Hey, Charlottesville. I hear you’re having a bad day. I know you pretty well, and I want you to know that, though the world is looking at you today and normally is content to ignore you, I know you’re a friendly, small city in one of the most beautiful regions of the United States, and you’re a beacon of culture, art, and enlightenment, and you’re trying to be a good home for a lot of different people with different stories and different ideas.
And that’s not an easy thing to do.
Much of that is why some of the worst of humanity is there today. You see, they don’t like you. They want to hurt you. They aren’t content to be a part of something great. To them, it is not great unless they dominate it.
But I want you to know that I know they are not you. I know that, today, this is not you at your worst. Today is us at our worst, and it just so happens to have found its way to you.
I’m really sorry about that and wish I could do something. Today, all I can really do is watch to make sure you make it through all right, and when you do, I want you to know I still love you.
Yesterday, the president of the Boy Scouts of America apologized for the political content of Donald Trump’s speech at the National Jamboree.
It’s July 2017. Donald Trump has been in office for roughly six months. Before that, we had about ten weeks to really prepare for his presidency. Before that, we endured his despicable 18-month-long campaign, and before that, anyone who was paying attention watched him transition from a once-failing businessman who saved himself by branding and licensing his reputation and becoming an inconsequential celebrity whose only real chance at relevance was stoking fires and pandering to American desperation and resentment through conspiracy theories, lies, and post-truthism.
My point is we’ve known what Donald Trump is for a long time. Or, maybe you’re just joining us because he’s put on full display the worst of America using the world’s biggest stage. Either way, love him or hate him, you know what you’re getting with Donald Trump.
If you read Chris Cornell’s obituary today, you’ll learn he was the frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave; you’ll learn he had a unique voice.
He was so much more than that.
Obviously, he was a person with family and friends who cared about him, knew him intimately, and will never forget him. But he also was one of the last remaining legends of a rock and roll era that has already lost so much or seen its heroes falter and fade.
My wife bought us tickets to see him solo a couple years back at this music hall near our home that typically hosts classical and traditional musical acts. What struck me about him was not his performance. It was his attitude and presence. Alone on a stage in front of hundreds, in a place that was maybe out of his element, he didn’t just command the room, he owned the whole damn building, because we did.
On Women’s Day in the U.S., here’s what I’m thinking about regarding identity and discrimination:
I occasionally encounter the sentiment that, for example, “I am an American woman, and I’ve never felt discriminated against; therefore, I don’t believe women in America are discriminated against.”
Fair enough. I’m a white, heterosexual, cisgender male, and I’ve never felt like I’ve explicitly or specifically benefited from that in terms of merit-based achievement.
But there’s a problem with extrapolating my personal and anecdotal experience to an entire culture and society; namely, I am not every American man. Not to mention, whether I have, in fact, benefited from my gender, race, or sexual orientation isn’t wholly relevant to what’s commonly referred to as “privilege.” Continue reading
For many people who dislike Trump, I think this is a good expression of why. For those of you who consider his policies and business acumen his saving grace, I think this is important to consider, too.
Many of us believe the presidency (not just the person who occupies the Oval Office, but the institution) should represent the highest qualities, values, and ideals that make Americans great. The common sentiment used to be that the president should be someone for our children to look up to, and while I’ve heard the argument that we’re beyond that and would wholeheartedly disagree with it, the presidency has become a much more important global figure in these last few decades than our founding fathers could have ever imagined or even hoped. Not only is the president our spokesperson in an increasingly global society, but the president is a political leader for the whole world specifically because of America’s influence, and it benefits American citizens in myriad ways.
While it’s unfair to compare anyone who holds that office to the historic presidents who came before, and while it’s unfair to expect every U.S. president to be an ideal representative for the American people, there is a certain standard we must hold the president to, and in this regard (again, policy aside), Trump fails.
I need to get serious for a minute, and I hope you hear me out, because the world is watching.
I didn’t bring you here to send you elsewhere, so I’m going to call out parts of that post that speak to me.
I’m a metal head. I’m a metal head, and Nick Menza died yesterday. I’m a metal head, and Nick Menza died yesterday of a sudden heart attack. It’s funny how something happening to someone you’ve never met can hurt you on so many levels, especially when their life has had such a profound effect on yours.
Who was Nick Menza? A legendary drummer with the misfortune of forever being overshadowed. Even in his death, people will remember 2016 as the year Bowie and Prince died. But not me. Not metal heads. We’ll remember Nick.
Nick played drums in Megadeth during their most influential and arguably most creative era. He joined the band for their album called “Rust in Peace,” which metal heads often cite as one of the greatest metal albums of all time. He left the band after “Cryptic Writings,” which metal heads aren’t so fond of, but I’d fight for it.
Sometimes, people come here and say, “oh, you do reviews. Well, I wrote a novel, and I have a blog. Why don’t we swap reviews?” It’s true that reviews are the life blood of any indie writer (have you reviewed Carrier yet?), but I write reviews here because, in addition to being an author, I’m also a reader. And sometimes, a good story gets me so hot that I have to tell people about it. I’m human. It’s only natural.
I watched a History Channel documentary series on the World Wars this weekend, so that basically makes me a history buff. It’s interesting to me, however, that I decided to sit down and watch the entire thing during the weekend preceding Veterans Day. It offered me a bit of an epiphany I’d like to share.
Most people know about the trench warfare and mustard gas of World War I, and most people know about Hitler and the terrible, terrible Holocaust. But these conflicts were the most deadly in human history, and the circumstances surrounding them were very complex.
When we talk about the World Wars, we don’t often mention Stalin or Mussolini. We talk about the Japanese Empire, but usually in the context of Pearl Harbor or the bombs that ended the war. We don’t often talk about the Treaty of Versailles and how it sowed such resentment in the German people that Hitler was able to capitalize on it. We don’t talk about how the Great Depression made everything worse or how FDR’s New Deal saved the U.S. economy but weakened its military and how Britain did essentially the same.
We don’t talk about the precariousness of the edge that the world was on.
I’m a guy who lives on the little things. I have a brief conversation with someone, and it sparks an idea. From there, it marinates in my brain until it becomes a thought. Most times, when someone gives me even a minute of their time to have a discussion, it’s an interaction that divides and multiplies until it’s something much bigger than it actually was, for better or for worse.
By this, I mean to say, if you’ve played even a small part in my life, you mean more to me than you know. (Unless you were a jerk.)