Personal

The Connect / Disconnect of Social Media During Sandy

 

The inconvenience of no power is nothing compared to the tragedy experienced by those who lost their loved ones or a home.

During the storm I was  hooked on my friend’s feeds and in posting my own photos. I felt connected to them, but it was also jarring seeing posts from out of the area about parties, beach scenes and vacations.

I guess when Katrina hit, I had no clue either. Unless this is in your back yard, you have no idea.

 

Sandy the fireworks are hailin’ over Little Eden tonight

 

. . .most of the Northeast too. For me, Sandy has always conjured up: 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) — if only Madame Marie could tell us now what we most need to know

Thanks for Visiting

When I set out in 1998 to make a midcareer change, Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule was still a decade away from being published in his book Outliers. Perhaps if I’d known what was required to acquire the skills to write well I never would have walked away from the comfortable corporate lifestyle.

I’d always fancied myself an artist, but never had the courage to pursue it. I ended up in the music business. Working with artists, I thought I understood their challenges. But until you put yourself on the line, you don’t have any idea what it’s really like to be that exposed.

Many people are drawn to the idea of the writing life—fishing with Castro, running with the bulls in Pamplona, hanging out like Hemingway in Key West drinking until dawn. I too was drawn to this idea, but I soon discovered writing is damn hard. No doubt Hemingway was gifted, but clearly, he also worked his ass off.

To be frank, I had no clue what it took to be a writer and I wandered down many dead ends. And yet not a single step was wasted. Each one ultimately brought me to this very moment.

At RobertStevenWilliams.com you’ll find songs, short stories, essays and blogs on a variety of subjects from relationships, love and yoga, to sports, politics and culture. My Year as a Clown, a novel, will soon be available.  Here, I’ll also chronicle the path to publication.

The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay once said, “A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down.”

During this journey to publication I had the privilege to meet some amazing artists, from Rosanne Cash to Barry Hannah, James Houston, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Suzi-Lori Parks. Each posses the courage of a warrior, and yet each stands willfully before the public with their pants down in hopes of making you feel something real.

I too stand before you now, pants down, hoping . . .

 

Henry Coe Park, San Jose, CA – I took this photo back in 1983

 

Trash talking does nobody any good this election

The day after the Arab protests and attacks at the US Embassies I overheard several guys in the locker room at my gym complaining about Obama’s weak response to the attacks.

“Those Arabs only listen to strength; you can’t apologize, talk or reason with them, they only respond to might.”

I know better than to talk politics or religion in such settings, but it was difficult to hold my tongue, these guys were spewing emotional feelings based on spurious facts.

Each day since the attacks we have learned new information about them. This is one reason why in election years, it’s considered bad form for candidates to publicly question a president’s response—rarely are all the facts available to the public.

But that hadn’t stopped Romney from commenting, or these guys in the locker room.

I couldn’t hold myself back. “Obama has been much more hawkish than many of his supporters wanted,” I said. “His foreign policy is so strong, Republicans didn’t even mention the war at their convention.”

One of the guys shook his head dismissively. “Obama wouldn’t even have gotten elected if he wasn’t a black man.”

The other guys said, “He’s not that smart.”

Then his buddy added, “He’s lazy too.”

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” I said. “You guys are making racists comments and you don’t even recognize it. You want to debate policy, fine, but these comments aren’t even worth responding too.”

“We’re not racists, we’re just talking the truth.”

Anger boiled up inside. I was disgusted knowing that it didn’t matter what I said, these guys would never change their view. I could have made a real scene, but there was no point. I packed up my bag and walked out.

We need healthy debate on the issues, but to say the president isn’t smart, or he’s lazy, that’s not debate, it’s what the extreme ends of both parties want to keep us focused on rather than the nuance of one party’s view of taxation, regulation and diplomacy versus the other.

It’s up to the moderates in both parties to make sure that those at the far right and left don’t hijack the country into paralysis with their innuendo and falsehoods.

Next time I see those jokers, I’m going to set them straight.

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