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Friday, December 20, 2013

Phil Robertson, Homosexuals, Vaginas, And More Uncomfortable Stuff

So, Phil Robertson, one of the stars of A&E's wildly successful and furry television show Duck Dynasty, has ruffled some feathers and gotten himself suspended from the show. Unless you spent the last 24 hours in a cave you already know this and know why; it has been all the buzz today.  He granted GQ Magazine a coveted interview and said some inflammatory things about homosexuals and even added a little something extra about the black folks in his area being happy and godly before civil rights, lagniappe, if you will.  With 14 million avid followers, this situation could get sticky.

The first incendiary nugget that was dropped was during a commentary on immorality.

“It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me.   I'm just thinking:  There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying?  But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man.  It's just not logical.” ~ Phil Robertson

Anyone who has watched the show or paid any attention at all, knows that Phil is a reformed sinner and a devout bible thumper.  They close each show with a prayer and it's all clean, family-oriented fluff.  It's a show about a family who got obscenely wealthy because of an improvement to duck calls that Phil came up with and was savvy enough to patent.  It's a show with funny characters, semi-scripted plots, bad grammar and a lot of hair.  Hair is good.  Money is good. Anyway, Phil can be kind of preachy.  They've gotten sideways with the network before over the preachiness and gun use.  Hey, it's a show about a family of rich hunters from Louisiana who spend more time in the woods than on carpet and are religious, what do you expect?  The interviewer pulled an easy “gotcha” and went onto Phil's turf, spent time with him as a guest in his home and went on a tour of his land with him.  Phil got comfortable, got preachy, as is his habit, and wound up with his foot in his mouth.  I'm sure Drew Magary, the writer who was lucky enough to get the interview, knew that he'd hit pay dirt with the above quote.  But he wasn't finished, then there was this:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.  Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” ~ Phil Robertson

Just remember everyone else has it too.

I'm sure that, in his world, this is okay talk, but in the national arena, it's a double-sided sword that's going to draw blood either way it swings.  Sponsors pay for the show, A&E has to have advertisers to finance the show.   They probably need very good advertisers for this show as it's been reported that the family members make around $200,000 each for every episode.  A lot of their advertisers could lose a lot of business if it became known that they were financing a show featuring a guy who's known for gay-bashing.  Of course A&E doesn't want to lose these advertisers so what are they to do?  They had to take action so they suspended Phil.   I'm sure they hated to learn that he'd said these things, they probably cringed in their padded leather chairs and cried real tears on their mahogany desks and spent all day on their phones trying to put out fires.  Now that Phil has been “outed”, America has another thing to be divided about, another thing to shout hateful things at each other about, another thing to boycott about, another thing to be angry about that isn't really that big of a deal.   It's a cable TV show; it's a 67 year-old man in north Louisiana who bites the heads off ducks when A&E's not looking; it's a devout Christian, what did you expect him to say about homosexuality?  It says right there in Leviticus 20: 13,

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”


Now, it doesn't get much more straightforward than that.  A lot of people like to toss that one around these days, you know, what with gay folks getting so much freedom and stuff. Most of them don't seem to remember that a few paragraphs above that one is Leviticus 19: 28,

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you:  I am the LORD.”

Wait...what's that about?   Are they talking about tattoos? Piercings? Cutting?  What?   No way!  That's not what that means!   Hmmm.   Hard to tell. But it's convenient, isn't it?  Apologists and weird interpreter-type revisionists like to twist the meanings and words and make them work for their individual desires and to explain away inconsistencies. That could be a monumentally bad idea if you take the Bible at its word...literally.

“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.
~ Deuteronomy 12: 32

Wait there's more.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. ~ Revelation 22: 18-19

King James has got some editing to answer for

And why shouldn't you take the Bible literally, if you're going to take it at all?  People love to pick and choose what parts of the Bible are pertinent and say that the Old Testament is outdated Mosaic law and isn't relevant because Jesus changed all that.  Okay, the Ten Commandments are Old Testament, the part about homosexuals is Old Testament, Jesus never mentions homosexuality in the New Testament.  Does that mean it's okay?  What the hell does any of it mean anyway?  The Old Testament is outdated?  The New Testament is 2000 years old, are they saying it's not outdated?   Here's where it gets tricky.  Jesus is the son of God/son of man/God in the flesh, whatever, is he God?   The same god from the Old Testament?   Does he have a split personality?  Did he change his omnipotent and omniscient mind?   If so, why?   Did he find a flaw in his plan?  Why didn't he see that coming?  The world is full of people with nutty ideas and if Phil Robertson thinks homosexuality will lead to bestiality, that's his nutty right and he has a right to say it without being locked up.  That's what freedom of speech guarantees.  It does not guarantee that you won't suffer derision, financial failings, being made fun of or possibly losing your job.  Duck Commander will continue to make truckloads of money and A&E will find a way out of this sticky wicket.   The only people suffering will be you and I.   The ones out here screeching at each other about what it all means and waiting for the end of the world. That's my take on this tempest in a teapot, for what its worth.  Thanks for reading and remember, Jesus and Santa are white, coffee and cigarettes will stunt your growth and, if you say the Lord's Prayer backwards, Ozzy Osbourne will appear and bite your head off. Where's my eggnog?

I'm waiting

Other blog posts
NEWS FLASH! Prayer Has Not Been Banned From Schools

The Perfect Shit-Storm:  Race, Guns, Gays and Chik-Fil-A

Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NEWS FLASH! Prayer Has Not Been Banned From Schools

Okay, I've covered this before but I keep seeing the same old complaint about god and prayer being taken out of school. PEOPLE! LISTEN! Prayer has not been banned from school. That is propaganda that whiny, uninformed people are using to push their personal agenda. First off, what kind of god would allow him/herself to be kicked out of anywhere? That sort of takes the “supreme” out of supreme being and the “omni” out omnipresent and omnipotent. If your god has been kicked out of somewhere perhaps you should shop around, maybe check into whatever entity did the kicking.

Second, prayer is not banned from public school. It is not, however, subsidized nor mandated. In other words, kids can pray in school as long as it's not disruptive. If you mean prayer is not mandated in school anymore, that's right, but ask yourself this. Which god would you like to have schools force your child to pray to? If you're Roman Catholic (which is the largest single religious group in America, weighing in with 67 million members in 2005, according to the Pew Forum on Religion. The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination, tipping the scales at a measly 16 million), you don't want them using the King James version (do you have anything in Latin perhaps?). If you're Jewish, you don't want any of that New Testament or Jesus stuff. If you're Morman...well, you probably just want to be left alone, and if you're a Jehovah's Witness, you don't want a birthday or Christmas present. Hey, don't forget about Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and all those other non-Abrahamic types. Of all the various flavors of religious faith, the top three in America are:

1. Christianity
2. Judaism
3. Muslim

So, should it go by a “majority rules” kind of thing and Christianity be the state mandated religion? Is that what you really want? Okay, which kind of Christianity? There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 41,000 different “Christian” denominations. I say, “somewhere in the neighborhood” because there is a great deal of disagreement among themselves as to which ones qualify as real Christian denominations and which ones may be considered...ahem...cults. Some won't dance, some won't take blood transfusions, some won't listen to music, some won't use electricity and some like to juggle rattlesnakes. So, which kind will it be? Whichever one is chosen it will be to the exclusion of the others and will likely piss them off (sort of like Sunni and Shia Muslims. You know, the ones who have been killing each other for a while because they can't agree on a few religious tenets). Speaking of government mandated religions which are taught in school and pretty much forced on the citizenry, if you want to go somewhere that already has all these things and stops everything so that everyone can pray, Iran is still in business and they seem to have that shit down pat.

America is far too culturally diverse to have a state mandated religion. That's why the Pilgrims left England, to escape just such a situation. In polls in richer countries, fewer people claim that religion plays a significant part in their lives, here there is a majority (although the numbers are falling rapidly) who claim that it does, that aligns us more with developing countries.

And before too many of you get up on your hind legs and start shouting about America being founded as a Christian country, hold up. I have presented this before but will do so again here.

Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli states that, “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”  The Treaty of Tripoli was written at the end of George Washington’s second term. It was approved by the Senate on June 7, 1797 and officially ratified by the Senate with John Adam’s signature June 10, 1797. At the time, this was the third instance of the Senate voting unanimously.

Although some New England States continued to use tax money to fund local congregational churches into the 1830s, the United States claims to have been the first nation to have no official state-endorsed religion. It just wasn't done the way that some people would like you to believe. Besides, as much bitching as everyone does about the loss of so many freedoms, do you really want to give up the one that allows you to practice the religion of your choice or not to practice any religion at all if that's your choice? It's not the school's job to raise your children, it's the school's job to educate them. It's your job to raise them.

May the farce be with you.

For more of this kind of stuff read

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jobs I Have Had And The Lessons Learned

Cleaning an Episcopal Church and the rectory. I was 12. Here I learned that some men of god have an unexpected appreciation for the most vile pornography and bestiality I've ever seen.

Working at a carnival. Here I learned that nothing is fair and that people will spend an awful lot of money on a crooked game to win a $1.25 stuffed animal, even if they know better.

Working in a parts house. Here I learned that if you put a few really expensive parts where no one else can find them, it's called “job security”.

Working in a women's garment factory. I worked with 600 women and about 30 men. There was always a large percentage of people here in a very bad mood.

Working in a carpet factory. Here I learned that it's better to be friends with the boss than to try to do a good job.

Working on a shell dredge boat in Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas. Here I learned not to tattoo your girlfriend's initials on your ankle and if you are bending low to step under a cable do not, under any circumstances, absent-mindedly lay the glowing end of a turnbuckle that was just cut in half with a torch in your hand. You will regret it but it only happens once.

Worked on a boat with a seismograph company in Galveston Bay. Here I learned not to fuck with the cook and that, if you get more than 3 Cajuns together, a game of Bourré (Booray) will spontaneously start.

Worked with a seismograph crew on land. Here I learned that if you work seven days a week without a break, any night of the week can be Saturday night.

Worked as an industrial equipment painter. Here I learned that you just paint right over the rust because no one gives a shit.

Worked as a graphic designer and sign painter. Here I learned that people want the absolute best work you can possibly do, they want to micro-manage every pencil stroke and they don't want to pay you. If they aren't crying and bitching, you didn't charge enough. Beware of conversations which begin with, “Well, I don't know anything about art but...”

Worked as a convenience store clerk just off the Tulane quad. Here I learned the love of being extremely rude and giving “real-life” reality checks to arrogant 13th graders.

Worked as a clerk in a porn shop. Here I developed an aversion to shaking hands.

Worked as a bartender, bouncer, door-man and manager at several bars over the years. Here I learned that, in the bar industry, the customer is never right.

Worked at a used car lot. Here I learned to be terrified of buying used cars.

Worked at a pawn shop. Here I learned the value of people's possessions, which is absolutely nothing if they're trying to sell them and expensive as hell if they're trying to buy them. Also, you can actually smell misery.

Worked as a clerk in a liquor store. Here I learned that really pious religious people sometimes like to sermonize while they are buying their liquor. They also like to park way the hell out in the middle of the parking lot so it doesn't look like they're parked at the liquor store.

Worked as a carpenter at nuclear power plants. Here I learned that it's sort of creepy to get yearly statements (just like from the bank) letting you know how much radiation you have absorbed while on the job.

Worked as a designer (the telecommunications industry's word for someone who does engineering work but doesn't have an engineering degree nor their pay) in the telecommunications industry. Here I learned motto's like, “There's never enough time to do a job right, but there's always time to do it over” and “Let the ragged edges drag”. I also learned that companies pay computer people large sums of money to develop software programs that they will roll out before they are ready, force you to use, keep updating and improving them until they no longer function at all, then replace them with another program which is also not ready.

Worked as a cook at a frat house.  Here I learned that no matter how much money your boss has, how nice a car he drives, how well he dresses and how well you do your job, if it turns out that he is a closet crack-head, neither one of you will have your job for long and you will probably work your last two weeks for free because, apparently, crack-heads can disappear like ninjas.

These experiences have molded my life and probably go a long way toward explaining why I am as twisted and fucked up as I am. If you pay attention, you will be too.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Little Clarity

I feel the need to clarify my stance on certain things, especially since I am constantly making new connections with people on social media. Some of these new friends may not know me personally and may misunderstand some of my comments or rants. I don't want people thinking that I am just standing on one side of the fence hurling stones at the people on the other side. I see too much of that and I don't like it. First off, I will laugh and make fun of just about anything and everything. My sense of humor may not be to everyone's taste but, it's mine and I enjoy it so, suck it up and enjoy the ride.
I am neither a Republican nor Democrat, I am neither liberal nor conservative. I have beliefs that fall on both sides. I believe in entrepreneurship and capitalism but, I don't believe in top-heavy greed. I believe in gun ownership and gun owner's rights and the right to defend oneself with deadly force, if need be. I also believe that gun owners should act responsibly and I am not against permits or training. I believe in racial equality, gay rights and the rights of women to have control over their bodies. I am an atheist but, I believe that people should be allowed to believe in whatever religion they choose as long as it is non-violent and it is kept out of government and schools. For the people who like to say things like, “Be a Christian or get out of America because America was founded on Christian beliefs” well, that's a whole other debate but I will say this, I always thought that America was all about freedom, not just the freedom to believe the same way that the people or groups with the most money and influence believe. I believe in social programs to help those who need it. I don't believe in people who are cheating the system and using these programs when they could be supporting themselves. I believe everyone should have affordable healthcare but, not to the detriment of businesses and free enterprise. I also have some strong questions about it being forced on people and penalizing them if they don't or can't participate. I will be the first to say that I don't understand the Affordable Healthcare Act, I'm not sure if anyone does at this point. I think that it's fine to be patriotic and love your country. I also think that it's fine to dislike the government that is running your country and people should have more control over what is done by their government and have the means to know what their government is doing and to put it in check. I believe that it's good to have laws but, I believe that the spirit of the law should be adhered to more than the letter of the law. Of course, lawyers may disagree. I believe in marijuana legalization. I don't think it will be the downfall of civilization. It shouldn't be that complicated to manage, after all, we do it with alcohol and cigarettes, both of which are more harmful than marijuana. I believe that the people in government who are running things are a self-serving group who are interested in their careers and the agendas of the lobbyists who have the money. Not just the current administration, all of them for a long time now.
Be responsible, be accountable, do these things on a personal level. Don't expect the government to take care of you 24/7. Take some control on your own. And don't put all your faith into one system, they are all flawed. Some may be better than others but, they are all flawed. Have fun, be happy, don't blow people up, don't hate someone because they are weird or different. Just hang on and try not to fall out and don't take everything people say seriously, sometimes it's just a joke. ;)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Faster Than The Speed Of Thought

We Are Pavlov's Dog
Ivan Pavlov is most famous for something known as conditioned reflex and the term Pavlov's Dog. The story has it that Pavlov rang a bell just before feeding his dogs causing them to eventually associate the bell with food and to begin salivating at the bell in anticipation of receiving food. The truth is Pavlov probably seldom, if ever, used a bell. He used other things though, metronomes, tuning forks and electric shock. He was a Russian monster posing as a psychologist and physiologist who abandoned a religious career and decided to pursue a career in the sciences performing bizarre and groundbreaking experiments on dogs' digestive tracts by shuffling and re-dealing their organs and observing the results. He also made some uncomfortable modifications so that he could collect saliva. It's thought that he also performed some of these Frankensteinian experiments on children. Lovely guy. He won the 1904 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

One of Pavlov's modified dogs, preserved at The Pavlov Museum, Ryazan, Russia
Not creepy at all

We are Pavlov's Dog. We, as a society, have become so conditioned to reacting a certain way to certain stimuli that we have stopped thinking for ourselves. We are led around by our noses and told what to think, how to act, how to vote, how to dress, how to talk...we are Pavlov's Dog. Where do conservatives come from? Where do liberals come from? Why do they all act and think so similarly? You can go from one area of the country to another and engage in conversation with different people and have the same conversations with them almost verbatim. It's like a hive mentality, group-think. Mention capitalism, ending social programs, lowering taxes or gun owner's rights and conservatives will fall into lock-step and start a pep-rally. Mention social programs, green planets, women's rights, gay rights, more gun control and liberals swoon. It's not even really the issues that get the ball rolling, it's the catch-phrases: Legitimate rape, illegal aliens, assault weapons, sequester, 2nd Amendment, Constitutional rights, Fiscal Cliff, False Flag, Military Industrial Complex, Red State, Blue State, and so on. Mention one of those or any of the dozens of others and you are lighting a fuse.

Where do these notions come from? I would say 20% from news media and 80% from word of mouth via conversations but mostly from social media like Facebook or Twitter. These avenues are rife with disinformation and barely formed ideas that get snapped up by rabid sycophants and shared and copied and pasted. They do this without fact checking or, apparently, giving it much thought at all as long as the blog, meme or article is one that agrees with their ideologies. They feed each others fears and paranoia through cloak-and-dagger conspiracy theories and they join in the boorish bullying and stereotyping of the other guys using terms like ignorant southerners, commie liberals, gun-nuts, Muslim sympathizers, they display the worst of human nature.

Cranial Friction Burns
Information, news, entertainment, gossip, weather, global crises, all day every day. How fast can you process information? How fast can you discern what is relevant? Do you still have the ability? According to Mitchell Stephens' book A History of News, in 1481 a letter reporting the death of a Turkish sultan took two years to reach England and in 1841 it took three months and twenty days for Los Angeles to learn of President William Henry Harrison's death in the east. Now, we can get instant updates on the Kardashians and Lindsay Lohan in real time, split-screen, crawler along the bottom of the screen telling us about the middle-east, stock ticker in place, the latest from Capitol Hill, C-Span, Weather Channel. No time to think. We are being conditioned to respond to hyper fast information with knee-jerk reactions. Anything less and we're dealing with yesterday's news. No one has the time to digest what is being fed to them any more. By the time you hear of such-and-such law being passed or this scandal or that crisis it is already beginning to go stale. The so-called news media is in such a rush to be the first to get stories out they fail to fact-check or verify. They are all obsessed with live on-the-spot news coverage that they put out pictures and stories sometimes so full of mistakes and disinformation that the record is forever muddied and never corrected. Ron Nessen, President Gerald Ford's Press Secretary, said, “Some stories, you don't want to spend too much time checking because you don't want to find out you're wrong.” That is how so much false bullshit gets so much mileage. People don't want to learn facts that may weaken their position. They'd rather trot out some half-assed report or chart that bolsters their opinions than learn something that may contradict what they believe.
Then, there are the conspiracies. Sometimes, when the news media tries to do damage control and update information as it comes to them and try to correct things after the fact, it gets picked up and becomes part of the big conspiracy, the cover-ups, the black-ops that are being perpetrated on America by its government. It's out there, right or wrong, it's out there. Once it is seen it cannot be unseen. If they show a video or a picture of someone who happens to be near the scene of a “happening” they can become part of it. Later, when they edit them out or issue a retraction, it is conspiracy. Who was the umbrella man at Dealy Plaza the day Kennedy was shot? Who was the man wearing camouflage running through the woods at Sandy Hook? Who was the naked man arrested in the days after the Boston Marathon bombing? Was Trayvon an innocent, smiling kid or a dangerous thug? Is Zimmerman a racist child-murderer or a citizen who's only guilty of killing a person in self-defense? Does the gun kill the people or does it just facilitate the means? We may never know any truth any more because of the way things are presented to us and how skewed it is.

I get my news unfiltered from CNN
Our 24-hour-a-day news channels are not news, that's right, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC are not news. They are news entertainment, the same way that wrestling is not sports, it's sports entertainment. The programming on these networks is geared toward further polarizing people. Ram-feeding propaganda to a starving fan-base, they pander to the hot-button issues that feed the suspicions and emotions of already biased people pushing the left further left and the right further right, obliterating the middle, the place where, in my mind, rational discourse lives. They ring the bell, we salivate. We are Pavlov's dog.

Vast eye candy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Southern Baptist Convention and Mayor Fletcher of Vero Beach

Well folks, here I go again, making noise about the separation of church and state. It seems that some people just can't get enough of that tasty mélange that is religious political power. It is an irresistible temptation to get out there and schmooze your way into having a little stroke down at city hall and then using it to try to force everyone else to bow to your belief system, no matter how unlikely or fantastic it may be. Take, for example, the latest news on the Southern Baptist Convention. It appears to have come as some sort of epiphany to them that they don't have the political clout that they had ten years ago under President Bush.

"[The Southern Baptist Convention] has less influence in government and a growing diversity that may be diminishing its role as a partisan political player. And some Southern Baptists are beginning to cry foul at what they see as discrimination by gays and liberals that violates their religious liberty."

Now, that's rich, “discrimination by gays and liberals”. Please tell me I'm not the only one to see the irony in this statement. How some people can be so myopic baffles the hell out of me. Here's a group of people whose history is rife with injustice to groups who don't meet their lofty standards crying because they feel set upon, not because they have lost any of their liberties but because they have lost the ability to legislate, by proxy, their doctrine.

Religious intolerance

"For 100 years the Southern Baptists have been the dominating religious entity of the South," said David W. Key Sr., director of Baptist Studies at Emory University's Candler School of Theology and a Southern Baptist. "Now they are starting to feel religious victimhood. ... In many ways, Baptists introduced pluralism to America. Now they are feeling like victims of that pluralism."

The above excerpts are from an AP news story found here.

In a spasm of progressive thinking, the SBC have even elected a person of color as their president and found themselves in the uncomfortable position of not knowing how he voted in the last United States presidential election. Apparently, he didn't subscribe to the time-honored tradition of religious leaders by telling them how he was going to vote and, by rote, how they should vote as well. Now there are gays in the military, gays in the Boy Scouts, states are legalizing gay marriage, where will it end? The following is from the same article.

[Russell Moore, the incoming president of the Nashville-based SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said,] "The government is overstepping its bounds in breathtaking ways," Moore said in an interview. "The audacity of state challenges to religious freedom would have been unbelievable just a few years ago. A warning about some of these threats would have been dismissed as slippery-slope scare tactics."

Yes, indeed, and who would be better qualified to recognize “slippery-slope scare tactics than those who threaten everlasting torment in hell to those who don't believe as they do? They are getting their knickers in a twist because the loss of this power feels, to them, like persecution. What? We're not allowed to tell other people what to do anymore? Why, that's outright religious persecution!

More religious intolerance
Meanwhile, in Vero Beach, FL last week, the mayor tried to squash a request by The Humanists of the Treasure Coast who were asking them to proclaim June 16-23, 2013 as “Humanist Recognition Week.” They were calling for “compassion guided by reason” and other inflammatory and dangerous activities like the Hug An Atheist movement. From his statements you'd have thought they were asking for permission to sacrifice goats on the village green. Mayor Craig Fletcher said that he wanted to remove the item about the proclamation entirely. When asked why, Fletcher said, “I refuse to support an organization that does not believe in Jesus Christ. I’ll have nothing to do with it. If you want to outvote me, that’s fine.” He was outvoted but the situation turned nasty anyway. Vice Mayor Tracy Carroll had to look up Humanist on Wikipedia to find out that one of the definitions had something to do with atheism. Once she found this out, she backed Mayor Fletcher. Council members Jay Kramer, Pilar Turner and Dick Winger all voted to approve the proclamation passing it by the narrow margin of 3-2. Jay Kramer read the proclamation because Fletcher decided not to.

Fun with religious intolerance
Now, a week later after conferring with his wife and pastor (and a PR shit-storm), Mayor Fletcher has issued an apology. In the apology he says that his previous statements were “way out of line”. Now, before any of you faithful out there start climbing up on soapboxes remember that it's not just atheists who were shut down here, it was anyone not affiliated with Christian beliefs. Temple Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Michael Birnholz said he and much of his congregation are upset and hurt by the mayor’s statement. Yeah, Jewish folks were included in that off-the-cuff statement and anyone else who doesn't believe what Fletcher believes. So, yeah, if you're going to run for political office and represent the people in your community, county, state, country, whatever, you need to be able to leave your religion out of it. Everyone does not follow the same religion and some don't follow any religion at all and the numbers are growing and they are beginning to be heard.

So, yes, the religious lobbyists are witnessing the loss of their power in political circles for the same reason the Republican Party found itself on the outside looking in. They have failed to grow with the more youthful and enlightened culture that is the prevalent moving power at the moment. This is the kind of thing that set the late Barry Goldwater off. In a speech to the Senate on September 16, 1981 he said, “I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?” I guess Mr. Goldwater was just ahead of his time. People who have grown into voting age in the past decade are more sympathetic to human rights than the old guard, religion-based, ultraconservatives and the newbies are making themselves the polls. The only thing they need to watch out for is the conservative backlash from the highly unpopular programs that President Obama has hatched and the coming-to-light of the IRS misdeeds and the fact that the NSA is data-mining our phones and internet activity in the interest of National Security. That could be a mighty big pendulum swing if it gains the momentum and weight that some media outlets want to give it. That's not saying that it doesn't deserve a fair amount of weight. What the IRS and NSA are up to is wrong. Non-partisan, across party lines, I don't give a damn who did it, wrong...but that is for another blog post.

For more of my opinion about the separation of church and state go here.

For the articles about Vero Beach go here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

High Road Out - Vicksburg Debut

High Road Out

High Road Out played their highly anticipated debut performance Friday night, June 9, at The Beechwood Lounge in Vicksburg. It was a very impressive start to what should be a long and successful run. High Road Out was launched in May 2012 and it's no secret to the, already existing fan-base, that the band is made up of most of the members of Crossin Dixon. Brandon Hyde (vocals and guitar), Charlie Grantham (vocals and guitar), Garret Parris (vocals, keys and acoustic guitar), Brian Shilling (drums and percussion) and Lane Curtis (bass) are all there. They showcased seventeen new original songs Friday night and it is obvious that the songwriting is just as solid as ever. The lyrics are great and the hooks are engaging. They have picked up a few new cover songs that expanded their range a little deeper into classic rock, adding more diversity and rounding out their show. The vocal harmonies that opened the show were dead-on and continued to impress throughout the night. Vocals, songwriting and musicianship are the strength of this band. They are a tight group who know how to entertain and put on a show.

They have two upcoming shows this week. They will be playing Thursday - Ladies night at Club 43 in Canton, MS and Saturday night at the Tiki Bar in Grenada. If High Road Out is playing anywhere near you, don't miss the opportunity to see them, you won't be disappointed.

HRO performing Simple As Dirt at The Beedhwood in Vicksburg, MS
Update:  After clearing up some legal issues High Road Out reverted back to Crossin Dixon.

US - the roadshow goes on forever

U.S., for those who don’t already know, is a rock band whose main mission seems to be keeping rock music alive and well in the southeast. A good bit of their set is rock from the 80’s but don’t let that fool you, just when you think you’ve got them pegged they’ll kick off with a country standard like “Calling Baton Rouge” or "Save A Horse" and then turn it all around with their “Summer Love/Greased Lightning” medley from Grease. They entertain and interact with the crowds constantly and keep them involved. These fellows know how to show a crowd a good time.
U.S. turning it up at the Beechwood Feb. 4, 2012
They brought their road show to the Beechwood Saturday night and cranked it out with characteristic excitement; they deliver every show like its the first one they've ever done or the last one they'll ever do. U.S. has been burning up the highways for a long time and when you talk to Kelly (Nagy), the vocalist, you get the feeling that he hasn't lost an ounce of enthusiasm since they started. You can tell they enjoy what they do. Kelly, Jeff Manns (guitar), Richie Wright (drums) and Joey Vendetta (bass) always spend a lot of time visiting with people and taking pictures between sets. They are very friendly and appreciative of all their fans and their fans seem to feel the same way. Some people travel long distances to see this band. Their elaborate stage setup is something that has to be experienced, there are giant video monitors, fog and more lights than the mothership in Close Encounters, and that's just the backdrop for what happens onstage. Jäger shots, anyone?
February 11, 2012

Visit the U.S. website here.

An interview with Hillbilly Delux's Chris Stamphill

Hillbilly Delux portrait
Some country tastes like bubblegum...ours tastes like GASOLINE!”
~ Hillbilly Delux~

Hillbilly Delux is a hard rocking country band from Muscle Shoals, AL. They are playing at The Icehouse in McComb, MS Friday night and at Whiskey River Saloon in Jackson Saturday night. The following is from an interview with bassist Chris Stanphill on February 9, 2012.

How long has Hillbilly Delux been together?

The three of us have been together since 2006. The original 4 piece was myself and 3 others that wanted to start a heavy, hard-rocking country band. Kind of a cross between a Garth Brooks live show with a Waylon Jennings attitude and a Metallica/Skynyrd sound. I'm the only one left from that core group. Terry (Harvey) came in when we went to 2 guitars and Craig took over the front-man duties not long after that. I've been doing this since the late 80's, and this is the first ensemble I've been with that has that kind of stability. That's a rare thing in this business.

You're listed as living in Golden, MS. Is everyone else from the Muscle Shoals area?

Terry is from Leesville, LA and currently resides in Hinsville, LA., it makes rehearsals interesting. I actually live an hour from the Shoals, and have spent most of my life in the area. The rest are from the surrounding area.

You’ve done some benefit shows for Wounded Warrior Project in Leesville, LA, how did you get involved with WWP?

The guy that put on the concert for WWP in Leesville was a former band-mate of Terry's. He called, we went. We support our troops every chance we get, and always give them a shout out at every show. We also try to shake the hand of every vet that comes to a show. We're pretty passionate about those guys and gals. We haven't done the WWP since 2008, but we do events closer to home. We try to do at least 4 benefits per year for various vet organizations, Cancer Awareness, The American Heart Association, and local folks that are in need of help regarding medical costs.

Do you prefer clubs or larger crowds like festivals and the WWP benefits?

We've played for 5 people, 500 people, and up to 20,000 people at various clubs and festivals. They all get the same show. Clubs give us the chance to hang out with the fans personally. Sometimes we've gotten to meet their kids. The festivals and larger events are not as personal, but just as fun. We also play Broadway in Nashville at least twice per year at the Cadillac Ranch. The most fun was playing the Riverwalk Stage in Nashville during the inaugural Music City BBQ Festival in 2009, 20,000 people and a 50’x 100' barge stage. We rode the kiddie train down to the stage, and left on it when we were done. We're just a bunch of guys that get along well, love to put on a show, and have a ball doing it. We've gotten to meet thousands of people, and make many new friendships that still last to this day. We've been lucky that we get to do what we love for a living. It doesn't get much better than that.
Hillbilly Delux pinstripe image
Dirty Country

Visit Hillbilly Delux’s website here
Hillbilly Delux's Facebook page here,
Hillbilly Delux's reverbnation page here.

Their 10 song CD, “Dirty Country” is available
at and and they have a 5 song EP that
is currently being shopped around Nashville.

Chris Stanphill is also the band’s booking agent.
Chris can be contacted at (662)279-3830

Road Gear - Survival Kit

Crossin Dixon delivers the goods at The Beechwood

Crossin Dixon at the Beechwood Feb. 4, 2012
Crossin Dixon managed to bring an over-capacity crowd to Vicksburg's Beechwood Lounge Saturday night in spite of a frog-strangling downpour earlier in the day. The rain finally let up by mid-afternoon and the fans turned out en masse. By Wednesday afternoon every available table at the Beechwood had been reserved, by 12:00 Saturday night the room was at capacity with people lined up waiting to get in. Crossin Dixon played a high-energy show ranging from classic country to rock that kept the crowd partying until nearly 3 am.

Crossin Dixon came together after the three founding members, Jason Miller, Charlie Grantham and Brandon Hyde, repeatedly crossed paths while playing in two different bands. After the two bands experienced some personnel changes, the three musicians decided to put something together on their own, that partnership turned out to be advantageous because it resulted in a self-titled debut release that spawned two charting hits. They are scheduled to be back at the Beechwood April 21st, so mark your calenders and call ahead for a reservation.

February 4, 2012

Visit Crossin Dixon's website here.

Archival material coming

I am going to be adding some of my older blogs to this site, mainly for archival purposes. They will be dealing mostly with bar-life and bands. I hope everyone enjoys them even though they are older and the ones dealing with band dates and bios may be out of date. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How the hell was your day?

It was one of those days. I really should have just stayed in bed. I went to vote only to find that my voting location had been changed behind my back. The voting turned out to be an exercise in futility. I left the poll and went to work and was set upon and abused by an irate barber who apparently owns the parking space that I was occupying (or at least rents it and was quite upset by my intended use of it). I was then told by my boss that I need to be nicer to our customers at the liquor store after being scolded by a woman whose husband had made it all the way home with three bottles of wine before dropping one and breaking it. Yes, it was vaguely suggested that it was my fault and it was, “not cool, not cool”. She, at one point, even suggested (in a roundabout way) that I pay for the wine. Her wine selection represented two hours of my wages so that wasn't happening.

On a positive note, it seems that I have made great advances in my quest for more control over my emotions. I made it through all this without beating anyone to death or cutting or stabbing or shooting anyone in the face. Yay for me. I will probably die soon of a brain aneurism or stomach cancer.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why not Cesar Chavez on a Google Doodle?

Okay, I wasn't going to do this but some things are just so idiotic that they have to be addressed.  Today was Easter.  It was also March 31 which happens to be Cesar Chavez' birthday and Cesar Chavez Day, a state holiday in Colorado, Texas and California.  Google decided to put his picture up today as their "doodle" instead of bunnies, eggs, a cross or Jesus. This inflamed many Christians to the point of posting rants on their Facebook pages and even calling for a boycott.  Really?  Fucking really?  So some of these "good" folks would like to force us all to celebrate their little religious shindig whether we want to or not?  Is this Iran?  What the fuck are those assholes thinking?  Oh, they're not.  You don't force your religion on people.  Religion is like a penis, it's all right as long as you're not waving it around in people's faces, trying to ram it down some one's throat or taking it out at school in front of my kid.

The most dipshit thing I saw was a comment asking who the hell Cesar Chavez was and the answer that came was that he was "some Mexican working for illegal alien's rights".  How much is wrong with that answer?  Well, to begin with Cesar Chavez was born in Yuma, AZ...Mexican American or, if you prefer, American.  He also served in the U.S. Navy.  He was a labor leader who helped to improve wages and conditions for farm workers, he was also a Latino American civil rights activist.  He used aggressive but nonviolent tactics.   In 1969, Chavez and members of the UFW marched through the Imperial and Coachella Valleys to the border of Mexico to protest growers' use of undocumented immigrants as strikebreakers.  So, he was quite the opposite of the description given in the uninformed answer to the question of who he was.  In the 1980's he led a boycott to stop the use of toxic pesticides on grapes.  That sounds like a damned fine thing to boycott about.  I like grapes, not so much toxic pesticides.

Cesar Chavez

So, why not recognize Cesar Chavez on his birthday?  There is a portrait of Chavez in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he was inducted into the California Hall of Fame and the U.S. Navy named the last of its Lewis and Clark-class cargo ships after him.  There are a metric shit-ton of streets, parks, buildings and monuments named for him.  In other words, he's kind of a big deal and...he was real.  I know a certain portion of the Christian population want to try to insist that everyone celebrate their days and bow to their demands.  When that doesn't happen they tend to get all butt-hurt and start whining and bitching.  They are convinced that they are being persecuted because they aren't being allowed to persecute others and make them practice Christianity.  Isn't that one of the things that Americans hold in contempt when it concerns Middle-Eastern Countries and Muslim fanaticism?  What it comes down to is this, everyone isn't Christian, get over it.  If you want to hold onto your old superstitions and folk tales that's your business.  Don't expect me to take it, I won't.  Keep your peckers and your religion to yourself and try a little harder to not be hypocrites.  Kudos to Google for doing something different and standing firm.

And he was on a stamp.  Yeah, kind of a big deal.

Friday, March 15, 2013

I haven't abandoned you

I haven't' been very active in a while but I do have a valid reason.  I just wanted to touch base to let the few select people who may check in occasionally to see what new idiotic ideas I may have come up with know that I'm still out here.  I have been involved in a couple of long-term writing projects which are currently taking up almost all my time.  Trust me, as soon as I either have some epiphany that begs to be written about on my blog or have some good progress on my other projects, I will be back, keyboard blazing.  Until then, I will be lurking around the periphery.  Now, go out, have a drink or two and stir up some shit somewhere!  Stay tuned and thanks.

Keith Browning