Here are a few lines of verse released a little over 25 years ago:
'Cause you feel life's unreal and you're living a lie Such a shame who's to blame and you're wondering why Then you ask from your cask is there life after birth What you saw can mean hell on this earth
Many years ago, these words and others in the song were listened to over and over by a young man who then took his own life. The questions asked at the time (and I was a teenager fully into the heavy metal scene then) was did the song lead this kid into doing what he did?
I was pretty outraged to even hear the conversation. As a teen myself at the time, I knew other teens who were struggling with emotional issues that teens deal with. Most of us found reasonably health ways of dealing with those issues while the rest struggled to cope.
Was there anger to feel? Sure. It's perfectly understandable to be angry at the kid's parents, family, friends, teachers and school administrators for not seeing the signs of depression in this young man and intervening. To blame a flamboyant singer and songwriter who recorded the song somewhere far away, not knowing who bought any one of several million copies of the album would listen, is the last person to blame. I didn't buy the album, but I have heard plenty of music with pretty dark lyrics and I'm still here and writing. If it wasn't this song, the young man may just as well as found some other outlet for dealing with his mental health issues.
So, what does this guy:
have to do with this guy?
If you've been following the news on the passage of health insurance reform, many a liberal talker can't help but take a pass at what Glenn Beck has been saying about the bill before it was passed. MediaMatters.org has been documenting every little nugget of Beck-ness as of late.
Let me make clear: I'm not a fan of Glenn Beck.
That said, to point at Beck and knit his words / performance to any of the violence and profanity-laced ugliness being sent at some in Congress in recent days looks to me a whole lot like pinning one young man's death be pinned to a song on an Ozzy Osbourne album that had nothing to do with the act of killing one's self.
I would much rather keep Beck on the air, jabbing at blackboards and emoting all over the place, then have any performer become censored. If those individuals who are lashing out at select Representatives don't tune in to Beck, they would only find someone else to listen to and would find the permission they think they need to behave they way they are behaving.
You can't stop political talk just like you can't stop rock and roll. But if the line between discourse and provocation begins to spill over into anxiety, depression and a need to do harm to one's self or others, please click the link I'll always keep at the top of this page.
Today was my second time attending a pro-peace rally/march in Hollywood. The march route was a bit shorter than last year (no pass-by the CNN building on Sunset Blvd.); however, the number of participants remained unchanged from last year. At least, as far as I could see by walking around the people before and during the march.
The variety of groups represented were the same (click here for the photos), but I only got three handouts this time around. I missed not seeing last year's lone anti-march protester -- but only a little. And, truth be told, the pre-march rally and most of the march itself felt a little bit like routine.
Until we stopped just before Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave.
Ron Kovic addressed the march at that point in the route and wanted those "within the sound of (his) voice" to sit down where they stood - whether in the middle of the Boulevard or on the sidewalk (I split the difference and sat on the curb). About one hundred people or so heard the instruction and sat (see the 2nd and 3rd to last photos in the collection) for about 5 minutes. The mood of the march changed from "oh, we're doing this again . . " to "Oh. This is something new!"
This motion felt something like hitting a reset button for the march. As we crossed Highland Ave. and started into the crowd of weekend tourists milling around, the chanting got louder and more passionate, the sign waving got a little more frenzied and, perhaps feeding on the spectator's energy, the march felt revitalized.
I only wished I did. Getting a little low on blood sugar and feeling an achy lower back from the hours of standing, marching, etc., I headed back to the Metro stop and home.
So, instead of being the minister last year, I received a dose of ministering today. I pray others received a dose of that as well.
A Saturday night full of bingo, corned beef & cabbage and a little too much dessert & soda made for a wonderful diversion, even if I was just one number away from a large diamond BINGO.
I've been as attentive as usual to all the goings-on in the news this week. Rather than look at politics and other news in a glass half-empty, cynical and jaded point of view, I'm going to approach what I've read/seen by giving thanks.
I'm thankful Eric Massa spoke the truth instead of hiding and denying it. I've been on the receiving end of that sort of harassment at work and feel blessed it was not as severe and humiliating as it must have been for his staff member.
I'm thankful for Hilary Clinton for tapping even a small hole into what seemed before a solid, flawless fort of support for Israel. I won't pretend to understand the complexities of the relationship between Israel and Palestinians, but to swear a blind allegiance to one side of any conflict without a full appreciation for why the other side does what it does will let one fall for anything their ally does. I don't expect her or anyone in U.S. politics to find a solution that works for all parties. That she flew in the face of convention tells me she's not nearly as predictable as others have been in the past.
Finally, as odd as it sounds, I'm thankful Keith Olbermann took the time to talk about his father's illness and the fact his family was able to talk about how his father wanted to be cared for when he was too ill to speak for himself. While his father is done fighting, I hope for others this starts a discussion that ends with a Living Will. I've had one for 15 years and it's something I have never worried about since.
We can choose to let the news weigh down and exasperate us or celebrate those in the news who help us to appreciate what we have and challenge us to do something outside of our comfort zone.
Tonight, as I was in between trains, I took a small break to refill the wallet and grab a small snack to stop a minor blood sugar crash. I finished off the snack, tossed the wrapper and turned to walk back down into the subway stop. In front of me stood a young woman who was talking to someone on her cel. She faced the same direction I was and, in front of her, was an elderly couple. The man was well dressed and holding a cane in one hand.
To the man's right was a woman about the same age who also had a cane in her free hand. The woman was struggling to walk down the stairs with an obvious case of gout.
The young woman was well into her cel phone conversation and may have been grateful for the break in forward motion to focus on that conversation. The young woman served as a barrier to anyone wanting to pass to the old man's left side. I picked up on what was going on and positioned myself a few steps above the old woman. For those rushing down the stairs eager to catch the next train out of downtown LA, they easily breezed by to my left, easily missing the old woman and her cane so she could slowly ease down into the subway station.
I took my time taking out a tissue to combat allergies while being paused ten steps from the platform entrance. I watched all three of them as the old woman, getting more wobbly and arched as she descended those final few steps.
I took a second to smile, silently offering praise that she successfully made it down the stairway, then praying that she and her companion would continue their journey safely.
Were the woman on the cel and I on the MP3 player temporary guardian angels or just subconsciously following the teachings of our parents to help someone without making them feel invalid? Someone else can rule on that. I write this simply in gratitude for the ability to do with relative ease that which someone else does with great struggle and a healthy dose of fear.
Please take a few moments in the days to come to be a "guardian angel" to someone without their knowledge-- for purely selfish reasons!
A view of red carpet underneath clear plastic with security and tourists scattered about. Just because it's my blog and why not post a picture of this?
One Senator holding up continued funding of Unemployment benefits and causing a couple of thousand of Government employees to have to take furlough (no pay) days this week is frustrating, maddening and, in light of how our country has been for the past 18 months is just plain unconscionable.
Lots of bloggers, pundits, etc., are batting about guesses as to why Senator Bunning did what he did and had the bill he held up pass the Senate with 78 votes earlier this evening.
I just feel sorry for him.
He is retiring from the Senate at the end of this year. In my own limited experience, the outbursts, etc., have the feel of a teen with a bad case of senioritis or a long-term employee finding out he is being laid off at the end of the month with a shoddy (or no) severance package. Perhaps the man is suffering with his own physical health issues or is trying to manage with a major healthcare issue of someone he loves. I've had tastes of one and a sometimes-way-too-big helping of the other as of late, and that can really take a bite out of one's backside and wear one's nerves to their bitter end.
My hope is that the Senator can take the remainder of his term in the Senate enjoying all that comes with representing the state of Kentucky (a very pretty state which happens to be home to a dear friend of mine) and perhaps gathering his thoughts on a life full of success in professional baseball and public service.
Any more displays from him like the country witnessed these past few days will just serve to cause more talk about his last years and less appreciation for the decades that have led to this point.
As we get closer to the big award show Sunday night on the Boulevard, the preparations are in full swing. Either that or there's a Grand Prix planned for Hollywood. I didn't even realize that a temporary pedestrian bridge is installed to catch the overhead camera shots for the arrivals, but you can see what it looks like in this shot from late today:
Chain link fence now lines the north and south sides of the Boulevard and the organizers are preparing for possible rain showers on Sunday by installing clear plastic roofs.
And, if the slow creep of transformation from busy street to sidewalk theatre was not enough, there's a new controversy at the corner of Hollywood and Highland:
If I may suggest, perhaps taking a second look at the tacky, busy street-corner strip malls whose garishness begs for arrests and big fines, if only to tone down the mish-mash of color and traffic-snarling overload of signage: