Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Thoughts: More of This, Please!

I ran across a post that made me think. A guy named Robert Miller shared it on his Facebook page. I don't really know Rob, but we're "friends." Typical, right? Ugh, I won't go down that path. I have other points to harp on today.

I did meet him at a Marty Gallagher seminar at the University of Pennsylvania a couple years ago, and he's the model for Marty's CrossCore Hardcore book, so we're not complete strangers. I used to be a hot model, too, back when The Purposeful Primitive came out. Then I was replaced by young and beautiful Rob.  I'm not bitter or anything, but I do hate him. Not really. Well, maybe.

Do I know much of anything about the guy, though? Nah. I do know a couple things. I know he was in the Navy. How do I know this? I'm fucking smart; that's how. And it says so on his page. "Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class June 1997 to June 2002." There's also this telling cover shot of Rob looking like a broad-shouldered, trim-waisted, Navy badass:

Captain America? Good guess, but no. Rob Miller.
In addition to my awesome deductions about Rob's naval career, I also know he shares thoughtful insights from time to time. What, you ask, do I mean by "thoughtful?" Well, knuckleheads, they made me like... umm... you know... think! How so? In a nutshell (great AIC song, by the way), they were what I'd call atypical or unexpected for a meathead who served in the Navy. Right or wrong, I have certain expectations - stereotypes would be more truthful, I suppose - of dudes who train with weights and know how to operate automatic weapons.  

Those expectations are part of the reason I've often felt like I don't quite fit in with fellow lifters. Our mutual interests, and maybe even value systems, seem to end with the iron. No need really getting into all of that, though. Suffice it to say Rob has surprised me and broken the mold quite a few times.

Still, I was dubious when I saw the post he shared titled, "Joe Rogan Brilliantly Explains Why Americans Are Still Asleep." I think I even rolled my eyes. The words "Joe Rogan" and "brilliant" in the same sentence? Hmm. Maybe I'm stereotyping again, but those two certainly don't go together anything at all like Forrest Gump's peas and carrots. More like oil and water, I thought.

Admittedly, Joe is another one I don't know much about, but facts are facts, Jack, and two facts I know about Joe are that he's a stocky looking meathead and an announcer for the UFC. This shit is oozing more blood lust than Charlie Manson's followers. Never mind the podcasts I've not once bothered listening to; clearly, I already had pretty strongly formed, albeit poorly researched, opinions.

So yes, I fully anticipated Joe's litany of reasons why America is asleep to include gems like being too lenient on illegal aliens or maybe failing to assert our world dominance with a continuing strong military presence in the Middle East. Heck, maybe ole Joe would say we should hunt down terrorists and behead them on primetime TV to send the right message.

All of this seemed like the sort of unreasoning I'd expect from the face of MMA. But I clicked anyway. I had five minutes to waste confirming my intellectual superiority.

And then something interesting happened. Joe was questioning some stuff. He called out big business.  He wondered about the motives of our elected officials. He even put on his own air of superiority by pointing out the stupidity of average Americans, though I really think he was correctly speaking more about mental laziness.

And he said "fuck" a few times. Ah, sweet music to my ears. He had me at hello.

Joe Rogan, a guy I'd have handpicked as the poster child for blue collar "We'll put a boot in your ass" mentality was anything but. Listen for yourselves. The part around the two-minute mark where he's talking about getting sucked into the trap of nationalism particularly resonated with me. It really is easy to allow that to happen when you're a West Virginia boy who loves nothing more than to hang around a campfire drinking beer and talking shit with your buddies. 'Merica damn straight! We're #1, baby... ass kickers all the way!

Back to Joe. He sounded a little... dare I say it... counterculture! And how did counterculture become so uncool anyway??? Maybe a cool guy like Joe Rogan can make hippies hip again. I'm old but not old enough to have actually lived in the 1960s. Well, maybe just the tip; I was born in 1969. I may not have lived it, but I sure as hell read about it.

Those cats questioned shit, man. Side note:  it's more fun if you reread that last sentence aloud and all drawn out like a pothead might say it, in a voice something like this one:

Anyway, back in the day, bucking authority and asking those hard questions wasn't frowned upon. Well, I suppose it's always frowned upon by the establishment. But it was also celebrated and revered by a large and vocal minority. They sang songs about defiance; songs like "Ohio" that memorialized the Kent State students who were tragically shot and killed protesting President Nixon's Cambodian campaign.

Now? Now we're living in some kind of weird opposites world where it's somehow cooler to fall in line, and I don't see much of that 1960s mentality at all - not the protests or the great songs celebrating the protests. I see young people mostly allowing themselves to be led like lambs to the slaughter. Maybe they're too busy playing video games to bother questioning anything. Now I do sound old!

I see so many people saying the same dumb things that I've fallen into my own trap. I think I know what a guy who looks like Joe Rogan is going to say before he even has a chance to open his mouth. Shame on me, I reckon.

But man does it ever feel good when you get that sort of completely unexpected surprise that just shatters the world order you've come to expect. BAM! It's like fireworks going off all around, exploding your normal way of thinking and replacing it with something new and beautiful. Like when some woman who looks like she'd have the voice of ten thousand hissing cats opens her mouth and beautiful angel music floats out.

That was wrong of me. I know. Too much emphasis in our society on looks. But everyone thought it, and many said it way before me. Doesn't make it right, though, and at least for once real talent didn't get ignored. Ah, whatever. Just have a listen:

More of this, please!

That's right. I want more of these unexpected surprises to inspire me to keep on being a disagreeable pain in the ass. They're around. I'm just not looking hard enough or appreciating them well enough when I do see them.

There's my friend, Marshall Roy, a meathead with muscles on top of muscles who doesn't look like he'd give one single fuck about feminist issues. But he does. And he's not just a quiet bystander about it, either. He calls out poor behavior. Hell, he even calls himself out sometimes for stuff that isn't even bad. Scan the dude's Facebook page. You'll be hard pressed to find a week that goes by where he doesn't stand up publicly for one of the core issues he believes in supporting. His actions match his words.

Clearly doesn't give a shit about using a proper coffee cup. Does care deeply about humanity.
There's my other friend, Derek Rodenbeck. Yep, I have a couple of them. He's another meathead. Notice a theme here?  But he's an artist and a thinking man's meathead. He stood in my kitchen the other night and told me about his tour in Iraq and work as a PR agent for the Army's war propaganda machine. Derek took that camera of his out on his own and filmed some shit. But he didn't hide his footage away. He showed it to Army brass and pointed things out he didn't think were kosher.

Sure, they quashed it, but that's irrelevant. More importantly, Derek - a dude who looks like yet another male model, only this one has been crossed with a crazy bearded homeless street fighter; a dude who you'd expect to blindly charge right into the fray waving his sword wildly above his head (and I'm sure he'd do that, too, if his Army brethren were being asked to do it) - isn't just that. He's also a dude with a little Rob Miller and a little Joe Rogan and a little Marshall Roy in him. He's a dude who asks hard questions. He's a dude who knows the sword isn't the only way to prove you're a man.

Homeless psychopath who hedged his bets by pairing two types of camo?
Indeed it would appear so.
Truth seeker? Definitely.
I'm picky. I want to be inspired the way I want to be inspired. I want credible sources who've lived in the house, or at least in the same neighborhood, whose residents they're criticizing.

I don't want more Rosie O'Donnell's. I haven't actually seen Rosie on television in years and don't even know what she stands for anymore, so don't take that literally. She's just my poster person, justified or not, for advocating positions on which one has no credibility to speak. You know, typical rich Hollywood asshole telling us to support this cause or that cause but knowing little about it other than how to open her fat wallet and throw a few bills at the problem - a ceremonial act only and one utterly devoid of any real sacrifice. But who am I to judge? At least a person like that is doing something.

Still, the point is this. If Rosie told me to turn the other cheek and be a pacifist it would have the opposite effect. Remember that scene in Braveheart where the King is pondering the possibility of an enemy confronting his timid son and immediately being emboldened to invade? Yeah, it's like that. The bitch couldn't fight her way out of a wet paper bag, and I know it just by looking at her. There I go again assuming things based solely on appearance. That's okay; I really am right this time.

Please don't beat the shit out of me!
You feel me, dog? Seeing that, I smell blood in the water and am inspired, or maybe irritated, to violence. She has no credibility on matters involving aggression, because her only real choice is pacifism. Where the hell would violence land her other than the wrong end of a gut punch?

But if a meathead says violence is a poor choice and to try kindness and inclusion instead... hmm, that's interesting. Certainly, violence is a viable option for most meatheads I know.

And if Rob Miller or Derek Rodenbeck tells me to question our government... well now... that's entirely different, too. They've served. They've lived it. They know a thing or two about that of which they speak. Both sides of the coin, if you will. That's inspiring. I think I'll sit up and listen to that.

I've talked to enough people who served in our armed forces to know that many of them are the wisest and most skeptical people you'll ever encounter. They're far more leery of our government's motives and have far more insight into the way the world really works than most who haven't served. I guess the military does that to you. You see things you don't want to see; things that change you.

This Memorial Day, I have some grandiose ambitions. I'm going to start by cleaning up my own house. I say I want more inspiration, but maybe I should try being more inspiring.

I can be a little angry at times. You don't say! That anger is good when it's a driving force behind creativity or when it makes folks uncomfortable and prods them to see things from a different perspective. I've written some of my best material when I was pissed off. Lately, though, I think my anger has been turning me into that unbecoming green man a little too often.

So, mid-year's resolution... a little less anger and a little more thoughtful discourse on the issues that are important to me. I suppose this was a decent start. Surprising coming from a meathead, huh?

I also plan to say a prayer for all those who died in service. Along with that, I'm going to keep right on questioning a government that sends them to their deaths repeatedly, with little explanation of the motives, risks, or intended outcomes, and then treats those who somehow manage to make it out poorly when they return.

I approve of this message. Never was much of a Patriot anyway.


  1. Just got a chance to read it. Wholeheartedly agree. Less anger, more discourse. You really out to check out Sarah Vowell's audiobooks - she'll tell you stories about America that will blow your mind, but she never loses faith in the American ideal. I love it. And she's funny. Thanks for this!

  2. Neat writing sir. I greatly enjoyed this short journey in your thoughts. Interesting I’m reading this as we approach Memorial Day. More writing please - it’s Very enjoyable and thought provoking. Have a great day