Archive for the ‘Blog Entries’ Category

Memorial Day 2016

Monday, May 30th, 2016

I humbly beg your pardon if I don’t open my greeting for such a holy day as this with wishing you a ‘Happy’ Memorial Day.

Even those with the greatest gratitude for returning home after serving their nation don’t hold much about days like this as happy.

For too many people this is a day to BBQ, and get an amazing discount on a mattress, new car, or big screen TV. It is the beginning of summer, and a great reason to enjoy a long weekend.

And those who served along side those who fell – they look at us and just wish we would honor their brothers & sisters who will never have another cookout, never buy another car, never see another game on a new TV. They will never have a long weekend, never hear their children laugh in the summer. They will never collapse with their lover on a new mattress.

They will never see another amazing discount.

In 1967 the United States declared by Federal Law that ‘Decoration Day’ was now officially Memorial Day.

And then they sent my father to war.

My father taught me that I can love my country even when I don’t love my government. I can love my flag even when its principles are being abused by villains. And I can love my soldiers regardless of what I feel about the battles they have been sent to serve in.

I had the honor of being raised by an honorable veteran, and I share a classroom with a few great ones as well.

My father asked me once when I was a teenager, that anytime I find myself in Washington D.C. – please be sure to spend some time at The Wall.  I must have been in my very early 20’s when I finally found myself there for a day. My friend Steve and I walked up to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the 246 feet 9 inches long, 10 foot high Wall just looked back at me with the eyes of some 58,191 men. Their names inspired a thought I had never had in my life.

Somewhere on this wall, among these 58,191 names – are men my father knew.

Men he lived with, laughed with, drank with, ate with, trained with. Men he counted on. Men he trusted, men who trusted him.

Men he saw alive one day, and gone the next.

It messes me up every single time I talk about it.

As I have gotten older I have only known more vets. And so my compassion for their brothers and sisters who’ve died in service to our nation has only grown.

That day in DC my friend and I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. My particular intention was for those men on that Wall that never saw another sunset or traffic jam.

I implore you all to find time to honor our fallen, in whatever manner is most sacred to you.

 “When a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolically bring the past and present together.”

May they come together today.

B

 

 

ΩΑ

 

You Want Everything For Free…

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Interesting use of rhetoric.

The problem isn’t what I want. The problem is that people can no longer tell the difference between hyperbole, rhetorical devices, sound logic, off the cuff comments, and excellent arguments. They also confuse a well spoken argument with proving a case.

I have listened to people (usually angry conservatives) yell for many years about how people want everything for free.

“I work hard for what I have, I make an ok living busting my ass and you want everything handed to you.”

I have no doubt that there are lazy freeloaders in this world and I have no interest in defending them. I do find it curious however that in all of the rage my conservative friends & family like to express you never hear words like, “You assholes feel like you need to make an obscene profit on everything. You want everything to get you richer, no matter who it hurts, no matter what the consequences.”

I’m not an economist, have no education in poli-sci, and wouldn’t know the first thing about running a country. Except this – as a citizen of the United States I have an ownership share in one of the largest corporations on Earth.

I don’t want everything for free. I want a good deal for my money. Americans all too often have no idea how price gouged they are on everything from education to water. We spend too much on cell phone plans, military, healthy food, rent, and a dozen other things.

I was raised by a small business owner, who was raised by a small business owner. In fact my father worked for a large global company and ran his company (we don’t take a lot of days off in my family).

I’ve been working since I was 10. I never got an allowance, and for most of my life I held 2-3 jobs at the same time. Don’t tell me that I want everything for free. I want a great deal.

If corporations have taught me one thing it is that there are more ways of handling affairs than the the simple cash & carry of the common man. Corporations get TONS of things for free, and they make billions in the process. They get more than a great deal. They get damn near everything. And I wouldn’t mind except damn near everything isn’t enough. They are committed to hoarding wealth and power while destroying the very population that hands them their money.

Want proof? Look it up. I’m not writing a thesis. Plenty have already been written and if any of this is news – shame on you.

My point is this.

I want a better return for my taxes than what I have been getting for most of my life. That’s it. I want a better return on my investments than what I have been getting as well. I don’t care what you think of one political candidate or another. Only one has been constantly speaking about this issue, and by now you know who that is.

We have been worshipping wealth in America for so long it astounds me. We enjoy paying people to be rich and I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t like that job. We help them get elected, sell records, and as long as they make us laugh a little, cry when needed, or ‘Wow!’ us now and again they can have it all. We’d rather hate on the oppressed than vehemently insist on justice from the oppressors.

We don’t insist on a system that works. We just insist on a good sales pitch, and someone to despise.

I’m not turning this around today.

This isn’t going to get wrapped up nicely so you can close your computer and feel inspired. I’d rather you feel a little sick for a moment.

Our world is a fucking mess and the Muslims didn’t do it. The gays didn’t do it. The atheists didn’t do it.

You did.

I did.

We all have our hands dirty on this one.

Stop listening to clever marketing and talk to people who disagree with you. And don’t stop until you get good at it. Keep talking until you can learn how to disagree like an adult with a brain, even when what they say drives you crazy. Learn to love people you can’t stand, sift for gold in the muck they insist is worth saying.

If you are already good at this, find someone to teach it to.

You’ve already been inspired, you’ve had a few pints of feel good and now we all need a shot of shut the fuck up.

Including me. Right now.

B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long Time Coming…

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Anyone who reads my blog with any kind of regularity has noticed that I haven’t posted anything at all in quite a while. I could give you a list of reasons; ranging from my workload at university (which is rather intense), my research and continued work on my first book (which is rather awesome), and my flat out exhaustion from living full throttle for the last 3 years in another country (which is both rather intense and awesome).

My blogs have come with less frequency mostly because I have been deep in the work my blogs have always addressed, namely the training and development of making an impact in the World.

For the record, I always hated the way statements like that sounded.

People who were committed to making a difference in the world usually got on my nerves. They seemed smug, self-righteous, and obsessed with wearing oval glasses. They lacked humor, and often became a real drag to be around.

Such people never inspired much in me, except perhaps rebellion. I threw myself into entertainment and rock n roll ambitions not only to lash out at the pansy-assed intellectual snobbery that infected every block of New York City, but also as a personal reaction to my own cynicism. I held in my heart a deep resentment towards the idea that making a difference in the world was even possible.

I’m not sure why it bothered me so much. I just remember that in those years my life was fueled by a certainty that nothing was ever going to make much difference in our world and therefore we may as well have all of the fun we can until we go up in smoke.  So every do-gooder, save the whales, save the trees, save your soul asshole I met usually met my harsh mouth.

*sigh

You get a lot of license to be a prick when you play in rock n roll bands.

That all changed for me in time. I can’t say why it changed, and I certainly didn’t want it to. I just grew and saw new things. I’m not always thrilled with the man I was in my 20’s. You could say Life called me out on a mountain of my own bullshit, and I’m a better person for it.

In fact this journey that I have been on for a few years has had me so engrossed in making a difference that I haven’t played a single show in 4 years.  That has never happened and it ends now. Tomorrow night, Blitch & The Bad Americans make our debut right here in Rome in a grand venue called Sinister Noise. If you are anywhere in the Lazio region, (which only a few hundred of my readers are) you are invited to come down and go insane for a night.

I’ve made several promises to blog on a daily or weekly basis and I have failed to keep my word.  I really don’t know what to say about that.

I enjoy writing these, and people enjoy reading them.  None of the excuses I have for failing to write add up to much when the end result is a dead website. So I will keep that in mind while I bust my ass in grad school.

Let’s get crazy tomorrow night, Saturday Nov 7th here in Rome and show Italy how to rock n roll.

And if you manage to save either some whales or my soul in the process I’ll buy you a drink.

Love,

B

My Parents Only Lied Once…

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

They meant well.

Considering how straight they had both lived thoughout their lives my friends and I must have scared the hell out of them. I was a rebellious child, fascinated with things that caused them great alarm. I was almost the photo negative of my remarkably well behaved older brother. If he wore the white hat, I chased down the black. His friends were honor students. Mine were delinquents.

Growing up I saw my parents as honest people. They worked hard, told the truth and lived with 1950’s ethics inside a 80’s quasi-Babylon. They didn’t cheat on their taxes, swing with the neighbors, or even live above their means. None of the ‘me-decade’ seemed to rub off on them.

I can’t explain where my selfish, blind to consequences behavior stemmed from. Why I was turned on by risk while raised to be satisfied with safety is a mystery. And over the years, my parents were relentless in telling me the truth. About life, politics, sex, money, and certainly about the predictable end to the company I kept.

“You’re going to follow those creeps right down the tubes!”

To be fair, many of my friends were in fact creeps. They lied to each other, got high, cheated on their girlfriends, sold drugs, stole shit, and led all- around dangerous lives for kids in the farm country.

I had every reason to take that warning as the truth.

I realized a few years ago why such a warning made no difference to me. And why I consider it the only lie they ever told me.

I went down first.

Out of all of those jerks I hung out with, I hit the bottom before they did. If they had gone down before me I would have had a warning, some kind of sign that the end was near. That wasn’t how it worked out. They went off to college, trade school, careers, and big guy toys.  I didn’t follow them anywhere.

I hit a wall at 19 while they started hitting it big. I went down the tubes alone, and they scored.

I got my shit together, and moved on. I turned my life around – I have no regrets. I put the cork in the bottle and quit getting high, stopped stealing & lying, went back to school and learned to enjoy working 3 jobs. Most of those friends I had turned out ok. More or less a version of the classic American Dream, with all of the emptiness and cynicism that has us both question where the grass is greener from time to time.

They admire my sense of adventure, and what I’ve been able to live inside of my dreams. How I’ve seen the world, and been through things they only hear about in the movies.

I envy them for actually having green grass.

My parents told me the truth as far as they could see it. They were worried about who I was hanging out with and what was likely to go come from it. I, on he other hand, had been worried my whole life that no matter what I did, Life would never turn out. My anxiety that I would never ‘make it’ at anything was the backdrop I lived my years against. Living the way I did in my childhood helped soothe my nerves a bit, even if it drove my family crazy.

I’d love to tell you that the anxiety has gone completely. It hasn’t. I’ve learned to live with it, and use it to create music, art, and compassion. I look into the hearts of the people I deal with and see how many of us are scared to death that life will never really “turn out”.  That our relationship, our job, our nation, even life itself is heading down the tubes. Our fear that our world will hit a wall, our society will crumble, our economy will collapse isn’t really all that strange.

Or will it be worse than that?

We tend to think in terms and scenarios that make for great Hollywood fiction. Maybe it will be less worthy of a blockbuster and more like what we are already afraid to tell the truth about. That life will ‘continue on in this petty pace to the last syllable of recorded time’. That we will be just sitting in a middle aged- suburban part of the universe living in a dead end career, walking through the motions, buying our lives from Wal-Mart, and all the while telling ourselves that it’s better than jail. Maybe the great cataclysm  isn’t coming to save us from our boredom.

Perhaps we are all waiting for the world to go down the tubes first, so we have a warning.

B


And Then There Were 2…

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Sitting alone in an empty room in a old church that looks more like a castle from the outside.

My tea kettle sits next to my coffee pot, next to my dish for my rings, my watch, my keys.

Candles burn, incense smolders and there in the sometimes cold, sometimes not- I sit at my desk and write, read, study, and work out some of the dangers that await me in my last 2 exams. The hardest to prepare for, and by now the ability to be worried has left me. Replaced by a drive to know something useful, something blessed, something sacred, or just something beautiful.

Why do we do it? What do we gain by subjecting ourselves to rigorous scholarship, studying the mysteries of the Divine, learning how to argue better while yelling about how much peace we wish to create.

Why leave family and friends, put careers on hold, travel to a faraway land and pound brains into books, books into brains, – standing for possibilities many people have abandoned?

How long will you be gone? Where will this lead?

Hmmm.

I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m right here. This will not lead to anything. I will. My career isn’t on hold, it’s growing into a vocation. My family came from this far away land, and my some of my friends have even dropped in.

As for the books and the brains… I have a shelf full of some and a head full of the other and when I put them together, sweat it out and just do the damn work something happens that wasn’t just going to happen on its own.

The last 2 weeks have been a pleasure, a pain, a trial, and always a blessing. 5 exams down, 2 more to go. Not a single grade has been posted, and my checking 6 times a day doesn’t speed it along any.

I have to say- I love this. I love every minute of being here in Rome, being at this incredible university, and working my ass off in an entirely new way. I don’t like every minute, and I have a hard time often… and still, overall, it’s one of the most incredible experiences I have ever created.

I’m worn out, and still excited. I am tired and still eager. This is hard work for me, and I have wanted to give up, cash out, and go home. And I am still here.

I feel taxed, challenged, pushed, and on a few occasions positive that this is a game I just can’t win. I’m just not smart enough, disciplined enough, or made of the stuff that graduates are made of. I have too much doubt, too little ambition, and a nagging voice in my head telling me that I’m delusional.

And I’m still here.

You might be up against it today. You might be fighting for your life, for your dreams, for your passion. It seems like you can’t win, or even play much longer.

Join me. Stay in the game. Get back up, and do the next thing. Just get back to work and make one thing happen. When that’s done, do another. Big or small – I don’t care. If your heart is in your work, and your following your life’s purpose then you have permission to doubt yourself if you must, and then get over it and back to work.

Actions lead to achievements, and then to victory.

We just reinvented Monday.

B

Countdown…

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

My first round of final exams begin in the morning. 4 in the first week, and 7 all together by the time mid February rolls about.

This semester has been one of the hardest yet. For the last 2 1/2 years I have put my brain on the line and killed myself in philosophy. Now matters of the divine sciences beckon me at the graduate level to comprehend ancient texts, and understand the methods scholars use to study them. Other professors have us grappling with mysteries that have no final answer other than holding them as sacred, watching cults rise from persecution to official religion, wrapping our heads around tradition, revelation, and causality – and sometimes just beating us to death with Greek.

No matter what happens in these exams I know that I busted my ass to get here, and worked like mad for the last few months.

Other than that I have nothing new to say.

Since October all I’ve been studying is the old. The ancient. Archaic. The Beginning.

My life has often felt like 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. Now I’ve made it further than ever just to go 3000 years back. Or more… it depends who you ask.

Anyway,

I’m thrilled to be here. Working on an idea. In the ring. Round after round.

Enjoy Sunday.

B

Erased From Existence…

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Some asshole flagged me to Facebook, and my account has been blocked. There is odd feeling when you are removed from the one major platform online. It’s as if you don’t exist.

100 pix, and my main line of communication to the world outside of Italy – gone in a flash, because some prick thinks he/she knows how the internet should be run.

Fuck you.

I’m not alone. A lot of people have been locked out of Facebook for using a name other than the one that appears on their birth certificate. If that’s the way it is, fine. I’ll say good bye and party like it’s 1999.

Blitch 66/Sixsix is the only name I use in life, and that is what they want. They want the name you use in real life. Unless you are my Dad, or a judge, get over it.  I don’t need to show you shit.

In other news…

I went skiing a few days ago. 1st time in almost 20 years. It was awesome.

I’ve been studying my ass off for final exams, and it was the perfect end to a well needed holiday break. I spent the day with a good friend on a big freezing mountain trying to avoid Italians who like to stop in the middle of a hill and talk about God-knows-what.

A few tumbles, some bruises, and overall an amazing time. Abruzzo is beautiful.

Ok – back to studying Greek, and 6 other impossible classes.

Happy New Year – you are more beautiful than anyone has told you in a while… even if they did.

I love you.

Blitch

A Year Long Thanksgiving…

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Somewhere in the last 4 1/2 years of writing this blog I started editing it. I began with an honest stream of consciousness immediate report that people loved and it evolved into something else. I started acting like a writer. That part was fine. The part that bothers me are the absences in-between blogs because I’m either too busy, too angry, or just too damn exhausted. I begin to wonder if anybody cares. Whether or not anyone is listening. I get caught up in other totally worthwhile projects, and I forsake the one line of communication I have with the world that allows me more than 150 characters and operates independently of cute kitten memes, cynical wisdom postcards, or celebrity behavior tirades.

It seems my readers click in just to hear what I have to say about whatever I choose to talk about that day.

I’ve been a bit absent especially on the holidays where I’ve posted before. I feel like I’ve said what I have to say, repeated it a few times and it will either stick or it won’t. However given the remarkable trend of people sharing gratitude challenges on social media I find that chiming in on Thanksgiving is fitting. Yes, it was days ago. So why bring it up now?

Because being thankful for what I have shouldn’t wait for a day off. Expressing how important people are to me need not be saved for a holiday. Don’t get me wrong. I happen to love Thanksgiving. I grew up in a wonderful family, and this was one of our biggest holidays. Family, dinner, cousins, aunts & uncles, hearing about what’s wrong with the world and what’s awesome about our vacations. It was a day to do more than think about the blessings in my life. It was a day to sit and laugh with them.

I’m editing again. I’ve followed that last line up with half a dozen zingers because I don’t know how to just say that I wish holidays were more of an anchor to the values they celebrate than the one day in a year in which it’s ok to actually have them and be loud about it.

We save our charitable love for Christmas, our love of trees for Arbor Day, and our romantic genius for Valentine’s. We wait until Veteran’s Day to say ‘Welcome Home’ to our returned military, and figure one day a year is enough to acknowledge the labor force that for most of American history kept us moving forward, built almost everything we needed and did it better than those we buy it all from today.

I’m not asking to us to be thankful all year long. I’m inviting us all to look at why we aren’t.

Sometimes I want to force us into a Clockwork Orange and make us watch ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and ‘Fight Club’ back to back until we are snapped out of the entertainment fallacy that says the most important things in the world are incredibly sexy, and anything else that is worthy of our attention will be pointed out by the sexy people and we only have to talk about for as long as they lead us to. Then we can go back to pretending it matters that a pop star is acting like a slut, or that some sports star cheated on his wife.

Do these things matter? On some level they do. And I’m happy to admit that I love entertainment. In fact for a good portion of my life I cared about little else. These days it’s more of a stress relief that sits in-between hours of dense university lectures, counseling addicts, teaching high school, and navigating Italian bureaucracy.

Are there holes in what I’ve said? Of course. I’m a holier-than-thou sinner too.

Something happens when I stop over thinking and just get into action. When I just write and let the chips fall where they may. Once in a while magic happens.  Same goes for when I deal with anything that is between me and the values that a few times a year I declare are important. I see myself become those things everyday. I don’t it perfectly and at times I don’t think I reflect them very well at all- and I stay in the game anyway.

If I lost you somewhere in the last minute, here’s our chance to meet again. Say “Thank You”, and follow it up with actions that show you mean it. It’s going to be clumsy at first, and that’s ok. Send a handwritten card, write someone a love letter, call your Mom, help a veteran clean out her garage, tell your junior high English teacher that his believing in you changed your life, or go for a walk and simply be thankful you can walk.

Make a list of the holidays you pay attention to in a year and the values that they speak of. Then be those things today. It will take you into some interesting adventures.

This is me, grateful that you are still reading- and willing to just say what I have to say without editing the shit out of it.

Happy Thanksgiving

B

Got My Radio On…

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

I didn’t grow up going to Catholic School. I went to public school like almost everybody else in my town. However I did hear stories, and they never sounded fun.

I’m now in my third year living in Rome and studying at a Pontifical University. I’ve come to find that while American Catholic grammar & high schools may have been scary for some, this school is rather fantastic and I find the faculty and staff warm, friendly, brilliant, and fun.

However none of that came to mind when a Dominican Nun took me by the shoulder and said, “Can I talk to you?”

In an instant I felt like I was 7, 12, or 16, and in serious trouble. Not only was this Sister a professor, but also the Vice Dean of my department. In 2 seconds all I could think was, “What did I do? Did she read my blogs? Is the Bishop offended at having a loud mouth rock n roller in the Theology Dept?  Are the ‘Men In Black’ angry with me? Maybe they are sick of me dressing like I do, talking like I do, or asking the questions that I ask. Maybe students have complained that I’m not clean cut, that I wear bell bottoms, wear leather to church. Maybe some third world nun is afraid of the tall guy with long blue black hair and eyeliner, earnings, and loud voice.”

All of that chatter in my head, in 2 seconds.

So I looked at her, and with calm I simply smiled and asked, “What can I do for you?”

She informed me that the University had chosen me to represent our school on a radio show. Not just any radio show, but a show run by some of the most conservative, intense Catholics in the United States. These people are responsible for a book that highlights a minority of Catholic Universities for being excellent in academics and faithful to the leadership of the Holy See. There are 244 Catholic higher education degree-granting institutions in the United States, and I think their book favors 24, including mine (although mine is in Rome). I would  imagine that having our university listed in this publication is a rather prestigious matter.

I was not in trouble, I was being handed an honor.

My school is unafraid to send me as a spokesman for our institution. They’re proud to have the outlier stand for the orthodox.

Don’t ask me to explain it. All I know is that it that this place never ceases to amaze me.

Anyway, just thought I’d share that with you all.

You never know what great news is right around the corner, or which nun is going to tell you about it.

Don’t Ask…

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

I find myself just as lost as some of the people who ask me for my insights, opinions, and views on many of the more important matters facing people these days.

From the economy to education, our country’s place on the world stage, the now almost famous Synod, or whether or not KISS should just retire and play golf.

When it comes to world affairs I don’t have a lot to say. I live in a nation (Italy for the newcomers) that doesn’t have a virgin’s chance in Hollywood of returning to power. Nor will it even get its head out of its ass long enough to just operate with simplicity. Yes, things back in America are expensive. Here it’s worse. We pay $10 a gallon for gas, just as much as you for rent, and the rubbing alcohol smells like some satanic flower that even demons would piss on. Food is cheaper (and better) and getting your shoes shined & repaired is far less expensive. Some things are still sacred in Rome.

I find myself at a loss just like you. Now and again I just want you to know, no kidding, that I am up against it too. I go to a fairly conservative university, where most of the students look like Disney & West Point had a kid and decided to raise it Catholic. (note- I stole that from my friend Kim.\m/ )   My professors are brilliant, kind, funny, and fascinating. The staff here are wonderful. Most of the students are fantastic.

And still…

I hear some sad and backwards ideas coming from my fellow students (some not all) and at times even from my Professors (but only a few). It can bum me out, confuse me, make me angry or just leave me wanting to run to the Jesuits. Oh sweet Gregorian, how I wish you taught in English.

Any Orthodox Heretic (stole that too, Hi Peter!) will tell you that you stand for the revolutionary idea and you get fired at. Don’t like that? Have a seat.

Well I’m not sitting out this round.

I don’t know what I wanted to talk about when I started this, but I know what I want to say now.

I asked for this. All of it. Every thing and every surprise. The predictable and the mystery. It’s all mine by right of declaration. I said what I wanted and I’m getting it. And if I don’t like it, shame on me. No one forced me to leave Los Angeles and be the weirdo in Rome. No one pushed me back into a church where I’m often seen as the freak. No one made me take up a career/vocation that breaks your heart time after time, watching addiction and misery take battles in a war that only Divine Love can win.

I’m not a victim. I’m a volunteer. And today I’m going pro.

And every single time I feel lost in a sea of No Agreement – it’s my job to find a compass and set sail.

I love my life, my school, my friends and even my opponents. Brains like mine don’t grow without resistance. So I’ll welcome it. And I’ll even listen.

Hmmmm.

In fact I’ll start now.

Ciao,

B