How to have more satisfying sex without actually reading the articles promising to show you how

    I woke up this morning with an idea for a new series on this site. I’m going to start aggregating articles on how to have better sex from magazines like Cosmo, and online sources like Alternet, and seeing if I can figure out the main lessons they’re trying to convey based solely on an analysis of the accompanying photos, without even looking at the text. Here’s my first attempt…

    Apparently orgasms are more satisfying when you share fruit.

    Screen shot 2014-09-06 at 8.29.19 AM

    So, if you’re suffering from lackluster orgasms, be sure to check back often.

    Oh, and, here, for those of you who have been banned from Facebook, are the first comments left by my “friends” in response to this new initiative of mine. I think they’re pretty awesome.

    Screen shot 2014-09-06 at 8.30.03 AM

    Posted in sex, Special Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

    Dangerous Nipples: If you enter your local Kroger without a shirt, you’ll be asked to leave. A semi-automatic rifle, however, is just fine.

    krogerguns

    The organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, having successfully led a campaign to get Target to change their policy on open carry, is now turning their attention toward the nation’s largest supermarket chain, Kroger. Their new campaign, called Groceries Not Guns, is launching with a series of ads, like the one above, which I think is brilliant. The ads, which feature images of open carry advocates standing alongside people who, unlike them, actually would be asked to leave their local Kroger store, is scheduled to run nationwide in USA Today. More interestingly, though, Moms Demand Action also has plans to saturate the Cincinnati market, where Kroger has its headquarters.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, but my sense is that the campaign will be successful. It’s one thing to run ads in liberal cities, saying that Kroger is bad, and encouraging people to shop instead at stores that ask armed people to leave, like Costco, Target, Giant and Whole Foods. It’s another, however, to go right into the community where said company is headquartered, and put up billboards that you know will lead to questions around the kitchen tables of Kroger executives.

    “Dad, why is it that I can’t bring a skateboard into your stores, but I can bring in an Uzi?”

    [This post is dedicated to Derek Flemming, the 43 year old father of two who was murdered in Howell yesterday, after an apparent road rage incident. Flemming and his wife were headed to pick up their two children, ages 6 and 7, from their first day at school, when they became involved in a rapidly escalating exchange with a pickup truck driven by Martin Edward Zale, a retired police officer. After being cut off several times by Zale, Flemming got out of his vehicle, and approached the pickup, which had stopped in front of him. Witnesses say he asked, “What’s your problem?”, at which point Zale pointed a handgun through the window of his car and shot the unarmed Flemming in the face.]

    Posted in Marketing, Other, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

      John Waters v. Kirk Cameron… Whose side will you take in the War on Christmas?

      How is it that we live in a country where an accomplished director like John Waters can’t find the money to make a Christmas film, while someone like Kirk Cameron can?

      I know there are more important things to be upset about, but, Jesus Christ… How did we come to a point as a society where a movie like Fruitcake can’t get made, but a movie like Saving Christmas can?

      Here’s the trailer for Cameron’s upcoming film, for those of you who haven’t yet been subjected to it.

      As for the film Fruitcake, which John Waters has been trying to get made for the better part of this last decade, from what I’ve read, it sounds truly heartwarming. “Fruitcake is a little kid in a family of meat thieves,” the director said in an interview not too long ago. “Meat thieves knock on your door and say ‘Meat Man!’ and you go downstairs, and, say you want a pork loin and two steaks, they shoplift it (for you), and you pay half what’s on the sticker. This is a very functional family of meat thieves, and they’re filling their orders on Christmas Eve, (when) Fruitcake gets caught and separated, and he runs away with a little African American girl named Tweefee, whose gay parents have forced her to have gay Kwanzaa. They team up with some orphans named the Lousy Lambs, and they steal all the meat from the families, and give it all to the poor people in a slush storm on Christmas Eve.” (When Waters first began pitching it to studios, the movie was to star Johnny Knoxville and Parker Posey.)

      When I initially sat down to write this post, I was going to suggest that, in response to the Cameron movie, we start a giant fundraising campaign for Fruitcake. (“If you’re not ready to cede Christmas to the likes of Kirk Cameron, send $5 to John Waters today.”) Apparently, though, as I just discovered, Waters has said that he wants nothing to do with a Kickstarter type of campaign. Others have apparently broached the subject with him, only to have him respond with, “I’m not public begging.”

      Which, I guess, leaves us with one option. We have to blackmail a studio head.

      Either that, or we have to accept the terrifying reality that we now live in a country that values Kirk Cameron more than John Waters.

      saving-christmas-poster

      Posted in Art and Culture, Rants, Religious Extremism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

      Reverend Dr. William Barber II on reclaiming the moral high ground and building a majority coalition around issues of social justice

      Reverend Dr. William Barber II, the North Carolina minister who founded the Forward Together moral movement, is in the press today. It would seem that a young man in his group was arrested yesterday in Charlotte, at one of Barber’s Moral Monday events, for putting voter registration information on the windshields of parked cars. As Charlotte apparently has a law on the books conerning the placement of printed materials on parked cars, I don’t know that they have much of a legal case, but, as I like Barber quite a bit, and appreciate his efforts to reintroduce the subject of morality to the American discourse, I was happy to hear that his efforts to expand voting rights among North Carolina’s disenfranchised were once again making news.

      I first became acquainted with Barber this past summer at the Netroots Nation conference in Detroit, where he spoke eloquently about the history of black/white moral reform movements in America, and the inevitable backlash they draw from the right. Here, for those of you unacquainted with Barber, is video of his Netroots Nation keynote address, followed by a partial transcription, which was borrowed in large part from our friends at Daily Kos.

      …Down in North Carolina, we in the Forward Together movement believe that we are in a moral crisis that is trying to take America down the road to political deconstruction. But there is a path to higher ground. There is a better way.

      To grasp why many of us believe we are in a moral crisis, we need to glance into history for a moment, to find an interpretive lens.

      We need to understand… the roots and the networkings of immoral deconstruction. And the only way to do that – we must find ourselves for a moment all the way back to the movement against slavery, and the movement that was designed to deal with the vestiges of slavery.

      Remember if you will, the 1800s. (In) 1868 there arose a movement to build a new South. It was called the Fusion Movement, the Moral Fusion Movement, and it led what was called the First Reconstruction.

      In that moment, in North Carolina, for instance, forging together, (blacks and whites) created a path to higher ground by framing a vision of reconstructing the nation along our deepest moral values.

      Back then, 146 years ago, blacks and whites came together. In the South! And they understood the fusion between lifting up the former slaves, and how it intersected with the preservation of the South, and the nation.

      Now this Reconstruction wasn’t perfect, but walk with me for a minute and hear for a minute the kind of language they used to rewrite constitutions to frame this movement and navigate the nation forward.

      Listen for a minute, if you will, to the language… not used in 1960, or 1990, or 2000, but 146 years ago, for instance, in North Carolina. This is how blacks and whites were talking about coming up out of the vestiges of slavery.

      This is what they wrote in our constitution:

      “We, the people of the United… of the State of North Carolina… grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties.”

      Listen to what they said:

      “We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; among which are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruit of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.”

      That’s 146 years ago. That’s language that didn’t even make it into our Constitution, federally.

      Then they wrote in Article 2, “All political power is vested in and derived from the people, and should be used only for the good of the whole.”

      146 years ago they wrote Section 10: “All elections shall be free.” 146 years ago!

      Section 11. “All political rights and privileges are not dependent upon or modified by property, no property qualification shall affect the right to vote or hold office.”

      146 years ago they knew how bad it was to let money drive who runs for political office…

      Section 12 said that people have a right to assemble. And then they said, “but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people.” 146 years ago they knew the danger of lobbyists that go into back rooms and dictate policy.

      Section 15, 146 years ago, they made education a constitutional right in the South. “The people have a right to public education. And the state must guard that right.”

      Section 19 demanded that everybody be provided equal protection under the law.

      And then article 11, 146 years ago, when blacks and whites built this Fusion Movement, they wrote this in the constitution. Listen. Article 11, section 4, “beneficent provision for the poor, the unfortunate, and the orphan is one of the first duties of a civilized and Christian state.” [applause]

      And we’ve got to be a little concerned, if people had that much sense 146 years ago, when we look at the state of our crisis today. In 1868 we see this moral fusion language, and it formed the framework for reconstruction.

      Here’s what they fought for with this fusion movement: voting rights, public education, labor, health care, equal protection, fair tax policy, good of the whole.

      And that kind of agenda reshaped the South and it reshaped the country. It reshaped the world.

      But it also brought a vicious backlash.

      A group came to being and they called themselves the teapart… I mean, excuse me, I’m getting to that… Help me Lord, Help me, I meant 18, I meant 18, I meant 1868, I meant 18, I meant 1868! [laughter and applause]

      A group arose that called themselves the Redemption Movement, and it was rooted in the extreme philosophy of immoral deconstruction. And they fought back. They were moved by fear. Fear that their world was being taken over. Fear of a more just society. Fear of a more perfect union. They were radical racists and they began a process of immoral deconstruction. They began a campaign of fear (intended to) divide.

      They called themselves the Redemption Movement. Sounds nice, but what they meant by that was, “It’s time for us to redeem America from the problem of black and white people working together for justice.”

      What did they attack first? Voting rights. Then they attacked public education. Then they attacked labor. Then they attacked fair tax policies. And then they attacked progressive leaders. And then they engaged in a plan 40 and 100-some years ago to take over the courts, state and federal, so that they could be used in the service of rendering rulings that undermined the hopes of a new America. And that (came to fruition) with Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. And then they led riots all over this country and tried to make sure that certain elements had guns so that they could put the country back in its place according to their deconstructive, immoral philosophy.

      And from this history, my friends, we must understand the root of what we are seeing. We’ve learned… We’ve learned that the strategy to stop any effort at reconstruction, the strategy to stop any fusion movement, has always consisted of these five or six direct attacks: you attack voting rights, you attack tax revenue and government programs and agencies designed to promote social uplift, you attack labor rights, you attack public education policy, you attack, and you attack, or assassinate, or try to undermine white and black progressive leaders.

      Then we get to the Second Reconstruction… I’m passing on a lot of history, but bear with me. In 1954 the Brown v. Board of Education decision had an indelible impact on the United States. Declared the case of the century, it established that intentional segregation was unconstitutional, and this ruling served to fuel the Civil Rights movement. Two things fueled the Civil Rights movement. The Brown decision, and the acquittal of the people that killed Emmett Till. Because, when Rosa Parks saw them be acquitted, it was then that she decided, in response to the acquittal of the murderers of Emmett Till, that she had to sit down and challenge the existing system of discrimination. [applause]

      So, in 1954, we get the Brown decision. Just about a year later, on August 28, 1955, you get the death of Emmett Till. Both of these things result in the kind of creation of a Second Reconstruction, a new fusion, a moral fusion politics.

      And what do we see with this new fusion of blacks, and now whites, and now women, and now Latinos, and now the LGBT community, like Bayard Rustin and others, all coming together? What did we see?

      We saw affirmative action. We saw the Committee on Equal Employment. We saw civil rights connected morally to economic justice. We saw the Social Security amendments of 1965. We saw the creation on a moral basis of Medicare and Medicaid. We saw changes in the application of Social Security that allowed the domestic community and the agrarian community that had been left out in 1935. We saw the Civil Rights Act of ’64 and the Voting Rights Act of ’65. And President Johnson said on August 6, 1965 that the Voting Rights Act was a triumph for freedom “as huge as any victory that’s ever been won on any battlefield.”

      But the law came months after Martin Luther King launched the Southern Coalition Leadership Conference in Selma, when people of all different faiths came together, all different colors, and demanded, from a moral perspective, that the nation needed to change. So this moral fusion politics gained tremendous ground in the Second Reconstruction.

      But then, as in the 1800s, the transformative power of moral-based fusion politics once again came under attack.

      This time the attacks were defined and developed by Kevin Phillips, a Nixon and Republican strategist, that came to be known as the White Southern Strategy. It was a strategy deliberately designed to play the race card in a way to drive Southern whites to vote for… vote their fears and not their future. But it was designed to play the race card without seeming racist. You remember when GOP strategist Lee Atwater boldly described the Southern Strategy. You all have seen it out on Google and everywhere, when he said, you know, “We couldn’t use the n word any more, not in ’64, ’65,” he said. “You can’t be overtly racist, or it will backfire. So you say stuff like ‘forced busing’ and ‘states rights’ and all that stuff,” he said. He said, “You get abstract, you talk about cutting taxes and all these things you’re talking about, they seem to be totally economic, but the byproduct of them is that blacks get hurt worse than whites and we are able to divide the country.”

      The target of the Southern Strategy was all of the southern states of the old Confederacy. But also some of the suburbs of the North.

      It was the goal of developing a solid South to ensure that the majority of Southern whites would resist and repeal any fusion political and moral alliances with African Americans and others.

      Programs that were once popular became the focus of great dislike and were castigated as negative entitlements helping “those” undeserving people.

      Voting rights and civil rights laws were seen as further intrusion on the sovereignty of the state, especially in Southern states. And the process to no longer allow issues such as addressing poverty and civil rights to be defined in the public square as moral issues were begun in earnest, with the goal of limiting the moral discourse in the public square to abortion, prayer in the school and your stance on homosexuality. Even though those things do not even make up the primary, or the preeminent, ethical or moral concerns of any moral religion. Not one. [applause]

      Let’s get to the root of this thing.

      Leaders of the progressive moral vision were attacked. Some were killed. Medgar killed. Martin killed. Kennedy killed. Bobby killed. The movement was depressed. It worked. Solidified. And, according to a recent article in the Times, Charles Koch in 1974 delivered a speech on how to build a massive infrastructure, not to promote particular candidates, but to recreate the social consciousness, and to promote his brand of immoral deconstruction.

      How it would work, and Ronald Reagan used it to a T in 1980, when he began part of his presidential campaign in Philaldephia, Mississippi. Didn’t have to be overtly racist, but he, by being there, and by using all the code words of the white southern strategy, he locked up the South.

      So, when we look at the ebbs and the flows and the lessons and the vision of these two periods, the First Reconstruction and the Second Reconstruction, some of us believe that the current struggle before us now is a sign of the time that we are in the middle of the struggle for a Third Reconstruction in this nation. [applause]

      That is why we see the same attacks we saw in the First Reconstruction and the Second Reconstruction:

      The attack on voting rights. The attack on fair tax policy. The attack on public education. The attack on labor rights. The attack on women. The attack on LGBT rights. The attack on immigrants’ rights.

      The attacks are a sign that we have the possibility of a Third Reconstruction if we don’t give up and (if we) understand what is at stake. [applause]

      We are in the middle. And how do I know? Again, it is because the movement in some ways was signaled by the 2008 election of President Obama. Now it wasn’t so much the President, as powerful and as hopeful as we’ve been about that. But what signaled that we were in the possibility of a Third Reconstruction was the emergence of a new majority electorate, especially in southern states.

      North Carolina is now 23% African American, and 3-4% Latino. That’s 27%. That means you only need about 24% of whites to vote their future not their fears.

      Mississippi is 33% African American. And, when you add Latinos, that means you only need about 15-16% of whites in Mississippi, to vote their future not their fears. Similarly in Georgia.

      The campaign of President Obama, not to be partisan, but to be historical, used some of the elements of fusion politics that were used in the 1800s and in the 1960s.

      In North Carolina, before he ever ran, we had a movement, the Forward Together movement, that had already changed voting laws before he was on the ballot. We’d already won same-day registration, early voting, and Sunday voting. We challenged even Democrats, and we won.

      And, because of that, we opened up the possibility for a broad new electorate. And when president Obama won the state, and won some southern states, that new electorate revealed the potential of a new fusion majority, one that directly challenges the white southern strategy and that scares the daylights of those who want to stay stuck in the past.

      But watch what happened. In both the first and the second reconstruction, it took the extremists more than a decade to mount an effective reaction. With Obama’s election, and (this new) electorate, the extremists said, “No!” Not just to him, but even before the man was inaugurated, they were saying no to the possibility of this new fusion politics.

      So now we have a political extremist immoral deconstruction effort called by whatever name you want to call it: tea party, Koch money puppets, whatever you want to call it, it’s an immoral agenda of deconstruction. [cheering and applause]

      And every now and then we need a few bloggers to tell them, “Y’all ain’t fooling nobody! We know American history too well.”

      And every now and then we need to not, as my grandmother would say, be so deep. But just explain what their agenda is, and clearly.

      Here’s their agenda… This is their agenda. They are saying, these extremists, “If you want a great America, here is the path to a great America: Deny public education and attack teachers. Undermine public funding of public education and give it to private schools. Deny health care and Medicaid expansion. Leave millions of poor people uninsured. Deny the earned income tax credit. Deny unemployment. Deny labor rights. Deny LGBT rights. Deny women’s rights. Deny immigrants’ rights… and hold vicious rallies against immigrant children when most of you come from immigrants yourself. Cut more taxes for the wealthy, and then declare you don’t have money for critical investments in America’s infrastructure and in programs that uplift America.” And, when you know your agenda can’t survive, say, “If America really wants to be great, then engage in the worst form of voter suppression since Jim Crow.” And then if you really want to have a great nation, tell every lie you can about the President, call him everything but an American and a Child of God, refuse to pass anything just because you don’t like little black girls having pajama parties in the White House. [loud cheering and applause] Come on here. Let’s expose it! Let’s expose what’s going on! And, then, if you really want a great America, after you’ve flamed and blown on the fires of race and class and national hatred, if you want a really good America, make sure everybody can get a gun and make it easier to get a gun than to vote.

      That’s their whole immoral deconstructionist agenda! [extended applause]

      But hear me. Now hear me on this.

      This kind of agenda can’t just be challenged, however,r with a mere left/right debate, or a conservative vs. liberal debate. That language is too puny. And I would humbly submit, not even just calling for a populist movement, because populist movements, especially in the South, have not always been on the side of progressivism.

      George Wallace was a populist movement.

      And populist movements have not always dealt adequately with race and class. Because populist movements tend to get caught up in, “Is it race or class?” When somebody ask me, “Is it race or class?” I say, “It is.”

      You really can’t separate the two if you are going to have transformational politics in America.

      And populist movements in the South have not always been willing to deal with labor rights.

      And, so, for those of us who are rooted in the history of understanding America’s struggle with reconstruction, we who are moved by the cries of our brothers and sisters, we know that issues like justice and caring for the vulnerable and embracing the stranger and healing the sick and protecting workers and welcoming and being fair to all members of the human family and educating our children, should never be relegated to the moral margins of our social consciousness.

      These are not just policy issues. These are not issues for some left/right debate. These are the centerpieces of our deepest tradition of our faith, our values, and our sense of morality and righteousness.

      And in this moment how do we think about building a moral movement? We must first start with a vision. What Walter Brueggemann calls a prophetic moral vision that seeks to penetrate the despair. So that we can believe in and embrace new futures.

      This kind of vision does not ask at first if the vision can be implemented. Because questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can first be imagined.

      Where there is no vision, the people perish.

      You see, my brothers and sisters, another lesson from history. The slaves didn’t get out of slavery by first figuring out how to get out. They got out by first knowing they needed to get out.

      And then they were driven by a vision that said, “Oh Freedom, Oh Freedom, and before I’ll be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave, and go home to my Lord and be free.”

      Their vision captivated them and penetrated the despair and when the despair was penetrated then they were able to implement ways to get out.

      And it’s time for progressives, and liberals, if you call that yourself, whatever you call yourself, to stop walking around in despair. It’s time to fight back, and stand up! [extended applause and cheering]

      If we’re going to have a real moral movement that can challenge the efforts at deconstruction in this country, we have to reinstate imagination that is not driven by pundits, but by a larger vision.

      I get so tired of folks sitting on TV talking about what’s possible in the South and they don’t even live in the South.

      I’m so tired of people talking about what can’t happen. You don’t know what can happen, until you get together and start organizing and start fighting back! [applause]

      Dr. King said that most of the time your greatest vision comes in the midst of your darkest night. And moral fusion movements don’t build when everything is fine. Moral fusion movements are a form of dissent that always rises up when things are bad, and dares to say there is a better way. That we’re all connected, that there is a moral way. And we must remind those who make decisions regarding public policy that there are some moral values that can guide us and can capture the imagination of people all over this nation…

      We need a recovery of moral dissent.

      The kind of moral dissent that Henry David Thoreau had. When someone asked him one day during slavery would he repent of his actions of going to jail and challenging the thing, Henry David Thoreau said, “The only thing I am going to repent of is my good behavior in the face of such injustice. And then I am going to ask myself what demons possessed me to be so quiet when so much wrong was going on.”

      We need a recovery of the kind of moral dissent like Martin Luther King, 46 years ago, in one of his last sermons, had. He said, “If you ignore the poor then one day the whole system will collapse and implode.”

      We need the kind of moral dissent that says every time we deny living wages and hurt teachers and undermine public education and suppress the right to vote it costs us too much. It damages the soul of our democracy. We must step back into history and bring to the forefront again that kind of moral call. Teddy Roosevelt had it. Good Republican. He said the four moral issues of public policy ought to be labor, education, environmental justice and voting.

      Yeah, we ought to lift up what Eisenhower, who said that a public education was a matter of national security.

      We ought to lift up what President Johnson said about the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and the war on poverty, that these were the great moral issues.

      We need the kind of moral thinking that caused my parents in 1965-66 to leave Indiana, go back to the South, give up a middle class lifestyle. They understood what they were going back to, but, because of this vision, they left to go back to the South to help integrate public schools. My father is dead now. My mother is alive. She’s 81 years old. She goes to work every day at the school she desegregated. When she went there they called her the n word. Now they call her Miss Barber. [applause and cheering]

      We need a recovery of the kind of moral vision that says, we’ll walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, young and old, black and white, Catholic and Jew and Christian. Even in the face of all kinds of odds. We don’t have the money, we don’t have the votes but if we walk possibly we can change the consciousness of the country.

      We need to recover the first moral principle of our Constitution. It’s not freedom. It’s not freedom. I get so bothered every time politicians run for office. Some of them, you ask them, “What are you going to do?” They say, “Freedom.” “Why are you against Medicaid expansion?” “Freedom.” “Why are you against taxes?” “Freedom.” Why are you for tax cuts for the wealthy?” “Freedom.” It’s just, “freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom.” They haven’t even read their own Constitution. The first moral principle of our Constitution is the establishment of JUSTICE! [applause]

      We need to reclaim the moral concern of that great prayer… One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

      We need the kind of clear moral perspective that Otto Scharmer, the economist at MIT who I had a moment to study with, often speaks of. He says, “We have a blind spot in our economic theory today, and it’s called conscience.”

      We need a recovery of the kind of clear and moral response that the Pope used the other day when Rush Limbaugh suggested he was a communist.

      And he didn’t stutter, the Pope said right back to Mr. Rush, “You don’t know what communism is: helping the poor, uplifting the poor is not Communism, it’s the heart of the gospel. [applause]

      We need the kind of language that’s not left or right, or conservative or liberal, but moral. (We need) fusion language that says, “Look, it’s extreme and immoral to suppress the right to vote. It’s extreme and immoral to deny Medicaid for millions of poor people, especially when people who have been elected to office get insurance simply because they’ve been elected. It’s extreme and immoral to raise taxes on the working poor by cutting earned income taxes and to raise taxes on the poor and middle class in order to cut taxes for the wealthy. It’s extreme and immoral to use power to cut off poor people’s water in Detroit. That’s immoral! What we need to cut off is that kind of abusive power! It’s extreme and immoral to end unemployment (benefits) for those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own. It’s extreme and immoral to resegregate our schools and underfund our public schools. It’s extreme and immoral for people who came from immigrants to now have a mean amnesia and cry out against immigrants and the rights of children. It’s mean, it’s immoral, and it’s extreme to kick hardworking people when they are down. That’s not just bad policy, it’s against the common good and a disregard for human rights. It’s a refusal to lean toward the angels of our better selves.”

      In fact, this kind of philosophy, rooted in the premises of immoral deconstruction, if you look at them carefully, they are historically inaccurate.They are constitutionally inconsistent. They are morally indefensible. And they are economically insane. [applause]

      So our job, we must reclaim the moral center and shift the center of political gravity. Because, in policy and politics in America, we face two choices. One is the low road to political destruction, and the other is the pathway to higher ground.

      And so, my friends, in this moment in history, right now, right here, we’ve been called together to fight against the dangerous agenda of extremism.

      I didn’t know any of you all before today but the spirit of the times has called us together to stand against the dangerous agenda of extremism, the ultraconservative right wing that is choosing the low road.

      That’s what those who gave America its two greatest periods in the reconstruction did.

      And I believe, deep within my being, there is a longing for a moral compass. I know it to be so. Because in North Carolina we found out that, in this moment, we need a transformative moral fusion movement that’s indigenously led, state-based, deeply moral, deeply constitutional, anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice pro-labor movement that brings people together, that doesn’t wait for somebody to rescue you out of Washington, DC, but you mobilize from the bottom up. [extended applause]

      Movements never came from DC down! Movements always come from Montgomery up! From Birmingham up! [applause]

      And we need to build for the long term. Not just around one issue or one campaign.

      We need to stop looking for a messiah candidate and build a movement, we need a deeper language that gets into people’s souls and pulls them into a new place.

      Labor rights are not left or right issue. Women’s rights are not left or right issues. Education is not a left or right issue. Helping people when they are unemployed is not left or right. Those issues are the moral center of who we are and it’s high time that we recover the moral dialogue in this nation. [applause]

      Not only that, we progressives need a movement where our relationships with our coalition partners are transformative not transactional.

      You know we sometimes like those movements where everybody signs that, “I’m with the movement,” but are they really? What we’ve got to have is a movement, and we’ve learned this in North Carolina, that understands the connectivity between the issues, where each partner, yes, embraces your issue, but you also embrace the other issues because you understand the intersectionality.

      Let me make it plain for you.

      The reality is, the greatest myth of our time is that extremist policies only hurt a small subset of people such as people of color, or women, or poor, or the LGBT community, when in fact they hurt us all.

      So we need the kind of coalition where educational advocates stand for education, but they also stand up for LGBT rights. Where health care advocates stand up for health care, but they also stand up for labor rights. Where labor rights people, yes, stand for labor rights, but they also stand up for civil rights.

      Why? Because we understand that these tea party type extremists, they are against us all.

      The same people that fight labor rights, they fight women’s rights. And the same people that fight women’s rights, fight LGBT rights. And the same people that fight LGBT rights, fight workers’ rights. And the same people that fight workers’ rights, they fight health care rights. And the same people that fight health care rights, they fight immigrants’ rights.

      If they are together, and we’re not together, who’s the fool? [applause]

      …And we don’t do it by castigating religion. When you want to challenge the religious right, you need to find a good conserv– religious conservative like me.

      Oh, I know that language messed y’all up.

      But let me tell you why I am a religious conservative. You see in the Bible I read, I read this book I carry with me called the Poverty and Justice Bible, and it has all the scriptures marked in it that deal with justice and uplift of the poor and helping women and children.

      And, in that Bible, it’s 2000 scriptures that are marked.

      Now I have looked at the religious right’s agenda about being against people who are homosexual, and being against–being for prayer in the school and being against abortion, and I can find about five scriptures that may speak to those issues, and four of them they misinterpret.

      And none of them ever trump this ethical demand: that you love your neighbor as yourself. [applause]

      And that you do justice and you love mercy!

      So what you need to challenge the religious right is not somebody to go on MSNBC or CNN and say, “I don’t have anything to do with that and I just don’t like it…” (What you need is) somebody who is a person of faith to challenge the hypocrisy of faith and say to the religious right, “You really want a moral debate? Bring it on, baby. Bring it on. Bring it here!” [applause]

      Because I want to know how you claim to be a conservative when conservative means “to hold onto the essence of.” How are you a conservative if you talk the least about what God talks about the most and the most about what God talks about the least?

      But not only that, as I move toward my conclusion, we must have a movement that brings together a diverse coalition that is rooted in hope and not fear…

      Let me tell you the agenda that has pulled us together in North Carolina.

      One. Securing pro-labor antipoverty policies that ensure economic sustainability.

      Two. Educational equality by ensuring every child receives a high-quality well-funded constitutionally diverse public education and access to colleges and community colleges.

      Number three. Health care for all, by insuring access to the affordable care act, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and providing environmental protection for all communities

      Number four. Fairness in the criminal justice system by addressing the continuing inequalities in the system, and providing equal protection under the law for black, brown and poor white people

      Number five. Protecting and expanding voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrants’ rights, and the fundamental principle of equal protection under the law.

      If we can’t organize around that agenda then I’m wondering what’s wrong with us…

      wlmBarber2

      …My son is an environmental physicist, and every now and then he tells me things about nature. And he told me one day, he said, “Daddy, if you ever get lost in mountainous territory and you have to walk out, don’t walk out through the valley, but climb up the mountain, to higher ground.”

      I said, “Why must I climb up the mountain to higher ground?”

      He said, “Daddy, snakes live in the lowland. But if you go up the mountain there’s something in biology and environmental studies called a snake line. Snakes can’t live above it. Because they asphyxiate. They suffocate. They’re cold blooded animals and they die.”

      Well, in America we’ve got to get our politics above the snake line.

      Have mercy, Jesus. Yeah, there are some snakes out here.

      There’s some low down policies out here.

      There’s some poison out here.

      Going backwards on voting rights, that’s below the snake line.

      Going backwards on civil rights, that’s below the snake line.

      Hurting people just because they have a different sexuality, that’s below the snake line.

      Stomping on poor people just because you got power, that’s below the snake line.

      Denying health care to the sick and keeping children from opportunity, that’s below the snake line.

      But I stopped by to tell you there’s got to be somebody that’s willing to go to higher ground.

      Higher ground, where every child is educated.

      Higher ground, where the sick receive health care.

      Higher ground, where the poor are lifted.

      Higher ground, where voting rights are secure.

      …And when I go up in the spirit, and I listen to the Lord, sometimes I’m reminded that the moral arc of the universe, it might be long, but it bends toward justice.

      Every now and then, when I’m up there on the higher ground, I hear the Lord say, “If God be for you, it doesn’t matter who’s against you.”

      Every now and the,n when I’m up there in the stratosphere, up there in the spirit, up there in the higher place I hear the Lord say, “Weeping may endure for a night, tea parties may endure for a night, Koch brothers may endure for a night, oppression may endure for a night, but hang in there, make your way to higher ground, because joy still comes in the morning.”

      I hear the prophet Isaiah say, “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings as eagles, they shall run and not get weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

      And for those of you that haven’t been to church lately, there’s an “Amen” goes right there…

      rev_barber4

      I should add that I haven’t yet had an opportunity really dig into the history of what Barber calls moral fusion movements America, so I can’t say to what extent, for instance, southern blacks and whites worked together in the wake of the Civil War, as he suggests, to push for progressive reforms. Regardless of how pervasive that movement may have been in the 1860′s, though, I think he’s on to something when he says that nothing brings out the sharp knives of the right wing like the prospect of whites and blacks coming together and talking about social justice. (Martin Luther King wasn’t killed, as you’ll recall, until he started building a successful coalition around poverty that crossed racial lines, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.) Furthermore, I think Barber is absolutely right on the money when he says that, if we want to make true, substantive change, we need to organize around morality. We cannot cede morality to the right. We need to fight for it. We need to reclaim it. There is an enormous opportunity for religious individuals and prograssives to come together on civil rights and social justice, and we cannot afford to let that opportunity pass. All it would take is a willingness on our part to step away from the right/left dichotomy that we’ve been handed and create something new. I know it’s not an easy thing to consider, as we’re in the middle of this all-consuming fight, but, unless we step back and regroup, we’re never going to win.

      [note: This transcript of Barber's speech was abbreviated significantly, and edited somewhat. If you have the time, and can't watch the above video in its entirety, I'd suggest reading the complete text.]

      Posted in Civil Liberties, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

      John Doe: On the origins of X, what the history books get wrong about the LA punk scene, and the fucked up state of our world

      john-doe-desert2

      I had the opportunity a few days ago to speak briefly with John Doe of the legendary Los Angeles punk band X. Doe, along with his bandmates Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, DJ Bonebrake, after making their way thorugh Chicago in early September, will be playing two dates in Michingan… September 6 at The Magic Bag in Ferndale, and September 8 at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids. And, on the 13th, Doe will be coming back to Michigan, on his own, to perform an acoustic set at the 8th annual Ypsi Song Fest. (Doe will be performing at 8:00 PM at the Bona Sera Underground. The event, thanks to the hard work of our friends at the Ypsilanti District Library, will be free and open to the public, as are all of the festival-related events to be held throughout the day.) While we didn’t have enough time to delve too deeply into his solo career, or the work he’s done over the past 20 years as an actor, we did have a chance to talk a quite a bit about his progression as a writer and the birth of the LA punk scene in the mid ‘70s. I hope you enjoy it.

      But first… For those of you who may not be familiar with X, here’s the first song by them that I ever heard, the absolutely brilliant title track from their 1980 debut album Los Angeles.

      [note: The following has been somewhat edited in hopes of making it more readable.]

      MARK: Before we get into X, and everything that’s come after it, I’d like to ask about your life prior to arriving in Los Angeles in ‘76. I know that you were born in Decatur, Illinois, in ‘54, and that you moved to Baltimore as a kid, and stayed there until you graduated from the Baltimore campus of Antioch College in 1975, but that’s about it… When did you first start writing songs?

      JOHN: I wrote a bunch of shitty songs when I was, I don’t know, 13 or 14. And I kept doing that until I was 22. So, 8 years, or something like that. And I think I started writing good songs just before I got to California. But California is where I really simplified things… And I probably first wrote something that was really worthwhile when I was 23 or 24.

      MARK: Do you remember why it was, at 13 or 14, that you decided to start writing songs?

      JOHN: When I was like 10, or maybe even a little younger, the British Invasion began. And we all saw that and thought, “Huh, that looks cool. I’d like to do that.” (laughs)

      MARK: Were you in Baltimore at the time?

      JOHN: Yeah, I was living outside of Baltimore.

      MARK: What took you to Baltimore?

      JOHN: My parents. My dad was a librarian, and he got better and better jobs, and we ended up in Baltimore.

      MARK: Given that you graduated from college in Baltimore in ‘75, you would have been in town when John Waters first started making films. I’m curious as to whether your paths ever crossed.

      JOHN: Oh, yeah. We hung out several times. I used to play at a place called Bertha’s. Me and another guy would play for tips. And John would be there in the late afternoon and we’d sit and talk about Tennessee Williams and other writers that we liked.

      MARK: Did you have an interest in film at that point… an interest in acting?

      JOHN: Yeah, I loved film, but I didn’t think I’d have an opportunity to… I didn’t have the interest to pursue it at that point.

      SlashXMARK: What did you think about John’s films at the time, and his whole scene in Baltimore?

      JOHN: I thought that his films were incredible. And he was the only true celebrity in Baltimore… He informed a lot of my sense of humor, and my ideas on pop culture, and punk rock.

      MARK: I’ve heard you mention elsewhere that you’d gone to New York relatively early on in the punk era, and visited CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City. As I’m guessing that you liked what you saw, I’m wondering why it was, later in ‘76, you decided to move to LA instead of New York. Did you get the sense that the scene in New York would have already peaked by the time you got there and started trying to put a band together, whereas it hadn’t really started yet in LA?

      JOHN: No, I was just sick of the east coast. There was much less freedom on the east coast. Mental state. Attitude. There still is. And I was inspired by the west coast writers. Nathaniel West. Raymond Chandler. Charles Bukowski. Diane Wakoski. Although she was more east coast. And, when I went to LA in March of ‘76, I loved it.

      MARK: That was your first time in LA?

      JOHN: Yeah, and then I moved out there in October.

      MARK: Speaking of the punk scene in New York, what did you think of it?

      JOHN: I thought it was great. It wasn’t over. It was just fully realized. I didn’t want to have to break into something that was already full-blown… But, really, the most important thing was that I couldn’t stand the summers, and the winters sucked as well. (laughs) Weather, and attitude, and just being burned out on, “Oh, you can’t do that. Don’t try to do that.” Fuck you.

      MARK: In ‘75 or ‘76, when you went to New York, did you go expressly to see what was happening around Max’s and CBGBs, or did you just kind of stumble on the scene when you were there?

      JOHN: My parents lived in Brooklyn at that point, so I had a free place to stay. And I knew that Patti Smith was giving readings at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project.

      MARK: So it was primarily the poetry side of things that had caught your attention… Had you heard about the Ramones before you went out?

      JOHN: No, not really.

      MARK: What bands did you see on that visit?

      JOHN: The Heartbreakers. The Talking Heads. And a couple of others that I don’t remember.

      MARK: Did you know by that point that you wanted to make music for a living? Or were you contemplating being a writer? Had you made up your mind yet which way you wanted to go?

      JOHN: No, I knew I wanted to do music since I was about 15.

      MARK: I ask because it was sounding to me like your interest in poetry kind of rivaled your interest in music at that time.

      JOHN: Sure. (laughs) But you can’t make a living as a poet. (raises voice) Are you kidding? (laughs)

      MARK: So what did you do first upon arriving in LA? I know that you met Exene at a poetry workshop in Venice Beach. Was that relatively early on?

      JOHN: Yeah, that was soon after (arriving in LA). I ran a poetry reading series in Baltimore with a few other poets. It was through the Baltimore branch of Antioch, where I went to college. And some of us ran this poetry reading series. We read the Beat poets. Some New York poets. Things like that. So I figured that was a good culture to tap into when I moved to LA. I knew that the Beats had started in Venice. And that’s where (I met) Exene.

      MARK: Having read over some of your comments about the LA punk scene, in preparation for our interview today, I noticed that there are a few themes that seem to keep coming up. One is a dissatisfaction with the way that the scene has been portrayed in books and films. If you were able to rewrite some of the history that’s been written about the origins of punk rock in LA, what is it that you’d most like to change?

      JOHN: I’d just want it to be more balanced. It’s all been very sensational. It’s traded on the sensationalism of the punk scene.

      MARK: When did the sensationalism start? Was it there before the Penelope Spheeris documentary The Decline of Western Civilization came out in ‘80 or ‘81? Was there an article that you can remember when you thought, “OK, that’s how they’re going to portray us?”

      JOHN: No, it wasn’t really happening before The Decline of Western Civilization. The people who wrote about punk rock first were people who got it. They were people in the underground press. And they understood that diversity and originality were the keystones of punk rock. I’d say the first time we realized it was when we saw the groups being included in The Decline of Western Civilization. There were so many more acceptable, and kind of rock and roll bands that were playing at the time (that didn’t get included in the movie). And that was the key to the LA scene. The LA scene understood Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran, and things like that. Whereas the New York scene was much more involved with the Velvet Underground, and art galleries, and the minimalism that Andy Warhol was all about.

      X IN THE DECLINE AND FALL OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION:

      MARK: So you knew, when you got involved in The Decline of Western Civilization, based on the other LA bands that Spheeris was talking to, that she was going to take that angle? Or did you just figure it out once it was all done and you saw it on the screen?

      JOHN: After it was all done. Yeah. We knew that they were choosing the more hardcore bands… although that wasn’t really a term back then. But we figured, “Oh, well. It’s exposure.”

      MARK: I’ve heard rumors over the years that Spheeris and her crew provided drugs and alcohol to the bands prior to filming, thus ensuring they got the kinds of over-the-top shots they were looking for. Can you confirm that?

      JOHN: That’s the story that I was told. Yes.

      MARK: But not in your case?

      JOHN: No. (laughs) We got our own. (laughs)

      MARK: I’m curious as to the timing of everything and how it all came together. It seems like it happened really quickly. You got there at the end of ‘76. And The Masque opened in early ‘77…

      JOHN: I think Brendan (Mullen) had already rented the space by the middle, or end, of ‘76.

      MARK: So you were getting to town right as it was opening… Do you remember the sequence of events.

      JOHN: I think it was pretty simultaneous.

      MARK: It’s just really interesting to me, the parallel between New York, where you had CBGB and Punk magazine kind of blosuming at the same time, and LA, where you had The Masque and the zine Slash kind o doing the same thing. I guess you need that to have a successful scene. You need the right club with the right environment, and the right people promoting it, writing about it.

      tumblr_mkd26aWDCV1rr08i5o1_500JOHN: It was time. It was in the air. It was in the water. It was time for that to happen. That’s why it happened almost simultaneously… like within a year or so… in New York, and then London, and then LA. The New York bands were coming to the Whisky, and other places. So was The Damned. And eventually Devo. It was just time.

      MARK: I’m curious as to how things evolved once the more sensationalistic narrative about punk got out there, portraying the movement as a relatively narrow one, built on a foundation of violence and nihilism… I’m assuming that a different group of people started coming out to shows once this violent vision of punk started making its way into the mainstream by way of shows like Quincy and CHiPs, right?

      JOHN: Yeah, but that was already happening. In that way, The Decline of Western Civilization was just reflecting what was already starting. The more people that start arriving at a scene, the harder it is to have a unified message, and acceptance, and things like that… Like accepting all of the different people within the subculture.

      MARK: As you’ve mentioned, at the beginning, the movement was a lot more broad and diverse. What bands tend to get left out of the story that should be remembered?

      JOHN: The Weirdos. They were a rock and roll band. They dressed more like an art rock group, but they were really a rock and roll band. And I hear that they’re playing again, which is exciting.

      MARK: So X is no longer “the last punk band standing,” as you’re known to refer to yourselves?

      JOHN: (laughs) Well, I don’t know. They don’t have all of the original members, so we still have that title. As for other bands, I would have included The Go-Go’s. I would have included the The Plugz, who were there from the beginning. The Bags. The Alley Cats. Black Randy and the MetroSquad, which was a totally crazy outfit… Black Randy was a sociopath. (laughs) He was truly insane. But it was more irreverent and playful, and not confrontational. Black Randy’s music was kind of twisted R&B.

      MARK: Have you ever thought about writing something of your own, to chronicle your experiences in the scene.

      JOHN: Yeah, actually I’m working on that now.

      MARK: How’s it going?

      JOHN: Good. It’s actually not just going to be just me. It’ll be a collaborative book, where different people who are good writers, or can write, and have an interest in it, that they each have chapters. So it’s cooperative, or collaborative, like the punk rock scene was.

      MARK: Will it be about the LA scene, or will it be more broad than that?

      JOHN: No, just the LA scene… That’s the only one I really know about.

      MARK: Would I be overstating the importance of The Masque if I said that there wouldn’t have been an LA scene without it? That, while there was a lot of activity in the way of house parties, people needed an epicenter… a place to coalesce around?

      JOHN: I don’t think you can (overstate it). That was the place that knit most of it together. But, most people lived in Hollywood or West Hollywood. So we just saw each other. People were around.

      MARK: Was there any animosity toward Brendan? I seem to recall a comment in the documentary, X: The Unheard Music, in which something was said like, “No one made any money back then, except for Brendan.” Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it made me wonder if bands may have felt, to some extent, that he was making money on the scene when they weren’t.

      JOHN: Hmmm… Maybe… You know, because high school is never too far away… But not really, no.

      MARK: And Brendan was also involved with the book We Got the Neutron Bomb : The Untold Story of L.A. Punk, which you’ve had some less than positive things to say about.

      JOHN: Brendan definitely should have some some more fact checking.

      X: THE UNHEARD MUSIC:

      MARK: And, what are you up to these days? Didn’t you just, over four consecutive days, play your first four records back-to-back, in their entirety?

      JOHN: Yeah, we’re on a tour now. It’s great, you know. We’re doing three cities… New York, Chicago, and Cleveland… where we’re doing the four record stand. And then several others, like Philly, Pittsburgh, DC, Atlanta, Hartford, Boston, and a couple of places around Detroit, where we’re just playing single shows. And then we’ve also been working on a quote-unquote acoustic version, which we did a tour of on the west coast, and I think that we’re going to pursue that (elsewhere).

      MARK: It seems to me that doing the complete record shows back to back would be really daunting. Was it tiring? In retrospect, do you think it was overly ambitious?

      JOHN: A little bit. But, you know, it’s like Bette Davis said, “Getting old, or being in show business, isn’t for sissies.” You’ve just got to take care of yourself and have a strong spirit.

      MARK: And, are you still acting?

      JOHN: Yeah, I worked on a couple of films in 2012. And I’ve had a bunch of requests recently, but I haven’t been able to do them. It’s always a juggling act… One of the films I did in 2012 is called Pleased to Meet Me. It’s available through video-on-demand. It had a limited theatrical run. We showed in in Louisville, where we shot it, and Cincinnati, and Chicago, and a few other cities in the south and midwest.

      Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 2.13.21 PMMARK: Amiee Man was in that too, right?

      JOHN: Yeah, Amiee Mann, Loudon Wainwright, and Joe Henry. It was good.

      MARK: What was your role in that?

      JOHN: I basically played a different version of myself… It’s a good film. It’s very indie. We made it in about ten days for a dollar and a half.

      MARK: It seems like you’ve found a nice balance between the worlds of music and film, kind of like Harry Dean Stanton.

      JOHN: (laughs) In my dreams. I’d love to be half as good and Harry Dean.

      MARK: There’s really no one better positioned than you to inherit his position in Hollywood when he retires, is there?

      JOHN: (laughs) Well, I’ll take that as a high compliment.

      MARK: Did you take acting classes, or just kind of pick it up naturally?

      JOHN: I took a few classes. Actually, it was after I worked with Harry Dean in a movie. I realized that I was being left in the dust. So I thought that I should figure it out. I did some improv and some team study. But, for the most part, it’s been on the job training.

      MARK: I didn’t realize when I mentioned Stanton that you’d actually worked with him. What was the film?

      JOHN: It wasn’t a very good movie. It was ambitious, though. It was called Slam Dance.

      MARK: And what was it about his acting that made you realize that this was a real craft that you needed to work at?

      JOHN: The power. He had this subtle power without really even doing anything.

      MARK: Speaking of power, would you like to talk politics for a minute? I’m curious as to what you think about the state of the world today.

      JOHN: I don’t know that it’s… Hmmm… I think people should look behind the veil. I think that a lot of stuff is being played and manipulated. I’m not a fan of our government. I think that a person scorned is a terrible thing. And I feel that a lot of people are either right wing and reactionary, or left wing and disappointed. But I think a lot of it is being spun, and a lot of it is being played… We’re in a really strange place. And I’ll give you an example of that. Exene and I went out to have lunch, and her bill was like $15. And she’d just been to a casino, so she had a $100 bill. And this was at a chain restaurant. And she tried to pay for it with this $100 bill, and this young man says, “Oh, corporate says we can’t take that, because there have been so many phonies.” And Exene says, “But it’s not a new one.” It was an old $100 bill. And he said, “Yeah, I know, but corporate says we can’t take it.” It’s just frightening that people can’t make up their own minds, can’t make a judgement call… “Corporate says that we can’t do this.” It’s just weird. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I think that is sad and strange… That’s fucked up. (laughs)

      MARK: Everyone lucky enough to have a job, I guess, is just so fearful and anxious that they might lose it. More broadly, though, I agree with you that these are crazy times. There’s a lot of fear. With global warming, water shortages, a steadily shrinking middle class, tanks on our streets, and everything else… People know that we’re living through a period of enormous change, and it’s terrifying. And there’s a kind of madness in the air. And people are beginning to turn on one another. But maybe there’s some positive too. Maybe this is an opportunity for positive, sustainable change and stronger communities. Assuming, of course, that people can get their shit together before it’s too late.

      JOHN: Yeah, I don’t know. I just think a lot of stuff is being manipulated. And I don’t think we have even a quarter of the story.

      MARK: You certainly see that with billionaires, like the Koch brothers, pouring millions of dollars into creating fake grassroots campaigns, convincing people, for instance, that it’s in their best interest to fight against laws to address global warming, when it’s clearly not. There are definitely forces behind the scenes, pulling strings.

      JOHN: Yeah, there’s that… But also I’m suspicious of the sudden emergence of ISIS. Suddenly it’s like, “Oh, there’s the boogeyman!” And we’re in for the next 100 year war because anybody who is somehow connected to al Qaeda or the Taliban are also our enemies. So we give the President the right… “Oh, they’re the enemy. Get them.”

      MARK: And we send in the drones… So, on to happier matters, you’re going to be coming to Ypsilanti in a few weeks to perform an acoustic show as part of a local songwriting festival. And I expect, while you’re here, you’ll have an opportunity to talk a bit about writing with folks at the event, many of whom, I’m sure, will be young, aspiring writers…

      Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 12.25.46 PMJOHN: I’m looking forward to it. I’ve taught writing workshops in the past, and it’s something that I think a lot about.

      MARK: I think it’s especially important now, given the recent cuts to public education arts programs, to have these kind of events for young people, who desperately need that creative outlet…

      JOHN: Art is where reality and truth intersect with our dreams. It’s that meetingplace.

      MARK: What would your advice be to yourself, as that 13 year old aspiring writer?

      JOHN: Just find things. Be fearless. And find things (to write about)… (laughs) I also have theory that, if you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it, so the advice really doesn’t matter. (laughs) I would say, “Don’t do it.” Because, if you’re going to, you will anyway.

      John Doe will be performing at the 8th annual Ypsi Song Fest on the evening of September 13. The festival is presented by the Ypsilanti District Library, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

      If, by chance, you enjoyed this interview and want to read what some other famous musicians were thinking about at they contemplated their trips to Ypsilanti, check out our interviews with The Coup’s Boots Riley and Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye. Both are awesome.

      Oh, and it you don’t recognize that last image, it’s of Doe being fired by Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse.

      Posted in Art and Culture, History, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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