#SoldOut Raising Funds and Awareness

I recall many years ago standing on the terraces at Hampden Park, Glasgow with 145,000 other rabid fans, waiting for the teams to come out of the tunnel to begin the annual Scotland v England ‘Home International’ football,(soccer), game. There would always be 140,000 Scots and about 5,000 English fans in attendance. As a Scot, born and bred, I was brought up, just like the majority of others who were standing around me, to ‘hate’ the English with a vengeance. It was just part of our parochial culture at that time, and probably still is today, although I have not lived in Scotland for 40 years and with the demise of Scottish football and an awareness that political correctness is now the order of the day, perhaps the ferocity of that hatred has mellowed. The two teams, now standing in the center of the field, would face the main stand, where all the dignitaries were seated, and the British national anthem would begin, God Save the Queen. This was before the Scots were allowed to sing their own anthem, a change in protocol that occurred some years later. The band, yes, a real brass or bagpipe band, would strike up the first chord and immediately there would be a wall of noise emanating from the Scottish support just booing as loud as possible at the UK anthem. It completely drowned out the band and any semblance they had in mind of being heard as a unit. We hated that anthem, supposedly, and we all gave it little or indeed no respect. Within seconds, our vocal distaste of everything that the British Monarchy stood for was demonstrated by this blasphemous howling and booing which seemed to last an eternity, but which in fact lasted only about 120 seconds, the length of the British national anthem being quite short. Once over, the game began and the fact that 140,000 Scottish football fanatics had remonstrated vocally against our forced inclusion under the monarchy we all loved, or at least some of us loved, was soon forgotten as the football took over and blood and guts was then spilled on the field of play rather than on the streets of Glasgow. It should also be noted that while the anthem was sung by the players on the field from the England team, all the Scottish team just stood in silence, some smiling, some not, but to a tee, not one of the Scottish team would sing along. It was an unwritten rule, followed religiously. Silent protests against supposed oppression, acceptable and respected throughout the world. No harm done, no one to cry foul. Until now!

When Colin Kaepernick knelt down for the Star Spangled Banner whilst playing for the San Francisco 49rs some two years ago, the whole world, at least the world that surrounded American Football and Donald Trump, went berserk, and for what reason? Well as far as I can tell, the National Anthem was never played at any sporting event before the end of the second world war. And even after that, there were sports events in the USA where the anthem remained just a figment of everyone’s imagination, laying silent as battle commenced on the field of play. So why, all of a sudden, after Kaepernick and some of his fellow Pro’s decided to protest, quite justifiably in silence to make what has turned out to be a very relevant point on an issue that has haunted this country for generations, has the President of the United States and the owners of some of the football teams where protests have been continual and well publicized, lost the plot by telling players they will be fired if they continue to ‘abuse their privilege’? There is not one reason on earth why anyone should be forced to alter their beliefs, especially those who feel threatened or abused and more especially inside a country that not only preaches pure democracy and a right to free speech to the whole planet, but a country that encourages its populous to be vocal in the form of protest when under threat of unjustifiable racism. Racism is rife in America. You can smell it in the streets, it’s a pollution that has become silent in its poisoning of its population. Racism cannot be tolerated, hatred of anyone, any race, any creed and any color has to be kicked out, but, unfortunately, and in the opinion of this author, it’s just being swept under an already filthy carpet, where, when the dust is uncovered, it becomes a mountain of trash that is becoming ever worse and unstoppable, fueled by a President and government that just turns a blind eye and looks the other way whilst telling us all, quite disingenuously that there is absolutely nothing wrong! Well, not much!

My guitar teacher Tony, remember him from the first article I wrote last week, inspired me to make the lapel pins you see in the image above. The players protesting and following in the footsteps of Kaepernick, have a right to do so. It’s not disrespectful, it’s poignant, it’s their human right, it’s peaceful and most importantly, it’s something they believe in. However, it seems if these protests carry on players will be fired or, and I say this with the utmost respect, the President will have to intervene personally, something not one of us would like to see happen.

With all of this in mind, I have this idea, not only to raise the awareness to a very great cause, but to raise money for charities associated with racism and the profound effect that racism still holds on our society. The #SOLDOUT will soon display the pins pictured above for sale, to make people aware that there is genuine suffering out there, whether it be in the murdering of Jews in Pittsburgh, or the simplicity of daily senseless traffic stops on innocent African Americans, it matters not. We have a right to protest, so by wearing this pin, our protests shall be seen, and by the money we raise, out protests shall be heard.

Keep reading this blog for more updates and check out our Instagram #soldout to get your pin.

If there are any athletes, well known or otherwise and or charities, who would like to be considered as spokes people for this idea, please get in touch. Colin Kaepernick, if you read this please know that I have tried in many different ways to contact you because I believe you should lead this movement, but to date, no response.

Thank you everyone.

Applaud, But Only If It Seems Politically Correct

downloadDid you watch the Oscar ceremony? You did? Well you were in the minority. With its lowest viewing figures in more than a decade, is it any wonder people are turning off from a show that is filled with self-centered egotistical has beens, wanna be’s and cannot be’s? Isn’t it sad that so many of us put so much faith and so many hours into lauding those who are mostly wealthy beyond belief, placed high up on a social pedestal because of their ability to portray someone else’s misery on a screen where they can become larger than life itself and more endearing than an ice-cold bottle of beer on a scorching hot day in the desert. Hasn’t it become all too boring, too predictable and too politically correct? Is it now all about color, race, religion and patriotism? Have the actors themselves become too wrapped up in their own image of self-importance, their own beliefs and most importantly their own inability to be themselves and not who they think we would like them to be?

After watching some of the show on Sunday, what annoyed me most, other than the continual commercial breaks, expected of course because this is America, was the incessant mild applause for the movies and the actors who appeared in those movies, which were seemingly politically correct. Selma, a movie that has been proven to be mostly inaccurate because of the relationship between MLK and President Johnson, shown as one of conflict when historically documented as exactly the opposite, nominated for very few awards and yet there we sat, watching its lead actor cry as the theme song from the movie was performed with gusto by John Legend, some rapper guy and a choir. Overwhelming and outstanding were just two adjectives that seemed appropriate in a performance that stole the show, other than Lady Gaga, who had yet to entertain. My point is, why do all those in attendance, well not all, but most, feel a requirement to show their emotion to a cause they have little or nothing to do with and which will not rear its head in their lives ever again? Why are these actors so consumed by showing support to what they think is correctness, when quite frankly they really don’t care? If you are black, if you have ALS, if you have Alzheimer’s, or if you truly want to be a Birdman, then yes, cry away when it’s your turn, but please don’t bawl or applaud each and every time a simple mention of that movie is brought up on-screen. Not only is it frustrating, annoying and disconcerting, it’s just bloody stupid.

Go home to your trillions, billions or whatever it is you have. Think about those who have noting, or those who have so much less than you have. Don’t tell me that women deserve equal pay when you are earning 20 times what the average woman is earning. Keep your political views to yourself, we all know what’s going on in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Let me watch the news ON the news and NOT on the Oscars. I don’t care if you’re Mexican, Polish, Japanese or from the moon. Get up, thank your mum and dad, your kids, your wife and or your mistress, and then get off. Don’t come back, unless you’re fortunate enough to win another award, and please, please wear something that covers up your tits and your bum! It’s just annoying to look again and again at fake boobs, paid for in the hope that it can extend a career. That’s why Jack Nicholson and John Wayne and Kevin Spacey were great. They were themselves, no additions. Meryl Streep is natural, unblemished by surgeries, as far as I am aware, and look what she’s done!

It’s over for another year, the audience was down, the humor was crap, but the host, again, in my opinion, was superb. Kudos to NPH, he was excellent. Highly articulate, funny at times and took the show to another level not seen since the days of Billy Crystal. To those who won, congratulations. To those who lost, too bad. To those who weren’t nominated? What the fuck were you doing there in the first place and finally to those who applauded again and again for the reasons already mentioned above? Go get a proper job earning proper money and then tell me who you’re going to clap for!

Strange People I Meet.

William is Asian, Hong Kong being his place of birth, although upon the completion of our first piece of conversation, it seems he’s a bit of a Heinz 57. Born in China, moved to South America then to Europe then to Hong Kong and eventually ending up in Washington State, here in the good old US of A. William is by trade a geologist, someone who knows the lay of the land, how it’s constructed, how it was formed and really in all honesty he should know how to navigate this land he so loves. Well, he does know his stuff. After conversing for some 30 mins, even though he was over an hour late for our meeting, he proved conclusively to me that the glaciers came and created the North West of the United States, 15,000 years ago, then melted, even though they were over 3000 feet thick at that time, taking 2000 years to dissipate and retreat to the Arctic, where they now lie in wait for the guaranteed melt that is coming. He also insisted that once all our ice pack melts, our oceans will rise 267 feet, killing or making homeless, 2 to 3 billion humans. As I sat listening to this gibberish, all that concerned me was the manner in which he took his glasses off, then without notice brought all his documentation within 2 inches of his eyes and began to read silently as if praying. He was then suddenly awoken from this study only to begin spouting more useless statistics about our planet.

The reason William had shown up in the first place was to inspect a piece of land that a friend of mine was having issues with. It had willingly subsided 4 feet in the past three weeks, and William had been summoned to make sure that this unwanted hole was nothing more than an eyesore and not something that warranted more concern than a few buckets of sand, some top soil and seed to make it all better. However, the realtor who’d ordered William to appear, became concerned just about an hour earlier when William had called to say he was stuck in a field. “Stuck in a field?” she’s shouted as she’d released her grip on a cell phone that I believed was about to be thrown across my friends lawn, while rolling her eyes as if to say, “what an idiot!” Yes, he’d confirmed that he’d taken the wrong road and was now firmly entrenched in a field, some 5 miles from the correct address, unable to move his car, getting wetter and wetter by the minute in the pouring rain and pleading, yes pleading for someone to come and get him. Lisa obliged, traipsing over hills and dales to collect William and bring him to the meeting. After an hour with us, William, now suitably refreshed, decided to start calling local towing companies to see if anyone on this Island, yes Island (I forgot to mention I was on a remote Island) would come and assist. 20 calls later, without losing his sense of humor, at last, someone kindly obliged. I asked him as he was leaving, “William, you’re a geologist, how can a geologist not know that you can get stuck in mud when it’s pouring rain and there’s no gravel or road surface for the car tires to grip?” He took his glasses off slowly and looked at me. He said, with a grand smile cut across his aging features, “Alan, you should never let a geologist drive your car” “Why’s that?” I asked, “because they always get hammered and stoned!”

Lisa drove him back and three hours later he got out the field and made it back to town. William was knowledgable, though very strange. Lisa was pissed, she’d lost a whole day, and my buddy, the guy with the land subsidence issue? Well, he’s still got his hole in the garden but he now knows that glaciers were there 15,000 years ago, that the ice wall was 3000ft thick and that eventually his place on this island will be 40 feet underwater, though he’ll be long gone by then as will William!

Too Many To Count

IMG_0352Yesterday was warm, around 68 degrees here in San Jose, not a bad day to be out in shorts and a tee-shirt? Well the days might be warm, but the evenings are certainly winter cool, not cold, just cool. Ideal conditions of you have a home to go to, turning on the heat as you walk in through the front door after a long day at work, ready, willing and able to put the stove on, or perhaps just the microwave, so that you might enjoy your favorite meal in the comfort of your favorite arm-chair in the company of your favorite lover or with your favorite pet by your side.

For those who are homeless however, last night was yet another slog to get in line at the Home First Boccardo center in San Jose to guarantee a bed and a hot meal. And it’s to that very same center that I once again set off around 4 PM to help Chef Diane serve more than 300 starving souls, who, unlike you or I, have absolutely nothing in their lives except the misery and depression that being homeless brings.

The line for beds was out the front door and into the street, and as I parked my car I could see that this was going to be a night unlike any other that I had seen before when volunteering at Boccardo. I’ve been going there for years now, through thick and thin, cold and warm, but never have I seen a line like the one I saw last night. Was it because ‘the jungle’ off CA 87 had been closed? Always a resting place in the past for refugees of this continual homeless crisis we can never seem to fix, now closed due to pressure from council members who wanted them out. Was it because there was spaghetti cooking inside the kitchen run by Miss Diane and word had spread that tonight dinner would be delicious? Or perhaps it was just that we cannot control a situation that is out of control and the sad facts are it won’t get any better soon.

Having gone into the kitchen to assist, Diane informed me that she was short of volunteers and that during the winter months most of those who come to help serve and prepare seem to just vanish. With gloves and apron in place, desert carved and plated, peas and salad and warm bread all ready to be dished out, the spaghetti would not be short of company tonight.

Then the chaos began. One after another, an endless line of deprivation strolled expectantly into the dining hall. Some were pleasant, others ungrateful, the usual mix which I’ve seen many times before. Some wanted no meat, some no tomatoes and some only chocolate for desert. Whatever their poison, Miss Diane controlled the line with her usual dignified authoritarian energy, pushing those who dithered towards a table that bore empty seats, and those who were perhaps more decisive and bold when asking for extra food, towards the exit. She’s a real trooper and still, to this day, I have no idea how she and the rest of her staff cope with this never-ending, depressing situation day in and day out.

When you get home from work tonight, think about that line. It will be there for sure, just like it is every night, 300 souls with their hands out looking for assistance and receiving it courtesy of those who donate their lives to the betterment of others. Give up some of your time if you can and come and help Diane and the rest of this very dedicated team. They will make you welcome and you will make their day.

 

Samantha Gets A New Chair

Samantha is 8. She has Spina Bifida. She’s had numerous surgeries, had plates inserted in her spine and yet, as you can see, she’s ready and able to participate in sports. Thanks to her new sport wheelchair, which was presented to her today, Samantha now has access to a whole new world, made possible by the generosity of those who donate to this wonderful program. It costs over $3000 for a sport wheelchair, an absolute fortune for those who have limited funds and a continual battle just to keep up with the medical bills that afflict families like Samantha’s. It’s a blessing when ever an athlete like Samantha can get into a chair custom-made for her height and weight and participate alongside those athletes to whom she aspires. Her courage is can be seen in the generosity of those more fortunate, and with this in mind I urge you to please take even the simplest of steps to assist in making the lives of others who have to spend their lives in wheelchairs, more bearable.

Just by going to http://www.smile.amazon.com, and yes, we all use Amazon at some point, nominating Far West Wheelchair Sports as your charity, every time you make a purchase, not matter how small, some of your money will go towards helping athletes like Samantha. Every penny is put to great use and no amount is too small.

You can also donate a chair, or part of a chair to a worthy candidate by contacting me through this blog or by going to http://www.fwwaa.org and donating there.

Samantha had a great day today. Please help her and her friends have an even better day tomorrow.
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What Happened To Humor?

imagesA Muslim called Mohammad who owns a watermelon stall in a Paris suburb is sick and tired of Chaim, a little Jewish boy from the same neighborhood, coming past his stand every day and stealing a watermelon. Mohammad decides he’s going to put an end to this and sticks a sign outside his store which read “One Of These Watermelons Is Infused With Cyanide!” Undeterred, Chaim comes past the store on that very same afternoon and while Mohammad isn’t looking, he sticks another sign up stating, “AND NOW THERE ARE 2!”

Why would that joke upset anyone? I can give you a hundred reasons I suppose, but then again, I can’t give you any!

I heard a program on the BBC World Service last night. It was broadcast with the intention of trying to explain this Muslim uprising around our planet. Seemingly they all believe, (by saying ALL, I am of course generalizing), that the end of days is about to happen, as prophesied in the Koran, an end of days that would begin in Syria, Yemen and one or two other hot spots around the world. It tried to suggest that the reasons for all this violence we are witnessing, most of which isn’t even mentioned in our news bulletins, is completely justified in the eyes of the Jihadist factions that we see taking over our headlines every day. They all believe that the end of days is a significant event that they can help accelerate with their violent disruptions of our daily lives in order that they can be with the prophet Mohammad for all eternity. They will do their very best to bring about a nuclear Armageddon or any other kind of final solution to bring this planet to its final conclusion as soon as possible.

My question is, how fucking stupid are these idiots? Brainwashed and misinformed, they continue to create chaos in the lives of those who couldn’t give a rat’s arse about their beliefs. I really don’t care who you are or what you believe in, honestly, I really don’t, just don’t ram it down my fucking throat and don’t think that because you believe, I should too. I respect you for the views you have, as long as you respect that not everyone else wants to share those same views. Get a sense of humor for goodness sake. Who cares that there are cartoons depicting Mohammad in unfortunate poses, and if not Mohammad, Jesus, Buddha or even the Chief Rabbi. It’s only humor! It isn’t insulting to anyone unless you have a preconceived conviction of causing violence for any reason whatsoever, and this ‘trigger point’, a simple piece of satire, gives you the excuse you are looking for to go out and kill, which it obviously does. Get a life! We all want a life, so let us live it our way, and you live yours your way. If you don’t like the way we live ours then fuck off to a place where you won’t every see us or hear us. We want peace, we want laughter, we want love. What we don’t want are antagonistic self-centered idiots who think their way is the only way. That includes America, the UK and all the other countries around the globe who feel that invading other cultures in order to ‘improve’ them, is right. It’s not, it’s all terribly wrong.

No one ever died off this planet, and quite possibly no one ever will, so pack up your guns and get out your pens, your smiles and your ability to compromise. We all need one another now, more than ever so wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along?

Chaim opened a store opposite his great foe, Vikram, in London’s Nottinghill Gate. Vikram put up a sign that read ‘Bacon, $4.99/lb” so that very same day Chaim put up a sign that read ‘Bacon, $3.99/lb’ Vikram was pissed and when he arrived at his shop on the next morning he changed his sign to read ‘Bacon$2.99/lb’ only to be trumped once again by Chaim on the same morning, when he changed his sign to read,’Bacon $1.99/lb’

Vikram was pissed, so with venom in his brain, he sprinted across the street to Chaim’s store and confronted him , face to face. “Why is it when I put out a sign for bacon at $4.99/lb, you change your sign to $3.99, then I go to $2.99 and you go to $1.99? You are killing my business” he spat. Chaim looked at him straight in the face and said, “Vikram I don’t give a hoot about your business, I don’t sell bacon!”

Happy New Year – There Must Be An Ad For That

Who writes that crap? the nonsense we watch every night on our TV sets. Advertisements for everything from Viagra to Toyota to Cheerios, most of which seem to be written by 2 year olds.

Happy new year everyone. Nice to be back again. Another year, another challenge and yet another damming blog on how our society seems to be in an unstoppable reverse evolutionary mode. We just don’t seem to learn. We can’t dig ourselves out of this huge hole called gullibility, seen every morning noon and night on every television screen across the country and heard on every radio station we choose to tune in to. Christmas is long gone, but that moronic and insatiable appetite we have to keep it going still exists. And if it’s not Christmas it’s Valentines, Mothers day, Fathers day, secretaries day or some other BS that Hall mark have decided to make a card for. But I digress.

Commercialism is not in its extreme. We are bombarded nightly with farcical commercials, most of which are for drugs or cars, ALL of which have a song, written for the sole purpose of making aware that it’s not the product we crave but the ability to mimic Peyton Manning or Usher or some other icon, singing or dancing to the beat of desire. Let’s face it, we don’t need 99% of what we see advertised, but being honest, how many of us see Peyton singing ‘Nationwide is on your side’ without words of course, and then go out and ask that company to quote for our insurance needs? How many boxes of Cheerios do you think Usher and that annoying cartoon Bee actually sell? Do you think the deep-throated cowboy on the Dodge Ram commercial actually persuades all wannabe cowboys to go out and buy a truck? Then there’s the couple in the photo booth for Cialis. Do you think he’s getting a boner while he acts that out? And AT and T, what the fuck do you think you are doing? It’s not even remotely funny when you have a guy tapping the wall every time that dumb sales girls says the word ‘win’. Like I said before, who writes this shit?

I once told my son, “if you want to make a million, go into advertising in the USA’. True story. I told him that no one could do any worse than the morons who put together a smorgasbord of crap each and every day of every year of every decade. It’s outright shite! You know it, I know it, and they better know it too. Most of what I see is so child-like, it sad. Perhaps the reason is that the average reading age in this country is 9. Yes, Google it, it’s true. So just maybe they have a brief from up top that they need to cater to that very same mentality, it appears that way anyway.

My very favorite piece of advertising crap is definitely the ad for Tamiflu. Just quite what a large man and woman in a small house has to do with the flu is totally beyond me. I get the gist, large problem when you get that bug, but come on, having a man walk round like a giant to make your point?? I don’t think so.

So take note, sit up and make way for more crap as 2015 unfolds before your very eyes. Advertising is now everywhere, you can’t escape it. I was watching a game from the UK, Chelsea v Tottenham and even the injury time, the time the ref ads on for stoppages at the end of the game, is sponsored by Progressive. Do you think Flo could referee a soccer game or insure football hooligans?