Declaring Your Independence

I’m not a patriotic guy in the same way I’m not a religious guy and for the exact same reason I hated day camp.  I truly despise mandated group activities.

You will never find me on a cruise or part of a tour group.  And even as a member of several unions, a political party and any number of biological and chosen families, I like to leave my options open.

This makes perfect sense to me

This is one reason I love living in Los Angeles.  You bring your car, you get to leave whenever you like.  My $7 gallon of gas, my choice.

This includes weddings.  Especially destination weddings.  On a remote island.

Anywhere.

I do send good gifts though

I also have a raging biological aversion to group think.  This might seem contradictory to being a lifelong Democrat or member of the Writers Guild.  But really, it’s not. 

Both groups vocally and often rudely scream their disagreements loudly, publically and privately to the point of self-sabotage.  And we’re seldom happy with the nuances of any group decision we reach to move forward, if we ever truly do.

Anyone want to join my book club?

We’d likely win our battles a lot more quickly and less bloodied but what difference would that make?   We wouldn’t be us.  Who we are and what we stand for is all we have.

This does not mean I am against compromise or sometimes doing what I don’t want to do because it’s the right thing to do or because I care about another person.  

See: Destination Wedding

That’s the easy counter attack so don’t get cute, even intellectually.

Because when compromise is your default position, or you fear for your position or your life when you dare to speak your mind against authority figures holding you hostage in a group situation, you’re nothing but a ________________.

Feel free to fill in the blank this Fourth of July week.

Ahem.

‘Merica!

The last two episodes of Stranger Things Season 4 dropped on Friday and I along with many millions of others made it the most watched program in the history of Netflix.  

SEVEN BILLION plus minutes of the show were viewed this past week, breaking all Nielsen ratings for a streaming show.   It also became the most watched series in Netflix’s history with 930 million total hours viewed worldwide.

Admittedly, you and I don’t truly understand ratings anymore, or so much else, but suffice it to say – that’s A LOT. 

Sure is.

Barack Obama has the most followed account on Twitter and he’s only got 131.4 million followers.  Though if you think that indicates anything encouraging about us, just know #2 is Justin Bieber (114.4 mil), #3 is Katy Perry (108.9 mil) and #4 is Rihanna (106.2 mil). 

The latter three likely tell us a lot more about who we really are.

But so does Stranger Things.

NO SPOILERS HERE but one reason the series is so popular is its core characters have an absolute and undying dedication to fight true evil at all costs. 

They might be a gang of unpopular, marginalized young misfits who argue amongst themselves but they’re willing to risk their lives to save their town, and in turn the world.

Plus a lot of bad 80s clothes.

They might secretly crave popularity but what they know better than the majority of their viewers is that it too often comes at a lethal cost. 

And lethal doesn’t necessarily mean their own death.  It means the loss of every good thing they’ve seen or has happened to them because they decided to be corrupted by power, or play it safe and hide behind it, for some petty personal gain.

That and A LOT of monsters, special effects and sappy, nostalgic storytelling also helps.

But, well, dollops of sappy, nostalgic cheesiness is never a bad thing in storytelling. 

We see you Will Byers

Your mind, and everyone else’s, only gets reduced to nothing when it becomes a full course meal.

Once that happens, you’ve truly not you. 

Not to mention what it does to the rest of us when that new majority of you(s) you’ve created takes hold.

So — Happy INDEPENDENCE Day!

If you know what I mean.

Kate Bush – “Running Up That Hill”

Happy Birthday America!

What do you say about someone – or something – on its 245th birthday?  I’ve been stumped other than to say –

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!!

Sure, OK, this.

Which begs the question: what do you get a 245 year-old?  Though it seems to me we actually gave the United States its birthday gift months ago by voting out #45 and installing as #46 someone who none other than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) once called as good a man as God ever created.

That would be Joe Biden.

I think you mean… Joe Cool!

I, for one, don’t go in for the God stuff as it relates to human beings, or actually anything at all.  Still, it seems like a universally appropriate compliment.  Joe’s the kind of guy no one can truly bring themselves to hate or proclaim as evil, or even bad.

The best they can do is label him slow or incompetent or a puppet that is controlled by a vast left wing conspiracy of gays and Jews (Note: That’s ME!) with space lasers and indoctrination pamphlets. 

Or they might say he’s at the mercy of gaggles of black and brown people bent on erasing white culture and bankrupting the country with endless financial reparations based on critical race theory.

But personally evil or bad – nah!

Plus — He’s Dr. Jill Biden’s husband!

Considering these times vs. #45’s times, that’s one HUGE step towards reuniting these United States.  And as we’ve heard Joe say so often by now – there is nothing this country can’t accomplish when we do it together and that it’s never a good bet to bet against the United States.

So —

LET’S HEAR IT FOR JOE!!!!

Well, I’m cheering, anyway.

USA! USA! USA!

In less than six months he’s taken a country closed down and paralyzed by a worldwide pandemic to a place where almost 70% of the population will soon be vaccinated (Note:  Probably in the next few weeks).  Cities have opened up, millions of jobs have been added since he’s taken office AND he signed a $1.9 trillion economic aid package into law in March that has rushed money out the door to the citizens who need it most.

What’s been the principle criticism on all of this from his opposition?  Well, it’s that all those extended unemployment benefits are discouraging people from returning to work.

I don’t know about any of you, but NO ONE I know is dying to get back into an office, with or without masks, and it has nothing to do with laziness or unemployment checks.

I swear it’s not because of my mask tan

It’s actually more like they don’t want to get sick and perhaps actually die (Note: Delta Variant, fear of the unmasked if you’re medically vulnerable) or they can’t get the child care of elder care they need to take care of those in their family that they’ve been taking care of.

Still, let’s not make this political, tempting as it is to do so on this Fourth of July in particular.

Instead, let’s consider that our 245-year history is rooted in our disagreements – political, judicial, social and way too many more to mention.

Just in case you need a reminder

On the downside this week – Cosby’s out of jail on a technicality and the US Supreme Court says it’s okay to repeal voting rights in states with laws where the historically disenfranchised in mostly non-white areas face additional obstacles to vote.

On the other hand, at least some (and one in particular) racist cops AND Capitol Hill cop killers are getting convicted of serious crimes.  Not to mention, even large-scale crime rings masquerading as hospitality businesses run by former presidents and their family members and enablers are being chased down and tried for grand larceny and likely worse.

Me trying not to be smug

In addition to that, my congressman, Adam Schiff (D-CA), and a Republican politician whose name I could never imagine uttering out loud without wanting to vomit… Liz Cheney (WY-R) are teaming up with a bunch of others to get to the bottom of the January 6th 2021 insurrection.

You might not be optimistic but I will remind you that people scoffed back in 1980 when Barbra Streisand and the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb teamed up to do her Guilty album.  Yet it is still her biggest selling album internationally out of the near SEVENTY she has released to this day and netted them a Grammy AND a string of Billboard hit singles.

So suck on that awhile, America!!

Plus as a bonus: So much good hair!

Of course, I josh, but only slightly.  Because in America it is the unlikeliest of pairings and the unlikeliest of people that have led us out of the dark times into brighter days.

On the other hand, it is also the likeliest of people that we knew would lead us straight down into hell that did so, and then often down further into a rabbit hole of what felt like certain and eternal Armageddon. 

Who me???

Or so it seemed at the time.

As we writers know, these are the consistent narrative choices that await us every time we sit down to face the blank, or partially filled page.  Dark vs. light, surefire damnation vs. as good of a man (or woman) that God ever created.

What was it Martin Luther King, Jr. once said?

The arc of the moral universe is long…but it bends towards justice….

In our 246th year, let’s hope so.

Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – “Guilty”