Archive for October 2015 | Monthly archive page

(Note:  There’s a new song at the bottom of this post.  I just wanted you to have to scroll through my nonsense first.)

Okay, I’m long winded, I know…  Here’s the song at the top of the page.

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Only a year remains until the Presidential election: That special time that only comes once in a leap year, when us little people choose which person in Washington, D.C. has better fooled us into believing they’ll do a bunch of stuff they say they’ll do, but probably won’t, and reward them with a cool house in a walkable urban neighborhood and an entire military to blow stuff up with.

It’s an exciting time in America, but it’s easy for some of us to get a little carried away with our excitement.  With social media providing an open platform for so many people to share their political beliefs, things can get kind of messy.  It’s easy to lose sight of the goal of online political debate:  Convincing those who disagree with us that they are tearing our great nation apart, brick by brick.  I wrote a song about this, posted at the bottom of the page, but it’s easy to offer criticism without solutions, so I see it fit to provide some guidelines on how best to benefit from our inevitable squabbles over the next year.  I hope they are able to help us all in our efforts to eradicate those people who insist on being wrong on the internet. 

Guide Line 1:  Arguments are better made with no paragraph breaks and poor punctuation.

Ambiguity is key here, folks.  The more I have to strain my eyes sifting through line after line of clustered, period-less run on sentences and wonder “is there supposed to be a comma there?”, the more time you have to plot your response to my response— which you’re not going to read anyway.  Which brings me to my next tip:

Guide Line 2:  Don’t read the other persons response.

Not fully, anyway.  Skim it and assume the rest is bullshit.  It probably is.  I’ll explain this in my next guide line.

Guide Line 3:  Give no one the benefit of the doubt.  they are stupider than you are.

In fact, debate tends to work best if you just lead with this statement.  “You are stupider than me.”  That way, no one is standing on ceremony.  It says right away:  “I know more about this than you, and you have to either be a mindless sheep, or your once intelligent brain has been indoctrinated by whatever media narrative has turned you into a mindless sheep.  You mindless f&*!ing sheep.” 

Guide Line 4:  At least once in every ten or so political discussions, state firmly that you will leave this country if the person you’re voting for doesn’t get elected.

I said at least one in every ten discussions, but feel free to overachieve in this.  It’s really the only way people know you are really serious about what you are saying.  Who would want to stay in this sh*t hole after that one guy gets elected, anyway?  Only the person you are arguing with… and that person is stupider than you are.

If you’re in a political discussion, and you’ve already threatened to leave the country, but haven’t told the person you’re debating that they are stupider than you, immediately stop whatever grand-slam of a truth-nugget you are chomping away at on your keyboard, (use the “cut” function so you can paste it back later) and just specifically address the fact that the person you are debating is stupider than you are.  Just say “You are stupider than me.”  Then, paste your truth-nugget back into the comment box, and finish annihilating whatever stupid, sheep-like argument the stupider person than you is trying to make. 

If you really want to win this argument, end your truth nugget with “I wish all you so and so’s would just get out of my country”.  That way, the stupider person knows that if you’re candidate wins, they are free to leave the country and it will not hurt your feelings one bit.  This is a pre-emptive move that will render their threat to leave the country useless.

Guide line 5:  Remember, there is nothing you can learn from anyone who thinks differently than you. 

Which is why it’s really just best to surround yourself with people who agree with you.  There are so many things you can learn from these people, like how to respond to that one person over on so and so’s wall who you know is stupider than you, but talks all smarty-pants and presses you to read articles that are really long and say nothing that confirms what you already know is truly true. Which brings me to my next guide line.

Guide line 6:  Only read articles from extremists blogs that really piss you off.

Preferably, the article should piss you off because the blogger is so brilliantly pointing out what a huge threat the stupider people who disagree with you are to your way of life.  You SHOULD be pissed.  You SHOULD be scared.  That blogger knows this.   That blogger knows that the only way we can really get this country pointed in the right direction is to show our anger by writing angry posts as quickly as possible.  No time should be paid to paragraph breaks or to punctuation (See guide line 1) .  There’s no time to google those words that you’re “pretty sure they mean what I think they mean”.  After all, if it does happen to mean something different, who would know?  The person you’re arguing with?  No.  That person is stupider than you.  Just write fast and make sure you post it before the stupider person posts their brainwashed nonsense. 

Guide line 7:  Agreeing to disagree is for sissies.

And frankly, it’s quite boring.  No one is grabbing the popcorn over that nonsense.  When someone who is stupider than you wants to “agree to disagree”, you have two options:

1.  If you only know them on social media, and not in real life, explain to them (this may be a good time to reiterate the fact that they are stupider than you.) that you wish it was as simple as “agreeing to disagree”, but this is America, and we don’t play that way.  You can follow this with an unsubstantiated insult.  Here is a short list of insults to start with:


-Muslim apologist terrorist lover


-baby killer

-woman hater

-tree hugger

-capitalist pig

-corporate scum

There are plenty more, but whatever you call them, make sure to punctuate the insult by telling them again that they are stupider than you.

2.  If you know the person on a personal level, use something that you know about them and turn it into an insult.  Personal insults are the best way to make sure the stupider person knows that they are the stupider person.

Guide line 8:  Try to operate in groups.

Sure, a discussion between just you and the stupider person is fine, but if you can find a group of people who are as smart as you and also know that the stupider person is stupider than all of you, the stupider person quickly gets confused about who is talking to who, and the stupid really shines through the stupider person.    

And finally,

Guide line 9:  There are only two kinds of people in the world:  Those who agree with you, and stupid people.

Two Kinds of People Play

I hope that these guidelines, and the song, will help you in your internet wars over this election season.  Remember folks, we only get one vote, so it’s important to stress how angry we are at the stupider people who will waste their vote on the candidate for people stupider than us. 

Election 2016 is upon us.  Don’t screw this up, America. 

Music, Race issues in America, and Songs of Home, pt. 2

As I release Songs of Home, pt. 2 this week, I feel it is necessary to provide some more insight into what I feel is important about this record, if to no one else but myself, and why I hope it finds importance in other people’s lives.

The first songs I wrote for this record were “Winter, 2001.” and “Born in the Wrong Time.” I wrote them together, as a single song, but it made more sense to separate the tracks on the record. Those songs are a continuation of the “County Fair” character (also the character in “Bless the Winds”), which is sort of autobiographical fiction, but more of an archetype for the millennial experience, before and after 9/11.

“Bless The Winds”

Originally, it was meant to be the focus of the record, but after writing “Eric and Lily” on the first record, I became intrigued by looking at my “home” through the eyes of someone who experiences it in a far different way than I ever did as a child, and now as an adult. As I have noted before, this intrigue resulted in personal interviews with friends of mine who are immigrants from Mexico, and three songs (“Coyotaje”, “My First Job”, and “Stranger”) that act as a contrast to the small town-raised, white millennial story.


Since writing this, it seems race issues all across America have been increasingly heated, whether it be immigration issues, black-white relations, etc. Republican debates have been filled with the discussion, riots have been aggressive, and tension seems to be growing daily.

In my own hometown, I have been personally involved in a heated debate over my high school alma mater’s “Rebel” mascot, since the Fort Smith Public School Board voted to change the mascot in July. In addition to writing an essay (See: To A Town Divided: A History of the Southside Rebel) about the history of the mascot’s adoption upon the school opening in 1963, I have spoken at School Board meetings in support of this change, and been involved in ongoing debates (“debates” is probably the incorrect word. “rants” and “brawls” may be a better description) on Facebook with locals who are outraged at the change, who repeatedly feel justified in their outrage for various reasons, few of which involve confronting the historical significance of the mascot as it relates to current race relations on a local and national level.

The Republican debates seem to confirm a mentality on a national level that I am observing here in Fort Smith. Dr. Ben Carson, most notably, responded to Meggyn Kelly’s question about how he, as President, could help heal the racial divide in America. Dr. Carson first referred to “Purveyors of hatred who take every incident involving people of two different races and try to make a race war out of it…” and goes on to reference an NPR interview in which he responded to a question about race relations by saying that he is a Neurosurgeon, and tells the audience that “When I take someone to the operating table, I’m actually operating on what makes them who they are. The skin doesn’t make them who they are, the hair doesn’t make them who they are, and it’s time for us to move beyond that…because our strength as a nation is in our unity…”

This is a common philosophy on race that I have repeatedly encountered during this mascot discussion. The idea that we are “one race”, and that our race doesn’t determine who we are, and so we should all learn to “look beyond skin color”. While the majority, if not all, of my personal encounters with this philosophy have come from white conservatives, Dr. Carson’s affirmation of this philosophy is important as a black American seeking the Presidential nomination by a largely white audience.

While I do feel the “we are one race: human” mentality carries a lot of truth in it, I personally feel it is insufficient if not harmful when trying to apply it to race relations. Specifically, the notion that we should “see beyond color” is troubling and confusing to me. To act as though race does not exist seems to me an unnecessary denial of the reality of race, skin color, and heritage. Perhaps the “see beyond color” philosophy is popular among some because it implies that how we have dealt with race relations throughout history is less important than how we deal with it moving forward, and that if we separate ourselves from that, there is some sort of “clean slate” that exists.

To me, this mentality skirts the issue. The context in which it is lauded is under the pretense that to “see race” inevitably results in hatred, divide, and disunity. But this is a false pretense, and I contend that to “see race” and be frank about it in discussion, has potential to create an America in which we acknowledge and celebrate racial differences, and dissolve the association of “race relations” with hatred and divide. Undoubtedly, this is a far more painful and difficult process, at least in the short term, than to pretend that we “don’t see race”. But to pretend that we don’t see race is to apply a “band-aid” to deep wounds that have cut ever deeper over the course of history. To see race, I feel, allows us to heal those wounds and gain a deeper understanding of others’ heritage, and through that process, we can truly stop looking at “race” through the collectivist lens that tends to focus on disdain for racial stereotypes, and start truly seeing the individual human beneath those racial stereotypes.

I decided to write songs about immigrants from Mexico because I found their story fascinating. These are people who live in the same town as I do, and yet have come to it in a completely different way, and see it, and The United States as a whole, with a far different perspective than my own. Through it, I have learned to appreciate my own place in the world while learning to appreciate and admire the place of others.

I am grateful to get to tell these stories. I don’t tell them with the intent to change someone’s political views, though certainly there is political relevance to them. I tell these stories because they are stories of the human condition, and as a writer I feel a responsibility to look beneath the shallow surface in which our fleeting and fickle socio-political culture exists, and find the human story that we all share. I hope that those who hear these stories can experience them as a listener in a similar way that I have as a writer.

Hey folks,

Here are a couple of links to an interview I did for “Ozarks at Large”, the Fayetteville, Arkansas NPR affiliate. I talk some about the new record and the stories behind the songs, as well as my favorite track off of my first EP. Hope you enjoy! Album release is right around the corner, coming October 9th!

Songs from the new record are here:

Singing the Stories of Home


And the song Eric and Lily with the story behind it here:

and-lily#stream/0″ target=”_blank”>Listen, Don’t Miss Eric and Lily