Before You Go

Dear Kevin,

When you were little you didn’t like when we over explained things to you. You were an extremely curious kid. (You still are.) Like a detective you’d ask a lot of questions to get at the truth, or at least your understanding of it. But once your curiosity had been satisfied, you wanted us to stop talking. You had no patience for anything that sounded preachy. When you sensed a lecture or sermon coming on, you’d interrupt and say, “I don’t want to know. And I don’t want you to tell me.” So please forgive us for writing this letter of unsolicited advice.

What follows are things we have come to believe and value about life and the human experience. Much of it we learned from you, by being your dads. All of the sentiments expressed below have been said or written by others, and with more eloquence than us. And our thoughts are repetitive, disjointed, and scattered. One passage may contradict another—sometimes in the same sentence—but that’s life: a complicated, repetitive, disjointed, random, beautiful mess. The route is seldom a direct express.

The tone below veers into commencement speech territory, including generalizations and nauseating clichés commonly heard at graduations. But since neither of us are likely to ever deliver a graduation commencement speech, this is our attempt at passing on what we’d like to believe is wisdom, all of which you are free to ignore. (Skip past the dotted lines if “you don’t want us to tell you.”)

So from us to you, in no particular order, here goes.

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Joan Osborne: Late For The Sky

My two favorite cover songs are sung by Joan Osborne. One is Dolly Parton’s “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?” and the other is this song by Jackson Browne. From Looking Into You: A Tribute To Jackson Browne.

Now the words had all been spoken
and somehow the feeling still wasn’t right
and still we continued on through the night
Tracing our steps from the beginning
until they vanished into the air
trying to understand
how our lives has lead us there

How long have I been sleeping
How long have I been drifting alone through the night
How long have I been dreaming I could make it right
If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might
to be the one you need

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Sensible Gun Control

The quickest way to get meaningful gun control would be to allow anyone to open-carry guns anywhere—airports, schools, churches, and especially in all government buildings and offices. If guns were allowed in the Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court, we’d have reasonable gun control tomorrow.

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Unfixable Crimes

Dear media, you are being used. You are playing right into the hands of a dangerous madman. You are disseminating propaganda and terror by giving too much oxygen to a lying fascist and white supremacist. For the sake of your own credibility and a fragile democracy, please stop playing video clips of the president. You can report on what he says and does without incessantly showing clips of him lying. It doesn’t matter if you tell us before and/or after showing the clips that it’s a lie—the clip is more powerful. And he knows it. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video clip is worth a million.

He is using you to spread hate and distract. Stop playing along.

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Bothsidesism

Part of me wants to turn off all television news and live a happily ignorant existence. Another part of me needs to scream. At Chris Matthews. At Chris Cuomo. At Chris Hayes. It’s not the name Chris that bothers me. My confirmation name is Chris. No, it’s how the Chrises and others in the television news business are once again doing their best to sway and blow another election for Democrats.

After the terrorist murders in Pittsburgh, almost every news show had on good ol’ folksy John Kasich. He’s been making the rounds. What he says in all of these appearances is appealing: we need to have more empathy, stop putting up walls, reach out to others, and Trump is incapable of being a unifier. All of it sounds good. Common sense. But just as he criticizes Trump in one breath, he then invokes bothsidesism in another.

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The Rhetoric Blame Game

False equivalency strikes again.

Yesterday pipe bombs were sent to political opponents and vocal critics of Donald Trump. Specifically, the targets of the bombs were people he has called out by name at his cult shows.

Today the media has bent over backwards to show how both sides need to cool down on the rhetoric. For example, CBS This Morning showed several clips in an attempt at being “fair.” One clip was an interview with a Trump supporter—it looked like she was in the lobby of his rally last night—who said both sides need to take a step back. This was followed by another clip of past Trump cult shows (aka rallies) where he whipped up the flock into frenzied chants of “lock her up.”  Then, to be “fair,” CBS showed a clip of Eric Holder saying, “when they go low, we kick them.”

How are these things even remotely equivalent?

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Brandi Carlile: Party of One

From the album of the year (perhaps decade), By the Way, I Forgive You, here are couple of videos of Brandi Carlile’s Party of One.

For me, Party of One is about being so in love with your partner or spouse, but despite that love, also having times of feeling so alone, wishing and fantasizing for something more, something less, or something else—wanting to run—yet still knowing where you belong and who you belong with. It reminds me of certain times in my relationship with Danny, particularly after we became responsible for keeping another human being alive. Also, in many ways Party of One distills the theme of my play Two Spoons down into a 5:47 song.

She closed the show with this when we saw her at the Beacon. And I wept.

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The Warren Condition

Typical Democrat: Bringing a biological DNA test result to a chemical weapons fight.

Dear Elizabeth Warren, your response to Donald Trump should be, “Fuck off, you sleazy snake oil salesman and fat, ugly, disgusting, misogynist pig!”

I don’t believe Democrats need to take the low road to beat Trump, but we do need a quick-striking and forceful fighter who can offer hope and firmly rebuke Trump at the same time. It’s possible and the media will love it.

I like Elizabeth Warren. A lot. I support everything she stands for. But if she is nominated, she and her Fact Squad will get obliterated. The media doesn’t pay attention to facts. Facts are boring. Facts get no oxygen. They want drama. They want ratings. They want a candidate trying to stand in a category 5 with debris flying around.

I will still vote for her if she wins the nomination, but we will lose. And so will the country.

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Water Maine Break

Maine Senator Susan Collins has said she won’t support a Supreme Court nominee hostile to Roe v. Wade.

DON’T BELIEVE HER!

She voted for Neil Gorsuch. She voted for Samuel Alito. She voted for John Roberts. Each are hostile to Roe v. Wade (among many other freedoms and protections we take for granted). What I think she is trying to do is limit calls, demonstrations, and pressure from her constituents.

Remember last year when she voted for the tax reform bill because she said she had received an “ironclad” promise from Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence to pass legislation to stabilize ObamaCare premiums. When’s that vote happening? She was lied to. She was betrayed. And now I’m sure she will be offered an “ironclad” promise again in return for a vote to confirm a Supreme Court pick. She will believe their lies again. She will cave in again. And she (and the country) will be betrayed again.

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The Salute Is Not The Problem

If you’ve seen the video of Trump saluting a North Korean military officer, it’s clear he was confused about proper protocol in the greeting. First Trump goes for a handshake. Then the military officer salutes. Trump reflexively salutes back. I have no outrage—fake or real—over this. The issue is not Trump’s salute to an adversary’s military officer. It’s about the Trumpists’ hypocrisy and double-standards. The right wing conspiracy machine would have pounced on this misstep had it been a Democrat. Doesn’t matter which one. In their eyes, all Democrats are evil and hate America. Sean Calamity Shamity’s head would have exploded and oozed like a Hawaiian volcano for months. Yes, the salute was a mistake, especially in preparation. Trump should have known not to salute. But okay. He did. His bad. But I’m not going to pretend to be outraged. I’ll let the wingnuts on the right be the hypocrisy experts.

And, oh, by the way, that Hawaiian volcano was triggered by Trump’s cronies digging up the earth to find Obama’s birth certificate. Of that I am convinced.

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Brandi Carlile: Hold Out Your Hand

It’s rare for every song on any given album to be a hit. There is often a miss or clunker among the bunch. Not so with Brandi Carlile’s “By The Way, I Forgive You.” I have been listening to this album over and over since its release. To say that I just can’t get enough would be an understatement. And it has caused me to revisit her entire discography with greater enthusiasm and appreciation. For the past couple of months, it’s been all Brandi Carlile in my ears. So when I saw the video for Hold Out Your Hand, I knew I had to share it, especially because of her support for the March For Our Lives cause and movement.

Here’s the video, and a couple of photos of Danny and me at the NYC March (below).

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