Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Goodbye, Joey!

My friend Joe Dalmon died last week from complications brought about by an illness. Joe had struggled for a long time and I was not made aware of his illness until only recently. But this is no one's fault but mine. I tried to stay in touch, and Joe wasn't much of a letter writer, so it wasn't always as timely as maybe it could have been. So be it. My heart goes out to his family and to everyone who knew him. He was a delightful guy.

When I found out in March of this year that Joe was ill --- and just how ill he was --- I wrote him the following letter and sent it to him in the hospital. I have to trust he received it and was able to read it (or have it read to him).

Dear Joe,

I’ve tried reaching you via Facebook for about a year, and I only recently found out from David that you’ve been ill for about that long. You’re in my thoughts every day. 

I want to tell you a few things, so please bear with me.

Finding you and the rest of the people who would comprise Genghis Prawn back in 1996 was, for me, like finding water in a desert. That’s the truth of it. I had auditioned for so many goofballs and weirdos (in other words, what you would call musicians) that I was starting to give up hope of finding normal people. Then you called me.

If I had been given the opportunity to select the ideal people with whom I could have played music, I could never have done better than you, Joe. That was one of the best experiences of my musical life and I will always be grateful to have shared it, but I will always be most grateful to you. You were my first contact and you remain one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever known and probably will ever know, Joe. I mean this from the very bottom of my heart. I really need for you to know this and to believe it. I hope you do; I hope you already did know it. Row sends best wishes and thoughts as well.

In closing, please know that I love you, and in this I am most certainly not alone. To be a Joe Dalmon fan requires only having to have met you once, because it’s love at first sight. I was lucky enough to have spent a few years in your company, and I’m a better person for that chance.

It has been and remains my abiding honor, Joe.

I remain sincerely, respectfully, affectionately, and always your friend…

Can't get a date, eh? Well too freaking bad!

The shooter in Isla Vista, CA apparently wrote what would prove to be his suicide letter*, in which he detailed his frustrations with, among other things, being rejected by women. Seriously? Not being able to date people was what put you over the edge? Who hasn't been rejected at some point in his or her life? 

Get in line. 

And it's a pretty long line, too. It's a line I was in for a time. Hell, we all were. In high school and college, rejection was standard operating procedure. It happened regularly. It was like an elective course. I actually got good at being rejected and could almost predict when it would happen. (Hell, considering how immature I was at times, I would have rejected me!) Sure, I was hurt by it sometimes and, on occasion, deeply so, but I didn't hurt anyone else because of how I felt or even think about hurting anyone. I just did what most non-bat-shit-crazy people do: I sucked it up, got over it, learned from it, and moved on.

I mean really... how messed up do you have to be to see a shooting spree as your only recourse... and just because of what? Someone saying "No" to you? Someone insulting your manhood? What kind of a dickhead does this? Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Your kind of dickhead. Apparently even your family (who I feel so, so badly for) saw how messed up you were and tried to warn people. Too bad no one else listened to their warnings. Too bad for your family. Nice going, dickhead.

Dude, if you wanted to commit suicide, then you should have just done that. You had a gun, and the evidence clearly shows you had ammunition for it. What's the problem. Bang. Done. But no, you had to be one of those "blaze of glory" types; you had to take the lives of people who may have done nothing more to you than say, "I don't want to go out with you"; you had to turn your self-centered pity party into a mass blood bath. There is no glory in what you did, but your head was too far up your own ass to see this. And now, because of your fit of pique, because of your blinding narcissism, because you were a dumb shit, all those innocent families are forever affected --- with some of them quite possibly destroyed. And all of this misery just because you couldn't get laid? Rrrriiight.

It's becoming clear that you might have been somewhat unhinged, somewhat unbalanced to begin with, and although I will not make light of mental illness, if this is what your underlying problem happened to be, neither will I view it as an excuse for what you ultimately did; however, and in truth, something like this was probably inevitable for you. If you hadn't done it in Isla Vista, you probably would have done it somewhere else. 

And so, even though you might possibly have been a decent guy at some point in your short life, you managed to allow a silly thing that happens to pretty much everyone affect you rather  badly and cause you to behave like a dickhead. The result? You're now nothing more than a dead dickhead, and you will never be anything more than this. 

Congratulations. Well done. 

If the flowers don't appear on your grave site, you'll know they're from me.

* Why do these morons always have to call their rantings, "manifestos?" I don't get it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Here it comes: Christian Nationalism...

 “Theology is ignorance with wings.”
― Sam Harris

Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore is at it again, acting as a lightning rod for the Christian Nationalism and Dominion Theology movements. 

Judge Roy has claimed that the First Amendment is for Christians because it was the Christian God who created man. Please do forget what all the other faiths believe about their versions of creation, even though if you follow Judge Roy's "logic," his God also created Buddhists, and Jews, and Muslims, and Sikhs, and so on and so on. 


Judge Roy's former 15 minutes of fame came during the Ten-Commandments-in-the-Alabama-Judicial-Building dust-up back in 2003. Read about that here.

If you feel that rewriting and reinterpreting history and the US Constitution is messed up, as Slate's Dahlia Lithwick clearly suggests it is in this op-ed piece about SCOTUS's recent ruling on public prayer, and that any theocratic government --- regardless of the faith it espouses --- is probably not a great idea, and you haven't read Michelle Goldberg's book, "Kingdom Coming," or Chris Hedges' book, "Americian Fascists," you might want to read them, as both writers take close looks at these growing theological-meet-political movements in America. 

If someone can tell me how a sectarian government in America would stand apart from a sectarian government in some other country (Sharia, etc.), how ours would not exclude every other religion practiced in the United States, and how ours would differ from theirs (and not just in terms of dogmatic and canonical aspects), I'd be happy to hear it. 


Here's an update, as of 5/6/2014: Judge Roy is now apparently backing off his previous position and saying he didn't mean to suggest that the First Amendment applies only to Christians, even though he...wait for it... did suggest that the First Amendment applies only to Christians. But, bless his heart, he is still locked onto his classic perspective on creation, which simply obviates every other religion's version of creation. Sounds uncannily like the chant, "There is no God but God." I guess there was a good reason for the First Commandment after all. Hmmm... why do you suppose that is?

Update on the topic of Christian Nationalism as of 8/13/14: Talking Points Memo published this piece about the Christian Right's part in the resurgent Libertarian movement. 

Update from the New York Times, as of 3/16/15: more potential evangelical influence on the 2016 campaign and elections. Note the metaphorical use of the term "army." Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution be damned, I guess.