(Posted a day late.) President Obama and Michelle Obama. Decent people. No scandals. Classy. Role models. Democrats can be role models, too.
Republicans and Democrats, as a sort of spiritual discipline, need to wake up every morning. Say one nice thing about someone of the opposite party. Praise the other party.
“I will say, the Obamas have had no moral scandals in 8 years and that says something about them.
“Even though I think she’s Satan, she is a good debater.”
“Okay, it’s admirable that she came from a middle-class home and worked so hard in college, getting into Yale Law School.”
“Hillary Clinton was part of the team that got Bin Laden.”
“I will say, Chelsea really does seems like a responsible person”
“George W. Bush does really seem to love Laura.”
“Mike Pence did give a very gentle case for why he’s against abortion, even though I disagree with him.”
“Say what you want, but Mitt Romney seems like a solid family man.”
“John McCain has been amazing at bipartisan outreach.”
Some people might be getting tired of my recent bromance with Chance The Rapper.
Listening now. On my headphones. He just said, “I only perform. I don’t even warn. I don’t eat it warm. I won’t be reborn. I speak to God in public. I speak to God in public.”
And he said, “The people’s chant must be everything the people can’t be. I’m getting artsy fartsy.”
And, also, “Are you ready for your blessing? Are you ready for your miracle?”
I did not vote for Barak Obama. Not in 2007 and not in 2011. I didn’t vote for him because I was certain…
I won’t write about that right now. I will first write about rap. I never considered it rap music. It was not music. I scorned it. Mocked it. The roots rock scorner I was. Until Edison said, “Dad, please just listen to Chance The Rapper.”
All those books I read on raising teenagers. You’ve gotta try and find common ground. You can’t expect them to like what you like. So if they express interest in something, and INVITE you to check out, you do it.
I did it. I downloaded Chance. First time I gave rap a chance.
First time I gave rap a Chance.
There is this guy called Chris Tomlin. He’s a big Christian artist. He wrote this song called How Great Is Our God.
“Dad, he even did a Christian song on the album, that How Great Is Our God song.”
So about a year ago, I listened to Chance The Rapper on my iPhone. Juxtaposed against a few Christian songs are his use of “Fuck” and “Nigger” and “We don’t do the same drugs no more” and “Smoke a bowl.”
Upset. It upset me. It’s upsetting right this second as I’m listening.
“Upset” isn’t always negative. It just means to up set.
“Set” means settled.
“Up-set” means unsettled.
To get you out of the easy chair. To get you out of bed. To be woken from your slumber.
I was woken by Chance. Because for me, in music or film, I need meaning. In order for me to be all in, it needs to up-set me.
Schindler’s List. Upsetting. But it made me want to go change the world. I went out and tried.
Happiness Is A Warm Gun. Helter Skelter. Upset me when I was a teenager.
Being upset sometimes makes you want to go change the world.
Still trying to get my head around how Chance can pull this off. Maybe he can’t.
Decades ago. Tony Campolo. Something like “While you were asleep last night thousands of kids died of starvation and most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worst is that you’re more upset that I said ‘shit’ than the fact that they died.”
Before I was a writer, I could not care less about the lyrics of rap. I was only focused on the lack of melody. How could music have singing without melody? I wrote rap off. No pun intended.
But, my God, these lyrics. The meter! Puns.
I like almost nothing more than puns. Words are toys. My favorite toys.
That time a friend got out of a cab in Oxford, England. Stepped onto the cobblestone sidewalk. Heel got stuck in crack. Fell off. She stumbles. Picks up healless broken shoe, laughing. Within a second or two. British guy on sidewalk. “I guess that what the American singer meant when he said ‘You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille.'” Warp speed wittiness. I fell down in worship.
Words are things.
Some say words don’t matter. “Actions speak louder than words.” Trump campaign trying to sell us that BS.
But if you think words don’t’ matter, go call a loved one “fat.”
That man from church. Years ago. He was in his late 70’s. A gentle and lovely soul of a man. Told me he stammered when he was a child. Parents would hear him playing on the street with his friends. Would hear him stammering. Would go out and laugh at him. Call him a “girl.” Told him, “If you don’t stop we are going to buy you a dress.”
He’s still recovering from those deeds that were “only words.”
Wonder what God hates more?: spiritual pride or profanity.
Forgot to say why I didn’t vote for Obama.
Bob Dylan. Impossible to describe his impact on my thinking, my theology, my life. Probably yours, too So I won’t try. But today he won the Nobel Prize for literature, the first musical artist to win the award, the first American since Tony Morrison in 1993.
In 1963, while The Beatles were writing I Want To Hold Your Hand and Love Me Do, Dylan was completing The Ballad Of Hollis Brown
You looked for work and money
And you walked a ragged mile
You looked for work and money
And you walked a ragged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don’t know how to smile
and The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll.
You who philosophize disgrace, and criticize all fear, take the rag away from your face, now ain’t the time for your tears.
Bob Dylan has never given a shit about trends in popular culture. He didn’t care about pop (i.e., popular) music, either. He didn’t care about “hits.” Didn’t care about what everyone else was doing, which, back then, and now, was about becoming famous and raking in the cash.
But he did care about the pain of the “others” of society—minorities, the poor, an African American boxer named Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who was falsely accused of murder, then imprisoned. He’s been speaking up for others for over 50 years.
And Dylan understood the complexity of love. He knew it could be absurd. At least, that it was often absurd. So he wrote about it. He knew how to level a blow at his offender:
I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, and just for that one moment I could be you.
Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, you’d know what a drag it is to see you.
And he knew that young adults oftentimes know things their parents oftentimes don’t. About justice. About greed. About what’s really important. He knew the allure adults have to their social status and their propensity to hold on so tightly to the life they created, oftentimes, at the expense of others. So he wrote about that, too, way back in 1963!
Come mothers and fathers throughout the land,
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand,
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,
Your old world is rapidly aging,
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand.
The days of Leave It To Beaver were on their way out. Times were a changin’. And Dylan made the announcement.
More than any other musical artist, Dylan understood façade. The fake. The synthetic. He had guts to say what was, that life isn’t so pretty.
Because of him, countless artists followed in his footsteps. Many still are, today.
Had he never “made it,” I believe Bob Dylan would have the identical catalog of songs today.
He’d still be on that never ending tour. Playing in front of 10 or 35 or 10,000.
It’s all the same to him.
Bob Dylan has forever shaped my view of the “others” — those that few on the top want to think about, those families you see when you drive up the 395. In Johannesburg, California. Because of Dylan, I usually get off the highway, drive into the neighborhoods. Walk around. Look at the depleted shacks. Tin patches on the roofs. The junk. Those children playing in 105-degree heat, with those hardened faces.
I try and feel what it must be like to be them.
Then, I ask myself questions.
Like, “Why them?”
Yesterday I posted about my 33 New Year’s resolutions. Bree said I wrote too much and should have only posted the updates. Too many words to get through. Maybe I’ll delete all those unnecessary words in yesterday’s post.
We are stuck. Stuck with our ideas. Hard to change ‘em. Arguing don’t work. Arguing works sometimes. Ever have anyone argue you from A to B? Is belief a choice? Can you just choose to believe the earth is flat? Can you choose to believe Trump’s a racist? Can you choose to believe Hillary would ruin America as president?
I’m stuck with a few ideas. I think they are true. I believe in truth. Chance keeps saying “nigger” and I don’t why he can do that. I can’t. I won’t. I don’t want to. Those ideas lodged in our brains. I will write about a few of mine.
Idea stuck in my brain #1. In the United States, we are better at branding and marketing and selling things than we are at making them. We started manufacturing all the tin trinkets in Japan after WWII. Later China. Problem isn’t the dumb US politicians. Problem isn’t trade deals. If there is a problem, it’s the shrewd CEO’s. They know business success is binary, found only on the bottom line. Unless you’re a company like Rolex. All the others: Gross revenue. And profits. Dumb numbers. Wrap it in the shiniest glittering wrapper website. Then sell the hell out of it. Make the consumer think she’ll die without the thingamajig. And then make the crappy thingamajig she thinks she needs in some country where they bilk the workers. Twelve hour days. Dangerous working conditions. Child labor. Why don’t we send the marketing and PR and sales jobs overseas for the teenagers to slave over? America is master at sales. And Rolex don’t make their widgets nowhere else but Switzerland. Greed is good said Michael Douglass.
Idea stuck in my brain #2. I don’t think patriotism can be reduced to hating all the other countries out there. Funny that all the tough guys out there that hated the soft liberal French, the Freedom Fries people, are so silent as ISIS murders away. Thought all those French were softies? You are not more patriotic if you hate other countries, of if you wave around your American flag around on your lapel or truck or emoji. Or talking about God blessing America. Or singing the national anthem. Dissent is the highest form of protest, says Jefferson.
Idea stuck in my brain #3. Men and women are different. Men are stronger physically. And women are more able to understand feelings and emotions, generally. Don’t know if it’s because of genetics or conditioning, but women get feelings more than men do. Is it okay to write this? It’s what I really think. And of course there are exceptions.
Idea stuck in my brain #4. The use of the double negative is an effective way of making a strong statement. “You don’t got no manners” tells better than “That was quite unkind.” I know some use the double negative because they know no better. I know it’s incorrect grammar. I wrote analytical philosophy for many years. Where every. single. word. must be precise. But there’s something about loose language.
Language fascinates me. More than almost anything else. The human brain more than anything else. How an organ comprised of the mostly the same atoms as a kidney could produce thoughts? Kidney’s don’t produce thought. Brains produce thought. Do you think all thoughts reside in the brain? Do humans have a soul? If so, how to prove it?
Idea stuck in my brain #5. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Some are susceptible to them. Thinking “the media” is conspiring. Media is people. People report stuff. Every night I watch CNN. I listen to Corey Lewandowski. Perhaps Trump’s most influential voice. Planted on CNN by Trump. If CNN was “liberal,” why put Trump’s number one surrogate in prime time? So he can attack Hillary? So he can praise Trump? So he can explain every insult his boss makes? You’d think “Communist News Network” (as Trump calls it) would keep Trump supporters off their network. There are no conspiracies. If there was in invisible cat on that chair, you wouldn’t be able to see it. You can’t see it. Therefore, there’s an invisible cat on that chair. That’s how the logic goes.
There are no conspiracies.
If there was in invisible cat on that chair, you wouldn’t be able to see it. You can’t see it. Therefore, there’s an invisible cat on that chair. That’s how the logic goes.
I pray for all those in Florida. Biggest storm in 100 years they say.
Life is iffy.
One day you’re on your game, they next your home is gone. Yes, insurance will build you a new one. But if you didn’t backup all those photos onto the cloud…gone.
Pain is everywhere. Even here in Newport Beach where it all looks so perfect.
There ain’t no perfect.