What's that smell?

     We're living in some strange times. There's a ridiculous presidential campaign that seems like it been going on for a decade now, there's been another mass shooting not far from where someone shot a singer made famous from one of those contest shows. Prince's name is now added to a sad list of musicians who succumbed due to drug overdose. Justin Bieber still has a fan base....things are dark.

     Several things I find I'm learning, or learning again. One, my dog is smarter than I give him credit for. If you've met my dog, I give him more credit than most. After joyously destroying a baseball last week, he figured out out to open a drawer to get to the replacement baseball. Yes, open a drawer. Amazing. He also knows exactly when I become, uhh, immobile. The bathroom door closes and the tell-tale sounds of him licking something on the counter reverberate through the house, followed by angry exhortations emanating from my mouth, exhortations that he knows he can ignore because there's no way I'll get there in time to stop him. 

     Other things I'm re-learning. The cliquey attitudes that people develop in school don't go away, they fester and evolve. Well, a lot of people, that is. I don't fall into this category, or at least I don't think I do. I base decisions and opinions on fact, not on rumors and false innuendo. Many people don't. Check out this graduation speech that Jon Lovett delivered in 2013 at the Pitzer College Commencement:

(if you can't link it, copy and paste it into your browser)

     That speech was three years ago and it's gotten worse. Is there a level beyond maximum bullshit? To borrow from Spaceballs, yes, we're barreling towards Ludicrous Bullshit, to be referred to now as LB. This isn't just on a national political stage, it's at all levels of government, in our media, in our interpersonal relationships, and, unfortunately, in our music. Let's look at this one by one.

Nationally, we've been suffering through a horrible presidential campaign with only one clear choice for president, and he probably won't make it past the Democratic Convention due to party machine politics. We're left with no good choice for November, with people asked to vote for the lesser of two evils. This isn't anything new, but what drives me nuts is that people are telling me I need to vote against my conscious simply to keep the really evil one out. No thank you. It's my right to vote, or not to vote, and suffer the consequences. It's called a democracy. You might be okay with bending your values and morals to keep the more evil out, but I don't think I am. And that's okay. I'm not going to judge you for your election choices. I may not agree with it, you may not agree with me and that's fine. Here's the big thing. I've made my decisions based on policy, not right-wing hate rhetoric, or right-wing media control. While I think sheep are really cool to watch and hang out with, I am not a sheep. When a candidate accepts large amounts of money from Wall Street, Monsanto, and that candidate supports fracking, I will not vote for that candidate. That's my trifecta if you will. It's simple. I do not smell and male cow manure smell in my statement. I also won't vote for someone who wants to ban people from entering our country based upon the color of their skin or the religion they choose to follow. That's simple, clear, and lacking odor. 

A recent horrible shooting has occurred again. My social media feed has some recurring themes. The majority are good, spreading messages of condolence, peace, and love, messages that embrace us all as one big community that cares. Then there's the other messages, messages that claim that guns aren't to blame for this tragedy, but godless communities with no morals are to blame. I smell something.....what could it be? Yes, BULLSHIT. My favorite verses from the bible are ones where Jesus is preaching to the masses at the firing range, showing off his new fully automatic rifle. If anyone can preach it, the son of god can...it's a god given right to have any gun you want..wait, are you saying that's not anywhere in the bible? But people all over the interwebs are saying it? It's not in there? You're damn right it's not in there. A peace loving longhair that wander around Galilee in the company of fishermen, prostitutes, and vagrants didn't have access to guns. He didn't carry a sword either, at least in the accounts I've read. He was a non-violent guy, except for that incident in the temple where he went ballistic on the money-changers. But I don't believe he physically assaulted anyone. It's not a lack of god in our communities, it's a lack or morals in our world. God has nothing to do with it. According to our constitution, no god has a place in our schools. That's not an attack on your religion, that's fact. Everyone in our country is free to worship whatever god they want, or not to worship any god. It's part of that whole freedom thing everyone likes to spout off about. We live in a society where people bow and pray to consumerism, but they don't give a rat's behind about the genuine, important things, like caring about your community. Like limiting access to dangerous, high powered firearms. 

   Wait, do you smell bullshit? Did I really just write dangerous firearms? Aren't all firearms dangerous? Well, yes, but so are all cars, so are all lawn mowers, and so are all angle grinders (my favorite tool) if used improperly. I've been a hunter for a long time. I see hunting as the only reason to own a firearm. You don't need a gun that holds more than two or three rounds to hunt. If you do, you need more practice at the target range. No one is calling for the outlawing of all firearms. No one, no reasonable person, is calling for banning hunting. We need reasonable restrictions. You need a license to drive a car. You should need a license to own a gun. It is that simple. And any of you reading this are concerned because you need your guns so you can defend yourself from the government, please, for the sake of us all, go get some counseling. If you dream of a fire fight, or live combat, go join the French Foreign Legion. I'm sure they can help you out with that. 

Locally, we have small time politicians that are pushing personal agenda with little caring for what's right, or what's in the best interest of the communities they serve. This goes on all over, I'm sure. This plays itself out in secrecy. Let me ask you a question. Is there any need for secrecy at a local town meeting? Is there any place for secrecy on a school board? No, there isn't. If you have to keep secrets and you're on one of these boards, then what you're trying to do probably isn't in the best interest of the people you serve. If it is, then put it out in the open and promote it. If you can't discuss it in public, then don't discuss it. That's how being moral and ethical play out. 

So I've ranted here about stuff that has little to do with music. It actually has a lot to do with music. Study after study shows that participation in music programs enhances brain function and learning. 

Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0JKCYZ8hng

Everything in education nowadays is supposed to be data driven. This is solid data, that music makes people's brains function better. Yet many schools make it difficult for kids to participate in music. If an administrator claims that they are there to serve the students and make them the best they can be, then puts in a schedule that makes participating in band almost impossible, that administrator is not acting in the best interest of the students they're serving. It's that simple, no BS. 

On a consumer music level, I've already mentioned the ridiculousness that is Justin Bieber or any of the myriads of other crappy musicians who are dominating the airwaves. One of my favorite all-time albums is Tom Petty's The Last DJ. Haven't heard much of it? You should. It critiques the music industry and says what needs to be said, no BS. If you don't own this album, go get it today by whatever means necessary. Except for stealing, don't steal it or commit an act of violence to get it. Let me change that statement. If you don't own The Last DJ already, go out and legally and non-violently acquire it forthwith. 

This might seem like a depressing essay about the state of what is a rather depressing time. It's not though. It's a request, a simple request. What am I requesting? I am simply asking that you call the bullshit when you see it. Don't buy into false rhetoric. Don't buy crappy music. Hold your head up high and call out that bullshit from the highest peaks. Do it with a silly accent. Come up with a catchphrase such as (said in faux British accent), "You sir (or Madame), are full of shit!", or perhaps (with a faux southern accent), "Cletus, I do declare that you're full of male cow excrement!", or perhaps (with a faux western cowboy/miner accent, the one that breaks slightly like a boy going through puberty, or even Yosemite Sam, "Well, if you ain't full of the turds of an uncastrated male cow, I'll be a monkey's uncle!" I could go on but I won't.....

How's about you add your catchphrase to the comments below, or to the comments on my fb page. No time limit. Add it when you're ready.