Saturday, September 11, 2010



Yup, that's the transliteration of my evil laugh as I fly to the Philippines to produce an album and assume creative control of someone else's musical aspirations.

This sadistic desire dates from the days of 'group learning' projects in high school where, much to the delight of the rest of my group, I would often complete the entire assignment myself to make sure it was done, and done right.

I also take charge of my wardrobe. I iron my own shirts, but I don't fold my underwear. Nobody folds my underwear.

This may be news to some of you, but I also like to dominate grapes. I love popping the hapless fruits between my lips so that they snap back against the roof of my mouth, sometimes two or three at a time. In grape-tossing situations, I also prefer to be the 'pitcher', not the 'catcher', despite the large size of my mouth.

It was this desire to call the shots and exercise creative control, while in the studio with my hard rock band Silversafe, that initially led me to record (and produce) my first solo album, and embark on my career as a solo artist. While working on Crown Point's new album in Vancouver, BC, it was this same desire that caused renowned producer Jeff Johnson to, I imagine, want to pat me on the back at times. By 'pat', I mean 'slap', and by 'back' I mean 'face', of course.

Now, for the first time, I've been hired to produce an album. The artist? An up-and-coming singer/songwriter from Guam, Cara Flores.

As a result, I find myself sitting in seat 29G on Korean Air Flight 20, headed for Seoul and ultimately Manila.

I have one word for you. That word, of course, is Gochujang.

Never heard of it? You will. It's the Korean hot pepper paste that, for an afternoon at 35,000 feet, made my mouth very, very happy, salvaging an otherwise blandtastic meal of rice, seaweed soup, some chili pickle concoction, and of course honeydew.

To be honest, Gochujang and honeydew were meant for each other. It was a beautiful thing. Brought tears to my eyes, tears which had much to do with the fact that I emptied the rest of the 20-gram tube on the hapless honeydew before inserting the whole mess in my mouth amid the polite giggles of my seatmate.

Little does she know that I'm only laughing because she smells like baby powder. Did she just have her diaper changed? I have no idea.

Two thumbs up for Korean Air and their extraordinary hospitality, by the way. If I had been blessed with a third thumb, it would be up as well.  Honestly the most courteous and helpful flight attendants I've ever seen.

In any case, I couldn't be more excited to work with Cara. Her songs are lyrically-driven and stand on their own with nothing more than a piano and vocal, which always makes a producer's job easier. Little does she know that I'm about to find a way to sneak the words "oily discharge" into every single song.

Who knows? This could be the start of an unexpected career path for me. Long after I've passed the age of commercial viability as an artist, and long after my face has been repeatedly steam-pressed by the ubiquitous Botox iron, I could still be lending my creative input to young artists who are thankfully too young to remember and remind me of the 'other' John Davidson, not to mention the landmark embarrassments of my time: New Coke, Darfur, George W., and, of course, Three Doors Down.

There's an ad in the Korean Air in-flight magazine that declares: "2010-2012: Visit Korea Year."

Here's hoping that these next three years will be one amazing year.

I've slept for four hours in the last 40, and delirium is starting to kick in. We're starting to descend into Seoul, and it's a gloomy day. I was just informed over the loudspeaker that it's 25 degrees Celsius on the ground, which, I'm told, is equivalent to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Hmm. Probably just the exchange rate.

I've got a two-hour layover in Seoul, and a four-hour flight to Manila, followed by an hour taxi ride to Makati City.

Annyonghi kasayo.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Size Does Matter

Size does matter.

When it comes to Alaska, everyone knows that everything is bigger.  Everything except for the cramped Economy class seat that I'm sitting in on my flight to Anchorage.  Nothing but a flimsy armrest is keeping the kind lady seated next to me from oozing into my personal man-space.

However, Juneau that this is the last time I'll be cramped on this trip.  Only a Homer doesn't Nome that Alaska is the biggest state in the US, and I'll have plenty of room to roam.  Kenai tell you how excited I am to get there?  My Haines are all in a wad, and I can't Barrow the suspense.  If you don't think Alaska is unbelievable, you are in Denali.  I'm looking forward to the State Fair, where you can do everything from admire enormous pumpkins to watch professionals give a bear a body piercing or give a Yakutat.  I might have to Wrangell for a place to Sitka at a few events, and hopefully I don't end up near anyone who smells like open Seward.  I should probably stop at a store and Ketchikan of Axe Body Spray to take with me, just in case.  I don't mean to beat a Deadhorse, but I Kiana can't wait to arrive.

Thus far, this is quite possibly the corniest blog entry I've ever written.

Somebody, please pry this laptop from my hands.

I seem to have digressed from what matters:  Size.  Length, width, girth:  Alaska has it all.  One would assume that significant shrinkage would occur due to the cold, but Alaska has managed to retain its original size.

I once saw a t-shirt with the outline of Alaska encompassing the outline of Texas, with the caption "Ain't Texas Cute?"

Did you know that the land area of the city limits and borough of Juneau, Alaska's capital, are larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined?  And that Juneau is only Alaska's third-largest city by area?

You could fit over five Oregons neatly inside Alaska's boundaries.  

Sorry, Texas.  You got pwned.

I'm actually more excited for our three days off in Alaska than I am for our two Alaska State Fair shows, our radio appearance, and our Anchorage concert.  Glaciers, mountains, fjords, and, of course, America's #1 threat, bears!

I'm also pretty excited to share with you the fact that Russell, my bandmate in Crown Point, a grown man of sound mind in his 20s, literally just learned about four hours ago that the plural of "moose" was, in fact, not "meese".  True story.

And now, to pressing public health issues:  How is it possible that cigarette smoking is banned on domestic flights, while it's perfectly legal to open and consume noxious containers of garlic-ridden potato salad, of questionable freshness, at will?  C'mon lady, I'm dying here.

Through a break in the clouds, I can see massive Mt. Fairweather.  Our kind flight attendant has just informed us that "it's that magic hour where we get to put away our electronic devices."  What are we, twelve?  "Jonny, have we cleaned our room?"  "Mom, if this is a team effort, you certainly haven't done your part."  And magic hour?  Does my laptop disappear when I put it in the case?  What am I going to see?  Rabbits?  Unicorns?  A bag of mystery cocaine miraculously appear in Paris Hilton's purse?

Alaska, here I come.  Something tells me that amidst your unbelievably massive natural beauty, I'll be reminded of how small we really are, yet how much our lives really matter.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blog Nectar

Once upon a time, the blog nectar was flowing. I wrote every week, or at least a couple times a month; my management was exploring publishing options for my writing, and all was right in the world.

Once upon a time, a Jon Davidson blog entry was something you could count on regularly, like the Old Faithful geyser, Lindsey Lohan getting a DUI, cocaine being found in Lindsey Lohan's car, Lindsey Lohan going to rehab, Lindsey Lohan going to the hospital, et al..

What happened?

Now, blogs seemingly come as infrequently as Lindsey Lohan appearing in a movie, or Lindsey Lohan making a good decision of any kind.

Why am I picking on Ms. Lohan? I don't know. This is old news. Forgive me for not having the time to keep up on the latest brainless she-tabloid fodder.

Well, for those of you who haven't yet switched over to Facebook (only to find out that in a lot of ways [insert Farmville-esque game here] it's just as annoying as MySpace) and followed my status updates, here's a little of what's been going on.

But first, I'd like to thank Ms. White, my junior high English teacher, for cementing in my brain the rules regarding using brackets inside parentheses, as well as creepily and almost daily telling me that I should wear pleated khakis because she was sure I looked so good in them. For the record, it is mathematically impossible to look good in pleated khakis. Then again, Ms. White didn't teach math.

Insert Family Guy digressive vignette here.

As you probably know, I'm in a new band called Crown Point. Last month, we toured to Illinois and back, playing at Cornerstone Festival and breaking down eight times along the way. Over the last couple weeks, we've been recording our debut album in Vancouver, BC with Jeff Johnson, a producer with an affinity for zipper masks (don't ask) who has worked with the likes of Nickelback, Jet Black Stare, Adelita's Way, and Divide The Day. Nickelback's drummer, Daniel Adair, even played drums on one song on the album, much to the chagrin of rock purists and the joy of everyone else who is smiling everywhere.

Did you know that in Pocatello, Idaho, the self-proclaimed Smile Capital of the US, you can be issued a ticket for frowning in public? Look it up. It seems like a vicious cycle to me: you're issued a ticket, causing you to frown even more. At this point, you're issued another ticket, and so on. Hey, who am I to judge the means by which a city creates revenue? Unless it's child prostitution, of course. At that point, I could probably feel good about judging.

I commuted back and forth to Canada so as to not cancel any shows. If Chester's Chicken can feature a smiling cowboy chicken in its logo, who is undoubtedly a) thrilled about the fact that he's about to be cruelly slaughtered and eaten and b) a diehard country music fan, I can call it a commute, okay?

After a couple of weekend tours to eastern Idaho, we're headed to Alaska next week for two shows at the Alaska State Fair. We'll be sharing the bill with Shinedown and Collective Soul, and getting a couple days off to visit Denali and consume an entire hippo-sized gourd.

I'll then be in Portland for two days before flying to the Philippines to produce an album for Cara Flores, an alt/pop/soul artist from Guam.

Then, after another two days in Portland, Crown Point and I are embarking on a 7-week nationwide tour, opening for Tyrone Wells and Andrew Belle. If you haven't checked out Tyrone and Andrew, do yourself a favor, get cozy in your limited-edition Weezer Snuggie, and listen to their music. Tyrone, the former lead singer of Skypark, is signed to Universal Republic and is best known for a couple of Top-20 hits, including "More." If his music doesn't make you think about what really matters, then you most likely don't understand English, which makes the fact that you're managing to read this dramatically undermine your credibility. Andrew has had songs in shows such as Grey's Anatomy and won some VMA Awards.

Chances are, we're playing in your city. Dallas, Austin, Oklahoma City, Houston, Birmingham, Nashville, DC, New York, Philly, Chicago, Indy, St. Louis, Boston, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Denver, Salt Lake, Boise, Spokane, San Luis Obispo, Portland, LA, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, Wichita. To name a few. I reckon I would love to shoot the breeze with all y'all at a show (sorry, Chester and I have obviously been spending too much time together).

I'm really excited about this tour, mainly because I get to see 35 Tyrone Wells shows for free, but also because Mr. Wells is a class act with a calling, we're playing some great venues, and we'll have a chance to meet a lot of amazing individuals and hit a bunch of cities whose radio stations will be spinning singles off of our new album.

I'll be back home in Portland around November 20. Hopefully, my cat will still remember her daddy.

I can't wait to keep you posted on the tour, and to hopefully see you at a show.

If I don't get the chance to write another blog entry for awhile, you'll know what happened to the blog nectar.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I have something I need to say.

As I type, the profound words of a hit song are running through my head, guiding the content of this blog post.

"Say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say."

Thanks for that, John. At least you probably never forget the words to that one when playing live.

According to my count, he utters the word 'say' exactly 75 times in this song. By all means, waste a few minutes of your life figuring out if I'm right or wrong.

Unlike Mr. Mayer, what I need to say contains at least some subtle variance between clauses.

So what, you ask, do I really need to say?

No, I'm not a homosexual. Sorry, Andrew.

No, I don't have any STDs, or a secret drug problem. I do take Propecia, but never more than the recommended dose. Who knows what would even happen if I did. Tongue hair, anyone?

No, I'm not a closet Republican, I'm not lactose intolerant, I don't know where Waldo is, and no, I'm not pregnant, as far as I know.

Without further ado, here it is: I'm tired.

I'm not talking about sleep. I actually got a pretty restful six and a half hours of sleep last night, and faithfully imbibed my daily regimen of four cups of mediocre black coffee this morning.

No, it's something more than being physically exhausted.

Don't get me wrong: I've been busy. The Friday before last, I released my new solo CD with my band Crown Point at the Doug Fir in Portland. We sold out the show. The night before, my other band Silversafe played with Powerman 5000 to a sold-out Hawthorne Theater. Earlier last week, I made an appearance on
Portland's KGW Channel 8, an in-store appearance at a world-renowned record store, and a live appearance on Portland's biggest rock station, KUFO.

I'm also leaving on tour with Crown Point to Illinois in a couple weeks. 17 dates, two festivals, 10 states. We parted ways with our bassist this last week, so we've been busy getting a replacement up to speed, as well as firming up radio and TV spots, accommodations, and other details for the tour. Not to mention
answering a multitude of fan emails, practicing, and sending out posters to various street teams around the country.

So, needless to say, I haven't been sleeping enough. Mom, if you're reading this, save yourself the trouble of calling. I already know what you're going to say.

It's more than a need for REM, though. It's a need for peace. I feel like my soul is being worn thin.

When I first started playing music, it was something beautiful. Something meaningful, spiritual, cathartic.

While in college, I switched majors six times, and finally settled on Communications, which my guidance counselor assured me would get me a degree in the shortest amount of time. After trying a little of everything (scholastically speaking), I realized that music was the only thing that made me happy, that made me feel fulfilled.

Ever since then, I've been pursuing a dream of being a professional musician. My career started as a part-time drummer in a crappy garage band. I then sang and played guitar and bass for a couple of well-intentioned grunge bands before moving on to an acoustic pop band.  I then became the singer and screamer in a metal band. Next, I went solo, then joined an acoustic duo, then formed a pop/rock band.

I've been on twelve lengthy tours, had a tour van break down five times, played in almost every US state and 5 countries, and had two songs on hundreds of FM stations. I've met some amazing people, fans and musicians alike, played with some pretty big names, and sold more records than I ever thought I would. And
I don't regret any of it so far.

Somewhere, though, in all of this, the simple joy of playing music has all but disappeared. Gone the way of Ray Allen's shot in this year's NBA Finals.

It's a business, folks. I am an entrepreneur in one of the world's most cutthroat industries. To ignore the business aspect of a music career is to kiss your aspirations goodbye. No tongue, please.

I haven't written a blog post in awhile. Nor have I written any songs lately. I feel like my proverbial well has run dry. Worse, I'm in an industry where wells are frowned upon, shunned; where everyone is forced to hook up to city water to survive. The same blandly reliable city water that everyone else on your street is
drinking. No wells. No waterfalls. No flash floods. Just a faucet and a knob.

I can't remember the last time that I actually had the chance to sit down somewhere beautiful and play my guitar. And sing. To myself, to God, to whatever varmints might be listening.

I want to rediscover the spark, the passion, the purpose of playing music. Why am I doing it? Why do I spend seventy hours a week on something that doesn't satisfy? Should I be pouring my energies into something else? Or taking a different approach to the music business? Or take some time off? Or keep my
schedule jam-packed in the hopes that things will work themselves out? Time and life are not renewable resources.

I love my bands. I love my fans and friends. I love my manager, my attorney, and especially my PR coordinator. I love being on stage. I love traveling. I love meeting new people every day. I love Russell Stafford. (There, I said it.)  Don't get me wrong: there's still plenty that I love about what I do. I simply never wanted it to turn into just another job, albeit one with killer benefits.

This blog post doesn't have a tidy ending. Nor will it make you laugh, unless you're a jerkface. I'm not digging for encouraging messages in return. It's not often easy for me to be vulnerable and admit that I don't have a finger on the pulse of happiness and fulfillment all the time. So, I'm actually writing this for my
own sake. If you're still reading, thanks. Goodnight.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ricky Martin And A Partridge In A Pear Tree

Ricky Martin made headlines this week when he formally announced that he is gay.

In other news, the Pope has finally come out and revealed that he is Catholic, and Ron Jeremy is expected to declare that he is of above average endowment later this week.

It's about time, Ricky. You had us all fooled. Or perhaps there is something we don't know about Rebecca De Alba's anatomy.

How is this news? It's as if Yahoo had decided to run an expose on the fact that the Chicago Cubs do, in fact, suck.

I will admit:  I still took the time to read the story. On two different websites.

It's mind-boggling to think of how much time I spend on menial activities, like reading said quasi-news stories, or folding my underwear, or attempting to get the ends of a trash bag open so I can line a trash can with it. I estimate that I spend at least 30 profanity-laden seconds per trash-bag change, which happens probably twice a week. That's a minute a week, wasted. Gone. 52 minutes a year. If I live to be 85, I will have spent 73.6 hours, or just over three full days of my life, wrestling with my plastic demons.

I wish I could just get all three of those days out of the way at once. Maybe. That IS a lot of sack to deal with in a short period of time. Perhaps Ricky Martin would be willing to help out.

I slept in today. Got to bed at 1:30, and woke up at 9:45. I honestly cannot recall the last time I had a chance to do that. I can't comprehend the fact that the average American watches six hours of TV a day. Six hours? Since canceling my cable last year, I haven't even watched a total of six hours of TV in 2010. It seems silly to live through imaginary people's lives when you could be living your own.

And don't even get me started on these MySpace and Facebook games. From the comfort of your own profile, you can start a food fight. You can join the mafia. You can buy your friends as pets. You can get poked, groped and fondled. You can even get pooped on. Look it up.

I really don't get it. Is there really nothing better you could be doing with your life? Even Solitaire requires some sort of mental function. Sadly, this inanity is indicative of society at large, and not just of some lunatic fringe. What could possibly be so important that it would keep the typical American from hitting the gym, writing their grandparents, getting an education, being a contributing family member, and pursuing a lasting and rewarding career? SuperPets, that's what. One hundred years ago, kids worked on the farm. Now, they work on Farmville.

In the thirty minutes that I've spent writing this blog, I've gotten invitations to join RockYou Pets, Vegas, StreetRep, Image Lovecheck, SuperHug, Vampires, and MafiaWorld. That's on MySpace alone. On Facebook, during this past half hour, I've gotten a request to join a world war, and have been gifted a zebra, which I am supposed to send back. Let me spell it out for you: If anybody sends me a zebra, or any other large, multicolored ungulate, I'm keeping it. No ifs, ands, or bison, okapi? You'd be lucky if I even returned a wallaby.  Most likely, it would be AWOLaby.

While no one would accuse me of being unopinionated on the matter, I'm not saying free time is a bad thing. A total lack of it is enough to drive anyone crazy.

This month has left me teetering dangerously on the brink.

Saturday, I finally got back from a three-week tour to SXSW with my new band, Crown Point. 6,000 miles. 17 shows. Eight states One trailer destroyed. One ring swallowed by an obsessed fan in Colorado Springs. One crack den posing as a live music venue. One unfortunate and ill-advised attempt to pee into the wind on the side of the interstate. Three flights. One spring snowstorm in Cheyenne that shut down I-80.

Two crazy nights in Austin. One Houston show shut down by the fire marshal for being over capacity. One show canceled. Two shows with me on drums. Two 22-hour drives. One Dallas snowstorm. Ten days of checking to find that it was 20 degrees warmer in Portland than in Texas where we were. One great merch girl from Boise who worked her butt off and had a snore that could have been construed as sound copyright infringement by Husqvarna Chainsaws. One great manager from Spokane who worked his butt off and snored louder than our merch girl. Six sets of earplugs. 25 sleeping pills (not at one time). 35 energy drinks. 10 shots of espresso. 50 bananas. Three band members slapped by banana peels.

One security guard in Gallup, NM, with a chip on her shoulder. Hundreds of amazing fans and friends in cities everywhere. One fan masquerading as Sammy Hagar. One cab ride home at sunrise in Austin. Two nights sleeping at five-star hotels. Two nights sleeping in a no-star van. Three pairs of guitar strings.

Two live Web streams of our shows. One crazy band from Philadelphia that played car keys, threatened to perform operations on fans, and punched each other. One amazing band from Chicago with killer vox and a hot violin player. One open blues jam band. Two hilarious radio DJs in Cheyenne that not only had us on the air but came to that night's show. One run-in with pretentious employees at Jimmy John's. Two men painted silver on soapboxes.

One flat tire a mile from the KKK capital of America. One pack of wild dogs. Two backwoods mechanics. Three bottles of hot sauce consumed. Two in-store appearances. Eight straight nights of being awake after 5 AM. Seventeen death threats directed at my Verizon mobile broadband card. One nice surprise in Boise. Six bottles of homemade 80 proof Kahlua. Three bottles of cayenne pepper powder for my throat. Six 9V batteries for my wireless mic. Six hours a day spent working on my computer. One camera dropped and broken as a result of an impromptu, vaguely homoerotic gymnastics performance with our publicist in Austin. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Yeah, it was a crazy tour. But if I had an extra thumb, I'd probably give it three thumbs up.

I firmly believe that there is no such thing as luck, whether you're a musician, an entrepreneur, a plumber, a gigolo. The harder you work to put yourself in the right place, the more likely you are to experience what outsiders might categorize as good luck.

There is also no such thing as time wasted. With every minute of your life, you make a decision. You decide how to spend it. We are all getting older, together; the hourglass of time is a relentless foe. It's an endless march of sand, as Thrice puts it. How we spend our time determines who we are becoming.

If your time is spent on yourself, you will end up a selfish person. If your time is spent giving, you will end up a loving individual. If your time is spent rooting for the Detroit Lions, you will probably wish you were dead.

A fan in Idaho came up to me after a show last month and told me that the lyrics of my song "Perfect Cliche" had given her the strength to forgive her dad and to reconcile their relationship. It's easy for me, and arguably for most songwriters and authors, to get lost in self-importance and to think that the words we write are changing lives and touching people. It's rare to actually, tangibly, see that take place.

It's no easy road, spending time on things that matter. Why not put off for tomorrow what we should be doing today? In the words of "Perfect Cliche": "Difficult to try and quell the insurrection of time against the soul. And now you're left with the regret of all that's left undone and unsaid, but who collects on emotional debts anyway? Maybe today, and maybe tomorrow; maybe before your time is taken away. Maybe today you'll break what you've borrowed, or maybe you'll mend it with a perfect cliche."

Time is precious. Spend it wisely.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Haiti: Have It Your Way.

There are three types of people.

Don't believe anything you've read before. Ever. This is how it breaks down.

First, there are people who don't give a rat's ass. Or any other part of the rat, for that matter. They're especially selfish with rat spleens, which, to be fair, are delicious with a little barbecue sauce.

Self-absorbed, self-sufficient. This group tells Haiti that building their capital city on a faultline was arguably the dumbest decision in history (with the possible exception of giving Flavor Flav his own reality show). They also say things like "God hates French" and have bumper stickers that read "Obama: Not MY president." Reality check: if you live in America, Obama IS your president. Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, whether you think he's a god or the Antichrist, whether you think beef stroganoff is a food or a herd of masturbating cattle, we don't get to pick who our president is after they've been elected.

Your only options are to deal with it or to pull a Peter Griffin and secede. Or go hunting with Dick Cheney and hope for the worst.

Second, there's a large group of people that sends a check to the Red Cross. Members of this group have three books of "First Class Forever" stamps in their gloveboxes. Their hearts are bigger than their work boots. Actually, they probably don't own a pair. Sorry, ladies, but Gucci Pratos don't count. This group might look for the easiest way to help, but who says easy can't be effective? (Just ask a hooker.) Case in point: U.S. cellphone users have already donated almost $10 million to the American Red Cross via text message in the Haiti earthquake aftermath.

Kids, if you're ever caught texting in class, you now have a killer excuse.

Third, there is a small group of people who are the hands and feet of relief efforts. It's crazy to me to think of being 'on call' for the Red Cross or a similar organization, ready to drop everything at a moment's notice to place oneself in harm's way. Why? Because somebody, somewhere, is suffering.

In case you're wondering, I belong to Grupo Numero Dos.

Yes, I studied Spanish in college. Want to learn a cool phrase? Try this: "Jon Davidson es asombroso. Compre su nuevo álbum." Teach it to all your friends!

Growing up, I thought 'manual labor' was the work involved in changing gears in a stick shift. Since the Haiti earthquake, I, along with Russell Stafford (who I play most of my acoustic shows with), have donated all the proceeds from ticket, album, and merch sales at my shows to the American Red Cross. I'm happy to say we've raised several thousand dollars, but that's just a drop in a Carnie Wilson-sized bucket.

What is an injured, starving Haitian going to do with a dollar bill? Stores are closed, damaged, looted. Dollar bills are low in nutrients, and you can't live off of the blow they invariably contain for all that long.

I would love to be in group 3.

Maybe someday, I keep telling myself. Maybe when the next uber-disaster rolls around. Right now, I have too much on my proverbial plate, and bigger, more accomodating proverbial plates are hard to come by.

I think of the fact that I don't have any formal training in medicine or disaster response, and that my tetanus shot is as out of date as Beyonce's dress at this year's Grammys. I tell myself that I would just be 'in the way'.

I weigh 170 man-pounds. Who or what exactly would I be getting in the way of?

In the case of Haiti, all the money in Halliburton's Cayman Islands account wouldn't make a difference if there was nobody available to administer supplies, to pass out food, to keep order, to give medical care.

Membership in group 3 is coveted, revered. It's more NBA All-Star, less Pro Bowl. It seems to be the most tangible, hands-on way to bring help to the helpless. However, just as there can be no group 2 without a group 3, there can be no group 3 without a group 2. You group 2-timers know who you are. Have you texted "HAITI" to your cellphone provider? Have you rounded off to the nearest dollar at the supermarket? If so, I commend you. If I were wearing a hat, I would tip it. If I were wearing a dress, there's a small chance I'd even curtsey if you asked nicely.

When you're giving, the way that you give becomes almost irrelevant. Don't feel like you're doing less with a cellphone than someone else is doing with a stethoscope and a bag of blood. We may have taken the easy road, but our job is important, too.

The media uproar that arose about cruise ships docking just miles from the Port-au-Prince devastation was completely unwarranted. First of all, the island clearly needs money, and not in the hands of its corrupt government. Tourism provides this. Second, I'd bet my appendix on the fact that most, if not all, of the members of the media that blew this story out of proportion aren't spending their entire day doing something for Haiti.

Really? You boxed up your leftover Triple Bypass..I mean, Triple Big Mac..and airmailed it? You wiped with Red Cross toilet paper? You're skipping the Super Bowl to donate blood? You flew down, snatched up ten Haitian kids, and tried to bring them back?

OK, not funny. And also illegal.

WWJK? Who would Jesus kidnap?

According to a Jan. 27 news report, the Haitian earthquake caused an estimated 250,000 fatalities, and disease, starvation and a lack of medical care will push the death toll even higher.

This means that over 84 times as many people died in Haiti than did in 9/11. Imagine 84 9/11 attacks merged into one cataclysm and you'll get a picture of the suffering and loss that has taken place.


250,000. Most in mass graves.

9/11 was a terrible tragedy, to be sure, and I don't make this comparison to turn it into some inopportune yet minor contretemps. Obviously it wasn't a natural disaster but rather an event caused by humanity, which places it in a different category altogether. However, I'm just trying to enumerate what's taken place in Haiti in a tangible way.

Just because this tragedy is slowly fading from our collective consciousness doesn't mean that all the problems have been solved, needs have been met, or even that all the bodies have been found.

It's been heartwarming to see the generosity of fans at our Red Cross benefit shows who have given and given to help people they've never met. America as a nation has definitely made mistakes, from foreign policy to internal affairs. But let's not overlook the incredible magnanimity of its citizens.

I encourage you to get involved in the way that is best for you. Go to Haiti and help if you can. Or, go donate blood. Or money. Or clothes and goods. Text "HAITI".

The important thing is that you do something. People are counting on you.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

This Year: Ten Or Oh-Ten?

Happy New Year. Or something.

Isn't New Year's kind of ridiculous? First of all, there are way too many different calendars in use, each with their own New Year's date. There's the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese or Xia calendar, the Swimsuit calendar..

Who was this Gregorian guy, anyway? And why should he dictate the one night that most Americans decide to get wasted?

Actually, that's pretty much every night. What country besides the USA celebrates other countries' independence days simply as another excuse to drink?

Did you know that Cinco de Mayo (which is not even Mexico's official independence day) is only officially celebrated in one Mexican state?

Did you know that Mexico has states?

Back to Gregory: apparently, he was a pope. He was the eighth pope named Gregory. In those days, all you had to do if you wanted your son to become Pope was to name him Gregory. Oh yeah, and make sure he was white, and lived in Rome. And looked good in a mitre.

Letting him die of the Black Plague would probably diminish his chances of ascending to the papacy, as well, so keeping your son in good health was a must.

I digress.

Anyway, Gregory XIII introduced his namesake calendar in 1582 by way of papal bull. This holy cow spread the word regarding the new calendar, goring and trampling those who dared not to adopt it.
Regardless of what Wikipedia says, a papal bull is not another word for a decree. It's a very angry animal that will literally rip your heathen face off.

Gregory's calendar replaced that of Julius Caesar. Rather than feel disenfranchised, Julius quickly realized that his future was in the orange fruit smoothie business, and the rest is history.

With Gregorian New Years come New Year's Resolutions. They suck. What makes otherwise sane individuals think that they'll somehow be imbued with all the self-control that they couldn't muster the year before? I wonder how long the average New Year's resolution lasts. Probably not even as long as Kevin
Federline's career.

Why do we as humans lack self-discipline? I speak for myself here: I'm brimming with good intentions, yet my actions and choices consistently fall short of the mark that my heart and mind have set. A famous author once said: "For what I want to do I do not do."

New Year's seems to be just another quick-fix solution, another South Beach Diet, another HydroxyCut. In reality, it's just another day: according to the Julian calendar, January 1 is actually December 21, so clearly the day itself has no exceeding importance. As P.O.D. put it, "Every day is a new I learn from
my mistakes."

That's the key, I think: not trying to flip a switch. We can't become totally different people overnight; change and growth take time. If we continuously learn from our shortcomings and learn to love just a little bit better, we'll accomplish in time what a thousand different well-intentioned New Year's Resolutions never could.

One last question of utmost importance has been weighing on my mind.

Should we refer to this year as 'Ten' or 'Oh-Ten'?

Obviously, last year was 'Oh-Nine.' So it would seem logical that we would continue to use the last two digits of the year to refer to the year shorthandedly.

'Ten,' though, just doesn't flow. It seems more appropriate when used in reference to my pant size in women's jeans. Don't judge me.

However, although 'Oh-Ten' is still technically equitable, it just doesn't make sense. Nobody says 'Oh-Oh-Nine'. Unless they stutter.

If Gandhi were alive right now, my first, and arguably only, important question to him would be: "How did you abbreviate 1910?" I'm sure that he would non-violently resist the use of any inferior abbreviations.

I guess we'll never know.