Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From Global Warming to Clinical Trials to TWR...And Even More Stuff

(Originally posted on MySpace on Sunday, September 09, 2007)

I know I promised the story of my short collaboration with Lydia Lunch, but I'm tired and I wrote a massive blog last week and I don't fell like writing another massive blog. As I state below, it's been extremely hot here, and while the temperatures are finally getting back to normal, my brain isn't. The Lydia stories will take some time, so I'll try to get to those next week. In the meantime, since my brain isn't working correctly, I'll rant and rave about some other things that have been bugging the hell out of me lately. You'll get opinions on global warming, political correctness, vegetarians, the first installment of what I hope will be many on my upcoming clinical research study, and a few musings on the breakup of Thin White Rope. I know you'll pardon the rambling tone.

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Thank the gods that the heat finally stopped. Over the last week or so, we've been experiencing temperatures here in the San Fernando Valley that have reached over 115 degrees. (That's 46 degrees to those who don't use Fahrenheit.) To make things even worse, we've had tropical storms off the coast that have driven up our humidity. So it's not even a "dry heat", as we usually like to joke. The way things were, we might as well have been living in Florida. (I was going to joke that at least we didn't have a creepy Republican governor like Florida, but I just realized that we do.)

Each and every week, more and more people finally admit that global warming just may be a distinct possibility. Only Fox News and the Bush administration are still holding out. (Perhaps the Chinese government as well.) The proof is staring us in the face, people. I've grown up in Southern California. It used to get hot in the summer, but never this hot. We used to regularly get rain in the winter as well. Maybe not as much as Portland or Seattle, but we got a steady rain. I can remember having to find my pet turtles, who I let run wild in the backyard, every winter because they might drown in the puddles from the rain. Now we're lucky if we get one or two days of rain. I think we only got one last year.

People who deny that global warming is happening are just hiding their ignorant heads in the sand. Now, the real argument is whether this global warming trend is a natural thing that the Earth goes through or if it's because we've been throwing all sorts of unnatural crap into the air. I tend to think the latter, but I've not going to go into all the reasons here. You can find all those and more by doing a simple search of the Internet.

What always surprises me is that most of those in denial have children, and those children are going to grow up to inherit the problems that their parents either created or ignored. I don't have kids, so it's not that big of a deal for me. (I do have to admit to having a few small worries for my nieces and nephews though, but only small ones.) But if I did have kids, I know damned well that I would be very worried about their future and all they're going to have to face. I wouldn't want to take a chance that they may live their lives in contained environments or dying at an unnaturally young age because of the crap they have to breath. I really don't understand the thinking of those in denial. Do they really love their kids? Or do the love the almighty dollar more?

(Apply the above to the National Debt, universal health care, and just about any politically controversial subject as well.)

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This week, Whoopi Goldberg made her debut on the morning talk show, "The View". I don't usually watch the show, although Skip likes watching the first half. During that portion of the show, the four, soon to be five women hosts on the show discuss current events and all have their own two-cents to put into the discussion. On Whoopi's first day of the show, the Michael Vick controversy came up.

For those who don't know, Michael Vick is a black football player who was arrested for sponsoring dogfights on his off time. In these fights, dogs, many of them trained by Vick himself, fight to the death. And once a dog is past its prime, the owner will usually kill it by drowning or strangulation. Vick was also charged with personally killing some of his dogs. When he was first arrested, Vick denied all charges, but later realized that he was fighting a losing battle and admitted to the crimes. This has led to much anger from the public and, so far, in not much punishment for Vick. The NFL has suspended him indefinitely, but in my opinion, more needs to be done. Hopefully, his career is over.

So, back to Whoopi. While discussing this issue, Whoopie made comments about trying to understand where Vick was coming from and why he would do what he did. She said that Vick grew up in the South and many people there think of animals as a possession and don't see why dog fighting should be illegal. Vick was raised in that atmosphere and didn't fully understand the gravity of his crimes.

She was immediately verbally crucified by the press for defending Vick, which of course, she didn't do. She was also accused of blighting the people of the South by stating that dog fighting was acceptable there, which she also didn't do. Personally, I understand what she was saying, although I think that it could have been worded better. The only way to stop something offensive, whether it be terrorists in the Middle East, a comedian who uses offensive language, or a guy who thinks dog fighting is okay, is to understand why they think that way and then try to change it from that point. This is a basic fact that many people just don't seem to understand. People these days are too quick to point fingers and blame (thanks, Don) without understanding exactly why these things happen.

The next day, she was back again on "The View" to explain her remarks. She said that she never condoned what Vick had done; she was just trying to understand it. Then she added something that has been bugging me about society for quite awhile now. She said that these days it's impossible to say anything without offending someone. And I agree. Our culture has gotten so politically correct that everyone demands that nothing be done that can be offensive to them. But that's impossible because someone is always going to be offended. (Not to mention that no one has the right to NOT be offended.)

We've become a culture of politically correct language and actions. Everything has to be worded just right so that no one can take offense. And it doesn't work. I, for one, take offense. I'm sick and tired of "African-Americans" and "GLBT" (gay, lesbian, bi, transgendered) and "Native Americans" and "large persons". I've had enough of "feeling your pain" and "it takes a village" and "but what about the children". I'm up to my neck with "metrosexuals" and "compassionate conservatives" and all the rest of these touchy-feely, bullshit terms.

In an attempt to include everyone and not offend them, we have become a soulless, cowardly bunch, afraid to speak our minds or make a move that someone may misinterpret and verbally attack us for. Nothing gets done and civil discord has become a joke.

It's time people stopped being so damned sensitive, especially to words. Words only have power if you let them have power. In my life, I've been called "faggot", "fairy", "queer", "buttfucker", "cocksucker" and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! And I don't care. I'll readily stand up for any of those names. Because that's what I am. I'll accept all those terms and by doing so, I take the power out of them, at least as they refer to me. People need to stop worrying about nonsense like this and start standing up as human beings who are proud of whom they are. Stereotypes and labels can't take that away from you unless you let it. You only have yourself to blame.

Now, I've managed to get a bit away from Whoopi and her supposed folly, but it really is all the same thing. Free Speech has become a joke. No one can speak freely anymore without being called a "hate monger" or some other nonsense title. You have the choice to accept what people say or not. But trying to stop them from speaking it accomplishes nothing. People still think it; they just don't say it. It changes nothing. Political correctness has turned us into a whinny group of non-thinkers. People are afraid to think for themselves because those thoughts might get them into trouble. Stopping people from expressing themselves, no matter how vile you feel that expression may be, only stops society from functioning correctly.

As Whoopie explained herself on Tuesday and the conversation veered more towards a discussion on political correctness, she came close to saying the same thing. She said that she didn't like being called "African-American". She felt the term was an insult to other Americans. She said she didn't mind being called "negro", a term that is considered almost the ultimate in bad taste in some corners these days. I like Whoopie. She has her head on straight. I wish I could say that about the rest of the world.

(The day after I wrote the above, Jerry Lewis was attacked for saying the word "faggot" on the air during a joke. What he actually said was "faa…" before her caught himself with a "no" and moved on, but that was enough to get the ire of the press and some gay groups up. He quickly apologized and his apology was accepted by GLADD and even the press had a hard time trying to make it into major news, but they tried. Once again, I thought t was much ado about nothing. He was joking with one of his staff in a "family way" and it just came out. He stopped himself and knew he had verged into forbidden territory. I don't believe for a second that he is homophobic. I remain a fan of his and will continue to.)

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I've had enough of vegetarians. In fact, I'm pretty much fed up with animal rights activists as a whole. They're all just so damned extreme. As a long time pet owner, who has had the fortune of having just about every type of domesticated animal in my house or yard at one time or another, I believe in showing animals the respect, care and love they deserve. I love my cats on the same level I love people who are close to me. If there was a fire in my house and I had friends over, I would rescue Skip first, of course. But after that, I'd be hard pressed to decide who to save next, the friends or my cats. I think I'd go for the cats.

But animal rights people, especially PETA, makes me embarrassed to feel that way. This last week, PETA accused Whoopi of killing dogs because they felt she was supporting Michael Vick. A few months ago, a PETA member I was talking to told me I was barbaric because I "owned" pets. She felt that all animals should be free and shouldn't be owned. When I told her that all domesticated animals would die if people didn't take care of them, she expressed the opinion that while it's sad, that would probably be for the best because animals should be wild. Earlier this year, some chapters of PETA were found to be rescuing dogs from shelters, then putting them to death themselves and dumping the bodies. They felt that the shelters weren't good for the animals. The logic escapes me.

I have no problem with owning my pets. Most social animals live in groups where one member is dominant over all the others. In the case of domesticated animals, that dominant member just happens to be human. It's just like a parent and since I consider my pets to be full members of my family, it all makes sense to me. In the case of cats, I have no problem with de-clawing their front paws. My cats are always indoor cats. They naturally destroy furniture and books, even when provided with a scratching post. I have had all my cats de-clawed and have seen no sign that it put them in pain or discomfort past the actually operation. To me, it's just like spaying or neutering them. I know PETA doesn't like either surgery, but its good for them and its good for me. I do have a big problem with letting cats outside. They're domesticated animals and while they may like being outside, it's just too easy for them to be hit by a car or killed by a wild animal. I saw a cat killed by a coyote in my neighborhood not too long ago. That's cruelty. My cats are used to being inside and they don't like the outside at all now that they're used to the house. If I carry them outside, they freak. So I don't believe its natural for them to be outside, free roaming animals at all.

Let's get back to vegetarians. They just piss me off. Well, actually, just like Christians, if they keep it to themselves and resist the urge to preach to everyone about it, I really don't mind at all. It's their business. But I still don't think it's natural.

Some have told me that they're vegetarian for health reasons. Humans are supposed to eat a balanced diet of both meat and vegetables. That's why were naturally labeled as omnivorous. Taking away one or the other is just not healthy, and I don't believe pumping any amount of man-made supplements into your body to make up for the lack of meat makes it okay. It just isn't natural. (I know people who don't like vegetables either, the fools.) I think there's a reason that most vegetarians I know are space cadets. (Of course, there are a few who seem to make it work, but it's not the norm.)

Then there are those who claim to be vegetarians because they're for animal rights. I can respect this a little bit more, but I still don't agree with it because, once again, it just isn't natural. Humans are supposed to eat meat the same way some animals are. It's the way we were created, and I'm not about to go against the natural order of things. A crocodile or a bear would think nothing of eating me if they got the chance, and while I would fight for my life, I wouldn't hold it against them if they succeeded. They're just doing what they're supposed to do. In the same way, I hold no guilt over killing and eating animals.

Now, you may say, "But you aren't killing the animals you're eating" and that's true. But I have killed animals I've eaten and I would if I had to. It doesn't bother me. I just choose not to because it's easier. But I never forget the sacrifice the animal made for my meal. I'll never take that for granted as most people do. Most people have no idea what the stuff they're eating actually looks like and prefer not to think about it. I find that disconnection from food to be somewhat disturbing.

I do agree with the animal rights people that the way we go about killing and processing our meat sources is out of control though. As a society, we need to be much more attentive to how our meat is killed and how it is processed for consumption. It's a miracle that a bigger health crisis hasn't happened then that we've already experienced. Just read "Fast Food Nation" (http://www.amazon.com/Fast-Food-Nation-Eric-Schlosser/dp/0060838582/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-8180975-6314418?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1189199766&sr=1-1) to find out how lucky we've been. In a sense, I think the same disconnection from our food that I mentioned above is responsible for this. People would rather not have to think about where meat actually comes from, so they ignore the problem. The problem with ignoring the problem is that the problem is only going to get bigger and worse as time goes by. We will get that health crisis one day, and hopefully people will sit up and notice for once after it does.

Animals can be our friends. They are also a major source of nourishment. It's a cruel paradox to some, but you have to come to terms with it. It's part of being human.

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You all have something to look forward to. I've been asked to become a subject for a clinical research study. I've already passed the first stage of qualification and will be moving on to the second stage early next month. I'm not exactly sure what this study is for. I do know that I have to take medications and I regularly have to go into a doctor to leave semen samples so they can study sperm levels in men who are on this medication.

I never thought I would ever do this. I don't like taking medications unless I absolutely have to, an attitude left over from my crazy drug days in my youth. But by doing this study, I get a complete medical checkup for free. I don't have health insurance and I haven't seen a doctor in eight years. Since I'm 54 years old, having a check up is a really good thing. And having a free check up is even better. Plus I get paid for doing it. It's not great money, but it's money, and these days everything helps.

So, I just couldn't turn it down. I get to find out if I'm dying of anything and I get paid to jack off into a cup. What a great job! Of course, you'll hear all about it as it happens. I bet you can't wait!

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This week I finally got around to watching the DVD that Lisa burned for me of the film, "Thin White Rope – The Axis Calls", which is a documentation of the final tour the band ever did in 1992. (You can still get it here: http://frontierrecords.com/thinwhiterope.html.) I haven't watched the film since it first came out on video in 1993, and as expected, it brought back lots of memories. There's a lot I'm proud of about those TWR years. But there are also a lot of regrets, and I don't have many regrets in my life. (Although to quote Frank Sinatra, "Regrets, I have a few…" and I'll get to those non-TWR regrets someday.)

I regret that those years are over, as they were some of the best of my life. I truly loved touring despite the hardship it brought. I sort of regret that haircut I had at that time, although it's not as bad as I remember it. While I especially love Stoo to death and think he's a real talent, I regret ever letting us convince ourselves to let Joe and John go. I think those were the best live years of the band and we really should have worked out our problems and progressed from there. And I really regret that I let disappointment and anger over the band breaking up get in the way of my friendship with some of the members. These guys were like family to me for quite a few years there and now it's been years since I've talked to some of them, although I just had a short Myspace email conversation with Roger and that was nice. I'm not sure it will ever happen, but one of these days it would be nice to sit over a few beers and talk about all the crap that happened back then that led to the breakup and after. I don't think any of us has ever talked honestly with each other about all that, even while it was happening.

Watching the film reminded me of things I eventually need to blog about. One of these days, I need to tell about that final show in Gent. It wasn't quite the happy affair it comes across as on the video. At least not for me it wasn't. I may have been smiling for the camera, but I was miserable and everyone felt my anger that night, especially poor Skip and a surprised Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, who probably still doesn't understand who I was and why I was yelling at her. I didn't go on that final tour (another regret), but I did go to some of the shows and there are stories about Mark Lanegan and the Screaming Trees and the Cosmic Psychos that are rather amusing.

I also need to blog about some of our United Kingdom shows and the fortitude of our friends Andy, Chim and Duncan, who went on the UK road with us, put up with a lot of crap and still provided us great breakfasts every morning while in London.

There're the stories about the making of the three videos.

I had forgotten about all those things and now they go on my list of topics to get to eventually along with the rest of the Soviet tour, Elliott and the howling barf-dog, the shrimp people in Arkansas, our tour with Stephen Siegrist, the first and last roadie story, and so very much more. Not to mention tour stories with other bands. You'll read about them first and you'll read about them here, but you'll have to be patient. I'll get to them.

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Okay, that's it for this week. Hopefully, next week I'll be back with my Lydia Lunch stories, featuring cameos by Henry Rollins, Jim Thirwell, Richard Kern, Nikki Sudden, and even Thin White Rope!

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