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audacity. [flawed wednesday]

i never used to spend so many waking hours thinking about this country’s president or the governmental agencies and their representatives. i miss those days. i felt, back then, that these people were – mostly – looking out for the good of the country and i felt comfortable enough to go about my own life, taking responsibility for my family, my work, my community. i was informed and yet, i released my hold on constant information.

those days are gone.

now, i watch constantly – in complete horror – as this country has a president – truth be told, an impeached president – who, in his most recent atrocities, blatantly stokes division and hatred, whose absolute disregard for the health and well-being of the populace during a pandemic is evident in his arrogant gathering of hundreds and thousands together non-masked, non-distanced, whose smirking face smugly stated – to environmental scientists immersed in the devastating fires out west – that “it will start to get cooler” and that “i don’t think science knows”. i can not even attempt a complete inventory; the list of atrocities is too long. “all the president’s grotesqueries matter,” tim miller, a former RNC spokesperson.

yes. it’s all grotesque.

it appears that he is not only campaigning by audacity, but he is absolutely unchecked and reigning with audacity as well.

and, as the pissy-ness trickles down from the top and surrounds each of us with people-being-pissy-with-permission-from-the-top-of-the-heap, i wonder: when will it stop? at what juncture will this reign of terror finally be over?

audacious, indeed. when will the audacity end?

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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the pied piper. [flawed wednesday]

“while some will see the pied piper and his power as the devil, an evil entity that lures innocents away to their death, other interpretations see something entirely different: a christ-like savior.” (aimee h)

and there we have it.

this country has its very own pied piper. and in no way can this be a good thing.

“the term “pied piper”: … someone who, by means of personal charm, entices people to follow him or her, usually to disappointment or misfortune.” (maeve maddox)

without evidence nor using factual information, as is his unfortunate and biased practice, back in the early stages of this pandemic, the president of this country belittled others for wearing masks, and did not publicly himself wear a mask until mid-july, despite his presence in public places amongst citizens of this country deserving of respect and safety. his failure to make mask-wearing a national mandate in those earliest days of disease undermined the efforts of pandemic-fighters-treaters-sufferers across the country.

thus set the stage.

he pied-pipered his way all over fox news and media-biased outlets; he tooted his pipe into conspiracy theories, never taking responsibility for the safety of his populace. instead he led millions of people over the cliff and almost 190,000 people into death, simply by denying the very thing that could have minimized loss: a mask.

wearing a simple piece of cloth across your nose and mouth seems a small price to pay for a significant amount of safer passage through this time of pandemic. so it seems ludicrous and disgusting to go to the local grocery store and watch people arrogantly walk about with their masks firmly planted around their chins, just begging for someone to ask them to wear it properly. yes. the declining vigilance of the public.

the pied piper’s acolytes are everywhere and his followers are marching, goose-stepping toward what? the story of the pied piper relates that the followers – in the piper’s return to the village – were children and that those “children died of some natural causes such as disease or starvation and that the piper was a symbolic figure of death.” in easy metaphor, our very own piper, without evidence, has distilled the importance of masks to the point of dangerous disregard, pitting side against side, blather against facts, non-actions against actions, subjugating the very economy to disaster, costing jobs, homes, safety, the feeding of families, and has led this country to the brink of death.

is it his personal charm? i think not. the anger he has unleashed, the lack of moral compass, the lies, the rhetoric, the violence…his pipe-tooting seems limitless. instead of unity he chooses division. instead of health he chooses disease. instead of love he chooses hatred.

the pied piper, a self-described rat-catcher, piped to eradicate a poor town from an infestation of rats. ahhh. the metaphor continues. for, tucked into his own house-of-white, while tooting the ever-increasingly-ironic “draining of the swamp,” he and his minions have the best of the best pandemic tools and aids at their bidding. the 2000 people at the lawn rally bestowing accolades upon his every word and gesture have, likely, slightly fewer tools and aids. the millions of those watching fox news, tucked into living rooms across this country, have, likely, far fewer opportunities and far less resources to avoid or combat this coronavirus, this disease, this death.

but the one thing they could have? the one thing that is accessible to most anyone? the one thing that thousands of people sat in front of sewing machines making in the early part of this year, that are available most anywhere, from organizations or religious institutions or individual donors? the one thing that could have saved thousands of lives to date? the one thing that purportedly could still potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives?

masks.

please – vigilantly – wear a mask.

because the pied piper truly does not care if you live or die.

pied piper (noun): the hero of a german folk legend, popularized in the pied piper of hamelin (1842) by robert browning. a person who induces others to follow or imitate him or her, especially by means of false or extravagant promises.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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create the cracks. [flawed wednesday]

reeds and lake

“neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.”  (desiderata, max ehrmann 1927)

i would venture to say that, for many, this is a time of spiritual aridity and woeful disenchantment.  unconsolable worry, uneasiness, disillusionment, fear…pervasive as the humidity of early morning summer fog, the dew of late evening.  we wait for the breeze to start to blow off the sticky and cool us down.

we speak up, for the winds of change will dispel our disease, our unease, our social injustice ill-at-ease.  we stand, with love, at the ready to make it happen.  we confront that which is not true, that which is harmful, hateful, that which is fear-mongering, that which incites violence and inequality among any and all people.  for this we reap not benefits; instead we accumulate pervasive pushback, accusation, derision.

but love is, truly, as perennial as the grass.  love will always lead the way out of aridity and disenchantment.  love waits on the sidelines of the arena filled with division and hatred, ready to flow into the cracks.  it’s our job as decent humans to create the cracks.

“and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

the “noisy confusion of life” punctuates our day with its rat-a-tat of false information, its innuendo, its delivery of agenda, its acrimony, its selfish serving of egos.  the “sham, drudgery and broken dreams” are all around us.

and so is this beautiful world.

we walk past the pond, the wind on our faces.  the grasses on the side beckon us to peek through.  water lilies polka-dot the clear water.  perennial as the sun, the morning and the dusk, the water lilies aerate the pond and keep the algae on the surface at a minimum, peacefully offering shelter to smaller sized fish.

but like many things that might look good on the surface, that might be aesthetically pleasing, that might speak to your individual soul, it is wise to be aware of the true qualities of water lilies and the perennials pondweed or yellow floating heart, plants that closely resemble them.  many shockingly invasive, they can quickly take over, without others even noticing, choking out the life of the pond.

“for the world is full of trickery…”

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

*all quotes from desiderata by max ehrmann

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density and un-candles. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

dense

we hike past these cattails.  and, because i have a vivid imagination, gazing into their thick darkness, i wonder what would happen if i suddenly had to run and forge my way through these dense reeds in order to be safe.  david claims that my imagination is usually on overdrive; i retort, “doesn’t everyone think about this stuff?”  he replies, “no, they don’t.”  i shrug.  for me, these cattails make me think; they make me ponder.  they inspire me to make a plan.  i am convinced:  it would be better to run and find a less dense area of vegetation and then i might be able to find my way through to the other side, to safety.  i keep watch for these less dense spots as we hike.  just in case.

the magic of the 1970s un-candles was based on density.  density parses out liquids which are different.  because oil is less dense than water, oil floats on top of water.  and so, you would fill the glass container with water and add a bit of oil on top.  a simple candle wick in a plastic wick shield would be placed atop this and it would float.  voila!  the un-candle.  a flickering light atop the water.

in the case of other uses of the word “dense”, i would revert back to maybe seventh grade.  “you’re dense!” one student would verbally accost another.  dense, back then, informally meant ignorant, vacuous, vapid, thickheaded, half-witted, moronic, gullible, daft.  most of these synonyms didn’t rapidly come to the forefront of the seventh-grade mind, so “dense” worked.  and it seemed kinder than “stupid”.  slightly.

as we approach every level of profound challenge in our world today, i am hoping for an un-candle approach.  i am hoping that the less-dense rise to the surface, that the less-dense light the way, that the less-dense path opens for us.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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words on a wall. [flawed wednesday]

you hate me framed

tenuous.  we are all walking on the thinnest of threads.  the thinnest threads of life, health, relationship, value.

i don’t know what it would take to graffiti an outdoor stairwell with the stenciled words “you hate me”.  it stopped me as we took a friday night walk – miles around our downtown, across the bridge, through simmons island beach, along the lakefront.  we started down the stairwell to the channel and there it was.

“you hate me”

anonymous.  you hate me.  who’s the you?  who’s the me?  the anonymity factor adds concern for me.  someone, on that thinnest thread, felt tenuousness enough that they stenciled it on the concrete wall.

that it wasn’t “i hate you” and that it was “you hate me” makes it even more distressing.  it makes you wonder which sad and lonely face you passed might have been that of the stenciler.  it thrusts questions about your local community on your heart.  it is a gut punch that foists pondering upon you.  it forces you to search inside, to see if you are emanating that to others.

there are so many reasons right now to disagree with another, so many reasons for anger.  conflicting opinions distort the absolute importance of connectivity, of community, of the healing of love.  people with differing thoughts opine as experts in fields in which they have no actual experience; people proselytize and preach and persuade.  the bandwagons of what-seems-like-the-cool-gangs line up, circling, handing out candy to those who would like to be in the club, aiding them up onto the wagon and then looking away from their individual needs, only paying attention to replenish the candy and keep the furor going.

and so people feel hated.  enough to write it on a wall.

“to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.” (sue bender, plain and simple journal)

i wonder what i would have felt if upon the concrete wall the words “you love me” had been stenciled.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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enough. [flawed wednesday]

give peace a chance

enough.

on the back of the vehicle’s window we just passed the other day there was this sticker:  “you can give peace a chance.  i’ll cover you if it dosen’t {sic} work out.”

the mantra “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion” screamed its head off at me as i read this with distress.  but there’s this:

mass shootings in public schools, killing people

mass shootings at colleges, killing people

mass shootings at concerts, killing people

mass shootings at nightclubs, killing people

mass shootings at places of worship, killing people

mass shootings at movie theatres, killing people

mass shootings at malls, killing people

mass shootings at stores, killing people

mass shootings at restaurants, killing people

mass shootings at bases, killing people

mass shootings at post offices, killing people

enough.

peace deserves a chance.  the gun-law-less-ness-populace has had its chance.  it has failed miserably.  it is still failing.  it is breaking hearts and lives left and right.  it is placing the value of life below the value of a semiautomatic weapon.  what have we come to?  what horror must happen before legislation is put into place that considers the actual lack of need, the lack of appropriateness, the sheer lack of respect for human life for these weapons of mass destruction to be removed from day-to-day life?

“guns don’t kill people.  people do.”  yes, people pull the trigger.  yet, without guns, what would those trigger-hungry people do?  “pew, pew, pew, pew,” they would yell out while running with their pointer finger aimed at the ‘enemy’.

“you would cry too if it happened to you, ” my wise friend jotted the lyrics of this song to me.  in this country of little-to-no-community-empathy, she was making reference of these lyrics to the pandemic.  yet, they apply to any despicably irresponsible act by leadership – the lack of leadership for the covid-19 pandemic, the lack of leadership for gun control, for banning assault weapons, the lack of leadership for racial equality and addressing unrest, the lack of leadership for social justice and safety of all peoples, the revoltingly vigorous encouragement of a society to pine for more of the second amendment.

it only took new zealand six days in 2019 to announce a new national gun policy.  weapons of mass destruction (all military-style semiautomatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and modification parts to morph guns into semiautomatic status) were banned merely six days after a mass shooting.  it is assumed that gun ownership is a privilege there, not a right.  gun homicides there have been in the single digits, with the highest number of 11.

and the united states of america?

enough.

i might add:  anyone  who purchases a sticker announcing their dismissal of peace as an option should spend a little more time reading it.  “dosen’t” is spelled wrong.  perhaps that is one of the problems.  little to no thought, little to no investment in critical thinking.  little to no conversation or use of intellect.  no refrainment of an overabundance of anger and reactionism.  just a blunt declaration of violence, a creed to evil.

enough.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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i wish. but i can’t. [flawed wednesday]

calm

it wasn’t just because of the font.  i’m sure he poured my coffee in this mug because i am anything BUT calm.  perhaps he was hoping for the power of suggestion working on me.

i wish i could write something heartening about calm. i wish i could wax poetic about sitting on a rock next to a cool mountain stream or in an adirondack chair on the back deck.  i wish i could write about the hush of rain or the tranquility of a sunrise.  i wish i could narrate moments of sustained serenity – meditative and centered.  i wish i could chronicle days of relaxation and a giving-over of worry and stress.  i wish i could report on ease of mind and a stillness of spirit.  i wish i could relate stories of soul-replenishing time shared with loved ones.  i wish i could recount adventures and goings-out without anxiety.  i wish i could write of a quiet, peaceful heart.

but right now, i can’t.  calm is elusive these days.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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explicitly divisive. [flawed wednesday]

explicitly divisive

“it ought to be…commemorated with….illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” (john adams on the celebration of the declaration of independence)

they had fireworks at the walt whitman mall on route 110 in huntington.  sometimes we’d go.  we’d park in the parking lot and watch fireworks overhead, my dad quietly admiring them, my mom zealously gleeful.  those times we left the charcoal grill, hot dogs, hamburgers, beans and chips behind, i loved anytime we went – a child who was innocently proud of my country.

they had fireworks over the lake.  we’d go every year.  we’d walk over to the rocks and, climbing up and over the top, we’d sit on a flat-top boulder, mosquito-repellent in the air, and watch.  in later years, people would set off firecrackers right near us and that was frightening as a parent with small children.  but i loved anytime we went – an adult in the middle of early parenthood who was mostly proud of my country.

for years now they had moved the fireworks that had been set off on one of the beaches to a spot down by the harbor, set off by the public museum.  we used to walk down with our blanket or chairs-in-a-bag, oohing and ahhing over a fancy display that belied the size of our city, but something stopped us the last few years.  it was palpable, the dismay.  red took on different meanings, especially in hatwear.  the pride of being-an-american was tarnished with the behavior of a new president who gloried in obnoxious, toxic-talk, whose example was nothing shy of injurious, who touted his own self-serving agendas.  we didn’t go to the fireworks.

last year they had fireworks at the ballfield on island.  we were days-new there and attended a barbecue late afternoon and in twilight hours, but we knew that dogdog and babycat, both getting used to the littlehouse, would be fearful of the loud booms in this place we didn’t yet know, so we didn’t attend.  we heard they were beautiful, but we didn’t miss going.

this year they didn’t have fireworks.  the city cancelled them because there is a global pandemic.  but people gathered nonetheless and the sounds that mimicked the soundtrack of a warzone went on for hours into the wee night. two yards over, the neighbor had m80s and a giant illuminating-the-skies display.  next door, the neighbors set off fireworks lower to the ground, while clapping their hands to the loud and raucous displays in the sky around us.

we had seen footage of the fireworks over mount rushmore the day before.  we had seen footage of the hate-speech given on a day of supposed-celebration for our country, but instead filled with chasm-digging language, filled with loathing and disdain, filled with the narcissistic viewpoint of a self-indulgent small unkind man whose anger granted him a job where the hatred others feel toward humankind is given a voice, is given power, is, sickeningly, given control.  yes.  footage of the fireworks and the pomp and circumstance in south dakota.  a new definition of the word “patriotism”.  embarrassing on a global scale.

we sat on the deck just a bit, but the thick fog of smoke made it impossible to breathe.  the many-families-of-children in the yard out back were screaming loudly and it made me think of earlier years, more innocent years, years when social distancing wasn’t a thing (although it’s hardly a thing now), years when we weren’t advised by intelligent medical staff to wear masks in public (again, hardly a thing).  it made me think of times i could point to the president of the united states and speak of him (no pronoun neutrality for there is not yet a “her”) to my young children, without disgust, without the rising nausea that results from listening to hate-talk, without explaining why he’s lied thousands and thousands of times to this country, without the intentional explicitly divisive vitriol coming from some sad place in his soul.  we went back inside the house and reassured dogdog and babycat.  we just could not attend, physically or emotionally.  what is there to be proud of?

i wonder whenever and wherever there will be organized fireworks nearby again.  the fireworks that encourage love of country.  the fireworks that make you have goose bumps of excitement and a sense of pride.  fireworks that remind us of the uniting of all people.  fireworks that speak to liberty and justice for all.  fireworks that are a recognition of “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

the explicitly divisive rhetoric spewed from the top down is suffocating us and is no salve for the wounds, new or old, that have been imparted on this country’s populace.

we will need to mend ourselves.

and maybe then – fireworks.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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sticker, oh, sticker. [flawed wednesday]

marked license plate stickers

clearly there are a lot of people who own registered cars in wisconsin who do not read.

how do i know this, you ask?

drive behind anyone with a wisconsin plate and notice where they have put the year sticker.  people place these stickers all over the license plate.  when you start looking you will see a variety of methods – in the middle of the plate, stickered all around the edges, smack over the raised lettering. however, these stickers are delivered to you in the envelope pictured above.  this envelope leaves little doubt as to where to place the stickers – any and all of them.  they are not meant to fill in the white space on the plate, nor to cover the numbers and letters metal-stamped on the plate.

so do they not read?  that, in itself, i see as a bit of a problem.  somehow it seems necessary to be able to read and follow directions in order to be safely out on the road, driving around.

now, i would understand if the state of wisconsin department of motor vehicles just sent you a sticker in a plain envelope, without specific directions attached.  you might wonder, “golly gee, where does this sticker go?”  but to receive such clear and concise and labeled instructions, how is it that a vast number of drivers, supposedly responsible drivers, have scratched their heads and tore off the backing and stuck ’em anywhere they wanted?  what are they possibly thinking?  what is the point of this stuck-anywhere-sticker-thing?  is it a display of rebellion?  is it a display of apathy?  do they think it’s artistic?  i wonder.

because it just looks like they over-and-over-again don’t read the directions.  it’s not like you need cliff notes for the eleven words, “place year sticker here first time and at time of renewal.”  plus there’s the arrow.  pointing.  to the place the sticker goes.   what’s so hard about this?

it makes me wonder what else they don’t read or pay attention to.  in a world with a global pandemic, we surely need people to read, stay apprised, follow safety instructions and directions for flattening the curve.  we need people to be responsible and care about guidelines put into place, specifications to fairly regulate, to simply be in accord.

now, i can’t help but wonder:  are the people with stickers all over their license plates the same people – the customers at the corner store – who sneered at us because we were wearing masks during this pandemic?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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poof. [flawed wednesday]

BMI music moves our world

“music moves our world.”  bmi’s tagline: “we celebrate your talent.  we value your music.  we champion your rights.”

i don’t blame bmi.  as an royalty organization, it is trying to keep up with an industry imploding on itself.  the very same opportunity to ‘get music out there’ using online platforms is what is destroying opportunity to make a living ‘getting music out there.’

as you might guess, i just received a bmi royalty statement.  the check, which will come later in the mail and stamped with a 55 cent first class stamp, will cost them more per penny paid for the stamp than i will receive per performance play of my music.

because i am a specific-detail kind of person, here are the details of that:  if you take my check of $71.57 and divide it by the (just shy of 100,000) performance plays this particular quarter, it amounts to an average of .00074 of a cent per performance play (you read that 7/ten-thousandths of a cent).  it you take a 55 cent stamp and divide it by the check, it is .00768 of a cent per penny of the cost of the stamp (you read that 7/thousandths).  that’s 10 times as much as i receive per play.

to cite some examples:  there were 7530 youtube views of my piece ‘last i saw you’.  the royalties i earned for that are 66 cents.  CENTS.  the piece ‘i didn’t know’ yielded 49,085 plays counted on a few digital music services, which averaged $.00025 of a cent.  that is 2/10-thousandths of a cent.  way to make a living.

i’m not really sure anymore why i’m telling you this, except for the big word “awareness”.  i think most people are not aware of the explosively-good-explosively-bad impact that all these music services have had on independent musicians.  headlining musicians and independent musicians – a schism of differences.  yet, i’m not a person with one or two albums, new to the industry, eager to do anything to ‘spread the word’.  i am an artist with fifteen albums, multiple singles, in the industry for decades and who did all the eager-stuff for many, many, many years.  and like you, i want to believe that all the time and energy and writing and practicing and recording and sacrifice and thought and perseverance and education and experience and drive and hard work i put in might yield something in return now – dividends – kind of like how a retirement works.

in these times of chaos – a pandemic, an uprising of protests striving for equity in race, in gender identification, in sexual orientation, in all manners of humanity – it seems that one of the most unifying calls is that of music.  music does move our world.

why, then, is this so inequitable for us?  because i don’t know about you, but there isn’t one bill in my bill folder that totals $71.57 over the course of a quarter.  dog food alone costs $73.16 for a quarter.  there isn’t a bill that is merely for $71.57 for a month.  not the phone bill, not the mortgage, not home insurance, not health insurance (don’tgetmestarted!), not the gas/electric bill, not student loans (again, don’tgetmestarted!), not car insurance, not groceries, not wifi-cable.  too much information, i suppose.

with thousands of cds in boxes in storage in the cds-have-gone-poof world, i wonder, as i have written and you have read before, where to go from here.  most professional careers keep building, arcing in some positive direction.  i try to remind myself that this music is played hundreds of thousands of times, millions of times a year.  i try to remind myself of all the times i have heard that some piece, some song, some album, some concert, some performance has resonated with someone, that it has given them a moment of reflection, of peace, that it has buoyed them.  i try not to be jaded by people who burn copies of cds for their friends or who change their email every three months to access apple music streaming for free.

but as i write checks or click ‘pay’ online for the accountant, the doctor, the mortgage, the water, the gas and electric, the health insurance, the phone bill, the wifi and cable, the car and home insurances, the student loans, the groceries, i wonder what would happen if somehow each of those things went poof and there were free ways to access all of them.

and yet, it’s true.  music moves our world.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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