Archive for June, 2013

Prison Diseases Will Kill Your Pets

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Apocalypse Hoosegow 7  Contagions, Taxes, and Pets Edition

Prison Diseases Will Kill Your Pets_Where Excuses Go to DieFor delaying action in addressing recurring outbreaks of Valley Fever in California’s prisons, Governor Jerry Brown and the California Department of Corrections were criticized this week by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in a federal court order that demands they move some 3,200 of 8,100 inmates out of Pleasant Valley and Avenal state prisons, two facilities with the highest infection and fatality rates.

Apocalypse Hoosegow 7_Where Excuses Go to DieParticularly affected by Valley Fever are African Americans and those with compromised immune systems. Over the last 6 years, 36 inmates who contracted the disease have died. But then, according to Henderson, California officials “clearly demonstrated their unwillingness to respond adequately to the healthcare needs of California’s inmate population.” (more…)

The Sounds My Neighbor Makes

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Yeah, getting to know my neighbors means getting over myself

Sounds My Neighbor Makes_Where Excuses Go to DieIt’s funny, wanting to stand out. We desire individuality and to express ourselves uniquely, but we’re pleased when we discover we’re just like those we want to stand apart from. We enjoy learning that celebrities have wrinkles, blotchy skin, and one leg longer than the other. We gobble up captured private moments of public figures and we’re eager to learn how much in common we have with those whose fabulous lives we insist could never be ours. I can’t even imagine having anything in common with Paula Deen, but you get the idea…

Down here on earth and up the street on which my wife and I live, I smile when I hear my next-door neighbor drops his keys and mutters under his breath, still balancing things in his hands. I hear his daughter ask questions he either doesn’t have the answer to or has no patience to explain, and though I don’t have children myself, his impatience is gratifying. It’s not his exasperation that makes me root for him, but rather the certainty that I’d be likewise confounded. Soon the daughter will be older and bolder. Maybe she’ll hide his keys behind her back one afternoon and I’ll lean in to hear how it turns out.

In the meantime, like watching some vulgar, egomaniacal luminary who’s been stripped down to my level of hygiene and over-limit fees, overheard and superficial commonalities with my neighbors will have to do. (more…)

New ‘Where Excuses Go to Die’ Chapter Excerpt

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Good Men Project cracks the spine of Where Excuses Go to Die

AMXAs of today, there are three publicly available chapters excerpted from Where Excuses Go to Die. Two are located here, and the latest, over at The Good Men Project, where I’ve been invited to contribute.

If you’re interested in getting air-dropped right into “Big Forehead” Ernie’s world of interstate Grand Theft Auto, check out:



Unlocking The Truth – is Where Excuses Go to Die

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Lucky are the children who think (and rock) for themselves.

Okay, how cool are fantasy tour dates!? Never mind the gold stars; here’s our show rider!

TOO MUCH METAL FOR ONE HANDThe thing that thrills me about Malcolm Brickhouse and Jarad Dawkins isn’t that they play so well, or that they’re so determined to jam. What’s cool is their combined and individual grace. They clearly choose their words in a manner that best serves their intentions and goals rather than making them sound hip and defiant. And it’s almost as if you can see ’em processing their way through adolescent confusion – without the defeatism that accompanies juvenile martyrdom. It’s called metacognition and it’s incredible to witness in kids this young – bonus that’s it’s too much metal for one hand. 

I’m jealous. I certainly wish I’d been able to explain  –even to myself–  my own ideas and dreams so well at their age. I’m both enamored with Malcolm and Jarad and in admiration of them. Some may dismiss the heavy metal genre they’ve chosen (which would say more about the dismisser than the style preference) or the fact that it’s a kid holding the guitar. But these two are future lawyers, teachers, engineers, or future Vernon Reids or Greg Graffins, so it really doesn’t matter how they rock.

They just rock.

Still, some might assume Jarad and Malcolm are being played by parents aiming for fast cash or fame they couldn’t achieve themselves. And while that’s often a bullseye, the difference between a kid whose heart isn’t in it and a kid who is being pulled along by his heart is obvious. And not once in this video do we catch an adult speaking for either boy like a hovering stage-parent.

Unlocking the Truth. Right-the-hell-onJarad and Malcolm aren’t just processing their young emotions, they’re channeling their frustrations at being picked on in school through lyrics, stagecraft, and chords. They’re not making excuses for altercations, broken windows, or self isolation; they’re using viable tools to communicate what it feels like to be in their shoes. And they’re learning to derive pleasure from a sustained relationship with delayed gratification (i.e. practice makes perfect) rather than posing or primping. That’s rare in society generally — even more so among kids this age, who usually still need adults to teach them how it’s done.

Getting picked on for thinking for yourself is the worst thing ever, but fortunately for people like these two, it just strengthens resolve. It’s cool that Jarad and Malcolm’s outlet is rock ‘n roll, too, but if it were painting, chemistry, or anything else, I’d look up to them just the same. Most of us would. Nobody seems to be putting words into their mouths, but apparently someone has  already instilled some quality coping skills. My fingers are crossed that the world around them doesn’t manage to undo their impressive drive and dedication, ’cause with the path they’re on, these kids can become some seriously heavy hitters.

The Future of the Internet? It’s Selling You Access.

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Nothing sells better than the manifestation of exclusivity

Let’s get something straight. While there may be good reason to be angry about new revelations related to our civil liberties, arguing over whether NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a traitor or a hero isn’t where our focus should be.

TIME TO PAY UP SUCKERS_Where Excuses Go to DieRight before our eyes we’re watching ground being broken for a new marketplace: our recent national lack-of-privacy fear just created a commercial demand for PRIVACY™

Get it?

The conservative drumbeat that ObamaCare, Benghazi, the IRS scandal, and the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records represent expanded abusive government and/or a “continuation of policies” is a diversion. And CNN’s idiotic prizefights between privacy advocates and backers of the doozy that started it all – the Patriot Act, are distracting millions from the real government data collection issue. In fact, the part of this week’s surveillance state revelations that stinks the most is the one thing we’re not hearing about: money.

Fact is, telecom corporations don’t need to listen to your phone calls for you to fear they’re listening to your phone calls. They only need you to think that the tools and laws are in place in order to sell you a federally guaranteed “communication plan” or Internet “privacy.” Yup: this whole controversy is about the future of the Internet and monetizing our civil liberties. Anyone who thinks differently is naïve – or not paying attention. (On the other hand, considering that sales of Orwell’s 1984 rose by 7,000% this week, at least some are trying to widen their perception.) (more…)

Over Her Dead Body

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

No way was photographer Vivian Maier gonna go out on top.

All images © Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection
All Images © Vivian Maier:Maloof Collection_Thank you from Where Excuses Go to Die

For those unfamiliar with the Vivian Maier story, it’s a simple one that never changes. Vivian was a professional nanny who, in her off time, wandered around bad neighborhoods and metropolises snapping pictures of just about everyone from derelicts to fashionable women, cops, and lots of kids. Before she died in a Chicago nursing home in 2009, Maier had amassed over 120,000 images of strangers in streets, slums, and shadows. An extremely secretive woman, she never shared her activities, travels abroad, or any of her photos. With anyone. Not in fifty years of practicing street photography.

All Images © Vivian Maier:Maloof Collection_Thank you from Where Excuses Go to Die8At the time of her passing, Maier was in possession of none of her work – not a single negative. This is to say, reel after reel of 8 and 16 mm film; personal writings and cassette tapes containing her voice recordings; personal observations on you-name-it; and seven hundred rolls of undeveloped color film. In 2007, it all had been forfeited to a storage company due to unpaid fees, for Vivian had begun this century almost destitute. She was powerless to stop the contents of the unit from being sold to a Chicago auction firm.

To those who knew her, or thought they did (namely, the grown children she’d cared for), she was a recluse, a hoarder, and a peculiar spirit. But to the many who now consider her one of the most prolific and talented street photographers in the history of the medium, she is an ambiguous monolith of isolation, genius, and resolve.  (more…)