Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Rape, Riots, and Rotten Food”

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Inmate Cardboard Standup_Where-Excuses-Go-to-DieRape, Riots, and Rotten Food – Relearning Life Behind Bars

The sooner the public learns that it’s been chumped by the media into thinking it knows what offenders look like, the sooner the heart and humanity that also exist behind bars can be tapped in an effort to redirect –not recycle– offenders. And whether it’s the people themselves that matter to you or the countless billions of taxpayer dollars we can save by fixing this problem, it’s about time we get started.

And what do I propose? As a former inmate of the California Department of Corrections myself, my mission is to help change the public’s misperception that all inmates are illiterate, tattooed, Nazi-worshiping, meth-mouthed man-rapists. This is what Where Excuses Go to Die is all about, defying the caricatures and stereotypes that make it easier for us to believe that incarcerating our way out of crime is viable. (more…)

Daughter Ignored

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Happy Gratitude Awareness Day; please consider a Turkey Day re-post

Excuses, Dishonesty, and Tragedy 
A daughter’s collect call from jail interrupts Thanksgiving dinner

Jail is the New Grounded

Originally posted, Saturday, November 30th, 2013

To look at Everett and Ella, you’d never know they’re the parents of a troubled, incarcerated daughter. They’re both successful in careers they love and they both espouse the family values with which they were raised, albeit modernized ones. Their home, where my wife and I were guests for Thanksgiving dinner, sits on a nice street in a neighborhood just about any set of young parents could happily work with.

When the phone rang the air at the table thickened slightly, as if a fly had entered the airspace. If the fly knows what’s good for it, it had better not land. A second ring offered a perspective on what it’s like to be the fly, buzzing in during dinner, which for Everett and Ella is a consistently early evening affair.

It was their old-school land-line ringing, and because, like the rest of us, they live and work by their iPhones, that meant that whoever was being ignored was family. Who else, besides mom and dad, first dials a land line these days? Regardless, ring number three provided satisfaction in the parental example they were setting for their four-year-old boy: no matter who’s buzzing around, during dinner, nobody touches the phone or the television. (more…)

When There Are No More Holocaust Survivors

Monday, February 24th, 2014

None of us know life without living, breathing Holocaust survivors  

Alice Herz-Sommer_The Lady in Number 6I’m far from a historian — or even all that well educated — but I don’t need a degree to wonder how the tools and materials used to teach people about the Holocaust will change when no survivors remain to tell their stories.

The easy answer is film, video, family, Shoah Foundation histories, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, but none of these can match the power of personal interaction with a death camp survivor. There is no experience in the world like simply being in the same room with someone who has lived and breathed such a range of human nature, who has faced such evil incarnate and, well, survived.

While you yourself may never have gone out of your way to speak or even listen to a Holocaust survivor, until now we’ve all at least lived with the ability to do so. Taking advantage of the opportunity doesn’t make us better people, but it is an addition to one’s soul. And now our chances to interact with survivors are narrowing – too quickly.


Remembering Joe Strummer – August ’52 – December ’02

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Strummer was a rock ‘n roll hero tailor-made for a sinner like me.

“The toughest thing is facing yourself. Being honest with yourself, that’s much tougher than beating someone up. That’s what I call tough.”

“When you blame yourself, you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don’t learn nothing…”

“I’d define it as self-awareness: an ability to trust your own judgment. An ability to see through veils of bullshit or spins on stories or propaganda. Maybe an ability to think for yourself.”

Joe Strummer – August 21, 1952 – December 22, 2002

Check out Jail Guitar Doors, an organization created “in the spirit of justice and public service” to honor the life of Joe Strummer, to bring music and other educational and vocational programs to inmates, and to raise awareness for prison reform issues.

Joe Strummer_ Rankin:Rankin Film

The Year I Drove Around with “FUCKER!” Carved into my Door

Monday, April 9th, 2012

A whole year! Couldn’t go anywhere without catching people’s double-takes and obliging demands for backstory. This is what my “get character or become one” philosophy  is made of. I didn’t have the character to resist cheating on my girlfriend, so I became – for about a year – the jerk with “FUCKER!” carved into the door of his Jeep Cherokee.

At the time I had no idea what any of it meant, other than that I’d been caught and my girlfriend’s response was excessive and crazy. It took a while for me to get a clue. But from that year behind the wheel my biggest takeaway turned out to be a giveaway – and you’re reading it. (more…)

Now What?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The Racist Tree

Friday, February 24th, 2012

As I began reading I thought, this is a little on the lame side, but let’s see where it goes. And it went – even so far as to reflect my opinion of the Oscar nominated film, “The Help,” of which I’m not fan (though that’s another matter). Enjoy.

Ashton Kutcher = Instant FAIL

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Misfortune + Time = Comedy, and Boy Toy replacement is no Charlie Sheen.

Original Story: Reuters

In the big scheme of things, Two And A Half Men will never offer the world much beyond the glance given a turd before its flushed. I mean, do you care if a few super-rich TV producers fail in repeating their precious formula? I don’t. Yet the replacement of Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher bears examination, if for no other reason than it’s a symptom of something bigger than the show itself.  (more…)

In Admiration of Vivian Maier, 1926-2009

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Humbled by a feminist pot of gold at the end of a corner rainbow.

Inspired by:

Vivian Maier’s photography was discovered in 2007 when 29-year-old John Maloof attended an antique auction and paid $400 for box of negatives. The box belonged to a woman who had failed to maintain payments on the storage locker that held 20-30,000 of her undeveloped photos. (more…)

Victory in Real Time

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

No matter what your opinion of President Obama, his Bin Laden announcement represented what Americans and much of the rest of the world longs for: a sense of U.S. accomplishment.

Original story: CNN

No matter where you look, or from which country you’re looking, Americans have become accustomed to bad news while simultaneously more ‘n’ more distrustful of each other. (more…)