that he was going to act that very scene out one day…and he did. I tried watching the film after hearing this, but found it almost too disturbing to sit through, once. I can’t imagine watching it over a hundred times.

Did guns aid that kid in his ghastly crime?

Of course. The kid had a locker full of them. There is literally no way to say the gun didn’t play a role. It was the mechanism. 

But …

Did Hollywood play a role in Nicole Hadley’s murder? Absolutely and unequivocally, yes. If a murderer says publicly that he got the idea for a certain murder from a certain movie, there’s simply no way around it. The boy was influenced by a media source to do what he did. If no one had ever made the Basketball Diaries would Nicole Hadley still be alive today? Well, that’s where it gets complicated …

I am personally a crusader when it comes to the first amendment and believe it is completely necessary for the progress of mankind. Without free speech, ideas and information are tempered and controlled. More speech – not less – is always better and though you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater, I believe you should certainly be able to stand up and yell, “this movie sucks!” 

As someone who makes a living in the arts, I will defend free speech…even bad speech…to the death. The trouble is, every “right” we exercise comes at a great cost. Every amendment to the constitution has bloody residue somewhere in its past, present or future. It’s easy for me to say I would die for free speech. It’s quite another to sit across the table from two parents who’s daughter DID die as a result (at least in part) of unbridled free speech. 

These are the horrors we suffer in exchange for the “I Have A Dream” speech or “Citizen Kane” or any Bob Dylan song or your stupid, banal Facebook posts…or mine. Nicole Hadley was a casualty of this paradox. Is the first amendment worth her life? How about the second one? These are the questions we continually have to ask ourselves as a culture. And there are no easy answers. 

I’ve been watching my 6-year-old son play with his new puppy for the last few days. I find myself checking to make sure he doesn’t start harming the dog in any strange way (other than the normal harm a 6-year-old boy does to everything in his path). Why is this an instinct in me? Why would a father ever worry about a 6-year-old playing with a puppy? Because I’ve come of age in a time in history when young boys torturing animals is a text-book precursor to unspeakable things they’re going to do to actual humans later in life. 

Why do I know this? Because I live in a world where this kind of thing is shown on Law and Order routinely, during the dinner hour. Every time my son squeezes the puppy too hard or makes any sudden movement, I jerk my head around to make sure I’m not raising a serial killer. As it turns out, I’m probably just raising a pizza-crazed, hyper-active narcissist. But all of us, in our heart of hearts, not only pray every day our children won’t be the victims of a Columbine or Paducah or Sandy Hook, we also pray they won’t become the perpetrators.

We’re still trying to get our heads around the shooting of 20 babies in Connecticut and it’s going to take a while to process it. In the meantime, I’m quite certain Washington DC is going to fix everything. They always do. But as our duly elected hallmarks of human mediocrity wring their hands and come up with centrally planned solutions to individual madness, we are really no closer to understanding what is happening to us as a whole. Is it guns? Is it video games? Is it mental illness? Is it the influence of art? 15 years after having lunch with the Hadleys, I still wrestle with all of it as I’m sure any thinking, feeling person does.

As far as the second amendment is concerned, those who think it’s about muskets or militias or hunting and really want no one to own guns, have been given the most perfectly formed political football in history with the Sandy Hook case. And they’re certain to get something they want from Washington. When 20 kids are lying dead on a classroom floor, somebody in government is going to take some kind of action. Even if it’s ineffective. Even if it has worse, unintended consequences than doing nothing. Even if it’s just to make people think they care. But I fear this problem is bigger than gun arguments, or mental health arguments, or Hollywood influence arguments. Somehow, this speaks to the world we’ve created for ourselves.

A few weeks before Sandy Hook, a pro football player shot his girlfriend and then himself. In a half-time commentary, Bob Costas got in a bit of trouble with some people, for speaking to the “gun culture” that spawns such incidents. The truth is, I think Bob was actually right in his comments. He just didn’t go far enough. I would’ve had more respect for his commentary if it had gone a little more like this: 

“There’s no doubt we live in a gun culture. But we also live in an alcohol culture. A prescription drug culture. A media culture. A fast food culture. A fame culture. A sex culture. A death culture. An immediacy culture. A nihilism culture. All the guns at our disposal are just the cherry on top of this sundae of abject dysfunction. So, pop another Paxil, have another bacon cheeseburger and a few more beers, watch these advertisements for boner pills with your kids (if they’re not blowing people away on Call Of Duty) and stay tuned for the second half of the most violent sporting event in western civilization. 

I’ll be here later to make a dropped pass seem more important than the unemployment rate. And remember, this is all brought to you by Crazy High sports drink – twice the sugar – four times the caffeine! Also brought to you by (enter latest Quentin Tarantino movie here) …EVERYBODY DIES IN A BLOODBATH! Following the game is the season finale of CSI Miami – sex and murder take a holiday on the beach. Let’s stir all this up with hand held devices that access every bit of information known to man…and then let’s see how long it takes for the next unstable young boy to lose his freaking mind and start shooting people for no reason. I’m Bob Costas …goodnight.”

That would be a commentary I could get behind, because it would be closer to the total picture.

Look, as far as I’m concerned they could meltdown every gun ever made next week. It wouldn’t affect me in the least. I’m not a gun guy. I’m not preparing for the coming apocalypse. If this world becomes a place where my kids and I actually have to say grace over food we just killed someone else for, then let me move on to the next world. I don’t want to live in that reality. 

If you’re hungry and you stop at my house in Thunderdome, we’ll feed you. When we all run out of food, we’ll starve together singing hymns and doing the best we can. I’m not a “prepper” and I think most of them need to settle down. And as much as I revere free speech, we could put a stop to violent movies and video games tomorrow, too. I’m not a game guy or a gory movie guy. I wouldn’t know or care about it. 

But I fear that nothing we “ban” – no external thing – will get our hearts closer to light and further from darkness. I fear there’s a defective chip in us all that can be triggered at any moment. I fear there’s another 14-year-old out there somewhere just waiting on the next Basketball Diaries (or whatever other excuse we want to find) to send him into a tailspin. I fear there’s another 20-something outsider with a mental disorder, who spends 10 hours-a-day in a basement, disconnecting from reality and plotting something horrific just so he can feel something. I fear taking that kid’s guns away will only be a temporary roadblock on his path to another horrible act, somewhere else. 

I wish I were wrong…but human history is on my side. 

I’m watching my son and his puppy closely. I’m giving more hugs and kisses. We’re talking less about fighting and destruction and more about building things. I’m limiting his time in front of the DS and the TV and encouraging him to draw me more pictures and write me more songs. Even then, who knows if I’m doing enough. He’s an amazing kid. But I’m sure that’s what every parent, to every monster in history, thought when their son was 6. We can all tilt either way. The best and worst in us all can surface at any time.  

The boy and his dog. 6-years-old and 15-years-old

Would Nicole Hadley be alive today if there were no guns? Maybe. Would she be alive if there were no Basketball Diaries? Maybe. But I tend to think whatever problems we have as a society aren’t going to be fixed by laws that ban things. They’re going to be fixed one kid at a time. 

God knows I’m trying with all my might to raise one who respects human life…and who loves dogs. 

R

Link to the song:

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THE REPLACEMENTS …

We are all replacing somebody. 

Or are we? 

Sometimes, it looks like nothing has been replaced at all, except skin and bones. But the same old darkness of the soul continues to simply recycle into new carbon uniforms. 

I learned a new phrase yesterday – “Replacement Theory.” 

I am 55-years-old and I’ve never heard of this before. Much like I had never heard of Critical Race Theory until last year. Apparently, it’s some kind of Nazi knockoff, asserting that people with different color skin are going to be replacing people with a certain color of skin, etc, etc. 

When I was a kid, I was one hundred percent certain that we would’ve moved past skin by 2022. I also thought we’d have flying cars and everyone would be wearing matching silver jumpsuits everywhere. I’m 0 for 3. 

Somehow, skin is still one of the most important things we talk about. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why. There has to be some sort of scientific/biological thing going on that I’m not aware of. Surely, we’re not still obsessed over the membrane that covers our bones. Are we? 

I even still bristle at phrases like “the white community” or “the asian community” or “the hispanic community.” Maybe it’s because all three of those communities are represented in my one home. And none of that segregated bullshit applies here. People live here. Not races. 

That kid who shot those people in Buffalo, had racial motivation. As an aside, I refuse to print the name of a mass shooter. My opinion has always been that if you perpetrate something like that, your name should be removed from the public registry and you should be referred to as a number for the rest of your life. It’s time to stop making these fools famous. 

Anyway …

His “manifesto” (which I’m not about to read all 180 pages of) seems to have some roots in buying in to the overpopulation “problem.” This “overpopulation” narrative bothers me to no end. Because once you assert that there are too many people on the planet, there is really only ONE question to be asked after that…who needs to go?   

See, if a fire marshal comes into a packed theater and determines that there are too many people in there, then the next move is simply to get rid of a certain number of them. There is no “well, let them go ahead and have the play – we can’t do anything about who is already here. We’ll just try to enact policies that make sure we don’t have that many people in that room in the future.” 

No. That’s not what they do. They open those doors and usher people out until they’re in compliance. 

The very word OVERpopulation denotes that there are people on the planet who actually shouldn’t be here. Too many people.  “Too many” means somebody has to go. It’s quite simple, really. Does it not mean that? 

Otherwise, there are just enough people on the planet, and everyone who is here, belongs here. 

Once you buy in fully to the notion of overpopulation, you have to then determine who the OVER is. I mean, that’s the real next logical step. And in a world still obsessed with skin, it won’t be a leap for some deranged people to make that determination based on race.

According to this theory of “replacement,” they somehow worry that their particular shade of skin will become obsolete and “replaced” with a different shade of skin…and, dear Lord, as I’m typing this, it all just sounds too moronic too fathom. 

We know that throughout history, racism has definitely been a thing. The largest wars mankind has ever fought, have been fought over racism. The most significant cultural and social movements in all of human history have been centered around racial justice. 

And those of us who believe in racial justice were always under the impression that the goal was a post racial society; a place where skin was as incidental and insignificant as eye color. But we are becoming obsolete. And we’re being replaced with people who seem to be as obsessed with race as the people from the past, we thought were relegated to the dust bin of history.

It is widely accepted that true racism means buying into this “replacement theory” as something that is a bad thing. In other words, the racist doesn’t want his or her (or their) race replaced by the other race. Yes. That is textbook racism. And it’s not only ridiculous, it’s evil. 

But a word of caution …

Believing that one race being replaced by another race is a good thing, is also racism. And it keeps us in the skin spiral. We’re just replacing one skin tone with another. The soullessness is the same.  

If you rejoice at colors other than light shades of skin, merely based on the skin itself, you are also a racist. If you only want to hire someone of a certain race, so that the skin in your work place will look more diverse, you are a racist. If you believe it’s important to replace “white males” with different skin (and gender), for no other reason than the skin and the gender, you are a racist (also, a sexist. But that’s another blog for another day). 

And, based on that criteria, we have a lot of racists in the world right now. 

If we keep reducing our humanity to our skin, we are never going to truly get anywhere as a species. The celebration of skin tone is going to keep us locked in a world unable to move forward. 

And when a confused and troubled kid, with a twisted sense of reality, based in a bedrock belief that everybody from science teachers to comedians have been preaching for decades – that there are too many people on the planet – decides that he’s going to take matters into his own hands and start eliminating one of the races, we paint it as garden variety hate/white supremacy/evil action. It is definitely that.

But it may go deeper than that.

Maybe it’s time to start moving away from an emphasis on skin in the first place. Maybe it’s time to stop mindlessly repeating this nonsense about overpopulation. Maybe the individualists are right. And maybe it’s time we start truly embracing the idea that every human on earth has a purpose and a destiny and that we are a piece of something divine. 

Maybe it would be harder to shoot people in a grocery store, if we truly believed they were on purpose rather than just part of “this or that group.”  

Maybe we need to recalibrate how we are orienting the the next generation. 

You know…the one replacing us.   

R  

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SUGAR BABIES …

They lost me at the word, “tax.” 

Up until then, I was with them all the way. 

I gave up refined sugar 20 years ago. And in the past 2 years, I’ve gone through a health and fitness renewal that has plunged me into new research and changes to my own diet and workout routines. 

So, I often watch videos, made by obscure professors, reading really boring research documents, about things like fructose molecules and AMPK and mTOR and the glycemic index and…well…you’re probably already bored. 

The video I was watching, on this particular day, was of a seminar in California, at Stanford University, where several doctors came to the podium and shared their individual cases for how sugar and the proliferation of sugar over the past one hundred years, has been at the root of the obesity epidemic, also affecting everything from type 2 diabetes to heart disease to cancer and a half dozen other serious things. 

The science is incredibly strong. We can now pretty well trace the majority of metabolic dysfunction to some sugar connection. There have just been so many conclusive studies, it’s hard defend that substance anymore. 

In the health and fitness space, this is one of the few things everybody agrees on. Carnivores and Vegans go at it. Calorie counters and keto people square off in endless debates. But one thing they ALL share common ground on is the fact that a cookie has no nutritional value whatsoever. 

And they’re right. 

Even if you don’t know the science, you can feel your body change when you give up sugar. We all know this is true. We ALL know, instinctively, that we shouldn’t let the kids sit down and eat all the contents of the bag IN ONE SITTING, after Halloween.

Why? 

We’d let them eat as much broccoli as they might want. We’d allow them to consume any amount of salad. Because we know that’s feeding hunger. But the sweets? We know THAT’S feeding something else…a craving. And we know it’s not healthy. Yes, deep down we know. 

These doctors all made strong, air-tight cases. But then, they all ended up in the worst place you can end up. 

When they got around to offering solutions, they all (to a person) pounded the podium in favor of taxing sugar at a higher rate and placing punitive taxes on sugar-based substances like soft drinks and candy. 

In short, they defaulted to the position of population and behavior control, by the government, over the position of persuasion and dialog. This is where statists always end up…if you won’t do it for your own good, we’ll MAKE you do it…for everybody’s good. 

My wife, daughter and I don’t eat sugar in our house. But my son does. Still, we have always talked to him about the dangers of sugar and how bad it is for him. And as a result, he has never been into sugary sodas. He eats sugar, but mostly sparingly, and he never over-eats anything. 

He’s now 15. I’ve taught him about sugar since he was old enough to listen. Now, what he puts in his mouth is his decision. I know he won’t always make good decisions. I didn’t when I was 15. But if I ban him from eating sugar in the house, it will become an obsession and he will simply binge on it when he’s not in the house. 

The point is this…

I can make a really strong case for eliminating sugar from every store shelf in America. I could testify before congress and quote to them chapter and verse why they should pass a law forbidding the refining, packaging and sale of this substance. But I would never do that in a million years. Because if you want that cupcake today, it should be your choice. 

It is killing you. It is spiking your insulin and causing you to store fat, also placing stress on your liver and kidneys. It is affecting your eyesight and skin. It is changing your taste buds and re-wiring your brain function. It is having a significant effect on your depression, or bi-polar disorder or ADHD. And it is the thing clogging your arteries…the cholesterol is just showing up to mitigate the problem. 

But have your cupcake if you want. You’re on your own journey. And when you’re ready to give up cupcakes, you will. OR you won’t and you’ll just get sicker. Either way, it’s up to you. And it’s up to people like me to talk to you about it and share whatever information I have with you. 

The United States is re-drawing our battle lines over the abortion debate yet again. And this always seems to be just a mic drop war.

On one side, there are those who will never back down from the idea that nobody should be able to tell them what to do with what they’re carrying inside them. On the other side, there are those who believe what those women are carrying inside them is a human life, and therefore that life must have all the protections of any other life. 

Here’s the deal…the science is on the side of life. Roe V Wade happened before ultra sounds and prenatal research and all of the new technologies we have now that basically prove that whatever you want to believe about what’s growing inside you is definitely alive. 

But here’s where it gets complicated …

I have a 19-year-old daughter with a severe disability. She is non-verbal and operates at about a 2-year-old level. At the moment, my wife and I can monitor every single person she comes in contact with. But there is a 60% (yes, I said SIXTY PERCENT) molestation rate among people with special needs. 

Predators migrate to that community because the victims very often cannot defend themselves or even speak. My daughter is in both categories.

My daughter’s condition prevents her from ever taking a baby to term. It would kill her and most likely the child as well. Simply put – that cannot happen. 

You cannot believe the nightmares I have had, where my wife and I are both dead and gone and she’s being cared for in a facility, somewhere, and someone rapes her and impregnates her. It makes my stomach hurt and throws me into a rage…and it hasn’t even happened. 

For a person like my daughter, there would be no good options. But I’m going to be very transparent, here. As much as I abhor the idea of abortion, having it on the table as a safe and legal option for someone like my daughter, is something I hesitantly prefer.

For those who say they’re proud to have had an abortion, you need professional help…and Jesus. There’s nothing about that act that should make anybody proud. 

For those who want every baby brought to term with no questions asked, you are basically supporting the idea of imprisoning women who have an abortion. And is that what you really want. 

I say put your money where your mouth is and adopt. That’s what I did. 

But until we have the real conversation about this, it’s all going to be grandstanding and platitude slinging on both sides. 

A couple of points of order, however …

A reversal of Roe V Wade doesn’t make abortion illegal. Abortion was never made legal or illegal. There was a court ruling on it that established precedent. And those can be overturned. That’s why you need to make laws through the law making process.

We need Schoolhouse Rock again. Or at least look up “I’m Just a Bill” on YouTube. 

Anyway …

Nobody should have leaked this decision. And nobody should be protesting at a judges house. Also …

Women need to be made to feel like nobody is trying to put them in The Handmaid’s Tale. But then everybody also needs to recognize that scraping away living tissue from a uterus is more than just a casual decision that isn’t a big deal. 

The dynamics of this issue are complicated and nuanced. And they involve getting males who help make these children involved, too. They involve the government underwriting businesses that rely on abortions for their income streams. They involve the very idea that life is sacred and not some nihilistic exercise that has no meaning whatsoever. 

I’m not trying to compare abortion to a cupcake. But both involve life and death. Both seem like the answer, in the moment. And both involve crusaders who want the law to reflect what they believe to be true. 

I find myself simply trying to be a good example of what I believe by adopting unwanted children and staying away from cake. 

Believe it or not, those two things might be the best first steps we can take.  

R

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PERMISSION TO SPEAK FREELY …

It started out with the best of intentions, I’m sure. 

Subversion. 

That’s probably what they were looking for. You know, just to be safe. I mean, we can’t have that. Can we? Hey, it was probably in everybody’s best interest. I mean, come on. There’s no harm in double checking just to make sure. Right?

So, since I didn’t have a choice…I complied. 

See, I was in China, adopting a little girl, and the other adoptive families in our group, found out that I was a singer/songwriter. So they asked me to do a little concert in the hotel lobby, before we all disbursed to go back the U.S. 

There was a beautiful 9-food grand piano in there. If this had been a hotel in Detroit or Atlanta, we would’ve just asked the manager on duty. But this was China. So we had no idea that when we asked the hotel manager, it would set off a political chain reaction that would take 3 days to complete. 

The national government stepped in with their list of rules and regulations, one of which was me providing a set list, complete with all the lyrics I would be singing in their hotel. The lyrics had to be approved by a local “czar” of some kind. 

They were very nice about it. It was just a precaution. Nothing more. You know, just to make sure I didn’t say anything “out of bounds” or “unseemly” toward certain entities. 

That was the government of China…making sure Regie Hamm didn’t sing words that weren’t approved…in a hotel. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have been censored before. I’ve been asked not to sing this song or that song at a corporate event. I’ve had invitations to certain churches revoked, after they heard certain songs of mine. I’ve been told to not use this word or that word in songs, otherwise I wouldn’t get on the radio.  

Plenty of private organizations have exercised their prerogative to control what I said (or didn’t say) on their stage or platform. And even that was off-putting to me.    

But I’ve never been censored by an actual government. Up until then, I had never been “checked up on” by the state. And it was disconcerting, to say the least. 

I turned in the 5 least offensive songs I could think of. Then I played whatever the hell I wanted and dared them to arrest me. 

It worked out fine. But it shook me a little. And I couldn’t wait to get back to the land of the great liberty experiment, where freedom of speech is sacrosanct. That was a long time ago. 

Our government is now, 20 years later, trying to put some agency together that weeds out “disinformation.” In other words, you might one day find yourself in the same scenario I found myself in, in COMMUNIST China. 

If you want to give a lecture or preach a sermon or create a social media post or sing a song, there may be a day, in the not-so-distant-future, where you have to run it by the truth department…you know…just to double check yourself. 

What could possibly go wrong?  

Whenever a government (ANY government) decides that they are sole the arbiters of truth, bad things inevitably happen. Why? Because an entity with the final say, with the power to imprison, and with no accountability to anyone but themselves, cannot remain objective. It is a psychological impossibility. 

The Reformation was a revolution against the tyranny of what had become the monolithic nature of the Catholic Church. How had a small, spiritual movement among fishermen and paupers become so iron-fisted, all powerful and downright murderous? 

They had gained complete control of the information. And with that control came power. And that power had to be maintained. Because if you build a beast, it must always be fed. ALWAYS. 

And what if certain pieces of information threaten the feeding of that beast? Pieces of information like, you don’t need a priest to read the story to you. You can read it yourself. Or, you don’t have to pay a church for absolution. Because it’s free. 

Well, information like that won’t do if you make a living handing out penance. So, Mr. Tyndale, while you might think it a good idea to translate the scriptures into common languages everybody can read, it threatens our beast. 

So, either the beast goes hungry…or you get burned at the stake. 

THAT’S how the control of information actually works. 

I’m not an absolutist when it comes to many political issues, but I am when it comes to speech. As someone who has made a living, my entire adult life, under the protection of the first amendment, I am shaking to my core at the trend this country is moving toward. 

The idea that someone can simply remove you from the public square – even if you’re a sitting president – is concerning enough. But the government actually creating an agency to separate fact from fiction, makes my skin crawl in ways I never thought it would crawl standing under an American flag.

The prevailing justification seems to be that we need to stop “misinformation” and “disinformation.” But that’s a sticky subject. Because one person’s information is another person’s DISinformation. 

And what happens when it’s the government itself passing along bad info?

50 years ago, the government funded the Minnesota Coronary Experiment. It was a 5-year study (1968-1973) on heart disease and its root causes. The final conclusion of the study is what led the world out of consuming fats and into using “heart healthy” vegetable oils (or seed oils) for cooking. 

Some doctors bucked this trend, and this study, and refused to accept the findings based on their own knowledge and research. And they KNEW that fats weren’t the problem. But the government developed its guidelines and put out its papers and issued its Regular Daily Allowances (RDAs). 

And suddenly restaurants all over country, started coking with seed oils to be in compliance with the government standards. People started cooking with it at home. Those oils became popular and billions of dollars were earned through this new standard. Fats were demonized and “low fat” was the new health standard. 

But here’s the thing …

The population got sicker and fatter. Cancer, heart disease and diabetes got worse. Not better. How could that be? 

In 2016, a whole room full of “lost” evidence was discovered, that was associated with that study. When the lost evidence was added to the original findings, it proved that fats weren’t the culprit at all. And the original findings of the study turned out to be inconclusive at best. 

You can look all this up. It’s absolutely true. 

In the meantime, the inflammatory nature of seed oils is proving to be horrific for humans. And there is literally no way to calculate how much their use has contributed to death and ill health, over the last half century. 

If you were a doctor, yelling from the rooftops that seed oils were not the solution, but part of the problem, you would’ve been labeled a health heretic…up until 2016. 

Because the government was WRONG. Their info was incomplete. And they didn’t even know it. But they have no accountability to anyone. And even as I type this, the U.S government still has food recommendations in place that may actually be hurting people. But who’s going to do anything about it? 

If you are for new anti-speech laws or you find yourself cheering on this new department of truth (or whatever it’s called), let me offer an ominous warning…

One day, your party will be out of power. The people who are making decisions right now, will be long gone. And people who scare the shit out of you will be presiding over the country and heading up those agencies. And if you have helped to create more stringent laws on speech and an entire department dedicated to the process of finding and shutting down “disinformation,” you may find yourself in their crosshairs, for not saying the right things; the things they deem to be truthful.  

And if you’re not towing the party line with your posts or your lectures or your sermons…or your songs…you will end up thinking to yourself, “how in God’s name did we get HERE, in the United States of America?”

Just remember…it all started with the best of intentions. 

R    

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