I saw American Sniper yesterday with my 85 year old Dad. Well, he’ll be 85 in March. It was so fun to go to the movies with him and as we left the theater he said to me “Boy, war movies today sure aren’t what they were like when I was young.”

This got me to thinking (which is always dangerous) what was it about this film that haunted me? I left the movie feeling kind of dazed and numb.

Well- first of all let me say that I am a huge fan of Clint Eastwood movies. He’s a wonderful director and a fascinating actor.

Also- I Love this country of the United States of America.

And – I’ve met some amazing military guys and gals over the years. Some have been wounded beyond belief. I hate this. I feel for them and can only imagine the hell they’ve been through.

In American Sniper the theme seems to be that there are 3 kinds of people: wolves, sheep and sheep dogs. We’re told that the wolves are violent sociopaths and evil and out to harm us. And the sheep? Well, they don’t have a capacity for violence and will do what they’re told but the sheep dogs HAVE a capacity for violence and will protect us from the evil wolves.

I wish it were all so black and white. In my head it just isn’t.
What if I love my country so much that I fear people have been duped by wolves living within our own borders? These wolves are war profiteers and politicians who fabricate lies to fatten their wallets. What if those who speak their minds are quickly shushed and called unpatriotic? Isn’t it more patriotic to question a kind of authority that can possibly lead us astray into situations that only make things worse?

It’s patriotic to support our troops. Don’t we support them by trying to keep them OUT of harm’s way?

In the film American Sniper we see the planes flying into the World Trade Center. Then we see Chris Kyle heading out to protect his country. Admirable yes, but then he’s shipped off to a country that had NOTHING to do with 9/11.

I know that this is just his story and we’re seeing it through his eyes and that’s what makes this movie so compelling. In the film the bad guys wear black and they’re called “savages”. The roads are dusty and just like in a western good and evil are easily recognizable.

All I kept thinking was “Hey wait! We’re invading the wrong country. This was based on lies.”
Then I looked up how many US soldiers were killed and it’s over 4,474. But- nearly 32,000 more of our men and women were wounded and the the veteran suicide rate is about 20 a day. 20!

Then I wondered how many Iraqis were killed and it’s over 400,000 people. Wow. 400,000.

That’s a lot of people killed over lies.
It’s also a lot of money being churned out for the war profiteers.

So what I’m wondering is- why it’s considered unpatriotic to question war? Especially when the people who attacked us weren’t from Iraq.

All these lives have been upended and the residual effects are still lingering.

Someone is making money on these wars and it pisses me off. There are wolves in other countries out there for sure. But, there are wolves in our own country hiding behind religion and a flag and they’re making trillions while blinding us in a fog of war.

So I left the theater with my Dad and I said “You’re right Pa. War movies today aren’t what they used to be. War is not glamorous. It’s ugly and the atrocities are unspeakable. You’d think by now we’d get it right. Don’t we have roads to build and schools to fix and space to explore?”

Then I remembered a poem my Dad made up. I love his voice. you can listen to him-

Young men of war

They fight and die
yet don’t know why
their mind is all a mess
they maim and kill against their will
they’re honor bound I guess

What drives these men against their foes
What turns them into soldiers
With each attack their terror grows
yet outwardly look bolder

In time these men become machines
as they march into battle
They’ve lost their sense of human beings
and stumble onward just like cattle

And yet the politicians wine and dine
as our young men die and far-off lands
They tell us everything is fine
but the blood is flowing in the foreign sands

We bring them home the dead and maimed
We honor them for the suffering they bore
All this blood shed for some supposed political gain
All this sorrow over some stupid war

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Scrojo made me a sweet poster for my upcoming Belly Up show on Feb 21.

I’ve been a fan of his work for years and he’s made me many a cool poster.
He’s made The Rugburns many a cool poster.
It’s fun to peruse his website and order prints.

For tix to the belly up show featuring The Rugburns and Tim Flannery and Bushwalla and The Mastersons go here

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Ok. So I saw the movie Wild. Reese Witherspoon.

Loved loved loved it. Really beautiful film. A story of redemption through nature. There are at least 4 different scenes that’ll bring tears to your eyes. Can’t wait to go hiking again. Must read the book.

So now I’ve seen-
1 Boyhood
2 Whiplash
3 Birdman
4 Wild
5 Grand Budapest Hotel

If I had to rank them I’d do it in that exact order.

I’m a terrible critic because I really loved all of these films. They all have something special.

Boyhood- I have friends that really disliked this film but I thought it was fantastic and although it was a very long movie I still wanted more.
So far, it’s my top film of the year.

Whiplash is powerful and the acting is superb. Very intense. Great story about striving to be the best at all costs. See it!

Birdman – you had me at Michael Keaton. The music is great with the drumming as a segue from each crazy moment. Did I mention it has Michael Keaton?

Grand Budapest Hotel! Sorry Josh Board (I love you) but man I really dig that Wes Anderson director dude. The detail he puts into each shot and the madcap pace of the story had me smiling throughout.

Today I’m taking my Dad to see American Sniper.

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Today since it’s Monday let us give thanks to our buttholes. They’re unsung heroes often maligned and ignored. Our little buttholes work so hard for us expelling the waste we shove into our pie holes. Do you think they ever get any thanks? Not really.

Sure, the stomach and intestines and colon do a lot of the work but it’s more glamorous than having to deal with the end product and pushing it out into the toilet or even worse your pants. The stomach and its ilk are scientists mixing chemicals and taking nutrition and forming energy but the butthole is the garbage man. It has to be strong to keep the waste IN at times when it’s not convenient like perhaps when you’re singing a song live on the radio and the stomach is sending out an order too soon. The butthole has to say “Whoa! Hang on a second there fella. We’re on the radio right now and this is NOT the right time for your hijinks. I’m going to push back and move into a defcon 5 alert and try to close off the system until a more friendly location appears. The butthole needs to engender support from the stomach and colon to push back the tide and like congress there isn’t always bipartisan support. Ya see, the butthole has a conscience. It can’t allow air to escape or even worse, waste products if you happen to be in church or sitting at a table in a quiet restaurant on your first date. It gets all the blame when things go wrong.

We wash our faces and our hands and we get haircuts and buy new clothes but what about the butthole? It’s always engaged in covert activities and never gets gifts. Today I implore all of my friends to thank their buttholes. If you get a chance try to look at your butthole as you thank it. This may involve a mirror and a weird position and it may not be a suitable time do to this so at least verbally thank your buttholes. They deserve our attention and love. I hereby declare today National Butthole Day NBD. Say it loud and proud as you walk down the street. Look a stranger in the eye and say “Thank you butthole!”

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This Guy

This guy. Bob Bennett. Larger than life in many ways. Passed away a couple of days ago.
If you ever went to The Casbah in San Diego then you probably saw this guy holding court in the back bar. He acted like he owned the joint. Because he did own the joint.

This guy had a way with style and could rock an old man jumpsuit like no other. When he ambled down the street in Little Italy in broad daylight he was the picture of sartorial splendor. He had cool hats and jackets and funky shirts and amazing slacks and shoes. He knew style. He knew furniture. His eyes twinkled with jaded knowledge and mischief.

This guy came into my life years ago. I used to go all alone to a San Diego bar called The Pink Panther. I was a student at USD. I watched him from a distance. He was cool. When he regaled you with a story his voice could go from sing songy to high pitched and then back down lower all in a span of twenty seconds.

I was playing music years ago in the eighties with Robert Driscoll in a duo called The Rugburns. Every Friday night we’d park our arses and guitars on stage at Kelly’s Pub in Old Town. We would get drunk and poor pitchers of Guinness on our heads and all over the audience and the curtains would get ripped down by me in my drunken stupor. The place would be packed and eventually this guy started showing up. I knew who he was. He had a sort of an aura about him. He liked a stiff drink and stiff drinks were easy to find at Kelly’s.

One night this guy introduced himself to me and told me he was one of the owners of a new bar called The Casbah and that he loved how much fun he saw us having on stage. He said “my partner Tim Mays books the place but I’ll tell him I want you guys to play a show.”
I said “I know who you are. I used to go to the Panther and saw you at the bar many times. We’ll play The Casbah. We’ll play anywhere. Even a laundromat. Just get us a gig.” He laughed like I was kidding but I meant it. We did play a laundromat. A couple of times.

This guy came through with the gig and we spent many a late night closing down the back bar discussing anything under the sun. Holy crap we played a lot of gigs at his club. Too many to remember. But it all started with this guy. When he spoke I listened. He seemed like he had all the answers.

This guy was more of a rock start than rock stars. He knew so many people and he even had his own driver! No shit! He had his own cab driver on call at all hours.

Sure he could be cranky and strong willed and bark at you like a Rottweiler but he had heart and soul. Man did he have heart.

San Diego is crying. I feel bad for Tim Mays and Michael Porter and Kathleen Robles and many many more whose hearts are sad. Too many to mention. We lost a good one. He was one of a kind and like Sinatra he did it his way. No apologies.

I loved this guy. Everyone did. We always will.

Bob Bennett- rock star, soul man, tender heart, court holder of the back bar, raconteur extraordinaire. Rest in peace my friend. You’ll be greatly missed.

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Do you guys think Fred Van Vactor will sue me for using his image on this Rugburns poster? I never asked him for permission. Maybe when I see him at The Belly Up he’ll be flanked by his legal team. This is going to be a fun night. Did I mention that Tim Flannery aka Jonny Strayhorse is going to be playing a set! Also The Mastersons. Chris Masterson and his lovely wife Eleanor Whitmore are The Mastersons. They’re also members of Steve Earle’s band The Dukes. You’re going to love them.

Did I mention that Bushwalla aka Billy Galewood is playing a set? Holy crap is he ever good. You’re going to freak.

I’ll be playing and so will my band The Rugburns.

6th annual 50th bday bash. I guess that means I’ll be double nickels. 55. Where did the years go?

Don’t sue me Fred! Maybe I can coax you up on stage to sing a song?

Feb 21, 2015. Tickets

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It is on! National Anthem July 21 SD Padres

So- it’s a go. I just got word from The Padres that I’ll be singing The National Anthem at Petco Park in San Diego on Tuesday July 21 at 7pm vs The San Francisco Giants. It’ll be a night game and a packed house so get there early for the anthem.

Woo hoo! I guess I’ve already contracted baseball fever!
There’s no cure. Go Pads!

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Tallahasse love

Hey, I got a little bit of love from The Tallahassee Democrat. I played at this festival called The 30A Songwriters Fest. Check it out.

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Let the record be noted

Tonight’s San Diego sunset was beautiful.

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High Sierra Music Festival

Hey looky here! High Sierra Music Festival This was just announced and my name is on the poster. Looks like I know where I’ll be July 2nd to the 5th.
More info here

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