Today is the day…or so we hope

It’s 5:37 as I am writing this in New York. I can’t sleep. I’ve been tossing and turning for the last hour or so and I finally gave up. Once my mind starts going, even the littlest bit, I’m going to be awake.

I’ve had a pretty amazing month, so there is lots to think about. I’ve interviewed one of my biggest hero’s for my podcast, I was interviewed by Wired Magazine yesterday about a project I’ve been working on, I saw the sun set behind the Beverly Hills Hotel essentially replicating the album cover from Hotel California, and I became an ordained minister and married two great friends of mine. Its been a good month. However this morning, I am sitting awake typing this thinking about how I will be feeling by the end of the day.  Today is the day the Supreme Court will rule on marriage equality, and I dont know about you, but I’m scared shitless.

First, a little bit about me. I am not a homosexual. In fact, one of my male gay friends is often fascinated with how I have zero to no homosexual tendencies whatsoever. The reason for that is because I was born a heterosexual male. I didn’t choose to be one. Contrary to conservative mythos, no one chooses their sexual preference. To loosely quote comedian David Cross, who would make a choice during the most difficult time of adolescence to bring upon more hatred, bigotry and beatings from your teenage peers at the most awkward phase in your life? No one. You’re sexual preference is determined before you are born. It is not a choice.

I was also raised by parents who taught me to be honest about who I am and who wouldn’t judge me. As long as I’m not hurting anyone and being true to myself, they would support me no matter what. I realize that I am extremely fortunate for this. I have friends who are not so fortunate. Some have to hide what they really are because they don’t want to hurt their relatives feelings. Some don’t want to bring shame to their families because of the type of community they live in. Some have lived in secrecy. Some have had parents who have disowned them for their sexual preference. I am thankful every day that I didnt have to deal with that. In addition to that, I was raised around homosexuals. I saw from a very early age that there is nothing different about someone who is attracted to members of the same sex. We are all the same.

Being raised around homosexuals, particularly gay men in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, was amazing. The gentlemen I was around threw great parties, told great stories, gave great advice, and were hilarious. They offered incredible insight into a world that I was just starting to figure out, and I am eternally grateful for their influence. It was also a time of sadness. One of my mothers best friends, Ted, died of AIDS when I was 13.  Watching a brilliant, beautiful, loving human being deteriorate in that way was something beyond heartbreaking. Anyone who knew someone living with HIV or AIDS at that time I’m sure would agree. It was a very difficult time. You didnt have to look further than MTV to see the struggles of Pedro Zamora broadcast into your living room every week on The Real World San Francisco, to see someone succumbing to this terrible disease. Pedro Zamora in particular, I am convinced, has been a huge influence on my generation’s ability to see homosexuals and people living with AIDS as human beings just the same as everyone else. There is no question that that man played an enormous part in showing a younger generation that there is nothing odd about being gay and that people are just people, love is love, and we are all in this together.

Today, the Supreme Court is ruling on a civil rights issue. Right wing fundamentalists will tell you that it is not that. They will tell you that they are ruling on the sanctity of marriage. This sacred bond between one man and one woman that for millennia has been the core of the family unit. One thing they are neglecting to mention is change. I know that that is a word most conservatives fear more than a group of black youths standing on a street corner, but their fear of change is really the core issue. Something that a lot of people who are opposed to gay marriage seem to forget is that the definition of marriage has already changed, and it changed before they were born.

Marriage was initially something that happened as an exchange of property. “Take my daughter’s hand in marriage and I will give you three oxen. two cows, and that shitty dried up half acre over the hill for you to do with it what you wish.” That was originally how it worked. In a current civilized society, that is not how it works anymore. We have evolved, or so we hope. As marriage has evolved, we have been told that marriage is what happens when two people love each other and they want to start a life together, and they decide to make a commitment to one another forever. There is something beautiful about that for a lot of people. Homosexuals grew up very similarly to how you did. Watching the same movies, reading the same books, listening to the same music and a lot of those things talk about what love is. What it is to explore the depths of another persons being. Physically, mentally and emotionally.  So much so that you feel as if the two of you are one. That, to me is what love is and that is what people who want to marry want to explore for themselves.

Today, when you are sitting at work or at home and the Supreme Court ruling comes in, no matter what the outcome, take a moment and think about what love is. Think about people that you know that have loved. Think about people that you knew that are no longer here that got the chance to love and commit their lives to someone. Then take a moment and think about the thousands of people who have been fighting for equal rights just because they were born being attracted to someone of the same sex. Take a moment and think about the people that died fighting this fight. Whether they succumbed to the AIDS virus when treatments were nothing like they are today, whether they died from a hate crime, or whether they died from a broken heart because people were to ignorant to see that we are all the same and we all deserve the same rights as the next person. Just take a moment and think. If you do that, and you are true to yourself, no matter what happens today you will know in your heart that marriage equality is necessary, beautiful and eventually going to happen.

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Episode 22: Laura Pleasants of Kylesa

Laura Pleasants is a guitar player/singer/songwriter in Kylesa. Kylesa is a heavy metal band from Savannah, GA that has been re-defining themselves and their genre for years. Typically referred to as sludge metal, doom metal or stoner metal because people feel the need to categorize everything, there is a lot more to them than that. Their influences range from early hard core, goth, alt rock, psychedelic, punk rock and much more. Their latest record, Ultraviolet, is great and very unique. I’ve known Laura for a little while because we have a mutual friend. Whenever I see her, I just want to talk about music. She has a great mind and is a fantastic lady. I recorded this interview at a Kylesa show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. One of the opening bands is sound-checking for the first few minutes of the interview, so I’m sorry about the back round noise.

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/01-kylesa.mp3%5D

Episode 21: Roopa Singh

Roopa Singh is one of the most intelligent, interesting and genuine people that I have ever met.  She is a scholar, a lawyer, an activist, a bad ass yoga instructor and a friend. She is unlike anyone I have ever met and the second that we get together we end up taking our conversations all over the place and I love it. We didnt even get to start the “official” interview until about 18 minutes in because we were all over the place. There is no doubt in my mind that you will be hearing about her in some way sooner than you think. Great talk. Hope you dig it.

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/wbut-roopa-singh.mp3%5D

Slim Whitman is an American treasure and you should know about him.

I want to take a minute and talk about the greatness of Slim Whitman. For those of you not familiar, Slim Whitman is a Country singer whose popularity was at its apex in the early through mid 1950’s. His yodel style of singing was extraordinarily popular and made him quite a sensation.

Originally managed by Colonel Tom Parker, the man responsible for managing Elvis, Whitman’s uniqueness was much more appreciated in the U.K. with his hit “Rose Marie” was number one on the British charts for a record 11 weeks. Even with some radio popularity and movie spots, he was never able to achieve the same success stateside. He is know by most people for a string of television commercials in the 1980’s selling collections of his work.

Slim Whitman is a often forgotten American treasure. I challenge anyone to find a country singer with a more unique approach to creating a vibe the way that Whitman did. He avoided the booze ridden country approach. Going more for songs about the love, life and traveling the trail. Genius in its simplicity. There is also such an eerie quality to his voice especially when he yodels. It can send chills up your spine. In modern days, you are more likely to hear his songs in a Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses) or Tim Burton Movie (Mars Attacks). In fact, the use of his version of “Indian Love Call” as the song that kills the martians in Mars Attacks is really what exposed him to a new audience. Certainly myself.

But beyond that is his ability to sing incredible love songs. There is a tonal quality to his voice, especially his falsetto, that is one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard recorded. To this day, Rose Marie is one of my favorite love songs. “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” is another example of Whitman using his voice to croon us into a lovers paradise.

I’ve dreamed of seeing Slim Whitman live for years, but its likely not to be. He released his first album in 26 years in 2010, but he is unlikely to be touring again in NY. I hope that is not true. Today, after spending some time listening to his music and writing this, i threw out a Hail Mary pass and wrote him a letter and asked him to be on our show. It probably wont pan out, but I had to give it a shot. He is such an incredible piece to the arc of American music. Please familiarize yourself with him a bit and appreciate his greatness.

Episode 20: Rantin’ and Ravin’

This week’s podcast is a bit different. I gave it a go at doing one with no guest. I recently traveled to California to interview one of my heroes as well as officiate a wedding. Lots of things have been going on in my universe: acoustic archiving, finally joining OkCupid, confrontations with TSA guards, watching a Christian girls soccer team who had several members who wanted to mount each other. Things are getting weird, and I’m here to tell you about them. Dig it.

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/solo-podcast.mp3%5D

Episode 19: Justin Fornal (Baron Ambrosia) pt. 2

This is part two of our interview with Justin Fornal. In this episode, he discusses conceptualizing different characters, travel, and the Culinary Adventures of Baron Ambrosia. He also leaves us with a taste of things to come. Hope that you dig it.

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/episode-19_-baron-ambrosia-pt-2.mp3%5D