Mardi Gras 2016 is expected to be on the chilly side. The conditions will not be tropical and will be uncomfortable for many who plan to bear much flesh, but the party will go on!
The spirit of Mardi Gras and the desire to be frivolous are stronger than weather conditions that are less than ideal. That spirit and desire are also part of the fabric of New Orleans culture.
Since human nature seems to encourage more complaining than praise, it is important that we go out of our way to acknowledge the positive over the negative. Every year there are complaints about behavior among the crowds and the riders on the floats.
Last year on the day after Mardi Gras, a listener called my show to complain about a group of young people that set up their temporary territory near his family and friends and vulgar music began to blare from their area. The man said the music was so offensive that he apologized to guests visiting from out-of-town and then moved his group to another location.
I can understand the man's frustration and vulgarity in public is not a new controversy. I would never be accused of being a prude or overprotective of society, but I don't think vulgar music should be tolerated in a public setting, like a Mardi Gras parade. But with great respect for the First Amendment, I admit that this is a difficult discussion.
While I would not judge the music the people choose to listen to in their car or in the privacy of their home, we should all expect a show of respect for each other. Admittedly, that's a lot of expect. There were also the typical complaints about people along a parade route blocking others or even moving in front of those who had been in position for the parade for hours. Lacking respect for others is an annoying reality.
But when you consider the number of people in the streets for parades and in the French Quarter and compare the size of the crowd to the number of incidents that occur, you can't help but have a positive impression of humanity.
The police and city workers do a phenomenal job every year during Mardi Gras, but if it were not for the attitude and the behavior of the crowds, in general, Mardi Gras would not be such an amazing celebration.
As we recognize the long hours on the job and the competence of law enforcement, city workers and the hundreds of people involved in cleaning up after each parade, let us also give ourselves credit for coming together in massive numbers for the simple purpose of sharing a moment of fun during Mardi Gras. If the people of New Orleans and the surrounding areas who participate in Mardi Gras every year were not good, tolerate and respectful individuals, Mardi Gras would be chaos and would have ceased to exist years ago.
Every year there are those who come to New Orleans and experience Mardi Gras for the first time and without any lessons on what to do and how to act, even the first-timers quickly fit into our cultural mayhem. So, we, the Mardi Gras veterans must be setting a good example!
In spite of the countless displays of vulgarity and disrespect, Mardi Gras does teach us that we can come together as a community and bond over what we have in common – rather than think about what separates us.
I often talk about the "nature of news" on The Scoot Show on WWL – which is to focus on the negative and outrageous, even in the face of much that is positive and normal. The "nature of news" is determined by human nature. We are more prone to complain than to praise and the news reflects that human tendency.
The news is more likely to present the confrontations and the problems over the endless examples of kindness and respect in the crowds. That's why it is important for us to take a look into society's mirror once in awhile and recognize the positive reflections that far outnumber the negative ones.
The history of wearing masks during Mardi Gras explains the amazing spirit behind the celebration. In the beginning, masks were worn so that everyone was perceived as being equal on that day. At the time, society was strictly defined by classes and there was judgment of where you could go and what you could do based on the class you were part of. Since the masks hid your class in society, everyone was able to mingle in one large crowd.
During Mardi Gras, locals and visitors from every class in society for the single purpose of having a good time. Our political views, our religion, our race, sexual orientation and our economic status are mostly unrecognizable in the crowds that gather during the Carnival season and on Mardi Gras Day.
If you are participating in Mardi Gras – remember that this is a special time in a very unique American city that represents the common human bond we share for being happy and escaping the stress in our individual lives.
The apparent need to label candidates, talk show hosts and even average citizens has reached a new high. Recently on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been trying to claim the title of the "most progressive candidate."
During CNN's Town Hall meeting with Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton last night, each candidate was trying to convince Americans that they were the most progressive – the most liberal candidate.
The civil war within the Republican Party as to who is the most conservative candidate has been ongoing, but the battle within the Democratic Party as to who is the most liberal is now a well-defined conflict.
The sparring between Clinton and Sanders over owning the title of the most progressive candidate has been building and last night during the town hall meeting it mirrored the fight among Republicans as to which candidate is the most conservative.
What is fascinating about these two battles is that in a general election, neither the true liberal nor the true conservative has the best chance of winning the White House. And yet, now both parties have candidates proudly trying to claim that they are the extreme candidate and not the moderate candidate.
Political strategists argue that to win the nomination of either party, candidates must appeal to the more fundamental base of their party and then attempt to become more moderate during the general election. Since voters have short memories, this strategy often works, but if voters were smart they would pay attention to how they are being moved around like pawns on a political chessboard.
After eight years of a Democrat in the White House who is perceived by many Americans as being a liberal, progressive president, I can't see that America is in the mood to maintain status quo. This election is for the Republicans to lose, but they will lose if the right candidate is not the nominee. As progressive as Bernie Sanders is, he still has the rebel factor that is also part of the success of Donald Trump.
When Bernie Sanders first started to move up in the polls, I speculated that Hillary Clinton could be pushed to the left and that is exactly what is happening. And that is a mistake in 2016 America. Clinton is in the perfect position to own the title of being the more moderate candidate, but here she is fighting for the title of "most progressive."
Barack Obama may be seen as a progressive president, but he won both elections by presenting himself as a more moderate candidate. The last Republican president, George W. Bush, ran as a "compassionate conservative," suggesting a moderate ideology.
There are far more moderate-leaning Americans on both sides of the political aisle than there are true liberals and true conservatives. Since the extremes in both parties make the most noise and are the most active during the primary season, the more extreme candidates get the most attention and support.
If moderate Republicans and Democrats made as much noise as the more defined right and left within each party – different candidates might be at or near to top of the polls.
If there is power in numbers then the moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats hold the power. The problem is the condemnation of moderates that comes from the right and the left.
Moderates are not as proud of the group they belong to as conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. And until that changes – expect no changes.
It's exciting when the polls and the pundits do not accurately predict human behavior! And last night, the Iowa caucuses delivered a few surprises.
Heading into to the caucuses, polls showed that Donald Trump had taken back the lead he briefly lost to Ted Cruz in Iowa, but last night Cruz beat Trump. The biggest surprise of the night was the very strong 3rd place finish by Marco Rubio.
Leading up to the caucuses, polls showed that Rubio was a distant 3rd to Trump and Cruz and was down to nearly half of Trump's numbers. In the Quinnipiac poll released right before the Iowa caucuses, Trump was at 31%, Cruz at 24% and Rubio at 17%. When the counting was over, Cruz won with 27.7%, Trump was 2nd with 24.3% and Marco Rubio was a close 3rd with 23.1%.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders led Hillary Clinton going into the caucuses 49% to 46% and it wasn't until the next day that Clinton was declared the winner.
Clinton's declaration of victory before it was official is based on political strategy. Being perceived the winner of the Iowa caucuses would add momentum to Clinton's campaign heading into the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. Sanders could have ended up being the winner in Iowa, but that might not have been official until after Clinton had already benefited from the surge of "winning" Iowa.
There were winners beyond the winners last night. Cruz beat Trump, but Rubio was such a close 3rd behind Trump that last night was a huge victory for the Rubio campaign. Sanders, who was far behind Clinton for months should see the virtual tie with Clinton as a major victory for his campaign.
One of the big questions is what will the loss do to Trump. Trump's campaign has been based more on emotion than specific political plans. Trump has a massive lead going into the New Hampshire primary, February 9, and anything short of a big win over Cruz there could show that Trump is more vulnerable than his polling numbers have indicated. But Iowa may not be a true test because of the number of conservative and evangelical voters in the state. There is no question that Cruz benefits the most from those two groups.
Since the battle within the Republican Party is between the conservative right and the moderate right, it's important to consider that if Cruz represents the conservative right with 27.7%, then the combined support of Trump and Rubio, 47.4%, shows that support for the moderate right is stronger.
Another big winner last night was the Fox News Channel. The attitude on Fox News last night and again today appeared to place greater emphasis on the fact that Trump lost. Because of the ongoing feud between Trump and Fox News, the network could not possibly want Trump to win the nomination and God forbid the White House.
Imagine the network that represents conservative Republicans in America being at odds with the new Republican President of the United States! Fox News and numerous conservative radio talk show hosts have prided themselves on playing an instrumental role in the success of Republican candidates, but since Trump has defied Fox News, it would be difficult for the network to take any credit for his path to the White House.
I opened this blog with the idea that it's exciting that the polls and the pundits were wrong about the outcome of the Iowa caucuses. I think that is exciting because it demonstrates that human reaction cannot always be measured before humans act.
It should be comforting to know that human actions and reactions can be too spontaneous to measure in advance.
So the human voters were also a big winner last night!
It's another Monday and the news is splattered with stories about shootings and armed robberies all over the Greater New Orleans area. Is this now the New Orleans norm? There was even a shooting along a parade route in the pleasant bayou community of Thibodaux – far from the inner city of New Orleans.
An aspect of one of the shootings got my attention. Yesterday afternoon about 4:00 pm, gunshots rang out at a gas station at N. Claiborne and Esplanade Ave. The area was bustling with participants and their dogs leaving the annual Barkus Parade in the French Quarter.
According to NOPD, an argument broke out among a group of young men on ATVs. Richard Macklin apparently got into an argument with a group of ATV riders at a gas station – pulled out a gun – shots were fired and three people were hit. One of the ATV riders fired back and hit Macklin in the back of the head. All remain in the hospital with non-life threatening gunshot wounds.
Macklin will face aggravated battery and gun charges once he is released from the hospital. The ATV rider that fired back is not being charged because police say he shot at Macklin in self-defense. All of the ATV riders are charged with traffic violations since riding ATVs on city streets is against the law.
Living downtown, I occasionally see ATV riders on the streets of our city and I interpret their presence as a mission of intimidation. Motorcycle riders often ride alone and enjoy the experience of being on their bikes. Interestingly, I never see just one ATV rider – they are always in groups. At signal lights, they rev their engines and continuously look around as if the see whose attention they are attracting.
They recklessly defy the flow of traffic as if to make their presence a threat to law-abiding citizens. Compared to the true motorcycle enthusiast, these ATV rides appear more interested in establishing themselves as a threat rather than enjoying the experience of being on a vehicle in the open.
Riding ATVs on city streets is illegal, and yet, these young ATV riders appear to have no fear of breaking the law. And this is why allowing that crime to go unpunished sends a message to those youth that the cops don't care.
Using precious police resources to get ATV rides off the streets of New Orleans does not seem to be a priority compared to the armed robberies and murders that took place over the weekend. However, failing to enforce a simple traffic violation may invite bigger problems.
By not cracking down on the blatant disregard for law enforcement by the young ATV riders, police and society are essentially telling people that it's okay to break the law. No one will argue that investigations of armed robberies or murders are more important to the NOPD than handing out violations for riding ATVs on city streets, but allowing the ATV riders to run recklessly through the city could be a gateway to disregarding other laws.
Every parent knows that you can't suddenly start to discipline a child when they reach a certain age and begin breaking more serious rules. If a child doesn't understand early in life that there are strict consequences for breaking the rules, then what respect does that child have for any rules?
It seems that the lack of police attention being paid to brazen ATV riders on the streets of New Orleans is only giving them the impression that rules don't matter and if breaking that rule doesn't come with consequences, then why assume there will be consequences for breaking other rules?
As I write this, the ATV rider who shot back will not be charged with a crime because police say he was acting in self-defense. I assume NOPD did an investigation and determined that this young ATV rider with a gun was in legal possession of a legal firearm.
One of the more disturbing trends in shootings today, whether on the streets of New Orleans or along a parade route in a small bayou city, is the reality that so many people who are carrying guns are willing to use their guns to settle an argument.
That trend is not something that can be blamed on unemployment or drugs or anything other than the failure of parents – and society – to teach that in a civilized world – legally owing a gun does not include owning a gun for the purpose of settling an argument.
And failing to stop young ATV riders breaking the law is only telling them there are no consequences for breaking the law. That's not a lesson we should be teaching.
The belief that Hollywood consistently produces entertainment for the purpose of advancing a very liberal agenda is widely accepted as fact, particularly among conservative Americans, and that perception is reality to those who accuse Hollywood of promoting a liberal agenda.
However, widespread condemnation of “liberal Hollywood” contradicts the new criticism that Hollywood is racist!
For the second consecutive year, the Academy has failed to nominate a black American actor or actress for an Oscar. That led to actress Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, and filmmaker Spike Lee to initially announce they would boycott the Oscars next month.
In the history of the Oscars, forty-four black Americans have been nominated. The first Oscar won by a black performer was Hattie McDaniel for her role in “Gone With The Wind” in 1939. Louis Gossett, Jr. won Best Supporting Actor for “An Officer and a Gentlemen,” Denzel Washington won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Glory” and Best Actor for “Training Day,” Whoopi Goldberg won Best Supporting Actress for “Ghost,” Halle Berry won Best Actress for “Monsters Ball” and Jamie Foxx won Best Actor for “Ray.”
The controversy over the lack of nominations for black actors and actresses mirrors many of the controversies we have in America. Is the Academy racist or were there no performances by blacks that warranted a nomination this year? And if there were no performances worthy of an Oscar nomination - should a certain number have been nominated anyway to show diversity?
If nominations were granted to ensure diversity, then the integrity of the Oscars would be compromised. If Hollywood is ignoring black performers who deserve an Oscar nomination because they are black, then Hollywood is racist.
The other argument that comes into play is the possibility of the lack of quality leading roles for blacks. If Hollywood is consciously ignoring prominent black roles, then Hollywood may be racist.
The number one agenda of Hollywood is to be number one at the box office and generate revenue. Decisions about what movies are made are generally based on projected revenue. For a movie to succeed at the box office it must appeal to the largest percentage of the population and if that is the driving force behind movie-making decisions - then Hollywood is not racist.
Movies that feature black performers or movies based on stories that centers on black history or black culture succeed because of the level of interest in the content. The movie, “Selma,” was about the civil rights battle for equal rights for black Americans, but the content of the movie was equally appealing to white America as well.
We will never get past racial tension if the assumption is that any lack of inclusion in a group, like the Oscar nominations, is racially motivated rather than motivated by merit of performance.
The only way to change the overall complexion of the annual group of Oscar nominees is for better roles to be offered to black actors and actresses in movies with broad appeal. And the only way better roles will be offered is if Hollywood thinks the roles will generate revenue at the box office.
The greed of Hollywood is the reason for fewer black Oscar nominees – not racism.
What may seem to be defense of President Obama is actually condemnation of political hypocrisy!
Sarah Palin, who made a splash back on the national political stage this week with her boisterous endorsement of Donald Trump, addressed the issue of her son’s arrest earlier this week on domestic violence charges that include possession of a firearm while intoxicated.
This is not the first time an offspring of Sarah Palin has attracted national attention for behavior unbecoming of a mother who is a huge favorite among evangelical voters.
During the 2008 presidential campaign when Sarah Palin was John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, Palin was faced with uncomfortable task of confirming that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, was unmarried and 5 months pregnant.
Without criticizing Bristol Palin for having sex out-of-wedlock and making the decision to have and keep her baby, it is fair to criticize the harsh judgment of what many evangelical-courting politicians label “immoral behavior.” But this is not about Sarah Palin’s unwed pregnant 17-year-old daughter – it’s about Palin’s 26-year-old son, Track.
Track Palin was arraigned Tuesday on charges of domestic violence assault, interfering with a report of domestic violence and possession of a firearm while intoxicated. Police responded to a 911 call from Track’s girlfriend claiming that he punched her in the face and that a gun was involved during the incident.
This news broke the same day Track’s mother, Sarah Palin, joined Donald Trump to endorse him at a rally in Iowa. Yesterday, at a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Palin seemed to blame President Obama for her son’s behavior.
Track Palin is an Iraqi war vet. Sarah Palin spoke about her son, PTSD and returning veterans and appeared to directly link President Obama to her son’s arrest. Palin said that our soldiers come home “hardened” and look at President Obama and question whether he knows what they have done to keep America safe and secure. “So when my own son is going through what he is going through coming back, I can certainly relate with other families who kinda feel these ramifications of some PTSD,” Palin said to the crowd at the rally.
First of all, we should all respect what Track Palin and every other soldier has done in serving America and we should empathize with the many vets who are dealing with PTSD. But I sense in the tone of her comments that Palin is excusing her son’s alleged violence against a woman because of the Obama Administration. That suggests that PTSD is a disorder that only affects returning soldiers over the past 7 years. This should also be an insult to every vet who suffers from PTSD.
Like many disorders, PTSD is more defined and understood today than in the past, but this is a condition from which no soldier is immune. We have all become aware of the shortcomings of our government’s treatment of vets on many different levels, but the recognition and treatment of PTSD is more advanced today than it was when soldiers returned from Vietnam or any other war zone.
Any veiled attempt to blame domestic violence on the government is a denouncement of “personal accountability.” Not every soldier suffering from PTSD commits an act of domestic violence. With an understanding of what people with PTSD experience, PTSD is not a defense for domestic violence.
It’s easy to look the other way when something involves our children, but that often invites blatant hypocrisy. A Republican politician who skirts the issue of “personal accountability” and suggests the government has somehow contributed to violent behavior defies one of the fundamental tenets of conservative ideology – which is individual power over government involvement. Liberal ideology leans toward the government for solutions – conservative ideology promotes “personal accountability” in support of less government influence on individuals.
Sometimes the government is at fault, but in the case of PTSD, is not every individual accountable for their behavior?
And when you consider the money and the resources available to someone like Sarah Palin, is it fair for her to blame the government for not doing more? Could she and her family have done more?
The panic set off by skyrocketing gas prices a few years ago has been replaced by a celebration over the plunging price of gas - but not everyone is celebrating.
As Americans, we have a tendency to become panic stricken over trends – trends that rarely remain constant. When the price of gas was approaching $4.00 a gallon, there was widespread speculation that gas would hit $5.00 a gallon in the United States and the ripple effect of that on the U.S. economy would be devastating! The price of oil rose to and stayed near $100 a barrel for an extended period.
The rising price of gas led to fears of commerce slowing down and the price of virtually everything going up because oil is such an integral part of literally fueling the economy.
The national panic over higher gas prices made the consumers of cars rethink their decisions and smaller vehicles that got great gas mileage became more popular.
And here we are today – January 14, 2016 – and the price of oil is near $30.00 a barrel and the average price for unleaded gas in New Orleans is about a $1.70 a gallon. The national average is near $1.90. What happened to the fear that our economy was doomed because gas would hit $5.00 a gallon?
As the price of gas dropped, so did the interest in buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. With the price of gas dropping to new lows, consumers started buying more SUVs and trucks and a vehicle’s estimated mpg was no longer even a consideration for many consumers.
Reaction to skyrocketing gas prices and the opposite reaction to plummeting gas prices shows how short the collective memory of America is. In America, we live in the moment. In many ways that can be positive, but when living in the moment erases our memories – that’s not a good trait.
As many across the country celebrate the money they are now saving every time they fill up their vehicle, there are many who are cursing the lower gas prices. Especially, in states like Louisiana, where the oil industry employs so many people and contributes significantly to the economy of communities and the state. Here, the drop in the price of gas has hurt, not helped.
I have a small car and I don’t drive everyday, so my gas expense is very low. However, I have still celebrated the lower price of filling up thinking that I am getting ahead! But I lost a client that was paying me to endorse their company and do live commercials on my show. The amount I lost talent fees from that one client will not be made up for in my savings at the pump. And it’s not even close.
Jobs have been lost, businesses have gone under and other businesses have watched their business decrease and the personal and business savings on gas will not make up for their losses.
The economic impact of the significant drop in the price of gas is a perfect example of how there are “winners” and “losers” with every major economic shift. Some will benefit and some will lose and the economic shift is good for the economy if there are more “winners” than “losers.”
Those who have lost as a result of the lower gas prices are cursing the savings at the pump because they have lost much more than they will save. But those who run businesses that depend heavily on fuel are celebrating. And that’s the reality of the American economy.
I find it interesting that President Obama has been blamed for the high price of gas and the negative affect that was having on the economy, but those who condemned the President are not suddenly giving him credit for the lower price of gas. That’s part of the insane political hypocrisy in America.
In 2007, when the price of gas was high, there were those who defended President Bush, insisting that the President of the United States has nothing to do with the price at the pump because the price of gas is determined by the global market. But many blamed President Obama for the high price of gas. Now, they will no give President Obama credit for the drop in gas prices because they argue, “the president does not control the price of oil.” Hypocritical?
It’s too early to determine the impact low gas prices will have on the nation’s economy. Personally, I can’t be so selfish that my loss as a result of the lower price of gas is bad for everyone in the state or the country – but I only lost business and not a job.
If someone loses their job over lower gas prices, they don’t care how much you are saving at the pump. Those who have seen their personal and business expenses drop may not consider the person who lost their job.
There is more sharing in our country than we realize. We share losses and we share gains, but we all don’t share them at the same time.
It was 2:40 am this morning - I turned on the news, as I often do, and the first story I saw was the news that rock icon David Bowie had died.
David Bowie lost his 18-month battle with cancer. Bowie’s passing was shocking because his battle with cancer with largely kept private. On our Pop Culture Calendar Friday afternoon on our show on WWL, I mentioned that is was David Bowie’s 69th birthday and played one of his 80s hits, “Modern Love,” as bumper music going into a commercial break.
In 2014, postings on social media reported that David Bowie had died, but that proved to be a hoax. Duncan Jones, David’s son, tweeted that sadly this time the news is true.
A Facebook post from yesterday simply read, “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer.”
As a young disc jockey (“Scoot in the Morning”) on an FM rock station in the 70s, David Bowie stood out to me as one of the boldest and most creative artists in the glam rock genre with displays of androgyny that were shocking to mainstream pop fans in the early 1970s.
I remember the cover of David Bowie’s album, “Diamond Dogs,” which showed Bowie’s face and upper body as human that morphed into a dog lying down. It was a creepy album cover!
What impressed me most about David Bowie was his ability to reinvent himself, which made him relevant through the 50 years of his amazing career.
From “Space Oddity” in 1969 to the androgynous alter ego of Ziggy Stardust in 1972, David Bowie transformed into a major mainstream pop music star in 1975 with the hit “Fame.” Over the course of his career, David Bowie changed more than just his sound – he changed his total persona.
The tour that supported the “Young American” album in the 70s showed a mainstream and cerebral side of Bowie. He collaborated with Queen in the song “Under Pressure” in 1981.
In 1982, David Bowie collaborated with Bing Crosby, for a generational gap duet of “Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy.” The visual and the blended voices of Bowie and Crosby seemed to be a symbolic olive branch between two very different musical generations that showed little mutual respect.
Music was changing in the early 80s as the pop rock sound was infused with a commercial aspect of a new wave sound that was part of the punk music scene in the United Kingdom. The music of that trend was classified as “new wave music.” Bowie’s hit, “Let’s Dance,” was part of the “new wave” genre – as well as America’s migration back to the dance floors across the country. After the disco craze, America wasn’t dancing, but that changed in the early 80s.
The songs “China Girl” and “Modern Love” are part of the memorable music referred to as “80s music.” David Bowie’s style, his hair and his clothes, reflected the precise style of the younger stars just coming of age with early hits in the 80s. Bowie continued to prove that he was a chameleon and could not only fit into each decade, but would help define each decade.
Bowie’s newest album, “Blackstar,” was released on his birthday, Friday. Will the songs on the album give us any hints of Bowie’s personal battle?
David Bowie was also an accomplished actor. He held the title role in the Broadway version of “The Elephant Man.” He appeared in numerous movies including Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” in which he played Pontius Pilot. My best recollection of David Bowie’s film career was his leading role in the movie, “Labyrinth,” where Bowie played the king of goblins.
“Labyrinth” was a fairly tale, but edging toward a dark fairy tale. I watched that movie countless time with my son, Sean. Kids latch onto movies and love to watch them over and over and over again. “Labyrinth” was that movie in his life – and mine, too! Bowie had such a reputation for wild hair, I first wondered if that was his real hair or a wig he wore in the movie?
The nature of Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, gave a hint of his sexuality. Bowie’s first wife, Angie, claims that David and Mick Jaggar had an affair. Long before social media, that became a widely accept fact in pop culture and I remember talking about it on the air. But there was no evidence beyond his ex-wife’s claim.
In 1972, David Bowie told “Melody Maker” magazine that he was “gay.” In 1976, he said in a interview with “Playboy” magazine that he was bisexual. In 1992, Bowie married the stunning Somali-American model, Iman. At one point Bowie admitted that the questions about his sexuality benefited his career and considering his rebellious nature – one wonders was he really bisexual or if that was just part of his on-going intrigue.
Rolling Stone magazine named David Bowie the 39th greatest artist on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
My admiration and respect for David Bowie come from his ability to step away from the mainstream – he was a visionary. Bowie did not try to simply be the best at what everyone else was doing – Bowie clearly marched to his own drummer and set musical and fashion precedents for others.
The lyrics of the profound hit “Changes” seem to reflect David Bowie – the man and seem to give a perfect ending to this recognition of the amazing David Bowie…..
“Changes” by David Bowie
I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
And every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Don't want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strange)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
The great gun debate in America is being defined by those with extreme views on both sides – the gun rights advocates and the gun control advocates. As it is with so many political issues, the extremes on either side may define the issue, but do not reflect the collective views of Americans.
Last night, President Obama participated in CNN’s “Guns in America,” a town hall meeting broadcast live with question from the audience. Most of the questions were from Americans who disagree with the President’s proposal to expand background checks.
The theme of President Obama’s action on guns centers on expanding background checks. The President pointed out that the great gun debate has been politicized and the side that opposes the President’s actions are promoting that this is another step toward the government confiscating the guns of law-abiding citizens, which has been a fear instilled in Americans over decades. And yet, gun owners have not had their guns confiscated.
At some point in history, one would think that precedent would prevail, but the fact that there has not been a government effort to confiscate guns does not get in the way of the panic many still try to create over the issue.
Is the idea of expanding background checks an effort by this president to move toward gun confiscation?
According to a Quinnipiac Poll, an overwhelming number of Americans support background checks. Last month, in response to the question - “Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online?” - 89% supported it – 9% opposed it – and 1% had no answer.
In a CBS/New York Times Poll in October of this year, in response to the question – “Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers?” – 92% were in favor – 7% opposed – and 1% had no answer.
A recent Gallup Poll asked the question – “Would you favor or oppose a law which would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the United States using a centralized database across all 50 states?” – 86% were in favor – 12% opposed – and 2% were unsure.
These polls show that President Obama is actually speaking for the majority of the American people and this is not the agenda of a Democrat in the White House to confiscate guns.
Unfortunately, the great gun debate is defined by the more extreme views on both sides. The truth is that moderate Americans simply don’t make as much noise as the fringes of any group. If there was ever a time for moderate-leaning Republicans and moderate-leaning Democrats to stand up and be heard – the time is now!
Every controversial issue appears to be sharply divided along political lines, but in reality, it is the silent moderate majority that decides most elections.
I doubt that anyone watching the President in the town hall meeting last night changed their mind about their position on the gun debate and I doubt that anyone who has read this blog to this point has changed their position. I often talk about “confirmation bias” in America. That is the tendency to seek information through the media that confirms what you already believe, rather than approach an issue with an open mind. That’s human nature and it has never been more obvious than it is in America today.
America now survives on division and controversy. Whether it’s the debate over same-sex marriage, legalizing pot or gun violence, America is unfairly being divided by the disproportionate attention the extreme voices receive through the media.
Conflict is more entertaining than family and friends getting together and talking about what they agree on. And we should remember that the media is all about capturing the attention on an audience.
The speculation that Sean Payton may not continue to be the Saints head coach abruptly ended yesterday afternoon when Payton announced during a press conference, “This is where I plan on coaching!” Payton added that he does not envision himself coaching any other team. But his comment, “I’ll be here as long as they will have me,” may have been the most comforting statement.
At that press conference, we all saw a passionate and seemingly rejuvenated Sean Payton and had every reason to believe that this year’s 7-9 season was not just another losing season, but rather the record of a team that is on the rise. Payton boldly guaranteed the Saints will be back to the playoffs.
Payton’s dedication to making the Saints a winning franchise again was only a part of his announcement that was very reassuring for the WHO DAT Nation. It was Sean Payton talking about his relationship with New Orleans that totally solidified that Payton wants to be here in New Orleans coaching the Saints!
Sean Payton’s comments about New Orleans were not the disingenuous comments many make about our city. Payton said that there is “something about this city” without over explaining what that means. It’s important to point that out because those of us who were born here and grew up here and for those who have moved here and have fallen in love with the culture’s uniqueness know that verbally describing New Orleans is not easy.
Reducing to words what it’s like to grow up and live here or move here is an injustice to the culture. Words cannot adequately define New Orleans and our culture. To truly understand and appreciate out culture comes from living it. It must be lived to be believed.
When Sean Payton made the simple comment that he drives through potholes daily just like you and I do, but this city grows on you, he showed an understanding that he recognizes that the faults of this city are part of the overall experience of being here. That doesn’t mean that we should accept our faults without striving to be better, but there is something to the idea that for all this city is not – it’s still a very wonderful and unique place to live.
In Zen teaching it is written that a light shines on us. The light is what we like about ourselves, but the light casts a shadow. The shadow is what we don’t like about ourselves. But in order to get rid of what we don’t like about ourselves – the shadow – we would have to get rid of the light – the things we like about ourselves.
Yes, New Orleans has its faults and we should always strive to be the best we can be, but some of our faults may be the result of the things that make New Orleans such a unique place to live!