Okay, here’s another test. I recorded this first video and posted it on YouTube back in 2008 when my first novel, The Energy Caper, or Nixon in the Sky with Diamonds, had just come out. YouTube was new back then and I thought maybe a YouTube show with me doing my thing would help promote the book and maybe interest musicians in recording some of my songs. The tune is directly related to the novel in that they both deal with the consequences of making the cultivation of hemp illegal.
It’s now eight years later and my new novel, Luck of the Draw, is about to be let loose on the world and this blog/website is my attempt publicize it. There are are couple of songs in it (a main character is an amateur songwriter) that I’ll be posting on YouTube so the reader can check out what they sound like (as opposed to just reading the lyrics). Sorry I don’t have that together yet as I haven’t touched a guitar or set up my video stuff in a couple of years.
As the publication date gets closer (June 6, 2016, the 50th anniversary of my graduation from high school!) I’ll set up and get my guitar-playing calluses back. The reader, when clicking to watch me do them, will have to use his or her imagination to visualize a much younger (45 years!) and better musician performing them in the context of the story. Until then, here’s my attempt to put the stupidity of the war in Vietnam into what I consider its true historical perspective.
(Note: this was recorded just prior to the 2008 presidential election so I do some commentary on that in this as well.)
I mentioned in my first blog post a month ago that I’m in a class on How to Use Social Media in which everybody is trying to figure out the mechanics of Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, etc. We’re all using WordPress, which has a quick blogging tool called PressThis that I _thought_ republishes content and a link directly to my own blog, but I wasn’t sure what would happen when I was on somebody else’s blog and hit the Publish button. Testing it on this particular blog seemed like a public service since most people reading my blog probably sit on their butts far too long every day and these Desk Yoga stretches will help. Enjoy your new stretches!
Desk Yoga: Five Great Stretches
How many hours do you sit at a desk each day? Long commute to work? Did you make it to the gym this morning? Will there be time after work? Whether or not you have found the time to get some exe…
Source: Desk Yoga: Five Great Stretches
It’s interesting that so many religious evangelicals are backing Trump, such as the son of Jerry Falwell, Jerry Jr., and the son of Billy Graham, Franklin (both of whom, like Trump, inherited lucrative empires from their fathers). What with his multiple wives, each one younger and hotter than the last, and his hedonistic gambling casinos one would think that True Believers in “family values” would be appalled at jumping into bed with the likes of a sinner like Trump, but there they are. As to his own beliefs, Trump has said he grew up as a Presbyterian, and a few weeks ago, when he was attacking Ben Carson for the strange beliefs of Seventh Day Adventists, he said you can’t get any more mainstream than Presbyterians.
Now it so happens that I too was baptized as a Presbyterian, a denomination founded in the 1550’s in Scotland, the land from which both Trump and I derive much of our heritage. The dour Scots took the ideas of the Protestant Reformation much more seriously than most other peoples. The denomination was started by the fiery preacher, John Knox, who hung around with John Calvin in Geneva discussing theology before returning and converting most of Scotland to their way of thinking. Those original Presbyterians firmly believed in the doctrine of “predestination,” which to me helps explain why Trump doesn’t know his John from his Genesis. For example, Trump, in a speech at Falwell’s Liberty University, was touting his Biblical knowledge when he rhetorically asked the crowd: “I hear this is a major theme here, ‘Two Corinthians,’ right? Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ball game.” The crowd, which knows the famous phrase as “Second Corinthians,” laughed at Trump’s Biblical ignorance but still gave him a big ovation.
So just what is a Presbyterian? Well, the Presbyterians, along with the Puritans, were among the very first to enlist in the “war on Christmas” five-hundred years before Fox News coined the term. Those stern Calvinists condemned the extravagances of both Christmas and Easter celebrations for being idolatrous, paganish, and popish. Scotland did not officially acknowledge that Christmas was even a holiday until 1950.
The way I interpret the theology, Presbyterians don’t have to actually GO to church, though if you do go religiously you are probably one of the “Elect.” There are no guarantees of course, but if you make it to old age and are faithfully attending every Sunday it’s a strong sign that YOU will get to hang out with Him in Heaven. A second strong sign that you’re one of the Elect is financial success, because having plenty of money is proof that God has chosen you.
This blog began as a way of promoting my new novel, Luck of the Draw, but my time and attention have been diverted by Trump and I’m getting behind on preparations for the official publication date. Last November I’d set the date for June, six months away but several weeks before I had the idea for Trumpie bumperstickers. Now it’s almost April and about all I’ve done novelwise is to attend a writers’ conference consisting of three days of presentations on using social media and “speed dating” with agents and editors. I learned a lot, including tons of tips on how to promote a novel, the single most important being that a website is essential no matter how many accounts a writer may have on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or whatever.
But back to Trump. In the last week there have been a lot of developments, what with Trump and Cruz and/or their campaigns and SuperPacs having crawled even deeper into the gutter with slurs and slimes and smears on each other’s wives. And now there’s a petition to allow wingnuts to “open carry” inside the convention itself. Something like 30,000 have already signed an online petition demanding that guns be allowed inside so that conventioneers aren’t “sitting ducks” for terrorists. Great idea. Trumpies and Cruzies both packing heat. What could possibly go wrong?
Perhaps this is a good place to tell the story of my first day as a radio talk-show host. It was about three years ago, and I thought I’d give being a radio guy a try on our local low-power, all-volunteer station. I figured that as the creator and host of The Know Show I’d spend an hour a week talking about politics and taking questions as a kind of anti-Rush Limbaugh. It could be fun.
A day or so before my first show one of the many mass-shootings was all over the news (I forget which one it was as there have been so many). I’d written a song titled “Blow the NRA Away” back in 1993 after another such incident. At that time there was a group wingnuts calling themselves the “Michigan militia” who were traipsing around the northern woods in camouflage gear waiting for Bill Clinton’s black helicopters to swoop in and try to take away their Army toys. Since then every time another massacre occurred I’d send tapes (and later Mp3s) out to radio stations and sing it at open-mics in hopes of insinuating it into the public consciousness. Although I got good responses singing it live, I was never able to get it on any radio station.
But now I had my own show, albeit on a tiny station where you never know whether anybody is really out there listening. The very first thing I did on that very first show was talk about the latest mass shooting, then I played the song. When it was over I gave out the station’s phone number and asked listeners to call in.
Look out Cleveland! It looks like you’re going to have a contested convention, and the No Trump Zone is here to help. It could be a lot of fun, or it could get ugly, like Chicago in ‘68 when a “police riot” against what had been peaceful anti-war demonstrations was applauded by Richard Nixon and the anti-hippie backlash that resulted probably made the difference that got him elected. If Trump is denied the nomination, and it is Trumpies who descend on the city with baseball bats instead of hippies with flowers, will Governor Kasich call out the Ohio National Guard?
The last time the Ohio Guard made the news in a big way was in 1970 when they killed four anti-war protesters at Kent State, a stone’s throw from Cleveland, after it was revealed that Nixon was widening the war by secretly and illegally bombing the hell out of Cambodia. I remember it well as I was a college senior from nearby Western Pennsylvania and had been to KSU several times for parties and had friends who were in school there. Classes were cancelled for weeks as protests shut down hundreds of colleges all across the country, including my classes at Penn State. What happened if classes were totally cancelled and guys like me didn’t have enough credits to graduate? Nobody knew. (I have a fictionalized account of what that was like in my forthcoming novel, Luck of the Draw.) I wish somebody in the press or at a town hall would ask Trump what he was doing at the time. Was he protesting, or celebrating? He said he didn’t think John McCain was a hero because he’d been shot down and taken prisoner and therefore wasn’t a “winner.” Unlike me, Trump had already dodged the draft by then so he had nothing to worry about. Chances are high that he was a proud chickenhawk, happy to let others fight and die while he cavorted around Manhattan on his daddy’s millions.
I’ve read that the Cleveland police have requisitioned 2,000 sets of riot gear. Looking at the photo of a phalanx of police in full gear that accompanied the story it is apparent that today’s cops are way more armored than I was back in 1971 when I took riot-control training in Military Police School at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Army MPs didn’t have the fancy face protector and what look like shin guards: we just had our steel-pot helmets with big white MP letters on them, an aluminum shield, a .45, a gas mask, and the MP’s best friend, his “baton,” which everybody else but the US Army calls a billy club or nightstick.
That whole area, the heartland of industrial America, has had it rough for the past four decades, especially the smaller cities between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, like my home town of New Castle, which is roughly halfway between the two and part of the metropolitan Youngstown area that includes Warren on the Ohio side of the state line and New Castle, Sharon and Farrell on the Pennsylvania side. Nashville proudly calls itself the “Buckle of the Bible Belt,” but this part of America could arguably be called the “Buckle of the Rust Belt,” though things seem to be getting better over the past several years every time I go back.
In some ways the Cleveland area has taken it on the chin even worse than Pittsburgh, which at least has had the psychological boost from the Steelers as the mills shut down and things fell apart, whereas the sorry saga of the Browns has dispirited Cleveland since the days of the great Jim Brown. And now they’ve just dumped their latest savior, Johnny Football, for partying way too hard. As a Steeler fan I almost feel sorry for my friends who are Browns fans. Almost.
The point is that I have a lot of old friends and acquaintances scattered throughout the area, some of whom may have evolved into Trumpies. Listening to Rush and watching Fox can do that to you, and it is the type of area where Trump is doing well. But I’m hoping most of the people I’ve known have remained mainstream Republicans of the old Eisenhower variety I grew up with, or are Independents or Democrats to varying degrees. So here’s an opportunity for everybody who is not a Trumpie to join hands to keep the peace in Cleveland and stop Trump by using graphics and bumper stickers with a touch of humor. Perhaps problems can be avoided if Trumpies can learn to laugh at themselves?
Here’s the idea: When the delegates are chauffered in from the airport they are greeted with billboards like Play Nice, Don’t Be a TRUMPiE, with the friendly puppy and kitty.
Perhaps it will make them think before they decide NOT to play nice. It’s worth a try. Then there’s the T-shirts. If half the population of Cleveland is decked out in apparel with the official No Trump Zone sign the Trumpies will think twice about trying anything. Bullies don’t like it when they’re outnumbered.
But the idea I like best is using the small stickers for guerilla operations. For $4.95 a sheet of twenty can go a long way to making a great anti-Trump campaign. Think about it: What if these little stickers suddenly appeared all over town, on doorways and street signs and bathroom stalls and cash registers, everywhere a delegate or a protester might go? It wouldn’t take a very big team of people to put a sticker in the restrooms, doors, and elevators in every hotel and restaurant in greater Cleveland.
I have some limited experience in such things. Back in 1964 I was sixteen, a junior in high school, and had received my driver’s license only a few months before. It was a presidential election year, and my family was very Republican. In those days New Castle was a heavily Democratic town, so one night I got a stack of Goldwater bumper stickers, the ones that spelled out his name as a chemical compound, and drove around town secretly putting the AuH2O stickers similar to the one here on top of any Johnson bumper stickers I saw.
It didn’t work as Goldwater lost in a blowout, but it did make me feel good. Or at least adolescently mischievous. Boy was I an idiot back then.
The idea of plastering Cleveland with No Trump Zone signs and Don’t Be a Trumpie bumper stickers and billboards strikes me as an effective way to mute the worst instincts of the Trumpies. My hope is to embarrass them before they have a chance to embarrass themselves.
For establishment Republicans (you know who you are), the official No Trump Zone sign has the advantage of being non-disrciminatory. You could be for Kasich or Cruz or a brokered dark-horse and still proudly wear your No Trump Zone button or T-shirt. Then, if Trump is the nominee, you can wear it right next to the button for whatever third party nominee you end up with, whether it’s Rick Perry or Paul Ryan or the only Republican around that I might even consider, Colin Powell.
For Democrats and Independents, it doesn’t matter if you’re rooting for Bernie is Hillary or nobody, you are anti-Trump, right? My guess is yes, so no matter which Democrat gets the nomination your No Trump Zone bumper sticker or button will be good right up through the election if Trump is the opponent, or better yet, one of the opponents.
For you Trumpies, this is your big chance to establish a reputation. How will you react? Will you be Grumpy Trumpies like the bumper sticker. Or a peaceful, kind and gentle group of Trumpies? Will you embrace the term and wear it proudly, like hippies, who turned what was intended to be a derogatory epithet into a badge of honor. Or wll you be more like yuppies, who scurried away, embarrassed at the designation? It’s up to you to define just how history will think about Trumpies.
There have been a lot of disturbing incidents at Trump rallies recently. I hate to say it, but Trumpies are getting a bad name, kind of like the music-hating Blue Meanies from the Beatles’ animated movie Yellow Submarine.
Here’s a scary example: Trump calls Nazi hand salute comparisons ‘ridiculous’
Here’s another: ‘Trump’ Has Become a Racial Taunt at High School Sporting Events
Maybe a nice, friendly bumper sticker will help? Something like this:
Think it’ll work?
• Mid-morning update: Oops, too late.
Trump Supporter Punches Protester In Face At North Carolina Rally
Violence appears to be a recurring theme at the Republican presidential front-runner’s events.
Here’s a smiling, happy black guy walking up the steps at a Trump rally when a Trumpie in a cowboy hat and a pony tail comes over to the aisle and sucker punches him as he’s walking by. Then the cops jump all over the black guy and don’t pay any attention to the brave and loyal Trumpie who threw the sucker punch.
• Mid-afternoon update. Apparently the cops did arrest the cowboy Trumpie, who said he might have to kill the black guy the next time he sees him: Only One Trump Thug Has Ever Been Charged for Assaulting Protesters Police and prosecutors have continually refused to investigate or indict people who’ve punched, dragged, and used racial slurs until today.