Vote. Vote. VOTE.

Tis the season for political reasoning and toting your vote to the poll. Losing my fellow Americans in the title alone? I can feel your despair. From not understanding our over complicated system to having zero faith in the value of the vote, the candidates, even the accurate vote count. I feel you. I am right there too.

I take a breath and look at the planet spinning through space and time. Given our time we have a nearly unbearable onus and invaluable privilege. Let me make the case.

Brief history of voting in America:

So in 1776 (Or there abouts) when the U.S. of A. kicked some and became a Congressional Republic. Only men who own land can vote. Skip merrily through the next 150 years (or there abouts) of slavery, civil war, intercontinental rail road, slaughter of the indigenous and the buffalo, taming the West, protecting Yosemite, inventing the light bulb, producing Mark Twain and the airplane, we arrive in 1919… (or there abouts). Most men, black, some Asians (the right came and went here and there), and Native Americans who served in the military can vote. Then, in1920, women finally get the vote. Think about that. Less than 100 years ago women couldn’t vote in our country. For everyone voting has been a hard won dominion and blood spackled right.

Dissatisfaction with our country isn’t lost on me. The lack of voting indicates why Americans polled have fear, frustration, and malaise about the their country today. Our congress recently dropped below 9% approval rating. We approve polygamy and neo-Nazis more. We are crushed by debt, our police force is constantly in the media for shootings, we are at war, wonder about the NSA in our devices and struggle to raise our GDP. I am elated to be a American, but no longer sure I am proud to be a American.

It cost most people in the history of this country a lot so we can vote. What effect does it really have?

I find myself thinking about my vote in terms of the Presidential Election. In that case, yes. I do feel like my vote is insignificantly insignificant. However our leader in chief, while enormously consequential to this country, is the head of the country and our House and Senate the neck. Our local governments the arms; we are torso, legs, and feet.

Interestingly we show up the most to least statically valuable vote. The presidential vote. Voting for a senator, a rep, a judge, a DA, a local sheriff, or school boards carries far more weight. They are responsible for our highways, bridges, and parks, educators of our children, protectors of us and our homes, our health and retirement, and adjudicate justice when someone violates any of these. Yes, the president is way outside most of our world. Don’t worry about D.C. Our school board memebers, assembly, and mayors are the next leaders of the free world. We led the world in production innovation, space exploration, progressive thinking, and compromise for the good of many. We accomplish our greatest feats under duress. We are best when pressed. America is pressed. Take back our counties, towns, cities, and burbs. We are the locomotion and heartbeat of this counrty. We can put it back to our use by engaging.  Let us be great again. Let us demand more of our immediate government. Let us vote.

Google the word “vote”. That’s all you need to get started.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.



Now that our fair and balanced media (I’m looking at you too liberal media) whipped us into a fear frenzy about Ebola in America it has fallen to me, one of the best read, most respected, dashingly handsome, and most humble of writers, to give an honest assessment of the situation.

No one seems to remember, but this isn’t the first time Ebola (named after the river commonly known as the Zaire) has visited the U.S. In 1990 (the virus was classified in 1976) some monkeys from the Philippines infected four people in Virginia and you guessed it, Texas. I’m starting to get the apocalypse sub culture there. None of them died, however it should be noted all infections occurred in quarantined facilities. Very different from today’s situation. That being said, since 1976 6,200 deaths have resulted from all Ebola infections world wide. While a tragic number let’s all take a deep breath and put it in perspective.

The CDC’s final death data (“Death Data” sounds like a doomy prog metal band) for 2010 goes like this:

Number of deaths in the U.S. 2010: 2,515,458

Infant Mortality rate: 6.07 deaths per 1,000 live births (meaning you have a better chance of dying being born than getting Ebola, and yet you are still here)

Percentages following are all deaths attributed to Ebola compared to listed cause. I remind you these death rates are for one year and one country, while the percentage represents all deaths caused by Ebola in the entire world over 42 years by comparison.

Heart disease: 596,577 (1.03926232489687%)

Cancer: 576,691 (1.075099143215344%)

Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 142,943 (4.337393226670771%)

Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,932 (4.808736388173611%)

Accidents (unintentional injuries): 126,438 (4.903589110868568%)

Alzheimer’s disease: 84,974 (7.296349471603078%)

Diabetes: 73,831 (8.397556581923581%)

Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,826 (11.518596960576673%)

Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 45,591 (13.599175275821981%)

Intentional self-harm (suicide): 39,518 (15.689053089731262%)

So what do these numbers mean? I’m no mathematician but they speak pretty loud. Settle the f*** down. You have a better chance of dying by slipping in the shower, eating a cheese burger, or getting too much sun, in a single year than dying from Ebola in nearly a half century. Hell, you have a better chance of killing yourself on purpose than getting Ebola.

We do need to take this outbreak seriously and prep our hospitals. More importantly, if we are going to care so much about the spread, we need to send doctors, aid, and infrastructure to West Africa. If you express any concern about the disease, the U.S. and your personal well being should barely cross your mind.

Keep in mind if is on the news, it is the exception, not the rule. Not the norm. People aren’t interested in consistent truths, otherwise their would be a story about heroine deaths, homeless deaths, and overweight related deaths every day.

If you want to work yourself into a frenzy about preventable American deaths pick one actually threatening us. You should be more afraid of your car than Ebola.

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.


All info in this article is from the CDC website and my personal calculations.

This year: 1/30th of my life

Today I turn 30 and from what people tell me I am supposed to feel a certain way about it. I get the sense people think 30 is when the party is over. The freedom of youth has sung its last swan song. From what I can tell people think this because they have their careers and families started. Their path is set. They have made their beds and now it’s off to sleep in them. Good on you. I commend all you who have planned your life out. I, to date, have not. I have no 401k, no insurance, no family of my own, no retirement plan, no career, and no degree. I don’t even own a car. What I do have is wealth of experience. I have been a server, a bartender, a farm hand, a grocer, a radio personality, a cab driver, a minister, and a vagabond. I have been elected into leadership roles and asked to leave organizations I help form. I have been a lowly door knocker and the Vice President of a company. I have lost people; causes ranging from heroine to religion. I have met people from all walks of life and became friends with the most unexpected characters. I have skied Alaska, jumped out of an airplane, and ridden a bicycle 1,500 miles cross country in a month. I have loved and been loved.

So what do I have to show for this? A rich and full life, and if you’ll permit me, I’d like to extend to you what I have (l)earned. Feel free to hum the beat of that ’98 hit “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).”*

Study history. It truly is amazing how cyclical we are and that can bring peace in a chaotic world. Wait tables for at least a year. It will make you a kinder person. Floss. Daily. Revel in the things people mock you for. It takes their power away. Cultivate good spatial awareness. Being aware of your space is courteous to others and in the extreme, may save your life. Don’t watch shows about things you can easily do. Pawn shops, bakeries, restaurants, and kitchens are hiring. Watch cartoons. Read the classics. Look up words when you don’t know the definition. Don’t listen only to pop radio. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of new technology. Learn about it. Be aware of new legislation. Know who your senators and representatives are. Vote with your dollar. Don’t shop at Walmart. Don’t be afraid to take control. Don’t complain. Problem solve. If it’s on the news, it is the exception not the norm. Don’t pretend to be an expert about subjects in which you are not. Talk about religion and politics but do your best to be impersonal and without bias. Kill and process an animal with your own hands, cook and eat it. You will understand food intimately. Be prepared to defend logically the least of your opinions. Be prepared to change your mind on even your closest and deepest held positions when presented with new information. Be incredulous. Don’t claim to know the unknowable. Cultivate patience. Learn and practice to be a good conversationalist. Realize the universe does not care about you. Marvel in this: it is amazing how many random things came together over 14 billion years so you could be sitting here reading this. People of faith are good despite their religion, not the other way around. Morality and religion are not synonymous. Choose to do what is right because you know what is right in your gut. Occasionally, break the law. Practice civil disobedience. Carry a flask when going to shows; it leaves money to buy merchandise. Never complain about a cover charge for live music. Tip more than you should. It will make that person’s day and cost you a couple extra bucks. Pick trash up. Hold people accountable. Forgive. Be what you want out of others, daily. Work hard for reward. Give without expectation of reciprocation. Make educated guesses. Take reasonable risks. Test your limits by breaking them from time to time. Get bad habits if only to exercise will power in breaking them. Love. Truly sacrifice you on the altar of others whenever you can muster. Love more.

30 a is weird place to be. I feel I have just enough experience to start in on life. Fast food now comes with an intestinal price. The dating world has the loud ticking of a biological clock. I am caught among “youth is wasted on the young” and “wisdom and affluence is wasted on the old.” My friends are either getting face down drunk on a Wednesday or having babies. To me 30 is liberating. I have enough experience to know what I want and enough time to pursue it. I will forever be as young as I feel (which will likely be younger than I am) and then I will be dead, but that is a long way off. I plan to soak up this marvelous world for years and years to come. To all you who have been part of my journey, my most heart felt thanks. It has been grand thus far.

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.


*intentionally dating myself.

Coffee and Control

Tom and Jim are two old friends getting together for coffee at a local, rundown-but-you’ve-been-there-a-hundred-times-so-it-doesn’t-bother-you diner, and Jim has had a quandary about his life. He probes Tom for insight. “Tom, Do you think we control our lives?” Tom thought for a moment, looking into his coffee as though it had the answers Jim sought. Finally, looking up with a quiet satisfaction on his face he replied in question. “Why did you get up this morning?” Jim, knowing his friend had what he was looking for, patiently answered, “Because my alarm woke me.” Still prodding further Tom asked, “What did you do after you awoke?” Jim sipped his coffee and said matter-a-factly “Went to work.” Tom continued in his interrogation while rearranging the condiments, “And why did you go to work?” Jim squinted at his friend in reasonable puzzlement. “To support my family of course.” Tom, apparently satisfied or bored with the condiments, lit a cigarette and after exhaling asks, “And why are you here now?” Jim stops tapping the table (something Tom hates by the way) and darkens, as he believes to comprehend, “I see what you are driving at. My alarm controls my sleep, my family controls my responsibilities, and you, my dear friend, control my time. Is that your point, that I am not in control? That I am merely a pawn whose actions are dictated by the driving forces in my life?” Tom breaks into a full smile at his friend’s discomfort and incorrect deduction. “No. Think about it Jim. Who set the alarm? Who got married and had children? Who drove here, sat down, and ordered? You did. You are in everyday control of your life. I wouldn’t smile too quickly because you have no one to blame if you fuck it up. Never feel pity for yourself, and never believe there is nothing you can do about your situation for even your mood is your choice.” Jim sits back in the booth to reflect. He looks at Tom with a slight scowl, “You couldn’t lie just once to make feel better could you?” Tom, intent on his engineering work of art consisting of two forks, a toothpick and a salt shaker creating a monolithic pyramid answers without looking up, “You could stop asking.” 

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.



Your Heroes Are Dead

As I complete what is likely to be the first third of my life I have lived just long enough to objectively see changes in myself, and more so in my heroes. Happily, most of my inspirations have shuffled off this mortal coil. Men like Huxley, Orwell, Russell, and Hitchens, have made their beds and now I happily sleep in them. That said, my most important and defining hero is very much alive and as the two of us grew, we grew apart.

Andrew Schwab, journalist, frontman, and the light in a dark room, was the voice of reason and angry hope for myself and many like me. His frustration with both the church and corporations resonated clearly through Project 86′s albums, notably Truthless Heroes (Sept 2002). His books conveyed the confusion and frustration so many of us had previously been unable to articulate. He was larger than life on stage and exuded an untouchable presence off it. He didn’t shy away from exposing the dirty under belly of religion and the record industry. More importantly, he didn’t complain and minge without purpose. He inspired people to be angry and stand up against injustices.

He was our spokes person and we his rabid followers.

He was so willing to bite the hand that fed him (i.e. the church and the almighty record labels) he inspired us who intuitively knew there was something wrong with the church and gave us hope to make music on our own terms. For years his books, posts, and lyrics reflected this unyielding need to buck and better the system, then something happened. He softened. His lyrics became less singular minded and individually disempowered. His writing, once poetic and brash, became devotionals. Even his stage presence became accessible and congenial (for a rocker). I do not know Andrew or anything about his journey other than what he has volunteered to the public, but put to it I would wager the change was marriage. That and a need for peace. Like so many young men out to fight the world and make a difference to the masses, all they really wanted is to matter to one special person. Andrew’s social media activity around the time of his marriage focused less on social action and more on gardening and sports. His Blog once looking to identify and solve hypocrisy and inequity in the church became a Bible study. Even his latest book, Tin Soldiers, is a devotional work book riddled with cartoons.

Let me be clear I am stating his later work is good on its own merits. In contrast to what made me and others like me love his earlier work, it seems soft, pandering, and without original zeal. One could even argue Andrew now supports the system he so vehemently (some would say virulently) railed against. Again, it is not that he has stopped putting forth effort and passion, but it feels like The Matrix turned into Matrix: Revolutions. They are good movies for completely different reasons, but one clearly pushed the boundaries. The other sat back on its laurels and gave the masses what they wanted. I think the change in the not so “Macabre Schwab” can be summed up by comparing some lyrics written about 10 years apart.

S.M.C . (Sunday Mass Consumption) circa 2002

Big business ain’t easy
I’m sure you’d agree
Especially when the product is eternity-
To stay one step ahead we must achieve
And turn this holy temple
Into a factory
Is there anywhere you can run
To hide from these thieves? -
Cause eternity’s on sale today for a fee

Faith is buying me away
Buying me a way
To convert the masses into little servants
Faith is buying me away
Buying me a way
Buying me into your home (soul)

Our sanctuary of this high-rise
Our steeples our billboards
Our slogans our converts
Oh don’t forget to buy this T-shirt
As you leave
And open up the offering box
And give until it hurts
Show me an open heart and we’ll steal it away
Cause eternity’s on up for sale for a small fee today
You Know

This altar is a stage
Our sponsor must be paid
And maybe even make the front page

Blood Moon circa 2012

Eyes ablaze
The knife held high above your
Head is framed against the constellations
While my back is splayed upon this altar
Might you just reveal where this is headed?

I brought you to this pinnacle
The height above the desert sea
To wash away the blemishes
In burning holy offering

I know you came from me
Your blood is in these veins
I know you came from me
There can be no other way

Yes, relent, transcend
Reverse this madness
Call to mind the curse
The pain that’s promised
Search within and admit
You cannot do this
Wait, reflect, recall
When she was barren?

You, my only progeny
My tears may never ever cease
I long to give you sweet release
But I cannot disobey

Stay your steel and sheath the dagger
You have shown this day
Belief beyond your reason
Gaze above and count
Those lights, my heavens
You gave his life
Your wage is endless
To trust is to obey

In the end I am sad at the loss of a hero, but I am at consoled feeling Andrew Schwab is happy and at peace in his life. To paraphrase him, “My hero is dead. He was all in my head. When nothing is left I’ll start again.” Andrew, if you happen to read this, you should know you saved my life once. Thank you for your work and may you become a new hero to many.

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.


Audience of Musicians

I spend a large amount of time with artists, musicians, speakers, and the like. I myself identified as more than one of these for a majority of life. I state this past tense since writing is my only “performance” outlet currently. Any time you are deeply embedded in a group or activity, objectivity and clarity are often clouded. This can be a boon giving you the one dimensional world to focus and hone your craft. Surrounding yourself with like minded people always solidifies preexisting notions, however it rarely expands and challenges your preconceptions. This seems to invariably lead to hubris and demeaning overconfidence.

As an artist your lens is a comparative one. The standard: Your work. This often causes unfair reviews of other artists, both overly kind and defaming alike. If you think some one is good but needs polishing you may over sell them to bolster show turn out. If someone is talented and hard working it can cause jealously. Things like, “They’re really popular, but I just don’t get what all the buzz is about. Sell-out.” are often proffered. Your own creation rightly consumes your mind but can make you useless for an objective opinion.

It is fascinating how a person will decide their value scale is ubiquitous and absolute in regard to art. Moreover it is normal and expected in many social groups to mock art perceived as bad, negative, or sell-out. People will applaud the folk singer pounding out a four cord song story, saying, “what a great story”, “so much heart”, and “so organic” and in the next breath decry the local hardcore act as “just noise” and “angry”. In point of fact most heavy rock musicians are extremely skilled at their instrument and have practiced hours to play in sync with a band. The fact heavy music is so often called “angry” shows the listener neither understands anger and taken no time to listen to the music and read the lyrics. In the same way heavy musicians couple all singing as “whining” and light music as sissified or weak. To bare your soul over a break up or loss in front of a group of strangers takes balls. Big folksy balls. Melody does not equate to weakness. Beethoven is the father of Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. He lived in melody, so mock not your forefather.

This artistic myopia can be applied to spoken word poets, public debaters, DJ’s, rappers, and painters. There is no public forum exempt from cliquism. Cliques can be useful. They are the bones on which new comers sharpen their teeth.  It is the leaders of the artistic cliques doing themselves and those who look up to them a disservice. I find the deeper you get into a clique the less you base your opinion on what you like and more on what is “OK” or “cool” to like. Your public image guides your taste more than your taste does. We see this parodied in hipster memes all the time. How often have you heard a song on the radio and immediately dismissed it because of the station or artist playing it? There is some genuine crap out there not deserving of the time of day. Most of the art in the public sphere deserves at least the time of day. It is one thing to dislike something. It is entirely different to state it isn’t good, well executed, or deserving. Artists should understand this the best, and yet they are the quickest to say a person who went to Julliard has no talent or skill. Playing to audience of your peers can be the most encouraging or defeating show of your life.

I encourage artist and consumer a like to examine your standard for quality or enjoyment. I encourage people to have the confidence to publicly appreciate art outside their social wheelhouse. I encourage people to stay away from blanket descriptors and ego measuring while imbibing art. Please step back and see the forest for its many varied and wonderful trees. You never know who may inspire you.

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.


Top 10 Fossil Species Discovered in 2013 (Part One)


For many of us Dinosaurs stay in the past, or at least our childhood. Often we forget about the active and progressive field of Paleontology. Here is my short list of the ten fossil species uncovered in 2013 (no particular order) I think are awesome.

1. Deinogalerix Masinii
ERA:  Late Miocene [about 10 to 7 Ma (million years ago)
Location: Italy

This guy was an insectivore/herbivore feeding on beetles, dragonflies, crickets, etc. and by our terms a giant in comparison to its present day counterparts. Technically Masinii is a hedgehog without spines meaning it likely look like a bad-ass moonrat. They lived on an island which is now the Gargano peninsula in Italy. Like many animals endemic to islands, Masinii came to a larger size through  insular gigantism, which is to say he got bigger because there was less competition from other predators on the island than elsewhere. As with the Galapogose or Madagascar he was subject to isolated evolution and likely only came to be in Gargano region. Deinogalerix (from Ancient Greek, “terrible/terror” + “shrew”) masinii was about one and a half the size of the common hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus, around 1 to 1.5 feet (30-45 cm) long and while he would probably run if he saw you, I’m sure the nimble little beast would give you start if you turned over the log he was rutting around under.

2. Lythronax Argestes
ERA: Late Cretaceous Period (between 95-70 MA)
Location: American Southwest

Lythronax, translates as “king of gore” getting him on the list automatically. The specific name, “Argestes”, refers to its geographic location in the American Southwest, specifically a geologic unit known as the Wahweap Formation, abundantly exposed in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. He was a tyrannosaurid, and I can hear your mind grinding… “Sounds like a T-Rex, but I know from Spielberg that’s from the Jurassic era.” Unfortunately Spielberg confused an entire generation of amateur dinosaur enthusiasts for years. Most of the iconic dinos in all three movies are from the Cretaceous Period.

Lythronax and T-Rex had a lot in common since T-Rex likely descended from Lythronax. Rex probably would have won a grudge match with his dear old granddad since he was nearly twice his size. Inspite of his diminutive stature in comparison to T-Rex, Lythronax possesses several unique and useful features, a short narrow snout with a wide back of the skull with forward-oriented eyes. Previously paleontologists thought this type of wide-skulled tyrannosaurid only appeared 70 million years ago, whereas Lythronax shows it had evolved at least 10 million years earlier. This skull gave him binocular vision… all the better to see you with my dear. He was 24ft long and weighed about 2.7 tons. He also gave Paleontologists a lens on how tyrannosaurids developed differently from southern Laramidia (Utah, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico), although belonging to the same major groups, differ at the species level from those on northern Laramidia (Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas and Canada). This begs the question: Was there a natural land or water barrier separating the two groups? In anycase “The Gory King” gets on the list and perhaps the title of the next black metal album I write.

3. Ocepechelon
ERA:  Late Cretaceous (about 67 MA)
Location:  Khouribga Province of Morocco

This giant prehistoric sea turtle had a 28 in. skull (that’s the size of an average person’s torso) making it one of the largest marine turtles ever found and more importantly he  had a mouth reminiscent of a swordfish’s and fed by way of suctioning, previously unknown to the world of paleontology. Many living aquatic vertebrates, including walruses, whales, and some freshwater turtles; acquire food through suction feeding – ingesting prey with large amounts of water by creating a pressure difference between an expanded oral cavity and the surrounding water. While “eating through a pippet” doesn’t generally strike fear into the heart, Ocepechelon moved about the prehistoric sea via massive flippers and consumed his prey whole and alive. Had we been around when this creature lived we undoubtedly would have ridden it like a knuckle dragging Aquaman.

4. Siats Meekerorum
ERA: Late Cretaceous (about 100 MA)
Location: Utah

While this monster muncher, named after a cannibalistic monster from the mythology of the Ute Native American people (awesome), is not a tyranosaurid [it is more closely related to carcharodontosaurian group of theropods (some sources say allosaurid)] it was a direct competitor with T-Rex. He’s important not only because he was a nine meter, four ton murder machine, he fills in a huge gap of time for large predators as well. Until we found Siats there was a massive gap in the fossil record between T-Rex and previous carcharodonstosaurians.  30-million-year gap to be approximate. He proves while T-Rex was a terror king, Rex was kept in his place (and physically smaller) far longer than anyone expected.

5. Panthera Blytheae
ERA: Late Miocene and Early Pliocene (4 to 6 MA)
Location: Tibet

Blytheae is the oldest big cat ever found. He was likely the size of a clouded leopard (about a yard long and 20 or so inches high). Now that isn’t huge, but it had to compete for food with saber toothed cats and bear dogs. BEAR DOGS! Not only is that impressive, but more importantly we know now large cats (lions, tigers, and cheetahs. Hell yeah) started their evolutionary paths up to 3 MA longer than expected. I love me a huge cat. The grandaddy of huge cats trumps our pussy.

Part Two to follow too… heh.

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.



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