Category: Opinion

SNL video featuring Kevin Hart about gentrification of Bushwick, Brooklyn

Loved this video with SNL guest and comedian, Kevin Hart, mocking the gentrification of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Favorite lines:

  • “Said the garlic truffle was a must try.”
  • “Did they have any cheeses. What else are you gonna pair wine with…air?”
  • “Word, acting like somebody put gluten in your muffin or something.”

This is absolutely hilarious!

Follow up to my Tim Cook post

Here’s a follow-up Facebook comment I made to my Tim Cook post in October.

Today I made a comment about my wonderful gay friends, which was inspired by Tim Cook’s coming out post. While many in Cook’s circles knew that he is openly gay, it seems as if it was important to let America know.  I just want to make sure that no one misunderstands me and thinks my post is directed at them and their views. I mention “gay marriage,” simply because it’s now overturned in North Carolina and Tim Cook’s recent post.

However, just as much as I support the right for gay (LGBT) people to marry, I also wholeheartedly support the right for anyone who disagrees with gay (LGBT) marriage to have their position and their opinion, as long as it is not Federal Law. If your religious beliefs dictate to you that marriage is between a man and a woman, then you have every right to that belief. I cannot say that my belief is any different than yours. We agree to believe different views, and that’s okay.

While we may disagree on the precept that “gay marriage” is legal and that gay’s (LGBT)  have the right to marry, we will do so as friends who understand that not everyone agrees on everything. I can have my beliefs and you can have yours. I welcome the opportunity to discuss those beliefs and tell you why I feel the way I do, just as much as I would expect you to tell me why you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.

We are all on this planet together. Not everyone is going to agree. But we can work together to understand why we believe the things we do and peacefully coexist, because as brothers and sisters on this planet, when push comes to shove, we need each others help regardless of who is married and who is not. Who is this religion or that religion. Or, who is this color or that color.

When put in a room together like those kidnapped by ISIS in Syria, it all becomes meaningless. The only thing that then matters is cooperation and survival.

Tim Cook

Picture of Apple CEO Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Creative Commons)

This post is from my original Facebook post in October on Tim Cook’s announcement that he is gay. I corrected a couple of spelling errors and changed a few sentences, but for the most part, it’s the original post.

I’m happy that Tim Cook is letting the world know who is, but I’m looking forward to a day when the next Tim Cook never has to explain it.

You don’t see me being interviewed by CNN to ask me when I’m going to announce that I’m straight, do you? So, why gay people have this pressure to come out when really, why do we care?

I don’t want to go to a “gay” wedding. I want to go to a wedding that happens to have gay people in it, and I really don’t care if I know it or not.

I don’t want to go to a “gay” bar. I want to go to a bar where there happen to be gay people who I will hug and have a beer, share some wine, and have a conversation with.

I don’t want to fly a “gay” flag. I want to fly the United States flag, where all people, gay, straight and of all races, creeds and colors live underneath it. And, that flag protects each and every one of our rights as human beings and citizens of this country.

I don’t want to have to explain to kids in my volunteer program that no one should be bullied because they are gay. I want to make sure if any of those kids are LGBT, that they never have to hide their evolutionary and biological DNA from others.

If you’re LGBT, you’re LGBT. If you’re straight, you’re straight. If some people are not comfortable with that by now – in 2014 – let them be forever fearful of the boogeyman, the ghosts, or the day they profess the world will end. That day has come and gone a number of times!

I certainly respect the belief from some of my friends that marriage should be between a man and a woman. If that is their belief, they have every right to believe that for themselves and the community they participate in. And, if they want to guide their children in that belief, they have every right to do so. It’s part of their faith. In that, they can pursue that faith any way they want to. I just want to make sure that if they truly believe what they do, they don’t hate on someone for not living a similar world view.

A person who is black cannot change their blackness. A person who is white cannot change their whiteness. A person who is Chinese cannot change their Asian skin. We are born who we are and I believe LGBT people are born LGBT. That it is not a “choice.” It is part of their structural make-up. Some may be confused about this, because many LGBT people stay in the closet, then come out because after being pressured for so long to conform. Some people may view this as “choice.” But, it’s not choice. It’s breaking from the structure of societies predominantly straight culture.

There are people born without limbs. There are people born with autism. There are people born as geniuses. There are people born who can’t think their way out of a paper bag. There a people born who are CEOs of companies, many of whom are gay, yet we use their products everyday. They may be our teachers. They may be our hair stylists. They may be our realtors or farmers. But, because they are gay, their product or service didn’t turn you gay. You still use it. They are still incredible at what they do. You may have a friend who is gay and that friend has made a pass at you, but all you have to do is politely say that you’re not available, just like you would a straight person who is not right for you. Feelings are intense, but that doesn’t mean they are any different coming from an LGBT person or a straight person.

LGBT people are HUMAN beings. They have hearts, souls, and minds just like we all do. All they want to do is love and be loved back. All they want to do is walk this earth and celebrate their special moments with their families, their partners, their friends, and their colleagues.

We, as a society, are hurting Gay people deeply by telling them they are not allowed to be married to each other. Fortunately, this is now ending state by state because of the change in Federal law. Marriage is a social construct created by man and governments centuries ago to achieve social order. While some would say the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman, we all must remember that the Bible was written by many individuals, each with his (or her – but not sure how many women actually wrote passages in the Bible) own idea of right and wrong. Each with a desire to shape society to their will, by writing about hearsay from centuries of chatter that was construed verbally across generations.

Let’s remember, back in biblical times, people didn’t write – they talked. They shared stories forward from person to person through discourse. Writing and books were for the elite, well before Gutenberg make publishing mainstream. Stories can change over time as they are shared forward, each time colored with that person adding their view of the world. Mouth to ear. All along this pathway the story changed and any real evidence was centuries old – left to interpretation by scholars with their own views of what a sentence might mean well after it was originally written.

The Bible was created and updated over many centuries – addendum to addendum. It was not written in one sitting, where everyone decided this is the way life should be. The bible was constructed by man as a guide, a tool, and a pathway for life lived. Each one with a different views and beliefs of what transpired before their time. In some cases, hundreds of years before, with no one to interview to correct the record.

It is a wonderful book, but it is full of references that even popes are challenging. For example, the one that says God waved his hand one day and there was the earth and then Adam and Eve. There is no more fantastical story than the story of God creating the earth in 7 days. If people believe that is actually true, then I can’t help you with that. I believe in evolution. Our world was created in space over a span of time and there is no proof that a God waved his hand and said, “Let there be light.” The power and energy of the Universe is God and God is a construct of man, because man needs to believe and follow in a higher power to make sense of the Universe.

My idea of God is an energy that somehow created a system. A galaxy of sorts. Through evolution, we are now here today. Each generation leaves us and a new generation arrives to start anew. Because whatever God is, is different to each one of us. God is different to Muslims, to Jews, to Christians, to Baptists, and to Buddhists. Everyone has a different take, so the confusion sets in as to who is right and that’s where religion fails us, as we now see with ISIS in Syria or in other fanatical, right-wing interpretations of God’s word and how people should live and behave. The Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and other scriptures are all written by man and inspired by faith. They are meant as a guide and not an absolute, but some take them as such. It’s their right to do so – to live by the book, so to speak. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have my view either.

Remember, your child can look at you one day and say, “Mom. Dad. I need to tell you something…I’m gay.” And, if your child looks at you and says that, what I hope you do is turn around and say, “Really? Great…now get back to your school work, because that’s far more important than announcing something that’s no big deal (meaning: not an issue in this household).”

That’s my rant for today.

Dallas sportscaster, Dale Hansen, speaks out in defense of Michael Sam

This week, Missouri's Michael Sam, the best defensive player in college football, announced he was gay, so that he could control story before it broke in the media. Dallas, Texas sportscaster, Dale Hansen, defends Sam's right to love who he wants and play the game that he loves, while highlighting the hypocrisy of and NFL that looks the other way when players behave badly.

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Friends drinking at party

Drinking and Friendship

It's difficult to make friends at a later age, especially when you don't drink alcohol or eat processed foods. When you're gluten-free, trying to cut down on sugar and you want stimulating conversation, it's more difficult to find moments where alcohol does not get in the way.

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Mr Fingers – Can You Feel It (Martin Luther King Jr Mix)

In 2002, Trax Records released an updated version of the Larry Heard classic, "Can You Feel It" originally released under the moniker, Mr. Fingers. In honor of MLK Day, I always post this version to remind myself and those in my circle of influence of the power of MLKs words. When mixed with one of my favorite house music track of all time, it takes on a special resonance.

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My thoughts on Boston

Boylston Street is now open. The surviving bombing suspect is being held and closely monitored in a medical facility at Fort Devens. Those how died have been honored gracefully with tributes and send-offs by thousands of people who loved them or traveled many miles just to be there to support their families. The suspects mother is crying foul, accusing the United States government of a conspiracy, but the Russians have on tape a “vague” conversation with her and her other son (who died in the ensuing shootout) with talk of “jihad.”

Boston is in the healing phase. Next year’s Boston Marathon will go on and people will not be afraid to run, in the same way that people are not afraid to go to downtown Manhattan. Our culture celebrates life. We don’t much believe in martyring ourselves, because someone told us that killing others indiscriminitely is the best possible solution to a problem. Americans are far stronger than a bomb in a pressure cooker left on the street by two bumbling terrorists who had no real plan, but were able to get off a minor spectacle that only proves their acts of terror leaves us strong and more united in the face of evil.

As a human being, I will never understand what it’s like to come from some of these countries, where hope is non-existant. Where danger lurks around every corner. Where people are murdered not just because of their political idealogy, but also because of their faith. Where thousands have been exterminated for no reason other than being the wrong color or being on the wrong side of a war.

I’m sure it has to be extremely difficult to know that your extended family was exterminated and that every day, whoever controls your homeland is choking off your ability to live in peace, raise a family and prosper. Once those things are impacted, there is a propensity to lash out. You listen to others tell you how horrible the West is and how Western powers are responsible for killing your extended family or the families of your childhood friends. And, they implore you to take action. While they talk, they hand you the bomb or gun and then you have to decide if what you’re about to do is acceptable. Is it right? Is it just?

For those who see no hope and no way out, they seem to take the road of violence. They turn around and point the finger at the West and say, if you didn’t kill my brother, father or mother, I wouldn’t have killed yours. But, with so many killing on each side, it become hard to determine the justifications for just about anything. It becomes fog in the cloud of war and there is no clear way out.

I know that every situation is relative to the time, place and space we each occupy at a given moment. As a young person growing up on Boston, I felt disenfranchised. I did’t feel like I was worthy of being hired to do just about anything. Most of my early jobs were odd jobs. I had a lot of jobs that were meaningless and I realized while I was doing them that they were just a stop-gap solution to solving the greater problem, which was: what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” Fortunately, I chose music as a career and over the next 23+ years, I built my career in both music and digital media. At one time, I could have turned to crime to make ends meet, but I had learned from my parents the value of hard word. That what you put in is what you got out. Sure, there were times it would be unfair, but to lash out and kill others over my perceived inability to assimilate in my surroundings, whichever they were, was really on me to figure it out. And, figure it out I did. Today, I’m married to a wonderful woman. I have a stable job in my chosen field. And, I am using the knowledge I’ve built up to sustain my career and grow as best I can.

Of course, I didn’t grow up in a war torn country. I can’t understand the dynamics those people face. I’ve talked to some – I remember one guy who used to clean the laundry mat in Brookline, near Coolidge Corner. He told me of fighting in the Lebanese militia. Listening to him tell me his story, I couldn’t imagine what it’s like to see your homeland torn to shreds by tanks and fighter jets dropping bombs and leveling city blocks. How, if you’ve seen these things, are you able to live amongst a civil society, where this type of extreme violence does not exist?

One of the things that I’ve been left with thinking about after the events of the last few weeks, is that there are people who feel so angry about whatever it is that troubles them, they will go to great lengths to be heard or be felt. Those lengths included murdering others in an attempt to raise the profile of an issue or get their way. What’s fascinating, is the fact that these people are choosing to be heard through violence in the belief that if they can get off a shot and kills some Americans, it will make us go way and not get involved in their lives. What it ends up doing, is bring more people into the situation, who then will spend all their days tracking down the people that committed this horrific act. Because we don’t sit still and because we’re super motivated, we will go to the end of the earth to find people who attack us. Osama Bin Laden can attest to this, if he were alive today. He’s not, because we did. It’s that simple.

I want to make it clear that this is not an anti-Muslim post. I have many Muslim friends and I have great respect for their religion. I know that my Muslim friends abhor the violence committed by one of the people in their extended community, in the same way I am angered by Christians who murder abortion clinicians and doctors over their perception of right to life. It bothers me greatly that non-Muslim’s will point the finger at all Muslims and say, “it’s you who is responsible for your brother’s or sister’s crime!,” when that is obviously not the case. What this does, is only raise tensions between our communities. That is not the best way to tackle these issues, because the growing animosity only fuels misplaced justifications of extremists who use the mistrust to fuel new attacks.

For me, the bombing and subsequent shutdown of Boston by the governor, Deval Patrick, reminds me of a time growing up when a felon escaped from prison, which I vaguely remember as being Walpole State Prison (I could be wrong). I’d come home from school that day only to be told by the police to hurry up and get to my apartment and lock all the doors and windows. They were looking for the convict and thought he might be holed up somewhere in our apartment complex. While many in Boston complain about the order to lockdown Boston, I remember thinking that it was better for me to be in the house and let the police find the escaped convict, then be outside and a possible target.

Growing up in Allston/Brighton (the carjacking happened near Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton) with connections in Cambridge (I worked at a record store a few yards from the Mobil station where the carjacking victim had escaped to) and Watertown (as a teen, I worked at the Arsenal Mall and my sister’s in-laws are from Watertown), I followed the police chase that night on scanner app for my iPhone. It was fascinating, yet scary to listen to, because I knew every street announced by officers over the stream. I was able to visualize exactly where they were as the chase and subsequent shootout transpired.

From the moment my wife told me that an MIT officer had been shot, I knew it was the bombing suspects. I can’t remember ever hearing of an MIT police officer being shot in the line of duty. Maybe it’s happened before and I just never knew about it, but this time and only a few days after the bombing, something told me that the bombing suspects had shot him and were about to embark on a night of terror. I immediately downloaded the scanner app and we tuned in, listening to the events unfold until well past 2 am. Of course, I was worried for my family, but I knew that they all wouldn’t be near the shootout location. My sister and her daughter do live about a mile or so away. I’m glad the suspects didn’t get that far.

It’s a testament to the bravery of the Boston Police, MBTA SWAT team, Cambridge Police and, of course, those brave Watertown Police officers who rarely ever see this kind of action, that they were able to capture the suspect. The bombings were horrific and the aftermath sad, given those who died and others who lost limbs or were severely physically injured or emotionally scarred. Having seen 9/11 happen myself, I can sympathize with my Boston sisters and brothers. What I know is that these things, despite their ugliness, will make everyone in Boston a bit more appreciative of their lives and their commitments to each other. It will strengthen resolve like it did for my friends after 9/11. We all will go on, not forgetting or living in fear, but facing realization that life is just not the same. We’ll be vigilant, but not afraid to walk, run, crawl or wheel ourselves to the finish line. For the Boston Maraton is a Boston institution that cannot be defeated by two crazed individuals who turned to violence over discourse and evil over good. One has lost his life for it, as he should. The other may lose his, as he should as well.  While I don’t believe in the death penalty, I do reserve the right to believe for special cases – this is one of them.


Tony Z’s take on’s streaming and Dance Music article and comments

Okay, so I've read Phillip Sherburne's piece and many of the comments from DJs, Producers and others who ask some very good questions about streaming and cite many reasons why the quality of dance music seems to be suffering. Sherburne writes that today's dance music producer is so frazzled between DJ gigs and travel, that they have no time to write quality music. Is that true? I don't know, but what I do know is that music production is vastly different today than it once was. No longer are you stuck in a studio for a 15-hour session or back-to-back all-nighters. You can get stems from others contributing to your production or vocals from your singer in your DropBox, then drop them into your Ableton production on that 19-hour flight to Singapore. Sure, you're not stuck in your home studio, but your hotel room, your flight or your limo ride have replaced the studio as your production environment.

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Music Tech Business Rules 101: Call Me

Music Business 101: When you’re seeking to speak to someone over the phone, the catch phrase is: “Let’s get on a call…” LOL. I say that far too often. I think it’s going to be etched on my tombstone.

Of course, if you’re too successful (or at least you think you’re too successful), you say, “Call me.” No exclamation point. Just kind of matter of fact. And, you have to be turned half-way towards wherever you’re going when you spit that one out. Like you’ve got somewhere to go and something to do.

If you’re really looking to add some style, then you can append a word like, “babe” to it. Something like, “Yeah…babe, call me.”

Just a little Music Business humor to chuckle at on a Friday night.

Stop the SOPA/PIPA legislation! Keep the Internet free!

Yes, I’m one of those liberal tech geeks who want to, oh,, keep the Internet FREE! What I mean by free is free from old media run by the Motional Picture Industry Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, who want to have the right to shut down any website they deem is infringing on their content without due process. That’s like given M&M/Mars the right to shut down every 7-11 in America just because a few 3rd-graders stole a couple of candy bars. Then, 7-11 would have to prove they can prevent all 3rd-graders from stealing M&Ms, before they can open the doors again. How silly would that be?

So, if you like your Google, WikiPedia, YouTube, SoundCloud, or any other service for that matter, which provides a vehicle for free artistic expression, then you’ll call you Senator or Congressperson and tell them you’re certainly against piracy, but not at the expense of taking your liberties away! Many of these sites have gone dark or are taking a stand today against government regulation, which will stifle innovation.

Here’s a quick video on how this all works and why you should be outraged that a few big media companies and their industry organizations are trying to regulate the Internet and block you from using services like Facebook and Twitter, which if passed, could be shut down without due process. This is like saying that you’re guilty until proven innocent. That’s not the America I grew up. I hope that’s not the one you want your kids to grow up in. We might as well move to China or Russia and let the powerful control the powerless.