#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.

Karaoke But No Santa

Picture 6It doesn’t take much to make a difference, especially in a life that is mostly empty. Just one or two simple additions, such as love and understanding, a hot meal and to be treated like a proper and normal human being, normally do the trick. Today at the homeless shelter, food was in abundance, turkey and ham, along with fresh cooked veg and macaroni and cheese, plus cookies. Tonight though, there was also karaoke. Someone had donated three Target gift cards, on for $50 on for $20 and one for $10. The competition was simple. Come up and sing and be judged.

It took an hour and some brave souls, but in the end, after around 20 renditions, none of which would have made X Factor or Idol outtakes, we had our winner. She was dressed all in black, including her black beanie hat, but she had the ‘moves like Jagger’ and a voice that outshone second and third place, by a country mile. I never got her name, which is a shame, since I was the judge and jury, but she vanished into the shelter before we could present her with her prize. James, who appeared in an earlier blog I wrote, chased after her, knowing that the $50 would mean everything to her, and eventually brought her back into the main dining area in order that we could anoint her Queen of Soul for the San Jose homeless population.

The difference tonight, even though not completely natural, was the look of enjoyment on the faces of those who had come to eat their Christmas dinner in a warm and safe environment. On regular weekdays during the year, most of the residents we see come in and out, gobbling up their meals in 5 minutes without acknowledging one another. Tonight they gathered together, as you have done in your own homes with your own families, and they formed a small gathering with a real sense of community. Yes, all of these people would rather be someplace else, but right now, this is their home, if only for tonight. They are fortunate enough to know and to be grateful for everything they have been given on this special day. They have had meals cooked and served and a bed supplied.

Not all of the residents at the Boccardo center feel this need for gratitude, indeed some are quite bitter and disgusted with the way society has dealt them a rotten hand in life, but in general, those who behave this way are few and far between. The atmosphere tonight was certainly jovial, but when proceedings began to wind down and the realization set in amongst all who were with us this evening that they would be back on the cold empty streets tomorrow morning, attitudes certainly changed, if not immediately, then certainly within moments of their retreat back into their sleeping accommodations. And who can blame them?

Homelessness cannot be resolved by one meal or even two. It cannot be resolved by donating clothes or money. It cannot end with just hope. Homelessness can only be resolved through hard work, government intervention and community awareness. Today is Christmas day, a day to bring joy to all mankind. I hope the people that I met today had just a smidgeon of joy brought into what is a pretty miserable life for all of them. When you open your gifts at home today, when you eat your turkey and your ham, and when you drink a few beers or bottle of wine, bare a thought for those of us less fortunate who have absolutely nothing in life other that what kind people like you decide to donate. It doesn’t take much to bring happiness to a fellow human being, and today was a perfect example of that. I didn’t see one Ipad, Ipod or Iphone, I just saw some hungry ,lonely homeless people trying hard to believe that next year things can only get better.

Merry Christmas to all of you. I wish you much happiness and much love and trust that none of you will ever find yourselves in need of the assistance, these folks all over the country did today and every other day of their lives.