#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.

Cowboys In Suits, Not Jeans

downloadLast night Levi’s, based right here in San Francisco, announced they were laying off over 800 workers, mostly management positions, to save money. When I heard this I was blown away, perhaps shocked would be language more suited to this news story. My immediate thoughts went to those who are now going to join the ranks of our unemployment lines, growing larger and larger every day. My next thought was, “shit, this company must be in big trouble if they fired so many so quickly!”  And after pondering the question of ‘if Levi’s go out of business where will I buy my jeans?’ for about ten seconds, it hit me, and it hit me hard.

You guys just spent $220 million for the naming rights to the new San Francisco football stadium which opens up in about 12 weeks time, so what on earth are you thinking about by firing 800 people??

It made no sense to me. Again, typifying the attitude I have found in the United States by putting football, a stupidly overrated American sport, before human lives. So, 800 families are about to be put through seemingly endless torture and suffering and the 49’rs football team will benefit from these families misfortune? Farcical.

Who makes these decisions? What benefit can Levi’s, and all those other companies who’ve spent a trillion dollars naming breeze block edifices across the country, possibly gain by spending their profits, or perhaps lack of, on signage instead of humanity. The very people who assisted in getting them into a position of being able to afford such signage from the beginning? The world is screwed up when $220 million is spent by those advertising cowboys who wear suits, not jeans. Tell me I’m nuts. Tell me $220 million is worth every penny spent. Tell me I have no appreciation of the ‘real’ world out there, but when you tell me all these things, tell it to those who today, find themselves kicked gloriously to the curbside in favor of bragging rights.

Levi’s you should be ashamed.

 

Sign Me Up

photoThe sign says it all. Down on his luck and looking for not just money, but some rich woman to help him through his crises. Very creative indeed and it got me wondering what the best signs you’d ever seen were? I recall one morning in San Francisco the guy next to me on the train into town was writing his and as he did, he was asking passengers around him to chip in with some ideas. The responses were hilarious and often quite rude, but the best of which put me on the floor with laughter. One traveler turned round to the guy and offered up in his best broken English, “Tell them you will take their verbal abuse for a dollar donation!” “Who’s verbal abuse?” someone else shouted out. “Does it matter” replied the man, “as long as he gets his dollar!”

Yes, I have seen them all, from “Not going to lie, I need a beer!” to “Give me 25 cents so I can feed my dog” “Obama’s not the only one who needs change!” Every day there seems to be new creative ways for these unfortunate down and out’s to muster up creativity and support that will get them enough cash to see them through each miserable hour they suffer on cold unfriendly streets. Every one of them is desperate and ready to give up everything for a warm bath and a hot meal. Or are they?

It’s very hard to tell the genuine from the dishonest. Again, I have covered this in past blogs, but if we really do want to make a difference to someone’s life without taking from the bad to give to the good, how do we really know? How can you, the general public, determine what’s a good ‘donation’ and what’s a bad decision? The answer lies with experience and with a certain amount of luck.

I have found that those who genuinely need money never make signs. They just stand with their head bowed, hands out and cup at the ready. Those who have gone to the trouble of making a sign are normally addicted to either booze, drugs or both. It just seems to work that way. I have no idea what the guy above is on. He was a random reflection of our society, in my opinion, and someone who really has nothing to gain except the occasional laugh or two from passers-by. It’s symptomatic of our society, you know, the one where everything has to happen now, not later, where instant gratification and channel surfing are the order of each day, where waste outnumbers want, where saying hello to a passer-by is as uncommon as meeting a child without ear buds or an iPhone, that a hand written sign makes those with little or indeed without feel comfortable that this is their cue for redemption and hope. Words used to mean something, though not so much now. Now, words are for those who enjoy the overuse of superlatives, for those who have to live their lives surrounded by adjectives, often persuasive, often misleading. We as a society are attracted to those who seem different, who try harder than others. Is this then why signs, advertisements, run our lives? From street signs to bill boards to the signs carried by those mentions above, are we just immune now to the spoken word?

My first thought when I saw this sign was to rush up and donate some advice and not money. In the end, like most of those around me, I just laughed. His invention was probably the folly of my short-sightedness. His ability to impress is definitely the reason he received cash along with much interest from mainly transient tourists who came by asking for a picture next to their new hero. Local people just accepted that this was another day on streets that are often as cruel as they are fulfilling. To gain attention is to gain compensation, or at least that’s the way it seems to be in our lives today. In the USA, more than any other place on earth, people idolize success, and successful people are sometimes Gods of misfortune for those who try to replicate their lives around the behavioral patterns that they often idolize, ending up just like the gentleman above and not like the hero they would prefer to emulate.

And therefore my advice, for what it’s worth, is as follows. If you need cash or love or just plain old attention, don’t make a sign, make an effort to sign up to a better way, a simpler way and the way where life began all those millennia ago. Open your mouth and talk! Plain old-fashioned speak! No pen required, just an ability to communicate the way nature meant it to be.

I’m signing off now, without any need to broadcast that fact!

Am I The Only Cynic?

images (1)And here we go again. Under Bush, the second one, National security and the threat level color code played a huge part of our day-to-day lives. One day it was yellow, the next orange and once in a blue moon, red. It seemed to me that every time Bush’s ratings went down in the polls, or indeed when we came close to any election time, the threat level automatically went up, closely followed by Bush’s ratings and perhaps even a Republican victory here and there. We, the voting public, soon all got tired of these shenanigans, seeing right through their ploy and into a change of guard with Obama winning out against a very poor opponent some 5 years ago. But, I am sorry to report, this cynic feels we have come full circle and are now back in the hands of a government playing mind games.

It seems all too convenient that over the past few weeks, with all the furore of the NSA recoding our phone calls, looking at our Facebook and perhaps even our emails, that suddenly, out of the blue, when all of their top assets are supposed to have been isolated and their organizational structure damaged beyond repair, suddenly we have this ‘unknown’ and ‘unclassified’ threat to US citizens or embassies or personal, somewhere on the planet, sometime in August, somehow on the back of all the embarrassment that this administration has suffered??

Let me say first and foremost that I hope to God, no one gets hurt and nothing gets damaged by yet another act of senseless violence carried out by any terrorist organization or anyone claiming to be part of any such club . But yet, in my heart, the cynic in me is sitting at home tonight openly questioning, not only the timing of this threat warning, but also the manner in which it has surfaced and the way in which no one can be absolutely specific about its initial origin. I am skeptical to say the least and I am convinced that this is just a ploy served up by a government in need of a ratings boost. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out, but I am willing to bet any of you $100 (to go to my favorite charity) that nothing happens other than Obama’s ratings increase and this country is led once again into the state of paranoia it thrives upon. All you need to do is watch an episode of Cops to see how much the USA is engulfed in paranoia of the ugliest kind. In some ways, we have a right to be paranoid, but in others, we are so over the top, it’s just sad.

My hat comes off and I bow in reverence to those who serve and protect, either at home or in foreign lands, and I honestly wish them all safe passage out of any harms way. My other hat, the one filled with cynicism however, is tipped in another direction, that of ‘come clean’ and tell the truth. Why have our phone calls become the cannon fodder that feeds this irresponsible behavior Obama and the NSA are pursuing? Why didn’t Obama learn anything from Bush? Where is the openness, where is the transparency and where is this all going to end? I am not naive enough to believe there aren’t many idiots out there who desire our destruction, and I am not stupid enough to believe that any use of gratuitous violence will never occur. I am though, convinced this particular threat is a ruse, a foolish attempt to bring more ‘make believe’ into our lives so that we can encourage more of the same and feel safe behind the decisions made for us by a government we are all beginning to despise.

As I’ve said in many blogs that have preceded this one. I have no political affiliation. I believe that all politicians are liars and cheats. I also believe that we, the people are too ignorant and too stupid to really question the intentions of those who make the rules and govern. We let it all happen, we let it all slide and we let it all continue to baffle our own curiosity, because truly, it is way beyond our means to do anything about it. Remember, $100 to charity if I am proved wrong. If not, then perhaps more of you will become the cynic I already am.

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!

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Detroit- Broke City

imagesAlas, no longer can the words from that famous Kiss song be applied. Detroit Rock City. Today, late breaking news, the city of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy!  It’s now Detroit Broke City. This is the largest civil bankruptcy in US history and as I watched the news a few minutes ago, I was dismayed with not only the way it was being reported, quite matter of factly, but also by the scale of the event. This city used to boast a population of over 2 million people, now it has about 700,000. It housed the entire automobile industry of the world, let alone the USA. It was the home to Motown, GM, Ford, Chrysler and many many more iconic brands. Now however, and particularly tonight, Detroit is dead.

It’s amazing to me that something like this can happen in a country where so much wealth is just given away needlessly. Other countries benefit at our expense in the building and often re building of their own, delapedated infrastructure. It’s not just this present government who are to blame, although the more I see and hear of how this current regime is operating, the more dismayed I have become over their inability to live up to their promises. My heart goes out to Detroit tonight, and even though the mayor has assured everyone that nothing will change and that all public services will remain in tact and operating, one can only imagine how long that promise can last? A lady, interviewed on NBC earlier, a retired police officer, stated that her main concern was the possibility that she would lose her pension. I watched in envy, as this 40 something year old lady, who I’m sure devoted 20 odd years to her job serving the Detroit community, had the audacity to suggest that she, along with thousands of others, should in fact deserve a life long pension for that service. And therein lies just part of the issue. I, at 54, haven’t the ability to save for a pension unless I work, so why should she be exempt from seeking further employment to satisfy her will to live in the style she’s accustomed to until she turns 90? There’s such a poor outlook in this country towards health care and pensions, that it beggars belief no one in government has ever put a stop to the foolish way we treat government employees from the day they retire to the day they die. Oh, wait! I forgot, they are government employees, all of them! That’s why! None of them need to work an extra day in their lives because they are taken care of by a life long pensions, that you and I are paying for, but that they as the government implemented! Now I know I am generalizing here, and I realize that not all government workers fall into the entitlement outlined above, but seriously, has anyone ever done the math? I know they have, and yet, we, as a nation are stuck in ‘stupid’, leaving no doubt to any doubters, who are the takers and who are givers.

Detroit, I have visited you on many occasions and I am sorry to say, despite the efforts of Michael Moore, a two-faced fame seeker, in his many visits to the suburb of Flint and to the headquarters of many of the car conglomerates, attempting to get answers for the ‘workers’ who now have no jobs, and to the disgusting behavior of various corrupt Mayors and local authorities who have robbed Peter to pay Paul, you have received tonight what no one believed you deserved, no one other than those who predicted quite categorically all those years ago, that this abuse of power both in and out of the workplace, would destroy your city. A doomsday scenario come true.

So what happens now? Where will the money come from to replenish the city coffers? Why are we sending billions to Iraq and Afghanistan and even India 9to name but a meager few), when Detroit is suffering? All good questions, none of which I am willing to bet, will ever get answered. And, even if we could divert funds from our useless wars, would Detroit be deserving of that replenishment and salvation? I am also concerned that this is just the beginning of a situation which can only snowball out of control as we sit and watch the rest of our major cities crumble and fall foul to the same fate as Detroit. I hear also tonight that Chicago could be next. If that’s true, how long before New York, LA and San Francisco follow suit? How long will it take for this government to realize that the distribution of our wealth is being spread unevenly across a planet that couldn’t care less about us? How long before the rest of this planet, especially the countries we have subsidized for half a century and more, begin to subsidize us?? Only time will tell, but I am sure the answer to that last question will be never. Certainly not in our lifetime.

With so much uncertainty, so much imbalance, especially here in the USA, where the have’s and have not’s are segregated not just by color or race, but by a vast differences in wealth and wealth management, how do we create an environment where corruption greed and miss management of all our assets, whether at a local or federal level, is governed by those who know how to make things work and not by those who are waiting in hope for success? We, the voter have the power, or so I believed, but after the news tonight, I no longer have faith in anything related to government here in the USA. In fact, I don’t know if I ever did.  I have become the cynic I always knew I didn’t want to be, but can you blame me??

Detroit has the Red Wings, The Pistons and the Tigers. Detroit also has the Lions, and with football season just around the corner and Ford stadium charging $10 for a beer, a price vastly inflated by the addition of local government tax and also the huge profits franchise owners feel compelled to make, I give it three weeks, 2 wins and a loss, and everyone will have forgotten how serious tonight’s news was, with their entire focus trained on that next touchdown pass by QB Mathew Stafford, and without a care in the world what their government is doing with the $3 they take from every beer sold. Our priorities are all fucked up, and nothing on earth will seemingly change the way our careless attitudes have ruined a once great city.

Giving Back

We should all try to give up some of our precious time for those who have nothing BUT time.

If you’d like to know more or would like to volunteer, please get in touch. The homeless situation in Santa Clara is abominable and EHC Lifebuilders are trying hard to assit those who have absolutely nothing, get a life and a roof over their heads. Homelessness is not a disease, it’s a fact of life and help, if only a little, can go a long way to making these people’s lives just a wee bit more tolerable.14759_10151736225089770_1771915713_n