Social media and marriage equality

Its always amazing when mass numbers of people can get behind something positive and be seen doing something progressive. Civil rights, women’s rights, and now the right for LBGT equality. Unlike civil rights and women’s rights, due to the current social landscape, the issue of marriage equality for the LBGT community has been extraordinarily visible in social media. I was really taken aback today when I logged in to my Facebook account and noticed that 70% of my friends had changed their profile picture to the symbol for marriage equality.  Obviously with the Supreme Court voting on the legality of California’s Prop 8 law, its a big day for a lot of people. Now I have seen Facebook solidarity before when it came to profile pictures. With the police when they lose an officer.  With breast cancer awareness for survivors and those living with the disease.  All great signs of solidarity. However, I have never seen it in the numbers that I have today. I’m sure the fact that I live in the Northeast and I am a left minded person has a whole lot to do with it, but getting people to do ANYTHING together in our modern age is a struggle. So even though it was just a matter of changing one’s profile picture to something, it was really kind of moving.

We all have our own opinions about this topic. I could tell you that I respect your opinion of thinking that marriage should be between a man and a woman and it is a sacred bond before God that is only for heterosexuals, but I would be lying. The people that think that way are close minded fools living in the dark ages.  They need to get old and go away so progress can happen…finally. I say this as a heterosexual male.  I’m just a friend of the cause because I believe in equality. I have lots of gay friends and the thought of any of them being denied rights with the person they chose to spend the rest of their life with sickens me.  Civil unions are not the same. They are not.

This has been a long struggle for a lot of people.  A lot of great people have fought and have been fighting for this and unfortunately a number of them are no longer around to see how this is going to pan out. That is an unfortunate fact, but in the next few days lets keep them in our thoughts. The thing that makes America great is the fact that 250 years ago a bunch of men sat down and wrote a living document that is still relevant to people today. All men are created equal. Lets hope that the people appointed to our highest court see it that way too.

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Episode Nine: Jellyfish

In this episode, we discuss all that was the 90’s power pop band Jellyfish. Unquestionably one of the most underrated and wrongly forgotten bands of the last 30 years. I am joined by musician Danny Araque and audio engineer Jon Crane, both of whom initially befriended me because of our love for Jellyfish. Hope you dig it…and go buy the two Jellyfish albums!!!

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/01-episode-9_-jellyfish.mp3%5D

The greatness of Frankie Miller

A good friend of mine turned me onto Frankie Miller about seven years ago. I was beginning to get into R&B and Soul music and I was thirsty for things that I was unfamiliar with. My friend John, himself a record producer, gave me a copy of Frankie Miller’s “High Life”. He had done some work with Frankie Miller years back and was always bothered that he didn’t become a bigger star in America. He has had records produced by megaproducers like Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith), sung duets with Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, and his influence can easily be heard in the voices of Bob Seeger and Bruce Springsteen. He just never took off in America.

When I first heard his voice on Allen Toussaint’s “Brickyard Blues”, I thought he was a black man. His voice does not sound like a gringo from Scotland, or at least what I think a gringo from Scotland SHOULD sound like. Its raspy, soulful and beautiful.

I hadnt thought about Frankie Miller in a while but last night I was talking about funk and soul music with a lady at a taco stand. I love trying to get people into little undiscovered gems like Dyke and the Blazers and Frankie Miller. I mentioned the former to her, and forgot to mention Mr. Miller. What are the odds that she reads this?? One can only hope.

Episode Eight: Rejection

Rejection is a nasty beast. In this episode, my friend Michael and I discuss embarrassing things that we’ve done to get girls we like to like us… and fail miserably. I hope you enjoy the dreadful tales of our past!

Russian Hill by Jellyfish

I’ve got a lot of “I woke up singing this song” posts. Its gonna happen. However, when I woke myself this morning and neglected to engage my kettlebell, I was taken by the sunrise. Unfortunately, its not something I pay attention to every day. I, as I’m sure many of us, have certain songs that pass through my head when I see beautiful sights, especially in the morning when things are at their calmest.  This song has been on my list for a while. I recorded a podcast about this band recently, so they have been on my mind quite a bit. Ironically, this was one of my least favorite Jellyfish songs until a few years ago.

I went to San Francisco for New Years Eve in 2005. I went a few days early and spent some time kicking around the city with my iPod. I was staying at a Sheraton with my father, who is a fantastic traveling companion. When he would be off doing his thing,  I was wondering around listening to music. San Francisco is quite a city to do that in because of all of the hills. You are making quite a commitment to a leisurely stroll.  I knew that I wanted to see Lombard street (the most crooked road in the world and ALSO the street that housed the Real World San Francisco cast) so I made my way towards it. Once I got to the top of the hill I saw a Russian Hill sign. Being a Jellyfish fan, I was familiar with the name. I went through my iPod and found the song thinking maybe I could finally make some connection with it. Did I ever. I walked around that neighborhood for about 40 minutes listening to that song on repeat. The neighborhood has so many interesting looking houses and vibrant colors everywhere (so does a lot of San Francisco). I finally went for the hook. It was marvelous.

I recently went back to attend a wedding and put the song on in my rental car. It came on just before I was going over the Golden Gate Bridge, heading towards Sausalito. A fog was just rolling in over the bridge and I was nearly paralyzed by the sight of it. I’m sure this is commonplace for people who live there, but for this boy from NYC, I was completely entranced. As the fog rolled over me, all I could hear was this song. The song has a dreamy quality to it that could not have been more perfect for that moment. It was definitely one of the most memorable musical connections that I have ever made, and I know that I’ll be chasing it for the rest of my days.

My hard on for things South of the Mason Dixon

Let me tell you a few things about myself. I’m from New York (yes originally you asshole), I’m a liberal, my favorite sport is challenging Republicans to arguments, I hate modern country music (most country things after 1980 can fuck right off), I’m an Atheist and I don’t like NASCAR. That being said, I have a pretty serious love affair with the South. I have traveled more to Louisiana and Georgia in the last 5 years than anywhere else. I’ve also made stops in North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. I would say Florida, but we all know that Florida is a Northern state a lot of the time.  I have also fallen into the habit of dating a lot of Southerners for the last 6 years. What is it about that place that I find so intriguing? Why is it that when I hear a Southern accent, I melt into bacon butter? After a recent excursion to the Southeast, I decided to take a closer look.

New Orleans-Tennessee Williams once said ““America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” I’ve got no problem with Cleveland, but this man had a point. I first went to New Orleans in 1998 with my dad. I clearly remember being completely enamored with that city from the first day I was there. It hasn’t lessened one bit. The food, the people, the music, all of it. I think there is something so magical about New Orleans. It is such a unique city for so many reasons. I think one of the reasons that it is so interesting is its turbulent past. In the 1800’s, it was the largest port in the slave trade, in the 1980’s through early 2000’s they had one of the most corrupt police departments in the country, and then of course there was hurricane Katrina. One of America’s most important cities saw the government turn their backs on them in their greatest time of need. You can feel all of that there. Its all mixed in with all of the things that make the city great. The city is a gumbo, one of its most loved traditional dishes.  A big mix of everything. I try and visit New Orleans every 2-3 years. The last time I was there, I went for Halloween. There is no other city in America that can kick it off like that. It was phenomenal. New Orleans has this amazing voodoo/spirit world vibe to it already. Compounding that with the Halloween Harvest is just amazing. I would go there for Halloween over Mardi Gras any time. Then there are the different parts of town. Frenchman street, the Garden district, the French Quarter, the Metairie. All of them, so special and different from the last. Everywhere else IS Cleveland.

Savannah-I had always wanted to visit Savannah after watching the first hour of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Its another city that seems to have a love affair with its past. After all, its where Sherman’s March came to an end. Luckily for us, the Northern troops stopped burning things down once they got to Savannah, so lots of the city has a beautiful old look to it. Now I’m a little biased with this one. One of my best friends/favorite people on earth owns what I think is the greatest bar in America in Savannah, the Sparetime. We are going to speak to the ladies of the Sparetime another day, but if you ever make it down there, you are committing a sin by not going there. As far as the rest of the city is concerned, the old mansions, the Spanish moss dangling down from most of the tree’s in town, its relation to beautiful beaches like that on Tybee Island, its really hard to wrap your head around it all. There are also more beautiful people living in Savannah than most other places. There is definitely something in the water. There are few places on earth that welcome you like I have been welcomed in Savannah. After going there for my 4th time in about a year, I’ve found the locals to be some of the warmest, genuine and most interesting people I have ever met. Every time I leave, I instantly feel like I am leaving something behind.

Jesup-A few years ago I spent some time in Jesup, Georgia with a lady friend for the holidays. The people I met there were nothing short of amazing. I had never felt so welcomed by people I did not know. I was taken in and shown a level of hospitality that was awe inspiring. We spent Christmas Eve working in a soup kitchen and the level of love in that room was truly magical. I ended up on the cover of the local paper. Over the course of the week we played music, shot guns, went fishing, went to the drive-in and did so much more. I got to practice the art of shutting the fuck up when it came to talking about politics and religion. That was a good thing. Its never a good idea to be someone’s guest and shit talk the way they live their life. There are plenty of times to do that elsewhere. I have traveled quite a bit on this big blue marble and the kindness I was shown in Jesup was something I will remember forever.

Western Virginia-For the last 2 years, I have spent my labor day weekend with a friend of mine driving on the Crooked Road. The Crooked road is 300 mile stretch of road in Western Virgina (not West Virginia) where bluegrass was born. The Carter Family, Ralph Stanley, and many other bluegrass legends hail from this part of Appalachia. There are fiddle festivals, ho downs and more live music than you would ever imagine. All along the road are music venues, Luthiers and museums all dedicated to bluegrass and preserving the rich musical history of the region.  We usually camp out the first night in Grayson Highlands State Park.  Drinking local moonshine and playing guitars. The first year we went we spent a few hours hiking the Appalachian trail. At one point we ran in to a bunch of wild pony’s.  The experience was and is almost impossible to convey to anyone who hasn’t been there. Do yourself a favor and look in to the Crooked Road.

People have been asking me recently “When are you moving to the South” because I’ve been spending so much time there. The truth is I dont know. I live in New York and I love this city so much. Not for the bullshit reasons that everyone loves New York. There is an element to this great city that is difficult to explain. It goes far beyond the museums and the culinary wizardry and the fact that being a music fan, there are fewer better cites to be in than this. However after having so many beautiful experiences in the South, it does feel like a matter of time. Now about those Republicans…

“All Men are Liars” by Nick Lowe

I only got into Nick Lowe in the last two years. I always appreciated his production on the first six Elvis Costello records and I know that he wrote “Whats so Funny (’bout Peace, Love and Understanding)” and “Cruel to be Kind”, but I never sunk my teeth into his catalog. About two years ago I saw him open up for Wilco in Central Park. Earlier that day, I listened to “When I Write the Book” from Rockpile and I thought it was incredible. Within a few months of that, I heard him on “WTF with Marc Maron” and I really enjoyed his attitude and the songs that he played on the show. I went out and bought some of his records and things haven’t been the same since.  He has a much simpler approach to songwriting than Costello does. I also really liked that as he got older, his songs had a maturity to them.  He wasn’t constantly reaching for his youth. I respect that tremendously. All to often people are waiting for that train to come again, and it never does.

I was on the subway this morning and this song of his came into my head. Its from his later period so its a bit more mature, not as rocky as he is capable of. The lyrics are hilarious and its pretty catchy. “Do you remember Rick Astley? He had a big fat hit it was ghastly. ”

Hope you like it.