Musicians Acting In Movies-SiriusXM This Week

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Strange Brew

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3xacQ3C

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3x9cmKX

1

Most people had no idea who Eric Clapton was. Nor had they heard “Sunshine of Your Love,” it wasn’t until the summer of ’68 that the track crossed over from FM to AM, in an era where most markets didn’t even have an FM rock station. Yes, in the late sixties you could be hip or not. Today everybody is both hip and out of it. We know so many trends yet we don’t know others. You can lay into someone for being out of the loop, but they can give it right back to you if they dare.

So the cognoscenti knew Clapton from John Mayall’s “Blues Breakers” album. That was released in 1966, can you imagine? Nancy Sinatra’s boots were walking on AM radio, and at the end of the year the Monkees arrived on that train. But there were no hits on the John Mayall album, either you owned it and you knew it or you were completely out of the loop. Eventually, with the rise of Clapton’s fame, people discovered it, but to say Clapton was God in America in 1966 would be like saying you were, he was just that insignificant. But there was definitely something happening here, and it was only clear to a coterie of blues freaks in the U.K. and a few in the U.S., like Atlantic’s Ahmet Ertegun, who grew up with the sound. As for the American hoi polloi? Hendrix, never mind heavier blues-influenced acts, hadn’t even released a record yet, never mind gained notice.

Mayall’s group was a training ground, and Eric Clapton left to team up with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in Cream. It was not a supergroup, there was no such thing, that had to wait a couple of years until 1969 and Blind Faith, most people, certainly in the U.S., had no idea who the three players were.

And some of those who knew Clapton from Mayall’s group purchased “Fresh Cream,” which was released at the end of ’66, but the truth is the album didn’t dent the universe, it was hand sold, nearly underground, back when scenes percolated and eventually broke through, or didn’t. It was very different from today, where everybody knows everything at the same time, assuming they care, and innovation is secondary to repetition. And sure, the Beatles were rich, but most people outside Hollywood and New York, who weren’t making bubble gum music, who considered themselves musicians first and stars second, if at all, were not in it for the money, there just wasn’t that much money.

Now the truth is “Fresh Cream” is an excellent album. But the sound was just not immediate enough, in your face enough. It was thrilling to go back and listen to “N.S.U.” and “I’m So Glad” after the band broke up, but most people didn’t buy “Fresh Cream” and once the band reached stardom so many were looky-loos that they didn’t go back either. But “Disraeli Gears”…

I heard “Sunshine of Your Love” on FM radio. There were multiple stations in New York. Not only WOR, but WABC and WNEW, it was a cornucopia of choices, assuming you were hip, had an FM radio at all. But those of us who did… It definitely wasn’t about the money, there were very few ads, it was about being a member of a secret club, knowing all the deejays, having a personal relationship, talking with your buddies at school about the tracks you discovered.

And this was before I could drive. So I was dependent upon my mother taking me to the store. And she’d never make a trip just for a record, but I could ride along and comb the bins and find something and buy it while she and my sister were traveling the aisles. And one day in Barker’s in February ’68, I purchased “Disraeli Gears.”

You’ve got to know this was the era where album art was everything. If it was just a picture of the band the album wasn’t worth buying, you had to make a statement, and one could stare at “Disraeli Gears” forever, not that it was ever one of my favorite sleeves, but that’s what you did while you dropped the needle and listened.

And of course I went to track 2 first, to hear “Sunshine of Your Love” on demand in my own home, it was an indelible riff. One eventually known by everybody, still known by every boomer alive, one we played on our guitars, one we sang along to on the radio.

And the truth is my favorite track on the LP, then and now, which is a rarity, is “Tales of Brave Ulysses.” It’s dark. A descending trip below the earth’s surface to where it was only you and the band on the excursion. And Clapton’s guitar set the tone, but the truth is the track is put over the top by Jack Bruce’s vocal…rich and meaningful.

And the reality is “Disraeli Gears” is inconsistent, I’d argue the songs on “Fresh Cream” are better, but that does not mean I don’t know every lick by heart. Because owning it, you played it. Music was scarce, you got your money’s worth.

My third favorite song on “Disraeli Gears” is probably track four on the first side, “Dance the Night Away.” And that riff on “SWLABR” was indelible, not that we could ever figure out what the title stood for. But my favorite was never “Strange Brew.”

2

Saturday I was asleep. The walking dead. I don’t know, I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, I went out hiking and was in a daze. And I was worried I’d fall asleep on the drive home, but then I heard “Strange Brew.”

I could never figure out why “Sunshine of Your Love” was not the opening track, it was better, it was the hit.

But I’m driving in my car, not playing my guitar, but definitely feeling free, and I hear the lick. Normally I’d switch the channel, from Classic Vinyl to Howard or something, but this night “Strange Brew” resonated, and I’m not sure it’s ever resonated this way.

The last time I played “Disraeli Gears”? I can’t remember. I have played “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” I never play “Sunshine of Your Love,” and the truth is I push the button when I hear these old Cream tracks, they’re over fifty years old, Clapton has superseded them. But for some reason, “Strange Brew” felt like an old pair of shoes, comfortable, like running into a college buddy and getting right back in the groove, as if no time had passed.

That stinging guitar… This was before we thought of Clapton first and the playing second, it was just an intro, and then…

“Strange brew

Kill what’s inside of you”

Clapton? There was no Wikipedia back then, there were no extensive credits on the LP and supposedly Delaney Bramlett ultimately made Clapton comfortable with his voice and they recorded Eric’s solo debut, but this was long before that. Yes, I realized “Strange Brew” was sung by Clapton, and it was so weird, the opening cut, when Jack Bruce was clearly the lead singer?

“She’s a witch of trouble in electric blue

In her own mad mind she’s in love with you

With you

Now what you gonna do”

The lyrics are clear with remastering and today’s playback systems, but back then that’s not how we were listening, we had all-in-one record players with a small built-in speaker, which is one of the reasons we all graduated to component systems, we needed to get closer to the sound, but we weren’t at that point yet. So, chances are most people could not pick out the lyrics, never mind make sense of them.

“On a boat in the middle of a raging sea

She would make a scene for it all to be

Ignored

And wouldn’t you be bored”

The truth is I caught all of these lines except the second, until maybe today, meaning that I was unclear of the meaning, but the feel was everything.

And in my car, long after dark, I’m driving the curves of Sunset and I’m taken right back to 1968, it’s just that it truly seems like yesterday, like I’d played “Disraeli Gears” just the night before. The album was something I listened to alone in the dark, most of it I never heard on the radio, it was a private experience, then and now. And scraping away the history, the arc of Clapton’s rise to superstardom, the war between the band members, it just sounded like three blokes having a good time doing their best to capture their sound on wax, not a vehicle for a big publicity campaign, but just music. To the players this was not a new sound, they’d been growing up in this groove, but not the rest of us, our lives had been more AM pop.

So the track is playing and…I’m anticipating what’s to come. I’d played “Strange Brew” so much back then that it was burned into my soul, despite being a secondary cut and never my favorite. In my mind I was waiting for that closing riff, that Clapton could toss off without thinking, but almost no one else could. And when it came I was satisfied, no, elated.

3

In a matter of months everything changed. “Sunshine of Your Love” became a monstrous single and the band released the double album “Wheels of Fire” and by the fall of ’68, Cream was everywhere, kind of like Led Zeppelin with their second album two years later. “White Room” was added immediately to AM radio and this drove album sales and every wannabe or in reality stoner owned it and testified about it. It was all about the live second disc. This was the first drum solo most people had ever been exposed to, the fact that it went on for sixteen plus minutes did not take away from its coolness, people listened to it. And the second side of the second album started with “Train Time,” Jack Bruce’s workout, his starring moment, before the album switched to “Toad,” but really it was about the first live side, with “Crossroads” and “Spoonful.”

Despite being a Robert Johnson classic, most people weren’t aware of the delta blues original, this was the first time they heard the song, and Clapton’s playing here turned him into the icon he became in the mind of America. It was one thing to play Beatle songs on the guitar, quite another to be able to pull off “Crossroads.” As for the following “Spoonful,” this sound was nowhere else, this was envelope-pushing to listeners, they were suddenly exposed to the blues, an American sound, via this English group.

But Cream had already had enough. Just when everybody was coming up to speed, the band said it was going to break up, which was hard to understand, now everyone knows who you are, you’re making money, and you’re gonna give it all up?? This was before the Beatles broke up, nobody broke up, you just rode the wave until it crashed. You certainly didn’t break up because it no longer felt right. People were completely flummoxed, they couldn’t understand it, and although I saw the act at the New Haven Arena their last time through, most people missed it completely, by time they came on board it was over.

But there was a clean-up album, “Goodbye,” and the funny thing was demand was so strong that the album sold and sold and everybody knew it, even though the act was history. And yes, there were definitive live versions of “I’m So Glad” and “Politician,” but the best track on the LP was on the second, studio side, the indelible “Badge,” with L’Angelo Misterioso/George Harrison’s rhythm guitar work, and Clapton’s incredible descending solo, your head banging around in a sea of wind chimes. Clapton was truly god, he’d move on to work with Delaney & Bonnie, going on tour with the act and then forming the ill-fated Blind Faith before releasing his under-recognized solo debut in the spring of 1970, before forming Derek & the Dominos and becoming a legend with “Layla”…and other love songs.

4

And the truth now is Clapton’s fame has superseded Cream’s by a long shot. Cream was a blip on the radar screen, Eric has been through so many changes since then, even many styles, making it with quiet ballads in addition to wailing guitar solos.

But there was that Cream reunion fifteen years ago, so those who weren’t there the first time around could see the band and the drummer and bass player could be made financially whole. But by time the show got to New York, the magic was gone. Doing it on a lark is one thing, repeating it is another.

Now in 1970, “Live Cream” was released. And then two years later, “Live Cream Volume II.” You’d see them in the bins, but the hard core never bought them, they looked like a dash for cash, the past, when there was so much new music to be excited about.

But that was then and this is now.

Today, being a musician is second to being a brand. Chops? Well, they’re built on social media, as for spending years perfecting your guitar skills, very few do that. That’s not the sound people want to hear. So, strangely, it’s like it was fifty years ago, the original music, in that case delta blues, in this case Cream and English blues-rock, are hiding in plain sight, will this sound be rediscovered?

The blues never dies. There are people playing it today. But it just doesn’t square with radio and promotion paradigms, the songs are extended, they’re often sludgy and quiet, today everything has to be immediate, upbeat, up front and center.

And then I’m driving in my car and I stumble upon “Strange Brew” and I’m reminded of the magic that once was. When this business was being built. Before tickets were a hundred bucks and the acts took the lion’s share of the money, when a gold record was not 500,000 units, but $500,000. The music business was just growing out of its sideshow status. But music was where it was all happening, where limits were being tested, and you had to listen if you wanted to know which way the wind blew, and that was very important back then.

But we’ve been through so many changes since then. Corporate rock. Disco. MTV. Grunge. Hip-hop… Cream is ancient history. But the funny thing is the records haven’t changed, and since they weren’t made to fit in, they still stand out today, there’s nothing else quite like them. Strange brew indeed!

The Oscars

This is what happens when money supersedes art.

The problem with the film business is it doesn’t realize time has already passed it by, that the paradigm it claims to operate under has expired.

This is a business story. Smart business people get ahead of the audience. That’s the wisdom of Spotify…give people what they don’t even understand and then drive them to it, converting them and making them smile along the way. Believe me, the audience loves music streaming, subscriber numbers keep going up as do the revenues of the rights holders.

Not that music is the correct paradigm when it comes to art.

The goal in music is to become a brand. To sell, sell, sell, as if tomorrow never comes. But it does.

We have a crisis of credibility in this country. And it starts at the top and goes all the way down. Yes, the elected officials lie, to the point where no one believes anybody, and then the hoi polloi follow in their wake.

In the late sixties and seventies you went to the movies to find out what was happening. The same way you listened to the radio. Both of those models expired. “Jaws” and “Star Wars” killed the movie business. It became about opportunity cost. Why bother making a ten million dollar flick that might gross thirty million when you could invest a hundred million and make a billion! They’ve got a machine, and it’s not built for bunts, but home runs. And that became the film busines, home runs.

Not that the filmmakers themselves wanted to admit this. Which is why every year films are nominated that few have seen. They don’t want to admit they’re purveying mindless crap. Furthermore, a lot of what is labeled great is not. Have you seen “Mank”? Good look, not much there. But with enough publicity and advertising Netflix has swayed the minds of the ancient Academy members, who don’t want to be unique, they’re the ultimate herd animals, Harvey Weinstein started this paradigm, and look where it took him.

As for “musicians”… Told by their more experienced handlers that selling out has no negative effects, they do this constantly. Never mind the sponsorships, the products, even music related merch is way over the top. One act has put out seventeen versions of the same album!

“Superfans’ Message to Taylor Swift, BTS and Other Music Superstars” Enough With the Deluxe Albums and Pricey Merch”: https://on.wsj.com/3dtiTIE

But no one can say no in today’s marketplace, if it generates a dollar…LET’S DO IT!

But not the fans in the above article, they’ve reached their limit, they feel ripped off.

So, the problem with the Oscars is it used to be a celebration of the world’s number one art form and those involved in the making thereof. First and foremost, movies are far from the world’s number one art form today. At best it’s television, but really it’s about individuals online, from YouTube to TikTok to Instagram…. I know, I know, if you’re over fifty you pooh-pooh these platforms, but that just demonstrates you’re out of the loop!

You see the ethos of creations online are about identity first, money second. Come on, those cosmetic queens raking in all the bucks? It’s their personality that drives their success. Same deal with all of the successful “influencers”…they’re selling themselves, and what you see is what you get. Sure, there are people falsely burnishing their images, but the audience is aware of this, and they are negatively impacted by this. But all this is to say that we used to look up to actors, now we don’t at all. They play a role. When they go online…they’re two-dimensional, oftentimes out of touch, no one cares what they’ve got to say, they’re empty vessels. As for what they wear? They’re mannequins for designers!

If you looked at the news today, you were flooded with stories about the expectation of horribly low Oscar ratings. And that’s the truth, but no one inside seems to address why. Never mind changing. Not to mention that when you put the political cart in front of the horse, you lose people’s attention. Should there be more people of color involved in filmmaking? Of course, but when that story supersedes the films themselves the audience shrugs and moves on. One could also chastise the Academy for not taking preemptive action, but that’s the issue here to begin with…how do you give out awards and have people care?

One thing about movies…they’re a lousy viewing experience. I know, I know, you love the movies, but today…visual entertainment is all about long form story, that’s what resonates. In a world of hit and run, with too much incoming, people want to dig deep. A film is ninety minutes or two hours, that’s just not long enough. It’s one date, when the audience is looking for a relationship. And the studios know this, they’re all making TV series, but the Academy and its members? They’re completely blind, operating under the specious axiom that today’s generation has a short attention span. No, they’ve just got an incredible shit detector! This is what on demand culture delivers, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to experience it. As for telling someone they need to invest the time, they don’t trust a single purveyor, they wait to hear it from their friends. And the purveyors don’t even understand word of mouth, dripping out TV episodes week by week. Give the film business credit for realizing this is a flawed method of distribution. The movie business used to platform their flicks, rolling them out over time. Now they dump thousands of prints the first weekend, hoping to get the audience caught up in the excitement before it moves on. A month later? Almost no flick generates that kind of interest/heat. You only get one bite at the apple these days, make it a big one, open your mouth wide and take a chunk.

So if we go back to the Oscars, and why the ratings will tank…

Everyone hates commercials.

If anything worth seeing happens you’ll find out later online and watch it online.

The show experience sucks. Three plus half hours wasting your time.

Of course there are solutions to all these problems, they just don’t come with a big advance check from NBC.

YouTube could sponsor Best Picture. Yup, make it a fifteen minute show, which will play forever online and continue to generate revenue.

Not only do you use the modern methods online, you create new ones…but instead we see the same damn television show every year. Come on, is anybody gonna really sit through the songs without switching the channel? At this point they’re almost never hits.

And the Oscars is a club that the public can’t join, and that means people reject it. You’ve got to make people feel like they belong today, that they own it, or they’re out.

As for the non-comic book movies, the foreign jobs, the indies, only boomers go to see them, they’re the only ones who remember when films meant something, when they said something, when they pushed the envelope. Youngsters don’t even have this habit! Never mind the price is insane. Come on, ten to fifteen dollars for one good song on a CD… As soon as the public got a chance to just get the one they wanted, albums crashed, whether it be via Napster, iTunes or Spotify. Fifteen bucks for a movie? It’d better be an extravaganza, otherwise it’s seen as a rip-off.

So Hollywood sells extravaganzas and wants us to focus on the small pictures… Huh?

And it’s true, younger generations will go to see the extravaganzas in theatres, it’s a tribal rite, with their friends, away from their parents. As for the parents… I haven’t had one person tell me they saw a movie in a theatre that I must see in YEARS! Most boomers don’t go to the movie theatre at all. So why would you expect them to tune into the Oscar telecast?

Yes, it’s positively stunning that twenty years after Napster, the Academy still believes nothing has changed. Same damn categories, same damn three plus hour show. The only people who consume that way are the boomers who haven’t seen the movies to begin with, so they don’t really care, as for the youngsters? They never cared, never mind there being a new awards show every two weeks with none of the trophies having gravitas.

Yes, that’s the irony, we tell everybody that it’s all about money, but one night a year we’re supposed to believe it’s about art. Once again, HUH? That’s kind of like telling Democrats to trust Trump on one specific night, that he’s gonna tone down the rhetoric and speak truth…THEY’D NEVER BELIEVE IT!

As for the canard that people are tuning out because of politics… Don’t cower to the misinformation. This is what they want, for you to be quiet and stay out of the fray. Didn’t hurt ratings when Marlon Brando did it, nor Michael Moore, why should it now? Then again, those two were seen as thinkers… Today’s winners? Not so much. As evidenced by the classic Gal Gadot “Imagine” video… If you fly private and live behind a gate and are busy being fabulous hanging at bars and restaurants and vacationing on islands how in the hell would you know what resonates with the public at large…YOU DON’T!

So, of course you can appeal to hedonism, whiz-bang, which is what superhero movies are. But there’s no hedonism in the Oscar telecast. And all these smiling faces have been revealed to be heinous under the skin, whether it be Ellen DeGeneres or Scott Rudin. Yes, scratch someone in Hollywood and you’ll find out they’re a phony.

If you want hearts and minds, a great film by the way, today you must be honest and credible and erudite. You need a college degree to get a job as a receptionist, as for the high school dropouts in flicks, why should we respect them? And inherently, actors fall to the bottom, because they’re playing a role. Hell, look at Dave Chappelle…he’s always talking as himself tackling the big issues, it’s a far cry from Alan King.

Biden wakes up and the Academy is asleep?

Biden learned that the Republicans don’t want to negotiate, that bipartisanship is a joke. So, he legislates without them and the public loves the results! Don’t talk to me about the next election, it takes a long time to turn the ship around, but that does not mean you shouldn’t start. The usual suspect generals tell Biden we must stay in Afghanistan, but he says no. Biden is not in a bubble, he sees the story from the outside.

Not that Joe is perfect, but he wasn’t my candidate and now I love him, makes me wonder if Warren or Sanders could have even made this much headway. You start by leading, as opposed to bitching that your cheese has been moved. Everything is up for grabs, and if it’s not, you’re gonna be history.

The Oscars are like tech. What you did yesterday doesn’t count, it’s all about today. As for the king of tech, Steve Jobs, he was famous for being ahead of the curve.. Scrapping everything but USB ports…and Apple got rid of the iPhone headphone jack a couple of years back. The oldsters bitched! But everybody adjusted, because the truth is Bluetooth rules. Come on, the same people who complained about the lack of a headphone jack are the same ones who now rush to buy the latest iteration of AirPods. As for Apple’s competitors, they all jettisoned the headphone jack too!

But where is the Academy and its Oscars leading? I can’t think of one damn avenue. As for reinventing the show, like Ben Winston did with the Grammys, the problem isn’t so much what is on screen, but the whole enterprise!

Come on, do you think most people want to watch these self-congratulatory mercenary wanker “musicians”? It’s not the sixties, most people have never even heard their music. As for the noise from their stans… IGNORE IT! That’s the modern paradigm, if people are hating on you you’re doing it right, they’ve got so much other stuff to hate, and if you can’t take the slings and arrows, get out of the job. Meanwhile, actors keep crossing the line and then apologizing and going to rehab. Where in the real world does that work, where the average citizen can’t even afford rehab! And it seems there’s rehab for everything these days, do dogs and cats go to Betty Ford for a month if they poo inside? It’s laughable, no one believes it. And Hollywood is so busy crying foul on each other that the game is more interesting than the movies, it’s hysterical how blind the talent is. Musicians know that everybody has a camera, so they curb their behavior on the road, they don’t act like they did in the pre-internet era. But somehow Hollywood thinks it’s immune? Talk about being in a bubble!

So there’s a lot to complain about.

But here we’re looking for solutions. Gradual change is out the window, especially when you’re decades behind. The Grammys hire a woman and then bitch she moved too fast. Tell that to a woman in regular life, the blowback will leave you scorched. Finally women have someone to identify with in the Grammy game, and they disrespect and fire her, and make up bogus offenses to bolster their case, not much different from telling a woman she deserves to be raped because of the clothes she wears, or that it’s her word versus her boss’s, and therefore the boss stays.

Entertainment used to be a leader, now it’s a follower. Come on, not only did the record companies miss Napster, the movie studios missed Netflix! They didn’t create it, and then made so much money licensing to the outfit that they built it into a juggernaut. Then again, no one in Hollywood is an owner anymore, they’re just short-termers looking to make their bonus. That’s a recipe for disaster. Which is what we have!

There are only twenty four hours in a day, and we’re all overloaded with stimulation choices. You must prove your worth, and then earn it every damn day.

And you don’t earn it in the newspaper. Come on, who doesn’t laugh at all those full page ads in the New York and Los Angeles “Times” at this time of year? What a waste of money. It’s a circle jerk, and we know!

For far too long those in entertainment have been overpaid for the amount of capital they generate, have been self-anointed stars, and then the curtain was lifted and everybody saw the truth yet these emperors believe they’re still wearing clothes.

They’re not!

Mass Shootings

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Fifty-odd years ago there was a rash of airplane hijackings. Taking a plane to Cuba was a regular thing, you almost thought 707s were personal Ubers. But then strict security measures were enforced at airports. Suddenly there was screening for metal, i.e. guns, and not only could passengers not walk straight from the parking lot to the gate, their friends and families couldn’t either. Yes, that was a regular feature, you’d walk off the jetway and there your loved ones would be, smiling, ready to walk you out of the airport to the car. If you were a regular flier…you could arrive at the gate mere minutes before they shut the door and the plane took off. It was so much easier! But then those damn hijackers ruined it for everyone.

If the same thing happened today, if people were hijacking planes and we didn’t have layers of security, there would be an outcry at the institution of any screening, it would impinge upon people’s liberty and freedom. As for a solution to the problem, pilots would all be told to strap on guns. And if that didn’t work, then the passengers. After all, one has a right to get on the plane without personal intrusion, and if it affects the well-being of others, so be it.

Fascinatingly, twenty years ago this same swath of the public was willing to give up so many rights in the effort to fight terrorism. No liquids or blades on the plane. Sure, you could bring small containers, but even at this late date it’s always fascinating to look in the garbage cans at both ends of the security screening apparatus. They’re filled with contraband. Some are too stupid, some are uninformed, some just forget…but shouldn’t they be protected, why do they have to throw this stuff out?

This is America today. We are not a homogenous society under one president, we’re not even an homogenous society under one flag! We are not all in it together, we’re all out for ourselves. It’s caveat emptor through and through, you don’t deserve welfare and if you want to be rich pull yourself up by your bootstraps you lazy S.O.B. But if you’re going to have a disabled kid, it’s your responsibility, life is precious, it must not be snuffed.

As for mental health…

Let’s start with opportunity, jobs. You have to go to college today to get a high-paying job, a reasonable job, forget what you learn there, it’s a litmus test. God forbid you don’t have a high school degree, you’re a nonentity. Used to be you could make bucks as a blue collar worker, but now you have to run around like a rat in the Amazon warehouse, afraid of unionizing for fear Jeff Bezos will come and crush your job, while the enterprise makes you watch anti-union videos, legal under the law, because America runs on corporations, and if they’re not given welfare, how is the money supposed to trickle down to you, the rank and file?

This is not the way it used to be.

But this is the way it is now.

I’m not saying it used to be perfect, but LBJ had a war on poverty, and one can debate whether there’s less poverty today, but one thing’s for sure, no one cares about the poor, you’re the scourge of society, and if you’re doing dope good riddance. Yes, there wasn’t an opioid problem until the scions of the wealthy started to drop.

This streak of “rugged individuality” appeared in westerns, but hadn’t been the everyday life of U.S. citizens since the 1800s. But it’s back now. You need your freedom, the freedom not to get a vaccine. Back in that same era, actually about a decade before the airplane hijackings, we all lined up in school to take a plastic spoonful of polio vaccine. That couldn’t happen today. Ironically, both the extreme right and the extreme left would be up in arms. Both would distrust the government, both would question the safety and efficacy of the drug, and both would rely on bogus information to support their case. We used to agree on the facts, which were reasonable. But believing in Q and being in Congress? Impossible!

So what do we do now?

First and foremost, we ignore the ignorant. For far too long, we’ve been playing to their sensitivities, we’ve been afraid of offending them. Not only on a governmental level, but on a personal one too. Obama kowtowed to Republicans who wouldn’t work with him no matter what. And you were told you must not talk politics, you might offend someone.

But today, Biden has called foul on this governmental strategy. And Joe is supported by more than half the country, he was elected by a margin of ten million votes, his approval rating is 59% as of this writing. But those on the other side not only can’t accept this, they don’t believe it!

The sides are sliding further apart. And they must come together, falsehoods, misinformation, inanities must be quashed and eliminated.

You can’t appease anyone anymore. They’re dug into their position. Why respect one based on falsehoods. Never mind a stacked Supreme Court that believes if you’re gathering under religion, somehow Covid-19 knows and you’re immune, and therefore this behavior is protected, never mind that choir that got infected.

We’ve got to start laying down the law.

You want to fly on an airplane? You’ve got to be vaccinated. Just like with guns. We’re not saying we’re taking away your guns, we’re just saying you can’t fly with them, it’s your choice.

Same deal with going into public spaces. Concerts, even grocery stores. It’s for the common good, for all our health. And why is it you believe in individual freedom but are depending upon the rest of the population to achieve herd immunity so you don’t have to get a vaccine, for either Covid-19 or measles? We’ve got to stop accommodating the crazies.

As for guns…

They must have security features. Forget being able to defend your home, statistics tell us you shoot innocent people, never mind yourself. And if guns are in your home, they must be locked up. Tell me again why an unlocked, unprotected gun is necessary in your home? So your kid can play with it and shoot his brother or sister?

And we need background checks and high penalties and…

A governmental safety net, so if you lose your job you can survive. Lose your gig and you lose not only your salary, but your health insurance! If we had national health care, fewer would shoot up workplaces.

And these independent insurance companies should be forced to pay for mental health care, which even if the law says they should don’t, or limit.

But we must attack guns at the source.

Let’s start with the Second Amendment. Even if one could interpret it as the right to defend oneself against a militia…we don’t fight wars that way anymore. You can’t overthrow a government today with personal firearms. The key to victory today is computers. And every adult American has a smartphone. Sure, you can keep your smartphone, but you can’t use your gun to defend yourself.

Change the Second Amendment first. Make it clear. Don’t tell me it can’t be done, think big, put it in the national discussion. Think of the leaders in Silicon Valley, they don’t say it can’t be done. And isn’t it funny that we’re using Elon Musk’s rockets to go back to the moon. We used to rely on the government, but for forty years the government has been excoriated, but when there’s a national disaster, everybody’s got their hands out.

But truly, this isn’t about guns, this is about Americans. They’ve been sold a bill of goods. They’ve been told everyone can be rich and famous even though taxes are low and the school sucks. They’ve been told that praying will solve problems. They’ve been told that unless they blindly dig in their heels they’ll lose something dear. They’re so afraid of losing something that they abhor change, in every walk of life. You’re scared you’re gonna lose out in the future. And if you do, it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s like everybody wants to go back to the pre-seatbelt, pre-airbag days, after all it’s expensive and uncomfortable, shouldn’t you have a choice?

No you should not! It’s the same deal with motorcycle helmets, you may not want to wear one, but if you crash we’re the ones picking up the tab for not only your medical bills, but possibly for welfare in the future when you can’t work.

Furthermore, we can’t even hold the culprits accountable. We can have hearings over social media, but we’re told the companies are self-policing. There can be no restrictions. But then what they say can’t be done is, like technology to flag copyright infringement. They kick Trump off of Twitter and calm returns. You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre, why can you do so on the internet? Never mind the bankers who blow up the economy and get away without going to jail. Have an air-freshener hanging from your rearview mirror and you might not only end up in jail, you might end up dead, because the rules are different for the rich and the poor, never mind people of color.

Just like with JFK in the sixties, we need to think big. We need moon shot goals. We need to point everybody at the same target. And we must trust government to get things done and government must try to get things done. We should have a ten point list, and then we should do our best to achieve it. And since no one can agree on anything these days, it must come from the individual, one in power.

Come on, how about the elimination of false information on the internet. Why do you need the right to spread bogus info?

Same deal with guns in public. Enough with the hogwash about needing to defend yourself, if anything you’ve got the cops, which these same people laud, so anxious and trigger-happy that they’re shooting innocent people.

Right now there’s no control in America. Things are pretty good in California, both economically and virus-wise, but not quite half the population demonizes the Golden State because…exactly why? No one is forcing anyone to move here, and so much of the technological breakthroughs originate here. And California drives the economy of the nation. What’s the problem here again?

Big problems demand big solutions, end zone passes. How many people are complaining they can’t bypass security at the airport? None. How many people are gonna bitch when everybody is vaccinated and Covid-19 is eradicated? None. People have short attention spans. Deliver success and they forget about their complaints.

But we must take action. We must stop wringing our hands and saying problems are unsolvable, we must stop letting the tail wag the dog. Freedom is being alive and able to live without fear, not being able to do what you want to 24/7 irrelevant of your fellow citizens.

We can make progress. It all depends on leaders, who speak truth, who refuse to worry about naysayers, and are just concerned with doing what is right.

But too many Americans are focused on what is wrong. They’re right, you’re wrong. Really? There can’t be any consensus? Right now we live in a Tower of Babel society, driven by the internet. And nobody with any power seems to realize this. We’ve lost control. We must use all available tools to bring control back. Otherwise, we’re going to lose not only lives, but our nation. I’m willing to sacrifice for the common good, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!