“a fundamental human right”

Everyone and their brother has weighed about the George Zimmerman trial (1) by now.  An interesting site discussing white privilege is We Are Not Trayvon Martin, and Questlove of the Roots wrote a really compelling look at how this verdict has affected him. But, I keep reading and I keep thinking, and this is where I go to talk about stuff, so here we are.

Another thing I’ve seen from a couple of lawyer friends is their complaint that people who aren’t informed — i.e., have a law degree — shouldn’t be weighing in on the trial, the topic, their feelings.  That seems fucking ridiculous to me. I think that most people know in their hearts that something went terribly wrong here.  Even if the trial was locked down tight and the players all did exactly what they were supposed to do, guaranteeing the right decision by way of the justice system, there are so many other factors that scream out “THIS IS FUCKED UP.”

The Stand Your Ground law may not have been at the heart of what the prosecution or defense needed to prove/disprove, but the fact that it exists and was the reason that Zimmerman (among many) felt he could walk around the neighborhood like some sort of Gran Torino Clint Eastwood? That is crazy. I read a piece where the NRA said that the right to self-defense is a “fundamental human right.”

I could be way off, but I bet the Venn Diagram of NRA members and megaChristians overlaps quite a bit. I also remember that even PRE-hippie Jesus, there was that whole Ten Commandments thing … that “Thou Shalt Not Kill?” Remember that one? I don’t think those were negotiable. I don’t think that you can say, “Yeah, but if he’s on my lawn … OR Yeah, but if he’s walking through my gated community and looks suspicious.” I don’t remember Moses talking about any asterisks there.  Just — Don’t Kill. Period.

If we’re talking fundamental human rights — can a woman shoot a person trying to give her a transvaginal ultrasound? Self-defense?

Seriously, though — eating, shelter, healthcare. These are fundamental human rights. I’d go so far to say that now, an education should be a fundamental human right. But I’d get it if you can’t get on board with that.  I think you should revise your thoughts about what it means to get in on the “pursuit of happiness,” but we can save that for another time.

I hope, that if nothing else, this trial, this case, this verdict — allows white and black people to come together and talk. Be honest. I was just thinking about this the other day, actually. I’d love to start a column or a talk show or something about race. Because whatever “post-racial” is *supposed* to mean, it’s not here. It’s not even close. (2)  And I think if we’re ever going to get to post-racial, it’s going to start with just being real. Real talk, you know?

From the most important to most trivial. I just want to see people okay with being able to just to discuss things.  And, I’ll say that we’re far from there.  There are so many things I want to know about the experiences of people of color and am terrified to ask. Afraid I’m going to look racist. (3) Afraid I’m going to be seen as one of the people who hates, rather than wants to get intimate with a culture and a way of life that is different than mine.

I hope this opens something. I hope it opens up our eyes. I hope it opens up our hearts. I hope it opens up the truth that for all the changes that have occurred, it seems that not much has changed, after all.


(1) It’s telling that I want to call it the Trayvon Martin trial. He’s dead. He can’t be convicted of anything, and he wasn’t the one who needed to account for his actions, after all was said and done. But, his face and name are on my mind and it sure seemed like he was the one on trial — in order to prove that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, it seemed like it was a question of proving whether or not Trayvon was the problem, rather than the victim.

(2) There’s no way we’re “post-racial” when people of Mexican heritage and American citizenship can’t sing the national anthem without people losing their ever living minds AND when Cheerios releases a commercial with a mixed-race family and those same people freak the fuck out. Seriously? Are people mad because the LGBTQs are gaining ground on equality and love and happiness? Or what?

(3) Also, heads up: you can’t be racist if you’re a minority. You can be hateful, you can be prejudiced, you can treat people outside of your race/ethnicity like shit. But racism is a systemic, huge thing. Unless you are in a place of power/being able to oppress (i.e. in the majority rule), you can’t be racist.  All of a minority’s hate or prejudice isn’t going to keep the white man down. That’s just some sociology.


well, then

So much to write about. Food stamps. Trayvon. Self-image. Women’s rights. All sorts of stuff. I hope to tackle some over the next few days, but I’m trying to just get a post in — I don’t know why I find it so terribly hard to be consistent. Again, because part of me is always censoring — although, I don’t know why. I’m not getting jobs either way.

I see my friends write about cancer and being single moms and I ask myself for the millionth time — “Why not just write about your life as real as it gets?” These people have blogs on ChicagoNow, they have thousands of readers, they aren’t suffering from being real. And, over the years, I certainly haven’t shied away from being an open book.  I don’t think closing it now is really helping anything.

So, be on the lookout for the aforementioned topics. As well as therapy and healthcare and fear and anxiety and love and hope and trust and spirituality. All of that.  Time to start back at the beginning, maybe.

killin’ it

Today was a magnificent day. Stayed up late, slept in a bit, got up at 10 a.m. (which isn’t always the case after a 2 a.m. bedtime). Went to the beach with C, came back and enjoyed a delicious fruit/vegetable/hummus/cheese/foccacia plate that she whipped up. Lovely having a roommate who knows how to cook. 

Then, she went off to do errands, and I did some stuff here at the house. Then, back to the beach (in the water every time!) with D. We hung out and then it was time for some pre-coffee club dinner — Thai Kung Pow Chicken and then coffee club proper. The particular meeting made me a little restless for a variety of reasons, but I hung tough until the end.

Then kidnapped D and C (in C’s car) and went to Scooter’s for frozen custard. Delish. And there were a bunch of dogs getting dog cones, which was so cute.  Back to the house, then a quick flash of night beaching (water for the third time!).

It was a good day. Friends, fellowship, sun, water, and good meals. Yay.

and so it goes

I wonder how many times I’ve started a post with that over the last nine years. It always reminds me of the Billy Joel song. I knew I used to love that song when it came out, so it’s listed below for your reference (lyrics/video).

But, it’s sort of an “it is what it is” sort of thing when I write it or say it. But maybe a little more sad — like, there’s nothing I can do about this and this is how it will play out. Which is sort of what the song is about, so maybe I’m on to something there.

I am a strong proponent of people who are diagnosed with mental illness being properly medicated. Due to a confluence of circumstances, I haven’t been medicated for about four months. I think I might be falling back into a bit of depression, but I sleep at night, which was previously unheard of, and I’ve been kind of isolated for the last year or so, so it’s hard to tell how much of the shit goes where.

However, I just realized today that I couldn’t even finish an Avett Brothers video, so there might be something to the depression thing. When music (especially one of my all-time favorites evah) doesn’t thrill me, that’s usually a heads up. I thought I was jealous of all the Avett fans that got to see them two killer setlists at Red Rocks this weekend, but I’m thinking that I’m just in the shit a little.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, even. Just to try and keep it up, I suppose. I’ve been doing my meditative writing (i.e. praying) every day and even doing a nightly inventory, per the suggestion of coffee club. Yet, I find myself more pessimistic and less able to keep a rational head about things. I wish … a fish a dish. Who cares. Wishes are stupid. Anyway … from 1990ish, here’s Billy Joel.

“And So It Goes”

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I’ve held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed
It’s just as well for all I’ve seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That’s if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows

summer songs and dubstep

When my friends and I had a legit clique and and ran a college radio station in Naperville, I learned about love and life and listening to music. I learned enough things to write a book. One of 20 I still need to write. But, we’re talking radio, so let’s soldier on, shall we?

Among the many things I learned was the concept of a “summer song.” Right now Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” are running game for the #1 summer song right now. Summer songs (1) — great to dance to, light mood, celebrate sex and love and partying all night long. But for sure, with a solid hook. Something that gets stuck in your pants, I mean brain, and won’t let go.

To wit:
Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”

Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines”

But there’s also the concept of bringing back songs that have fallen out of rotation *just for the summer,* because they have certain themes or are old summer songs or are songs that you just must roll down the windows and crank up whenever they come on. I’ve been hearing “Hey Ya” all over the limited amount of time I spend with the radio — definitely a summer song of its day, and still works with the windows down:

Outkast, “Hey Ya”

the song that my Music Director in the summer of ’92 brought back was Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” I thought it was kind of odd — not something we’d normally play, especially since we were gutting the collection of things that didn’t fit — but Jen said that it was a summer song, and would just be in rotation for the long days and hot nights. (Not her words; mine.) I’m sure she knew this from other radio experience, but I added it into my knowledge and repertoire — it seemed solid. The theory, if not the song.

Jimmy Buffett, “Margaritaville”

I was running around the city in the car the other day and since the presence of “Hey Ya” was looming large, I was thinking about summer songs and other such. The other thing I’ve been coming to the conclusion of is this: I love a lot of music. I know and love artists many people have never heard. I can appreciate all sorts of genres. I love music; it is my church. But I’m nearly helpless against a hook. All the pop music that people rip on and hate on (Maroon 5, Train, P!nk — (I really hope people don’t hate P!nk)), I like here and there because they have crafted or composed or outright bought a hook.

I’ve also come to the opinion that I like Bruno Mars quite a bit. I grew up on Top 40 pop and “Locked Out of Heaven” sounds like a Police jam for today. It’s catchy as hell. So there. Oh well. Does that wash out my love of Van Morrison and Stevie Wonder and The Dave Clark Five?

Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven”

The other thing I’ve come to understand while listening to the hits of today is that as much as I LOATHE dubstep, if you throw just a small element of it into a pop song, I actually like the combo. To wit:

Taylor Swift, “I Knew You Were Trouble”

Skip to 2:00 for the actual song. I have no clue what kind of artistic statement Taylor Swift is EVAH making, but certainly not now.

Alex Clare, “Too Close”

So, yes. Summer songs and dubstep. Mostly, it’s just pop music. Not power pop, just pop. Songs that are really ridiculous, but have a great hook. Nothing that should go down in any record books, but sometimes songs that can automatically put your windows down.

(1) There have been two summer song articles of note recently. One from the New Yorker and the other from The New York Times.


Merriam-Webster talks about being disenchanted. About losing naive faith or trust in something. I think it’s gone beyond that.

I was watching the excellent fireworks in Wilmette last night, and only a few times found my thoughts drifting to the Revolutionary War and America and what it means to be an American. What the fireworks really represent and why we have these huge, expensive displays for our country’s birthday. Mostly, I just watched and talked with a good friend who I hadn’t seen in awhile and just let the other thoughts drift away.

I did, not because I’m afraid of uncomfortable thoughts or cognitive dissonance — no, I’m the one who thinks the National Anthem is beautiful and has always been a fan of hearing huge crowds of people sing in unison BUT think a “national anthem” is weird and wonder if anyone really understands that song, and I hate war and nationalism and jingoism and all that. I’m not a huge fan of the pledge of allegiance, either.  So, I’m fine with holding two competing thoughts in my head at once.

The reason I didn’t give it much thought last night was because I didn’t want to be depressed. On holidays like today, I previously have been of two minds — one, that our country has some terrible failings and I think it’s more patriotic to acknowledge them and try to address them than to ignore them, and two, that I am really grateful to have been born here and that we still have a crazy amount of freedom as compared to the rest of a lot of the world, and we have a system that’s really worth working on.

I don’t think I believe that anymore. The same reasons our founding fathers fought against the King are all around us again. I’m also a decent fan of taxes — money to be spent toward the common good — but now I feel that I am being taxed without representation. I feel like the Congress and the President and the Judiciary are not at ALL representing my views, and they aren’t even representing the views of the country at large.

The draconian measures that a small minority are trying to (and succeeding on) impose on the rest of us are shameful and disgusting and wrongheaded and downright dangerous. The way everything in this country is controlled by money and greed is horrifying, especially when there’s always a certain type of person in the control of all of the cash.

There may not be military quartered in our homes, but we have the government in every aspect of our lives — I was wondering when “big brother” would be in a tv in my home, but I didn’t realize that it was going to be the laptop that I use every day. To top it off, the government has taken to using local police forces and using them in ways we previously could not have imagined or tolerated. We are in a *private* prison-industrial complex police state, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

And to that end — have you seen the protests around the world the last few days and months and years? We’ve beaten down the Occupy movement, but the Occupy movement should have been so big there was no real way to beat it down. The Occupy movement should have included all of us — myself included — being willing to go to jail and  potentially be injured fighting for our FREEDOM.

That’s what this holiday is supposed to be about, right? Getting freedom from tyranny and celebrating all those that went before us that fought for our rights and paved the way for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which we are now watching be obliterated at every turn while we all sit inside on our computers and watch reality TV and continue to be self-obsessed with our weight and relationships and cars.

Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning will turn out to be founding fathers of a new revolution — but they can’t do it alone. I’m not sure what needs to be done, but we need to figure it out and start helping. I wonder if Paul Revere knew what his next move was once he sounded the call.  I feel like I’m saying “The government is coming — fuck it, the government is HERE, kicking our asses,” but I don’t even know what the next right action is.

All I know is that I’m not “proud to be an American” anymore. I used to be able to see our bad behavior and still be grateful for all we had here. But our own government is taking that away, and I’m not exactly sure where we can head from here.