The Thing About Ghosts

You believe in ghosts.

Just admit it.

Emerging from the spirit world, they make themselves known to you in many ways. And when they do you can’t shake that creepy feeling that something is happening beyond your control. It’s a duality of an expressive energy insisting to be acknowledged, yet remain hidden.

Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Hear me out.

It’s easy to dismiss the entire concept when referencing historical stereotypes of “ghosts.” Most of those are complete BS. You know, the apparition of a Confederate general at the top of a staircase in some antebellum tourist trap. Yada yada yada.

When you really delve into it, discrediting such stereotypes becomes quite easy. How did you know it was a Confederate general? Well, the uniform, of course. That’s your first clue right there. Real ghosts are naked.

Buck naked.

Think about it. By definition, a ghost is “a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image.” That concept demands the conversion of the human body into a spirit. Or, perhaps, a spirit contained within a human body exiting at the time of death. Hence,”nebulous.” It’s safe to assume wool, cotton blends, polyester, etc., do not possess the capacity to participate in this metamorphosis.

Now, take that one step further and assume the spirit retains the human intelligence, learned values, and experiences from its previous form. Finding itself newly unclothed, it for damn sure doesn’t want to be seen like that.

Ghosts are embarrassed, and probably quite chilly.

Every ghost is aware that if he or she were revealed as an apparition, you’d be too distracted by the raw reality, and unable to focus on any other point they may wish to convey. Thus, they are relegated to poking and nudging you as invisible entities.

Now you know.


That Guy

Today, I feel like “that guy.”

You know, that guy you didn’t pick to be on your basketball team and he shuts down your best player, giving you no chance to win.

I’m that employee guy you laid off because company funds were low and you end up paying him five times his salary in consultant fees.

I’m that unpretentious martial artist who flies under the radar until you find yourself matched up against him and it becomes “ohhhh shit” time.

I’m that band member who takes over and saves your gig when the “star” didn’t show.

You don’t want to mess with that guy.

Yesterday, I was that guy you called when your world was falling apart. So on some level you always knew who “that guy’ was.

Maybe I’m not really your guy, but I bet you have one you don’t fully appreciate. Take a moment to figure out who that guy is.

Beyond Civility


I just wrote two long political rants for Facebook and deleted both of them. Those sentiments are probably more suitable for this much-neglected blog where I don’t have to be so pithy.

Let me summarize the rants in caveman speak: Trump bad. Trump sycophants bad. How’s that? Yeah, sure, you’ve heard it before. This is more about how I plan to interact with them.

Moving forward, I’ll no longer walk on eggshells politely debating Trump supporters while they prop up one of the most uncivil leaders in history. They’ve chosen to ally themselves with disrespectful, mean-spirited demagoguery. There should be a consequence to that association. Engaging that cult with a “play nice” posture is enabling for them.

To some of my more liberal friends: You want to be nice? Kudos to you. You’re probably better humans than me.

Please don’t tell me to take the high road and pile on the stress that comes with internalizing my true feelings. I’ve tried that. I’m calling a spade a spade. If my blood pressure is going to spike, the other guy should at least feel something. Trump supporters shouldn’t be able to demand civility while splashing around in the fan club of a provocateur. And the rest of us should not let them off the hook.

I’m getting old and cranky. I just want to enjoy my guitar, my dog, my poor friends, my gay friends, my Latino friends, my Muslim friends, my Black friends…You get the message. That’s not just rhetoric. Unlike much of the Trumpland populace, I’ve been blessed with dear friends in all those categories.

If you are one of the intolerant ones spewing the not-so-subtle White Nationalist talking points seeping down from rightwing media, go screw yourself. If you find merit in the likes of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, or WhoTF else, fine. Keep away from me. There are 7.7 billion people on the planet. You certainly don’t need me for anything.

On Facebook, I try to vet people who send me friend requests. I check their timelines for posts and memes I don’t want to be associated with. Sometimes I get the old bait and switch and find nasty anti-liberal political memes on my feed. I will randomly “go off” on some of them.

Understand I don’t mind thoughtful, conservative, debatable stuff. But if all you ever have to contribute is a “funny” meme painting the other side as “evil,” then you’re basically an idiot, or someone too lazy to garner any real respect for your views.

I’m guilty of posting provocative memes, too, but I attempt to intersperse them with a  balance of reason, facts, and a studied read of the issues.

Most of us don’t thrive on all this bad blood. I would suggest rather than complain about millions of people like me who need to voice their pain, vote it away.

Proud Snowflake

I’m confounded by the Conservatives expansion of the term “snowflake” to encompass all Liberals whom they believe to be too passive and delicate to handle the world’s real problems. To those Conservatives, the label of “snowflake” seems to imply a general lack of toughness.

Hmmm…. So now we have the following strange phenomenon.

Typical Conservative candidate on the verge of hyperventilating: “Immigrants are gonna getcha! Homos are gonna getcha! Be afraid! Be VERY afraid! And….and….. Muslims are gonna getcha! Quick, buy a gun! And… and… and… Don’t listen to that shit coming out of the universities and the media. They’re trying to convince you that knowledge, facts, and dumb stuff like that are important. THEY’RE GONNA GETCHAAAH!”

Typical Liberal candidate: “Don’t relinquish your rights because of fear. Don’t get pushed around by xenophobes. Let’s honor the commitment we made to DACA recipients.”

Conservatives to Liberal candidate: “Snowflake!”

Does that make sense? I’m confused.

Now, the term was originally used to encourage children, reminding them that they are all unique and special in some way—just as every snowflake is unique.  Granted, that does sound a little corny, and it’s something today’s Conservatives are smuggly scoffing at. You know, a sissified approach to life. It’s much better to show them how to use a gun.snowflake-2

Yet nearly every single issue comprising today’s Conservative platform suggests that change is something to be feared. “Let’s make America great again by turning back the clock to a time before any of this scary social evolution started.”

So who’s really a snowflake?

Today we see the big, bad, gun-totin’ NRA is scared shitless of a handful of high school kids armed only with experience, the facts of history, and the courage to stand up and face them down to reveal their true self interests.

How does the NRA respond? They respond not with logic or debate, but with a video campaign right out the ISIS handbook designed to intimidate anyone who opposes them.

Ultimately, they will frighten everyone except those Liberal “snowflakes.”

A Few Thoughts on the Dreamers

dreamers-2In my mind, one analogy keeps returning: The world is a stormy place and many countries are like capsized ships where decent people can be found treading water.

As American citizens we don’t always appreciate the rights, freedoms, and privileges we have. Perhaps we never fully appreciate them. Unless we are Native Americans we are, in fact, immigrants or descendants of immigrants. I know you’ve heard this before. However, please focus on the idea that an immigrant is someone who swam from a capsized ship to what appeared to be a rescue boat. A shining light. A beacon. An ideal.

Think about the capsized ship scenario. Some people will drift forever clinging to pieces of the ship. Others will have the initiative and courage it takes to swim away. Initiative and courage are traits we should all aspire to have.

rescue1When we speak of Dreamers we are talking about the children of the most recent swimmers. They are in our churches, our schools, working and making positive contributions everywhere. Some contribute more than others, of course, but on average they contribute more good things to our societies than native born American citizens. On average Dreamers achieve more. They make our country better in uncountable ways. There is really no doubt about that.

Dreamers are simply a more recent version of our own history, only without a certain piece of paper. They cannot be lumped together and classified as good or bad. They are essentially us. I submit to you that we are all Dreamers.

The world keeps turning and time cruises along. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow will become history. Is it fair to arbitrarily draw a line and say, “This country is ours because we’ve been here longer.”? I think not.

When you make that statement you are placing yourself in a certain group of people: The people who reach the rescue boat and pull the ladder up behind them because being safe is the culmination of their little universe. I tend to refer to those people as assholes.

When pressed, most of us will admit that we need to choose leaders who are ethically superior enough to give the order to leave the ladder alone. We know there may be a time when a hurricane strikes, or an enemy attacks, and we find ourselves needing a ladder to climb out of a disaster. The ladder should remain available.

capsizedCase in point, a hurricane strikes an island devastating everything. A “leader” will send aid and dump it in the center of the island proclaiming, “Look at me. I did a wonderful thing! Too bad that incompetent local government didn’t distribute the aid I sent.” While a real leader of conscience and compassion will understand that every single individual comprising the local government is also a victim of the hurricane. The right thing to do is much, much more than a supply dump followed by a photo op, followed by a ladder removal.

As an American I am truly embarrassed by the actions of our current leadership. The world is watching. The world is actively protesting us. It’s surreal. This is not making America great again by any sociopathic stretch of the imagination.

I’ve heard it said recently that the United States should place the same filtering system on immigrants that many other countries have. You know, follow the crowd. I will argue that greatness does not come from copying others, but by taking risks with those who show courage and initiative.

A Few Practical Words on Islamophobia

The number of Muslims in the world is somewhere between 1.6 bil. and 2 bil. That’s a really hard number to fathom. Too many to assimilate through conversion. Too many to kill with bombs. And certainly too many to paint with one broad brush.

By comparison, at it’s height the number of active ISIS fighters was around 30,000. That number is easier to understand. Let’s say it’s the number of people at a Major League Baseball game.

If you created a bar graph where 1.6 bil. were represented by a 6 inch bar, the bar representing 30,000 would be imperceptible. Try to let that sink in.

The extremists claiming to represent Islam are, no doubt, extremely dangerous. When they strike, it gets magnified by ubiquitous media. It’s a scary thing.

But here’s the deal. There is a war of recruitment going on.

You really, really don’t want to piss off 1.6 bil. otherwise benign citizens. Angry, unenlightened, fearful rhetoric against Islam is a very dangerous thing. When this gets spouted by your leader, it increases the chance that you will become a target for the bad guys. It lessens the chance that the good Muslims will cooperate with you.

That’s just stupid talking.trump

We have to live together on this planet until we die. There are passages in the Quran and the Bible that, when wielded by the wrong people, are extremely intolerant and inhumane. Over time we must decipher, evaluate and, ultimately, evolve into compatible communities.

I have faith that all people are generally good, but easily manipulated by angry rhetoric and hidden agendas.

Love your neighbor.


I recently took some grief for saying I felt safer in Indonesia than walking the streets of New Orleans at night. People were quick to point out that I was a man in a misogynistic culture.


However, one thing I will point out is that there are over 340 mil. guns in the private sector of the United States. If properly organized, that fire power could conquer much of the world without using our military.

In Indonesia it is almost impossible to get a license to own a weapon. Just something to think about.

For the Record: I’m Not Angry

I am unabashedly anti-Trump, anti-ignorance, pro-free press and pro-America. However, today I hope I have finally risen above the anger which grew logarithmically from my very core following the 2016 election.

The entire world is pointing at America’s self-indicting president with befuddlement. The writing is on the wall. For all practical purposes it’s OVER folks.

Mark it down.

I will go to sleep tonight knowing I am on the correct side of future history. This might come across as a “neener neener” thing, but I don’t mean it that way.swamp

The president is being protected by the GOP majority in Congress … for now, but I believe the war on main stream media is not one Republicans will want to fight in their individual political campaigns. Some are beginning to realize that when you “drain the swamp,” which sometimes includes main stream media, those homeless swamp creatures start wandering into your back yard. Republicans will turn against Trump or lose the majority. Either way, the Donald bites the dust.

Most Trump supporters I encounter seem to take some kind of morbid pleasure in the anger and frustration of people like me. Perhaps they feel they are transferring the anger which caused them to vote for Trump in the first place.


That’s neither important nor consequential.

In the back of my mind I had been hoping the Trump presidency would end before I lost my ability to forgive the ignorance that elected him. But that’s not a personal issue for me anymore. I am not angry. Neither am I giddy about the inevitable collapse of this president. I’m merely focusing on the horizon where hope yet lies.

A Message to Friends Regarding the Muslim Ban

Just sharing a little personal experience here. A stream of conscience, if you will.

I understand that fear of the unknown is natural. Seeing a Muslim extremist on television about to chop off someone’s head is frightening indeed. So many of my friends have strong opinions on this and yet the vast majority of those friends don’t even know a single Muslim. Not one.

While working with government contractors and associations I’ve had the opportunity to work with quite a few Muslims. I’ve had a Muslim supervisor. I’ve worked for a company with an Iranian president I assume to be Muslim. I recall being in meetings where no two people were from the same country. There was a harmony of purpose to achieve common goals together. No one blinked. No one regarded anyone else with suspicion. On several occasions it was a Muslim who had my back, so to speak.

I’ve also performed music regularly at a restaurant owned by a Muslim. My music wasn’t censored. The money was green. All good stuff.

How strange is it that some people are willing to include dogs and cats within their concept of friendship, but not Muslims.

I make no claims to any expertise in this area, but I’ve noticed that the countries in Europe where terrorism is the biggest concern have Muslim communities that are marginalized. In those countries most of the Muslim population live in ghettos segregated from the main population. Laws are passed controlling the way they live and dress. Some sensible, some merely exclusive.

It’s always been different here in the U.S. Muslims come here, albeit in fewer numbers, and assimilate seamlessly for the most part. They are happy, productive and patriotic.

Your new president (sorry, I just can’t bring myself to say “our”) has the power to change this. His actions are that of a reactionary rather than an intellectual. I want to say he’s just f@/king dumb, but I’m trying to write with some degree of sophistication.

Banning Muslims sends a huge message. A message large enough to cause a sensitive high school kid to abandon his plans on medical school because he now feels disenfranchised—a potential ISIS recruit in the making.

Sure, some of the Islamic traditions seem backwards and primitive to the western world. I certainly believe they need to evolve. But I really doubt that ostracizing them or cramming our culture down their collective throats is going to have the desired effect. We should live by example and watch as they adopt over time to a more progressive world. We should punish them when they actually break a law, not before.

There are Islamic extremist nutcases out there—foreign and domestic. It seems they don’t pick their targets randomly. I don’t plan to live in fear, but neither do I want my country to adopt policies guaranteed to make us more of a target.

But really, I guess that’s my way of saying if you don’t actually know any Muslims you have no credibility with me.

Christmas in Aleppo

Aleppo is dominating the news this morning. Millions have lost their homes and the slaughter continues.

Uncountable deaths of innocent people.

Immeasurable devastation and tragedy throughout one of the world’s oldest cities.

Simple loving families a lot like (y)ours are still caught in the middle of a clusterf@ck of not-so-innocent dictators battling revolutionaries and whacked out terrorist groups.  All vying for power in the hell they’ve created.

Yet, several world leaders are being demonized for helping the refugees. Imagine that. I simply can’t.

Rather than an extreme vetting process, I propose a hug line. Force each refugee to pass through hundreds of welcomers willing to make an attempt at squeezing the anger and sadness out of them. Huggers who will look the victims square in their eyes and say, “Merry Christmas.”

Instead of parading them like cattle into cold bureaucratic prison-like facilities, hand out mugs of fresh eggnog and hot chocolate.


Contrary to the sanctimonious rantings of our fear-mongering politicians, it’s not possible to exterminate a religion or an ideology, but over time we might be able to change its perception of us.

But that’s just my view.

I’ve personally discovered that there are kind, beautiful people everywhere on Earth. If you don’t believe this, I can guarantee you have not traveled much or ventured beyond the “tourist zones.”

I’m motivated to say these things because every day I interact with people who feel the exact opposite of what I feel. The thing we have in common is that we are inconsequential beyond expressing our opinions from the comfort of our cozy still-intact homes.

You may know the ancient adage of “two wolves fighting within us.” Summarily, there’s a good wolf and a bad wolf at war in each of us. The one you feed eventually wins the fight. But I digress.

Don’t I think it’s scary to let those “strange” Muslims in our country? Well, I figure the choice comes down to giving in to fear or living up to “home of the brave.”

Carry on.

What We Steal from Our Children


I recall a conversation with two women who grew up in Taiwan. They said they wish they had grown up in the United States. I can’t quote them exactly, but the gist of it was that we Americans love and spoil our children. We have Disney World and Christmas and all sorts of special events and traditions designed to make their lives special — perhaps more so than anywhere else on Earth. I remember thinking how lucky I was.

Fast forward to 2016 and one of my African American bandmates tells me a story of a young girl, perhaps his granddaughter, who posed a question to him. She said, “You mean there is going to be a white president?” I don’t know how old she was, but it’s possible she’d never seen a white president before.

Expanding on that I realized, like me, she had never experienced a president who lacked the ability to act presidential. President Obama, in spite of any faults or shortcomings, always presented himself with the class and dignity worthy of the office. He was and remains thoughtful, intelligent, articulate, measured and polite even in the face of unwarranted attacks. When his face appears along side all those white presidents who came before him, I see someone who fits right in the iconography of American presidents. The revered decorum of it all.

Fast forward yet again. Let’s say four years from now. What type of behavior will a young child expect from a president? Will that child be led to assume all our past presidents were babbling, irreverent clowns?

The election of 2016 has been shameful.

I know that many of our past presidents were no saints. The list includes several corrupt individuals, adulterers, alcoholics, and who knows what else. But my blissful ignorance of the details allows me to remain somewhat proud of the history overall. I’m pretty sure we’ve just laid an ax to the root of that tree.

On behalf of my fellow adults of voting age, I feel the need to apologize to the coming generation of young Americans. We blew it. We have destroyed civility on the world’s largest stage. We normalized vindictive, selfish behavior. We’ve empowered and validated a man no one can predict, much less hope to control.

This has to change. Let’s make America great again.