controversies, history, language, lessons learned, social media, Virginia

If the old name means that much to you, shouldn’t you know how to spell it?

Happy Saturday morning, folks. Bill is home again from his latest business trip. He brought me flowers and candy, in part because I was in a noticeably bad mood on Thursday night during our nightly chat. In fact, I was in such a pissy mood that I went on YouTube and covered “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band. The lyrics are for a man singing about a mean woman, but I changed them to a feminine perspective.

Sorry, no makeup… I wasn’t going to put it on for this occasion. And I don’t care if people don’t like it. It helped keep me from being self-destructive. As for the song choice, you can take a girl outta the South… 😉

Naturally, I was kind of kidding. Bill isn’t a mean man at all. Sometimes, he’s just a little clueless, as we all are at times. I was upset because I wasn’t feeling well, and I was stressing about the idea of seeking local medical care before it turns into an emergency situation. Being home alone in a foreign country, not knowing much about accessing the healthcare system, is stressful. Yes, I know how to call 112, but I’d like to avoid doing that if I can. He thought I was just upset because he was out of town. And instead of asking me what was wrong, he made small talk about a topic I didn’t care about at all. I realize I should have been more direct with him, but I was home alone and feeling kind of crappy and depressed. I just wanted him to ask me if I was okay… or even a simple “Why are you being so bitchy?” But he wanted to talk about some people from Kazakhstan he met who had moved to Germany. I couldn’t have cared less.

When he brought me the pretty red carnations and Lindor Truffles, I put the flowers in water and we cleared the air. I explained to him why I was so short tempered and ended our chat early. I just plain wasn’t feeling well and was upset about the prospect of doing something about it. The insistence on making small talk was pissing me off. Adding insult to injury was the fact that I had a cold this week that turned out to be very minor. It was over in a matter of three days, which is shocking to me. He kept harping on the cold, telling me he’d be making me chicken soup and hot toddies. I kept telling him the cold wasn’t a big deal, and still he went on about it. Meanwhile, I have this annoying dull cramping in my abdomen that doesn’t hurt, but really bugs. I had told him about it before, but he was still focused on my vanquished cold. The argument is over now. Maybe my next cover will be a Rick Astley number. Don’t be surprised if I try it.

So… what about today’s title?

I was thinking about writing a more serious post today about a topic that sort of relates to my current source of angst. But then I decided I’d rather not… simply because yesterday’s post was so gruesome. So I’m going to address something I noticed the other day on my alma mater’s Facebook page.

Seems innocuous enough, right?

Longwood University is a public institution in Farmville, Virginia, founded in 1839. The high rise buildings at the end of the double rainbow were recently renovated such that they really no longer resemble the buildings they were when I was a student at Longwood from 1990-94. Below is a photo from the era when I was a Longwood student. I lived in Frazer for my first week at Longwood, but then had to move because of the roommate from Hell. I’ve written about that in this blog, for those who care.

This photo was uploaded to Flickr by a user named tommy. Incidentally, tommy is another person guilty of the subject I will address today… He writes that he scanned this photo from a postcard.

Judging by the way this photo is positioned, I think the picture was taken facing campus. That would mean the building on the left is Frazer, and the building on the right is Curry. When I arrived at Longwood, they were considered the most “modern” of the dormitories, as they had air conditioning. None of the other residence halls had AC, which was no fun during Virginia summers. They were built in 1969-1970, I believe, so they were just slightly older than my age. 😉

In his description of this photo, tommy wrote this:

Curry and Frazier Residence Halls

Longwood College, Farmville, VA

These 10-story, high-rise residence halls are named for Dr. J.L.M. Curry, who drafted legislation for Longwood to become Virginia’s first Normal School for female teachers in 1884, and Dr. Robert Frazier, president of Longwood from 1897 to 1902.

Like a lot of people, tommy misspelled the name “Frazer”. But he uploaded his photo in 2006, when Curry and Frazer still existed. Today, those two buildings are very different looking. A few years ago, Longwood totally renovated them, right down to their skeletons. And now, they are known as Moss and Johns. Why? Because the men behind the names Curry and Frazer did things that are no longer considered honorable. And the people behind Moss and Johns are local civil rights heroes who have done a lot for the community. Three years ago, the buildings got their new names to go along with their brand new makeovers, but old habits die hard.

I’m going to be honest. It’s hard for me to think of those buildings as anything but Curry and Frazer. However, given that they no longer resemble the old Curry and Frazer, except for the fact that they’re ten stories high, I don’t think it’s wrong that the names were changed. They really aren’t the same buildings anymore. In fact, I read an article about the renovations and was SHOCKED by the photos of the interior, which show how beautiful they are now. I can tell you, having lived in Frazer for a week, the old buildings were very sterile and utilitarian. The new ones are absolutely gorgeous.

A view of the newly renovated and named digs… No more cinder block walls!

If you know anything about Longwood University, and Prince Edward County, Virginia, you know that the area was particularly problematic during the civil rights era. In 1951, local student Barbara Johns, whose name now graces one of the renovated residence halls, and had moved to Prince Edward County from New York, organized a student led walkout at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville to protest its overcrowded conditions and poor facilities for Black students. With legal help from the NAACP, students at the Moton School filed Davis v. Prince Edward County , which was the lone student initiated lawsuit that was later rolled into the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, a 1954 Supreme Court case that declared “separate but equal” public schools unconstitutional.

In 1959, locals in Prince Edward County closed public schools for several years to avoid integration. A private school named Prince Edward Academy was opened to educate white kids, and when I arrived at Longwood in 1990, it was still open… but on its last legs. In 1992, former resident and businessman J.B. Fuqua infused a large donation of cash into Prince Edward Academy so that it wouldn’t go under. It’s now called Fuqua School, and is no longer reserved for white kids. But, check out what Wikipedia has in its article about Fuqua School (when it was still known as Prince Edward Academy):

In a 1982 interview with the Los Angeles Times, headmaster Robert Woods said that the school had an open admissions policy, but that no blacks had been admitted since they were less intelligent than whites. Woods added that the school did not “teach segregation or integration” because that was “for the parents to do”.

1982 wasn’t really that long ago…

Nevertheless, I distinctly remember arriving at Longwood in 1990 and hearing about Barbara Johns and the Moton School. I sat in Jarman Auditorium with lots of other freshmen taking the then mandatory “Longwood Seminar” course (which I think is now defunct) and listened to several local Black leaders speak about the special civil rights history from Farmville, which I had not heard of in high school. I do remember learning about Brown v. Board of Education— I think it was in a high school sociology class, of all things. But no one ever educated me about what was going on in Farmville in the 1950s… not until I went to Longwood as a college freshman.

As for Dr. Gordon Moss, he was a faculty member at Longwood in the 1950s and 60s who was instrumental in supporting civil rights in Farmville and Prince Edward County. Dr. Moss taught history from 1944-1969. My late aunt was a student at Longwood in the 1940s, graduating in 1948, just before the name changed from State Teachers College to Longwood. I wonder if she knew Dr. Moss. Anyway, Dr. Moss was very outspoken in the 1950s and 6os about the need to reopen the schools in Prince Edward County and support justice and equality for everyone.

So yeah… Johns and Moss are certainly worthy of being honored. But who were Curry and Frazer? Well, they were both men who promoted education, which certainly makes them notable, especially at a college where so many great teachers are trained. Jabez Curry advocated for developing public education in Virginia and the rest of the South. But he was also a member of Confederate Congress. As for Dr. Robert Frazer, he was a former university president for a few years when Longwood was known as Female State Normal School, back in the late 19th century. And he was also a Confederate soldier when he was a young man.

Virginia has recently made a lot of progress toward moving beyond the Confederate era. That includes taking down lots of monuments that celebrated Confederates, changing some names, and promoting more progressive attitudes. Plenty of people are still mired in the past, though, and they stubbornly resist change, even when it makes them look ignorant on many levels. Such is what I noticed on Facebook, when that beautiful photo of Moss and Johns was posted. There were many comments from people arguing that those high rise buildings will ALWAYS be Curry and Frazer to them.

Below is a sample of the comments left by alums who refuse to evolve:

OHHHH you mean CURRY AND FRAZIER!>>>>>???????😠😢

soooooo Does RE writing History make folks TODAY actually feel better????? LIVE better????

I have so many thoughts but don’t want to be in FB jail.😡

I lived in Frazier. It will always be Frazier. When you keep changing names people have no attachment to them.

Yep. And if there’s nothing familiar, why would I ever visit? Or make an alumni donation?

I lived in Frazier, too.

Rainbows over Curry and Frazier

That would be Curry and Frazier 😉

Curry and Frazier

It will always be Curry and Frazier !

And it goes on and on, with a couple of snarky comments directed at those who point out that so many people keep misspelling the defunct building name they seem to hold so dear. When you realize that the majority of these folks are college graduates, or at least former Longwood students, it seems especially ridiculous. I mean, do you WANT to look ignorant, or what? How hard is it to spell the name correctly? It’s one less letter. And if you’re arguing that the name shouldn’t have changed, it really seems like you should damned sure know the actual spelling of the so-called sacrosanct name. I wonder how many people who object to being educated about proper spelling would be annoyed if people kept misspelling their own names? Doesn’t it seem like a matter of basic respect, not just for the person behind the name, but for oneself?

Some of them are also pissed because the Ruffner building– which is where the famous Rotunda is– is now just called Rotunda. Again… hard to imagine that building as not being called “Ruffner” anymore, but in light of recent progress, the change was warranted. Below is a passage from a Farmville Herald news article about the history of Ruffner:

I don’t really have any strong attachments to the old names. Longwood has changed so much since I graduated in 1994. A lot of old buildings are now gone, with brand new ones to replace them. They really needed to be demolished and upgraded, to remain competitive with other universities, and for basic health and safety reasons.. Even the Rotunda is different now. On April 24, 2001, just before Longwood College became Longwood University, the original Rotunda burned down. But even though the place has dramatically changed cosmetically, it’s still a place I hold dear in my heart.

I still have so many warm memories from Longwood, and there are even a few people still working there who remember me. I left that school with an excellent education and so many friends. I will be forever grateful. So, I’m all for progress and change for the better at Longwood– a place that, even after 184 years, is still evolving, preparing great leaders, scholars, and professionals, and doing things that make for a better world for everyone— especially the students and alums.

I’m also all for proper spelling, because I was a Longwood English major, dammit. Spelling counts sometimes, especially if you’re trying to make a successful case for honoring long dead people who fought to continue the enslavement and oppression of Black people. Think about it. You should have learned how to do that when you were a Longwood student. Or, at least, improved your skills somewhat.

By the way… Longwood is also where I started singing. You can take that as a good thing or a bad thing. 😉 However, I can honestly state that learning to sing and embracing music changed my life significantly. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity at a big school. So, for that alone, Longwood will forever be a special place to me, regardless of any name changes, renovations, new buildings, or other progress…

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controversies, music, politics, racism, social media

People “trying that in a small town”…

The featured photo is a screenshot of a map of the area where I grew up, from 1980-90. It’s gotten bigger in terms of population, but the mindset remains frighteningly much the same as it was 40 years ago…

It’s a cool, rainy morning here in Germany, and we’re on day two of Bill’s latest TDY trip. Yesterday, I booked the first three nights of our next trip together. It’s our biannual trip to the dentist in Stuttgart, which I’ve started turning into an opportunity to visit other places within driving distance. I already explained in my travel blog how we came to decide on the Czech Republic for our next journey, but before we head there, we have to get our teeth cleaned. So, for the first three nights, we’ll stay in the charming town of Tübingen, a place we already know well and love.

As I sit here thinking about how I want to arrange the rest of our trip, I can’t help but reflect more on Jason Aldean’s current hit song, “Try That in a Small Town”. I wrote a blog post about it a couple of days ago. It was mainly based on my initial reactions to the song and its video, which came across as belligerent and obnoxious to me. Unlike some people, I didn’t initially see the song as blatantly racist. There truly aren’t any lyrics within the song itself that are obviously aimed at people of color.

The video, on the other hand, seems very much geared to spin up the MAGA extremists. Parts of the video were shot at a Tennessee courthouse where a Black teenager was lynched in 1927. Those who defend the video point out that the same courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee has been featured in Disney films and other productions. That point, to me, seems irrelevant, though, when you consider that “Try That in a Small Town” is a song about small town folks kicking ass and taking names against anyone who dares to step out of line (in their view). It seems to me that in a country as large as the United States is, another courthouse location could have been used… or, perhaps a different type of place, altogether. They could have used bucolic landscapes, instead of a courthouse.

@destineenstark I may be petty, but my THOROUGH and petty! 😂 Here is my dissertation debunking Jason Aldean’s claims about his 🎶🎥 propaganda. #jasonaldean #countrymusic #debunked #debunktok #factsoverfeelings #propganda #americanpropaganda ♬ original sound – Destinee Stark

There are many very quick clips of violent uprisings and riots shown in the video. However, TikToker Destinee Stark was among the first people to determine that a lot of the clips that were used weren’t actually from events that occurred in the United States. More worrying is that Ms. Stark is now reportedly receiving racist and violent hate mail from fans of the song. It seems to me that if this song is so innocent, people wouldn’t feel the need to harass Destinee Stark for simply having and sharing her opinions, as well as real evidence that the video is a crock of shit. Stark discovered that one clip used in the video came from an event in Berlin. Another clip was stock footage easily found online. Other clips were also questionable as to whether or not they originated in the United States. Of course, no footage from January 6th was used at all.

According to the linked article on NBC News:

“I just think that people have a right to know,” Stark said. “Things like this, they inform politics and it informs how we vote, how we see the world and who we interact with. And I just think that if we’re consuming content that’s not even accurate, that it’s just propaganda. And it’s just fueling people, you know, to commit more violence.”

As I mentioned in my first post about this song, I don’t think Aldean should be censored or canceled. I do wish, however, that instead of racing to defend this song and its message, people would take a few moments to consider the other side what is being communicated. A lot of people are claiming that this song is just about standing up for small town values and people “protecting their own”. As someone who grew up in a small town and both witnessed and experienced the negative side of that upbringing, I can truthfully state that the message in “Try That in a Small Town” is a bit distorted. It IS true that if you were born and raised in a small town, and people there consider you to be “okay”, you probably will get help from your neighbors when you need it. But if you’re different somehow, you will probably face harassment and suspicion. And people can be very slow to change their opinions in small towns.

Take for instance, a news item that came up in my memories a few days ago. Three years ago, some people of Mathews, Virginia– a county adjacent to Gloucester County, which is where I grew up– were very upset because there was talk about renaming an elementary school. The school in question, then named Lee-Jackson Elementary School, was named after Confederate war heroes Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I see that today, the school is called Mathews Elementary School. If you click this link, you can see who showed up to demand that the name didn’t change. It’s a whole lot of older White guys carrying Confederate Battle flags.

I don’t know for certain, but my guess is that a lot of those folks aren’t that interested in education in the first place. Most educated people would not show up to a public event in the United States carrying flags and signs that are deemed overtly racist. Even if someone privately sympathizes with the “good ol’ boys”, smart people don’t go around broadcasting what a lot of people would associate with naked racism. It’s not good for business.

Things haven’t changed in over 40 years…

Looking at the photo from July 2020, I am transported back about 4o years, when my parents first moved us to Gloucester. In those days, Gloucester was a VERY rural place, and Mathews was even more rural. It was not uncommon to see the “stars and bars” displayed everywhere. I well remember being bullied when I arrived in Gloucester, because I was “different”. Every day, I would come from school in tears because people in my class and on my bus harassed me. But, at least I was straight and White, and in spite of being a little eccentric, I really wasn’t that different than other people were. I did eventually fit in somewhat, even though it took about a year or two (to a child, that is an eternity).

Other people weren’t so lucky. I remember a lot of race based fighting when I was in high school, mostly between Black people and folks from an area of the county called “Guinea”. It was well known among my classmates that Guinea was a place you didn’t want to go to after dark, unless you were from there. I know there are good people in Guinea, but it did not have a good reputation, at least when I lived in Gloucester.

Years later, Gloucester was in the news because of a transgender student named Gavin Grimm, who took his case to the Supreme Court in order to be able to use the boys’ bathroom. I had long left Gloucester by the time Gavin Grimm was in the news, but I do recall reading some pretty horrifying hate-filled letters to the editor from our local newspaper, which I still follow. In August 2021, the Gloucester County School Board was ordered to pay Grimm $1.3 million to resolve the lawsuit.

I was inspired to write today’s post, in part, because of an op-ed I read in the Washington Post. It was written by Brian Broome, a gay Black writer who grew up in a small town in northern Ohio. His piece, titled “Jason Aldean? Please spare me the small-town nostalgia.”, is a shout out to those of us who were deemed different somehow, yet stuck growing up in a small town, where people refused to accept our differences. Broome no doubt had it much worse than I ever could have. But, instead of his community embracing and protecting him, as Aldean’s song suggests, Broome experienced racism and homophobia. And instead of being encouraged to speak out against the discrimination, Broome was encouraged to “shut up and color”. He was not free to be himself, and he couldn’t wait to leave that stifling small town, where too many people thought too small, and had no time for differing opinions or new experiences.

I was further inspired today when I noticed the most recent crime log from Gloucester, Virginia. It looks like it covers the last month. The list of reported crimes include things like DWI, assault & battery, grand larceny, breaking & entering, strangulation, and a host of other offenses. Granted, Gloucester has grown a lot in population since I was coming of age there, but it’s still a very conservative place, and it’s still sort of a “small town”. I wouldn’t say that the sentiment of Aldean’s song is ringing true there. People are still misbehaving, with no blowback from the locals. Not that I’d necessarily want the locals to engage in vigilantism, as Aldean’s song suggests. I guess it just goes to show that the sentiment in the song is a bit mythical, and it’s designed to inflame right wingers, who don’t embrace people who aren’t like them. And that doesn’t necessarily just mean people of color, either.

Here’s a gallery of screenshots from the local paper, Glo Quips, referencing people “trying that in a small town” over the past month… Eleven whole pages!

If Aldean and his songwriters really believe in their lyrics, maybe they should focus more on being tolerant and decent to other people, rather than promoting vigilantism and suspicion. “Try That in a Small Town” just sounds to me like a bunch of scared people rattling their sabers, threatening those who don’t subscribe to the typical small town mindset. I suspect that the song is intended to rile up the right, as another election cycle gets into full swing. Lots of people are terrified of the idea that people other than conservative Christian white males might be on top, for a change. So, instead of being positive and peaceful, they spin up more divisiveness with threatening, belligerent anthems that aren’t even based on actual events in the United States. And the less curious among us are lapping it up with gusto, believing the narrative without a second thought as they holler about how “non-racist” the song is.

I wish some of those people would stop for a moment and consider that real freedom should be for everyone… and maybe it’s time to think of the whole country as a “small town”, where people look out for each other. Or hell, maybe we can consider that the whole world is full of good people— people who, when it comes down to it, have blood just as red as yours is.

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celebrities, controversies, music, rock stars, social media, Trump, Twitter

The controversy over Jason Aldean’s new right wing anthem…

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot from Jason Aldean’s video for the song, “Try That in a Small Town”.

Folks, I’m going to be honest. I don’t follow Jason Aldean’s career. I see that I did mention him in my blog a couple of times. I believe it was during the pandemic, when he was getting some crap from people for daring to take photos with his family while unmasked. I didn’t agree with him being harassed for that and I said so. That situation provided an example of my conservative leanings. I totally understand why some people get irritated with more liberal folks. Sometimes, people on the left legitimately can be insufferable.

BUT…

I fully support Sheryl Crow’s comments to Jason Aldean regarding his latest “hit” song, “Try That in a Small Town”. The song, which Aldean says is an “ode” to the “feeling of a community” he had while he was growing up, is coming under fire for its video and its lyrics. And Sheryl Crow, who likewise grew up in a small town, posted this on Twitter:

Like Sheryl Crow, I grew up in a small town. I knew, and still know, lots of people who love their guns. I have quite a few relatives who own weapons, and having been an Army wife for years, I know lots of people who carry guns as part of their work. And lots of those folks, like me, were raised in small towns. I know there are some wonderful people in small towns, and there’s a lot to love and respect about most of America’s small communities.

However, I also know that people who live in small towns can be notoriously small minded about a lot of things. Positive changes can come very slowly, even in 2023, when everyone has access to the Internet and 24 hour news. There’s a lot of hatred and gun violence in the world today, and many small towns have made the news because of mass shootings or so-called “good old boys” taking the law into their own hands and killing people.

Jason Aldean has, himself, been involved in a mass shooting. In 2017, Aldean was performing at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas when a man on the 32nd floor of a building opened fire. Sixty people died, and about 400 were wounded. You’d think after a terrifying experience like that, Mr. Aldean would understand the gravity of promoting violence, even in a song he claims is about “small communities” and how residents look after their own.

I know firsthand that sometimes small communities are hotbeds of dysfunction, and while people can legitimately be kind and supportive toward the people they know, they can also be hateful and closed-minded toward those who are considered different. And sometimes, those who are different somehow end up dead… and those “good old boys” wind up spending the rest of their lives rotting in prison. Or the different person can’t take the harassment anymore and commits suicide.

Last night, I shared an article by People Magazine about Sheryl Crow’s comments. One of my conservative leaning friends took me to task over doing that, claiming that Aldean’s song doesn’t promote violence. This was my response:

Americans are obsessed with guns, and the idea that owning them will protect them from violence. The tone of that song is belligerent. I grew up in a small town myself and never had issues with people owning guns. Hell, my entire class got hunter safety training in the 5th grade, because guns were so prevalent in the 80s. But this attitude that people will protect their mores with gun violence is pretty tone deaf in 2023. Way too many children have died because of gun violence.

I don’t support censorship, so I don’t think his video needs to be censored or yanked. But I don’t think Sheryl Crow is wrong, either.

And I don’t support censorship, especially of artists. There are some messages that should be squelched for being “fighting words” that have no positive effects on society. But I truly believe those messages should be few and far between. I will admit, I haven’t seen Mr. Aldean’s video, mainly because the lyrics of the song have already turned me off. Maybe I’ll try to view it when I finish writing this piece. Edited to add: Watching it now…

Musically, it’s kind of catchy. I’ve heard worse… but I still think it’s a bit aggressive and threatening, and more of that is NOT what America needs. Just my opinion.

My friend continued to be an apologist for Mr. Aldean, complete with laughing smilies…

…agree to disagree. I’m not sure why people feel it’s necessary to try and cancel him 🤣 it’s ridiculous. People have their whittle feelings hurt over a song 🤣I’ve been seeing the lyrics to WAP being compared 😳 and for the record, that song doesn’t offend me either. The attempt to cancel Jason is backfiring in them though. We do do things different I suppose. The rioters who were out to cause violence and crime (not protesters) wouldn’t come to these small towns; because they would get their asses handed to them but it’s not promoting violence. I just find it ridiculously sad that people have to attempt to cancel anything that doesn’t agree with them. His video is powerful actually. At any rate, we’re all entitled to our own opinions because we live in the USA ❤️ i know you don’t right now)

Okay… but saying that rioters would “have their asses handed to them” is kind of a violent thought, isn’t it? And who gets to decide what constitutes peaceful protesting and what constitutes “rioting”? What defines that behavior? Why are people more concerned about protecting property than preserving life– of the already born, that is?

I dare say that most people who would “riot” for Black Lives Matter would rather do so in larger cities, anyway. Why would a bunch of rioters and looters come to a small town, where there’s not much to steal or damage, except for maybe at Walmart?

Anyway, this was my response:

I grew up in southern Virginia among lots of country folks. I do understand the mindset and the issues. I don’t actually care about Jason Aldean one way or the other, nor do I support “cancel culture”. I am just tired of gun violence and macho bravado. It’s never been so bad as it is today.

Like I said, I grew up in a rural southern town. Never had problems with guns when I was growing up. In those days, we didn’t have violent maniacs killing kids by the dozens because they’re mad at the world.I don’t support censorship at all. People should be allowed to make up their own minds about almost all issues. As far as I’m concerned, Sheryl Crow was expressing an opinion, which we should all be allowed to do. You don’t have to agree, and I would never demand that of you.

As for my being out of the USA… I have to say, it’s been very enlightening. I am glad I have had the experience. It’s changed my life, and my perspective on a lot of things. I think more Americans should live abroad for awhile. It’s educational on many levels, and in many cases, doesn’t necessarily end with more liberalism. However, I used to be very conservative, so that doesn’t apply in my case.

One of the many reasons Bill and I have continued to live in Germany is because of the violence in the United States right now. I didn’t really see it when I was living there, even though mass shootings were a problem then. I remember feeling horrified when a Greek woman we met in our last town said that the United States is “too dangerous” for her to consider moving there. But now that I’ve been away for awhile, I can totally see why people in Europe think the United States is full of gun toting lunatics. I think when we do go back, it will be very difficult for me to adjust.

I don’t think a song that promotes the message that someone who misbehaves or does something “disrespectful” in the eyes of the locals will “get their asses handed to them” is sending a peaceful, non-violent message. Even if you argue the song is about being “respectful” of small town values and obeying law enforcement (who sometimes don’t behave lawfully themselves), the message is sent across with a belligerent, threatening, violent tone. That kind of message riles up people on the right wing, who are so scared of “liberals” who aren’t like them, demanding equality for everyone.

So many of these conservative folks are, quite simply, ignorant. They listen to songs like “Try That in a Small Town” and watch Fox News instead of reading books, exposing themselves to other cultures, or educating themselves on topics as basic as the difference between communism and capitalism.

Then, as they listen to Trump’s sensationalist dog whistling, they miss things like the plans by conservative groups to expand presidential power– if Trump wins, that is– and make states’ rights obsolete. They miss the reporting on ideas like overhauling the Constitution so that the country is more fascist, and run by one leader, instead of having checks and balances. They don’t consider the fact that some states’ attorneys general are wanting to track women who leave their states for abortion care. And it doesn’t dawn on them that some of these policies are awfully similar to what used to happen in the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries, back in the not so distant past. They are the antithesis of promoting freedom.

It doesn’t occur to some of these small minded folks from small towns that promoting people like Donald Trump and his champions will eventually mean less freedom for EVERYONE… including them. Because Trump just wants money and power, and to stay in office until he dies. When that happens, his cronies will take over, only some of them will be younger, smarter, and even more charismatic than Trump is.

Come on! Trump incited riots on January 6, 2021. Where were the “good old boys” who were “raised up right” then? Oh yeah… a lot of them took up arms, came to Washington, DC, and screamed about wanting to hang Mike Pence for not doing Trump’s bidding and overturning the 2020 Presidential election! Some of them stormed into our Capitol building and smeared actual human shit on the walls, took selfies in people’s offices, beat up police officers, and– stole stuff! Did Mr. Aldean include January 6th footage in his anthem about respecting small town communities? I didn’t notice it, if he did. Frankly, the violence on January 6 and the prospect of it happening again worries me a lot more than some businesses being burned down or looted over Black Lives Matter… although I don’t support destroying other people’s property, either.

I currently live in what could be considered a suburb of a major German city. Here, we have a good community, too. But our community involves drinking wine, having weekly markets, encouraging our neighbors to buy and plant “bee bomb wildflowers” to help feed bees, concerts, and art shows. I don’t know anyone here who needs a gun to show support for this community. We have a local official who is transgender and cares very much about the history and preservation of our town. While there might be people here with private prejudices, I haven’t noticed a lot of openly hateful behaviors toward the Muslims who live in this town. We’ve got a very nice community here– but it doesn’t involve violence or “tough talk” toward outsiders. Even as an American who speaks little German, I have felt very welcome. 😉

No, it’s not perfect… and I know there are issues with racism and other social ills in Germany. But it’s so different than life in the United States. Frankly, I think it’s MUCH better. I don’t miss much about living in my homeland, although I do miss some of my friends and family members. I really do wish some of the good people I know who think the American way is the best way could come over here and experience things for awhile. I think some of them might change their minds… or at least have more of a perspective as to why so many people find Americans totally insufferable.

Anyway… I can see why Jason Aldean’s song resonates with many people. A lot of people enjoy testosterone fueled power anthems, especially when they are considered “patriotic”. And no, I wouldn’t go so far as to say he should be “canceled” or censored. Music is a form of expression, and I think people should be allowed to use it for that purpose, even if I don’t agree with the sentiments expressed.

But… I gotta say, Janis Ian was right to share this 1968 era gem from Mad Magazine:

I’d be more impressed with a song about non-threatening and non-aggressive reactions to people who have differences. Violence begets violence.

I just want to live in a place where we don’t have to threaten to kill or kick the shit out of people who offend us, even if the impulse is sometimes understandable. Also… sometimes cops do get it wrong. Case in point, Jason…

I’d say these cops deserve to be cussed out, wouldn’t you? Yes, there was a lawsuit, and yes, the guy got $250,000.

So… those are my thoughts on Jason Aldean’s song, and the controversy that is surrounding it. Honestly, I just long for a much more moderate America, where people are free to be themselves without fear of violence or oppression. And I don’t think writing threatening, belligerent songs that glorify guns and fighting is the way to achieve that end. Just my opinion, of course.

Incidentally, I just learned that Aldean didn’t even write this song… and apparently, songwriting isn’t one of his skills or talents.

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communication, condescending twatbags, stupid people, travel

“I’m really sorry about your head injury!” ;-)

The featured photo is a screenshot of a “laugh reaction” I received from some poor soul who is humor challenged and probably has brain damage. Based on the person’s handle, I assume that the person comes from southwest Florida. That explains a whole lot, actually… I’m sure DeSantis benefits from his or her largesse… This is not going to be a particularly “nice” post, so consider that before you read it.

It’s already just past noon on Sunday, a full week after we arrived home following a long vacation. I don’t usually spend a lot of time on Cruise Critic, because I don’t do a lot of cruising. However, when I do cruise, I will sometimes visit the message boards and share my experiences, while gleaning wisdom from other travelers.

Because we cruised on Regent Seven Seas on our most recent voyage, I’ve been visiting that board more often than my usual boards– SeaDream Yacht Club and Hebridean Island Cruises. But, although we really did have a good time on Regent Splendor, I think the experience just drove home to us that we much prefer smaller cruise ships. In fact, being on Regent Splendor made me realize that maybe I’d like to do another SeaDream cruise at some point. So, in the interest of solidarity with fellow SeaDream fans, I started a thread about wanting to go back to a smaller ship.

A decent discussion ensued, albeit with comments from people who haven’t been following that forum for as long as some posters have. About ten or twelve years ago, someone started a very popular thread about “cheating” on SeaDream by using other cruise lines. It got so popular that SeaDream actually used it for their own personal blog (which I’m not sure still exists). I referenced “cheating” on SeaDream, and one of the newer posters– likely unaware of the old joke– reassured me that I wasn’t “cheating” on SeaDream, just trying out different products. Fair enough, and I didn’t bother to explain.

But then some posters got into a discussion about how crowded ports can get when there are a few ships docked. One person– someone who apparently thinks a whole lot about money over all else– commented that the communities who are served by cruise ships “love” it, because it means a lot of cash gets flushed into their economies.

Frankly, I don’t think that’s always true. Yes, an influx of money is a great thing for a lot of people, especially in economically challenged areas. However, I have read about some places not liking cruise ships at all. For instance, in Norway, there’s a campaign going on that actually shames cruisers for being “parasites”, and not taking a “proper holiday” in the countries they visit. Many cruise companies pay “slave wages” and don’t pay taxes to the countries they visit.

Norway, in fact, is going to ban most cruise ships by 2026, unless they meet stringent environmental standards that most ships won’t be able to meet. When we were there, I noticed most cars were electric. The train we took from Oslo to Bergen was also electric, as are the cruise ship/ferries run by Hurtigruten and Havila.

Venice, Italy no longer allows large cruise ships to dock in the city. Instead, they have to dock in ports nearby. It’s because the large ships damage the fragile ecosystem around Venice and make it more likely that the city will be destroyed sooner, rather than later.

Bill and I also had a rather hostile experience when we visited Carriacou, Grenada, back in 2011. I had never heard of the place before we visited there, so I had no idea of how difficult life is there. There we were, getting off our fancy “mega yacht”. I believe I was even wearing a SeaDream baseball hat, because I neglected to carry a hat in my luggage and my poor white skin and blonde hair were taking a beating. In fact, I remember being VERY sunburned on that trip.

We decided not to take the offered excursion, and instead, walked around the town, which was very depressed looking. We stumbled across a museum, which gave us something to do, but was also very interesting. We walked around, looking at the artistic impressions of what had happened to the people on that island. I distinctly remember seeing a painting of a Black person shackled to a tree. It made me feel awful to see that, but I’m sure that was the point. Looking at art is a great way to learn about history, especially the ugliest parts.

There was another white couple in the museum at the same time we were there. They looked like vegan backpackers who slept outside. The man had dreadlocks, and the strawberry-blonde woman, who had a British accent, was very freckled. I remember her asking the young Black woman behind the counter about the history of the island. She was very interested, and the lady was explaining it well. I was glad to overhear what she was saying, in spite of my SeaDream ballcap.

The woman behind the counter was not nearly as engaging with us. In fact, she seemed downright hostile. We decided to buy one of the wood carvings hanging on the wall. She sold it to us in a distinctly unfriendly way. I left that museum feeling depressed and unwelcome… which I probably was, come to think of it. I’m sure that woman thought she knew everything about us… or our “type”. I could excuse that reaction in her, to an extent. It probably is demoralizing to see well fed white people touring an island where people are obviously struggling.

I have never forgotten that experience, and I’m reminded of it every time I look at the carving we bought at the museum that day. It was a good reminder to me that not everyone appreciates holiday makers/cruisers/people with money, especially when they are loudmouthed Americans. We did have a different, more positive experience later, when we bought another carving from a guy who was whittling wood by the pier.

When the person on Cruise Critic made the statement about how locals in the ports love it when cruisers come to town, I was reminded of that day in Grenada, and the bad vibes I got from that woman. My mom, who also visited the Caribbean more than a few times, also had experiences with people that were kind of unfriendly. It occurred to me that maybe we do look like assholes to them. Anyway, that was a humbling experience, although it also made me not ever want to visit Carriacou again.

I briefly related that story on my Cruise Critic thread, and someone wrote that it was good that we went to those places, since they increased “awareness”, that would maybe inspire cruisers to offer help. The cynic in me thinks that’s a long shot, although I do know some folks with money are also generous with it and donate to charity.

I mentioned that maybe I’m more sensitive to people’s local reactions because I was in the Peace Corps. I added more to the comment, trying hard to be even-handed about it because I didn’t want to start an argument, even though I kind of disagreed with the idea that locals love cruisers because of money. And while my comment about the Peace Corps might come off as “humble bragging” or whatever, the fact is, that experience DID make me a lot more sensitive to how locals react. I can’t help that. I was simply stating the truth about how I changed after I spent two years in a developing nation. Excuse me for living.

As expected, someone thought my comment was just hilarious. They left me a laugh reaction. I was left a little puzzled, since I didn’t write anything that I thought was obviously funny. Since I wasn’t being funny, I was left to assume that the person who left that reaction is either intellectually disabled, or completely lacking in manners and decorum.

I like to think the best of people, so I figured that they probably have a head injury of some sort. That made me feel some pity for them, instead of irritation at the inappropriate reaction. I briefly considered calling them out with condolences for their obvious head injury and the suffering it’s causing for everyone in their midst… but I figured that would only escalate things. It’s tempting to fight rudeness with counter rudeness, but in the interest of being a more evolved person… 😉 (that pesky humanitarian streak I have, thanks to my life changing experiences in the Peace Corps), I decided to simply ignore the slight at the source and just rant about it here, instead. Few people will read this.

I get that people– especially the types who sail on luxury cruise ships– don’t like it when there’s a hint of “wokeness” afoot. To be honest, maybe it is hypocritical of me to notice the unhappy locals when I take cruises. After all, if I really cared about the locals, I wouldn’t have even gotten on a cruise ship, right? Especially an all inclusive luxury vessel like SeaDream I. I’d donate the money we spent on the cruise to UNICEF or CARE or something similar.

Maybe this is a sign that I shouldn’t cruise on SeaDream again, after all. Wouldn’t want to rub elbows with people who not only resent me for taking a vacation on a luxury ship, but also resent me for mentioning that I was in the Peace Corps. Those same people, by the way, usually don’t mind telling me what THEY do for a living… and implying that they have lots of wealth, as they flaunt their wives with obvious “bolt ons” and facelifts. But, what can I say? SeaDream offers a really nice product, and we do genuinely enjoy our cruises with them, even if some of the other passengers can be jerks.

People are always looking for reasons to tear other folks down. They usually do it by making judgments about the external. Since we can’t usually see each other on Internet messageboards, that leaves people to judge what others write in their posts and assume things that aren’t necessarily there.

The truth is, I am rather “proud” of my Peace Corps experience. It completely changed my life and my world view, and it really was a challenging thing for me to do. But I’m not going to tell you that I joined the Peace Corps because I had visions of saving anyone but myself. I certainly didn’t join because I thought I’d save the world, nor do I think I actually did that much for the cause. I joined because I was trying to find a pathway into meaningful employment. I didn’t end up finding that from my Peace Corps experience, but I did learn a lot. I did come away from that experience with a tendency to pay more attention to how Americans look outside their own habitats. And while some people might not believe it, I think my Peace Corps experience made me into less of an asshole than I might have otherwise been. 😉

Take that comment as you will, since I know a lot of people think I am an asshole. Most of them, like that “brain damaged” laugh reactor on Cruise Critic, and that judgmental local woman in Grenada, don’t know a fucking thing about me and would never deign to try to know anything about me. That’s because most of them are focused on themselves, and to a lesser extent, people in their immediate orbits. But, I’m also not going to tell you that I don’t have that problem, too. I think we all do, to some extent. For the vast majority of people, it’s simply part of being human. Especially the ones who have lots of money.

That’s just my opinion, of course. It’s good that I have a blog for moments like these.

No good deed goes unpunished. I was trying to do something good when I started that Cruise Critic thread. I guess I fucked it up by just being myself. 😉 Lesson learned.

Maybe I should look into booking a trip where I don’t have to interact with anyone else. I seem to be a complete failure at relating to other people. And to the jerk on Cruise Critic with the “head injury”, here’s something to make you feel better… Take two of these and don’t call me in the morning.

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art, controversies, modern problems, musings

“Legitimate artists” and the value of their work…

Welcome to Sunday, y’all. I’m going to try to keep today’s post short, simple, and non-controversial. Yesterday’s post was a rant, because I was really angry and emotional for a lot of reasons. I’m less so today, because when it comes down to it, some people just aren’t worth the energy. Or, at least to me they aren’t. Maybe they are worth the energy to others. I’m sure plenty of people wish I’d drop dead. Other people think I’m incredible. It’s kind of like art, right? What one person likes, another person hates. There’s no accounting for taste.

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about so-called constitutional “auditors”. These are people who get involved in police interactions as a means of testing their knowledge of the laws and finding out if they respect rights outlined in the Constitution. I see there are Brits who also do these videos.

Personally, I don’t think I’d want to do that kind of stuff, even for YouTube, because I don’t enjoy unnecessary or unpleasant confrontations with people. However, I do think the videos are interesting and informative. They’re also very popular, as I’ve noticed a lot of people are making them. I’m sure the auditing videos make it harder to be a cop, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Some police officers do get off on power trips and need to be brought back down to Earth.

Today’s post isn’t about those videos. Rather, I would like to address an attitude that I saw promoted by an officer in Richmond, Virginia. An auditor confronted him and said he was an “independent journalist”. And the cop basically made some snarky, dismissive comment about how the journalist was just going to put something up on YouTube.

The guy on the far right in the glasses basically dismissed the person who made this video. He doesn’t see the value in the auditor’s creations.

As a blogger and occasional music creator, I’ve often run into the dismissive attitude demonstrated by the cop. A lot of people don’t think what I do is “legitimate”.

Former tenant, who was stalking my blogs for four plus years before she departed this life on her own terms, once made a very disrespectful private comment to me about what I do. In retrospect, it was not surprising to me that she had secretly harbored a disdainful opinion of me, as she was monitoring my activities and, apparently, reporting my activities to our former landlady, as she also insisted on her privacy being respected. I found her discounting attitude disappointing, hypocritical, short-sighted, and depressingly typical.

Former tenant claimed that she didn’t see any value in what I do, yet she was apparently watching me obsessively. Obviously, there was some value in my activities, if only that she and ex landlady and ex landlady’s daughter could sit around, gossip, and laugh about it, right? At the very least, they got intel from it… or insight… or maybe even something to talk or laugh about that might have even made them feel better about themselves.

Former tenant had once claimed that she liked reading about our adventures and seeing photos, especially of the old neighborhood she and her husband had lived in before they abruptly moved mid tour. If that’s the truth, then there was value in my blog posts about my activities. If it wasn’t the truth, I guess she was lying to me, as she was sanctimoniously lecturing me about my occasionally “problematic” content. Or… she wasn’t lying, but just wanted to be mean to me because she thought it was her place to define what constitutes creative pursuits. She didn’t see the value in what I was doing, and didn’t have the integrity to just go away and leave me alone. It didn’t occur to her that maybe other people valued my “work”, and they get a vote, too.

This morning, I noticed that Janis Ian was on a tear about the author, Flannery O’Connor. She had recently used one of O’Connor’s quotes as her “quote of the day”. People in the comment section were up in arms about it, because Flannery O’Connor had some objectionable personal beliefs that many modern audiences would find distasteful or just plain wrong.

This quote apparently caused a bit of a shitstorm.

Janis Ian claims that she doesn’t support censorship, and she writes that we should separate artists’ personal lives with their works. This is what she posted on her Facebook page:

Re the discussion about Flannery O’Connor’s work, a note of clarification – I wouldn’t have intervened if the discussion had centered around her work. However, it quickly became involved in personalities (mostly hers), her letters, her journals. Those were not her work. Her work lies in the short stories and novels she left us.

As an artist, I will always stress that there is a marked difference between the life of an artist, and an artist’s work. Discounting or banning an artist, or refusing to engage with that artist’s work, because you disagree with their personal life, politics, or behavior, is something I find absurd.

Like every artist I know, I hope to live up to the best of my work – and know I never will. What do I want my art, and that of artists I admire, to do when someone experiences it? I want them to feel elevated. I want them to have cause to think, and reflect, and be moved, for good and for bad. Mostly, I want to make them FEEL something.

I believe most artists think this way, though it might not be conscious.

I won’t change the words of another artist to suit the times, or peoples’ perception of what is hurtful to them. I am resolutely against changing a single word or image or movement in any piece of art; instead, I expect people to take it in context, look at it historically, be educated by parents, teachers, and themselves (indeed, educating yourself is an obligation, IMHO, because most people don’t have the luxury of parents, teachers, society teaching them all they need to know).

If you are on this page, keep in mind that civility is expected. Snarky comments are removed and, after a certain point, that profile is blocked. Rudeness is not tolerated and yes, I define what is rude. And co-opting a quote to discuss an author’s personal beliefs because you disagree with them is not okay.

The QOTD (Quote of the Day) is for discussion. Not whether the author or their views are likeable.

In the spirit of the discussion, then, I found this interesting article on line. https://dspace.calstate.edu/…/121/completethesis.pdf…

A good and absorbing (though long) read for anyone interested in O’Connor and her work.

Additionally, as someone pointed out, there is a huge difference between “racism” and “prejudice”. For what it’s worth.

I have written about Janis Ian a few times on this blog. I want to make it clear that I highly respect her as an artist. She’s written and sung some beautiful songs. I think she’s smart and funny, and she deserves all of the accolades she gets. However, I also think that sometimes, she’s quite hypocritical. She writes in the above post that she doesn’t support changing artistic works to suit the tastes of modern audiences. But then, she also lays down very strict rules about what people can post as a response.

Janis Ian writes that she doesn’t see Flannery O’Connor’s letters or journals as artistic works. However, there are many artists and academics who would beg to disagree with her. Personally, I disagree, because I know there’s an element of creativity in blogging. There’s also creativity involved in writing letters. Maybe it’s not the same significance as writing a novel or composing music, but it’s still a work of art, in a sense.

I’m very proud of some of my blog posts. I wrote one a couple of years ago that I reread this morning. It was titled “The Red Scare”. It started off being about how, back in 1981, people were terrified of a Soviet invasion. By the end, I had segued into a discussion of puberty, with a dash of musical theater. It sounds like the parts wouldn’t connect, and yet they did. I thought it was a really creative and interesting post, although it’s definitely not one of my most popular. My most popular posts tend to be about true crime, which I find a lot less creatively challenging.

I’m sure someone like Janis Ian wouldn’t find what I do very significant, artistic, or creative. Hell, the troll on RfM yesterday took a big dump on my post about Arran. And yet, that incident inspired yesterday’s blog post. At this point, it has just one “like” and five hits, and yet I’m rather proud of it. I like the title, and letting my feelings out in a rant can be very liberating, and even fun.

I was legitimately angry and upset when I wrote that post, and yet I don’t regret writing it. Maybe someone out there in Internetland can relate to it. Maybe it would even change someone’s life. I will never know. A few people did tell me that my video tribute for Arran made them cry. That accounts for something, doesn’t it? Isn’t the point of putting stuff out there to make someone think, or feel something, or maybe even change in some way? Isn’t that what art on all levels is about?

A person named Laurel left a comment for Janis that I found very interesting:

The Tennessee Williams Estate agrees with you. When we staged 2 of his one act plays, we asked about updating the word he used to refer to black people, and were told no, and that if any actor chose to replace that term with a more modern one, the production would be fined for any instance of a changed word. They felt the term was appropriate in the time the play was written, and carefully chosen for the overall “lyrical” flow of the various passages. And I personally did not disagree with their choice or their reasoning. 

Art is not necessarily meant to comfort; it is more often meant to disrupt thought patterns, open minds, and sometimes even disturb for effect. Creators often edit numerous times to find the perfect word to fit THEIR visions. If it disturbs you, well maybe that was the intent.

And yes, an artist and that artist’s art are 2 very different things. Most artists are imperfect. Their art may reflect that.

Apparently, Laurel then left a couple of follow up comments that Janis didn’t like. She wrote this:

“tone it down. I’m hiding both your responses.”

So… Janis Ian doesn’t see all writing as “artistic” or creative. But then another commenter wrote this, and Janis heartily approved:

“there is a huge difference between “racism” and “prejudice”. 50+ years ago in Dallas a friend of Mexican descent taught me the difference between: bigotry (racism), prejudice and discrimination. He spoke from experience. I’ve shared his wisdom many times since then. It has helped me put a lot of things in perspective. Mainly: we all have prejudices (in favor and against many things); we can legislate against discrimination (an action) but unfortunately not bigotry (a belief).

Janis wrote: “so stealing…”

The commenter misunderstood Janis and wrote, “sorry I missed the mark there. Your last comment in your post took me off on a nostalgia tour. Thanks for the memory – I’ll try to do better in the future.”

Janis clarified, “I’m not sure what you’re referring to? I’m stealing what you posted, to use later!”

And the commenter wrote, “lol. I get confused so easily any more. Feel free to “steal”.

From that exchange, I take that sometimes Facebook comments can be “works of art”. Or, at least they can be so good that Janis Ian wants to “steal” them to use later. But someone else writes something that she doesn’t like, or uses a “tone” that she alone finds objectionable, and then it has no value and “censorship” is okay.

The troll who left me the mean spirited comment on RfM yesterday really hurt my feelings and, I’m sure, meant to make me feel terrible. Or, at the very least, they didn’t care about my feelings, even though it was clear that I was mourning a huge loss and expressing myself on a “recovery site”. Make no mistake about it. I still think that person is a massive fuckwad and I’d happily fantasize about rendering them sterile with a well placed drop kick to the gonads.

But, at the same time, that person’s mean comments provided fuel for yesterday’s post… which some people may value on some level, even if it’s just to laugh at me for making the effort to write it. Also, it’s not lost on me that some people might have agreed with that person’s very mean comments. So maybe I shouldn’t have reported them. In fact, I could have probably turned that person’s post into a plea for sympathy and gotten even more views on Arran’s video… if that was my ultimate goal. It wasn’t my goal, by the way. I don’t share things just to get likes or views.

When it comes to published works, I agree with Janis Ian that it’s wrong to “edit”. In fact, I don’t like cancel culture at all. I think people should have the right to decide for themselves what is, or what is not objectionable to them and vote with their wallets. I also think that people should have the right to make their own rules in their own houses, so to speak. At the same time, there does seem to be a level of hypocrisy in the idea that some “offensive” writing is okay, and some isn’t. And some things are “art”, and some things aren’t.

So far as some people’s ideas of what is, and what is not “offensive”, is somehow better than other people’s ideas are… well I think that’s how we end up with extremist loudmouth assholes like Donald Trump in the White House. People don’t like to be told what they can or can’t say, think, or believe. They will vote for those whom they think will protect their right to be an asshole.

I do kind of like how Janis handled this person, though…

Vote with your feet… or your wallet. But you’re not always going to be able to do that, so getting all high and mighty about what people like or dislike is kind of futile… and hypocritical.

Meh… well, I guess I’m glad that most people don’t value what I do. I don’t think I’d want people to “expect more from me”, just because I made a living creating things. Everybody’s human, and everybody’s shit stinks. Whether it’s former tenant being rude and dismissive about my creative pursuits, while also obsessively stalking me… or Janis Ian telling people not to judge artists by their personal lives or support censoring them, as she censors and steals people’s posts… or commenters feeling that their decision not to buy things made in China as they also pay taxes to governments that have policies that harm people… Or a cop thinking an “independent journalist” isn’t a “real” journalist, and there’s no value in what they do… Some people would beg to disagree, right?

And some people think that in order to be “legitimate” as an artist, one must be formally employed by someone else. Some of those independent journalists on YouTube are actually making enough money to live on, though.

People are always going to be offensive and inappropriate on some level. Sometimes, I’ll admit I get upset about stuff, but then it leads to a good rant that might make people think or feel… or even just laugh. I think as long as people learn and grow from their experiences, that should be our focus. I think we should all keep creating, whether or not someone else thinks it’s a valid pursuit, or the creator is a “decent person” whose views should be promoted.

But isn’t it nice that we can still disagree? For now, anyway. And isn’t it nice when people are doing something constructive with their time? It reminds me of the trash scavengers/dumpster divers in Texas who raided people’s trash for metal they could turn in for money. To them, that was a job that actually helped them keep the lights on, even if some of us didn’t appreciate them rifling through trash we were throwing out, just so they could make a living off our discards. Some people think certain art is “trash”. Other people think that same art is “brilliant”.

And no matter what you might think of what I do, I still think of myself as a writer and a singer. You gotta start somewhere, right? Lots of people like me didn’t become “legitimate” until they were already dead. Think about it. 😉

ETA: So much for keeping this post short and non-controversial. Oh well.

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