#Sold Out

I have a music teacher, his name is Tony. Tony is black and adopted. He is 25. His mother and father are white. His real mother and father are no longer alive. He comes from Texas, lives now in California and was educated at Julliard in New York. Tony is a fine upstanding citizen, a musical genius and a pleasure to be around. I’ve known him for two years, and not once in that time had we ever discussed race, or the place it plays in US society. Not once, until last year, when all the American Football players began to kneel during the national anthem before their games began. We were sitting playing guitars, strumming away to AC/DC Back in Black, when suddenly I turned round to him and asked this very question.

“Tony, be honest with me, very honest, no BS. You’re black, you’re African-American, and you’ve seen what’s going on in this country for the past months with all the athletes kneeling during the national anthem. You’ve seen what Black Lives Matter have been saying and doing, you’ve witnessed at first hand how this country is so divided, but have you personally ever suffered any kind of racial abuse, either growing up or since you moved to CA a few years ago?”

When I asked this question I was somewhat convinced that just like everything else we read or see on TV, the bias towards sensationalism in our media far in a way outweighed the reality of life. I fully expected Tony to turn round and tell me that most of what we were looking at on TV was stage-managed to drum up support for factions in society that had nothing better to do than create issues that really didn’t assist in the harmonic bliss I seemed to live with on a daily basis. How wrong and how naive was I. This is what Tony said to me.

” Alan, I have lived 25 years, in Texas, New York and now CA. In all 3 States I lived in nice middle class suburban areas, other than in NY where Manhattan is as diverse as it comes and everyone seems very wealthy. Let me tell you how life really is if you’re black. Let me also tell you how I have seen it, living with white parents, white students and now in a predominantly white middle class area here in Orange County. Let me also tell you that what I am about to say is not at all exaggerated. It’s the truth. After you listen, you can then decide who is embellishing the truth.” He looked at me straight in the eye and then he began.

“I drive a great car, a Ford Mustang Shelby. I drive it everywhere because there’s no public transportation down here in OC. Do you know I get stopped by the cops at least twice a week? Do you know why I get stopped? I don’t speed, I don’t do anything illegal, I just get pulled over. It doesn’t matter if I am here in Laguna, or in long Beach or up in LA. I get stopped, and every time it’s the same nonsense.

” You’re joking?” I said, not quite believing what he was saying.

He continued.

” I am a music teacher, I drive to schools, I drive to people’s homes, white people, Chinese people, brown people, black people. It doesn’t matter. If I pass a cop, especially where schools are located, they will come from nowhere, lights flashing, pull me over and ask me why I am where I am. It happens so regularly now that I know the drill off pat. I stop, put my hands where they can be seen, wait for the cops to come to my window and I stay silent until they ask me the very same question every single time.”

“What question Tony?” I asked.

“What are you doing here son?”

“Son??” I laughed

“Yes. SON!. No respect. As soon as I tell them I am a music teacher with clients in the neighborhood, as soon as they see my guitar, my books and my other instruments, they very quickly and impolitely step away and wave me off as if I’m a piece of dirt they’d just happened to get stuck on the side of their highly polished shoes, and without apology, send me on my way”

Well Tony’s story blew me away. It got me thinking that I really knew nothing about the racism that people were going through on a daily basis and that being closeted, very comfortably, in a predominantly white are with predominantly white friends and a very white attitude, was so far from reality, that I had to take action. I had to find a vehicle to show my support for the black community and all the black friends I had. It was time to do something to raise awareness, time to react and time to make a statement that will never be forgotten.

At the top of this page you’ll find a lapel pin design. In my next post, later this week, I will send out more information on a campaign I am going to run in conjunction with some major athletes in the USA to raise awareness for a cause that most of you know is already rife in our society. A cause that millions of people suffer from each and every day in a country where everyone is supposedly equal but as I have come to find out, where no one actually is.

#SOLDOUT

Presidents Day

IMG_0088It’s Presidents day, and it’s George Washington’s birthday! Must be time to buy a new Honda, Nissan or some other brand of vehicle being continually advertised on television. Or perhaps it’s time for that new mattress, you know, the one with numbers or the one from that company who have the train shooting endlessly up and down their tag line which states they are employee owned. All steeply marked down to coincide with Presidents day, although most of those who advertise such marvelous discounts have been doing so since January 29th and will probably do so until Feb 28th! Or maybe it’s just time to sit down and reflect on whether having a president, indeed having any form of our current government is at all helpful or necessary at all in making our minds up to purchase the luxury goods we all crave.

Celebrating George Washington is one thing, but to celebrate all Presidents on the same day? What did we do to deserve such a feast of merriment? Why are Presidents I’ve never heard of, such as Cleveland, Harrison, Garfield and Harrison, who I’m sure all played their part in shaping this nation, and who are rarely, if ever, mentioned on any TV or radio show I watch or listen to, having their names remotely connected with such an esteem character as GW? Surely we’ve got it all wrong? In my opinion, the only Presidents who matter are Washington, because he was the first, and Obama, because he’s the latest. If Jimmy Carter was that great, then why not take a holiday on October 1st? That way, Toyota, Sleep Train et al, can advertise deep discounts more than 45 times per year, presuming no two past presidents share the same birthday. Oh, hang on, Toyota and their cohorts already do try to entice us into their showrooms 52 weeks a year with never-ending sales or price reductions! Fuck it, who needs a President anyway?

It’s back to what I was stating when I opened up this debate, today is just an excuse to have a day off. How many of you out there are actually working? Probably most of you, and in that case, how many cars can Honda actually hope to sell? Perhaps that’s why the incentive’s are so deep? Get them out of work and into the showroom so they can all say, “I dogged off work to buy my new wheels!” OR, “I’m shagging the wife in out new sleep number bed tonight, she’s the hard side and when I’m done, I’ll be soft!” Whatever the deal, make sure you have a nice day. For those of you on the East coast, I am sorry, but why the fuck would you ever want to live there? 20 feet of snow and more to come? It’s 80 here, yes 80! No wonder our taxes are so high and no wonder there’s no doubt that global warming is going to make billions homeless or dead within 100 years. But that’s OK, we can still look forward to more stellar car buying deals or incredible mattress offers as we all burn in Hell and Presidents day rolls on throughout the annals of time.

Ferguson, What’s Wrong With America.

download“Let’s go burn a few buildings, police cars and stores to the ground” The battle cry that seemed to ring round the small town of Ferguson last night as the Grand Jury announced their verdict. I was watching it all unfold live on CNN, and frankly it made for compelling viewing from the moment Bob McCulloch took to the podium some 15 minutes late, until the first canister of tear gas rolled into the CNN crew who were in the streets covering that inevitable aftermath. I thought I was watching the beginning of a return to the 1960’s, a kind of Back To the Future, played out live in 2014. But then I thought about it, and realized, with a certain amount of foreboding, that the United States of America hasn’t ever actually left the torrid 1960’s and this ‘excuse’ for stupid and often ignorant people to make trouble at the drop of a hat or in this case, drop of a verdict, is nothing more than an easy way to obtain a materialistic advantage during chaos and unrest while most of us sit at home watching in disbelief. After all, free booze, free TV’s and the opportunity to burn buildings, police cars and attack innocent people, doesn’t come along every day! Or does it?

Was the carnage observed last night, today and in the past few months, a ploy, orchestrated by those in authority or was it simply a frustration built up over time by the perpetrators who walked freely, unchallenged and with so much confidence through Ferguson, ready and willing to destroy everything in front of them? Well, let’s think about that.

The verdict came down yesterday morning, or so we are told? If indeed that’s accurate, then why did the whole country have to wait until it was dark and well into the witching hour, 8PM to be precise, to hear what that verdict was? Wouldn’t it have been much easier to release the news during the day when most people, and I include those who created the troubles, are at work or have much better things to do than run through pitch black streets relentlessly carving up the society in which they belong? The nighttime, as we all know, seems to bring out the worst in people dead set in causing trouble, whether they be sober, drunk, horny, greedy or just plainly moronic. Therefore my question is, was this a deliberate ploy by the authorities to make themselves look whiter than white by announcing at 8PM what they knew would be a damaging and disrespectful verdict to at least half the populous, knowing full well that their subsequent actions would lead to rioting and enable them to stand up and say,”I told you so, these people are nothing but thugs and their actions are what triggered this situation for our Police department in the first place?”

Don’t discount the other facts. Although there were over 1000 police and national guard representatives on the streets last night, they were conspicuous in their absence. Where were they? I could see some at the police station, some at the courthouse, but where were they when the Dollar Tree was being looted, the Metro PCS store being burned down and the liquor store emptied? Nowhere to be seen.  When the CNN reported was hit on her head by a rock and then pelted by the crowd nearby as she filmed, where was the protection those officers had sworn to give? Nowhere to be seen! When Obama and the Brown family came on live TV to plead for calm, why was their plea ignored? The answer is simple. We have a government that is led by a lame duck President who has the lowest popularity rating of any President in living memory and even though he’s black, black and white alike, both despise his lack of leadership therefore his plea was completely ignored. You also have to take a look at the rioting demographic. A lot of those involved came from out of State. So what, I hear you say? The so-called experts on CNN made the comment, “what does it matter where they come from? An injustice can be felt anywhere in this country and people are free to come and protest wherever they want” WRONG!!!! Why would anyone drive 800 miles from Chicago to stand in Ferguson unless they have prior intent to make nothing but trouble? People in Chicago also protested and didn’t feel the need to make that long journey just to steel TV’s and booze in Ferguson!

There is so much more to all of this than meets they eye and so much racial tension in this country that everyone just wants to ignore until something like this shooting allows that tension to raise its ugly head yet again. Just when you think things are going smoothly and that everyone in this country can sit down and be brother and sister, as 9/11 proved we can, it all goes to Hell in 5 minutes, and just for the sake of making Hell watchable, live on national TV. And then there are the celebrities. Check out some of their Tweets, although why anyone Tweets at all is completely beyond my comprehension. From Katie Perry to LeBron, all chiming in with their ten cents worth. Stay out of it morons, this is not your fight. This is a situation that is highly charged, highly political and absolutely disgusting. I don’t care that you are directing your ‘prayers’ all the way from CA to Ferguson Katie P, go sing something nice and then go back to your mansion and live your life. When have you ever had to want for anything let alone be involved in a riot brought on by ingrained racial extremities and tension?

People who create chaos and trouble should be punished. Why are we innocent bystanders, the ones who suffer in the long run by feeling insanely helpless by not being able to instill our calm, non racial personalities upon those who seem only to have a chip on their shoulders, intent on bringing anarchy to our streets and and making us think that we should be with them and NOT against them? The Police officer shot a man who he believed was a criminal. Rightly or wrongly, if you took away his gun and the guns of those who want to commit crime, perhaps, just perhaps, Ferguson would not have burned down last night because no one would have died? But, as we all know, that’s a completely different discussion!

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Is Hawaii Being Targeted?

IMG_5561I arrived here, all excited, ready to relax, hoping for three or four days of pure bliss. Maui, ready and waiting, though very cloudy. ‘No worries’, I was reassured time and time again, ‘it will soon clear out and sunshine will once again be the order of the day.’ But first things first, a massive line for the rental car avoided by some true Scottish guile and some amazing chutzpah, a two-hour saving at least, and parked safely inside my 8 passenger mini van, it was onwards to Wal-Mart, and places beyond, ready, so ready for a nice wee break by the ocean.

Wal-Mart on a Sunday in Kahului around noon time. Picture this. A line to get a parking spot, a line for the bank situated inside the main entrance, a line for the McDonald’s, situated right next to the line for the bank and an even larger line to check out, situated right next to…… Well you get the idea, right? Up and down the aisles, hundreds of locals were clearing out shelves of anything they could get their hands on, faster than those same shelves could be restocked! It was incredible. “This is obviously the place to shop” I thought to myself, as I placed a 6 pack of water into my cart, turned a corner and bumped straight into 4 very large Hawaiian ladies coming in the opposite direction. Their conversation was riveting, well, not really, but it seemed that way as I slid one way then the other in order to avoid a full on collision. Me against them? No contest. I would have been flattened. Eventually, cart complete and ready to go, I slipped gingerly into a shortish line, only to have my line Karma fulfilled once again. First it was Hertz, now Wal-Mart, as that lovely lady appeared out of nowhere, ushering me into her brand new empty line where she was about to begin her 6 hour shift. I didn’t have the heart to ask her if she was part of the employee law suit against her bosses, her fake smile was the only indication I required to show she was ready and willing to go home before her day had even commenced.

Back in my mini van and pedal to the metal, an enthralling 40 MPH was achieved as I hurtled relentlessly towards the Marriott Maui Beach Club in Lahaina, fully stocked, fully stoked and about to be made fully aware of just how Hawaii is being secretly targeted by our government and by all our national TV stations.

Hawaii, often referred to as “Paradise” by those who live there and most who visit, is anything but. The population is growing, and not just in numbers, it seems that every time I come here I see human being larger than life and much larger that their height/weigh ratio suggests. This, along with the overweight and definitely aging visitors who flock from all around the globe, meets for an interesting people watching experience and now, with the advent of our ‘tattoo nation’, there are even more reasons just to sit and ogle the freak show that has become ‘Paradise Lost” That being said, the sunsets are still magnificent, the views incredible and the topography and geology, just out of the world, literally.

Having settled in to my hotel room after a two-hour wait for the room to be become ready, (my line Karma deserting me in favor of yet another Marriott hotel screw up), the three-hour time difference, the heat and the fact that San Fran were playing live in the Sunday night football game, made for a great excuse to shower, chill out and watch a few minutes of sport before retiring to bed for the night. San Francisco were way ahead in the game, in fact it seemed to be a completely one-sided match, so I switched the channel from NBC to ABC, to see if there was anything better to watch. What hit me first, and not as suddenly as it should have, was that every single commercial at every break in the show that was playing was advertising some kind of drug. It really didn’t hit home until I began to count the Ad’s and make notes of what was being sold to me on this small screen. It went something like this.

Zantac for ant acid or acid reflux

Androgel for low testosterone

Lyrica for diabetic nerve pain

Abilify for adult depression

Cymbalta, again for depression.

And this was only the first commercial break. The second followed a similar pattern, and every break thereafter. It seemed there was nothing else being advertised on ABC, other than the occasional diaper or local surf and dive shop. I changed the channel and went back to the ‘blow out’ football game on NBC. Waiting patiently for the next commercial break, which if you watch all these shitty American sports, you’ll know they happen at least twice in every 90 seconds of every game, if not more. That’s the issue with American sports. They are built around advertising and not the other way round. Let’s make a play and have a TV break! I took out my pen and paper and began to make notes as the commercials ran their course. Yet again,

Chantix to help quit smoking

Requip to treat muscle spasms related to Parkinson’s

Cialis for ED

All the above were followed by the usual disclaimers. “Don’t take these meds if you get a sore throat, itchy balls, runny eyes, have a heart attack, smell funny, can’t sleep, get an overly large erection, etc etc. You know the one’s I’m talking about. All rattled off in the time it takes to swallow one of their incredibly ‘bad for you’ pills.

And they kept on rolling. It was amazing, I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening. What on earth was going on here? Hawaii was being targeted by every major drug company in the USA. Not just targeted, but brain washed. Any Hawaiian watching these commercials, and believe me, most people do watch intently, would have to think that they were in need of a complete drug makeover and that a visit to their GP would be the order of the day come Monday morning. There was a pill and a cream for everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, other than how to get rid of the crappy adverts for the pills they were insisting you take. It was sad in a way that everyone tuning into these TV stations was being bombarded with nothing but drug related product, all advertised under the guise of ‘scientific life improvement’, only in San Fran, where I live, the variation of products advertised is completely different and even though drug related Ad’s are prevalent, they are in no way as common as they were on this particular night in Hawaii.

Do the Hawaiian’s need more drugs than any other state? Well I think that was a question that needed to be asked. Hawaii is often referred to as an ideal spot to live life in peace and in happiness. It didn’t come across that way to me as each Ad rolled off the screen screaming, ‘take me’ and pleading for participants in a new game called ‘let’s all be druggies’. Baffling, truly baffling. And when it was all over and the 49’rs had won the football game, my mind flipped back to that Wal-Mart and the rush to ‘clear’ the shelves of everything that seemed edible. Perhaps the locals had a ploy to eat, drink and then be drugged or perhaps it was just a silent reminder that although pretty, relaxing and certainly a joy to visit for a short period of time, Hawaii is just like any other state in the union, filled with gullible fat people whose health is dependent on drugs that do more harm than good and a diet in overdrive which has created a TV/video game laziness and an ignorance for the good old-fashioned idea of getting outside and enjoying the islands for what they give out naturally, fresh air and a desire to live life!

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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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