Oh, Chris … not you too …

corneltim

I got out of the Army in 1991, one week before Christmas. My brother’s gift to me that year was Soundgarden’s “Badmotorfinger.” I was a short-haired, 21-year-old, ex-military cop with my sights set on a career in law enforcement.

A year later, I was a long-haired, college-radio DJ whose daily attire consisted of beat-up combat boots, ripped jeans, flannel shirts and a leather biker jacket. I had discovered I could write, and I no longer wanted to be a cop for a living. Chris Cornell featured prominently on the soundtrack to my transformation.

I was lucky enough to see Chris perform with Soundgarden at Lollapalooza in ’92 and ’97; solo in ’99; with Audioslave in ’03 and ’05; and again solo in ’07. I could turn this into a retrospective of those experiences and of his career in general (in which I would be sure to mention that Soundgarden’s 1994 breakthrough set, “Superunknown,” is one of the greatest albums of all time, and also share with you my oft-stated assertion that Chris had the best and most powerful voice in rock-and-roll), but the bottom line is this: I am heartbroken by his passing, and gutted by the manner in which it occurred.

I know Chris went through his struggles with addiction, as did many of his peers—too many of whom succumbed at a young age—but I truly thought that, at this stage in his life, he was beyond the cliché of a tragic ending. I say that mostly because he, by all accounts, was a happily married father who seemed to be cruising through middle age as a well-adjusted, extremely successful, elder statesman of rock—one who, incidentally, still looked cooler in his early 50s than most of us did in the prime of our youth.

In short: It seemed like Chris Cornell had his shit together.

But beyond all of that, I am further haunted by the fact that Chris himself wrote the defining thesis on the subject of “rock star dies a premature and tragic death” in the form of 1991’s “Temple of the Dog,” an album that he, along with members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, recorded in memory of his late friend, Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose. I can not count the number of times I’ve listened to that collection and thought about how painful it must have been to experience that loss, and how touching it was to hear Chris deliver lyrics he had written in tribute to his fallen friend. Never in a million years would I have guessed that listening to that tribute would one day become infinitely more heart-wrenching because Chris himself had gone on to cut his own life short.

I just can’t believe he’s gone, and that he died by his own hand.

For the past 25 years, I have listened to Chris Cornell’s music more than that of most other artists in my library. I hate the fact that, from now on, doing so will serve as a saddening reminder that he’s no longer here.

Ironically, Chris himself, in a short interview I found on YouTube, gave what ultimately is the only explanation for a tragedy that is otherwise inexplicable:

“There is no type of person, vocation … no categorization of person, man or woman, that you can be that is going to be immune to a lot of these things—substance abuse, mental illness, behavioral problems; it can affect anybody and everybody. No one’s immune to it … even the ones that you would think should have more help and support.”

Chris-Cornell-Press

Rest in peace, Chris. I wish you hadn’t gone out like this.

In related news, Jenny, a.k.a. The Bloggess, who wrote her own tribute to Chris, tweeted this shortly after learning of his death:

If you need it, use it. Please.

Pin It
Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Good news for those of you not particularly interested in getting bludgeoned half to death by my angry, political rants

If you look back at what I’ve written here during 2016, you’ll see the list of posts is short. In fact, prior to the election, I hadn’t been sufficiently moved to publish a new post since Prince died last spring, and rarely was my Twitter account seeing any action.

And then that big, orange, insecure, comb-over-wearing buffoon somehow managed to bamboozle enough people in Middle America into believing that a vile, shallow, obnoxious, sexist, racist, bloviating pig of a reality-TV star would be a good choice to lead the free world.

But wait; I lured you in with the promise of not subjecting you to rants like the one I just went on, so let me get to the point:

Since politics is what, as of late, has inspired me to write, and since many of you come here because you prefer to read the more innocuous, slice-of-life type things I sometimes publish (and my apologies for doing very little of that these days), I have decided to leverage the highly valuable Daddy Scratches brand to launch a shiny, new, politically-oriented blog. Behold:

And in conjunction with the launch of ScratchPolitics.com, I also have chosen to have mercy upon those of you who follow my Daddy Scratches Twitter account (which lately has comprised my proclamations that the End of Times is nigh upon us) by unveiling a new and separate Scratch Politics Twitter account. So far, I’ve tweeted one thing, retweeted another, and the only one following me? Is me … which — YES! — means now is your chance to get in on the ground floor of what is sure to become one of the funniest and most powerful voices on Twitter! (And by “funniest and most powerful,” I, of course, mean “obnoxious and profane.”)

So if, by some unlikely chance, you enjoy it when I perseverate on the horrible state of affairs in Washington, DC Trump Tower while also saying “fuck” a lot, by all means, head on over to Scratch Politics and say “Hey,” wouldja?

And if, on the far more likely chance, you prefer to avoid such nonsense, stay right here; I’ll eventually write something politics-free!

Pin It
Posted in Politics | 6 Responses

The post in which I take a deep breath and try to pull my shit together

The pool at Secrets Maroma Beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Pretending I’m in my Happy Place so that my head does not explode … (until I remember that this particular Happy Place might soon be on the other side of a giant wall).

Wow. Waaaaahhhhhow. The dude who wrote that previous post was pissed, huh? Daaaaaamn.

Look, what I wrote in that previous post is what spilled out of me in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s election, at a time when I was in, shall we say, a state of heightened emotions … but the main thrust of my words remains: Whether or not Donald Trump and/or the bulk of those people who voted for him intended for the forces of hate and intolerance to interpret his electoral victory as an endorsement of their own sick, twisted agendas, those forces — many of whom heretofore at least had the decency to keep their disgusting views on the down-low — now feel energized, emboldened and fully entitled to make life hell for anyone who does not look and think like them.

Since publishing that post yesterday, I’ve re-read it a number of times … and, earlier today, I was toying with the idea of taking it down … or at least toning it down. And in the middle of contemplating that approach, I had this unexpected exchange with a close friend from Massachusetts:

spraypaint

So, um, yeah … I stand by what I wrote yesterday.

I understand why so many previously sane people made the insane decision to vote for Trump … and yet, despite understanding why, I do not understand how they could vote for Trump … for all of the reasons I laid out in my previously posted rant.

I know a lot of good and decent people voted for Trump … and I can only assume that those good and decent people simply failed to recognize just how catastrophic their decision would be for others, if not for themselves … and that is what I can not abide. I can not abide what I believe amounts to sheer selfishness. Voting for Donald Trump was, at best, a very selfish thing to do. And I abhor selfishness … especially when that selfishness hurts others.

I keep reminding myself that there very well may never have been a President Obama if not for the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush. Whether or not it was worth the cost is debatable … and the cost we are about to pay for a Trump presidency seems unfathomable … but I believe that, whatever the final tally, the payoff will be another historic victory of our own next time around. (Can you say “President Warren”? Might as well start practicing. If nothing else, it feels a hell of a lot better than saying “President Trump.”)

These are dark times … and we almost surely are about to experience firsthand that whole “it’s going to get worse before it gets better” thing … but I believe it eventually will get better … as long as enough of us are willing to make it so. In the meantime, as I said yesterday: Let’s all look out for each other, m’kay? Yes, things suck right now … but we are not alone. In fact, we are the majority. Let’s not hesitate to act like it, and let’s not hesitate to wield that power when next we are presented wth the opportunity to do so.

Pin It
Posted in Politics | 5 Responses

Well, look on the bright side: At least we … um … you know … uhhh … there’s always … hmmm … OK, I’ve got nothin’. We’re fucked.

trump

You know that pivotal scene in “The Matrix” when a hairless Neo wakes up in a gel-filled pod and realizes that, up until that moment, he had absolutely no idea just how awful was the world around him, and just how misguided was he about the truth of his own existence? Yeah, that’s me, right now … minus the “hairless” part. (You’re welcome for that visual.)

I apologize in advance if none of the words I am about to type make a shred of sense, but I am deliriously sleep-deprived and deeply rattled by the recent discovery that I now exist in an alternate universe where an angry mob of millions just handed the nuclear codes to an abhorrent, vile, vulgar, uninformed, ill-tempered, bad-humored, intellectually challenged, racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, greedy, selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, pathetic little bully man-child because “Fuck you, you liberal-elites and all your reasonable, logical, tolerant, fact-based book-learnin’!”

We just witnessed a massive road-rage fit channeled into the ballot box. Progress and tolerance innocently sped in front of the Archie Bunkers of the electorate, and they responded by running us off the road, taking a crowbar out of their trunk and smashing our windshield … without any fucking concept of the price that they themselves (and the people they love) will now have to pay for their shortsighted, poorly thought-out temper tantrum.

Listen, I admit it: I completely, thoroughly, 100% underestimated Trump’s chances. In no way, shape or form did I think he stood a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the presidency … so much so that I sent to bed on election night my 11-year-old daughter (who struggles with anxiety and had taken to saying “I’m afraid” when considering the possibility of a President Trump) with a virtual GUARANTEE that he had absolutely NO CHANCE of winning.

I am the guy who not only never, ever, ever counts a chicken before it hatches, but who also forbids anyone in my presence from trying to convince me that the egg I’m holding — the one with the beak sticking out of it, making peeping sounds, and clocking in at [proper body temperature of poultry] degrees — is sure to bear a chicken … and yet I strode about the house Tuesday night in full confidence that the Blue Team would beat the Red Team. So, yes, I am shocked by the outcome.

But more than shocked, what I truly am is saddened by the outcome. Disheartened. And, at the risk of sounding way too fucking impressed with myself, I have realized that my sadness is not so much about Trump becoming the president, but about how his (non-majority, electoral-college-based) victory will be interpreted by the most unsavory of those who voted for him, and how that interpretation will result in very bad things for very many people for a very long time.

Let’s face facts: I am a 46-year-old white male who lives in an affluent Philadelphia suburb whose residents are 98% white and whose median income is roughly $130,000 per year. If I completely insulated myself from the news media for the next four years, my life, on a strictly personal, day-to-day basis, will not, in all probability, look significantly different under a President Trump. So why am I so deeply, profoundly upset about this election? Because the man who won it did so by playing to the worst parts of human nature. He did so by stoking the fires of sexism and racism and intolerance. He pitched a product based in no small part on fear and hatred. And, sadly, enough people bought it.

I feel confident in saying that more racists, more bigots, more sexists, more homophobes, more misogynists, more xenophobes and, in general, more profoundly misguided and stunningly ill-informed ignoramuses voted for Trump than for Clinton. And while many of those people’s own vile, hateful, backward-assed agendas aren’t necessarily anything that Donald Trump would truly champion or endorse (maybe … who knows?), those misguided, ill-informed, racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted ignoramuses will interpret his victory as the country’s stamp of approval on their vile, hateful, backward-assed agendas … and it will embolden those people to crank up the volume and openly spew their hateful, hurtful views through what they believe is a bullhorn of legitimacy.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

See this despicable, mouth-breathing fuckhead with the pro-Hitler book on the shelf behind him?

fuckhead

He was on NPR today expressing his delight over Trump’s victory, proudly spewing his racist views, and claiming that Trump’s election should be seen as a clear mandate for the U.S. to purge itself of minorities and become a “white, Christian” country. You can click here to listen for yourself. It’s absolutely fucking heinous … and instead of seeing himself as a put-upon fringe lunatic to whom most people won’t listen, he now believes he and his racist views are a politically legitimized truth upon which America must now act.

There are Facebook posts popping up left and right demonstrating the uptick in blatant, unabashed racism:

racism1
racism2
racism3
racism4

I also saw plenty of equally disturbing descriptions of incidents experienced by women who were subjected to sexual assaults in the name of Donald Trump … but, you know, I can only download and post so much of this shit before it starts to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry, so … enough already. (But, hey, if you need more, you can find a whole website full of similar such things here: WhyWeAreAfraid.com.)

Now, do I believe that everyone who voted for Trump is a sexist, racist, bigoted, homophobic, hate-mongering, intolerant rube? Absolutely not. In fact, in a disturbing admission of just how close to home this touches for me, here is my own father’s post-election Facebook status:

dad

My father is a retired, blue-collar, high-school educated, former union member, Vietnam-era Navy veteran, one generation removed from Syrian/Lebanese immigrants, who over and over again has been duped into voting against his own best interests. Do I think my father voted for Trump with evil intent? No, I do not. I think he is a decent (but horrifically misguided) person. I also think he, like many of those who cast votes for Donald Trump, is simply a frustrated, working-class American who (rightly) believes that the political system in this country is broken and that the politicians in Washington no longer represent him and other average Americans. But I also think that, regardless of his justified discontent, if he truly was concerned about his three granddaughters … and his daughter … and his three nieces … and his wife … and his daughter-in-law … he probably shouldn’t have voted for the “grab-her-by-the-pussy,” overturn-Roe-v.-Wade guy.

Cleaning house is one thing … but burning the house down while you and everyone else are still standing in it is a pretty fucking moronic way to solve the problem … and I believe that all of the decent, understandably frustrated Americans who decided to do so anyway are as equally to blame for the mess they’ve unleashed upon all of us (and themselves) as are the sick, hateful fucks who voted for Trump because they believe he shares their vomit-inducing values. (And why shouldn’t they think that? He gave them every reason to do so.)

Those truly despicable citizens who voted for Trump as a way to legitimize their hate are getting exactly what they wanted … for now. To them, I say, “Enjoy this brief taste of quasi-victory, you cowardly, disgusting little lowlifes … because, in actuality, this is nothing more than an enormous outing ceremony that allows us to identify exactly who and what we’re fighting against. So thank you for that.”

To those who helped the former group by casting a protest vote that I believe many of you will live to regret, I say, “Fuck you very much, you shortsighted douche nozzles.”

The good news is: Trump’s presidency will be an impotent thing, because he did not win the popular vote. We, the majority, are still a progressive, multicolored, multicultural, open-minded, kind, compassionate, inclusive, forward-thinking group that will right the ship during the midterm elections in 2018 and the presidential election in 2020. Until then, let’s all look out for each other.

Pin It
Posted in Politics | 8 Responses

This one hurts

I’ve lost musical idols before … and when each of them died, I was sad. What I was not, however, was deeply surprised. They were guys who played with fire for years, and it eventually consumed them.

But Prince? Fucking Prince? Prince tells the fire what to do. Prince controls the elements. Prince is an element. You can look it up: there’s earth, wind, fire, water and Prince.

I was 14 when “Purple Rain” blew up. Thirty-two years later, it remains one of the greatest albums of all time … and if you came of age in the ’80s and possess even the smallest sliver of good musical taste, you wholeheartedly agree.

Purple Rain

For an awkward, insecure, pubescent, scrawny-little suburban white kid who always felt out of place and whose solace came from immersing himself in music, that album was life-changing. Pop, funk and rock mixed together and delivered by a mysterious, androgynous little black dude who could sing his ass off and absolutely shred the ever-loving hell out of an electric guitar? Yes, please. I’m all in.

And even though I was still a (pathetically) long way from finding out what the whole sex thing was about, I knew from the way Prince played and sang that it had to be all kinds of awesome. I wasn’t exactly sure what Nikki was up to in that hotel lobby, but you can bet your ass I couldn’t wait to find out.

Do you even remember how huge (and prolific) Prince was back then? Here, let me remind you:

prince

* * *

Prince was musical creativity personified, and a genre unto himself … and if scientists had announced that they’d discovered Prince wasn’t actually human, it would have been perfectly believable, because he was an otherworldly entity who seemed to defy the laws of time and aging.

Need proof? OK, here it is:


That is, without a doubt, the single most epic Super Bowl Halftime performance of all time. No lip-sync bullshit, just a straight-up, I-own-this-motherfucker display of unrivaled bad-assery and musical prowess … and he did it TWENTY-THREE YEARS after “Purple Rain.” The man’s biggest album of all time came out in 1984 … and, nearly a quarter-century later, he remained so vital and relevant that not only was he asked to headline the most widely viewed annual event on television, but he kicked the living shit out of it … in the middle of a rain storm … while displaying a level of swagger and self confidence that mere mortals can only dream of.

And, hey, by the way? I would be grossly remiss if I didn’t also point out what an unbelievably gifted guitar player he was. Though the instrument for which he’s known best is his voice, he was a six-string virtuoso of Hendrixian proportions.

Exhibit A:


[Prince’s epic solo starts at about 3 minutes and 30 seconds in, but the whole performance is worth watching.]

Prince’s death has rattled me more than that of any musician who has passed before him. His music is woven into the fabric of who I am, and the fact that he no longer exists feels wrong. He’s one of the cultural blocks upon which I built my foundation, and to have that block suddenly disappear has shaken me up … both because of the loss in and of itself, and because his death serves as an unwelcome reminder that the clock is ticking for all of us.

And I know we all die eventually. It’s part of the deal. But Prince? Dead at 57? That’s not the way it’s supposed to go down. Not at all.

Thanks for all the music and creativity you shared with us, Prince. I wish you hadn’t left so early.

Pin It
Posted in Inspiration, Music | 9 Responses