As you may already know, my Facebook account was “disappeared” last week with zero warning and no mention of what my offending action might’ve been, and – the only means by which to appeal their decision was to upload a scan of my photo ID. At the time, I fell hard on the “oh, hell NO” side of that option, and said as much when I posted my first mention of it earlier this week.
I started poking about The Googles in the time since, and saw that apparently, this is a thing Facebook has done on a pretty regular basis, with regard to FB asking for identification of some sort during this appeal process…and someone suggested the notion of redacting the information on my license and uploading it with the photo intact.
That struck me as – at the very least, a nice middle finger to the process – so I black-lined everything on my license except my name and my photo and uploaded it via the provided link, and…within minutes, I had already gotten the notification that my account was disabled and the decision was final.
So, that being said, I’m not sure where that leaves my eleven year old Facebook account with over 3,000 friends and countless photos and diatribes and the like.
Now, just for the record – every photo I’ve ever posted on Facebook still lives in digital form on my fledgling home network server here, so the photos aren’t the loss that they might be for other folks who aren’t as meticulous about hoarding their data as I’ve been over the years…and honestly, I’m not so vain as to feel any real sense of loss that my last decades’ worth of ramblings provide any real value to social media, at large.
It’s the principle of the thing, though.
So I’m still examining my options, but I’ve largely resigned myself to the notion that the old FB account is gone.
Now, I have created a pseudonym account, and some of you know this already…I’ve been taking very tiny steps, as I don’t want to wave a giant red flag by “re-friending” everyone all at once or anything of that nature – and I’m not sure that I’ll bother to engage with FB that much, moving forward – save for managing the band’s Instagram and FB group.
I’ve largely been “over” the Facebook platform for some time, and I don’t think I’m alone…I’ve watched a lot of friends evaporate from the platform over the past year or so, and many of us who continued to use it for interaction purposes did so while holding our nose.
So in a sense, I suppose they’ve done me a favor – I have a book to finish, recording projects to focus on, interviews to film, plenty of shit to invest my time in, and less and less time to devote to them.
In the meantime, if you get a friend request from the guitar player from a fictitious band out of a Cameron Crowe movie, know that it’s not a total stranger…
so I woke up this morning to a notice from Mark Zuckerberg’s Anti-Social Media operation that my Facebook account has been “disabled”:
It vaguely referred to the notion of “violating community standards”…but, unlike prior times when I’ve had my peepee slapped by the folks at FB, this time there was no specific information whatsoever about what I did to offend the Facebook Gods.
I wrote a long post quite a while back that was received with similar disapproval…without quoting it word for word, it was a diatribe about how folks on the right would rail hypocritically about the debaucherous lack of character of various politicians on the left, but how it was completely acceptable when the person committing identical offenses was on their side of the political fence.
And yeah, it was written in my own particular brand of colorful language, and it wasn’t particularly kind to the folks I was skewering in the post…but it wasn’t exactly out of character. I had written similar posts before without any real consternation from the Powers That Be, but this time – 2017 or so – the Facebook Gods found themselves newly offended.
But, when I received a notice that the post was “flagged for violating community standards”, it quoted the post, and gave me the option of either appealing the decision (during which time the post would be hidden, pending appeal) or deleting the post. I appealed, of course, and eventually they said that the post would have to be taken down in order to restore my account to full functionality.
So…fuck it, I took it down.
Now, let’s clear the air about a couple of bullet points before we move forward.
Facebook is fucking GARBAGE.
We all know it. Go ahead and take a minute to search your heart if you need to…I’ll wait. I’m betting you’ll come to the same conclusion.
We all KNOW it’s garbage, and for a lot of us, we feel like we need to take a shower sometimes if we think too long about the notion of staying on the platform after watching it fall victim to bloat, to ridiculous invasions of privacy, to Big Brother-esque changes to the way the platform presents content on our timelines, and – year after year, continuing to fail to learn from The MySpace Lesson…becoming less user-friendly and considering themselves invincible. BUT – for some reason, we stay.
Why do we stay?
I can’t speak for everyone, but for me – Facebook is the sole medium I have available to me to remain connected to a certain group of people. There are a ton of friends that I’ve made over the years for whom Facebook has become the thread that holds us together.
So – I hold my nose and I log on multiple times a day so I can see what my friends are posting, how their families are doing, what trials and tribulations they’re dealing with at a given moment…y’know. Life Stuff.
But the whole Facebook Problem is never completely out of view.
Their refusal to police their content, to allow incendiary fake news posted by accounts managed by dubious operators, and to meet it all with an Alfred E. Neumann-esque shrug has been cumulatively infuriating…and many of us have been waiting, hoping, praying for something to rise up (much as FaceBook did when MySpace became trash) to replace it as a social media platform, but – crickets.
So we grind our teeth and we internally rationalize the continued use of the platform and – not unlike what it must feel like for people with actual integrity and empathy after a visit to WalMart – we ponder whether or not to take a shower to try and wash the unclean feeling from our skin on occasion when the shitty practices of the platform become too obvious to ignore.
But….damn, ALL those people. Musician buddies that I don’t see as often as I’d like. Friends who started out as fans that I’ve gotten to know over the years. Chinner and Mooy in California. Tommy Fitzgerald in Oregon. Old friends that I’ve loved forever, like Appleseed back in Philly, and new friends like Patrick in Tehachapi…it’s made it easier to maintain a single thread that runs in a ton of different directions.
But there are times that I feel dirty for staying.
This morning, though…Facebook may have made the decision for me. Account disabled – OK. Sure. I figured I’d do the usual dance, appeal it, take a look at what post I’d made that must’ve pissed them off…
But – whatever the offending post was, Facebook wasn’t citing it. At all.
No notice of what I’d done, what I’d said, what I’d posted that had violated their unimpeachable “Community Standards” – which was a new twist.
I mean, it’s not like I’m Leland Sklar, and I’m an old hand at getting jacked up by the Facebook Ethics Counsel – it had only happened to me once before.
So, OK then…whatever. So I click on the “appeal” link, and that’s when the gravity of the situation began to sink in.
Facebook was asking me to upload a JPG of my Photo ID.
Yeah, read that again if you need to…they wanted a photo of my drivers’ license that, as they outlined on my screen, they would keep on file for anywhere from thirty days to ONE YEAR, at their discretion.
I didn’t pump the brakes…I slammed on the brakes and put my phone away and got in the shower to get ready for work.
Does this shit happen? How have I not heard of this being a thing before now?
Do these assholes actually think that I’m giving them a copy of my PHOTO ID for them to keep on file after literally YEARS of hearing stories about Facebook data breaches, Cambridge Analytica, and various other means by which they routinely give away the personal information of their users?
No. Fuck that.
There has to be a line somewhere. And I think they just drew it.
So – that said – barring some divine intervention, there’s not much chance I’ll be returning to Facebook, and…I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that yet. I’m still vacillating between the “anger” stage and – well, in this case, the approach of the “relief” stage.
I’ll have to make a concerted effort to find other ways to keep in touch with folks I won’t see on there anymore, but – truth be known, I already have alternate contact information for a great many of them, so it’s not as though I’ve lost my sole tether to a ton of folks.
It’ll take some navigating, but…there’s a lot more anger at the fact that the last thing I posted, the thing that so incensed the butthurt, uptight Facebook overlords was a short, two sentence status update that read “Remember back when it was OTHER countries that gassed their own people? Good times.”
If you can’t find consensus in that statement…if that somehow “violates your community standards” – then FUCK RIGHT OFF.
In the meantime, I’ll rage against the machine on a more appropriate platform for this particular, 2020 brand of political screeds and I’ll stand aside with a long stick and a bag of marshmallows and wait for the inevitable day when Facebook burns to the ground.
so here’s a little something I just realized…and I’m not sure why it took this long, honestly.
I am SUPREMELY QUALIFIED for this Shelter-In-Place dance.
I’m the least easily-bored person you have ever, or will ever meet. I have tons of outlets…I can be blissfully happy doing next to nothing. I can write, I can record in my home, I can watch the same documentaries over and over, I can listen to music, I can pick up the phone and call people – if I didn’t have to buy groceries on occasion, I could be perfectly content right here in this house for the rest of the year.
I have some musical projects that require varying degrees of collaboration, and it’s frustrating and disappointing that those are shelved for the time-being, but I’m also aware that a lot of people have it much worse than I do, and I try to keep that in perspective. Having outlets definitely helps.
But still, something about this has been wearing on me, and I think it just dawned on me.
Those of you who know me know that I don’t own a gun, I’ve never owned a gun, and I don’t understand the whole Viagra-like effect that owning guns has on some people.
I put guns in a box with a lot of other things – which is to say that my attitude towards them is that “if that’s your thing, that’s fine, as long as your thing doesn’t interfere with my thing“.
For me, that applies to motorcycles, smoking, XBOX and video games in general, that friggin’ British Baking Show (“you have thirty minutes to make a desert out of ramen noodles, this can of spackling compound, vanilla extract and some Odor Eaters, and it had better be delicious…” – yeah, miss me with that garbage.) – and I’ve always lumped guns into that box as well, although the degree to which guns seem to affect folks who don’t own them is HIGHLY debatable when the child you put on the school bus doesn’t come home again, ever.
I don’t own a gun for a very simple reason.
I refuse to live my life in fear.
I’m not gonna ever let myself become such a prisoner in society that I won’t go to the grocery store without packing heat. I just won’t do it. If I’m that scared of some imaginary threat that I can’t go buy food without worrying about The Enemy, then I’ve become paralyzed, and I just ain’t having that. If I happen to be standing in line at the checkout when some dude comes in and starts shooting, it’s gonna be chaos anyway, and if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.
I’ve managed to exist for half a century on this planet in a manner as to be free of that particular brand of paranoia, and my life has been immensely richer for it.
But NOW, though…
This goddamned virus has turned me into the very thing I’ve avoided becoming for my entire life.
Everyone is a suspect, everyone is a possible carrier, and every single person I encounter poses a potential threat. I look at people stumbling through the supermarket without a mask on and acting as if everything is hunkey-dorey and I occasionally indulge the fantasy of picking up a can of something and smacking them upside the head.
And while the assault fantasy is my own, this is the new normal now. We’re expected to think of everyone we encounter as a possible carrier, we’re expected to look at others with a blanket sense of mistrust, we’re expected to see every fellow human as infected until proven healthy.
And so I find myself succumbing to that same family of paranoia that I’ve found so distasteful all my life.
I’ve become the COVID-19 version of the dude who can’t go to Kroger without his 9MM on his belt.
And I hate it. I hate that this period of history has turned me into That Guy.
I talk to everybody – I’ve always tried to offer up some form of conversational anecdotes in lieu of a curt “hello” in social situations. I have a fond memory of going to Wegmans’ with an old girlfriend once and encountering a guy who was reading the back of a box containing gluten-free brownie mix and she gave him a glowing review of the brownies…at which time the guy said, “well…thanks so much for that unsolicited review“.
(Possibly the most suburban Philly thing anyone ever said in my presence, and it has lived on in countless retellings since.)
But now, I can’t be that guy anymore.
Whether I like it or not, I have to view the world through the same paranoid lens of the guy expecting to encounter some vague terrorist if he leaves the house to walk his dog, and that’s just not me.
But COVID demands that I become that guy as a means of survival.
And I think THAT’S the thing that’s been wearing on me the most amidst this mess.
I’m OK, friends.
I’m lucky, in some respects. I mean, we’ve gone from a three income household to a one income household, and we have the same struggles that other families do.
But I’m hoping this crippling fear subsides on the other side.
I had just come home from a west coast Poco show in Modesto, CA late the night before, and got up to go to work on Monday – so I was tired, but I stayed up in front of my computer screen writing anyway. Danny had been asleep for a couple hours already by then, and I was uploading photos from my phone onto my laptop and replying to messages. It had been raining, and there’d been quite a bit of lightning as I was considering calling it a night.
But when the alerts went off simultaneously on the phones, I picked mine up to see a tornado warning on my screen.
As I was opening Twitter to scan the Nashville Severe Weather account, I heard the siren go off – the one that blares on the first Saturday of every month at noon, the one that we’re all so collectively accustomed to ignoring. But…the phone…the siren…and the ominous feed from Twitter were conspiring to relay a pretty sinister message.
Shit was about to get real.
I don’t know that we even debated going to the basement, I just said that I’d go get Danny out of bed…that might’ve been the comic highlight of the night: waking up a ten year old after midnight to tell him that we were going to the basement. He didn’t verbally ask if I’d been drinking, but the expression on his face as it sank in that I’d jolted him from a deep sleep to report to the basement in the middle of the night…that kinda said it in so many words.
When we went downstairs, Carley (Dylan’s girlfriend) was still awake as well – she actually had the window open in their basement apartment, and it was immediately creepy to me how still it was outside, considering what I’d observed for most of the night.
This was real. This was happening.
We were hiding in the basement underneath a tornado that was sweeping across our neighborhood, ripping houses open, depositing the splinters of houses it had already destroyed into other people’s yards, tearing open buildings, leaving dumpsters in the middle of the street, and ripping down electrical poles and tearing power lines loose and leaving them lying in the street.
My work phone began dinging with alerts of various network circuits around the city falling silent – most notably among them a job at ground zero of the tornados’ path in Germantown.
When the damage was done, some six hundred of those poles would fall to the ground (compared to less than 200 in the 1998 tornado), and a path of destruction from Bordeaux and Germantown, North Nashville across our East Nashville neighborhood and through FivePoints and literally right down Main Street – then east to Mount Juliet and off to Cookeville, where the death toll was highest.
Over two dozen people were dead, more physically injured…and even more left to pick up the pieces of what had been a relatively normal life on an average Monday night that was no different than most others – until it was. Not yet knowing any of this, we came back upstairs to bed – all three of us in the master bedroom where we slept somewhat fitfully, drifting off and then waking up at the slightest sound or flash of light that might indicate that it wasn’t over yet – when the sun came up, our house on Rosebank Avenue, near Cornelia Fort Airpark, looked exactly as it would have on the first Tuesday of a given month – our trash cans were still standing upright and unmolested on the curb, waiting for pickup.
But less than a mile away, a lot of our neighbors had it much worse than we did.
My daughter Jayda, who was my hero long before any of this happened, was on the other end of the phone via text when everything took place on Monday night. But while we tried to sleep to prepare for the next day, Jayda assembled a bunch of her co-workers from Margot Cafe (one of the pillars of the Five Points neighborhood) and marched down there within an hour of the storm to assess the damage – and they stayed there for several hours, cleaning up debris and commisserating with their co-workers – and, in Jayda’s words, “walking around the streets in shock, feeling like we were in a war zone.”
Social media reacted quickly, as did Nashville – word spread to stay off the streets, to make room for emergency vehicles…when I fell asleep a few hours before, I had no real idea of the extent of the damage.
Not long after we crawled out of bed, the picture became much clearer…and quickly.
I got out of bed shortly after 7am, and came straight into my office and booted up my work laptop and logged onto the VPN so I could start assessing our situation – Wendy was scrolling through photos from her Facebook and Twitter feed, and the bleakness of the aftermath was already pretty apparent. The most public beating fell onto Five Points, home to Jayda’s Margot, Five Points Pizza, the bike shop, Fanny’s House of Music, Burger Up, Woodland Wine, and – heartbreakingly, the historic Woodland Sound Studios…the historic room where the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded their landmark “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” album, among others. Woodland had suffered some extensive damage during the 1998 tornado, and there was litigation in the aftermath of that storm, over 20 years ago, that almost resulted in erasing its existence. But it was eventually resurrected by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and was open and operational when this tornado swept through last week.
Woodland lost most of its roof in this tornado, but the building and its walls remained intact – and, in Jayda’s words, “Woodland probably saved the building where Margot stands…if that building wasn’t there, Margot might be gone.”
Both my work and personal phones got a serious workout – folks from all over the country were checking on us to make sure we were ok, and as we were reporting to everyone else that we’d survived intact, with no damage or injury, the news was beginning to come in from the neighborhood as to the extent of how badly our neighbors had been hit.
Survivor Guilt – it’s a thing.
I worked mostly from my desk on Tuesday, taking phone calls and going through the motions in something of a daze as I started monitoring the extent of what was happening only a mile or so up Rosebank Avenue or up Porter Road from where I was sitting.
The rest of the week, I ended up in the car – both going to the office and checking on jobsites to survey the extent of the damage. As of this writing, almost a week later, one of our sites is still without internet service and has resorted to using hotspots on their individual mobile phones to work. Still, folks are waiting for electricity, waiting for water – when the sun goes down, entire neighborhoods fall dark.
No streetlights, no traffic signals, no light emanating from the houses that line the streets. Just an eerie, unsettling quiet.
But the folks in these neighborhoods have outpaced the municipal tradesmen and utility workers in their work to restore their town.
Volunteers who’ve shown up in town have been driving up and down the streets of affected neighborhoods with messages scrawled on their vehicles, offering tools, chainsaws, food and water – streets have been cleared by the townsfolk while the authorities waited for municipal workers to get to some of the streets in outlying areas.
Jayda and her co-workers at Margot hosted a neighborhood cookout roughly 48 hours after the tornado came through – she’d been working almost straight through to help folks dig out from under the damage, and she was there that afternoon to help with getting set up for the event. I brought her Danny’s bass amp to use to play music through for the party, and she was a sight to behold – her eyes were tired, but she was a whirlwind. There were HUNDREDS of people in the street, standing and talking to one another in the midst of random wires and shards of glass, downed transformers and the tops of poles lying in the parking lot of the convenience store at one corner of the Five Points intersection that gives that part of the neighborhood its name.
I stayed long enough to say hello to some of the folks that I hadn’t seen since Thanksgiving and to behold the miracle of humanity that is Jayda’s Margot community – and what they were able to give to their neighbors, their customers, and their friends in a dark moment of collective vulnerability.
And this was ONE moment that I saw with my own two eyes, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this was repeated time and time again in the aftermath of a random tear in the fabric of mother nature only days ago.
This city has, out of necessity, built an emotional exoskeleton that has survived floods and tornadoes out of its own stubborn southern willpower.
Nashville rebuilt in 1998.
It rebuilt again in 2011.
It is rebuilding – yet again – as we speak.
I don’t know that living through this week has made Nashville “home” to me…I’ve come to somewhat uneasy terms with the fact that my own personal notion of “home” will likely elude me for the rest of my life at this point. I don’t say this from a place of sadness…I’m a wanderer. I was born this way, and it’s who I am.
But witnessing this has given me cause to feel part of something that’s bigger than me.
Exchanging texts, offering refrigerator space to musician buddies who live a few streets away, picking up and dropping off stuff for folks – it’s what I’ve been able to do between showing up for work, navigating jobsites, and finding my way home to hide from the world when the sun goes down.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself in the midst of all this.
Watching footage of things like this on the news is a temporary shock in a way that probably only exists for generations of the past half century or so. We see footage on the evening news of a flood like Joplin, Missouri or a hurricane on the scale of Andrew or Katrina or good old Superstorm Sandy (which we lived through in the Philadelphia suburbs – I stayed up all night while Wendy and Danny slept to keep watch, and didn’t even hear the giant tree in our back yard in Havertown splinter and fall to the ground…some sentinel I am) – we see these things as they happen, and they vanish as our attention span banishes them to make room for the next thing that demands our attention.
We consider the death toll, we peruse the images and mourn the dead, we consider the factors around the event (in the case of something like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing), but they seldom impact us personally in the same way that something like what’s taken place here, this week, will if it ever happens to you.
Why, you might ask?
How would it come to pass that something like the 9/11 bombings might be less impactful, less consequential than a tornado in a random southern town?
Because we live here.
Because this city is where we live and die, laugh and cry, live out the days of our lives.
The houses where we spent random afternoons are now broken.
There are landmarks that we drove by every day on the way to work or school or church that have been erased.
And there’s no commercial break, no remote to reach for to change the channel.
The Music City Cleaners building just off Rosa Parks? Very nearly leveled.
And it’ll still be shattered tomorrow when you drive past it.
And the next day…and the day after that.
And they may rebuild it, but it’s not coming back – not the way it was.
That’s where the real shock to our systems sets in.
Looking around us at the things we’re confronted with in these situations only serves to drive home the realization that everything around us sits on shifting sands.
In normal times, that can be easy to ignore…but in times of crisis, it’s impossible to ignore.
So – here we all sit, among the ruins of what existed only a few days ago, taking stock of our blessings and considering the basic notion of how fortunate we are to still be here, to be among those who are rebuilding as opposed to those who’ve lost so much more than we have.
But there are warriors and fighters among us who refuse to let us slip away, and Nashville is once again availing itself of the opportunity to lift one another up – and it’s a miracle to behold.
I was born and raised in Tennessee, and turned my back on it as a young man.
I went out into the world and set down roots elsewhere – I started a family a thousand miles from where I was born.
I reinvented myself and left this chapter out of the identity I created within my adopted circumstances.
(this was from a Facebook post from a year ago today, and perhaps more true now than it was then.)
…religion – ALL religion, regardless of denomination – amplifies who you are as a person. it’s a channel through which your natural inclinations are shown to your fellow man. if you’re cut from kind, loving, charitable stock, then you’ll find inspiration from your faith to escalate your game in that direction.
conversely, the same is true if you’re someone who walks the earth with a chip on your shoulder, full of hostility and general disdain for your fellow man. If you’re a hateful person, you’ll use your faith or your religion as a crutch or a banner to propogate and spread your hatred and fear of anyone who doesn’t hate the same people you hate.
Whether it’s ISIS or the Westboro Baptist Church, the latter scenario is true across the board with all of them.
People who are inclined to hate will do it in the name of their chosen higher power, because they find absolution in it. It frees them from personal responsibility for their own character.
It’s not Islam, specifically, that we need to be worried about. It’s the alarming rise in population of people who only know how to hate each other. And they exist EVERYWHERE, in every color and creed.
And there are more in your own backyard, dressed like you, speaking the same language as you, going to the same church as you…than you may want to realize.
Blame religion, blame guns, blame politicians, whatever gets you through the night…but our downfall will be our failure to simply see our fellow man through a different lens – and choose kindness over hate and exclusion.
so there’s been an announcement that Al Franken intends to address the public at some point tomorrow.
Hi, Al – just in case your speechwriters were maybe hitting a wall, I went ahead and wrote up a little somethin’ for you to consider incorporating into your remarks.
My fellow Americans…
You see before you a man who, on a lark nearly a decade ago, did something stupid, insensitive and just plain wrong.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’re seeing an awful lot of guys who have done stupid, insensitive and wrong things regarding their treatment of the opposite sex lately, and regrettably, I’m one of them.
If there’s a silver lining to this maelstrom of courage that’s swept up our victims this past few months, I’d say it’s this – it’s given us an opportunity to have open, frank discussions about gender, harrassment, and shame in this country.
Tonight, I’d like to focus a bit on the latter.
Friends, you are living in a parody of a once-great country, a Nation Upside Down and at war with itself…a war being fought largely via a tidal wave of hypocrisy, and this issue is no different.
I don’t come before you today to argue that the scrutiny of my actions has been unwarranted – rather, I want to remind you that ALL of us – Democrat, Republican and Undeclared – are willing participants in the most staggering double standard in modern political history, where the notion of scrutiny is concerned.
I would remind you that the very people calling for my resignation are supporting the candidacy of a pedophile to take office in the same legislative body that I’m currently a part of.
I would remind you that my colleague, John Conyers, just resigned from Congress for the same offenses that Blake Farenthold is accused of, and Mr. Farenthold’s repentance is comprised of cutting a check to reimburse the $84,000 settlement that American taxpayers paid on his behalf…and oddly, no one seems to give a rats’ ass about his transgressions, if media coverage is any indicator.
I would remind you that just last year, sixty two million Americans went to the polls after hearing their candidate brag about “grabbing women by the pussy” and throw their vote behind him anyway…and I would submit to you that those are the very people who are currently calling for my head on a spike.
I am not defending my actions, nor am I asking that you overlook my behavior – but if you’re willing to be truly honest with yourselves, you cannot ignore the fact that, at present, WE ONLY SEEM TO DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY FROM DEMOCRATS.
Let me say that again, so that you have a moment to let it sink in….
WE ONLY DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY FROM DEMOCRATS.
We are currentlly less than a week away from a historic election, in which an accused pedophile may very well be seated in the United States Senate. The Majority Leader of that body voted in favor of Bill Clintons’ impeachment twenty years ago, but his moral position seems to be considerably more flexible all these years later, as he’s all in for the guy. Jeff Sessions also voted for impeachment, but he’s clearly possessed of the same selective integrity as the other leaders of his party. John McCain, Richard Shelby, Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley…all found their voices to condemn a sitting President two decades ago, but now – with a man sitting in the Oval Office carrying the accusations of over a dozen women of the same sins I have publicly confessed before you, they have fallen silent.
I will say again – what I did was wrong.
But I didn’t jump through hoops to distract, deny, or otherwise obstruct the words of my accuser…I issued an immediate apology, and I called for an Ethics Committee investigation the day the incident came to light.
In other words, while I can’t change what happened, I’ve done everything in my power to own it and be a man about it, before God, my family, and my constituents.
Where others who stand accused of similar – and much worse – are concerned, I seem to be in the minority in that regard, and you know it.
And I know you know it.
So to those who have steadfastly called for my resignation, I stand before you today to say to you:
Either spread it accordingly amongst your own kind, or just go the fuck away.
There WILL be an Ethics Committee investigation. My fate will be decided after a thorough review of the facts involved in my case.
In the meantime, I would ask those of you who keep parroting the notion that “the people of Alabama should decide” whether or not a pedophile can be a senator or not to kindly go fuck yourself before weighing in on the future of my political career.
In less than two weeks, Roy Moore will be the newest member of the United States Senate.
Why? Because he’s exactly what the people of Alabama, and the nation, deserve.
Now of course, you’re reading this, and you’re already offended, because if you’re a person who runs in the same circles as I do, you’re not someone who traffics in the same ideologies that people like Roy Moore does…you’re a generally tolerant person who puts a lot of stock in “live and let live”, you don’t trade in hatred, in bigotry, in sexism, in demonizing people based on race or religion…you understand that the constitution was actually written to enforce freedom of religion, and you don’t twist that principle to leverage Christianity over other faiths or practices.
And that means that you, like myself, are in the electoral minority in this country.
Sure, we all know that there’s a huge unrepresented ghost-herd of “reasonable disconnected citizens” out there who don’t hate people, but also don’t vote, don’t participate in the process, and as such – don’t COUNT…because they’re unwitting participants in the rise to power of unrepentant assclowns like Roy Moore.
Let’s be clear, here….political scandal is NOT a new thing.
But the vast majority of scandals past ended predictably – with the ensuing publicity resulting in resignations (Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Tom DeLay, etc.) and occasionally jail time (William Jefferson, Duke Cunningham, and the like). There have been the odd outliers who managed to escape any real electoral scrutiny after coming out on the other side of various scandals, but – until very, VERY recently, they seemed to be – by far – the exception rather than the rule.
We’ve entered a new age, though.
We’ve entered the Age Of Zero Accountability here…where you can publicly rape and pillage as long as you have an R after your name and walk the streets unmolested.
Now, we have assholes like Scott DesJarlais, who managed to get re-elected by a horde of trailer dwellers in East Tennessee after a laundry list of shitty behavior. For those of you who are old enough to remember this past summer, there’s Greg Gianforte – who was elected LITERALLY THE NEXT FUCKING DAY after being brought up on assault charges for physically attacking a reporter…and first lying about it, but being disproven by an audio recording of the attack. (some of you who actually bother to watch the news may remember the “man on the street” soundbites of folks who said that the fact he went at Ben Jacobs actually made them MORE likely to vote for Gianforte.) And, hey – if you remember that, you probably remember the good folks of Georgia electing human cardboard cutout Karen Handel after famously telling her potential constituents that she “did not support a living wage”.
You see, we don’t punish our lawmakers for wrongdoing now, and – shit, even WORSE – we reward garbage humans with seats on Capitol Hill in light of incontrovertible evidence of shitty behavior.
Alabama, the state currently in question, actually has a colorful recent history of rewarding shitty behavior in lawmakers – their state Speaker of the House, Michael Hubbard, was famously brought up on two dozen counts of corruption prior to election day and – guess what – he won re-election. Oh, and not only that – once re-elected, he was given his old Speaker job back by his fellow lawmakers WHILE AWAITING TRIAL.
Then, of course, there’s Robert Bentley, the gross, Viagra-popping, secretary-groping, dirty-talkin’ Governor who got caught on tape saying some truly creepy shit to the object of his affection. Oh, and due to the politically exquisite timing of that particular shitstorm, it turns out that there was a Senate seat to name someone to – what with perennial Disney Bad Guy Jeff Sessions becoming Attorney General and all. So Governor SexyTalk named his Attorney General, Luther Strange (no, you really CAN’T make shit like that up) to replace Sessions on Capitol Hill…mere moments after he managed to squelch impeachment proceedings against Bentley in his capacity as state Attorney General.
So you see, that’s how shit works now.
We are a nation of knuckle-dragging, Budweiser-swilling intellectual midgets who are not just unafraid, but PROUD to reward garbage humans at the ballot box. And in the Gilded Age of Trump, all bets are off.
Beat up a reporter? You Win.
Fuck a mannequin out of wedlock while your terminally ill wife is dying of cancer, all while leading a good old torches and pitchforks revolt against a sitting president for a less shitty plot of your own story?
Arrange for an abortion for your mistress while running on a staunch pro-life position?
Two Dozen Counts of Corruption?
Alabama, it’s not as if it’s a choice between two similar fucking shades of grey, here.
You’re not choosing between two similar mindsets who have slightly different outlooks on intricate legislative points…two guys who are both shitty but maybe one is slightly less shitty than the other.
There is ZERO nuance involved here.
You’re literally choosing between a fucking nutjob whos’ been thrown off the bench not once, but TWICE – for failing to enforce constitutional law. A dude who, even BEFORE the truly shitty stuff started coming out recently, was ALREADY a drastically awful candidate – but in light of his fondness for teenage girls and getting banned from the mall and all the avalanche of crap that’s come out lately, it’s as if the cherry on top of the whipped cream somehow actually became the entire fucking sundae….
…you’re choosing between that guy and a lawyer with decades of prosecutorial experience fighting for the people of your state, to include actually sending members of the Klan to jail for bombing a church and killing four children.
You’re literally being asked to choose between John McClain and Hans Gruber, and you’re charging to the polls yelling “Yippie Ki-aaaaay, Motherfucker!” in a German accent.
In two weeks, Doug Jones will join Jon Ossoff and Merrick Garland on the sidelines to watch the final chapter of this shitstorm run its course towards swallowing up our democracy…and we’ll deserve every sad, ridiculous, avoidable landmine that we collectively step on.
I know you’re tired of reading and hearing about this shit. So am I.
But whatever you might think of Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys, or the NFL – they taught us all something last night. Brought this whole thing into focus, if you will.
Less than 24 hours after stating in a nationally televised interview that he didn’t think it was appropriate to make such statements, Jerry Jones walked onto the field with his players and coaches to collectively take a knee…
…BEFORE the anthem played.
Then, after their gesture, they all stood for the National Anthem – to a chorus of boos from the spectators.
So in one fell swoop, America’s Team has proven once and for all that Conservative America’s Collective Butthurt over this issue really doesn’t have shit to do with respecting the flag or the Anthem at all.
If the solemn ritual of standing for the Anthem is so sacred, I’d think you’d be moved to stand there quiety and STFU during the process…and maybe, oh, I dunno…not boo the players? Show the reverence and respect that all your pseudo-patriotic posturing would demand at the very moment that you claim to demand it?
But no…go ahead and release your inner redneck and boo.
Because that’s where The Tell lies in the first place.
None of this is about the song, the flag, the troops, the game…none of that shit was ever the issue.
The issue is that you can’t stand any reminder that the America that you live in IN YOUR HEAD isn’t the America that’s real – or even available – to all its citizens.
You want to continue to let all those propaganda slogans play on a loop in your head and delude yourself with all that “we’re the greatest” bullshit while the fact remains that – as was so famously pointed out by Jeff Daniels’ Will McAvoy character in the now-viral clip from HBO’s “The Newsroom” – we lead the world in only two categories: The number of incarcerated citizens per capita and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 nations combines, 25 of which are allies.
The fact that black men are routinely shot dead by police with nearly zero repercussions doesn’t fit in with your fantasy of America, and you HATE being reminded of it, so you don’t want to hear about it on Game Day, you don’t want to hear the Hollywood Elite remind you of it at the Oscars, you don’t want to hear about it from artists and musicians…you want all the ugly shit to go away, unless it’s Ted Nugent inviting a sitting President to suck on his machine gun – that, of course, is just fine.
So man up. Admit, for once, that there’s no such thing as an acceptable means of protest for you, because you’re part of the problem and not the solution. Show the world an honest representation of who you are. Tell them honestly that you don’t really give a shit about the plight of victims of unprecedented police brutality.
Tell them that you think all those dirty Occupy hippies oughtta get a job because you don’t want to be reminded that you’re working for next to nothing while leeches like Steve Mnuchin are getting rich and then rubbing it in your face from the leather seat of a private, taxpayer funded jet.
Have the balls to say to man and God alike that – yeah, I eat Pringles on my sofa while the Anthem plays, but the last goddamn thing I want to be reminded of on Sundays is the fact that somewhere in America, probably not far from where my patriotic ass is planted, there’s a racially profiled traffic stop that’s about to end with shots being fired.
Because when you go Super Saiyan Snowflake Butthurt over this, you’re essentially saying exactly that, anyway.
Hurricanes that show up more often than my paycheck.
Cops in St. Louis behaving like fucking Nicaraguan rebels, mowing down people of color without any consequence and then having tear-gas parades to celebrate not guilty verdicts.
American Lawmakers that blatantly look you in the eye and tell you they’re gonna fuck you, because the Koch Organization is taking their allowance away if they don’t.
People overdosing on heroin in McDonald’s restrooms.
a POTUS incapable of basic conversational English.
Armies of zombified idiots on social media repeating talking points from their Sean Hannity flashcards that they bought on Breitbart without even knowing WTF they’re talking about half the time.
Lately, it’s getting harder and harder to get outta bed in the morning.
But – there are blessings to count…a late night phone call from my firstborn last night that lasted into the wee hours of the morning…watching my oldest son grow up to be a better man that I could have hoped to have been at his age…and an 8 year old that refuses to let me remain in a bad mood for very long.
I veer back and forth from one side of the highway to the other at a manic pace lately, where music is concerned – one day, I’m ready to take on half a dozen new projects and dig into everything with both hands, but more often than not of late it takes actual effort to even bother to pick up an instrument. I can’t lay that at the feet of any one thing, but it’s real, and it’s demanding, lately, that I make up my damned mind and either shit or get off the pot.
My Instagram feed is a pretty solid indicator, when I look back over posts and see eight or nine pics of Danny to every photo from a gig or a session or something else similarly musical…and the thing that probably frightens me about that is the fact that…it doesn’t really bother me that much. As recently as a few years ago, that would’ve kept me up nights. But nowadays, it seems like there’s a hell of a lot more dangerous shit to worry about than whether I have a gig or not.
One of the things Jayda and I discussed last night was creating a place away from the chaos and the madness where you can feel protected from the bullshit of the outside world…and I’m not sure I’ve ever allowed myself the benefit of something like that, because my ghosts follow me everywhere I go. She and I are a lot alike in that regard, but she’s got a better handle on it than I do, I think.
I have a lot of miles on my odometer. I’ve done some pretty cool shit in my life, and I’ve made some boneheaded mistakes, too. Some days, I’m pretty certain that I’ve been an asshole more often than not, and I’m pretty sure there are plenty of you who’d agree with me. A lot of you are folks that I’ve had the pleasure of riding the road with, of spending time with in person, of getting to know beyond seeing photos of your pets and your dinner on the screen of my computer…and my life is certainly the richer for it.
Y’all keep the odometer moving, and enjoy the miles as best as you can.
The world is a crazy fuckin’ place. Don’t hide from it. Go out and make it the RIGHT kind of crazy.
Is it more scary if I shout it over and over again? Try to make it sound intimidating?
In case you haven’t gotten the memo, ANTIFA is the new right-wing boogeyman…the new dog whistle that’s supposed to give them an easy label to slap on everyone who disagrees with them. It’s all over social media…I even had some nutjob try to tell me last night that Rachel Maddow was “Anti FA” (sic).
If you’re “of a certain age”, you’ve seen this movie before.
“ANTIFA” is the new “SOCIALIST”, which was the new “LIBERAL” – brought to you by that political genius Lee Atwater, who made Willie Horton famous almost thirty years ago.
The thing that ends up being lost on the folks for whom these false flag labels are such delicious fodder is that – well, yeah…the irony is almost comical.
“ANTIFA” is a chopped label for “Anti-Fascist”…I’ll leave it to you and Google to determine whether that’s a label someone should be ashamed of. As for me – I’m not gonna lose any sleep over being labelled “Antifa” by a social media troll.
Before that – remember how “Socialist” used to be the slur of choice? That one was especially delicious coming from folks who were on Medical Assistance, Food Stamps, Welfare or some other form of Government-provided aid…using the word “Socialist” as a term of derision for those with whom they had some form of political disagreement with, while benefitting from the very definition of the word.
And of course, there was “Liberal” – which came into fashion as a derogatory term for us softies on the left during the Bush-Dukakis race in 1988 and eventually subsided in the shadow of newer, less rationally explainable terms in its wake.
To wear the label of Liberalism as some form of shame was handed off to the media in the backfield at that point in time, and some of them are still running with that ball, all these years later. Somehow, a few suits in front of news cameras managed to spread the notion that “Liberals” were somehow inferior, and in the wake of the Reagan Fever that swept America in the eighties, a lot of basic notions were forgotten.
Somewhere along the way, folks managed to conflate “Liberal and Conservative” with “Democrat and Republican” – they forgot all about the tectonic shifts that took place during the Civil Rights era and Nixon’s subsequent Southern Strategy – and how Republicans inherited the Conservative mantle as the Dixiecrats of old died off or were replaced in Congress.
But “Liberal” and “Conservative”? Those have always been pretty accurate labels.
Now, I’m not ranting with the direct purpose of slandering Conservatives, because – where traditional Conservatism is concerned, anyway – on the surface, the two terms are nothing more than labels for differing political viewpoints. Blonde and Brunette. City Slicker and Country Boy. Punks and Mods. Jocks and Nerds. Liberals and Conservatives.
And it likely would’ve remained within that echelon until someone decided to try to weaponize the word “Liberal” and make it derogatory…and the world played along.
But, y’know – I’m sorry, but I ain’t playin’ that shit.
Call me a Liberal all day, every day. I’m happy to wear that label.
It’s tempting to rehash the laundry list of instances where Liberals fought for, bled for, and – in some cases, DIED for many of the things we take for granted nowadays…from voting and civil rights to the 40 hour work week. But if you care about that at all, you know that already – and if you don’t, you won’t care now, either.
So call me Liberal. Or “Socialist”. Or “Antifa” if you want.
Because all you’re doing is publicly telling the world that you’re declaring yourself to be on the wrong side of history.