#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!

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!”

Changing A Life

IMG_7310Have you have had the opportunity to change someone’s life, someone you don’t know? Perhaps we change lives every day just by giving our time, a small donation, or maybe even just a simple smile and passing glance to someone who attracts our attention. Whatever way we believe we achieve this feat, it’s always a welcome interlude in the complicated extravagant lives most of us choose to live. I watched a movie on Netflix this week called Happy. I’ve always believed that we don’t need too much to bring contentment into our own little world and that movie confirmed that we, probably all of us in the western hemisphere, live such extravagant existence’s truly for no good reason at all. We were all raised in a materialistic mode, even if it’s not that extravagant. We were all told that success is often measured by the items we collect, and in some cases those items are more than just man-made objects. The trophies collected during our time on this planet seem meaningless and insignificant in comparison to those who have collected nothing other than the affection and trust of their families and friends, measuring happiness and wealth as pure love. Our whole ideal of rat eat rat, of total accumulation, is really quite pathetic when put into the context of not being able to take anything with you when you die. It always makes me shudder when I look at those who have so much, indeed far more than they can ever need, and then at those who have nothing, or very little, and I wonder, often out loud, ‘why don’t you just stop, slow down and help?” And unfortunately this evolution of wealth v poverty has been static since time began. Survival of the fittest. You are born lucky or you’re just born. It all boils down to where your mother had sex with your father. You come out smiling and comfortable or smiling and poor. There is seemingly no in between, or perhaps there is and I am just being black and white.

Tomorrow night however, two lives will be changed, and changed for the better. Two special ladies, who, through no fault their own have been wheelchair bound since they were born, will be given a new lease on a life that I can only describe as being difficult. To spend all day, every day in a chair, unable to use your legs or any of your lower body, might seem so foreign to most of us that we just shrug it off with a ‘well it’s not me. so I don’t care” kind of attitude. It’s not something we really think about. After all we are for the most part, healthy, often ignoring the things in life that could make us feel uncomfortable. We have strict tendencies to block out thoughts that are irrelevant to the way we live, hoping that with the will of God, we won’t ever face some of the challenges those who are less fortunate have to endure on a daily basis. Perfection is something that is found only inside imagination, and none of us have been blessed with anything other than overly active imaginations. Karah and Annie, pictured above, also have imagination, only their idea of perfection is to be found in their strong will and determination. Both dream of being as normal as you and I. Both dream of lives that can never be. Both want to have success and both want to be seen as nothing but the two pretty women they are, trying hard to lead lives that are meaningful and filled with purpose. Tomorrow night another part of their dreams will be fulfilled.

Both ladies above will be presented with brand new sport wheelchairs, bought from donations made by the fundraising efforts of a softball team here in San Jose called the Bay Blizzard. 12 young 16-year-old ladies took part in a challenge softball game against wheelchair athletes from Wheels on Fire last Fall. The ladies and their coaches were so impressed by the attitude of their wheelchair adversaries, that they decided, on their own cognizance, to make the effort and raise over $4000 to buy Karah and Annie the sport chairs they thought they deserved. Karah and Annia didn’t know anything about this until yesterday and tomorrow night that the FWWAA Spaghetti feed, the largest fund-raiser of the year for that particular organization, the two ladies will receive their chairs and this my friends, will completely change their lives for the better. It’s hard enough being wheelchair bound for life, but it’s even harder for those who are to be able to play sports without the assistance of this incredible sports chair. Receiving this chair completely changes their approach to ball games such as basketball, softball, and hockey. It gives them the ability to compete, just like you or I would, on an even playing field with those who have been fortunate enough in being able to afford such a chair already. This is a HUGE deal and one that I as a spectator and excited to see happen when the presentation is complete tomorrow evening.

If you would like more information on how you too can help change a life, please go to FWWAA.org or come tomorrow to the Camden Community Center in San Jose and join us for the chance to see in person what changing a life can do for your own inner self!

Making A Huge Difference

imagesAbout four years ago I broke my hip in an accident that never should have happened. They operated within hours and told me it would be impossible for me to run again and very difficult for me to walk. This news at the time they gave it to me, while I was lying half-naked on a hospital bed desperate for more morphine to dull incredible pain, came as a complete shock. My first instinct was to tell them all to “fuck off”, and by ALL I mean the doctor and nurses who were relaying this opinion, albeit prematurely. My next thoughts were the vivid reality of my disabled frame being pushed from door to door in a wheelchair for the next 50 years. That thought sparked an instantaneous inner body and mind-blowing recovery which no one, including the surgeon, could believe. During this period of my life, I’d just become involved with a charity called Far West Wheelchair Athletic Association. A friend of mine had held a tennis event at our local health/tennis club to raise money to buy a wheelchair for an underprivileged child. Not just any wheelchair, but a sports wheelchair. They came up short and I told her I would donate the balance on the understanding that I could come to see that particular chair being presented to its worthy recipient. That chance decision then opened up a whole new world that I didn’t know existed, and after following through with my promise of funds to help this child get his chair, I was invited to the presentation, which marked the beginning of a relationship with what is now one of my most favorite charitable organizations. Far West Wheelchair Athletic Association.

IMG_0322Can you imagine being confined to a wheelchair all your life or for the rest of your life? Well, Alicia is and so is Pedro and Liam, but yet they all find a way to make it work. It’s not easy, no one ever said it would be, but these kids, the three I’ve mentioned, are in particular a testament to the way FWWAA works. They are incredibly happy kids whose whole life changed when I gave them the ability to participate and enjoy sports. Before that day, they, like many other disabled children and adults, were confined to a chair that gave them mobility but without the freedom to enjoy life outside of the mundane. I showed up to present Liam with his chair and was completely blown away by how instantly gratifying it was to witness a child go from relative happiness to complete ecstasy in a matter of moments. This chair, the sports chair,  had been a dream that Liam’s family had not been able to provide, but now, with my help, he was suddenly thrust into a life that smelled a lot like normal (if normal is the right word). He could move, spin, turn, bump and glide, though not all at once, until his heart was content. He could play, basketball, football, bowling and do so much more. And, Liam wasn’t alone. There were many just like him, all encamped in the Camden Community Center, (about two miles from where I live), some who’d already been given a new lease on life because of the generosity of other donors or just because they too could afford the ‘extravagance’ of a special chair. My heart was filled with joy. For once I could see where my donation was going. I could feel it, taste it and watch it grow, every penny of it, right there, right in front of my very eyes. It was a spectacular feeling and one that I have repeated nine times in the past three years, and still to this day, every time I donate a chair, that feeling remains right up there as one of the best I can ever remember. Making a difference, yes, that’s about the best way to describe the adrenaline as it passes from my giving to their receiving.

 http://www.fwwaa.org/how-you-can-help/donation-opportunities/

There are only two reputable manufacturers of these sport chairs here in the USA. It takes a lot of effort just to build one chair. Measurements, body weight, projected growth, are all factors that count in this laborious process. The chairs are hand crafted and designed for each potential athlete, and every child or adult ends up driving their own custom-built machine. To set the process in motion, my friend Lee Williamson, pictured above on the right in his chair, took me through a typical day for one of these kids, explaining what I, as a potential donor could do to change their lives. When he was finished, I was a believer, and since that day, between myself, Lee and some of my friends, we have increased ownership in the sport chair population at the center by 9, with 6 more chairs promised by the middle of 2014. FWWAA also holds a camp that most of these kids attend. You can find out more about them at the link below. In the meantime, I would love you all to sit back and imagine how much good you could do and how much joy you could bring to a life that most people just ignore or feel sorry for when they pass by in the street. These kids have so much energy, so much love and so much potential. They are all athletes in their own right, and none of them, not one, takes anything in life for granted. Each time I have given a chair, that child has remembered me and thought about me every day since they received their prize possession. Alicia in particular met me only once, and when we were reunited some 12 months later, the words just popped out of her mouth, “ITS SCOTTISH ALAN!!!” she yelled, as she pushed herself over to give me a huge hug. Now, that’s what I call gratitude. They never forget, not one of them, ever!

http://www.fwwaa.org/how-you-can-help/donation-opportunities/

I have become even more involved with FWWAA, and introduced a plan which they will implement shortly. One chair costs $2700 aprox. In the past, that very large amount has often been a turn off for potential donors, and so, with that in mind, I suggested a payment plan, and one that would guarantee after a year donors who subscribed would be able to go and present their very own chair to an athlete of their choice.  The reception I’ve received from this idea has been incredible. Many of my friends are now taking seriously the idea that no longer should they donate thousands of dollars to charities where their donation just ‘vanishes’ into a vast undisclosed money pit. Now, they can donate and see exactly, to the penny, where and who they are helping. It makes such good sense to help children, it makes great sense to assist those who are not only underprivileged, but also disabled. Have a think, look at the web site, come to Union Community center and look, but whatever you do, make sure you appreciate every day, just how lucky you are that you are healthy and mobile enough not to need the financial and physical assistance from someone like me to help you enjoy the very simplest of lives.

http://www.fwwaa.org/how-you-can-help/donation-opportunities/

PS. Since writing this article, I decided to put out an email to all of my friends who live close enough to come and visit the center and witness first hand the good work that Lee, Jessica, Adam and the rest of the team at FWWA are doing. One of my friends in turn put out an email to all her contacts and in one week she raised enough money to build another 3 chairs. An amazing feat, and I thank her very much for all her efforts. In two weeks time, the softball team my daughter plays on, Bay Blizzard, are going to take on a wheelchair team from FWWAA in order to raise funds and awareness to this program. We hope to have TV crews and Press at this event on Sept 28th at the community center 3369 Union Ave  San Jose, CA 95124 starting at 1.30 PM. If you would like to come along and support us, we would greatly appreciate that. Again, if you can and if you are willing, please help. This is such a marvelous cause. You can also help out by posting the FWWAA link on your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin accounts or indeed, just pass on the link to this blog. Any assistance will be welcomed with an open heart.

 http://www.fwwaa.org/how-you-can-help/donation-opportunities/IMG_3555

Blog Complete

New design is complete, hope you like it. Posts will commence in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, please enjoy some pictures that I took in my back yard. I’ll post more later this week. Oh, and if you get a chance, drop me a wee line and let me know what you think of the new color scheme?

Back after my Alaska trip!

IMG_3677 IMG_3678 IMG_3679

Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion.

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At Peace

 

At peace now with the knowledge that a true champion is anointed

Made whole by perseverance and dedication, and then, and then that dream

Pounding hard, night after night inside a body that said, ‘I can do this’

Proclaimed by a nation as the man who actually did

No questions asked, though all now answered, finally and hopefully for good

Laying to rest those ghosts who have haunted his relevance and meaning

Being there, if not in sprit, perhaps in person, for all to admire

Now king of a jungle he seemed to dominate in all but crowning glory

Headed towards eternity with a mantle that can never be erased

Pride, his motivation, his desire, and now, his affirmation

Showing off to all those who were doubters that ignorance rarely triumphs

Atop a perch where folklore shall remain forever the only truth

Yes, at peace, one nation, one man, and of course, that myth, made whole by one victory

 

 

© Alan Zoltie July 7, 13

www.alanzoltie.com

www.electrichaggis.com