My Cover Story For Parties

When I first got started in the legal profession, a Knoxville attorney once told me that I needed to develop a “cover story” for parties and social occasions.  His was “UPS Driver.”  Mine is “Master of the Custodial Arts.”

The rationale for developing a “cover story” is simple.  If I told people I was an attorney, I would always get a response of “Oh, well I have this question I want to ask you” or “I had this experience with an attorney.”  Then I’d usually be subject to an endless discussion on the topics these people wanted to discuss, as opposed to simply enjoying myself at a party.

So I took this lawyer’s approach, and started telling people I was a UPS driver.  It worked at first, because no one really cared about the life of a UPS driver.  On the occasional chance that I’d get a question, I’d get asked things like “What happens to packages that get damaged on delivery?” or “Have you ever looked in a package?” or “What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever delivered?” If I got these questions, then I took it as a blanket license to screw with people and did so accordingly.

When I first met Mrs. S., we went to a party held by the veterinary office at which she worked.  Before we exited my vehicle, I was told “The UPS thing won’t fly here.  One of my colleagues is married to a UPS driver.  He’ll be here and he’ll call you out on it.”

“Shit,” I thought, and just reverted to “lawyer” mode for that gathering.  I was still a newborn of a baby lawyer at that point, and not comfortable in my own skin.  You can imagine from there how things went at this particular gathering.

I’d still toy with the “UPS” or “FedEx Driver” cover story for a while, but eventually I made friends with people who drove for UPS and FedEx, and they both told me the story I had wouldn’t work in either occasion.  So I had to some up with something new.

Enter Kenny Omega, who gave me my current title for parties when I choose to use it: “Master of the Dark Custodial Arts,” or “Master of the Custodial Arts.”

Kenny Omega is a fantastic professional wrestler for an organization called “New Japan Pro Wrestling.”  When Kenny joined a particularly devious heel faction known as the “Bullet Club,” he was dubbed the group’s “Cleaner.”  Now I will confess I know next to nothing about Japanese, despite having taken two semesters of it in undergrad so I could understand commentary on DVDs from FMW, NOAH, and New Japan.  That being said, I’ve always come to understand that “Cleaner” is what “Hitman” translates to in Japanese.

Omega is a bit of an oddball in pro wrestling, and ran with the title in ways you wouldn’t expect.  Eventually, the nickname “The Cleaner” gave way to Kenny calling himself “Master of the Dark Custodial Arts.”  I dug it and ran with that to this day for my “cover story” when I choose to pull that card at parties.

It’s simple to understand: Most people think “Janitor” when they hear “Master of the Custodial Arts,” and will leave me alone if I want to be left alone.  Sometimes I’ll get the occasional oddball question about a mess I’ve cleaned up, and I’ll screw with people if I want to have a bit of fun.  Despite this, I’m not lying when I say I’m a “Master of the Custodial Arts.”  That’s essentially what I do. People bring me messes and I attempt to clean them up, for a reasonable fee.

I’m quite a bit more comfortable telling people I’m a lawyer these days, due to stuff like the POWA method and a little volume called “Gorilla Mindset.” I also am very comfortable with telling those people who want to ask me a “question” that “I’d love to talk to you, please call me during business hours and we’ll set up a consultation” as I hand them a business card.

But I still pull out the title “Master of the Dark Custodial Arts” on occasion when I feel like having a bit of fun, because I enjoy life a lot more than I used to.

 

Lessons From Nero’s Spot on The Rubin Report

The Rubin Report is becoming one of my new favorite podcasts.  Dave Rubin is unapologetically advocating for sensible discussions regarding free speech, and has taken to task the “regressive left” with their attempts to silence people through name-calling, labels, ideological politics, and more.  In doing so, Rubin made a commitment that’s laudable for many: he would present all views on an issue, even those he disagreed with and made him uncomfortable.  That takes remarkable integrity, and I applaud Rubin for it.

I also applaud Milo Yiannopolous for showing up to discuss anything and everything related to his conservative leanings, why he leads the life of a provocateur, and his unapologetic support of Donald Trump’s Presidential bid.  You listen to Milo for a little bit, and you’ll learn why the self-proclaimed “World’s Most Dangerous Faggot” has such a massive following.  Here’s what I learned from his appearance on the Rubin Report.

  1. Milo values fun and sees the current state of affairs in America as “boring” because of progressive left politics.

One recurring theme that circulated around Milo’s time on the Rubin Report was that he loves his work because it’s “fun.”  He loves seeing Trump’s rise as President because it’s “fun.” One thing Milo despises is “boring,” and that’s where he lays the finger of shame on the left.

His work as a journalist means living a life of “fun” as well.  One of the more entertaining bits on the Rubin Report appearance was when he talked about his creation of a “Feminism or Cancer” poll and a two time cancer survivor said she’d STILL pick cancer over feminism!  That may be an unappealing view for some, but Milo calls it fun, and he’s enjoying his work.  Good on him.

2. Milo values the ability to say whatever you want, whenever you want, without fear of repercussion.  He also practices what he preaches.

There’s some things in Milo’s appearance on the Rubin Report that will shock a few people.  If you get shocked by Milo or offended by Milo then you’ve never really taken the time to “get” Milo.  He takes issue with the current mentality that people cannot say what they want when they want without worrying about losing their jobs or alienating others.

Give the man a chance, and he’ll give you some quotes that will make your day.  One example comes from when he describes a press conference he would hold if he was President Trump’s Press Secretary.

“Daddy doesn’t feel like answering your questions today.  I’m going shopping.  Please leave your comments in the box.”

3. Milo is incredibly persuasive when speaking on just about any issue.

There’s a point in the podcast where Rubin and Milo get into a discussion of an issue Rubin had with a Buzzfeed writer who took issue with Rubin’s label of the “Regressive Left.” Rubin took what would be considered in many circles the “moral high ground” and tried to avoid naming this individual.

Milo would have none of this.  He badgered Rubin into naming the Buzzfeed writer under the rationale of “If someone does something stupid, I want their name and face exposed to the harsh light of scrutiny so people can see just how stupid they are.”  Eventually, Milo got Rubin to name the Buzzfeed writer that aggrieved him, and they discussed the entire issue.  It was clear Rubin didn’t want to go there, but after being called a “cultural librarian” by Milo  all gloves came off and Milo got his way.

4. Milo is willing to say things people are thinking but don’t have the ability to say, and that’s important.

Two points here.  The first is when Milo says the influx of Islamic culture into Europe is a big reason why he’s spending more time in America.  He views the way Islam treats the LGBT community as something he wants no part of, and that means he has to distance himself from places he once called home as a result.  Milo also says this is a bad sign for women too, but people aren’t recognizing it, because as soon as an attack by “radical Islamists” happens the first thing our world leadership and the news media goes to is “This was radical Islam and it wasn’t the view of the regular Muslim.”

The second is his indictment of the LGBT community for going after Christians on randomly “offensive” topics.  Milo takes a large issue with the LGBT community, for example, going after a bakery to find alleged “homophobia” because they’d rather not bake a cake for a wedding, and then grind that into an OFFEND stance that puts people out of business.  He’s not a fan, and sees it as a way of alienating people that would otherwise be allies.

5. Milo is unabashedly conservative and free speech, and sees all of it as the best way to be.

“If you want to be punk, if you want to be cool, you’ve got to be conservative.”

That’s Milo for you.  That’s a guy who says “free speech” means you have to take the piss out of words like “gay,” “faggot,” and other slurs that have been used to denigrate people who just happen to be attracted to others of the same sex.  His take is he wants to see the word “gay” go to mean “stupid” or “idiotic” as it’s been used by straight/cis/heteronormative shitlords for ages.  Milo’s take is that when you get to that point, then you’ve reached a society where “free speech” means something.

He also sees the current state of liberalism/progressive politics as a stifling of everything good in life, anything that’s fun at all, and that’s why it needs to be destroyed.  The same thing goes for conservatives in his book, though, and that’s why he thinks a Trump Presidency will do wonders for this country.  Milo is of a mindset that if and when Trump his the White House, our country will start to reconstruct itself into what it once was.

I can’t say enough good things about Dave Rubin and Milo Yiannopolous, so I’m just going to cut it short and say go look for the Rubin Report on iTunes or YouTube, and follow Milo at @Nero and Dave Rubin at @RubinReport on Twitter.  You’ll be glad you did.

Ghomeshi, Anger, And College Kids

You’ve probably heard by now Jian Ghomeshi, a former Canadian radio host accused of rape by four different women, has been found “not guilty” in a Canadian court of sexual assault charges.  Moreover, the opinion released by Justice William B. Horkins focused heavily on the testimony of the alleged “victims,” which he found to be completely lacking in credibility.  In other words, they might have lied, and the lies of four women destroyed a man who had a career before his life was drawn and quartered with rape charges.

The legal sphere has responded as most lawyers would.  Rick Horowitz noted this was a rare “not guilty” on a rape case since he began practicing law.  Scott Greenfield does as Scott does, and reflects on the double standard between presumption of innocence for every crime except rape, and how those who dogpiled on Ghomeshi with rape charges might have considered those basic things like having their testimony used against them on cross-examination.  The almost universal nod was that this is a good verdict.  Ghomeshi’s case was an affirmation of why an adversarial system is necessary.

And then Buzzfeed came along with this little number, and I’m back posting again: “I Hope The Ghomeshi Verdict Makes You Fucking Furious,” penned by Scaachi Koul, a senior writer for Buzzfeed in Toronto.  In case you can’t tell, Ms. Koul isn’t an attorney, and she’s extremely mad Jian Ghomeshi isn’t facing a gallows right now.

Buzzfeed isn’t a place where you can attempt to find any semblance of actual thoughtful legal insight or analysis.  But it will get clicks, especially with inflammatory headlines like that, and it bears at least a means of looking at why Ms. Koul is so angry.  Anger is conflict, and it’d be nice to see why Ms. Koul is so upset.

The Jian Ghomeshi verdict wasn’t surprising—sexual assault survivors are rarely heard by the justice system, and worse, the Crown botched the case entirely. Still, the way in which the verdict was read by Justice William Horkins told any assault survivor, and women in particular, that your story doesn’t matter. He read for around an hour, barely touching on the allegations against Ghomeshi and instead, spending most of his time going over the inconsistencies in the survivor statements.

Except that it didn’t tell “any assault survivor,” or “women in particular,” that “your story doesn’t matter.”  What Justice Horkins’ verdict focused on was the testimony of the “survivors” was not credible, and therefore established reasonable doubt for the allegations levied against Ghomeshi.  If there’s a bench trial involving rape accusations, one factor necessary to consider is witness testimony, and whether it’s enough to establish reasonable doubt.  That’s what the law does, and if it means acknowledging “survivor” testimony isn’t credible then that’s what will happen, no matter how angry Ms. Koul gets.

And then there’s the fact that this judge stuck to the law, and Ghomeshi’s attorney once defended someone else on a different case but by all that is good and holy, that guy was BAD, and he got away with it!  Or in Ms. Koul’s own words,

Ghomeshi’s lawyer once (successfully) defended Michael Bryant, the judge on the case has a bad record with sexual assault complainants…

And the verdict.  Oh how the verdict wasn’t enough for every woman who ever “survived” sexual assault.  Instead, it was an indictment against every woman who decided to follow due process and report their attackers to the police.  What Ms. Koul wanted was a tummy rub and a confirmation that her feelings meant more than the actual truth.  She didn’t get that, and her outrage shows.

[Horkins] detailed the confusion around timelines, the positioning of people’s hands, the deviations in stories that arise when you try to recall a decade-old traumatic experience. Every debunked stereotype people still seem to believe about sexual assault complainants, this judge trotted out: why did Lucy DeCoutere write to Ghomeshi after her alleged assault? (The rest of us, meanwhile, were asking, how does that fucking matter??)

For those who prefer a “saved you a click” synopsis, the link to  “debunked stereotypes” is another Buzzfeed article written by a Canadian feminist that conflates every possible fact and misconstrues empirical evidence in a manner that suits the writer’s own personal need to feel believed, validated, and loved.  And the details mattered to Horkins because he was required to make a finding of guilt or innocence on charges that can bring prison time.  When you’re dealing with a person’s life, that’s the least you can expect from a jurist.

But why did the system fail so many women who are “survivors?” And why should people be angry?  Ms. Koul will be happy to explain that to you too.

The courts and the judicial system let the things we know not to be true about sexual assault—that there is a “right” way to act after you’re assaulted, that women never contact their alleged abusers, that they would never consider trying to find normalcy by moving on, and fast—take control over the narrative of the case. (Emphasis added)

There’s the touchstone of Koul’s entire invective.  The Narrative.  The Narrative here is that women are always raped when they say a man raped them, that no woman ever lies about being raped, that when we first hear a woman voice her pronouncement of rape that we must LISTEN and BELIEVE, as Cernovich says, because reasons.  And if the woman is found to later have lied about being raped, then it doesn’t really matter, because the Narrative is more important than the truth.

Let me give you two other examples in the United States where “The Narrative” was more important than the truth.

1. “Jackie,” Sabrina Rubin-Erdley, and Rolling Stone’s now discredited story “A Rape on Campus.”  Sabrina Rubin-Erdley wanted a lurid story that would sell magazines, and she bought into “Jackie’s” story of a gang rape on the University of Virginia campus. As the story unfolded, “Jackie” was discredited, Sabrina Rubin-Erdley was found to have been a fabulist writer who did no fact checking whatsoever, and Rolling Stone had to issue a retraction.  Now they’re looking at millions of dollars in lawsuits.

Even after “Jackie’s” story was discredited, we were told “So what if she lied?  The narrative is more important.  There’s a rape epidemic against women and it has to stop.  You should always believe a victim.” That statement changed later to “You should generally believe victims,” but you get the point.  The truth means nothing when it doesn’t serve the “narrative.”

2. Paul Nungesser and Emma Sulkowicz.  The “Mattress Girl’s” story wasn’t true, and didn’t hold weight with either police or the Title IX kangaroo court that heard her allegations of rape.  Yet Nungesser will forever be branded a rapist, and when Sulkowicz left the school her “work” continued with a short-lived career as an adult film actress.

When Mattress Girl took her mattress across Columbia University’s stage, the university’s Dean didn’t shake her hand when presenting her diploma.  He had no reason to, because the school was facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit as a result of her “endurance performance art.”  Despite lying, Sulkowicz was branded the hero, and Columbia and Nungesser the villains, because The Narrative was more important than the truth.

And so Anger is all they have left, because every time a lie is exposed, the concept of “victim-blaming” as opposed to “show us evidence” is whittled away.  And Ms. Koul wants you to buy into her anger, because that’s all she’s got left.  She has no valid arguments to support why Jian Ghomeshi should be found guilty of sexual assault, no fact-based support, so just get angry.

But I hope you’re fucking furious. If you’re not, I hope you find a way to your rage, because I think it can help you here. Cut off friends who think those women lied, lecture your parents if they don’t understand rape culture, talk to your co-workers about this flaming dog-shit day and how it could happen to any of you. Let your body crack wide open and fill the world with your anger because anger gets shit done.

I mention all of this because a kid came to my door today selling candy for an organization that tries to scam kids with promises of a college education.  He told me that he wanted to go to the University of Tennessee, and study chemical engineering.  His mother lived in Section 8 housing, and he wanted to make sure his family was taken care of when he got to college.

I told the kid to go to a trade school instead.  Not because I didn’t want to see him get a college degree.  Not because I particularly thought chemical engineering was a bad field absent jobs.

It was because the kid was a fifteen year old young black man, and the last thing he needs in the South is a charge of him raping a white woman on a college campus.  That’s what the anger and rage of people like Ms. Koul will accomplish. That’s why I told a young black man to avoid college like the plague.

And that’s why anger has no place in a discussion about rape, “victim blaming,” or any of the other buzzwords that people want to use when discussing cases like Jian Ghomeshi’s.

Hulk vs. Gawk: A History of “Creative Control”

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Image Credit: Ryan Shipley

Hulk Hogan* won $115 million in compensatory damages from Gawker Media on March 18, 2016 on conclusion of his defamation trial. I had a pretty solid grasp Hogan knew he would win this case long before the trial began.  That’s because I’m a student of history, and know that Hogan doesn’t take calculated risks unless he’s damn sure it’s going to pay off.  If you weren’t paying attention to history, or how Hogan conveys his image and works a crowd, you wouldn’t have seen how he exercised his “creative control” in tandem with his attorneys to reach a favorable verdict.

I’m going to put you in the Wayback Machine** and show you how Terry “Not Hulk Hogan” Bollea’s history as a performer and his manipulation of reality brought him a jury verdict of $115 million.  I’m doing this because as I write this Hulk Hogan is magically being re-written into existence by his former employer, World Wrestling Entertainment, after being scrubbed from their history books eight months ago.  You can’t “pull a Benoit” on a guy who just won a major lawsuit against a media conglomerate and not be afraid of the repercussions in your own life, especially if you’re a publicly traded company.

The term “Pulling a Benoit” unfortunately requires a brief discussion of Chris Benoit.  Benoit, over a three day period in June of 2007, killed his wife and son, then committed suicide.  Benoit’s death was originally discussed on WWE.com and through their mobile alert services, and on June 25 the planned “Monday Night RAW” show was replaced with a tribute to Benoit’s life and career.  The next morning, police reports began to surface that Benoit may have killed his wife and son, then committed suicide.  That night, WWE aired a pre-recorded statement from its Chairman, Vince McMahon, before the “ECW” show began.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Last night on Monday Night Raw, the WWE presented a special tribute show, recognizing the career of Chris Benoit. However, now some 26 hours later, the facts of this horrific tragedy are now apparent. Therefore, other than my comments, there will be no mention of Mr. Benoit’s name tonight.

And there wouldn’t be a mention of Chris Benoit in the WWE “universe” ever again.  Benoit was scrubbed from the history books.  His name appears in very few places in WWE merchandise, and you won’t find a mention of him on the WWE network now.  This is what I call “pulling a Benoit.”: erasing someone from conscious thought by scrubbing mentions of him from the public eye.

Now let’s discuss Hulk Hogan.  Doing this requires going back to 1996, and a discussion of Hogan’s run in World Championship Wrestling, or WCW.

World Championship Wrestling in 1996 was hot commodity in the pro wrestling business.  Their New World Order (nWo) storyline was so hot  people watching TV would call the police over filmed backstage segments they believed to be actual gang violence.

Hogan’s WCW career, however, was floundering.  Despite a ticker-tape parade announcing his arrival, and getting numerous headlining spots, all eyes were on the formative days of the nWo.  Hogan wanted those eyes on him, so he decided to do something he’d not done in thirteen years.  Hulk Hogan would turn heel (become a bad guy), and in a major way. This was an incredibly calculated risk, because it could have destroyed his career. Hogan would have to kill “Hulkamania” to pull this off and he knew it.

When you spend over a decade crafting an image of the “Real American,” making the “Hulkamania” brand something that’s recognized positively on the psyche of the viewer, a heel turn will kill that image and carries the potential to backfire heavily.  Hogan knew this, so he made sure that it would count financially for him in the long run.  His next contract with WCW would grant him more benefits than most talents would ever get in their professional careers.  Hogan knew his next contract would be ridiculous, because he’d be negotiating from a position of power.  And when contract negotiations began, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan would exploit that power ruthlessly.

His 1998 four year contract with WCW guaranteed Hogan would earn $24,250,000, bare minimum.  Hogan would get revenue from the gates at house shows.  He’d get a percentage of Pay Per View sales based on buy rates.  He’d get ludicrous amounts of royalties from merchandise, even going as far as to get a “promoting” fee for the nWo.  First class air fare, paid for by Turner Sports, the ability to work any schedule he wanted, and even creative control over the way his character was booked.

E. Bollea shall have the approval of the outcome in all wrestling matches in which he appears, wrestles and performs, such approval not to be unreasonably withheld.

That’s the “creative control” clause, and it’s going to be important later.  Hogan became obsessed with having “the approval of the outcome” in any of his life events, not just pro wrestling matches. He would take that obsession and and would leverage his “creative control” straight through to his favorable verdict against Gawker.

Let’s move forward to July 24, 2015, when Hulk Hogan issues a statement apologizing for using the Word White People Must Not Use Anytime as audio from the sex tape is released.  This apology wasn’t enough for his former employers.  WWE fired Hogan, removed him from their Hall of Fame, and began to “pull a Benoit” on Hogan by scrubbing as much as they could from their history books.

And so the WWE has not only terminated their contract with Hogan for his damning words, but it’s also completely removed him from many areas of its website. In a situation similar to former wrestler Chris Benoit’s murder-suicide back in 2007, the WWE apparently wants to make it look like they’ve never had anything to do with Hogan, even removing him from their Hall of Fame listing. (emphasis added)

WWE didn’t just “pull a Benoit” on Hogan.  They even issued a statement “disavowing” their relationship with him, because a publicly traded company can’t have talent saying bad words in the name of diversity.

“WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (a.k.a. Hulk Hogan). WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”

Now let’s move to the present day, where Hulk Hogan sued Gawker Media over their dissemination of a one minute and forty second excerpt of his sex tape. That defamation suit was a calculated risk for Hogan, and he knew it.  Hogan’s been a performer all his life in a physical version of improv, so the end result was a masterful display of Hogan and his legal team exercising “creative control” over the outcome of his lawsuit.

He can’t sue them in Federal court for defamation, so the case gets in front of a Tampa jury, where Hogan is a local celebrity, lauded by many.  He’s allowed by the judge to wear a “plain black bandana” as part of his courtroom attire.  He won’t get to call himself “Hulk Hogan,” though.  He’s “Terry Gene Bollea” for the trial. No worries.  Hulk Hogan’s had “creative control” over his life even after he left professional wrestling, and so this entire trial is now on lockdown for a Hulkster-friendly verdict.

Absent the name “Hulk Hogan,” the new argument becomes there’s two people in discussion.  One is Hulk Hogan, the public figure who boasts about the size of his “python” and his sexual prowess on radio.  The other is Terry Bollea, and Bollea has an expectation of privacy Hulk Hogan does not.  Bollea was upset his privacy was invaded by Gawker’s dissemination of one minute and forty seconds of the sex tape made eight years ago.

All the while, the jury isn’t seeing Terry Bollea.  They’re seeing Hulk Hogan talking about a man named Terry Bollea.  This Tampa jury is seeing Hulk Hogan, a man always fights “for what’s right” tell them a guy named Terry Bollea had his privacy invaded, and that’s wrong.  The “Hulkamaniacs” on the jury listened and gave Bollea $115 million in compensatory damages.

With that $115 million verdict the WWE is working full-time to restore the Hogan name to their “universe.”  Don’t be surprised if Hogan gets his Legends contract reinstated and a return to the Hall of Fame.  WWE doesn’t want a lawsuit when their biggest focus is keeping shareholders happy, especially not against a man who just won a defamation suit against a media conglomerate over his hurt feelings.

“Pulling a Benoit” on a dead guy who committed a reprehensible act is one thing.  Doing the same thing to a guy over a word uttered eight years ago on a sex tape who just scored bank doesn’t look good when you understand his ability to leverage “creative control” into hundreds of millions of dollars. Vince McMahon and his legal team have been watching the outcome of this trial, and they know Hogan’s history. They know how he’ll take the benefits of a calculated risk and exploit it for maximum gain.

And they’re afraid of what he’ll do if his focus turns to Titan Towers.

*He’s Hulk Hogan.  I don’t care that his real name is Terry Gene Bollea.  You spend a lifetime calling yourself “Hulk Hogan,” that’s what I’ll call you.

**A series of references and a discussion of Hulk Hogan requires a return to this video:

A Saint Paddy’s Day Modest Proposal

Saint Paddy’s Day* is when just about every white person in America decides to get stinking drunk and pretend they’re Irish.  Those of us with actual Irish blood running through our veins tend to abhor such practices, but we’ll let you slide with your little cultural appropriation. While you’re drinking and reading this, I’ll make a modest proposal to you.  The MacManus Brothers of the “Boondock Saints” films should be dubbed the patron saints of professional conflict resolvers.

Image Credit: Media in Review

Image Credit: Media in Review

Connor and Murphy MacManus (played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) reach an “epiphany” when seeing just how much evil exists in the world, and dedicate their lives to eradicating evil wherever they find it so that the innocent may flourish.  Their methods are a touch morally grey, but that’s life for you.  I’m not one to go around putting bullets in the back of Mafioso craniums, but I can admire two dudes who live their lives by the code “protect the innocent.”  They even have a family prayer they recite before each major execution, and I can definitely get behind men of faith practicing what they preach.

“And shepherds we shall be.

For Thee, my Lord, for Thee.

Power hath descended forth from Thy hand.

That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command.

So we shall flow a river forth to Thee.

And Teeming with souls shall it ever be.

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”

The MacManus brothers definitely have commitment to “truth” and “justice.”  One has a tattoo of the word “Veritas,” which is Latin for Truth.  The other has a tattoo of the word “Aequitas,” which in the same language is either “Justice” or “Equality,” depending on the context. Who can’t get behind “truth,” “justice,” and “equality?”  No one I know!

In the first film, the MacManus brothers even have an “inside guy” who knows how to help.  He’s the ultimate paralegal that “knows stuff.”

Connor: We haven’t really got a system of deciding who, Roc. It’s, uh…

Rocco: Me! *Me*! I’m the guy! I know everyone! Their habits, who they hang out with, who they talk to! I’ve got phone numbers, addresses! I know who they’re fucking! I know where they live! We could kill *everyone.*

Murphy: So what do you think?

Connor: I’m strangely comfortable with it.

Less you think these “vigilantes” don’t understand the difference between a guy who did something stupid and needed to catch a break versus actual evil, the MacManus Brothers make their intentions very clear in the first film.

“There are varying degrees of evil. We urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over into true corruption, into our domain.  For if you do, one day you will look behind you and you will see we three.  And on that day, you will reap it.  And we will send you to whatever God you wish.”

Even FBI Agent Paul Smecker (played by Willem Dafoe), understands they’re doing something that amounts to a just cause, even if he doesn’t like it.

The Priest: Would they ever harm an innocent person for any reason?

[of Rocco, who’s holding him at gunpoint]

Paul Smecker: No, they would never do that. Well, the two Irish guys wouldn’t, the Italian guy, he might, he’s kind of an idiot.

They also know that a certain “gallows humor” is necessary for the job they do, and make no bones about it, no matter who gets “triggered” or “microagressed,” long before those phrases entered the modern lexicon.

Connor: [during job training for an avid feminist] The rule of thumb here is…

Rosengurtie: Wait, rule of thumb? In the early 1900s it was legal for men to beat their wives, as long as they used a stick no wider than their thumb.

Connor: Can’t do much damage with that then, can we? Perhaps it should have been a rule of wrist?

So there you have it.  They protect the innocent, harbor no love for evil, abide by an ethical code, and manage to maintain a sense of humor about a profession where moral ambiguity is king.  My modest proposal is that we name the MacManus brothers the Patron Saints of Conflict Resolution Professionals.

Does anyone have the Vatican’s number on speed dial?

*The name for those of you who would adopt our holiday is “Saint Paddy’s Day,” not “Saint Patty’s Day.”  The “Paddy” refers to the Irish derivative “Padraig,” and refers to an actual Saint.  Just as I’m admonished at Fault Lines to get the law right, if you’re going to celebrate our holiday, you need to at least slur the name right after your tenth green beer.

3/16/16. The Day of the King

3/16/16 is the Day of the King.

And it came to pass, on a certain day, that a man dubbed Dok Hendrix, who was formerly Michael “P.S.” Hayes, took it upon himself to speak with another man thusly dubbed “King of the Ring” and ask him what to do.

And it came to pass this new King was formerly a man named Stephen Williams, who begat “Stunning” Stephen Austin, who begat Stephen Austin, who begat “The Ringmaster” Stephen Austin, who begat “Stone Cold” Stephen Austin after the scriveners sent multiple names to him including “Chilly McFreeze,”

And it came to pass that he came from humble Texan origins, then traveling to Hollywood, then traveling to Atlanta, then traveling to Philadelphia, then traveling to New York.

And it came to pass he became royalty to the working class after first flirting with the wealth of the DiBiase clan, even claiming the Belt Priced At One Million Dollars as his own.

And it came to pass that he was once a man who begat a series titled “Monday NyQuil,” and begat the Stevester, and begat Mikey Whipwreck’s first win.

And it came to pass that he was once a man who toured a “Brush with Greatness” with his traveling partner, Brian of Pillman.

And it came to pass this new King mastered the Ring before ascendance to its Throne.

And Thusly sayeth the “King of the Ring,” Stephen Austin, that the first actions this new King spaketh were to escort a certain Snake from his fiefdom, as the words spoken by said Snake were displeasing to said King.

“You want to talk your Bible and your John 3:16? Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”

Thusly from a King was born a Bionic Redneck, a Texas Rattlesnake, and he with whom when the glass broke your rectum area was at stake.

And thusly, massive T-Shirt Sales worldwide.

Blessed are those who celebrate Stone Cold Steve Austin Day with a Steveweiser.

 

Leave Facebook for Real Life

I’m leaving Facebook behind because it’s a place full of navel-gazing bullshit.  Facebook doesn’t allow you to communicate with the world.  Facebook is a place where people go for validation, self-recognition, cat pictures, George Takei’s average gem, and ads.  Facebook doesn’t allow for Mediation is Dead, so I’m rarely there anymore.

Real life, conversely, doesn’t give a damn about you.  Real life means that you have to learn to communicate with others.  Real life means that you listen to those with whom you disagree, no matter how uncomfortable the conversation.  That’s where I need to head, and when I get back to that spot where I’m in real life, working with others, then I gain greater focus, clarity, and an understanding of what this world is really about: being able to communicate again with others and get your message across in an effective manner.

Do you know the algorithm behind Facebook?  It’s tailored to make sure you have a strong confirmation bias in your life.  It’s there to make sure Facebook is your “safe space,” because Facebook wants you to be there all the time, 24/7, checking in for everything you want to see, rather than the uncomfortable truth.  If you’re on Facebook you’re constantly seeing what you want to see. You’re seeing what those around you want to see.  It’s not reality, but if you’re living life on Facebook then you’re not living real life. You’re living a fiction you want to live.

Take your quizzes.  Take your cat pictures.  Take your memes, and get them the fuck out of my life.  I don’t get a damn thing done with Facebook.  I just get to a point where I’m deep in a rabbit hole of pandering bullshit. I’m arguing with people when I don’t need to argue.

I talked with a good friend of mine lately who’s more “conflict free” than I am.  He hasn’t checked his Facebook feed in about a year.  He’s much happier for it, because he’s living in real life.  He’s learned how to communicate with others.  He credits a good portion of that to “unplugging” from Facebook.

Another person I know hasn’t been on the site in about a year as well.  She’s happier and more together as a whole than most of us could be, because Facebook shows us what we want.  She decided that she’d get off Facebook and make her dreams come true, and she managed to do it by staying away from a website that’s a drug.

Real life is hard.  Real life doesn’t show you what you want to see.  Real life means that you have to face conflict when you see it, and when you get to real life, you have to address it as best you can.  Real life will make you grow, change, and be better.

Twitter’s only marginally better.  There you have to work to find what you want to see.  There you’re exposed to shadow bans, block lists, and people muting what you have to say.  But on Twitter you can learn things about people you can’t find anywhere else.

Facebook won’t even give you that.  I know this because I see people engaged with Facebook in ways they think is beneficial.  It’s not.  Once that algorithm starts its magic, you’re done.  You have to check in regularly.  You never know what you’re going to miss in a person’s life.  You get afraid of missing out.  There’s other ways to make sure you don’t miss out, but you won’t listen to those ways, because Facebook governs your life.  It’s the town crier in the world of the small-minded.

Leave behind the fear of missing out and you’ll get to a “conflict-free” life.  

When I leave Facebook, when I turned off the notifications, when I get focused, I get things done that most people can’t.  I make sure that I don’t instinctively respond to the “(x) commented on your post” responses.  I write.  I research.  I read.  And yet people think that Facebook is a good way to keep in touch with your “friends?” It’s done nothing but plan and set up your entire day from moment one.

Leave that stupid site behind and get into real life.  Don’t allow yourself to fall into the notion that the “town crier” consisting of virtual picket fences where people talk amongst themselves is anything but a place where people can’t learn anything other than what they want to learn and see what they want to see.

The best approach, the “wrongless approach” is to make sure that you don’t let social media use you.  You make sure that when you use social media, you’re doing it for a strategic advantage.

Be conflict-free.  Live the MiD life.  Embrace real life. 

Evening Meditation: The Coin

I’ve been a card guy for some time.  I love playing cards.  I love the look and feel of a good deck.  I love a Gambler’s Cop, I love a McMillan Switch, I love a Tenkai Palm, I love all the knacky little sleights people do with cards.  That’s why I had to put them down and pick up the coin.

The coin is a harsh mistress for those who neglect her.

I’ve dealt with an illness since my third year of law school called Ocular Myasthenia Gravis.  It’s a degenerative muscle disease.  There was some fear that disease would start spreading into the rest of my body at one point.  Thankfully, I just lost a little grip strength before the doctors declared remission.  That came from serious lifestyle changes I needed to make.  Part of that meant I needed my hands back.  The coin taught me I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was.  One bang of a coin onto a table when you don’t want it to happen and the illusion, the deception, is over.

Pasteboards will make you comfortable.  The coin will not.

The coin requires attention and focus.  The coin requires attention management and expectation management.

When you’re doing sleights involving coins, you have to be very careful at pointing attention in certain directions.  You must be a person who can manage attention in the singular or plural.  You have to make sure that you’re spot on when communicating your message.  You have to be confident, relaxed, and have an out that the card man won’t.

Anybody can learn deception with cards.  It takes an obsession to get to the coin.

When you master the coin, you master just about everything as a performer.  And we’re all performers, whether we want to admit it or not.  Perseus Arkomanis, Eric Jones, and Kainoa Harbottle all get it and make it their own.  Perseus is…well, he’s Perseus and thinks outside the box like no one’s business.  Eric is very no-nonsense and gets the relaxed confidence mastery of the coin brings.  Kainoa Harbottle has the humor aspect down.  It’s all about taking the foundations and bringing it to a new level of your performance and communication.

Eric Jones stands out, though.  When teaching me classic palm he said very simply “The only way to get this is through relentless practice.” And if you’ve never done a classic palm, relentless practice is a must.  You will drop shit everywhere at first.  But eventually those muscles in your hands build up.  Eventually you start being able to forget the coin is there.  Eventually you tell the coin “I tell you what to do.  You don’t get to tell me what to do.”

You have to master the coin if you want to stand out.

Anybody can show you a card “trick.” There’s loads of those.  Being able to make metal objects appear, disappear, and then re-appear in different locations?  That’s deception in action.  That’s the very foundation of why I got into the deceptive arts.

This guy Lloyd Barnes.  He’s developed a move called the “Light Switch.” It’s basically him changing one card to another at the speed of light.  I can do a “Light switch.”  I’m working on a “light switch” with coins.  The bit is a coin production, then lay it on a table, and the coin changes.  Those who know the “light switch” will get the method.  The layperson doesn’t, and it makes them go “Oooooh.”

The combo and the concept makes the coin something greater than the cards.  

Any Joe can buy an effect.  The compulsive Joe buys several.  When the obsessive Joe gets several effects, transpositions them across boundaries, and uses those effects and their combined ideas to create something special, that Joe has become a Somebody.

Mediation is Dead requires mastery of the coin, so I’m putting the cards down for a little bit and leaving the card table.  

I have a few books about cards and deception with cards that I love.  One is Daniel Madison’s “Anthology.” Another is his “How to Cheat at Cards.” Still another is S.W. Erdnase’s “The Expert at the Card Table.”  All of these require certain skills I’ve already got.

It’s time to leave the card table.  It’s time to pick up the coin and hit the streets.

Growth requires pain, and metal is the result of that mindset.  So for now, I leave the comfort of the cards and embrace the suck that is the coin.

Choose the Form of Your Destructor

“Choose the form of your destructor.” That’s a line from Ghostbusters, where Gozer the Gozarian baited our lovable spectre-battling quartet into a manifestation of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  Right now, America is in a position to choose the form of its destructor, and hopefully seeing that we’re in that moment will stop people from choosing anger and choose peace instead.

Sometimes life can imitate art.  I just didn’t think that art would be Ghostbusters.

Scott Greenfield does a great job of expressing my stance on this issue, but I’ve got to take a different tack than him when I approach this.  I’m going “conflict free,” because that’s what Mediation is Dead means, but in order to get to “conflict free,” you have to put yourself in the other party’s shoes.

Prologue: Any writing about political candidates engenders a reaction in the intellectually challenged that if you don’t condemn the candidate they hate, you support him or her. I don’t support any of the candidates running for president. I’m appalled that in this nation, these are the best we can manage.

Whew.  Now that’s out of the way, we can talk about the Destructor, and what form that will take.  Either side has its Destructor, and it’s time to discuss the root cause of both Destructors in modern America.  Anger, deep, seething white-hot intense anger.

There is deep anger in America directed toward politicians, political parties and the dysfunction of government. And the fact that the other Republican candidates, despite their rhetoric now, have sworn to support [REDACTED] if he wins the nomination is as cynical as it gets, and demonstrates exactly what people hate about politicians and parties. (ed. note: I redacted the Destructor’s name.  SHG did not.)

That anger, and the sneers from the other side of the fence, have us picking our destructors.

To your Left, you have a white-haired demon who used to keep pictures of Marx and Lenin on his walls.  To the Right, you have the epitome of He Who Must Not Be Named, because he’s a sociopath and enjoys all of the attention.  This is where it’s gotten.  That anger has everyone ready to burn it all down in an attempt to get something close to resembling what America once was back in the picture.

This is the anger that has us choosing the Destructor.  For at least twenty years there’s been a sense we, the people have been lied to by those that seek and attain power in the highest branches of our government.  No matter what, we were told to remain loyal.  No matter what, the people were told to OBEY, LISTEN, and BELIEVE, and magical concepts like HOPE and CHANGE would magically occur.

Because when you see a lie, and you believe a lie, and you continue to have it reinforced in your head, when the lie hits a breaking point, there’s only one thing left to do.  Burn it all down and start over.  Where does that anger come from, though?  Most of the populace has been complicit for over two decades.  Why do we get angry now?

We are angry as a public because we know we’ve been told who to hate, how to hate them, and that we’re an “ist” if you don’t hate properly.  

The first moment we began forming our destructors came with the rise of that wonderful person once known as a “social justice warrior,” and now called “crybully.” These “noble” activists, armed with keyboards and Twitter accounts, made it their purpose in life to run around like a toddler in the middle of a tantrum at every single perceived slight.  If someone caught wind of an offense, then you had to apologize, because usually “you” were a person who had a position of power the crybully wanted.  The apology didn’t matter once they got started.  The crybullys would attack further, until you were gone.

This leads to people not speaking.  When you don’t speak because you know there’s the potential of having your life ruined the moment you say the Wrong Thing, then anger sets in.  Someone else controls you, and you really “can’t say that.”

You don’t speak because you’re afraid of being labeled an “ist.”  It doesn’t matter what.  “Racist,” “Sexist,” “Ableist” or otherwise.  You actually care.  You aren’t those things, and you know it.  None of the “ists” mean anything to the crybully.  They just use those words as leverage to control you.

We are angry as a public because we’ve been told who to believe and what to do when it comes to keeping people in office.

This year was to be the year dynasties were established in the United States.  One political dynasty versus another political dynasty.  Either way, the two would work together to keep things “business as usual.”

This was the second manifestation of the Destructor.  It gave the Destructor legs.  When the Destructor, be it on the Left or Right, began their respective ascents to power, the Destructor was jeered.  They’d never get anywhere.  One was a TV star!  The other one’s a Socialist!  You can’t put either Destructor in a position of political power like that, can you?

Turns out you most certainly can, and that’s why the Destructors have so much attention.

We are mad as hell and you don’t get that we’re not going to take it anymore.  The Destructor feeds off this.

The key moment in the ascendance of the Destructor came when people tried to say “We get that you’re angry.”
Do you really?  Now, after all the name calling, and jeering, and mishmash thrown our way, you “get” we’re angry?  That’s the most disingenuous horse shit you could expect us to eat.  If you “got” how angry we were the Destructor wouldn’t even manifest.  It wouldn’t have power.  If you “got” how angry we were then we wouldn’t even get here.

The Destructor doesn’t care about our anger.  We know that in our heart of hearts.  The Destructor feeds off that anger to gain power.  We’re so damn mad right now that it’s time to burn it all down.

You tell us our guns don’t matter, because we have a government that can bomb and kill us at any moment.  Okay, that’s fine.  We’ll do something royally stupid to make sure you understand WE hold the power through the ballot box.  Not you.

It’s escalated to the point where even the crybullies can’t tell the divisive rhetoric on either side is cannibalizing their own.

Marc Randazza’s latest CNN column about giving one Destructor free speech came out recently.  I agree with Marc, but it’s because I know what’s at stake if violence controls the narrative.  I shared in on Facebook, which is something I rarely do.  Three people immediately attacked Marc and labeled him a Destructor supporter.  Then I got attacked for being a Destructor supporter.  Marc is about as hardcore anti-Destructor as you can get.  He’s also done more for the First Amendment than most will do in their lives.

Two of these three people were stand-up comedians.  Professions where speech is their trade.  The third is a professional troll, so he COULD benefit from Marc’s ideas.  Marc said it best. “They’re too stupid to read my material.”

Hate has made us choose the Form of the Destructor.  The question is whether we opt-in to that choice. 

You’ll notice now that I’ve never mentioned once either Destructor by name.  That’s because both feed like leeches off the attention they receive, and I will give no power to either.  The Destructor wants me to make a choice.

I choose “fuck it.” I choose peace. 

I did some work for a client this weekend.  The client gave me a pen.  It had the word “PEACE” written in big block letters above my client’s name.

“What’s the deal with this?” I asked.  This is a guy I’ve known for more years than I care to admit.

“Well at one point I worked for a bomb plant.  I was having pens made, and I wanted to have my business name and my name on the pens.  The plant told me that I couldn’t have a business name of any kind on the pens, so I said “hell, I’m going to have fun with this.”  Now, after leaving that place, every time I think about it, I know there’s at least a thousand pens with the word “PEACE” in circulation in a bomb plant.  “Peace pens” are being used in a place that makes weapons of war.  If that’s not funny to you then you have no sense of humor.”

This is the very epitome of the “Wrongless Approach” to life.

Some will choose war.  Some will choose the Destructor.  I choose peace.

Make that decision today.  Will you choose the form of your Destructor, or will you choose peace?

Choosing peace is the MiD life in action. 

If you want to support a documentary about free speech that’s going to be no-bullshit, you can go here.

Fault Lines on Monday has my newest piece, where I managed to get in references about Phillip K. Dick, The Terminator, and Avengers: Age of Ultron while discussing something very stupid done by college kids.  While you’re there, subscribe to our newsletter.  We took the hard work out of coming to us.  You just have to subscribe.  No bullshit, no gimmicks, just 100% the best legal analysis from anywhere you’ll find.

 

My Letter To Bill Hicks, Revisited

Back in 2013, I wrote the following letter to a dead comedian named Bill Hicks. It went viral, to the point where this comedian’s brother, Steve reached out to me and asked if I would send his mother Mary a written copy of the letter.

I was so honored by this request that I printed a copy out on my firm’s letterhead and sent it to Mary.  I got a handwritten response from her, and a few mementos that will be passed on to my kids one day.

I revisited the letter this morning.  One aspect that’s always amazed me about Bill Hicks is he stands out in a select field including guys like George Carlin and Lenny Bruce, who will be forever relevant because of their contributions to history and the way they presented truth.  Bill was a guy whose words can resonate across generations.

The text of the below letter still remains as relevant today as it did in 2013.

Dear Bill:

During my undergrad years, a friend exposed me to “Rant in E Minor.” I was immediately hooked, right from the start where you gleefully described the premise behind “Let’s Hunt and Kill Billy Ray Cyrus” all the way to the end of the album. I immediately bought all of your CDs that I could find at the time and began making my way through your catalog.

I’d never heard anything like what you had to say, and it resonated me. Years after you left this planet, your words still influence a generation of individuals who feel disenfranchised and as if they have no hope. I’m no comedian, Bill. I don’t have any real understanding of what makes humor work, but I can tell you this: You were a prophet.

Prophets don’t need to tell people omens of the future. Prophesy is simply a means of speaking the truth. And you spoke it with the fervor of a man with nothing to lose and a mission to tell the world what was going on.

The funny thing is this, Bill: You were right. You were right about so many things, and you don’t even get a chance now to see how scary right you were about some of your predictions. To illustrate, I’m offering up a couple of examples from your finer works:

“I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. “I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.” “I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.” “Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!” “Shut up! Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control. Here’s Love Connection. Watch this and get fat and stupid. By the way, keep drinking beer, you fucking morons.”—Rant in E Minor (1997)

You recorded that in 1992. Today, we live in a world where bipartisan bickering is the norm. Our congress is in a hopeless state of gridlock, fueled by hatred of either side’s beliefs. And nobody seems to notice there’s at least one man—if not more—pulling the strings of everybody who claims to pay attention to modern politics. They’re not watching “Love Connection” though—it’s “The Bachelor,” “Jersey Shore,” and “Hell’s Kitchen.” And the beer…we have more beer than you can imagine.

But the government is in control. Very much so. In fact, now we’re all being watched by the NSA. Our freedoms are slowly being taken from us by a police state that tells us we need to have less rights for the purposes of “national security.” Now the government just wiretaps your phone without a warrant or other court documents. If you choose to stay silent, you are implicitly guilty. These are things COURTS HAVE ALLOWED!!!

You were right, Bill. But it doesn’t stop there.

Go back to bed, America. Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again. Here. Here’s American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up. Go back to bed, America. Here is American Gladiators. Here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom. Here you go, America! You are free to do as we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!”—Revelations (1993)

Did you know that American Gladiators is gone now, Bill? Now we have shows like “Wipeout” and “Oh, Sit!” where people get to laugh at the expense of others as they bumble, stumble, and flop their way through obstacle courses for the glory of acting stupid on television. The other part is the same, though. We live in a world where the government continues to tell us they’re in control, they’ve got it all figured out, and they are the ones we should trust. Meanwhile, our country seems to keep sliding downhill in education, prosperity, and happiness. People are more sick than ever. But the Government’s got it all figured out…that much they keep telling us. And we’re free, all right. Just like you thought. We’re free to do what they tell us.

“I have this feeling man, ‘cause you know, it’s just a handful of people who run everything, you know … that’s true, it’s provable. It’s not … I’m not a fucking conspiracy nut, it’s provable. A handful, a very small elite, run and own these corporations, which include the mainstream media. I have this feeling that whoever is elected president, like Clinton was, no matter what you promise on the campaign trail – blah, blah, blah – when you win, you go into this smoke-filled room with the twelve industrialist capitalist scum-fucks who got you in there. And you’re in this smoky room, and this little film screen comes down … and a big guy with a cigar goes, “Roll the film.” And it’s a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you’ve never seen before … that looks suspiciously like it’s from the grassy knoll. And then the screen goes up and the lights come up, and they go to the new president, “Any questions?” “Er, just what my agenda is.” “First we bomb Baghdad.” “You got it …”—Rant In E Minor

This ended up being true as well, Bill. Not just corporations—MEGACorporations, billionaire industrialists, people with solipsistic worldviews—they run the world, and they control the people who run our country. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kennedy assassination footage got played every time someone else got elected President, just like you said. Just to keep the populace in line.

I’m beginning to see why you kept thinking the Presidents got older—visibly older—from the time they took office to the time they left. Must be the weight of all that poison on their shoulders, Bill.

It doesn’t stop with politics, Bill. Music’s been corrupted too. I remember this diatribe of yours fondly:

“Rick Astley? Have you seen this banal incubus at work? Boy, if this guy isn’t heralding Satan’s imminent approach to Earth, huh. “Don’t ever wanna make you cry, never wanna make you sigh … never gonna break your heart” … oh, I wouldn’t worry about that without a dick, buddy. You got a corn nut! You got a clit! You’re not even a guy! You’re an AIDS germ that got off a slide! They’re puttin’ music to AIDS germs, they’re puttin’ a drum machine behind them in a metronome beat and Ted Turner’s colorizing ‘em, God damn it! These aren’t even people man! It’s a CIA plot to make you think malls are good!! Don’t ya see? (Imitates stereotypical American in a robotic manner) “But Bill, malls are good! Malls allow us to shop 365 days of the year at a 72 degree heat. That must be good.”—Sane Man (1989)

I don’t even want to begin to tell you about “RickRolling,” Bill.

But there’s hope in this world, because some of us actually remember a few things you said for the good of the world:

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.”—Revelations (1993)

Oh how I’ve carried that last one with me, Bill. You see, I choose not to be in fear. I choose not to be in hate. I choose to love. I choose to laugh. And no matter what, I choose to get on board, strap in, and throw my hands up in the air laughing and squealing wildly, because just like you said—this life, it’s “just a ride.”

See you on the other side, Bill.

Love, Laughter, and Truth,

—CLS