10 Things Every Aging Musician/Business Analyst Who Looks Exactly Like Me Wants For Christmas

I actually don’t even have ten things I want for Christmas (off the top of my head), but I keep seeing posts about “What every teen wants for Christmas” or “What ever twenty-something wants for Christmas” because clearly we are nothing more than bleating sheep, and entire decades of people can be generalized into a top 10 list. But this list? I can stand by this list.

It is important to note that I get nothing or next to nothing for Christmas, because I am a poor piece of crap and have to have that awkward, unforgettably shitty conversation with friends every year. Thanks, Jesus. This list is actually sneakily about me thinking about things I actually want, because I’m terrible at doing things for myself, so now I’ll have a list that is at least slightly relevant.

#1. Books
Note: I mean actual books, not gift certificates to book stores or Kindle downloads. What book should you buy me? Simple. Buy me something you have read and think I would love. The chances are I’ll totally love it, unless you’re a complete dumbass. And if you’re a complete dumbass, then I probably don’t like you, so don’t get me any books.

#2. Music
I have such varied tastes in music, you will have a hard time going wrong with music. If it’s a copy of your own band’s CD even better. I don’t care about genres, I just want it to be good.

#3. Coffee Machine
I swear to fuck, the Beer Core House does not have a coffee machine. I end up wasting mad money buying awful 7-11 coffee all the time. I don’t care if it’s a shitty coffee machine or a crazy ridiculous fuck off massive barista thing. I just want coffee that doesn’t taste like hobos.

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Scary Shoplifters With Guns

One of the things that has annoyed the hell out of me as it pertains to the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson’s finest is the allegation that he posed a significant danger to the arresting officers, thus warranting the lethal force they employed. For the purposes of this post, let’s just take as writ that Michael Brown was a shoplifter, and that he attempted to grab one of the arresting officer’s guns. K? We’re all on the same page? Cool. I’m gonna tell you about a different story now.

Once upon a time, I was young. Oh yeah, it was a long time ago, but I assure you, it really did happen. Back in 1985, I, like many of my fellow My Home Townians, was enthralled by a story that happened right here in My Home Town.

These security guards at a mall downtown saw a guy shoving a bunch of stuff into his bag. They figured he was probably shoplifting, because you don’t generally shove things in your bag if you plan on paying for them, and they approached him. This guy pulled out a gun and shot at them, hitting one of them in the hand. They still managed to subdue him, an armed man who it was later revealed was an ex-Marine and a martial arts expert, and police arrested him.

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Robocop IV: Robocop Goes To Everytown

Sadly, I can’t find an article I wrote for Newtopia Magazine a very long time ago about the G8 Summit we had here in My Home Town. There was a theme to it that has just been eerily familiar of late, although I didn’t know it at the time. In the article, I wrote about what I saw during the summit, and was surprisingly supportive of the police. While yes, there were the riot gear robocop looking dudes in the wings, when it came time for direct interactions with the peaceful mob, the police we saw were the bicycle cops in bad socks.

That was something important to me, something I thought that was really integral to the peacefulness of the whole thing. See, a guy in shorts and knee-high socks on a bike is a human being. A partial face hidden behind riot gear, plastic shield, and wielding a baton is a futuristic warrior robot intent on the destruction of the human race. Yes, there are times when a situation is out of control and you need to call in the big guns, but I happen to believe that most people are decent and reasonable, and dealing with a regular police officer is fine.

I may be wrong. I’m no cop, and I don’t know what their real experience is. But I can say that having a peaceful protest surrounded by Judge Dredd clones beating their shields like war drums is a fine way to make a situation escalate.

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A Message To My Daughter As She Prepares To Graduate High School

Slow down, kiddo.

The other day, we talked a bit, and you told me about how you were thinking about going to trade school in a variety of disciplines. I in no way oppose this, and I understand that you are feeling the grade 12 rush towards What Will You Do With The Rest Of Your Life press down on you. As well, if I understood our conversation correctly, there are some opportunities that require you to leap directly from high school into post-secondary for financial assistance. These are all well and good, but ease up a bit. Hear me out, here.

I may be a silly-minded old fart, an aging musician who’s pretty cool but doesn’t really get the way the world is, but there’s a thing or two I know about the world that I want to share with you. They’re pretty important things, and they might start to sound a bit depressing. I assure you, this isn’t a gloomy message.

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Things Better Than X-Box

I like video games. I like them so much, I refuse to play them. I know how I am when I get caught up in a video game, and it’s not very good. In college, I recall my then-wife coming home from working a night shift and catching me fifteen minutes before I had to leave for school. I was completely disheveled, having spent the entire night playing Civilization rather than sleeping, eating, studying, or in any way doing anything. As a general rule, I simply avoid playing video games because I like them enough to not do anything else. I imagine that cocaine is the same, so I have elected to never find out.

What I don’t like about video games, or more accurately, what I don’t like about our current society’s addiction to technology, is that we don’t actually ever do anything anymore. That’s a sweeping generalization, and I recognize that everyone does some stuff, but it kind of frightens me how little we do.

As a Wee Ugly Jim, I watched plenty of TV. That was back in the olden days when Saturday Morning Cartoons were a thing. When the family got a computer, I spent great amounts of time playing games on it. But I still did stuff. My friend, Jason, and I would spend entire days on our bikes, traveling all over our quadrant of the city. We built forts. We had wars with kids. We played tag on playgrounds. We went to the mall to pick up chicks (which, for the record, was laughable given that we never actually spoke to girls and mostly just wandered around all desperate and pathetic). I read books voraciously.

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The Existence Of Privilege

{Note: The last thing I wrote about here was also about privilege, so I may seem like a broken record, but that was also almost a month ago BAD BLOGGER BAD, and it’s something I continue to see totally misunderstood.}

Once upon a time, I was harassed by police for the simple crime of being up late. A friend and I were up late playing arcade games (yes, kids, those used to be a thing) at the local 7-11, and the cops just wanted to bug us, claiming that two people fitting our descriptions had just robbed the video store down the road. Now, my friend was a 300 pound headbanger, I was 130 pound goober in a buckskin jacket with floopity hair, it was after midnight, and we were in a quiet, middle class community where nobody was on the street up to good or ill after about ten o’clock. So I insisted that they arrest us, as we were the only two people who could possibly fit our description at that time of night in that community. They let us off with a warning.

This is not a disproof of white privilege. This is a true story about a time when I was treated badly. It does not remove the scads of stories I could likewise tell about how just being born with the color skin that I have made my life easier.

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No Words, So I’ll Fake It

I’m going to try this again, after starting and stopping and starting and stopping a bunch of times. Here’s my two cents: It’s wrong to kill people. This is true no matter what color you happen to be. When we look at a system that clearly kills significantly more of one group than another, we can say that the system in question is fucked up and needs to be fixed. When we look at a system that clearly allows the investigations into the deaths of one group over another to drag out or be shut down without justice, we can say that the system in question is fucked up and needs to be fixed.

Black people in the US have a substantially higher chance of getting killed by police than white people. This is not because black people are substantially more dangerous than white people, it is because the system is fucked up and needs to be fixed.

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Know Your Penis Laws!

Did you know that Canadians can, in the privacy of their own home, show their penis (and presumably any other genitalia, either digitally or fleshtastically) to anyone who comes over? I know, this sounds too good to be true! Well, it is. The actual answer is that you can whip out the privates for anyone who comes over, regardless of their interest or lack thereof, so long as your victim is at least sixteen years of age.

Because being sixteen makes it okay to get flashed and all.

Section 173 of the Criminal Code of Canada was written for the purposes of figuring what’s okay and what’s not when it comes to the meatspins, and it’s very clear on the subject. If the lion cannot remain caged and you’re at home with people who are all at least sixteen years old, you are fine.

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Male Body Image Stuff – My Take

A friend of mine from High School, approximately a million years ago, wrote a status on Facebook about male body image issues and how he thinks it is getting worse. This will be my response to that. Because I am well aware of how the internets work, allow me to please explain first that this is my take on the subject, that I am a heterosexual male, that I have in my adulthood been extremely skinny, extremely fat, and am now mostly healthy with a few extra pounds. Nothing I say should be interpreted as The Way Things Are, be it for girls, for guys, in the minds of girls, in the minds of guys, or anything.

I don’t really think society has a Male Ideal. Sure, advertisers typically go after young skinny men with washboard abs and boyish half-smiles, but male sex symbols break all possible boundaries, and I’m not talking about the weird corners of the internet that find truly odd things hot. I mean the number of women who would slaughter a village to be able to have a night with Sean Connery or Leonard Cohen. These are not exceptions to the rule, men are allowed to vary in size and shape and age and style in ways that women are not.

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Lending My Voice

I have started writing this post about eight times now, but as much as I’m genuinely a loudmouthed prick, there are times when I’m at a loss for words. I’ve tried to get all intellectual, I’ve lost myself in emotions, and everything in between. So I’m going to give it another try.

Hey. Cops. You have got to fucking do better. And to the people, so do you.

In the past few days, despite my thinking of myself as someone who’s smart and knows all about how the world really is, I’ve been stunned. Michael Brown has been a lightning rod for the debate… Jesus, I’m doing it again.

It isn’t even a fucking debate. Militarized police murdered a black kid. There’s no national conversation. The people of Ferguson, Missouri are exploding with their frustration and shared pain. There is no closure to be had, no arguments, no sides. A kid was killed, and the story of Young Black Killed By Cops is almost a daily occurrence. Nobody talks about it. The media doesn’t report it. Black people get angry, robocops suppress them, and eventually it all just goes away.

That’s what we’re creating. When we don’t absolutely explode and demand justice, we don’t get it. It’s easier to look at the situation and try to find the justification. “Well, he’s a decorated police officer, so he MUST have had a real good reason for it…” Bullshit. We give them guns because we accept that shit can get real dangerous for our protectors and we want them to be safe. These stories aren’t about safety, and when we don’t go absolutely bugshit over them, the message that we’re sending is that it’s okay.

It’s not fucking okay.

I’m a white Canadian male. I have the easiest bullshit life on earth. I will never be shot by a cop. I will never experience what it’s like to have to teach my children how best to not get murdered. I will never have to think, “Hey, that street won’t be safe for me because the neighbors might just look at me and think I’m bad and shoot me for it. I will never have people look at me and wonder what in the fuck I am doing in their neighborhood. I will be profiled, based on my general appearance, like when the security guard where I work decided I was homeless. But seriously? A little annoyance and indignation and it’s all fucking better. I get how pathetic that is.

The simplest thing for me to do when I hear about any of this shit would be to say, “Gosh, that’s awful” and turn the page. I just don’t want to do that. I think that when we do that, we’re selling out the people who were killed or beaten or tortured. I think that when we do that, we’re saying “Hey, cops, it’s okay to be lazy and just assume that anyone who doesn’t look like me is a drug-crazed killer”. I think that when we do that, we’re hiding. I don’t want to hide.

In my day job, I’m an analyst. My job is to break down big problems until we understand them enough to fix them. This is a big problem, but nobody has bothered to break it down. Every problem can be solved, so long as there is a desire to solve it. No, scratch that. Every problem can be solved, so long as there is a desire to solve it and the actual resources to enact the change. When we don’t make a big fuck off deal about a young black man being murdered by police officers, we tell our leaders and protectors that it’s a bad thing, but not a bad enough thing for us to want to solve it.

That’s where we, and you’re damn right I’m including myself in this, that’s where WE are complicit. We look at it, we see a big problem, and we decide it’s too big for us to do anything about. And that’s true. I, sitting here on my deck in My Home Town in fucking Canada am not going to be able to fix the problems that resulted in the death of Michael Brown. But if we all start screaming, we force their hand.

Do our leaders lead us or represent us? That’s kind of the big question. If we raise our voices and demand change, they have two options. They can enact change because they represent us and have those resources, or they can ignore it, essentially leading us to complacency. If we keep screaming and they don’t listen, then we fire their asses and find people with the balls to get things done.

I can actually hear one of the people I know telling me that it’s a very expensive problem to fix. I agree. I’m just not prepared to accept that the frequency of abused power resulting in the permanent injury, psychological trauma, or death of innocent people is a problem we should look at on a balance sheet. Destroying injustice and corruption is worth the fucking investment.

These things are problems. Reservations and ghettos are ripe with problems. It’s easy to say that they aren’t our problems because we don’t live there. It’s easy to say “Hey, black people, you really ought to do something about this”. It’s easy to turn the page. It’s just wrong.

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