Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for quite a while. Of course, it is wonderful to see family and friends, as well as to eat great food. We recall how our Thanksgiving holiday is meant to show gratitude for what we have. For most of American history people had relatively little by current standards. Now people recite make small gesture of thanks for their family, friends, faith, flag, wealth or some other external influence. In fact, Thanksgiving now serves to whet our collective appetites for more. Over the past few decades, Thanksgiving has become the launch pad for an increasingly-crazed, Christmas consumption binge. Clearly this has changed because capitalism needs people to keep buying more new stuff – see my earlier article “Karl Marx would be Marveling at Capitalism’s Collapse.”
This article explains the true nature of gratitude and how to practice it regularly and routinely. For the last few years at Thanksgiving I have meant to write an article about the relationship between happiness and gratitude. This year I have done it! I’m more convinced that how grateful we are for our life, the happier we tend to be. This is true because focusing on the positive and being thankful for what we have makes us feel better about our situation. It also is true that we attract more of what we are grateful for into our lives. First, I want to clearly and carefully express my personal gratitude for where my life is now; and where it is heading. Next, I have collected and edited some well-written articles about the clear, even scientific, connections between gratitude and happiness. I open and end with carefully selected quotes about gratitude, happiness, and Thanksgiving. Click to Learn and Leave Comments.
As the Occupy movement gains momentum and support the potential for more police violence is always present. In most cases the unarmed, peaceful protestors will be the losers (as happened in Oakland.) The occupy movement has natural allies that provide them with protection and clout (e.g., union members.) In return, the occupy movement provides lots of youthful energy, passion and creativity. This winter is the time for organizing and building coalitions. I hope this article provides ideas and inspiration as to the kind of power the occupy movement can have.
The one group with a long-history of confronting police harassment and social rejection include the subculture known as “Outlaw Bikers.” Ironically, they are also known as “1%’s” – but for very different reasons (as you will learn below.) They also represent one of the last truly free-living groups (like the James gang and other western outlaws.) These leading-edge freedom fighters live to ride hard, play hard, and fight hard when provoked. However, demographics and police repression have reduced the numbers of potential members. Most “outlaw” chapters do want to engage and help the community – any many are involved with charity. The outlaw bikers will find kindred spirits in young punk rockers, skateboarders, street gangs, and even hippies!
Historically, the Hells Angels have been a major presence in the SF Bay area (particularly Oakland) for over fifty years. This gang has been demonized by most of society – particularly the cops and media. Not unlike, the Sopranos and others, outlaw bikers are involved in a range of “criminal” activities that are economically rational, given the unfair society they and the rest of us live in. They are prone to violence if provoked. However, the “crimes” committed by outlaw bikes mainly hurt each other or those who make the mistake of messing with them. Many outlaw bikers have similar politics and experiences to the Tea Party (i.e., are less educated, white males that tend to be veterans who like guns.) Like the hippies and some Occupy protestors, they are alienated from society and have learned to live outside the system (i.e., off the grid and outside the law.) All three groups would agree that “we should be able to do anything we want, whenever we want – as long as we don’t hurt anyone else.” Click below to learn why outlaw bikers and the occupy movement would be a good match to help keep the cops in check.
Jesus Drives Money Changers from the Temple
The Occupy Wall Street movement builds on over 2,000 years of Christian activism aimed at helping poor people and promoting social justice. Like Jesus, many of the people taking a stand are willing to sacrifice their own comfort and welfare to help the less fortunate. In this article I compile writings that demonstrate how Jesus Christ was a radical reformer and rebel who challenged the rich and powerful of his day. You will find key quotes that summarize how Jesus taught us to care for the least among us. He also fought hard against greed and corruption during his time.
I was moved to write this article by the “Poverty Tour” conducted recently by Tavis Smiley and Cornell West. This amazing program was broadcast over five nights on PBS. This article provides links to watch the shows, as well as a summary of the series. I was also inspired to write when Joe Scarborough finished his MSNBC interview with Smiley and West with his own testimony that “Jesus’ ministry was about taking care of the poor. We don’t see that from the very people who wave their bibles around the most.” This article documents the many ways in which Jesus would now be considered not just a liberal, but a radical in today’s culture. I have included a summary of an important book called “Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream” by David Platt. You will also learn about the great song “Jesus Christ” by Woody Guthrie (which uses the melody from Jesse James and has been covered well by U2.) Click to Learn Why Jesus would Lead the Fight against greedy Wall Street moneychangers
With the death of Steve Jobs we have lost one of our most brilliant minds and successful entrepreneurs. Many tributes are being written about his impacts on the computer and communication industries. To really appreciate the genuine genius of Steve Jobs, we need to understand the cultural climate in which he grew up. He was a self-identified “child of the sixties counterculture” who attributes much of his success to the Silicon Valley and San Francisco communities in which he spent his early years (same time and place where the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and others started.) This article explores the nature and extent of the counterculture’s influence over the development of the computer in general, and on Apple computers in particular. This type of insight is vital if we ever hope to find “the next Steve Jobs.”
This article collects most of what has been written about Steve Jobs’ early life. Particular attention is paid to how extensively Steve and other computer pioneers were greatly influenced by the values and vision of the hippie counterculture. Steve came of age in the epicenter of this social movement. He clearly embraced the hippies’ practices and philosophy. Many of the tributes included here show how his business behavior was shaped by his distrust of authority and willingness to expand his mind in many directions. To provide further context, I include a seminal article written by Stewart Brand in 1995 called “We Owe it all to the Hippies.” I also collect detailed reviews of an important book called “What the Dormouse Said.” This article also includes a letter sent to Steve Jobs from Albert Hofman (discoverer and proponent of LSD). Steve Jobs acknowledged the importance of this psychedelic compound in shaping his own life and career. It is entirely possible that we will never see “another Steve Jobs” unless another form of “hip counterculture” is allowed to flourish. Given the conservative and corporate nature of modern American society, that is very unlikely. Click Below to Learn More:
Rock and roll set a whole generation free and on fire during the 1960’s. I have written before about how much influence the blues had on British and American rock and roll. We also need to appreciate where rock and roll came from. One of the leading innovators – Chuck Berry – is still alive and deserves our deep respect and appreciation. He taught us all how to have fun and enjoy life. He helped young people shake off their shackles and get happy. He sang about cars, girls and wild music. He was also one of the most gifted guitar players. He directly influenced all the best sixties bands – Beach Boys, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, the Animals and countless others who covered his songs. He is likely the most studied and admired musician we have known.
John Lennon said “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.” He helped us break sexual taboos and rebel against authority. Chuck Berry will soon celebrate his 85th birthday. He has had an amazing and creative life that have made us all much happier. Read what follows to learn about the many honors Chuck has received along with his impacts on music and society. There is also news about his health following an incident in Chicago last January. Learn to appreciate how his songwriting and guitar picking were truly innovative and important. Go to I-tunes or wherever to get the real deal and support this great artist. Let’s all praise rock and roll’s leading light for almost a century.
Pundits have suspected that President Obama has a hard time relating to ordinary people. He seems to be distant and aloof, hoping to remain “above the fray.” Unfortunately, he is also looking like a wimp who is afraid to fight for what progressives and liberals believe to be proper public policy. His cultural and educational background taught him to compromise and be conciliatory. However, this is not how the civil rights movement was able to make progress during the 1960’s. This is a losing strategy for dealing with the angry and aggressive tea-baggers who are holding our country hostage. As Bill Maher has stated we need a gansta (i.e., tough-black) president now more than ever!!
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are offended and concerned that America’s “first black president” would forget his roots in the African-American community. Problem is that Barack Obama has few if any connections to the legacy of slavery that has hung over the African-American community for centuries. One way to think about this is that Barack Obama never had to really feel or sing the blues (this purely American music is intimately tied to African-American heritage and community.) This article provides details on the history of the blues and its relationship to black culture. You will also learn how to write your own blues song – using my free instrumental tracks for you to sing with. I also review the wonderful book, DVD, and CD produced by Bill Wyman (former bassist for the Rolling Stones) called Blues Odyssey. Pass this on so we all can start singing and enjoying the blues.
CLICK BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BLUES:
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was born Sept. 8, 1945 and died from alcohol abuse on March 8, 1973. His father had been a San Francisco radio DJ who played deep blues, soul and R&B, which greatly influenced his son. Ron had always had a wild streak, but was also known to be a really nice guy. He could definitely play harmonica and and sing the Blues better than most white kids. In fact, even growing up in the San Francisco Bay area he proved to be a true rebel, with an attitude and approach to the world that inspired many people (especially wanna-be hoods like me.) He thrived off of African-American culture – just like his contemporaries Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin did. In many ways, Pigpen is the forgotten Grateful Dead co-founder – just like Brian Jones became the forgotten founder of the Rolling Stones. Both were treated quite badly at the end by their respective band mates who were in their defense young and ambitious at the time.
Jerry Garcia was quoted saying that without Pigpen the band never would have made it. He was the the Dead’s front man because of his passionate voice and willingness to face the audience – while Garcia and Weir were still shy bout singing in public. He knew how to really work a crowd into frenzy. Like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin he avoided psychedelics but drank more than he should have. He did quit drinking and ate well for an extended time before dying of cirrhosis. In the case of the early live Dead shows (pre-1972) Pigpen acted as an anchor to his flying off into space band mates (particularly during the early “acid tests” where the band played a lot of covers that Pigpen liked to sing. He also was, according to Jerry, “The heart and soul of the Grateful Dead.” This article collects and edits damn-near everything that is currently on the Internet – including media stories, song lyrics, quotes from Jerry and friends, as well as my enhancements of the best pix of Pigpen on the web. Enjoy and tell your friends because Pigpen deserves the same recognition that have been paid to Jim and Janis, not to mention while considering the history of the Grateful Dead. Click Below to learn about his contributions, roots, lifestyle, and unfortunate early death.