the X in sex

It’s not a Kiss song anymore.  And you’re not so quick to sway to such a tune nowadays anyway.

ChainedHandsYou’re a parent of two children.  Your younger one is nine and he’s into baseball, video games, and all things iPad.  He still loves to cuddle with you on the couch.  Your older one, your sweet heart, is twelve now and she’s beautiful.  She’s got your eyes but not your big ears… thank God.  She spends more time painting her nails and less time with you on the couch.  She likes to shop, she likes to look pretty and she’s not sure if she should be a cheer leader or just hang with her friends more.  She’s not nine.  She’s no where near nineteen either.

She’s still your little girl.

Did you know that she’s being watched?  And if she’s not, her friend is… or someone she knows.  Did you know that her school is no different than any other middle school or high school in your city, or county. or state.  There are other parents, with their pride-and-joy’s at other schools who are being enticed just like she is… or her friend… or her classmate.  Enticed by what?  By whom?  For what?

I can tell you for what.  But you won’t want to think about it.  You’ll want to turn your head and say not in my neighborhood.  Not in my kid’s school.  Not here.  Not me.

Sure, I can tell you.  In fact, I will.  I’m going to.  But when I do, you’ll have to consider the fact that if it’s not your child, or her friend, that it’s someone just like her, just as susceptible… as vulnerable.  Does it matter if she’s yours?  Or someone else’s who is pulled in?  Drawn in.  Would you not want another to help protect your child if they could?  To help keep your child from being enslaved?

“What!?” you say.  Enslaved?  Slavery?   “Not my child,” you say.  “For what?” you ask.

For sex.

Your child or your child’s friend or someone she knows is being targeted, or will be, by a sexual predator who’s interest is in exploiting your sweet little girl for profit.

And yes, your child is just as vulnerable as her friend, as your neighbor… as any other girl.

For sex.

They are good, these pimps.  They infiltrate your family and sit at your dinner table and convince you they’re safe.  They lavish your sweet girl with gifts, both material and of love.  They give her a false sense of value and worth and they carefully pull her away from you and then they very skillfully embed her into an underworld of sexual exploitation.  It is a modern day slavery.  It is Human Trafficking.

Don’t ignore it.  Google it.  Read about it and then take action to help not just your child, but one more.  Right now, the United States is the mecca for Human Trafficking.  Not overseas.  Not in another country.  Here.  Right here, in your city, your county, your state.  Your neighborhood.

You know you are busy.  You know how much you love your nine year old and the way he buries his head into your shoulder on the couch.  You know how much he fights with the older one.  How the two can be at each other’s throats.  You know how hard you work at making your family a family.  You know you’re probably not going to be able to do much to help this cause even though it terrifies you if you really let yourself go there.

But you know you can read.  You know how to google.  You know how to text.  So read about it.  And then tell the people you talk to everyday to do the same.  Forward this blog or perhaps an article that talks about the actual horrors, (that you didn’t have to read about here), that your child, or her friend or classmate will be subject to.  Being active is as simple as being conscious.  Being aware.  You can help your family by helping one more family.  And helping can simply mean raising awareness one family at a time.  One forward at a time.  One Facebook share at a time.

Because the truth is… Sex sells.  Shamelessly.  Loudly.  In the open.  In the darkness.  On TV.  In magazines. On the internet.  At Home.  And at your child’s school, where smart, scheming predators watch and wait and then woo and wisp away your sweet girl’s innocence… or her friends, or her classmate’s.

X-Out sexual slavery now.

Raise your own awareness and then tell another mother, another father, another friend.  Just tell another.  Even Anne Hathaway made reference to Human Trafficking in her Oscar’s speech.  Did you catch it when she said, “Hopefully, that someday in the not too distant future the misfortunes of [Les Miserables character, Fantine] will only be part of stories and not part of real life.”  Too many said her speech was practiced.  We should all have such a chance to be so practiced…

Raise awareness.

Your sweet girl is worth it.  I know mine is.

Dear Oklahoma… “Go Michigan!”

So school is starting, which means that summer is over.  Cue the sigh of relief from all the seasoned stay-at-homers out there.  And another sigh from the rest of the parental watch pool.  Routine is back.  Learning is back.  Thank God for our schools and the institutions of learning where we send our kids and trust in their teachers and administrators to guide them and fill them with knowledge… Umm, except in Oklahoma?  Ok, well not really, but check this article out!  —  “Oklahoma youngster forced to turn his Michigan shirt inside out at school”  If you want the short version, the title says it all.  A five year old was told that he couldn’t have his college shirt of choice on because well, it’s a state law that he only wear Oklahoma shirts at school.  Pardon my hill-billy prejudice, but can we get any more Okie-ish than that?!!  Can’t you just see the spit flying through the front teeth and past the teachers pushed-out belly where the Sooner belt buckle is buried underneath the girth… the loogey splatting onto the ground next to the bewildered Kindergartner who is still mesmerized by the sheer volume of saliva that has puddled at his feet before he hears in a disturbingly proud voice the chastising words of his teacher… “We don’t take kindly to that there kind of shirt young man.  You’ll do well to not wear that kind of blaspheme in these here halls of institutional learning.”  Excuse me while I choke on my disbelief.

With all the problems in education that we have as a nation, it seems that this one is so laughable that it’s disgusting.  My kids attend public school, and the policy there is quite the opposite in letter and spirit.  Mind you we live in California where we have our own educational challenges.  But when it comes to touting college, kids are encouraged to wear any shirt that says “I’m proud of my school, and one day when it comes time to go to college, I’ll be ready if I so choose to go.”  Every classroom has a college to root for, whether it’s the Tritons of UC San Diego, the Trojans of USC, or even the Hurricanes of Miami.  When kids don there school shirts of choice they are saying, “One day, I’ll be college bound.”

Insert huge sigh here… “Are you kidding me!”  REALLY?!  They are telling a Kindergartner that he can’t wear a college t-shirt because it is not consistent with state patriotism?  Tell you what… let’s just put on some confederate grey, shall we?

Perhaps I’m overstating.  As my wife notes, I tend to do that.  The article mentioned above does note that the policy in place is to safeguard against gang related activity.  Oh I feel so much better.  Oklahoma gangs are Ok for Okies but otherwise… The truth is, I have just one thing to say to Oklahoma… and that’s “Go Michigan!” or Pepperdine, or BYU, or Weslayan, or Dartmouth, or Santa Cruz.  Pick one, and wear it where you will, proudly.  Because whether you have a child who some day may be headed to college or you simply like cheering for your team during the college football season, let’s not be so backwards as to ask our kids to turn themselves inside out so that we can continue our ignorance… isn’t that right Oklahoma?  (says I as I spit into a spitoon)

What’s a Hero you ask? Let me tell you, Chris Hayes from MSNBC…

A hero is someone who loves unconditionally.  Someone who loves not just enough, but all the way, no matter what.  As far as Chris Hayes is concerned, perhaps he should ask himself whether laying down one’s life is as unconditional as you can get.  To all those who died for our country, who served our country, who never got to see their kids, their wife, their life again because of their unconditional love for our great nation, I humbly salute you… Because the truth is… unconditional love is something we could all use a little more of… So the next time you see your friend or your husband or your child or dad, give them a hug and simply love them.  In doing so, you honor our nation, those who have died for it, and ultimately those you love, including yourself.

A Not So Typical Mother’s Day song list for the day after…

In No particular order but with equal parts love for mama, mother, mother to be and mother from another or not… check out these tunes and the reasons why they make the list…  (and before there’s any confusion, my Mom is the best.)

Mama, I’m Coming Home by Ozzy Osbourne – Because what doesn’t scream mother more than Ozzy screamin’ Mama!  Maybe it should be, “Sharon!”

Look Mama by Howard Jones – when I was in Middle School at Goddard in Glendora, CA, I put this song on for my mom in the mini-van and had her listen to the lyrics.  It was the first time I realized that music had the power to piss off your mom when you try to express yourself with lyrics from a song!

Mother by Pink Floyd – Such a brilliantly dysfunctional lullaby… “Mother did it need to be so… high.”

My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist by Tarkio (Colin Meloy’s pre-Decemberists jaunt) – For the title alone and the fact that everyone should know who the Decemberists are.  Now go check out their songs on iTunes.

Mother’s of the Disappeared by U2 – One of U2’s best songs ever recorded.  “Hear their heart beat… We hear their heart beat.”

Mother by Danzig – sing it with me… “Mother!”

The Coffee Song by Ralph’s World – For the lyrics… “Em Oh Em Em Why needs Cee Oh Eff Eff Ee Ee”

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ by Michael Jackson – Mama Say.  Mama Saw.  Muh Mah Coo Saw.  Do you really need more than that?

Renegade by Styx – “Oh mama I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law…”  Cuz haven’t we all wanted to sing this to our mother’s and mean it?  No?  Oh, well, it’s a good song.

Brick by Ben Folds Five – Controversy.

Mama Said Knock You Out by Ladies Love Cool James – Every Mom loves the Ladies Love… and he’s been here for years so don’t call it a comeback!

Mother by the Police – Thank God I never felt smothered by my mother like the Police in this song.  “… the telephone is screamin’, won’t she leave me alone!”

Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice – “Word to your Mutha!”

Happy day after Mom’s Day to everybody.  

PK – Listen Up!

Good music is visceral.  It’s intoxicating.  It resonates.  It’s what the band PK rocks on stage with infectious energy and of all things, an unapologetic retort.  Like a bunch of punk rockers… only they’re not punk and they’re not indie either.  They’re sort of this amalgamation of different genres, like the missing link between the Shins and the Killers with a cocky AFI flare.  The sound is so unique and universal at the same time that one can’t help but to stop… and listen.

And then the beat kicks in as drummer, Rico Rodriguez keeps time and intensity like an old pro, and all of a sudden your body’s moving, your head’s nodding, and you’re swaying to the back beat of “Berelain,” one of PK’s most piquant tracks.  Check the lyrics, “How long must I wait… Oh I can’t take the spot light off ya now… ”  It might as well be a self proclamation of what’s to come for a band that is on the verge of stardom and discovery.  “Here she comes now, knockin’ on my door…”   Their abilities far exceed the venues they play… which is to say that they can command the attention of an entire arena.  It’s only a matter of time.  And to their credit, PK is being patient with finding the right record label.  As Bass player, Mikel Van Kranenburg (Vk) said at a show in Pacific Beach in March, “..we don’t want to sign with just anyone.”  The sentiment is echoed by the entire band and IMHO, rightfully so.

And as the music keeps on, it’s with a boyish charm that helmer Travis Hawley rocks his vox on stage.  His presence is powerful and pleading at the same time.  He touts a charisma that is one part british politeness, one part american confidence and two parts mischief… undertones that fall right in line with sing-a-long tracks like “Evana Carina” and “London.”  Mikel Vk’s tight bass line for the latter is the perfect compliment to Hawley’s punkish crooning and part of the reason that its a favorite of my ten-year old daughter.  Yes, PK is for all ages and they are ready for a record deal.  And it has everything to do with smart lyrics, Hawley’s clean voice (a recordable gem), Rodriguez’s angstful, straight forward, drum beat, Vk’s honest, steady bass line, and guitar rockers Nick Fotinakes and Matt DePauw with their delectably mad exchanges on the strings.  Their riffs play compliment to Rodgriguez’s fills making each track feel more like an event than simply the next song on the album.

So who are PK?  What does the name stand for?  Penalty Kicks?  Preachers Kids?  An online gamers abbreviation for Player Kill?  Alas, no… There is more to the name than a simple abbreviation.  When asked, Hawley noted that they like the mystery surrounding the name but that it’s origin comes from the story The Power of One about a South African boxer named Peekay.  In the novel, Peekay exudes an endearing vulnerability and sense of humor that makes it easy for readers to identify with.  Not a far cry from the likability PK the band projects from the stage that allows new and existing fans alike to connect with them.  So perhaps PK are a band of pop-punkish lyrical pugilists rocking music for all ages.  It’s up to their fans to decide, old and new alike.  One thing is certain… they are talented and worth the listen.  So take a moment and check them out because … to pull a line from their hit, London… “Hold up, cuz you ain’t never felt like this before…!”  And the truth is you haven’t heard a band like this before.  To their credit, PK’s sound is their own.  They are PK.

Links to PK:


Upcoming Shows

PK – Into the Roaring

Berelain Video

SeaWolves Video

London Video

Big Wednesday, my friends

“…in the old days, I remember a wind that would blow down through the canyons.  It was a hot wind called a Santana, and it carried with it the smell of… warm places.  It blew the strongest before dawn, across the point.  My friends and I would sleep in our cars and the smell of the offshore wind would often wake us… and each morning, we knew this would be a special day…”

So begins the opening credits to Big Wednesday.  A rite of passage movie about friends and friendship starring Jan Michael Vincent, Gary Busey (a precursor to him becoming crazy), and William Katt (pre Greatest American Hero).  I can’t remember the first time I saw this movie, I just remember always loving it.  It captures that spirit of friendship and youth and the love and loss that is so powerful when we are experiencing the world for the first time.  Careening through life without a governor, without rules, and without caution.  It speaks to the way we come to understand what being a friend means.  What it should mean.  What it doesn’t.  At one point in the movie, Jack Barlow (William Katt) reluctantly partakes in a toast with his estranged friends.  “What are we drinking to?” he asks.  Bear (Sam Melville) touts,  “To nothing but your friends.  To your friends come hail or high water.”  It is the toast, the mantra of friendship. that brings a smile to Barlow’s face and reunites him with his dear friends, Matt Johnson (Jan Michael Vincent) and Leroy the Masochist (Gary Busey) in spite of their checkered history and old wounds.  It’s a universal theme.  If it were a beer it would be called St. Pauli’s Girl.  Cuz you never forget your first.  And those childhood friendships stay with us too don’t they?  They become the standard.  The nostalgic weight.  The classic memory.

And for me, as I follow the myriad of friends Facebook says I have and the myriad still outside the social media realm, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic about the ones who shaped and molded me growing up.  We’ve all got at least one that pops in our head even now as we ponder… The one who got in to trouble with us.  The one who dared us and we did it.  The one who pulled us back from where we didn’t need to be.  The one who dragged us where we thought we didn’t want to go.  Yeah.  We’ve all got at least one.  So let me just say ala the Bear, “To your friends come hail or high water!”  And with those words let new friends be included as well.  The ones who are there for us now as we live in our day to day.  The ones who know the value of a true friend because they remember their own impressionable moments once upon a time ago.  The ones who know who they are even as they read.  Am I getting too… sentimental.  Maybe.  But the truth is, friends are found in the most sentimental of places.  Right at the heart.

Super Tuesday – It’s not Clark Kent’s Birthday

Ever take a random sampling of news stories?  Proceed with caution should you choose to do so.  Every time I do I am reminded why I loathe the news.  It’s depressing.  It’s sensationalist.  It’s delivered with intent.  To sell itself.  To be viewed, read, observed, seen, ingested, and absorbed by the masses.  To what end?  Sometimes I’m not sure.  To inform?  To report? purports the following mission statement: “the central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.”  If this is true, please tell me how Lindsey Lohan’s rehab trials or Rush Limbaugh’s diatribes are better helping me function in my free corner of the US.  Please remind me how all the back-stabbing, side-swiping, slandering, issue-skirting, and general “campaigning” taking place in the race for the presidency is helping anybody move toward a better functioning country?  Forgive the rant, but it’s hard for me to even care about things in the news anymore, even something touted as super.  Yes.  Super Tuesday is today, which basically means we find out exactly who’s going to be front and center in our nations race to back-stab, side-swipe, issue-skirt, and campaign for president.  Why do I care?  Won’t the newspapers and e-zines tell me exactly why I should care and what to care about anyway?  It’s like the assumption is that we’ve all lost the ability to decide how we feel.  As if we’re all sitting around saying, “I’m not sure if I agree with that yet, because Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper haven’t told me what to think on that particular issue.”  I think I’d rather get my news from Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.  At least they are open and honest about the fact that our nation’s political – dare I call it a – system, is so effed up that it has become pure entertainment.  And I’m sure that’s not all it’s capable of but still… It is  Entertaining.  Us.  Like a big variety show talent contest full of dog and pony acts or perhaps I should say Ass and Elephant skits.  Would anyone even flinch if Simon, Paula, and Randy started doling out the criticisms following the presidential debates?  We could call it American Idle.  Where the candidates talk and the country idles…  Ok, I guess it wouldn’t be the Idol folks anymore.  So it’d be Christina and Cee-Lo and Adam.
Still, no one would bat an eye at the amalgamation of politics and entertainment because that’s how it’s been for a while.  Otherwise how could Bill Maher still have a job? But surely I digress.  Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.  Maybe we should say a prayer for the journalists out there or simply say good luck to the ones trying to siphon through all the BS spewing forth on the campaign trail.  I’m not taking sides.  No need to.  It’s coming from all sides and our country is neck deep in it, but honestly, can you think of a worse responsibility than having to determine what is true and what is just strategically planted BS by the other side to help boost polling numbers?  Super is the last word I’d use to describe what our political process and procedure has become, which is why there’s so much entertainment value in it.  A vicious, beastly, merry-go-round. Which begs the question, who or what would you describe as super on this Super Tuesday of Tuesdays?  For me, I think I’d have to start with Clark Kent, because the truth is, our country could use a little help from Super Man.

I do.

Remember your first few days of college?  I do.  I was a freshman at UC San Diego.  I was entirely too cocky, and fairly sure that all the movies I’d seen about college were true.  And then she walked into my dorm room, said hello, and walked out.  I married her six years later.  The rest is… meant to be, confusing, fulfilling, frustrating, gratifying, reassuring, happy, sad, misunderstood, scary, incredible, indescribable, crazy, exciting, anxious, angry, painful, beautiful, sleepless, everlasting, unsure, wonderful, heart wrenching, heart pounding, heart felt,…

Is it possible to feel all of that at once when you look at someone?  The truth is… I do.

Open Letter to the Man Upstairs

Dear God,

Thank you for 80’s movies and Pop Rocks.  Thank you for the nineties so we could all un-peg our pants.  Thank you for Mr. Pibb and his courage to be satisfied with a masters degree.  Thank you for mullets because we like to laugh at pictures of ourselves posted on Facebook.  Thank you for Facebook.  Mark McDonough likes this.  Thank you for love songs like Tesla’s Love Song cuz darlin’ we’ll find love again, I know.  Thank you for peanut butter and the dogs that get it stuck in their teeth.  Thank you for Hermione Granger because she’s the one that figured everything out in every Harry Potter book.  Thank you for quiet moments interrupted by SBD’s because really they’re funnier than the unexpected loud ones, though maybe not as much as the ones that want to be SBD’s but get too excited at the very end and make that little put put sound.  Thank you for chocolate bars melted in diapers at baby showers.  That’s just weird and gross and hilarious all at the same time.  Thank you for friends who’ve got your back, every time… even when you’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake on the ass and you need the poison sucked out.  Thank you for cozy socks.  Not because I wear them but because seeing my wife wear them makes me feel… well… cozier.  Thanks for Mona Lisa’s smile.  I think she’s smiling about the SBD she just let slip and everyone is about to catch wind of.  Thank you for wind and not being able to see it, but to see its effects… kinda like you…  Thanks for clearing up misunderstandings so that no mother is ever murdered by her child because said child is told by papa to go aks mama.  Thank you for Lucky Charms.  They truly are magically delicious, like when a mother takes a bite of strained peas and says to her infant child, “seee?  mmmmm!  yummy.”  Thank you for do overs.  You know how much we need them.  Thanks for laughter.  Thanks for second chances.  And thirds.  And um fourths.  Thanks for unconditionally loving me.  Thanks for being patient and kind and never failing me.  The truth is, I could learn a lot from you.

Much love,