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No Apologies

Denver

We are not rebelling against society, in fact it is exactly the opposite, we are trying to embrace it. I can tell you that I chased my daughter around every day of her life, carefully nudging her away from danger at every turn. I spent her entire infancy holding her hand on staircases, shooing her away from electrical outlets and discouraging her from climbing up tall bookcases or touching hot stoves. Ask anyone who actually knows me, and they would tell you that I am overly cautious with my daughter to a fault.

I have three kids. Penny is the first to have her pinky toe amputated, but not the first to suffer a painful accident. Accidents happen, that’s just life. It won’t discourage us from embarking on this road trip. The accident that occurred will only serve to make me more vigilant than I was before. I won’t shelter her to the point that she never gets to have any fun or take any calculated risks, we’ll just have a safety brief before we do things like this again.

Things like rollercoasters, skateboards, bumper cars, bicycles, petting dogs, catching spiders, climbing trees, climbing hills, crossing the street and all other inherently dangerous activities of which there are too many to list here. When this incident occurred, I was mortified. I was worried and scared for my daughter. All of the adults that were present and supervising her that day were. We all stayed cool under pressure, acted fast, removed her from any further danger and had emergency services there within minutes of it happening.

All of us shed tears, and spent the entire week trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath. None of us enjoyed it. We just picked each other up and gave each other support and love. We grew closer as a family. This accident has nothing to do with our decision to travel. Anyone that takes the time to get to know us would know that we love our daughter and have provided her with a wonderful life filled with people who love and care for her. Our decision to take her out on the road wasn’t made lightly, it was carefully planned down to the last detail. That’s Maizy’s doing, she is an analytical Virgo accountant. She has a three-ring binder bursting at the seams, filled with itineraries, budgets, curriculum plans and much more.

We’re not stupid, we know what we were getting into when we started this, and we spent years getting ready. We started our life together in an upscale loft right behind Coors Field in downtown Denver, moved to a hundred year old craftsman home in the Highlands neighborhood and eventually ended up in a custom-built home on top of a mountain in Evergreen. We decided that we wanted to try a simpler lifestyle when we realized just how much money we were spending to live that life. When the public service bill was pushing $400, we decided we could do better. We made a conscious decision to downsize, moved back to the city  in a small apartment just a couple of miles from her work, and started saving all that money we were spending. We sold our gas guzzling SUV and started the arduous task of downsizing. It took us two years to get rid of almost all of our trivial belongings.

As far as Penny’s education goes, it’s kindergarten. We can handle it. We may or may not home school her after the trip and she will have the final say. If she chooses to go to school we will enroll her in one. We aren’t planning on traveling forever, just as long as it takes us to get to every state. We want to make a truly educated decision on where we decide to set down roots. The assholes who pretend to know what we are doing don’t know that, because they never bothered to ask. Penny is one of the most social kids you will meet. She makes friends with everyone, and is constantly lamenting my shy demeanor. It makes her crazy when I tell her to give people their space. She gets upset and frustrated with me. Rolling her eyes and sighing heavily she says “Dad, it’s okay to talk to new people.”

While this accident was heartbreaking and hard to deal with, there is also a silver lining. She made friends with kids who are literally dying. A young girl with a lung disease just fell in love with her. That girl has been admitted to the hospital 47 times in her life, she is maybe twelve years old at the most, but she has one of the most genuine smiles you will ever see and it makes me feel guilty for ever thinking that my life sucks. Penny is already better off just for having known her. That is just one example. My daughter is going to learn more than she ever would spending a year commuting back and forth to a half a day of kindergarten five days a week. And I’m not knocking kindergarten or traditional schooling or people who live your basic normal everyday life.

Our family just understands how precious and fleeting life can be, and we want to enjoy it to the fullest, and show our daughter the possibilities. It isn’t for the rest of her life, and while it might not be for everybody, we are giving it a try. Anybody who doesn’t like that can just fuck off as far as I’m concerned. I’m tired of explaining my decision and trying to justify it. I’m tired of feeling bad for being different. From this point on, we don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about us. We are living life with no apologies from now on.

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Before I picked up photography I would avoid events such as these like the plague, now I can’t stay away. The energy of the crowd, the diversity, that subtle feeling of tension hanging over the park like a storm cloud. Looking at Denver’s “Official 420 Rally” from an entirely A-Political perspective, it was a crowd like any other, except on this day, the area of Civic Center Park was cordoned off, and inside its boundaries cannabis was being consumed in all variety of ways by an eclectic variety of people.

Just like the “Taste of Colorado” the park is filled with a throng of humans gnawing on giant turkey legs and churros, only today most of them are washing it down with some sort of cannabis soda instead of the customary craft beer or domestic swill (Coors Light, Bud Light, Milwaukee’s Best, PBR) There was alcohol, but it was relegated to a small “bar” in a distant corner. The majority of people today were only interested in smoking weed.

There was a a heavy and very visible police presence, bolstered by a private security company and park rangers. Scaffolding was erected in the center of the park manned with armed guardsthat constantly scanned the crowd with binoculars. Park rangers on bicycles could also be seen buzzing in and out of the crowd. At least one drone was being flown over the festivities, and the entire outer perimeter of the park was surrounded by a layer of black fences. Helicopters periodically flew overhead and I saw one land on the roof of a nearby building. Just beyond the perimeter of the fence along Broadway officers from the Denver Police Department congregated in a display of authority. They don’t usually smile when I take their picture, but I do it anyway.

This event is no place for children, although a small percentage of people with questionable judgement brought their children along. I ran across a mother pushing a child through the hazy smoked filled park, the kid literally looked green to me. There is a brashness to this event that one can’t  ignore. The crowd swelled as the clock drew nearer to 4:20 on Easter Sunday. The cloud of smoke hovering over the crowd thickened as they counted down the minutes to the collective exhale. Marijuana is a part of the mainstream culture in Denver now more than ever. There is almost literally a pot shop on every corner, and it is not uncommon to catch a strong hint of the ganja as you are driving around town in your car.

The rally went off without a hitch in my opinion, except for the overwhelming sense of unease I felt with the extremely heightened security presence which is more of a personal thing. If I wasn’t taking pictures, I wouldn’t be here.  These are the people that I observed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Official 420 Rally

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I am awkward. I can’t help it, I was born like that. I am self-centered, egotistical and opinionated. Aren’t we all? I am flawed but I am kind. That’s why it pains me to say that I feel like I have done the man in this photograph a disservice.

He and his friends were the best group of people I ran into on a Thursday photo walk. We shared a brief encounter and it was an experience that left me feeling great about people’s capacity for kindness. They called me over, they encouraged me to take their pictures, and we shouted some niceties at each other while I stuck my camera in their face.

This man took off his overcoat and showed me his intricate and colorful tattoos. The light was all wrong, the pictures of him all turned out bad, and I didn’t get the exact representation of the moment the way I remembered it with him.

I gave them all my name, thanked them, and before I left the presence of their company I went to shake his hand. He grabbed my hand with both of his hands as I thanked him. He seemed sincere in his kindness. It felt great to me.

A couple of days later I was back in the area, and I ran into him again. He was alone this time, but I recognized him from across the street, and as he crossed my path we shared Hellos. I said “What an odd coincidence seeing you again” and he agreed. The conversation was awkward, I felt like I should say something, but I wasn’t sure what. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was “just looking for interestingness, just taking pictures seeing what I can see”

Somewhere in the awkwardness, it came up that he was sick of the “bullshit at the mission.” AS I write this I’m shaking my head at my inability to seize the moment and take initiative. I’m a journalism student, and here I am with a chance to form a bond with someone that obviously has an interesting story to tell, and I’m just not talking.

He didn’t say he was homeless, and I didn’t get that vibe from him in our initial encounter. As I realized that he was in some sort of state of displacement, but was not really coming out and saying it I became confused as to how to proceed with this social interaction.

So we began to drift apart, and the further he got away the less eye contact I made. I shouted after him to “stay warm” and went on about my business.

I’m ashamed to say that I believe I was not talking because I didn’t have anything to offer him, and once I realized he might be homeless I knew I didn’t have a place I could offer him to stay. It seems rather hypocritical to write something on the plight of homelessness and not really have anything to offer in the way of immediate assistance. So I feel like shit now.

I have a three-year old daughter and a wife in a small apartment on the other side of town. I don’t have a job so I can’t give him any money because I just really don’t have any. I don’t even have enough money to take him to get some lunch at a fast food place or something. It’s pathetic. I want to help him.

Instead of just saying all that to him, and sticking around, we just both let each other go on about our business. He might not even be homeless. Maybe he works at the mission, maybe he is just a traveler passing through town, I don’t know because I didn’t ask.

I just let him go. I didn’t tell him that I wanted another picture because this one turned out so bad. I didn’t offer him a helping hand, I didn’t try to keep the conversation going, and I didn’t even get his name.

I’m sorry for that kind stranger and I hope your path in life is a positive one. I’m sorry that we didn’t talk more. I’m still overcoming some social awkwardness. I have bad habits when it comes to dealing with people in public. I didn’t have anything to offer and I walked away.

The least I could have done was taken the time to get to know you and your story a little better. I had fallen victim to my own self-preservation. In this society of virtual conversations and online anonymity kind strangers are becoming fewer and farther in between. The ugliness of the internet gets to me sometimes. I cherish these moments of face to face interaction, even though initializing them is like pulling teeth. In my years of experience in socializing I have been burned enough times to know that you just can’t trust everyone. Since I don’t know you, I don’t trust you. I’m sorry for that. It’s just the way of the world. I feel horrible about it and the person it has turned me into.

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The Kindness of Strangers & Social Awkwardness

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Conversations With Transit Security

“We get a lot of calls from people who are concerned about people with cameras taking pictures who might be terrorists”

That’s what the RTD security officer told me today at the I-25 & Broadway Light Rail Station. “So you out taking some pictures today?” he asked me after I removed my headphones. I was happily listening to the “Double Nickels on the Dime” album snapping shots off on my camera as I always do. I look up and here is this security guard in my face.

I nod yes in response to his inquiry on my activity. I am careful not to say anything. I look him in the eye and wait for him to leave or keep talking. He chose the latter. So he says to me: “Well you are allowed to take pictures, I can’t stop you from doing that, but I don’t understand why you guys take pictures down here, that’s what Google Earth is for.”

All I could do was laugh. I wanted to say to him, “So it’s okay for a giant corporation to take as many pictures in public as they want, but private citizens should think twice before doing the same thing?” Of course I didn’t say this to him,

I’ve been to jail for an extended period of time. I will never go back. I NEVER give a cop any excuse to put his hands on me. I am humbled by that experience. I learned a long time ago to keep my mouth shut in this type of situation. I held my opinionated thoughts to myself, and I just gave him the “I’m a journalism major and a photographer, and I take pictures of everything I see, I promise I am no threat to anyone here.” So after giving him that generic response, he sort of just stands there and stares at me for another 20 seconds, as if he is waiting for me to talk.

I keep my mouth shut. He mentions the Google Earth thing again. I feel like he is trying to get a rise out of me, but maybe I’m just paranoid. If there is bait there, I don’t take it. Then he goes on to tell me that, with all the calls from concerned citizens about terrorist activity on the light rail, he feels obligated to come and talk to me, just to keep up the appearance that he is checking me out and making sure I’m not a terrorist, even though we both know that I am not one. I just keep nodding my head in agreement to everything he says. It was an awkward exchange, and he hovered around me for a really long time as if he was waiting for some kind of response from me. After what seemed like an eternity he bid me an awkward goodbye, and ran across to the other side of the tracks to go on about his security duties.

I’ve been carrying my camera everywhere with me for about 3 or 4 years now, and that is the first time anyone has ever mentioned anything to me about terrorism and photographers. I think it says something about the current state of the society we live in. I don’t blame people for being vigilant, and speaking up when they see something that looks out of the ordinary. It’s too bad that more people don’t just approach photographers themselves and ask what they are doing in person, rather than make a phone call and say there’s a guy with a Pentax K-5 at the Light Rail Station taking pictures, he must be a terrorist, you better check it out.

This is what terrorism is right? They take away your sense of security. Now we can’t trust anyone because we let them get into our heads. We can’t have a normal conversation with each other in public for fear that one of us might be a terrorist. So we call the cops, and now if someone wants to ask me what I’m taking pictures of, it just has to be a guy with a badge and a gun. What happened to us? We don’t see the good in people anymore, we look for the bad and assume the worst.

For the record, I AM NOT A TERRORIST. I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER.

I think I need to get a t-shirt made and wear when I’m out and about.
I’m getting tired of the suspicious stares. I think maybe I will just start walking right up to those suspicious stare-ers and strike up a conversation with them. Maybe I need to be more proactive about this.

I used the word terrorist six times in this post. Make that seven.

The picture here is the best I could manage to get of the guy I talked to. He’s the guy on the right. I want to clarify, I don’t think this security guard did anything wrong, and I wasn’t offended at what he said to me. I get where he was coming from. I hated his Google Earth comment, it just made no sense to me, I didn’t even dignify it with a response, that’s how ridiculous that statement is. I don’t want to live in a world where all the photography comes from Google Earth, I will take my own pictures thank you very much.

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Conversations With Transit Security

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Rocky Mountain High | Colorado’s Weed Culture

 

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“Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!” ― George Washington

That’s right. The guy on the One Dollar Bill, the first president of the United States supported and encouraged the cultivation of this magic seed. Ever since William Randolph Hearst used his corporate powers to influence the criminalizing of the drug because hemp was proven to make better paper than trees in 1937, weed has been illegal in this country. Even then, the American Medical Association stated that marijuana did not seem to be a dangerous drug, and in fact further research was needed that could very well prove that weed has medicinal value. In a shocking development, the United States Congress completely ignored logic, and followed the money.

75 years later, Colorado voters became the first in the nation to come to their senses and  legalize marijuana, voters in Washington followed suit just hours later. What changed? What made the public finally come to the realization that the ridiculous prohibition of a harmless drug that grows naturally from the soil of the earth was not dangerous and should in fact be legal? It almost seems too good to be true. I think the real question should be, “How in the world did we let this go on for 75 years?” That question haunts me, and fuels my pessimistic view of society as a whole.

Love it or hate it, Mary Jane is legal (at the state level) and plentiful in Denver, Colorado. I want to talk about what it is like to live in a city that has been centered around the medical marijuana industry since the year 2000. What does legalization look like? That is something that is still fluid here. We are witnessing the shaping of the industry happen right before our eyes. Recently a task force opened the door for pot tourism in the state, but it seems like every step we take forward in the legalization, there are those who just can’t stand the fact that people are allowed to smoke weed now.

I don’t know why they are so pissed off, there have always been potheads, and there always will be potheads, whether marijuana is legal or not. Everything since we approved legalization has been a huge fight. Now one of the hot topics is whether or not pot smoking citizens should be allowed to smoke their ganja on their balcony or front porch. Even though it’s legal, there is still that remaining stigma that potheads are losers. To those people who dislike marijuana, they don’t care about its medicinal value they would have you believe that the bad outweighs the good. They hate everything it stands for and will fight tooth and nail against its legalization. They aren’t going anywhere. There will always be a debate over weed no matter what we do.

“Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction.” ― Bob Marley

That’s what the premise of Amendment 64 is. The goal was to regulate marijuana the same way we regulate alcohol now. The main talking points behind the initiative were often focused on the dangers of alcohol and how safe marijuana actually was in comparison. In Colorado, the legalization of marijuana was backed by some unlikely conservative sources including Republican Tom Tancredo and Temple Emanuel’s Rabbi Steven Foster who said “You do not have to use marijuana—or even approve of marijuana—to see that our current laws are not working.”

They both shared sentiments that the current state of drug policy in America is flawed. In 2011, the FBI reported 750,000 arrests nationwide related to marijuana. That number represents almost half of the 1.5 million total drug arrests made. That is costing the government between 1 and 3 Billion dollars per year just to make the arrests, this number doesn’t even include the cost of prosecuting and sentencing them. (Ferner, 2012)

People still smoke pot; they smoke it so much they voted to make it legal. The drug war is failing. Conservatives, cops, and high government officials are coming out in support of ending prohibition so our police force can concentrate on violent crimes, and stop stocking our jails and prisons chock full of pot heads. Supporters voted yes on Amendment 64 because they believed that our current laws prohibiting the use of pot don’t work. They were hoping that it would bring in revenue for the state, and they made sure that reality would come true by voting yes on Proposition AA, which imposed a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale prices, as well as a 10 percent tax on retail sales. This is supposed to bring in $67 million a year in revenue and 27.5 million of that is earmarked for the construction of new schools. (Ingold, 2013) These are all projections of course; the proof will be in the pudding. The remaining 39.5 million will go to the regulation of the retail pot stores and whatever else they need it for. Perhaps some of those nasal telescopes I’ve seen the cops carrying around at the end of their noses these days.

Opponents of the bill cited that marijuana impairs brain development in children, and based their argument on that and the fact that once it’s legal more children would get their hands on it. The problem with these arguments is that there is overwhelming evidence to indicate the good things that marijuana can do that outweighs these negative factors.

The fact is it hasn’t been proven definitively that marijuana affects us negatively. Studies have shown that marijuana is a cancer killer and can actually lead to brain cell growth in contrast to the “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” egg in the skillet public service announcement/scare tactic they pushed on me in my adolescence (Mozes, 2013).  It has even been found that suicide rates are lower in areas where marijuana is approved for medical use (Anderson, Rees, & Sabla, 2012). You would think that smoking weed would cause lung cancer, but there hasn’t been any evidence found to suggest this is true, in fact a large study performed by the University of California at Los Angeles found no evidence at all to link marijuana and lung cancer (Kaufman, 2006). In almost every state where marijuana has been legalized, teen usage has actually gone down (O’Keefe, Esq., Earleywine, Ph.D., Riffle, Zawidzki, & Mirken, 2011).

“Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural” – Bill Hicks

So what is it like to actually live here in the land of legal weed? I’m still observing the culture. People generally seem a little more brazen about their public smoking. I’ve seen old men toking up at the light rail stop; right in front of an RTD Security guard no less. I have watched groups of people passing a joint amongst them walk right by a pair of police officers on the street, hazy weed cloud in tow. I’ve seen teenagers smoking in circles at bus stops. Weed is everywhere in Colorado.

When traveling on I-25 I often am overwhelmed by the smell of marijuana wafting through the air from who knows where. Today, when I was walking the alleys photographing Graffiti, I could smell weed permeating from several backyards. I would be inclined to say that if you didn’t smell weed when you were walking through Denver, then something isn’t right. We voted it in, and we are smoking it in mass quantities.

The Westword, Denver’s local free paper, is packed with advertisements and articles on where you can get the best weed in Colorado. Drug Enforcement Administration raids have been happening periodically since the year 2000, when Colorado voted to legalize pot for medical purposes. There are almost 400 medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver that is twice as many pot shops as there are Starbucks, who have 208 stores in the city (The Huffington Post, 2011).

The hype is gaining momentum as opening day for purchasing legal weed is quickly approaching. Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Ringen went so far as to declare Denver the undisputed stoner capital of the world. He even cites interesting similarities that make Denver the perfect place for weed lovers. We are the home of the Denver Nuggets, and if you’re a pothead you get why that is significant. I always get a little chuckle when I see an NBA matchup featuring the Nuggs and the Blazers. Sancho’s Broken Arrow and Quixote’s True Blue are both bars that are centered on a Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia theme, and Denver of course will forever be known as “The Mile High City.”

Local hearings are happening across Colorado right now and dispensaries are gearing up for the January kick-off for retail pot sales. In just a few months, anybody in Colorado 21 or older can walk into a pot shop spend some cash and walk out with a sack of weed. No more shady hook-ups in weird living rooms buying product that you aren’t exactly sure about. No more awkward moments with strangers on stinky couches staring at you while the dealer gets your bag ready. The black market that was created by prohibition is ridiculous. Otherwise law abiding American citizens just looking to relax have been sneaking around for decades buying weed from the local neighborhood dealer.

I can’t imagine exactly what it is going to look like. The media attention should be significant; this is a historic moment in our country’s history. Some feel that this isn’t the type of attention Colorado should be seeking. They fear the coming pot tourism industry is going to drive away the more conservative tourists. I don’t see it that way. I’m proud to be from a state where the voters did their research and voted to make a change for the better.

Legalization seems like a smart choice all the way around. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping beyond all hope that this works. That is the whole reason I voted yes. To change something that so obviously was broken. Now we get to sit back and watch what happens.

I hope that weed lovers everywhere come to Colorado and celebrate freedom and intelligence; I hope they spend crazy amounts of money, and that the city uses the revenue gained from taxes to build the greatest public school system in the nation. I hope we see less DUI’s and lowered alcoholism rates. I hope our jails become less crowded and our court system less bogged down. I hope that Denver becomes a shining example of how changing our drug policy can work and be beneficial to us all.

 We have the chance to prove ourselves right by making responsible decisions in the consumption of marijuana. If we choose to walk the streets, gallivanting around acting like idiots with joints hanging out of our mouths that is how the rest of the public will categorize all of us. If everyone just continues to be smart and considerate about their smoking habit we should be able to achieve this. We banned smoking in restaurants and public places because of the harmful effects of cigarette smoke, as well the nasty smell. We cited public health as our reason for this. I treat marijuana the same way.

We don’t need to be blowing weed smoke in little kid’s faces. Marijuana users in Colorado can promote legalization across the country by showing that this is a model that can work. I think we need to think of it on that scale if it is truly something that we are passionate about. For this to work, we all need to participate and do our part. Think about that before you toke up in the street. Let’s not give the conservatives who oppose legalized weed any fuel for the fire. Let’s prove them wrong and show them that marijuana is a miracle drug with many benefits that should be legal for all human beings of legal age to consume.

Let’s show them that common sense really can prevail and that criminalizing a plant that grows from the earth really is a bad idea. I’m all for personal freedoms, I don’t want to be regulated any more than the next guy, but there has to be some respect and consideration for everyone, not just the people you agree with. The public space is for everyone’s use. Respect them. Be considerate of everyone around you. These are things we should have all been taught growing up, but the things people do in public tell me that isn’t true for everyone.

Denver is a city in flux right now. No one is exactly sure of what is coming. There seems to be this nervous tension present in the more densely populated areas. Walking down 16th Street Mall you can smell someone smoking weed and witness the negative reaction from the elderly couple as they pass through the stinky cloud of smoke. Everyone seems sort of unsure about how all this is going to work. Is it legal to do that? Not according to the Amendment it isn’t, but I don’t see any cops giving tickets for it either. That is not to say that no one has been cited: Smoking marijuana in public is still illegal and doing so will get you a $100 fine. The first half of 2013 Denver police wrote 20 tickets for public consumption of marijuana. (Ingold, 2013) I see more than 20 people smoking weed in public on my way to take the trash out. That is a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

People in Denver are witnessing change at a rapid pace. Our city councils are working hard to lay down the groundwork for a positive experience with the legalization of marijuana. As a citizen of Denver, I welcome anyone who is interested in visiting our beautiful city to partake in smoking some of the finest marijuana on the planet. While you’re here check out the Rocky Mountains, go skiing, go camping, and hit a four wheel drive trail. Colorado is an awesome place to visit, and now you don’t even have to try and hide your weed stash. Just buy it when you get here and support Colorado’s education system.

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On Violence

We are a culture defined by violence. Violence is the new black. Everybody is drinking the kool-aid. Pop culture is a big contributor to keeping violence fresh on our minds. We are an uber-competitive bunch with an Atlas Shrugged mentality. We need to get ahead no matter what the cost. We are a people who have become so desensitized to violence, that we consume it willingly, and are in fact satiated by it.

We play ultra-realistic video games depicting murder, rape, armed robbery, car-jackings, and senseless random acts of violence. You can mow down a crowded sidewalk packed with civilians, get out of your car, shoot any thing that moves, and watch the blood spill out of their still warm bodies onto the virtual asphalt. These are the games we play to blow off steam.  That’s what alarms me. The attention to detail, all the way down to the way the blood pours out of a victim’s body. That is seriously disturbing, no matter how you look at it.

Video games aren’t the only culprit. Have you seen The Walking Dead or The Following? Both of those shows take it to a sick and twisted level. Americans obsess over their sports as well. The players keep getting bigger, the hits keep getting harder, the concussions are more frequent. We react with anger when “our” team loses. Men and women scream at the top of their lungs as if they were on the field themselves and the players could hear them. The level of passion displayed for the local sports franchise is borderline psychotic at times.

The thing is, this culture, it is what it is because we made it that way, and it stays that way because that is how we choose to keep it. It isn’t going anywhere. I think that most of us realize this and we just subconciously choose to follow the herd and go with the flow. Life is too short to waste time trying to fix the violence in the world perpetrated upon us by the powers that be right?I’m not perfect here. I watch all those shows, I root for my local sports teams and I don’t turn my head when a good boxing match or violent movie happens to be on a screen in front of me.

I just fear that we are getting progressively worse and that eventually it is all going to blow up in our face. It seems as if that is what is happening in our world right now. Mass killings are prominent in the news. Crazy stories about the people who basically lost their minds and took it out on an unsuspecting public seem to be a trend, the news media updates the body count on Twitter.So I look at this picture, and it incites me to write how I feel about America’s violent culture.

As I write this, the droning sound of a mechanical fan or something similar to that is coming through the wall of the apartment adjacent to me. Beneath the overpowering drone, I can discern the sounds of an unknown number of other noises that are not related to nature in any way. The coal is burning, and I am using it to type these words into this computer, to chill my refreshing beverage, and to turn on my electric box to get my fix of violence and misery for the evening. So not only am I damaging my psyche by subjecting it to constant moving images of violence, death, and destruction; I am also contributing my fair share of posion into the atmosphere.

So these children in this image, I don’t know anything about them. It’s just something about that girl in the stroller. That look she has, like her brain is a sponge and she is soaking it all in. I think of myself at that age, and the images of violence that I was subjected to as a child. I look at her and I realize that this is a problem that is so deeply rooted within our society that we just might be beyond the point of no return.

I feel guilty inside because I KNOW that I am a part of the problem. I’m not supposed to notice that though, that isn’t what THEY want. They want me to forget about it and just consume. They beat my conscience out of me by providing a non stop flow of sounds and images for me to contemplate. I guess I am a slow learner, it took me until I was almost 40 years old to realize that I was wasting a lot of time and energy on things like watching football and reality shows.

I’m truly disgusted with myself and completely frustrated at the thought of what it will take to change the world. We can only hope to spread good, and hope that it catches on like a zombie virus. Why can’t the world be infected with love and affection instead of rage? Why do we focus so much on the negative, violent aspects of our human nature? Why do we find it all so entertaining? Is there really any hope for us? If I can’t answer these questions for myself, how am I supposed to explain it to my kid?

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On Violence

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I Can’t Believe The Things That You Say

Overheard on the light rail:

“I told that bitch I wasn’t flirting with her. She looked like a damn bird. I should of gave her some birdseed and put her in a cage. She was so fucking ugly. Then she called me fat, and I was like really? You don’t think I know already. I mean I take a shower everyday and I see my body. I mean c’mon man. I’ll straight up tell you dog, I weigh 258 pounds! Now what chu gotta say. Damn bird nose bitch!”

Wow. The Ubuntu is not flowing out of this kid. He was with a friend. I wonder if I should have said something? If I do though I better get ready for a fight and is it really worth it to get stabbed or beaten or shot for coming to the defense of a stranger? All I would have to say is,”hey man there’s ladies present” but obviously I already know their regard for women. I guess that’s why the world doesn’t change. We don’t speak up when we should. We ignore the ugly thing that is happening right in front of our face, put our head down and go on about living out lives. I feel guilty for letting it go. I am a part of the problem and that is a tough realization.

Note: The people depicted in the photo are not the actual conversation participants.

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