You Ese of eh?
DARKNESS CANNOT DRIVE OUT DARKNESS; ONLY LIGHT CAN DO THAT. HATE CANNOT DRIVE OUT HATE; ONLY LOVE CAN DO THAT.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
January Twentieth, Two Thousand Seventeen.
For weeks now, I've been writing paragraphs for this blog, and deleting them. Rewriting them, trying a different angle, and again, deleting them. If you came here to read about my political opinion, this might disappoint you. But let's sit in a place where I can make eye contact with you, pour me a glass of bourbon, and let's talk- (humbly assuming if you're reading this blog that you know me personally, don't mind spending time with me, and hopefully know I don't take ice in my whisky). I've had so many debates, heard so many different angles, read so many news articles, talked to so many people, and came to the conclusion, that we need something better than pointing fingers at the flaws. We know the flaws. We got it. Though there is a lot of love, there is also way too fuckin much hate in this world. What's next?
When something as important as your moral values and your personal wellbeing are threatened and put into question, you should-no, you must take the time to have difficult conversations. If you ever wonder whether you made an impact, just throw a pebble into a lake and watch the ripples go. Never forget the impact of a peaceful discourse and the power of learning- that applies to all of us. Always be a part of the solution. Be the change you want to see. When it gets really hard to love, try harder. Listen, and stay humble and kind.
Humble and Kind- powerful words taken from a Tim McGraw song played at an open mic last night, a song dedicated to today in fact. Thank goddess for music.
One of the most touching moments for me as a singer was when a man came up to me at an open mic to thank me for playing a song about a call for peace and harmony during a hypothetical war. There was no debate. He did not ask me which countries and which war inspired it. He did not ask which side I was on. He did not tell me to look at the history or the politics of it. Something moved me to the point of writing a song, and I was able to create a feeling inside another human with those words. I wonder if he thought about war any differently the next time he saw it plastered on a screen of his choosing. I wonder if any of my words were still ringing true.
Thank you for playing that.
Numerous times, music has helped me heal, has brought me peace, and has given me love when I couldn't find it. In this time of grave and noticeable division, we can all benefit from a little more love and togetherness in our lives. Since November 8th, I noticed that many of my friends immediately took to the pen, word and guitar, and expressed their concerns and thoughts in a beautiful manner. I wanted to bring all of their pieces together into one place to share with you the human factor, emotion, and experience- not the politics of this shitty reality show. I have asked them to share these pieces with me, and to give me a bit of a background into their message and inspiration when creating these pieces. I was blown away by the responses.
I present to you the latest post on the Rockblock, You Ese of Eh?. I hope to create a platform for unity and love. This is not intended to be an anti-anyone space. You can come here to find art that I hope will fill you with love to resist hatred, and shine you a light to drive out darkness.
Below is a compilation of what we have created so far. If you are reading this and want to submit, find my email in the Contact section. As of January 20th, there are 15 pieces. Give us a chance to bring you on a journey through our feelings.
So no more of my words. You have heard enough of my words.
Take your broken heart; turn it into art.
Angela Gomez, Arizona (featured as the banner of this page)
Robert Scott, Quebec
There's No Staying On Of The Mascara
Luna Taylor, California
Sella Malin, New York
Marissa Angela, California
I wrote “Home” on the night of the election, as the votes were coming in and it became clear that Trump was going to win. So many emotions were going through my head. Anger, sadness, terror… at one point I had an out-of-body experience. I felt like the world could end and there would be nowhere to run to. What inspired me to write “Home” was listening to Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”, and other music from the Civil Rights era. Black people in those days were treated as less than human and suffered injustices it’s hard for many of us today to understand, but the music they made always had a message of hope, not despair. So I tried to write a simple folk song about going through awful times and having hope instead of fear. None of the lyrics mention the election specifically but there is a theme of going through the worst parts of your life and surviving. Going “home” to me represents feeling safe, of feeling welcomed, of having someplace to go even when the rest of the world shuts you out. The song is definitely shaped by my experience as a transgender woman in 2017 but I wrote simple lyrics and chords so that anyone, at any time, could relate to it.
For more on Marissa go to:
Tommy Babbitt, California
I have been lucky to travel to Paris over the past four years. I stumbled upon a Blues jam in the 12th century caveau bar Les Caveaudes Oubliettes in the Latin Quarter. I made a wonderful friend who later helped me makes these videos of me singing Stratosphere and Arrowstar, shot by the excellent Paris studio Videology. Victor and his team made me very welcome and relaxed. Great work by all.
Read more about Tommy Babbitt and Busted Records at:
No Matter Who
Ellisa Sun, California
After Trump was elected, I felt heartbroken and disappointed in the American people for electing such a blatantly racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic man. I woke up the morning he was elected and walked along lake Merritt in Oakland to get to the Bart station. I looked at the diverse population of my city and felt both a swell of pride and an overwhelming fear for people of color, the LGBTQ community, and women. I wrote this song for those of us who feel scared to be who we are. Whether woman, man, Muslim, Jewish, Black, Mexican, transgender--anything and everyone under the sun is human. We all deserve equal treatment, and to live under a president who believes in equality rather than bigotry, building bridges instead of building walls, and encouraging freedom of choice rather than tyranny.
Read more about Ellisa on:
Eileen Torrez, California
While we were all in the throes of election drama, caught between viewing characature-esque candidates whack at each toher during the debates and watching families be torn apart online and in real life, I wrote "Disguise". I despised both candidates and felt I could see right through their lies and corruption. At the same time, I felt like their appearance was just the next scene in the great facade of American Politics, and that the stage had been set some time. I was watching Donald Drumpf on TV and hearing thing adter thing that he had said and done, and just feeling sick to my stomach. It felt like a joke, or a show, but then he kept rising and rising to power. I started having these terrible nightmares about floods and waterfalls and watching the city drown. It was really terrifying. I've had very vivid dreams and insomnia since I was young, and this just became the next level of personal invasion for me- as if Drumpf had stepped into my living room and was eating breakfast there reading the paper and acting as if he belonged. So I decided to combat these visions with my art. In these times when reality gets to unbelievable you can only compare it to the dream worls, it's revolutionary to call out and name what you know to be true. This song is my message to Drumpf: "I see you, I know what you are, and I will fight tooth and nail to kick you out of my space."
The Fate of the Trees
Gary Adler, California
"The Fate of the Trees” grapples with the question, “who’s taking responsibility for what is happening to this planet?” The initial inspiration to start writing came from seeing people l know keep many of the lights on in their house when they left for the day. Then the meltdown at Fukushima happened and the global warming deniers’ voices became louder and louder. The music to “The Fate of the Trees” came… then the lyrics… then the two serendipitously snapped together. Then someone who thinks global warming is a “hoax” got elected president! The message I am trying to convey is everyone, everywhere needs to get real and face up to the urgent need to address climate change before it’s too late. “The Fate of the Trees” is a call to arms in the battle to save Mother Earth.
The Time Has Come
Agatha Varshenka, California
The initial idea for this particular piece came to on me on November 10th, two nights after the election. Upon seeing the results and the grave consequences they may have for so many of us, I vowed to put together a post- election EP, portraying the feeling of so many, along with what we can do to resist the incoming regime. ‘The Horror’ sits with the feeling of fear, hurt, and anger so many (including myself) felt as the election results came in, recognizing the various marginalized communities that will be affected the most. However, I do try to end on a positive note in the 3rd verse, as I point out the power of unity, something beautiful I saw in the rally/march that occurred the day after the elections.
Download this song at:
What is to be Done?
Agatha Varshenka, California
As something loosely meant to be the sequel/answer to ‘The Horror’, ‘What is to be Done?’ looks at the actions we can all take to resist the incoming regime. Named after an essay by Russian revolution leader Vladimir Lenin, this piece calls for the need to not only hold the Trump administration and the GOP accountable, but ourselves as well in terms of complacency, in- fighting, and putting forth the most marginalized communities in leadership roles in what I refer to as a ‘vanguard of the downtrodden’. While “The Horror’ sits with the grief of what we’re dealing with, ‘What is to be Done’ looks at possible solutions.
Download this song at:
Righteous Middle-Class Amateur
The Yamaska Minstrel, Quebec
I've hear it said, ignorance is bliss...and what better subjects to rule than blissful sheep. How often have I been sheared? Do I line up and volunteer for it? Am I a part of the solution? Am I the problem? Did I step on your head while trying to get some? People before profits, human agendas trump corporate ones. Create and give share the light within. Gotta go...things to post on Facebook, UFC fights are on and my diesel needs an oil change.
Find more at:
Any Given Day
I said no more of my words earlier, but it appears I have lied. I must be honest, I did not write this the day or the weeks after the election. I wrote this song months before the results rolled in. I was hearing people speak in despair and fear when addressing the Syrian refugee crisis, and fear that the everlasting effect of war trauma could lead to violence and deaths in the host countries. On the one hand, there was acknowledgement for the horror of war, and on the other, we stood idly by, paralyzed by our fear. But then I started to pay attention to how both the left and right wing were taking turns justifying their fear, and ultimately, their hate, towards their countrymen, their neighbor, their family. Fear has been running the world, and under disguise, leading us to hate. We're afraid of the hate we see, so we despise those who hate the ones we love because of their unfounded fear- and so the snowball keeps rolling down the hill, picking up snow and knocking down trees along the way. When did we become so afraid of one another? How did they get us right where they want us, so distracted that we miss the true crime and the real criminals? When did we relinquish our power and hand it over? Have we finally woken up from this fear induced sleep?
If you wanna hate me go ahead, haterz gon hate me.
This is my Rockblock. To submit your art for this entry on the You Ese of Eh?:
More entries on the Rockblock