The Power to Reach More People: Tis The Season of Twitter Storms?

Welcome to the future where your Holiday mischief and mishaps run the risk of trending on Twitter, bringing joy to the masses and/or ruin to your life.

Be warned, kids– this year and every year moving forward, Santa’s not the only one making lists.

In fact he’s joined by BuzzFeed all the time.

NOTHING IS SAFE!

From your spelling mistakes to your turkey mistakes to your brain farts– the whole world is watching.

Really.

With great power comes great responsibility so this holiday season I leave you with two examples of competing and divergent paths that you can take with your newly realized prowess.

You can harness it to bring laughter and joy to the world– vis-à-vis Steve Kardynal’s Chatroulette rendition of Mariah Carey’s classic All I want for Christmas Is You – OR you can neglect it and watch your comically insensitive and ill-worded tweet about AIDS go super viral and cost you your job vis-à-vis this:

At 10:19 a.m. ET on Friday, Justine Sacco , a PR director at InterActiveCorp (IAC), posted this tweet shortly before an 11-hour flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa.

BuzzFeed has a timeline of the events comprising the latter.  By the time Justine actually got to Africa 13 hours later her tweet (and #hasjustinelanded yet, the hashtag sparked by the tweet) was not only trending but her now former employer had already contacted the reporter who “broke the story” with a comment.

The evolution of the Tweet is truly spectacular with hashtags and what not providing us with the ability to see where and how the snowball developed. Recall that Justine’s about as famous as you and I are.  She just had a Twitter account and therefore she’s a person with the power to reach more people.  In that regard she’s no different than Chatroulette Steve.  As of this writing Steve’s Chatroulette Merry Christmas Card has already amassed over 5 million views.

If you’re reading this then you too are a person with the power to reach more people.

Yet I can’t help but feel, jokes aside  there’s something both tremendously wonderful and perpetually sad about being a person with the power to reach more people.

Mistakes happen– and this mistake cost Justine her job.  It’s funny to read about “What was she thinking!”, but can’t you also imagine a reality where her tweet was just another desperate attempt for some retweets fueled by the desire to be acknowledged? It was gross but was that part intended?

We’re all conditioned to refresh our feeds for new likes or comments or shares.  If nobody did any of those things then did they see it? Did we get noticed? Do we matter?

We hope to make a difference or a dent and we’re afforded all these tools that allow us to keep track of how big of a dent and a difference we’re actually making, in real time.

Who cares how many followers you have, you never know where it could go and how many people could see it!

We’re all people with the power to reach more people!

We want to be heard and appreciated and frankly loved and once you get there the maintenance required is exhausting!

If a tragedy occurs and you don’t acknowledge it or say something uplifting and sincere– does it make you less sympathetic, empathetic and a part of the process of mourning that tragedy?  If a Holiday comes and you don’t extend your warmest wishes to all your followers, friends and fans,  does it make them any less in your thoughts and hopes and prayers? If you don’t participate in celebrating or opining or piling on to the latest twitter hashtag then does that make you any less present in the world?

We try to “unplug” when we’re with our friends and families, but even then our cell phones are just an arms reach away from capturing the next viral Instagram picture or a stranger away from live tweeting the latest holiday debacle.  We might even resort to outright making shit up with only the slightest chance of internet fame as incentive.

Asinine things happen on the Internet every day,  but every once in a while a thing will result in a THING which will result in a book deal.  Same goes for random acts of kindness and attempts at capturing and sharing magic.

If it’s not retweeted dozens of times does it even matter?

Did it even happen!?

Welcome to the future.

Louis CK (aka one of my favorite human beings on the planet) had this to say about cell phones earlier this year and it feels particularly applicable:

 

 

You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something- that’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. Like this. That’s being a person, right? No one can- ugh- they’ve gotta check because underneath everything in your life there’s that thing that empty, forever empty. You know what I’m talking about?  Just that knowledge that it’s all for nothing and you’re a lone, it’s down there.  And sometimes when things clear away, you’re not watching it, you’re in your car and it starts to visit on you- just this sadness.  Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it.  And so you’re driving and then you go uhhh- that’s why we text and drive.  I look around and pretty much 100% of people are texting and everybody’s murdering everyone with their cars.  But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be a lone for a second.

 

He goes on to say that sadness is poetic, that you’re lucky to feel sad.

Not everybody is having a  joyous holiday season.  Shit happens and sometimes it feels better to just be online and not be alone with our own shit.  That said, I can’t help but feel the over saturation of shit everywhere contributes to that dynamic.  Simple things are taken for granted.  Simple pleasures.  You can’t just enjoy a moment for yourself.  Quiet moments force us to face ourselves– so we gift wrap our lives and continuously give the specifics to strangers and friends a like.

Did they like it?

Oh good, they liked it!

Unless they don’t.  Unless a post goes unshared and a joke goes unretweeted.  Then what?

I’m not sure what I think about any of this beyond knowing that I’m guilty of participating in it.

It feels good when lots of people like and comment but then that good feeling comes from something outward.

Perhaps having the power to reach more people renders us powerless in some ways. Perhaps it ensures that we’re all at the whims of each other. If that’s the case, then perhaps we could try a little harder to be good to each other.  Maybe we could even do it offline.

Additionally, maybe this Holiday season we might all try a little harder to just appreciate the feelings that come with living and breathing and being human.  To appreciate our moments without turning them all into a spectacle.

But then again, what do I know.

What do you think?

Feel free to sound off with your thoughts in the comments.

(Or not!)

Richard Branson: “Boycott Uganda Over Anti-LGBT Law”

British billionaire Richard Branson called for a boycott of Uganda. The African nation’s parliament passed a bill that proposes a life sentence for certain homosexual acts. The bill also makes it a crime punishable by a prison sentence not to report gay people to the police.

The bill is awaiting the signature of Ugandan president President Yoweri Museveni, it was opposed by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi on the grounds that there was no quorum.

Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group (travel, telecom, entertainment) and a philanthropist who supported charities set up by South Africa’s first black President, Nelson Mandela, says he was seriously considering investing in Uganda and had been courted by officials there.

But the passing of this bill because of its

witch hunt

of LGBT people. (He declined to mention the witch hunts of alleged witches which result in the torture and death of both children and adults, and how this fear of witches and LGBT is fueled by evangelical fundamentalist missionaries, but hey…)

Branson went on to say:

I would urge other companies worldwide to follow suit. Uganda must reconsider or find it being ostracised by companies and tourists worldwide.Governments must realise that people should be able to love whoever they want.

Yes, governments should realize this. Will a boycott help Uganda figure things out more quickly? Or will progressives stranding the country in poverty make Uganda more vulnerable to more repressive investors? Will the government not pass this bill to get investment funds, and then turn a blind eye to the treatment of LGBT and other human rights abuses? (more…)

Computer Genius Alan Turing Posthumously Pardoned by Queen Elizabeth

Alan Turing, the father of modern computing who was cruelly prosecuted by the British government for

gross indecency with a male

and subsequently committed suicide while suffering the effects of chemical castration, has been pardoned by Queen Elizabeth under under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, effective today, December 24, 2013.

Scientists, including Stephen Hawking, campaigned for Turing’s pardon. Turing’s life was the subject of a documentary, Codebreaker, which we featured on FDL Movie Night.

Turing–whose work during World War II at Bletchley Park, the National Codes and Cipher Centre, had broken the German’s Naval Enigma code and turned the tide of the war in the Allies favor–was forced to choose between a year in prison or an experimental treatment to “fix” his sexual orientation after police, during the course of burglary investigation, discovered Turing was gay.

Turing’s 1936 paper, “On Computable Numbers,” introduced the world to the idea of computers, and became the cornerstone for our digital world. Fourteen years later he published “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” a cornerstone paper in the field of artificial intelligence. In 1952 Turing was arrested, pleading guilty to the crime of “gross indecency with a male” to minimize the harm to his career.

Rather than go to prison, Turing endured “organo-therapy”  hormones which drove him to despair and grief, affected his intellect, and turned his once fit and trim body bloated and fat. After his conviction, he was stripped of his high level security clearance and his top secret government consulting work came to an abrupt end. He committed suicide on June 7th, 1954, just two weeks shy of his 42nd birthday by taking a bite out of a cyanide laden apple.  He was 41.

British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said Turing deserved to be:

remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort” and not for his later criminal conviction. His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.

Here is the text of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy:

12 Years A Slave Posters Feature Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender; Lionsgate Will Recall

Posters for 12 Years A Slave featuring large portraits of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender with a small figure of  the film’s star Chiwetel Ejiofor are unauthorized, says the film’s studio Lionsgate; their Summit label is handling the film overseas.  A Lionsgate spokesperson told Variety:

The ’12 Years a Slave’ theatrical posters featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender that were recently released in Italy were unauthorized and were not approved by any of the producers or licensors of the film. Summit Entertainment, acting as exclusive sales agent for the licensors, is investigating and taking immediate action to stop the distribution of any unauthorized posters and to have those posters currently in the marketplace recalled.

Brad Pitt, who produced the film, plays a Canadian abolitionist who appears in last 20 minutes and speaks out against slavery. Fassbender is the sadistic slave owner. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s portrayal of  freeborn violinist Solomon Northrop, whose autobiography is the basis of the film,  has received rave reviews. In the U.S. and elsewhere,  Ejiofor is the central figure in the film’s marketing materials.

The Italian posters have pretty much rightfully upset a large portion of the interwebs, and props to Carefree Black Girl for really getting the word out.

I was at the movies the other day ( I live in Italy) and I saw the poster for 12 Years A Slave. I’ve been following the press for months and I can’t wait to watch it but REALLY?  I don’t remember Brad Pitt being the protagonist of the film or having such a pivotal role in the story to stay in the middle of the poster…

I sure don’t know anything about marketing strategy to appeal audiences but isn’t this going to far?

Pitt previously said of his taking the role of the kind Canadian who helps Northrup gain his freedom:

It helped get the thing done. I sit in a very fortunate position where I can help push things over the edge with difficult stories, and this was one of those instances. So it’s merely for that, not so much that I was certainly needed performance-wise.

Italian marketing company Fanatical About Cinema and Italian distributor BIM clearly have taken Pitt’s part too far. Fassbender, who has received a Golden Globe nomination for his role, is given the same treatment in posters with a portrait image. The film’s Italian trailer make it clear that the story is about Ejiofor’s character, so the decision to deceive moviegoers through the posters is troubling one.

Fanatical About Cinema has already removed the posters from their Flickr account, but there are images online.

Filmmakers Weigh In on Best Holiday Movies of All Time

Being “that time of year,” I reached out to my movie-making colleagues who eat, sleep, and breathe film and invited them to share their all-time favorite holiday movie. They were asked to choose pieces focusing on the holidays (however they might interpret that), from any time period or genre, and explain their recommendation. Both offbeat and classic choices were welcome. Here’s what they came up with, in their own words.

Producer Xochitl Dorsey Recommends: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

“It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, etcetera, etcetera… Sure, these are great films, and like the rest of America, these are the holiday classics that I grew up with and loved year after year. But none of them make me quite as nostalgic about Christmastime as Santa Claus Captures the Martians. The film itself was made in 1964, right after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and the country was wild for all things inter-galactic. If man could make it to space, why couldn’t Santa? Surely that was the thinking of the producers who brought to light this, dare I say, first sci-fi Christmas movie ever made. The storyline isn’t all that memorable- green Martians who want to experience Christmas kidnap Santa Claus and a couple of earth kids save him- but it gets two big thumbs up for over-all campy enjoyment. And what’s not to like about that?”

Independent Filmmaker Jeff Arak Recommends: Scrooged

“My pick has got to be Scrooged, with Bill Murray. It is (or was, in 1988) a contemporary and somewhat edgy take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The film stars Bill Murray as a TV executive more concerned with his company’s ratings than holiday cheer or goodwill- at least until he is visited by three ghosts and his hippy ex-girlfriend. The film features two comedians with the strangest voices of all time (Carol Kane and Bobcat Goldthwait), a time traveling taxi, and Bill Murray leading a sing-along of Jackie DeShannon’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”- all with a little Christmas spirit mixed in.”

Producer Felix Messina, Jr. Recommends: March of the Wooden Soldiers

“This movie reminds me of my childhood. They would air it every December (they still do and I still watch it) on New York’s Channel 11. The main characters live in a shoe and work at Santa’s Toy Shop. Toyland is a place filled with candy canes, chocolate, colorful lakes, and of course toys everywhere. All I ever wanted was to live in Toyland. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to live there? This movie brings out the kid in all of us.”

Director/Cinematographer Ruth Berdah-Canet Recommends: The Nightmare before Christmas

“In a galaxy far, far away from Candycane Land and Fudgetown, Tim Burton creates a universe of his own that refreshes the holiday movie genre. All the ingredients of Burton’s beautiful Christmas Carol mingle joyfully: love, bat’s spit, friendship, frog’s breath, good feelings, and just a tiny bit of remorse. I love the constant travel between the world of playfulness and humor and the world of uncertainty and fright. The scene where Jack plays fetch with his dog, Zero, by throwing him one of his rib bones always gets me!

And, in the great tradition of holiday tales, Jack and his freak crew teach us a valuable lesson: there’s no need to dissect, rationalize, manufacture, or formulate cheerfulness. All we need to do is forget our worries for a moment and enjoy the Ho-Ho-Holiday season.”

Editor April Merl Recommends: Trading Places

“The first film that pops into my head is Elf – sweet, warm, great music, and good laughs. But, when I think about it a bit longer, my recommendation has to be Trading Places. I’m not sure it’d be categorized under “holiday”, but it’s just a comedy classic, and you can practically smell Dan Aykroyd’s sad, desperate Santa radiating from the screen.”

Programmer and Filmmaker Dara Messinger Recommends: Edward Scissorhands and How the Grinch Stole Christmas

“Growing up in a progressive Jewish household, I think I avoided “holiday” aka “Christmas” movies because it was just another reminder of how I couldn’t really relate to the endless rolls of gift wrap, inflatable lawn reindeer, or promises made and broken to Mr. Claus, let alone the American ideals being subscribed to in this increasingly corporate holiday. I didn’t understand the awkwardness Sandra Bullock must’ve been feeling when being teased by family as she stood under the mistletoe in While You Were Sleeping. And why was Macaulay Culkin’s house so large and ornate in Home Alone? Instead, I could empathize with Johnny Depp’s befuddled reactions to eerie suburban glory in Edward Scissorhands, and the grinch in the 1966 classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas as he peered down to a town’s brightly lit splendor of happiness as though he was looking into a make-believe snow globe. Funny how neither of these two characters were even human, but they were outsiders just the same.”

Producer Esther Cassidy Recommends: It’s a Wonderful Life

“I love this movie because it celebrates the power of regular people (who aren’t superstars, athletes, famous, wealthy, or geniuses) and the impact they can have. The filmmaking is extraordinary. The love scene between Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is completely unique. He’s ready to leave his small town, got his bag packed, his train ticket, his friends waiting, and his hand on the doorknob, and what happens? Well, Donna is standing in the doorway, so Jimmy keeps telling her over and over – “I don’t love you”, and she keeps saying “I know, I know.” But, they can’t stop kissing. So this guy gives up his dreams to become a husband and father and run a small bank. But, then, everything implodes and he starts to feel like his life isn’t worth it. The movie shows us how seemingly small, good, and rather ordinary choices – the choices so many of us make every day – all can add up to create a wonderful life, although perhaps not the life we had envisioned.”

You can find these films on Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and YouTube. Share your holiday picks in the comments and let me know what they missed!

American Sentenced to a Year in United Arab Emirates Jail for Parody Video

No joke. A parody video in the UAE can get you in serious trouble. Shezanne Cassim has been sentenced to a year in jail and faces fines of over $2,700USD because of a satirical video he posted on YouTube poking very gentle fun at gangster culture in the Dubai, UAE neighborhood of Satwa. From the video’s YouTube page:

Ultimate Combat System heads to Dubai, home of the Satwa Combat School, to evaluate the martial art of “Satwa Fighting”. In its long history, the school has trained hundreds of Satwa Gs and is undoubtedly seen as the founder of the art.

Throughout the 1990s, the Satwa Gs developed a fearsome reputation that some historians today consider unfair. We study the Satwa Gs’ code of conduct and the secrets behind their combat techniques in order to fully uncover the mystery behind these legendary fighters. Did they truly deserve their reputation?

Tame by the US’s standards of comedy and satire, the  mockumentary investigates the fictional Satwa style of street fighting where Emirati men described as “deadly gangsters” are trained in naal (leather sandal) throwing and strikes with an agal, the cord used to keep traditional headscarves in place.  The deadliest weapon at the Satwa Combat School? The cell phone, which can be used to call and tweet for reinforcements.

The 19 minute video opens with a disclaimer stating it is fictional and does not intend to offend the people of the UAE of the Satwa community. After witnessing training exercises and a graduation ceremony, the film crew goes on neighborhood patrol with Satwa G members where they learn that Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur were both from the Satwa neighborhood and were trained by the grandfather of the current Satwa sensei. The video is part of series called VisaCancel, which has a Facebook page, but very little activity since January of 2013, for obvious reasons (and that name may be nomenclative destiny!)

In other videos they posted to YouTube, VisaCancel, Cassim (maximumwasta) and his pal (arjunpsk) document “offensive behavior” in Dubai:  Changing lanes to let another driver by, wearing deodorant on the train, and clearing away one’s trays, behavior they claim is

crazy and dangerous

(and which an uptight government might get upset about). These have received less than 10,000 views each; the Satwa G Combat School video had over 200,000 hits.

Cassim, a 29-year old American aviation consultant seen in the far right above, posted the video over a year ago, and has been detained since April. His family is trying to find out if the year-long sentence includes time served; the UAE newspaper The National reports that he and two other men involved n the video will be released next month. The court in Abu Dhabi sentenced a total of eight people involved for

defaming the UAE’s image abroad.

Also on trial and sentenced for participating in the video: two Indians who were given the same sentence as Cassim. The two Emirati defendants were sentenced to eight months in prison each, while one Emirati was pardoned, according to Voice of America. Meanwhile, three other defendants, a Canadian woman, a British woman and an American man were each sentenced in absentia to a one-year prison sentence each and fined 10,000 dirhams (about $2,700USD).

Actually jailing people for making a very mild parody does more damage to a country’s image abroad than the actual video ever could have. And now because of  the attention drawn to Cassim’s case, more people will see it (and probably wonder what the big deal is all about).

Since the Abu Dhabi judge ordered all copies of the video destroyed, I can’t say how long it will be online.

“No Fracking Way” Aussie Rock Anthem

No fracking way! Pop star Leo Sayer scored a huge hit many decades ago with “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and maintained a steady presence touring and recording. He became an Australian citizen in 2009. Outraged over the way fracking for gas is destroying the nation’s land, water, farming and wildlife, Sayer joined with Aussie pop stars and recorded the anthemic “No Fracking Way” to support the environmental group Lock the Gate. The Newcastle Herald reports Sayer saying:

This is a song I wrote and recorded this year to support the organisation Lock The Gate, who work in opposition to the practice of coal seam gas mining, or fracking as it has come to be known. I don’t know if you have heard about this, but the damage it’s causing to the landscape, environment, wildlife, livestock, flora, and fauna, and indeed humans, is highly evident here in Australia and all around the world. So I’ve joined with a bunch of like-minded fellow Aussies here who are determined to stop this.


While the faces of Australian’s biggest music stars may not be familiar to us in the U.S., the sentiment of the song (and catchy melody) are ones the anti-fracking forces around the globe can relate to.

 

 

 

Here’s Sayer’s big hit, later used in the movie Charlie’s Angels:

 

Pussy Riot Members Free Under Putin Amnesty!

Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina was freed from a prison in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia under amnesty granted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. She and fellow Pussy Riot member  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova had three months remaining on their two year sentence for

hooliganism motivated by religious hatred

stemming from their “punk prayer” protest of Putin’s policies at Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow’s main cathedral. The band played a song critical of the support given Putin by Orthodox Church patriarch Kirill I.

A third member of the punk rock band, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had her sentence overturned on appeal.

Tolokonnikova was released later on Monday and told CNN

she felt that the amnesty was a publicity stunt to bolster the government’s image before it hosts the Winter Olympics in February.

Her husband Pyotr Verzilov  said:

Two months out of the almost two years that the girls have served is not much. So the effect of this amnesty for Maria and Nadezhda is not really felt..President Putin obviously used this amnesty option to (brighten) up his image before the Olympic games.

Pussy Riot’s future as a band is unclear.

Putin’s amnesty program, which is said to celebrate 20 years of the Russian Constitution, is timed nicely with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Greenpeace activists are among the prisoners who will be given amnesty.

God’s Not Dead? Maybe He’s Just Not Feeling Well

Is God dead? The very existence of this movie proves that God, while not yet dead, is at least coming down with a really bad case of the flu.

God’s Not Dead gives top billing to a cameo appearance by Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson (the one with the business degree), who appears as himself with his wife Korie, playing herself.  Hold onto your willing suspension of disbelief: Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo stars as a Shakespeare-quoting philosophy professor who demands all his students write the phrase

God is dead

as part of their first day of class exercises. One student refuses because he’s a Christian. Our hero Josh Wheaton is then challenged by Professor Radisson to

prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals.

Humility ensues.

(The names are important: Joshua= Jeshua=Jesus; Wheaton, bringing in the sheaves; Radisson=radical. Josh’s parents are named Ward and June in the cast list).

Based on both a book of essays, God’s Not Dead: Evidence of God in an Age of Uncertainty by evangelical author Rice Brooks and the catchy song “God’s Not Dead” by the Christian rock band The Newsboys who appear in the movie, God’s Not Dead is produced by one of the film’s stars, David R.A. White who stars as Pastor Dave (again with the names!). White has appeared in over twenty Christian-themed films, including Revelation Road 1 and 2, Holyman Undercover, Redeemed, and Jerusalem Countdown.

God’s Not Dead, which hits high points of evangelical rhetoric (liberal colleges, brave youth, standing up to faith even at gun point), opens on March 31, the spring equinox, a major pagan holiday. Interesting….

And okay, what is with former teen idols going all Jesus Movie of the Week? Kirk Cameron is full on repressive fundamentalist. Dean Cain has appeared in several Christian-themed movies. Kevin Sorbo

decided to take his faith with him while working in Hollywood

and has of late only appeared in Christian movies (Soul Surfer, What If…).  Michael York jumped to Jesus and hasn’t had a good role since.  One Tree Hill hottie Chad Michael Murray starred in the reboot of Left Behind (weirdly he played Michael York’s younger brother in Megiddo: Omega Code 2). I liked it better when stars past their prime finished off their shelf life in horror movies.

Like a Beverly: Zone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Let’s Go to Charlotte!

Songwriting in Narnia

Click HERE for Part One.

My boyfriend drove me to the airport.

We met on Craigslist this past July, but not in the way that you’d think.

I was diagnosed with a bad case of tendonitis the day before my 26th Birthday when dependent coverage stopped being a thing I could use, so I was pretty much on my own for treatment.  I placed some calls to physical therapists but everyone was looking for a few hundred bucks for an initial consultation AKA to confirm what the Doctor already told me: I had tendonitis and it would take quite a bit of stretching and waiting and not playing guitar to clear it up.   After a few days ignoring Doctor’s orders to try to ‘play’ it through, I came to terms with the fact that it would be anywhere between 3 weeks to 6 months before I could play again.

Sigh.

Two days went by before I realized that this was bullshit and there was no way I was going to just not do music for 3 weeks to 6 months.

I browsed through the musicians community page on Craigslist in DC.  I found an ad from a guitar player looking for a vocalist and I replied.  We went back and forth trading mp3s before scheduling a time to jam.  At one point,  he offered to meet me at a park to prove that he wasn’t a creeper.  I figured that the gesture alone was all the evidence that I needed so I went over to his place and we hung out for maybe an hour before something came up and I had to head out. I guess I was sort of flakey up front.

Lucky for me, Mike doesn’t scare easy.

The next time we met up I had three songs worth of words and melodies that I thought we could work through.  Neither of us really knew what we were doing so we sort of just sat there for a minute.

“I guess I could just start singing?”

Shyly, I did.

I was nervous but I kept going, repeating verses and choruses as Mike worked through things on his guitar.

By some magic — two hours later, we had our first three songs.

That’s basically how it’s worked since.

Some variation of one of us having something that the other one builds on.  Other times Mike will play some chords and I’ll think “I know what song this is!” and from there, and without changing them, I’ll take words and melodies that I’ve saved up and put them to his chords.

We both knew that we’d stumbled into something special.

When I got a call from my friends at Back Yard Fence asking if I wanted to play The Riverstone Rockfest– within days of meeting him, I asked Mike if he wanted to play it with me.

He was down!

First show!

So we set off to prepare for our first show. We had an hour of time to fill and about a month to fill it. We wrote a handful of songs and then worked on a handful of covers.  My tendonitis hadn’t cleared up quite yet so I only got to play on two songs.  I’m actually still building up strength nearly 6 months later and while I’m antsy to play more guitar, I also have to appreciate that not being able to play made me focus exclusively on becoming a better vocalist.

I’m not sure I would have otherwise done that because the truth is that never really wanted to be a singer.

I sang in choruses when I was a little girl but the thought of trying to get good at singing didn’t occur to me until I picked up a guitar. If I wanted my songs to be good I had to be good at singing them.  I was a downright bad singer when I started but luckily practice is a thing that makes a difference.

So after a ton of practice– with Mike at my side, we were ready to take the stage for the first time.

We were one of the first bands to play that day and while there weren’t a ton of people there for our set, we were pumped to go out and have a good time.  As our set ended and we started working our way off stage the event organizer Casey called us back for an encore.

Oh man, we had no songs left really!

We went back and played a work-in-progress for the first time since writing it a week earlier and miraculously managed not to make a total mess of it.

Just like that we’d done it, we’d played our first show.

We didn’t really have a plan beyond that initial show — and in fact were introduced that day as “Uh, Mike and Sara?!” –  but we both knew that this was a thing that we wanted to keep doing.

A few months later, with more practice and a stronger set, we played another Riverstone Rockfest.

This time as our band Music Bones.

I’ll have more to say on that, soon.

But for now; back to Mike.

So in addition to being a super gifted guitar player, Mike’s a pretty awesome human being.

Within weeks of us writing together a friend foreshadowed: “You’re going to fall in love with him.”

No way, he was my band mate!

Plus, this wasn’t an episode of Nashville, this was real life!

We kept writing together and started practicing with increasing frequency.

We had a lot in common so we obviously became friends and started hanging out when there wasn’t band stuff to do.

Still, a relationship was literally the last thing in the world that I was interested in and I made sure that he knew it.  Penis jokes, embarrassing horror stories from being single in New York, repeatedly talking up all the groupies we were sure to get when we hit the road, I held nothing back.

For weeks I was in top form. I felt all sorts of things, but I had no interest in entertaining thoughts about what those feelings actually meant. I sort of picked up on him doing extra friendly things but I brushed those off, too.

Then there was the time that we were driving in his car and he started super effusively, at the top of his lungs, singing along to one of my favorite Fall Out Boy songs from high school.

Talk about a move.

There was also this other time we got attacked by a dog while walking his dog Dixie and he pushed me out of the way and covering Dixie with his body to protect her.

Man.

They don’t make em like that anymore…

(Side note: Have I mentioned that we’re literally building our band out of Jane Hamsher’s basement?)

Brian Sonenstein being a producer, NBD.

Long story short– we landed in New York and on our first night, after more than a handful of drinks,  I kissed him and yelled at him for it.

I told him why No Doubt almost broke up.

He ignored me.

What about the groupies!

He ignored that, too.

I rambled about concrete hearts (did I mention that I can be SUPER dramatic after more than a handful of drinks?) and horror stories of why this was the absolute worst idea ever!

Lucky for me, Mike doesn’t scare easily.

Anyways what I’m basically saying is I’m one million percent in love with the other half of my band and he drove me to the airport to embark on this Beverly adventure with his own ticket booked to meet me in Atlanta on Tuesday night.

I don’t actually intend on saying much more about this in particular beyond what comes out in song lyrics (yeah I know, I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE) but sitting in the terminal of BWI with a connection in Charlotte being the only thing between myself and Atlanta, I couldn’t help but think about how he’s a super important part of this story.

Beverly would actually say as much within hours of meeting him.

We’ll get there later– but for now, as the US Airways employee said into the intercom as I boarded the plane;

“Zone 1,2,3,4,5 Let’s Go to Charlotte!”

Mandatory airport french fries

 

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