Easter Memoir

akc_gspointer_bloom_xl                          Image of the Easter Hound in her natural habitat

On Easter Sunday, 1979 I met a mysterious, pent up cage-dwelling creature in my own living room. I was six years-old. Every egg-in-basket holiday since that one, the image of the Easter hound comes to me with all the fury that she and her stud did at eleven a.m on Easter morning.

Her name was Lucy and she was a one of a pair of hunting dogs our neighbors kept in a free standing kennel in the side yard between the two properties. On warm spring days, the smell of dog shit and stale piss would waft up from their 10X10 keep to the second story dining room window of our house-which we kept closed always for that smell.

Looking down from our deck at the twin hounds hunkered on the sun-bleached concrete slab always gave me a sinking feeling. I sometimes tried to imagine what living in a kennel of my own shit and stink would be like. For the way the Vale’s cared for those dogs, I hated them and their one daughter, Lindsay, who never seemed to mind that those dogs were living in filth in plain sight (and smell) of the neighborhood children.

I imagined that they were kept in that cage because they were purebred hunters. Being held against their will as rare and dangerous animals who had no desire to play frisbee and run free the way our scrappy mut dog did. What would they do if they ever got away?

On weekends when the sun came up over the Rainier Valley through the trees our un forested property would flood with the light of the unblocked sunshine–the deck sliding doors were opened and the entire living room was warm and sunny.

Especially on this particular Easter morning.

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So it happened that my mom was on one of her religious experimental bouts this year and had heard of a non-denominational church where non members could worship the big Easter bunny God and his resurrected Christ.

I had awakened to a sunny living room and a bright orange and green basket full of treats and had just popped a speckled jelly egg into my mouth when I heard my mother’s voice.

“We are going to church this morning!” it rang out in her weekend morning cigarettes-and coffee-with-cream voice. “Go and put your new dress on.”

Surviving memories of my childhood are the stuff of miracles to me now. In the drumbeat of time and tested ways of forgetting the past in two-year intervals, the remaining bits and vivids to fill in the cache of brain are holding true.

I savored a single jelly bean and put down my bright shiny basket. In a quick inventory I gauged there were about thirty nestled in the soft green plastic grass and at least another six bright foil-y chocolate eggs, crested by the big sugar-eyed milk-chocolate bunny keeping watch in the middle of my stash.

Church was uneventful and my shoes were tight. The wierdo songs and cross-eyed children made my stomach upset. My mom was the strange unmarried mom. The divorcee who was trying to be as unassuming as the christian mob around us.

That was an hour of my young life that I would never get back and I will admit to whispering a prayer to the savior on his cross that my mom let me go in with her rather than down the stairs to the kiddy pit for sunday school.

I was a young pagan. A feral child of sun and sky, cedar branches and tree-climbing. I was bicycle wheels and scabby knees. I was a leaf-born native as wild as the climbing ivy deceiving the clipper claws.

I felt as trapped as the hunting dogs in the cage while I clung like a hunk of shit beside my mother, the concrete lady. I remember staring at the hands on my mom’s little gold watch just to keep from listening to the sermon on the mount and the cinnamon-stick colored benches we all perched on rattled when the organ played or the PA system hissed with the Jon the pastor’s microphone breath stops.

When the endless drivel of sermon and song finally stopped and the pastel people all stood up for the juice and cracker communion, we made our exit. No one tried to keep us from slipping away unsaved.

The little portable church could not have been more than two miles from our new house and when mom and I sped off in our burgundy Camero with a cigarette in her teeth and a lollypop in mine I knew we still had most of our Pagan holiday to ourselves and my basket of candy was getting closer too.

[The rest of this story is not so bright and sunny. It is dark and disturbed. Read on if you have the stomach for it, otherwise pretend it ends here.]

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The front door of our house was just as we had left it. Dark and heavy and shut tight. Mom pulled out her key and waved me up to the steps to hold her purse while she opened the door. The key turned fast and the door opened into a flood of mid-morning sunshine and the smell of dog.

Dog drool, dog shit, dog wrestling dog. The growls from the top of the stairs echoed as my mom rushed into the house and up the stairs startling two angry hounds.

As my mom began to shriek they rushed past us out the open door so quickly I nearly lost my balance and fell back down. The last one out the door had a tuft of plastic grass sticking from its asshole and blood dripping on the floor.

My mom’s voice was screaming and she tried to cover my eyes before I reached the top step.

The room at the top of the stairs was completely mined with shit, drool and vomit. Each runny wet pile of shit was laced with easter grass and bright slivers of pink wicker shavings. Some of the shavings were tinged with blood.

Lucy and her stud hound had wrestled with my basket and devoured it; pink wicker, grass, candy and all. The lingering smell of marshmallow, milk-chocolate, dog food kibble, and  bloody stool could send Christ back to his tomb.

Every plastic egg was laying in the carpet. Yellow and blue plastic halves soaked in drool and even a few with teeth marks were found on the back porch as if one beast had come through the left-open glass door and scouted for the other for a veritable candy feast, bringing a few bright playthings along as booty.

In a little less than 90 minutes, the two busted into our house, found the basket there on the couch and shook, clawed, wrestled, swallowed, spouted, choked, and shit out the contents of my morning basket as if it were a nest of pheasants.

I do not remember shedding a single tear for my basket that day, but my mom cried in her anger for hours. The neighbors recaptured their hounds and my mom made the hunter pay to steam clean the floors and clean up the Easter massacre.

In thirty-five years, I still can’t separate the smell of sick dog from Easter basket treasures. Milk chocolate eggs from smears of feces, plastic grass from cracked shells, hemorrhoids, and splinters of wicker stained orange and green.

The Vale’s dogs survived another year in that cage without ever breaking free again before the sale of their house. The same year Dave the hunter divorced his wife and moved away with his dogs. Lindsay and her mom moved back to Alaska.

When the house sold the new owners used the kennel to store their recyclables and  compost bin and on warm sunny days the scent of turning worms and dirt and beauty bark wafted through our upstairs window and mingled with the sunlight and the dust rising from the cane bookshelves along the dining room wall.

There is my Easter memoir.

I <3 Snow Leopard

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Author David Pogue is a rockstar.

What is it about weekly techy columnists that make me want to remarry and have little techy babies? Pogue has written like 50 books on the business of tech skills, 25 of which fell into the “for dummies” section.

A former Broadway show conductor, magician, and classic piano player, what’s not to love?

Links to his column and all the week’s vids archived here. There is my good mage-like deed for the day.

I am all for the missing manual series. As a journo, blogger, copy writer, publisher, and groovesharker, I am hoping by the end of this book I can absorb the speed, polish, and refinement of the true Apple heads.

I take pride in the fact that Pogue is clever enough to draw the map for me and that in a single manual he has written the answers to damn near any question I can pop. The best part; there are commands for all of the Macintosh programs already in my MacBook in key combinations yet to be explored – I just need to know where to find them.

I find I learn best when instructors engage me. And the study must have an edgy twist and offer the sense of humor with the expertise or I will just stop reading and throw the book into the yard sale box.

Oh, I am mad for shortcuts and this book has a million of them. The #1 bestselling MacBook for eight years running and I am only just coming to the party.

I came across this poem today written in my scrawly hand on fading paper. and then remembered I blogged it years ago. A tribute to the beats, so, happy birthday Jack.

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imgres (7)                                        I dreamed I was a yellow bird

                                a little yellow bird

                 a little fast song bird singing in the white tree

               on Moth street

     I dreamed I was a white moth

dusty wings beating fast through the trees

autumn is yellow on the avenue

outside the Munson Diner

I dreamed I was a man

driving a little too fast to the corner

city bird songs on the radio

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                              in the little yellow beetle with white stripes

           …

View original post 618 more words

Spring fevers

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For the last two weeks I have been reading the editor’s pages and blog posts on every site and magazine that I see. From Vogue to Art in America, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Cosmo and GQ. I am workshopping through a sea of first pages, introductions, and self defining notes to free write my way through the next eight issues of Pulse Magazine confined to the business of taste, art direction, budgets and staff-building.

Most of the Editors-in-Chief suffer from their own spring fevers. All begin their pages with the same few buzz words followed by three or four page numbers of articles of record, also scrawled across the cover margins. So just as the snow melts and the spring rushes into the cheeks of our few crocus bulbs, daffy’s and the half dozen deciduous plants pressing up before the dahlia bulbs with the last month’s full moon–this college girl dreams of May mornings to come and the return of the grinding gears of a journalist’s mind.

Our Pulse Magazine stripes are mine to wear at last! We fourteen will be like the trove of spring, awaiting our feral summer.

Live as ladybugs and brand new leaves there are stories to coax and nut graf’s to flesh out. I am slowly waking up my editor’s mind to the neatness of the columns and the printed rows in between the electric cover page and over all the font stops.

Crunching the choppy bits like leaves of yellow grass, pink-sprouting department heads, fertile splashes of soft spring rain and the rainbows of our feature well.

As the laptop keys tip and tap all through the unrolling scroll, we’ll come again to the signature bliss of our last convergent page…looking forward to my spring fever.

 

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Sidney takes it all – one of my first newsy features

By Mende Smith for the Collegian Entry 2011- First Place Winner Best Feature Story

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Surrounded by tribal masks, fertility charms, and souvenir statues of gods and goddesses, Dr. Robert Brady has a unique view of the world.  For 22 years, Brady has directed the International Student Program at City College.

Brady is the go to guy for the necessities of hundreds of students each year who come by air and by sea to study in Los Angeles.  At first glance, Brady is a serious man.  Introductory banter aside, this man has been places. This man has seen things.

“The guy was retiring who had this job,” Brady said. “And I was interested. Part of my job is recruiting International students, and that is what I do. I think it enriches the campus to have students from all over the world.”

Belize to El Salvador, Arabia to Thailand, Mongolia to Vietnam, every treasure on the chestnut shelves in Brady’s room huddle together like prize trophies of faraway cultures given to him by his students.

Brady said that the college advertises in magazines and participates in educational fairs throughout the world to meet new students. He has travelled three continents and brings a wealth of experience and opportunity with.

“They ask questions about the program and also about Los Angeles,” Brady Said. “We set them on track for Home Stay with host American families if need be, and others just rent apartments on their own.”

Brady said City has recruited about 700 International students each year since he took over the job. There is much to be done on both sides of his desk because the students experience all levels of culture shock, social challenges, and financial stress which Brady and his caring staff try to assist them with.

“These people have a lot of courage when they come and they often don’t speak the language,” Brady said. “This program is the first step for many of them into a new culture, and they have to be in school to stay here, they can stay and go onto a four-year university, but they cannot get work study as non-residents. So, the International students have to pay the whole cost of their education.”

Sidney Ngoma came to City from Zambia.  He is a handsome guy who speaks softly but with a little more charisma than most business majors. Ngoma said he is from the southern region of Africa.

“I am kind of nervous already because my voice is going into the machine,” Ngoma said. “I wanted to come and study here because, let me see, there was a story about a girl who came for help with books and stuff and her story was on Oprah.”

Ngoma said that he contacted the show and found LACC program information there. He took the initiative because he wanted to be immersed in world business and learn a powerful trade.

“There have been obstacles to it, but I did it and it is tough, but I want to be on the best team with the best achievements, and my friends said ‘yes it looks like a good school’ so I came here.” Ngoma said.

He said he has a vision and he is alone in his thoughts. He is doing it for his country. He said he wants to be talked about in history books and then he laughs.  Resident students complain about a ten dollar per unit increase. Ngoma’s program costs him nearly 200 dollars a unit; a full-time schedule costs more than 2,400 each year.  Now that he has graduated he is taking two more courses that he said he just learned that he needs.

“Philosophy 6 and Computer Science are the ones I need to transfer,” Ngoma said. “They tell me that I have to take them and it depends on these two courses so I chose to do it and get it done and then move on.”

Ngoma said he always knew he had a dream to come to study in America. He talks about his mother and siblings being proud of him, Ngoma has two brothers and two sisters; one is a set of twins.  He is the oldest of 5 and the first of his family to study abroad.

Zambia is a solid country with a small economy. Since the 1860’s and the stability of Colonial rule, Zambia’s rich culture is strong.  Ngoma said that his country’s industry is in the mines. Today, he says, many of the region’s developed countries are in competing mineral markets.  He said that everybody wants to be educated enough to have their own businesses but there are few who succeed.

Zambia strives to access a brighter future through students like Ngoma.  Many of his friends in South Africa though spared of the neighboring countries’ social uprisings and threat of famine and war are struggling to grow economically independent.

“The women are protectors of our culture,” Ngoma said. “They are so concerned with structure and with keeping all things strong. Like, the future of the country and the people are just what they care about, but mostly the men like me have the access to opportunity.”

Ngoma is waiting for Dr. Brady to sign off on his courses and the two men greet each other warmly. “Hello Sidney,” Brady smiled as he waved to his student from behind the receptionist’s desk.

“This guy is a good one to talk to, he is a good person too, I will see him when he is finished with you.”  Brady said. It is clear that these two have business to tend to and by the end of this year; Ngoma will be on his way again.

“Dr. Brady is a really big help to me,” Ngoma said. “If everybody would just stick it out and work hard to stay in school and follow their dreams, time is a factor and the world first looks really big, but it is small.”

The Art of Asking – TED TALK ARCHIVE POST #1

Dresden Doll Love.

url (4)                                  Amanda Palmer as a living statue in NYC

I cannot think of a better example of Public Relations than my friend in the arts and fellow writer, Amanda Palmer. Amanda is not the first living statue I have met, but she is the first to make the historic TED talk series. Check this out- her recent presentation The Art of Asking brings awkwardness to accolades.

In PR we have a thing called “simplifying the complex”. In our modern age of interpersonal communications, the need has never been greater. I have attached the transcript of her talk below for those of you who still do not make time for TED vids in your everyday lives (don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone who you are)

Amanda says:

“Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance, but the Internet and the content that we’re freely able to share on it are taking us back. It’s about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough. So a lot of people are confused by the idea of no hard sticker price. They see it as an unpredictable risk, but the things I’ve done, the Kickstarter, the street, the doorbell, I don’t see these things as risk.”

Every PR campaign is just like a Kickstarter, the street, and the doorbell. If institutions are positioning themselves in the social media than why would we not do the same for our individual clients? If we always remember the very few degrees of separation between the concepts, ideas, and trending behaviors of our publics–our publics we serve and take active part in–in a complex world, the need to simplify our words, thoughts, and actions has also never been so important.

In 1905, one eccentric man tried to break down a barrier of communication in his modern experience, without standing on a crate in Central Park, though he did sometimes carry his own hat. Einstein’s first paper on the theory of relativity contained one of the most defining sentences I have ever read. In writing about the simultaneous schedule of the afternoon trains and actual points in time and space, he writes:

“If, for instance, I say, ‘that train arrives here at 7 o’clock,’ I mean something like this:”The pointing of the small hand of my watch to 7 and the arrival of the train are simultaneous events.”

Simplicity is the key to good messaging. Regardless of how all-knowing and brilliant-minded and clear-thinking he was, he could write clearly enough for the seas of dullards who were striving to read his life-changing works.

As a PR professional you will work with a variety of clients. Medicine, urban affairs, and liberal arts can all be as complex as advanced mathematics if not translated clearly to your target publics. Einstein was a master of physics. Ten minutes in a physics class and my mind boggles and I start to sweat a little under my clothes.

William Zinsser, another granddaddy of PR, says, “a complex subject can be made as accessible to the layman as a simple subject. It’s just a question of putting the right sentence one after another.”

The same can be said of when your public shows interest in your work and then acts accordingly as if they agree with it–engaging the public had never been easier than it is today in our online platforms. In 1905, there was no Internet siren glowing in the corner of every house. There was no wireless opportunity to be the message everyone gets.

And now the pay off is the interaction itself. These messages award us for their attention with a LIKE button or a CLICK for survey option, a retweet or a shared platform button.

Thanks to Ms. Palmer, Mr. Einstein, and Mr. Zinsser, there is no scientific explanation needed for asking the people to share in their esteem.

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AMANDA PALMER TRANSCRIPT:

(Breathes in, breathes out)

So I didn’t always make my living from music. For about the five years after graduating from an upstanding liberal arts university, this was my day job. I was a self-employed living statue called the 8-Foot Bride, and I love telling people l did this for a job, because everybody always wants to know, who are these freaks in real life? Hello. I painted myself white one day, stood on a box, put a hat or a can at my feet, and when someone came by and dropped in money, I handed them a flower and some intense eye contact. And if they didn’t take the flower, I threw in a gesture of sadness and longing as they walked away.

(Laughter)

So I had the most profound encounters with people, especially lonely people who looked like they hadn’t talked to anyone in weeks, and we would get this beautiful moment of prolonged eye contact being allowed in a city street, and we would sort of fall in love a little bit. And my eyes would say, “Thank you. I see you.” And their eyes would say, “Nobody ever sees me. Thank you.”

And I would get harassed sometimes. People would yell at me from their passing cars. “Get a job!” And I’d be, like, “This is my job.” But it hurt, because it made me fear that I was somehow doing something un-joblike and unfair, shameful. I had no idea how perfect a real education I was getting for the music business on this box. And for the economists out there, you may be interested to know I actually made a pretty predictable income, which was shocking to me given I had no regular customers, but pretty much 60 bucks on a Tuesday, 90 bucks on a Friday. It was consistent.

And meanwhile, I was touring locally and playing in nightclubs with my band, the Dresden Dolls. This was me on piano, a genius drummer. I wrote the songs, and eventually we started making enough money that I could quit being a statue, and as we started touring, I really didn’t want to lose this sense of direct connection with people, because I loved it. So after all of our shows, we would sign autographs and hug fans and hang out and talk to people, and we made an art out of asking people to help us and join us, and I would track down local musicians and artists and they would set up outside of our shows, and they would pass the hat, and then they would come in and join us onstage, so we had this rotating smorgasbord of weird, random circus guests.

And then Twitter came along, and made things even more magic, because I could ask instantly for anything anywhere. So I would need a piano to practice on, and an hour later I would be at a fan’s house. This is in London. People would bring home-cooked food to us all over the world backstage and feed us and eat with us. This is in Seattle. Fans who worked in museums and stores and any kind of public space would wave their hands if I would decide to do a last-minute, spontaneous, free gig. This is a library in Auckland. On Saturday I tweeted for this crate and hat, because I did not want to schlep them from the East Coast, and they showed up care of this dude, Chris from Newport Beach, who says hello. I once tweeted, where in Melbourne can I buy a neti pot? And a nurse from a hospital drove one right at that moment to the cafe I was in, and I bought her a smoothie and we sat there talking about nursing and death.

And I love this kind of random closeness, which is lucky, because I do a lot of couchsurfing. In mansions where everyone in my crew gets their own room but there’s no wireless, and in punk squats, everyone on the floor in one room with no toilets but with wireless, clearly making it the better option.

(Laughter)

My crew once pulled our van up to a really poor Miami neighborhood and we found out that our couchsurfing host for the night was an 18-year-old girl, still living at home, and her family were all undocumented immigrants from Honduras. And that night, her whole family took the couches and she slept together with her mom so that we could take their beds. And I lay there thinking, these people have so little. Is this fair? And in the morning, her mom taught us how to try to make tortillas and wanted to give me a Bible, and she took me aside and she said to me in her broken English, “Your music has helped my daughter so much. Thank you for staying here. We’re all so grateful.” And I thought, this is fair. This is this.

A couple months later, I was in Manhattan, and I tweeted for a crash pad, and at midnight, I’m ringing a doorbell on the Lower East Side, and it occurs to me I’ve never actually done this alone. I’ve always been with my band or my crew. Is this what stupid people do? (Laughter) Is this how stupid people die? And before I can change my mind, the door busts open. She’s an artist. He’s a financial blogger for Reuters, and they’re pouring me a glass of red wine and offering me a bath, and I have had thousands of nights like that and like that.

So I couchsurf a lot. I also crowdsurf a lot. I maintain couchsurfing and crowdsurfing are basically the same thing. You’re falling into the audience and you’re trusting each other. I once asked an opening band of mine if they wanted to go out into the crowd and pass the hat to get themselves some extra money, something that I did a lot. And as usual, the band was psyched, but there was this one guy in the band who told me he just couldn’t bring himself to go out there. It felt too much like begging to stand there with the hat. And I recognized his fear of “Is this fair?” and “Get a job.”

And meanwhile, my band is becoming bigger and bigger. We signed with a major label. And our music is a cross between punk and cabaret. It’s not for everybody. Well, maybe it’s for you. We sign, and there’s all this hype leading up to our next record. And it comes out and it sells about 25,000 copies in the first few weeks, and the label considers this a failure.

And I was like, “25,000, isn’t that a lot?”

They were like, “No, the sales are going down. It’s a failure.” And they walk off.

Right at this same time, I’m signing and hugging after a gig, and a guy comes up to me and hands me a $10 bill, and he says, “I’m sorry, I burned your CD from a friend.” (Laughter) “But I read your blog, I know you hate your label. I just want you to have this money.”

And this starts happening all the time. I become the hat after my own gigs, but I have to physically stand there and take the help from people, and unlike the guy in the opening band, I’ve actually had a lot of practice standing there. Thank you.

And this is the moment I decide I’m just going to give away my music for free online whenever possible, so it’s like Metallica over here, Napster, bad; Amanda Palmer over here, and I’m going to encourage torrenting, downloading, sharing, but I’m going to ask for help, because I saw it work on the street. So I fought my way off my label and for my next project with my new band, the Grand Theft Orchestra, I turned to crowdfunding, and I fell into those thousands of connections that I’d made, and I asked my crowd to catch me. And the goal was 100,000 dollars. My fans backed me at nearly 1.2 million, which was the biggest music crowdfunding project to date.

(Applause)

And you can see how many people it is. It’s about 25,000 people.

And the media asked, “Amanda, the music business is tanking and you encourage piracy. How did you make all these people pay for music?” And the real answer is, I didn’t make them. I asked them. And through the very act of asking people, I’d connected with them, and when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists. They don’t want to ask for things. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy to ask. And a lot of artists have a problem with this. Asking makes you vulnerable.

And I got a lot of criticism online after my Kickstarter went big for continuing my crazy crowdsourcing practices, specifically for asking musicians who are fans if they wanted to join us on stage for a few songs in exchange for love and tickets and beer, and this was a doctored image that went up of me on a website. And this hurt in a really familiar way. And people saying, “You’re not allowed anymore to ask for that kind of help,” really reminded me of the people in their cars yelling, “Get a job.” Because they weren’t with us on the sidewalk, and they couldn’t see the exchange that was happening between me and my crowd, an exchange that was very fair to us but alien to them.

So this is slightly not safe for work. This is my Kickstarter backer party in Berlin. At the end of the night, I stripped and let everyone draw on me. Now let me tell you, if you want to experience the visceral feeling of trusting strangers, I recommend this, especially if those strangers are drunk German people. This was a ninja master-level fan connection, because what I was really saying here was, I trust you this much. Should I? Show me.

For most of human history, musicians, artists, they’ve been part of the community, connectors and openers, not untouchable stars. Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance, but the Internet and the content that we’re freely able to share on it are taking us back. It’s about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough. So a lot of people are confused by the idea of no hard sticker price. They see it as an unpredictable risk, but the things I’ve done, the Kickstarter, the street, the doorbell, I don’t see these things as risk. I see them as trust. Now, the online tools to make the exchange as easy and as instinctive as the street, they’re getting there. But the perfect tools aren’t going to help us if we can’t face each other and give and receive fearlessly, but, more important, to ask without shame.

My music career has been spent trying to encounter people on the Internet the way I could on the box, so blogging and tweeting not just about my tour dates and my new video but about our work and our art and our fears and our hangovers, our mistakes, and we see each other. And I think when we really see each other, we want to help each other.

I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, “How do we make people pay for music?” What if we started asking, “How do we let people pay for music?”

Thank you.

(Applause)

Papal Rain

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So, I was reading the Catholic Guardian to get the “skinny” on Pope Francis’ ascension. It will not be without its controversies. This newest hero of the Jesuit order is not living in the modern world. You know, the modern world where we live. The modern world where contraceptives save lives.

Three problems with the second pope of the 21st century:

(1) Francis firmly opposes abortion, (2) opposes same-sex marriage, and (3) most obstinately denies the necessity of contraception.

The first two are worth little more than the bad press to some, but the third is just insane.

Acting as if he were not in a particularly significant position to mentor his people as the Church continues to expand in Africa, where contraception is finally beginning to be seen as a vital tool to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. In my rant I will include the update from this afternoon’s post below, but I am still pretty pissed off about the new guy who is supposed to represent GOD on earth turning a blind eye to one quarter of “God’s people, and even those observing his faith.

[UPDATE: The Guardian reports that Francis has “a slightly more pragmatic view on contraception, believing that it can be permissible to prevent the spread of disease.”]

Though he may also come under scrutiny for the Argentine Catholic Church’s relationship to the military regime that seized power of the country in 1976…remember your world history, kids? That class from the eighth grade you were always sleeping through?

…but that was long before A.I.D.S was a rampant plague of many nations. As a spiritual leader of the world, dude better figure it out before the red paint dries on the pope mobile door.