This is the type of shit they write Bibles about. Wildfire, pandemic, murder hornets, lynchings, protests, riots, and who knows what is next. The scale and drama of these events are so large that it is easy to imagine some ancient scribe breaking out the quill or chisel and writing about the year that God decided to smite the people. And this pious writer wouldn’t have to look very far for reasons that God would see fit to smite us. There’s greed, environmental destruction, racism, the propping up of a hateful king, and surely countless other no-no’s.

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that this is all God’s work. I’m just pointing out how easily a religious mind could turn to thinking that this is the next installment in the good book—The Newer Testament: Return of the Old Testament.

By the way, who would be the savior-figure in the newer testament? My guess is that it would be an athlete. These are the only people we speak so hyperbolically about that future generations misinterpreting the text would think that they committed actual miracles. Just think about how many times people have written or spoken about Michael Jordan ‘flying,’ or ‘walking on air,’ or ‘being suspended in air.’ There’s even a very on-the-nose quote ready for biblical publication in which Larry Bird, commenting on a great game that Michael had, says “That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there, that was God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

Anyway, I digress. The point is that I wouldn’t fault anyone for feeling like this is a biblical moment we’re living through. However the danger of that line of thinking is that it could lead to a sense of resignation. This is certainly not true for all religious people, but thinking that it is in God’s hands could lead you to think that it is out of your hands. And that is most certainly not true.

The truth is, you can change things. This truth is both a comfort and a pain. It’s a pain because it implies responsibility (yuck). It is harder to live with the knowledge that you can change things, because it means that if you see an injustice in the world that stirs your heart, you should do something about it.

And hey, I’ll be the first to admit that doing something is harder than not doing something. Frankly, I’m a huge fan of just sitting on the couch. I love the couch!

However, while it may be easier to not do anything, it most certainly is not better. Any momentary comfort you derive from resting your buns on your comfy couch, will give way to internal strife if you aren’t actually helping a cause you claim to care about.

And now let me point out the uncomfortable truth that I’m using the pronoun “you,” when I should be using “I.” When I’m talking about people caring about causes, and not doing anything about it, I’m talking often about my own behavior. Because there’s a good chance that you who are reading this have done a whole lot more than me in these past few weeks to help fight racism (internally and externally) and end the tragically frequent occurrence of police killing black people.

This is of course the cause that anyone with a heart, brain, and access to the internet currently cares about more than anything else. There’s very clearly a moment happening now, born out of righteous backlash against too many disgusting atrocities, that has the power to change our society for the better. But it will only actually change if we continuously choose to take action to change it. So how do we change it?

Well, that question is pretty much something I typed into Google. And as I’ve heard from a blunt and truthful commentator, this is basically a moment for “white people to shut the fuck up and listen.”

So in the spirit of shutting the fuck up and listening, here are some resources/people/causes I’ve found useful and enlightening:

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTc8PHROVjk

Educate: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#educate

Donate: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Act: https://8cantwait.org/

I called Bill De Blasio’s office today to urge him to enact the 8 that can’t wait in the link above and was both delighted and dismayed to find his voice-mailbox full (I sent an email instead). But well after the protests die down, and the hashtags stop trending, and Billy De-B’s answering machine clears up, there will certainly still be work to do. To me, this moment is an opportunity and an inspiration to build my civic muscles. I’ve long known that I can call or write my elected officials, but I’ve rarely done it. Again, it’s easier not to.

As you may know, I like to use this blog to commit myself to certain ridiculous resolutions (see: record a song a week for an entire year). And that’s exactly what I’m going to do now.

From this today until the end of the year (and hopefully beyond) I promise to contact an elected official at least once every week and urge them to support or oppose something I care about. We put these people in office, and if you believe in democracy, you have to believe that they will listen to our voices. Don’t give in to apathy or cynicism friends. Go do something.

“All sorts of kids playing basketball yesterday. I play basketball. There’s no concept of social distancing while playing basketball. It doesn’t exist. You can’t stay six feet away from a person playing basketball… you can, but then you’re a lousy basketball player and you’re gonna lose.”

These words were spoken early today by my state’s forthright and fearless leader Andrew Cuomo. 

He was appropriately chastising me and my fellow city dwellers for doing a pretty terrible job of avoiding dense crowds and activities that spread the virus. And he did it in a way that really hit home for me. Because if you know me, you probably know that basketball is one of the few things that I truly, selflessly love in this world. I wish I loved music as much as I love basketball, because I’d probably be a better musician if I did.

A case in point is that I spent about half an hour today thinking about why Michael Jordan stuck his tongue out whenever he was about to do something spectacular on the court. Seriously, why did he do that? The best basketball player in the history of the game would just inexplicably stick his whole tongue out in the middle of an especially intense moment. It was as if he had some basic biological connection to basketball—like dunking on Patrick Ewing was the mother’s milk he needed to survive and he was sticking out his tongue to suckle at that life giving tit.

Yes I just said that! Yes that paragraph escalated quickly! No you won’t be able to watch Michael Jordan highlights the same way anymore!

Anyway, I devoted a good deal of brain energy today to thinking about Michael Jordan’s tongue, and I haven’t played guitar at all today, so you can see where my priorities lie. That’s all to say that I appreciate Andrew Cuomo for using basketball as an example in his Covid-19 press conference today. Yet it is truly an insult to injury that in this scary, sad, uncertain moment, I (and countless others) cannot turn to one of my favorite methods of distraction and self-soothing.

Because there’s an old proverb that goes a little something like this: Ball is life. Unfortunately that truism is temporarily false.

So what do we do? What do we do when we can’t do anything fun except stay inside, eat snacks, and watch movies?

Well, we stay inside, eat snacks, and watch movies.

First things first, if you haven’t seen Jaws, go watch Jaws. Secondly, watch it again. Thirdly, call me and let’s talk about Jaws. I mean this.

Fourthly… I’d like to highly recommend the movie Heat. Normally I wouldn’t recommend watching a near 3 hour movie, but these are certainly unusual times, and I have at least 10 quick-fire reasons to watch this movie. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. This is the archetypal cops and robbers movie—you’ll see shades of Heat in nearly every bank/heist movie made after this movie.
  2. The only true Val Kilmer is a Val Kilmer with a ponytail.
  3. Although it isn’t overtly shown in the movie, Al Pacino was allegedly acting as if his character (the brilliant detective Vincent Hannah) was high on cocaine the whole time. And it is fun to watch Al Pacino pretend to be high on cocaine.
  4. Whoa! Natalie Portman at like age 14 or something.
  5. Have fun applying or arguing with the core philosophy of successful bank robber Neil McCauley (Robert Deniro): “you want to be making moves on the street, have no attachments, allow nothing to be in your life you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner.”
  6. You can try building your own cosmic yin-yang metaphor around Neil and Vincent’s relationship. Or maybe I just built it for you.
  7. Excellent cameos galore: Tone Loc, Henry Rollins, Hank Azaria…
  8. You get to listen to Bill Simmons and Chris Ryan’s very fun Rewatchables podcast about it afterwards!
  9. Enjoy harkening back to the days of the payphone.
  10. Visit gritty Los Angeles from the comfort of your own couch.

Oh hey, I also recorded a song this week. I figured out I could run a cable from my room to my back patio, so this one was mostly recorded in the open air (as you’ll hear). Also Tiny is the name of our house cat. That sentence will make sense if you make it to the end of the song.

Spring Lockdown — March 22, 2020