MPHnoise radio: the history of Music Philanthropy History in the Mosh Pit Hell of Metal Punk & Hardcore

2018 marks the fifth anniversary of MPH.

Believe it or not, the show began January 2013 as a one hour live broadcast on Party 93.4 at the constant coaxing of my friend and host of Hard Corps 101, the quixotic Big Rob.

Rob and I go waaaaaay back both as music industry people and as friends, so, I’m comfortable in saying this most recent ride on the airwaves is mostly his fault – but I’m also eternally grateful to him for it.

Previous to creating the show, I used to spend time programming playlists for my daily commutes, business travels an the like an then posting the good ones on the blog. As noted in the music nerd flick High Fidelity, “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” Most of those playlists I was writing down for the blog had exactly those kinds of rules. Rob got (back) on the air in 2012 bringing his “personality” to the online station Party 93.4 and and after months of his poking and prodding eventually he wore me down and I joined him bring my fanaticism of playlist creation with me.

I forget how I finally settled on the name, to be honest. I’d done shows on college and community radio in the past under a number of different names, including (long) running stints with ‘New World Revolution,’ ‘Chaos & Conformity’ and ‘(the Mouse’s) Metallurgy’ and wasn’t necessarily feeling the idea of bringing any of them back this time around. Instead, I drew inspiration, in part, from the old Hits music mag radio chart called “Metal Punk Hardcore” or, as it was affectionally referred to as: “MPH.” The chart was almost defunct by the time I was heavily involved in that aspect of the business with competition from CMJ, FMQB, Album Network, Radio & Records and others siphoning reporters, ad dollars and interest from it’s little moshable corner of industry print media, but nonetheless it was (and still is) still legendary in its own right. It was a cool name, so I cribbed a version of it.

So, with that nod to the past the show concept started to take shape using MPH as the acronym to formulate the first incarnation of Mosh Pit Hell, a name, interestingly enough that wouldn’t formally stick till later that year when the broadcast moved over the KAOS radio Austin.

Originally, I wanted to make metal smart. I was tired of hearing how metal, punk and hardcore were just angry and violent noise. How it’s fans were uneducated, anarchistic degenerates. How it was narrowly defined socially as a young, white, male expression of suburban, working-class privileged form of rebellion. How lacked musicianship and compositional relevance. How it was a popular cliche of pentagrams, military references and blood splatter, if not still stuck in some people’s minds a spandex and big hair. I was tired of this music somehow being considered the bastard child of Rock & Roll, shunned from popular culture just because it reflected the harsher aspects of the human condition rather than sugar coating itself.

I wanted a radio show that reflected me – a bit of a music nerd, a bit of a history buff, a bit of a philanthropist. Interestingly enough that concept wouldn’t formally become defined as “the” framework till almost a year later when it moved over the KAOS radio Austin as well (and the acronym taking on the ‘music, philanthropy, history’ moniker took even longer).

The early editions on Party93.4 were rough. Really rough at times with technical problems, human error (alcohol influenced or otherwise I really can’t say) and all kinds of other asides… but mostly just being really rusty DJing a live show. But, those first few months on the air taught me a lot about myself.

I became musically reinvigorated and that insatiable interest in the depth and breath of aggressive music, as well as music overall, maintained itself for the last five years.

I became creatively stimulated again. There’s a lot of art to programming and producing a show. Picking out the music and coordinating the content for the breaks. And, it’s not like I was making it easy for myself as I was developing the whole thing around occasionally abstract and content-challenging themes. Then there’s also the visual assets and more for marketing it to listeners. Doing the show inspired me to rethink all of my creative outlets at the time from writing, to the blog, to practicing drums, to photography and so on.

Those early Party93.4 shows included what would become thematic staples over the next five years including BHMPH for Black History Month, WHMPH for Women’s History Month, country showcasing the diversity of Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, German and French aggressive music, as well as what became the foundation for recurring episodes about Space, War and Literature and other personal interests that manifest themselves into episodes.

When the situation at Party93.4 really no longer supported the vision I had for MPH I followed Big Rob and Hard Corps 101 over to KAOS. KAOS caught Rob’s attention for it’s Pirate roots, it’s more anarchic aesthetic and it’s 70s inspired free form approach to programming among other things he could probably better express. For me, Rob’s recommendation and some of the existing crust punk and metal programming was enough to convince me to take MPH on the road.

In late 2013 MPH debuted on KAOS Radio Austin and in such the beginning of another MPH tradition occurred, naming the episode using the MPH acronym. I’d messed around with it once or twice before but it didn’t stick, much like everything else, till KAOS.

Merry People Headbanging” I believe was the first incarnation of it, although, I think most people who were listening back then probably remember the beginning being “Making Precipitation Hurt” (about Pripyat Nuclear Winter) since it was also one of the more repeated fill-programming episodes of that era on KAOS.

That particular episode epitomized what would become the ongoing programming framework of the MPH on KAOS era: defining a show theme based on a cultural or historical event that happened on the broadcast day and exploring the relevant history or background during the second break, providing something philanthropic you could do related to the show theme in the subsequent break, and, of course, stringing together a combination of new and classic music that supported the thematic idea, as well as creating a show hash tag name around the MPH acronym. The show eventually took up permanent residence Sunday evenings from the Isle of Misfit Toys (a joke between Big Rob and I about being the outcasts broadcasting remotely rather than from the super secret confines of the KAOS bunker).

Moving into 2014 you’ll recognize recurrent show names that made their debuts, including “Moshing Platypus Heroes” celebrating Australian heritage, “More Punter Headgames” showcasing the sounds of the Superbowl cities, “Moshes Per Hour” as the annual breakdowns show, “Marking Persecution and Holocaust” the WWII Holocaust remembrance episode, “Mom Prefers it Heavy” for Mother’s Day, “Marche Pour l’Honneur” celebrating French heritage, “Moves Portable Houses” reflecting on the music and menace of Tornado Alley, “Makin Pops Happy” for Father’s Day, “Metropolitan Peoples Hell” as the Dirty Jersey show, Mosh Poindexter’s Heroes” as the nerd metal show, “Mouse Presents Heavy” for my birthday, “More Piano Happening” the Sept Piano Month showcase, “Mega Poured Helles” celebrating German heritage for Oktoberfest, “Monster Pumpkin Heaviness” for the Allhallowtide & Samhain festivities, “Movember Prostate Health” for big moustaches and men’s healthcare and “Magnify Praise Hail” for Thanksgiving.

Over time other recurring show names that consolidated previous show themes were spawned, including: “Most Personal Heaven” feat. Xtian bands for Easter, “Memorializing Patriotic Heroes” for Memorial Day, “Moons Planets Heavens” as the space show, “Metal Pays Homage” as the covers show, “My Padawan Headbangs” for my Padawan (of course), “Maple Poutine Hockey” celebrating Canadian heritage, “Mashed Parliamentary Hodgepodge” celebrating English heritage, “Matenot Pryn Hammaer” celebrating Norwegian heritage, “Massive Percussive Hammers” for the Nov Percussion month showcase, “Many People Hungover” the New Year’s Show and many other memorable moshers.

MPH recruited friends who made the airwaves even more fun on KAOS, first joined for a time by “Break Down the Walls” with Ant$ and then “The Super-MAD Mxyz” with Archetypal Eric. Unfortunately, Hard Corps 101 went on hiatus and we were never able to get some of the other talented music friends we know to join us. Nonetheless, MPH carried on week in and week out brining music, philanthropy and history in the mosh pit hell of metal punk and hardcore.

And, the KAOS family has been awesome from day one. They each have great vision for their shows and were always equally supportive of the vision I had for mine. They’re all really solid programmers and hosts who bring a diversity of music and opinions to the airwaves unique to who they are while keeping the traditions of KAOS’s anarchistic pirate radio roots alive. It’s been a cool station to grow as a a DJ with because of this uniqueness.

Up till this point, MPH has been trending towards 50 episodes a year. Other than a short hiatus during which KAOS itself was off the air and a couple of intermittent breaks for personal reasons (marriage, birth of a padawan, etc) the show runs nearly every week.

Sadly, that’s about to change.

Despite five wonderful years of MPH I just don’t have the time to produce a weekly show. It’s heartbreaking to lose those hours of alone time focusing on the art of programming and production. I’ll miss falling down the rabbit hole of research trying to unearth all the important stuff related to the show theme. I’ll miss looking up the different non-for-profits and learning about their unique missions and historical relevance. I’ll miss both all the new music and long archived gems that are repurposed as classics on the airwaves.

And, I’ll miss those moments of pretending to be hipper than I really am. I was never the cool kid, but when you’re a DJ you can pretend to be and the pretentious music fuck that I am always had an uninhibited voice on the show. It felt good, even if half the time it felt like I might be just doing it for myself.

Ultimately, I’ll miss combining the three to fulfill my mission to make metal radio smart on a weekly basis. I know that the three listeners I have will be very disappointed and the rest of everyone else probably won’t notice that I’m not posting weekly show updates, or asking for song ideas, or in general promoting the idea that I’m on the air. If you’ve changed your mind and you want to tune in now watch the Facebook page for updates on live airdates and go back through what I’ve posted on the mixcloud archives and please, drop me a line and let me know you miss me. It might not get me back to 50 episodes a year, but it’ll go a long way to keeping me getting 25 or so out and staying on the air for perhaps another five years…or more.

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MPHnoise radio: Midwinter Proves Hypothermic

It is fucking cold. godforsakenballsfelloffcoldlikesiberia #MidwinterProvesHypothermic
steers into the black iced skid of climate change with a metal punk hardcore insurrection of winter’s brutality by exploring music, philanthropy and history, Sunday, on KAOS radio Austin.

Weather is weather. Climate is climate. Learn the difference. And, for those of you who pose this is something new, and partisan: The modern forerunner to climate change was noted in the late 1800s by the International Meteorological Organization and substantiated by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine who’s original research dates back to the nineteen-teens as well as by the military scientists on both the allied and axis powers in WWII. The supposition of climate change as it’s modern definition originates with the World Meteorological Organization in 1966. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF – celebrating it’s 50 yr anniv, btw, and our non-for-profit showcase of the week for the philanthropic portion of the episide) and a number of other independent, not-for-profit organizations began their in-depth research during the hippy era. Ironically, most major energy companies did as well – finding similar results and then using their money to discredit the science they discovered much like Big Tobacco, major industrial polluters and others would during that same era.

This Elsa style Frozen arctic bitchslap exists as a not-so-subtle example of extreme weather as a result of climate change. We talk about the dumbed down version of the explanation (that likely still goes way over most deniers heads) during a show while celebrating music that is as extreme as the weather is.

That soundtrack includes, of course, beginning with the mighty Amorphis’ “Black Winter’s Day.” I cannot begin to tell you the love I have for the first few incarnations of Amorphis other than they achieved that iconic equilibrium one desires from the Nordics. It is sonic beauty incarnate and sets up the balance of the show so well.

The next couple of sets will explore the more introspective elements of dealing with the hypothermic with a brand new track by the paradoxical Paradise Lost followed by the emotionally wrought My Dying Bride, the blistering prog of Borknagar, the soaring swiftness of Oceans of Slumber, the misanthropy of Maelstrom, the junis of Envy, the of Goira, and deep, desolate woods emperipum of Agalloch.

You can reinvigorate your blood with some one-man, albeit slo-mo mosh during the dramatisism Insomnium, the harmonization of Immortal Souls, the progressiveness of Framework and the well, wintering, of Wintering before igniting your inner fires with the death-lights of Ordinance, the firestoking of Pyrrhon, the heatseaking of Dead Eyed Sleeper, the apoclyptic nature of Psychic Pawn and more.

And, we end things on a regal note with Herod who bring a soaring slaughter of ice and snow to the sonic pallet. If you don’t know their output, this long, cold winter is as good a time as any to become familiar.

So, If that doesn’t sound invigorating enough to join MPHnoise for this Sunday evening than maybe that long on the fire is giving off some kind of deadly gas, or set your wold aflame or some other cold weather emergency is more important than being awesome. If that’s the case, good luck, if not, fuck you, freeze to death – I gave you a way out, you chose … poorly.

Playlist and selected KAOS radio Austin cue notes:

Amorphis “Black Winter’s Day” Tales from the Thousand Lakes

Paradise Lost “The Longest Winter” Medusa (2017) (cue :24)
My Dying Bride “a cruel Taste of Winter” the Dreadful Hours
Borknagar “Winter Thrice” Winter Thrice (bleed ending over)
Oceans Slumber “Winter” Winter (cue :12)

Maelstrom “Winter Snow” Change of the Season (cue :40)
Envy “A Winter Quest for Fantasy” Split(bleed ending over)
Gojira “Born in Winter” L’Enfant Sauvage (bleed ending over)
Agalloch “Ghosts of Midwinters Fires” Marrow of the Spirit

Insomnium “Winter’s Gate, part 1” Wintersgate (cue 1:00, watch abrupt ending)
Immortal Souls “Wintermetal” Wintermetl (start early)
Framework “Deadheart of Winter” a Wolrd Distorted
Wintering “Hibernis Rex” Darkness Driving Darkness (2017) (cue :30)

Ordinance “Winter Canvas” the Ides of March
Pyrrhon “the Parisite in Winter” the Mother of Virtues
Dead Eyed Sleeper “Winterdammerung” Gomorrh
Psychic Pawn “Catalystic Winter” Decadent Delirium (watch long ending)

Herod “Winter’s Bane” For Whom the Gods May Destroy

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MPHnoise radio: Many People Hungover

Good afternoon, good night and good riddance 2017: You’re drunk! Get the fuck out.

This year’s edition of #ManyPeopleHungover falls during prime moshing hours Sunday, New Year’s Eve at 7PM USCST on KAOS radio Austin and is your last chance to dance – on the grave that was the shitshow of 2017.

Instead of some cheeky use of song titles or lyric pull quotes to string together songs common to the topic, I’ve decided to just give you am ample does of dancing songs to keep your toes tapping through the night. If you wanted to get your drink on you could always pull up the stream of last year’s episode that really rode the cliche of being all about the hangover.

And, on that note, a band that needs no other introduction than an except of their lyrics to get the show started off:

“Please allow me to adjust my pants
So that I may dance the good time dance
And put the onlookers and innocent bystanders into a trance”

From there, you’ll take a steel tipped boot to the face with the epic “Shark Ethic” by Most Precious Blood. It’s the kind of song that gets my blood pumping and adrenaline flowing and perfectly introduces the rest of the hardcore the set is comprised of as we go off further into the archives to unite you in the pit with Vision of Disorder, Martyr AD, Norma Jean, Blood Has Been Shed and Hatebreed before returning you to the chaos of 2017 with new All For Nothing.

are your teeth still in place? if they weren’t kicked out in the pit, and assuming you’re still conscious maybe you noticed some kind of underlying theme that pervades much of hardcore about getting back up off the ground and surviving.

But don’t get too caught up because we’re going to shift gears a bit with new Nightrage before bringing you back to the good old days of melodeth infused mayhem with Soilwork, Shadows Fall, the Black Dahlia Murder and Carcass to be immediately followed up with a second sadistic helping of groove laden metallic onslaught comprised of Sepultura, Machine Head, Living Sacrifice, Lamb of God before bringing you back around to 2017 with new Arch Enemy.

Head not spinning on it’s spine? Have you at least finally adjusted your pants to do the good time dance yet? Seriously, 2017 must have some grip. Maybe you need to shake off your mortal coil some other way. Let’s try some new Kreator followed up with an ample dosage of classic cataclysmic cranial crushers from Testament, Slayer, Metallica and Pantera before closing the show off with a fist pumping classic that, again, only needs a lyrical snippet as it’s introduction:

“I look and see it’s not only me
So many others have stood where I stand
We are the young, so raise your hands”

And, on that note, bye 2017. You won’t be missed. Neither, will you be forgotten. For better or worse, you’re another year gone by. As we officially get 2018 underway, do your part for a better tomorrow, research and other like minded organizations that will push-pit us forward as a society…

Clutch “Mob Goes Wild” Blast Tyrant

Most Precious Blood “Shark Ethic” Merciless
Vision of Disorder “Element” VOD
Martyr AD “Broken Mouth” the Human Condition
Norma Jean “Vertabraille” Oh God, the Aftermath
Blood Has Been Shed “Benediction” Novella of Uriel
Hatebreed “Perseverance” Perseverance
All for Nothing “Yet to Come” Minds Awake Hearts Alive (2017)

Nightrage “Catharsis” the Venemous (2017)
Soilwork “Bastard Chain” A Predator’s Portrait
Shadows Fall “Crushing Belial” Of One Blood
the Black Dahlia Murder “a Dead Refrain” What a Horrible Night
Carcass “Cadavar Pouch Conveyor System” Surgical Steel

Sepultura “Chaos AD” CAD
Machine Head “Davidian” Burn My Eyes
Living Sacrifice “Imminent War” Conceived in Fire
Lamb of God “Ruin” As the Palaces Burn
Arch Enemy “First Day in Hell” Will to Power (2017)

Kreator “Army of Storms” Gods of War (2017)
Testament “Shades of War” Low
Slayer “War Ensemble” Seasons in the Abyss
Metallica “Seek & Destroy” Kill ’em All
Pantera “Domination” Cowboys from Hell (cue :02)

Skid Row “Youth Gone Wild”

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Resolve and Resolution

As my therapist would say at the beginning of nearly every single conversation we’ve ever had, “So, what shall we talk about today?”

If you’ve followed along for long enough you know that I don’t think much of New Years Resolutions and that’s normally what everyone talks about today. Me, I resolve to find a resolution to whatever was problematic yesterday, which is essentially the same as what I was doing yesterday about the day before, and the day before about the day before that.

The only difference between a normal day and New Year’s Eve last night was I watched, for a brief and fleeting moment, someone tell me the day changed at midnight. And, I have to admit, I tune in for that almost every year for a bit of a macabre reason – I’m waiting for the day the ball malfunctions and the whole too-well choreographed, over-the-top pomp and circumstance is forced to take on a sort impromptu delight reflective of what life really is: unpredictable.

In the past I used to have people over to celebrate. But, it was the same open door policy that existed during Sunday football, or Saturday BBQs, etc. already with me. Sometimes people took advantage of it sometimes they didn’t. For a time I used to go to a piano bar to celebrate. But, that too wasn’t so dissimilar to any other gathering at the piano bar with that circle of friends as well. And, now, this new incarnation of celebrating isn’t too dissimilar to any other time spend with the family. It’s special because it’s our time together even if to an outsider it seems rather ordinary.

Everyone’s now asleep and much as I’d normally do when that happens I have a chance to reflect – well that and catch up on the 101 things I don’t get to do with a pregnant wife and a toddler doing what they do to suck up my free time, but that’s another story.

So, here we are in 2018.

The United Nations didn’t name it the year of anything. Go figure. However, the International Coral Reef Initiative which is comprised of founding nations Australia, France, Japan, Jamaica, the Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States as well as more recent entrants named it “The Year of the Reef” in an effort to “implement Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, Aichi Target 10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 10-year Strategic Plan” whatever that means considering the United States is governed by the anti-intellectual Republican party who’s primary focus is on the excessive exploitation rather than conservation of natural resources … but, I digress.

There will be some sporting events like the Winter Olympics (with no NHL players and no Russians, among other twists); the FIFA World Cup (with no Italy, Netherlands, United States, Chile and New Zealand, among other odd turns) and the usual oddities of the major professional sports leagues to look forward to.

There will be mid-term elections in the United States where all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested as well as 39 state and territorial governorships and about half of the State Level Legislative seats will also be voted on. Considering the political environment of the past several years this could prove to be a highly controversial situation that more than likely strains more than a few relationships.

Of course, there will be the usual cadre of celebrations – birthdays, holidays and other rememberances, and of course, anniversaries. Five years, to be specific. Holy shit. Time flies.

And, on that personal note there will be some additions to the family. Very excited. Very nervous. Very not ready – but thankfully nothing’s happening today so there’s no pressure in that regard. Hopefully, only additions. And some big life changes for a couple of family members. Stuff I can sit on the sidelines for and just cheer them on without the stress of having to actively be involved. I’m sure there will be some other big accomplishments, though, at this point, I don’t know what – it is, after all, only the first of the year.

So too, like every year time will pass. Milestones will be met. And, before you know it I’ll be bitching about resolutions again in 2019. Till, then, my resolution for today is to resolve the things left unresolved from yesterday — and on that note, there’s some dishes in the sink I should probably rinse before bed…

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76 years of infamy

“December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked … The United States was at peace with that nation and … was still in conversion with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace … it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.”

That’s how the American people were introduced to their involvement in the Second World War.

Conspiracy theories aside, American isolationalsim was broken in that moment and as a nation we became the stewards of brazen military might as the world’s guardian.

And, so we flexed our muscle for the common good. The common good of America’s perceived freedom. The common good of our allies. The common good of those oppressed by our enemies. The common good of mankind as a whole.

It was not just an act of defensive self-preservation but an acknoladgement that we are all in this together and as such it was America’s responsibility to do her fair share in participating the the human condition of the world.

Because, it was more than just human beings that died at Pearl Harbor. Just like it was more than just human lives lost at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Just like it was more than just lives lost at Fort Sumter. It was a loss of perceived innocence resulting in a cataclysmic change in the existing social norm.

We mourn those whose lives were lost and carry the burden of those whose lives were forever changed by it. But, moreso, we suffer the weight of our own national identity being forever changed because of it. You and I are the result of these monumental shifts in what it means to be an American. And, as such we should never, ever forget those moments which defined the American psyche.

While it would prove to stroke our ego that our long overdue entrance into the War would signal a turning of the tide in warding off authoritarian dictators with facist, xenophobic beliefs the reality is we were only successful in our cause because we were aligned with others already fighting the same fight. Their sacrifices became our sacrifices as ours became theirs. We were aligned not as individual soldiers or individual nations but under the commonality of humans resisting an enemy set to eradicate us.

It’s true that not all who sacrificed for the common cause of the greater good were equal. And, there were many, many atrocities perpetuated by the allies. And, the legacy of our choices and their consequences are often not fully disclosed, intentionally misrepresented, and otherwise not treated with the honesty that is necessary to understand the full depth and breath of what the War cost us – as Americans and as humans.

Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to bring us together in spite of our diversity and our differences an overcome that which had held us both apart from the world an oftentimes at odds with ourselves. The incident became an opportunity to mold an American spirit to that which it was not previously. We were tasked to take the horrors of the tumultuous day(s) before as an inspiration be the nation he believed us to be.

It’s a shame it took massive carnage to find ourselves and participate in the affairs of the world. It’s a shame, too, 76 years later we’re now in a position to revert back to that same sense of isolationist hibernation the atrocity had to wake us from.

Personally, I sincerely hope it doesn’t take another incident like Pearl Harbor to remind us of our duty to one another as humans to participate in the world for the greater good of all and that we continue to be cognizant of the sacrifices of all who lost something during the War that without them we couldn’t be here today – we have an obligation to uphold their memory but moreso what their sacrifices stood for.

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Hey, If I’ve been a Dick to You

Hey, If I’ve been a Dick to You … I’m truly sorry.

I’m not going to use my Social Anxiety as an excuse for being awkward. Or, my occasional drunkenness as so-called self-medication to overcome my Social Anxiety and Depression among other psychoemotional ailments to defend whatever shitty behavior I might have been perceived as having in front of you.

Nor am I going to somehow blame my occasionally life-stopping Tinnitus or, my self-consciousness about my physical disabilities like teen onset arthritis and plaque psoriasis.

When I’m a trying to be a dick, it’s likely intentional and you’ll know it’s intentional to you. There will be no mistaking I’m taking you down based on you, specifically, as an individual human being. I’ll target your flaws and idiosyncrasies as best I can as they are unique to you and you’ll understand it is you and your actions, deeds and whatnot that I’m upset, frustrated or otherwise in response to.

I’m not saying I’m proud of being a dick. But, I at least like to think I recognize I’m specifically being a dick to you. And attended to my affliction of the human condition and personal failures managing such focused, albeit inappropriate emotions, in short order.

Trust me it wasn’t based on some shallow stereotypes of who someone else might perceive you to be or anything bullshit like that. I was most likely targeting you because of who you and I are together — acquantences, schoolmates, coworkes, friends, family etc.

It’s more likely something in my own shortcoming as a human being being manifested because of the terms of whatever that relationship is. We all make mistakes. I’m prone to them essentially no more, or no less, than anyone else is.

So when I make you feel uncomfortable, more likely than not it is because I’m already uncomfortable myself. Continue reading

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Equality versus veterans

The most recent incarnation of the culture wars have contorted a perfectly legal and Constitutionally underpinned form social activism into a logically maligned attack on Veterans. #TakeAKnee never, ever had anything to do with Veterans and yet using predictable racist dog-whistle tactics groups on the Right have initiated a backlash against protests about institutional inequality in the Justice System by morphing the cause’s actions into an “us-versus-them” conversation about patriotism and by extension veterans.

Vets unfortunately then became caught in the middle of a culture war that had nothing at all to do with their service. Rather, they became a pawn of the right to use patriotism as a cover for bigoted beliefs by pitting one group’s love of the flag and of the uniform against another group’s desires to raise awareness about inequality.

If you aren’t sure how we got to the point where to things that seem to have nothing to do with on another, it’s pretty simple:

A black man protests other black men being incarcerated and killed at a much higher rate than the general population. He, as a black man, uses techniques used by a myriad of protesters, some dating back more than 50 years. He, as a black man, happens to have a fairly high profile position in society playing sports which also provides some financial well being.

Queue the “racists” even if they don’t realize that their responses are racist: There are the Conservatives who dispute the systemic injustice and twist statistics to try and demonstrate how Whites Citizens and/or the Police are actually the victims. There are the White Working Class who dispute social injustice in general, claiming their failing socio-economic state isn’t of their own making and they actually don’t have privilege, but rather minorities are ruining their lives. Then there are the traditionalist football fans who have no choice by to accept some black stars in the league but generally have treated black Quarterbacks different than their white counterparts. And, of course, since the protests are during the Anthem which is part of a Flag Ceremony where white male solders have been the face of American military strength for generations there are some traditionalists who see this as an afront to the foundations of America.

Their responses are typical, predictable and fairly well trod dating back to the mid-last century during the birth of the Civil Rights movment.

Either because they willfully ignore the underpinning of the original protest because of ideological beliefs or they lack the intellectual ability to understand the #TakeAKnee protests for what they actually are, these people reframe their counter-protest position to be about something else entirely.

Knowing they cannot counter-protest #TakeAKnee from the white point of view without proving the protest’s point, and because they actually cannot fight the factual reality of what the protests are about with anything but unsubstantiated opinions of their own, the counter-protest leaders reframed it not to be about injustice but disrespect.

Not just any disrespect either. The specific attachment of it to the humanity of Veterans as opposed to a more amorphous idea Constitutionality and to the physical attributes of the Flag and Anthem rather than the more vaguely conceptual patriotism. This was a very calculated attempt to hijack the conversation and turn the act of black men exercising “free speech,” “freedom of assembly” and “freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances” as it pertains to Amendment 6, for example, which requires a fair an impartial trial by jury rather than death by cop, or Amendment 14 which guarantees due process rather death by cop, or Amendment 8 which guards against the cruel and unusual punishment such as of death by cop, and so on.

This sets up an “us-versus-them” approach leveraging Authoritarian beliefs against the broader idea of protests that challenge the status quo. Continue reading

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