Monday, July 26, 2021

Radio Free California Episode 2131, plus a few cheap shots


Solid week for new music, including The LInda Lindas, Rodrigo Aguilera, a great new album from David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Descendents, Darkcave, Mega Bog, a crazy 10 minute single from Coldplay, and much more! Enjoy!

Here is a listing of this week's artists, twitter handles unless otherwise marked:

raguileras1 (Instagram)
@p_menis with ramonsanzgarcia (Instagram)
@foofighters (under their nom de disco"Dee Gees")
wanderingwithmusic (Instagram) with @musicbyscarIett
@MNDR with Choir Boy
@huntertonesband with @corywong
Darkcave (
@LOAZER_ with @cuneytakgl
@J_Mich_ with @DystinktBeats
@mollyjburch with @WildNothing
@thedavidcrosby again, this time with Michael McDonald (no social media I could find)


Cheap Shots (It's Rum Monday!):

I got news for you, you ARE indoctrinated

ON the inverse side, I am so happy that I live where I do.

I wonder if Mr. Hawley's fucked up proposal includes the people be familiar with the part of the Constitution that calls people of color 3/5 or a person?

Shoot Michael Flynn. (I keed, I keed)

It's you can't HIDE you're lying eyes, not you can't BELIEVE your lying eyes.

Face it Joe, these negotiations were NEVER in good faith.

Cell Phone theft is a thing. Be well, Senator.

We all know that the answer is "no" but we should ask the question anyway. 140 times.

And because I love you, Feed the Id, from Cory Wong and my old bandmate Dave Koz:

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Fuck Texas - why you should care about what is taught there

 When I was 16 years old, I was walking to school one morning when I saw two burned out patches on a neighbor's lawn. As I would come to learn over the course of the day from my friend Brian (who lived there) and from administrators and teachers at my school, sometime in the wee hours of the morning a group of people had set up two crosses on their lawn and set them on fire.

Brian, his little sister, and his parents were woken up by the smell of burning wood and gas. The fire department had been called, the fires put out, the crosses dragged away, and a police report filed. I slept through the whole damned thing.

Brian's father was a pastor. Brian's family were one of the only black families in the neighborhood. Despite the fact that my high school was about 20% black most of those kids lived further away, thanks to something I didn't even yet knew existed in the real estate industry - red-lining.

But I did know about cross burning. This was the first time I had seen it in my own neighborhood, but not the first time I had seen it. The Klan (that's all anyone ever called them) had a strong presence in the town I grew up in. We didn't have to be told they were evil - we could see it with our own eyes. Brian was my friend, and he was well-liked in the community. His sister was well-liked. His father and mother were well-liked, and his father had a congregation made up of whites and blacks alike.

I had never seen it done to a friend though, and it was heart-breaking. It made me angry as all hell. The school I attended had meetings about it and teachers were encouraged to discuss what had happened, do discuss the evils of racism, and to show that the Klan had no place in our school. The discussions were necessary, and quite frankly we all needed to talk about it - this was a wound and we had to find a way to heal.

Oh, and I should point out that the mascot of my school was a Confederate Soldier. We were called The Rebels. They're called The Spartans now.

Oh, and I should also point out that this is California.

I point all of this out because of a headline you have probably seen by now. Here is MSNBC's version:

What the ever loving fucking FUCK is wrong with these people? Jesus Tap-dancing Christ it seems that most of these "God-Fearing" people don't understand a single thing about Christianity.

Here's a little history lesson about why I care about this, and why you should too. Up until the 1970's, most textbooks for schools were printed in California. However, when Proposition 13 passed in 1977 education funding was slashed to nearly fatal levels, and despite now having a lottery to help pay for it our education system never fully recovered. More importantly the textbook industry in California was destroyed. The small textbook industry in Texas took advantage and within a few years 95% of all textbooks for public schools were being printed in Texas. This condition still exists to this day.

The rules/laws that Texas passes winds up in those textbooks. Not just for Texas, but for the entire country. In short, if Texas decides something shouldn't be taught there, it winds up not being taught anywhere.

This is a fucking problem.

We've spent the years since the beginning of the Reagan Error letting people get stupider. As a result we wind up with people who are hospitalized for COVID-19 who would rather be hospitalized than get vaccinated. I shit you not. This is provably STUPID.

The Texas Senate doesn't want you to know that The Klan is evil. Morally Wrong. All as a reaction to Critical Race Theory, WHICH ISN'T FUCKING TAUGHT IN GRADE SCHOOL, MIDDLE SCHOOL OR HIGH SCHOOL ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY.

It's saying that racism is okay. And that's going to be the message in textbooks all over the country if this goes through.

I was offered a chance to move to Texas on someone else's dime earlier this year. 100% paid for by my employer. Texas has a good music scene and one of my heroes, Christopher Cross, lives there. Beto O'Rourke is there. There are progressives in Texas and I could be part of energizing them. One of the most progressive Presidents in our history was a Texan.

But I'm not fucking going to do that.  No one gets to tell me or anyone I care about that The Klan isn't morally wrong. Fuck the Klan. There is no such thing as a morally correct racist. I would not fit in.

There are people in Texas Government who actually believe that the state has a right to secede from the Union. Again, stupidity is taught. But you know what? Fine. Let them go.

Fuck Texas. At least until they get their shit together. That could take a while.


Cheap Shots:

Can anyone find me a safe way to travel to Sioux Falls? I wanna collect $5,000,000.00

I'm having a mask made that says on it "Because I don't know that you're not an idiot."

Upton Sinclair could write about Potato Chips today.

"I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

You know, Eric Clapton might be a dick.

Guess what? Pay them a working wage.

And because I love you and seriously hope you're not one of the 50,000+ people catching COVID-19 every day, here's a quick reminder to get your ass vaccinated:

Monday, July 19, 2021

Radio Free California Episode 2130 - plus a few cheap shots


Seriously eclectic week including a jazz remake of a Grateful Dead song, a funk remake of a Huey Lewis and the News song, plus new music from Antwuan Stanley, Kat Robichaud, Barenaked Ladies, WILLOW, Smile Machine, Always You, Soul Asylum and much more. Enjoy!

Here's the full list of artists for this week. As always, twitter handles unless otherwise specified:

@OfficialWillow with @AvrilLavigne and @travisbarker
@katrowbeeshow (whom I have met, long ago)
@home_gala with TopClassTeezy
@scarypockets with @BahamasMusic
@JOANPOLICEWOMAN with @t_allenafrobeat and @dave_okumu_
Antwuan Stanley and Tyler Duncan (
@AlexBoneMusic with @corywong


Cheap Shots:

America's dick is infected.

Even the Dow thinks you need to get vaccinated.

Can someone explain to me why we're not prosecuting people who lied to Congress?

I don't know that 8 months is a "loud and clear message", but it's a message of some kind.

Well well well well well! Guess who is requiring vaccine passports?

I wonder if he is still homeless...

I think Peter Doocy might be a masochist.

And because I love you, Cory Wong doing his thing:

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Radio Free California Episode 2129


Pretty decent week for new music!

Here's the listing of people who made the stream this week, twitter handles unless otherwise marked:

@CrownLandsMusic (Facebook)
@sophiadirect1 (Spotify)
mia.a_z (Instagram)
@shokk_martian (Spotify)
@animeraider (Hey, that's me again!)
@scarypockets with @ItsKenton, @indiacarney & @HeyItsMarioJose
@heatexchangecst with varsitytunes (Instagram)
@sidibe with @devinjmorrison and @HerbAlpert (Spotify)
listen2stories (Instagram) with Amelia
@Khruangbin with @quanticmusic
@TessaViolet with @lovelytheband and remixed by @matt_squire

And just in case you haven't had the joy to see Crown Lands yet, check this out:

Saturday, July 10, 2021

The story of how I nearly got sued by Bob Dylan.

Of all of the strange stories in my lengthy music career, this is one of them.

In the 1980's I was the lead guitarist and occasional vocalist for a band called ASK. We were pretty good after a while. It was me, Kevin Donville (bass and lead vocals), Ed Lee (Keyboards and vocals) and a series of drummers before we finally settled win with Tim "T.J." Klassen. We started off slow but after some rough gigs, including an horrific one where we were the act that followed the famed songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland running through their biggest hits (we sounded nothing like them and the audience was theirs) we built up a reputation in West L.A. as a solid band and had earned the trust of the famed Esther Wong herself.

We played 20 gigs at Madame Wong's during our run.

In 1989 Kevin had to leave the band. The rest of us tried to soldier on for a bit, recruiting my brother to play bass and trying a few other guitarists to take over lead duties while I took over vocals. None of it really worked, but we did have fun with one song. Back in the ASK days we had a hard rocker called "Run To Me" that featured a riff I stole from Don Dokken. I re-worked the song as a ballad and we worked up a pretty good arrangement. Tim and my brother worked up a solid rhythm section part and we all agreed that this was pretty awesome.

The band fizzled out and that's mostly my fault. But one night Tim and I got some beers and watched a VHS tape of U2's "Rattle and Hum", and when they got to "Bullet The Blue Sky" Tim's air-drumming that slamming part and I'm pretending to be The Edge when Tim asks me if I can play that slide guitar part. I could and I can. He said, "wouldn't that be awesome in Run to Me?"

We had one more practice, jut him, me and my brother and it WAS awesome.

I then got sidetracked by the events that led me to record a song called "Favorite Partner", a dance track that was completely played on acoustic instruments. That song took off in the beach town clubs and I suddenly needed a full demo to shop around - because people were starting to ask who I was. I had two other songs ready to go in the same vein as "Favorite Partner" and I asked TJ and Alex (my brother) to come to a session and we'd record "Run to Me" like we had last practiced it, "Rattle and Hum" bits and all.

In those days I practiced and recorded at a placed called Pendragon Studios. None of us lived close to it, but their engineer - a man named Bill Krodell - was a genius.This of course means that we all have to drive there. On the day of the session Alex's car breaks down, and he can't make it. So now I have to play bass.

TJ and I record a reference track - my guitar and his drums, and then I record the bass. I had never tried to play bass on the song before, so I just copied with Alex had done. It's a pretty good bass line, and later he would be very happy that I had kept it. I record the guitars and when it comes time to do the solo I pull out the slide and do the "Bullet the Blue Sky" bit. It's only a few seconds but Bill claps his hands together and says, "Wait until you hear how I mix THAT!"

It gets time to do the vocals and it takes me a few takes to get the lead down. The harmonies were easy though (that had been my part when it was an ASK song). We're listening to a take and getting to the last chorus when TJ, who's been just sitting and listening for the past couple of hours as his part was long finished yells out, "Knock Knock Knockin' on Heaven's Door" in time with the drum part he played.

Of course, we just HAD to incorporate that. Understand, There were about a dozen version of the old Bob Dylan song making the rounds right around then, including the Guns 'N' Roses one, so it was once again part of the zeitgeist. In the space of a few minutes I came up and recorded with a blistering 4-part harmony of those six words, and then returned to the song as I had written it. It was a fun off-the-cuff moment and I love those.

We mixed the tracks and I suddenly had a 4-song demo. A friend of mine did a photo session for the cover. I'm terrible at those and to try to get me to loosen up she had me balance a small rubber shark on my shoulder. The photo that resulted led to not only the cover but the title of the demo, "Hand Feeding the Hungry Shark".

God's Teeth I'm young in that photo.

The demo got circulated around and label interest started up, but they wanted to hear more. They wanted live shows and at this point I really didn't have a band. I was getting club play though and I was selling demos, so I decided to record a full album. The result was the first album I released as Jim Christopher, "My World - Welcome To It", named after a television show I barely remembered from my childhood. It's available to this day:

Thing is, if you listen to track Seven you will NOT hear the Bob Dylan Lyrics. You need to remember that this is 1989-90. The world wasn't then what it is now. I hadn't sampled Dylan. I had essentially just used his words, and I realized I was going to need his permission. So I asked.

It took a bit of doing, but I found his agent and sent him a letter outlining what I was doing, and sent him a copy of the demo. I figured that their publishers would want a cut and I was prepared to give it. Instead I got a letter back stating that if I were to release this version of the song with Dylan's lyrics included that they would sue me into the ground and crap on the smoldering remains.

Well, I'm this 24 year-old broke dude and this is Bob Dylan's battery of lawyers. I wasn't going to win this one, so I went to a studio and rented one of their editing consoles and spliced out most of the last chorus (I'm a VERY good editor - most people don't even realize the cut). 

That was that. My little tribute to Bob Dylan was left on the cutting room floor. 20 seconds of the song just gone. End of story.


Long after I had left Los Angeles and retaken my own name as a recording artist, Dylan gives an interview about all of the covers of his songs done over the years, and how many musicians quote him. Part of the answer he gives is about how he got overly protective of his catalog at one point and wouldn't let anyone use his music without using the whole song. Guess about when this was? He goes on to say in the interview that he doesn't mind people quoting him - that he does it himself.

In essence, he was giving everyone permission to do the very thing his lawyers had told me not to do. I'm not going to go into the story of how I confirmed this, but I did learn that he actually had never even heard my song (Hugh Hefner did, but that's another story). The ultimate response I got? "We're cool."

But I had edited that chorus out of the master for the album. I went back to the original 2 inch tapes I had recorded on and remixed and remastered the song. I let it hang around bandcamp for a little while, but I never really gave any thought to releasing it.

Well, 2020 and 2021 have been such game-changers in my life. After spending years struggling with a new album the floodgates opened up for me as a writer and a recording artist. As many of you know, I've released a ton of material this year, including some of my older tracks that never saw the light of day. It took a while, but it finally got through myu thick skull that I could finally put out in wide release the original version of "Run to Me", complete with The Edge guitar solo and 6 words by Bob Dylan.

It's the opener of "Demolisten", which is mostly a random collection of songs that never saw wide release for one reason or another. Some of this work is seriously unpolished, but I figure if the big artists can release their back-catalog crap so can I. But I'm really proud of "Run to Me".

I played every instrument and sang all the vocals except for the drums, which are played by Tim "TJ" Klassen (who now lives in New York). If you listen very very carefully you can even hear TJ "singing" (screaming, really) as he plays drums, especially on some of the fills.

Every song on this "new" EP has a story behind it, but this one is the one from the very early days of my life as a solo artist. I can tell the other stories if you want. I promise to be less verbose on the others. Their stories are shorter.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Radio Free California Episode 2128


A smaller release week (4th of July Weekends are traditionally slow music release weekends) but with some great work by a member of the Japanese Parliment, Antwaun Stanley & Tyler Duncan, Erica Nockalls, Wandering With, Puddles Pity Party and so much more! Enjoy!

Here's this week's list of artists, twitter handles unless otherwise noted:

@genki_sudo (this man's resume is amazing - former MMA champion, former leader of the techno-dance band World Order, and presently a member of the Japanese Parliment)
@whoinvitedgrady with @lovelytheband
wanderingwithmusic (Instagram)
Antwuan Stanley (doesn't do social media) & tadunca (Instagram)
@Erica_Nockalls and @realjahwobble
The Fearless Flyers, which is made up of: @joedart, ⁦@corywong⁩,⁦ @natesmithdrums⁩, @mjlettieri⁩ ⁦and featuring @EddieBarbash
@jeffLorber with Michael Landau
@scarypockets with @Cory_Henry

And because I love you, have some more World Order:

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Radio Free California Episode 2127, plus cheap shots.


Crazy great week for new music, including many artists from way back in the day like The The, Jesus and Mary Chain, Journey, Sleater-Kinney, and more recent artists from Man on Man to The Bronx to Squirrel Flower to Virginia Trigo and so much more. Enjoy!

This week's artists (twitter handles unless otherwise marked):

@GhostOfVroom featuring @Mike_Doughty_ and Andrew Livingston
sam.evian (Instagram)
sharonsulema (Instagram)
spellling (Instagram)

Cheap Shots (and because I'm a day late, we're mixing Gin and Vodka today - be careful):

Get rid of the losers.

Peter Doocy appears to have a learning disability. As in, he never learns.

Maybe she should have testified in that swimsuit.

You should think that someone who points out so readily the potential punishment for treason should stop committing it every fucking day.

Also, global warming. Which they've systematically ignored.

White Supremacist says what again?

Missed it by that much, chief!

“’Cause we all know the best disaster is the one we choose to participate in!”

"That fucking council that Mike has."

And because I love you, Have A Nice Day with World Order

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


The recount was stopped. Courts refused to step in. The election was decided by an incredibly small number of votes. When it came to tally the electoral college votes there was an objection in Congress but at the end of the day it made no difference. A new president was sworn in.

Several months later a news organization took it upon themselves to finish the count and it turned out that the man who had been declared the loser had actually won. It was an incredibly small margin, but he won after all, and therefore won enough electoral votes to become President. It was months later, and the other man had been sworn in, but the man sworn in hadn't won the election.

So once the truth came out why the hell didn't Al Gore become President?

Because there's no "takes-backsies" clause in the Constitution.

Look, I understand that there is a group of people in this country who say over and over again that the truth will out and that the previous guy will be reinstated. There are even people in Congress who say it. Thing is, it can't happen. There is no mechanism of any kind to make it happen. There is no law. There is no provision. Once the votes are accepted by Congress it's over.


Otherwise Al Gore would have been President of the United States.

Think how different the world would have been if Al Gore had been President on 9/11. Or maybe not - after all it was the Democrats who pushed for the Department of Homeland Security. A lot of people don't remember that.

But the point is that Gore was never President, despite it turning out that once the votes were counted that he had won Florida by the slimmest of margins. You must remember that what the Supreme Court did was STOP the vote counting while Little Bush was ahead, again by the slimmest of margins, and not all the votes counted. Once the dust settled and congress accepted the results of the Electoral College (again, with an objection by a member of Congress) the votes were fully tabulated by an auditor hired by The Guardian Newspaper, which determined that Gore had won.

Gore didn't become President.

It doesn't matter at all what the Arizona "Fraudit" comes up with, or what any other state does if they go through with this either. Trump will not become President. There is no clause in the Constitution that allows for a reinstatement of a President. There is no clause that can remove a sitting President for this either. Only Impeachment is possible - and you might have noticed by now that Impeachment has never worked.

Trump cannot become President again unless re-elected or if he becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives and both Biden and Harris are Impeached. That second scenario is the more likely one, and it's ludicrous.

Gore didn't become President. Trump will not be President again.

And haven't you noticed yet that "Q/Q-Anon" has been wrong every single fucking time?!!?!!?!!?

Cheap Shots (It's Tuesday so it must be Vodka):

I don't know if you've yet seen Rachel Maddow's take on "Italygate" but you really should.

Raider Nation Pride.

If you don't think this is wrong then fuck you.

I've always found it funny how many people who want to upload the "Judeo-Christian" traditions fail so miserably at the "Judeo" part.



Kinda meaningless, Joe.

And because I love you, I have a movie preview you really need to see:

Monday, June 21, 2021

Radio Free California Episode 2126, ranting about a transgender weightlifter, cheap shots and Arkansas.


A solid week this week, featuring Tom Morello, Kings of Convenience, Harry J Hart, Weezer, Francis Lung, The Killers with BRUUUUCE, Grey Daze and so much more. Even I make an appearance this week! Enjoy!

Here is the listing of this week’s artists, twitter handles unless otherwise marked:

@animeraider (hey, that’s me!)
@ColaBoyy with @nicolasgodin
The Mountain Movers (I couldn’t find a social media presence for them – but they’re signed to @trouble_in_mind records)
Novelcreativeintl (Instagram)
Madskyrecords (Instagram)
Joe Jackson (and frankly I would have been surprised to see him on social media)
@tmorello with @BloodyBeetroots and @anatijoux
Iamhillhunter (Instagram)
@thekillers with @springsteen
Darkride82 (Instagram)

Thjs week's controversy du jour (so far) appears to be about a weightlifter in New Zealand who has qualified for the Olympic Team as a Trans female Weightlifter. Here's the actual post from well-known bigot Lauren Boebart:

Laurel Hubbard, the NZ athlete in question, transitioned EIGHT YEARS AGO. She has competed as female her entire adult career. Although eligible, she didn't make the team in 2016. She is currently not even ranked in the top 20 in world standings in her weight class. Neither is Sarah Robles. There is no advantage. They both need to beat Wang Zhouyu of China (Ranked #1), Kim Un-ju of North Korea (#2), Tamara Salazar of Ecuador (#3) and a slew of others. What has been done here is a cherry-picking of the facts to support a bias against trans people as a whole.

That last paragraph is how I replied on social media. I'm sure to get hate mail over it - I certainly get it for less. But let me also point out that Ms. Hubbard didn't take anyone's slot - she qualified as the only person competing in her weight class for NZ. She is also recovering from an injury, haven broken her arm in a competition in 2017 attempting to lift a weight some of the people ranked higher than her have long since cleared.

Ms. Hubbard has no advantage here. She is on about equal footing with everyone else in her lift class, including Ms. Robles of team USA.

It's an easy trap to fall into, the male body vs. female body ideal, and a bigot like Boebart will certainly exploit it. 

Finally, I will point out that the rules about transgender athletes participating in the Olympics were established in 2003 - nearly 20 years ago. This is the first time any athlete has made it. Seems to me that the idea of an unfair advantage is exactly the same as Boebart: a pile of bullshit..


Cheap shots (arr, it be rum Monday):

FUN FACT: Ammon Bundy is banned from the Idaho State Capitol.

And on the updated release of Scanners...

Tucker Carlson, snitch.

And because I love you, you should meet the next (hopefully) Governor of Arkansas:

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Radio Free California Episode 2125

Lots of great music including a couple of songs recorded for the Gang of Four tribute album, Danny Elfman, Bowling for Soup, Locean, 2nd Grade, Remerge Band, Garbage, Hanson with Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick and so much more! Enjoy!

Here are this week’s artists, identified by their twitter handles unless otherwise noted:

@robertglasper and @derrickhodge
@flea333 and @johnfrusciante with The Silverlake Conservatory Youth Choir
@DaveKozMusic and @corywong
@bfsrocks with @hansonmusic
@unkleofficial and@michaelkiwanuka
Locean – who doesn’t seem to have a social media presence as of yet, but can be found at
Wanderingwithmusic (Instagram)
@PSB_HQ with @EERAmusic
@NekoCase with @RAC
@TallTallTreees and @adrianmquesada
@JebLoyNichols and colddiamondandmink (Instagram)
@hansonmusic with @CheapTrickRick
@AvlisSatori (Instagram)
floodmusic2112 (Instagram)

Flood's a friend and I wish they were on twitter sometimes, because quite frankly Instagram eludes me. I was going to offer to do vocals on this track when I first heard the demo, but came to realize fairly quickly that it just doesn't need them.

I also want to give a special shoutout to DJ OG OR MAN of steamradiomcr (Instagram) for introducing some of these bands to me. He played one of my songs on his radio show in Manchester, UK this past Sunday, which can be found streaming here:

And finally, because I love you, have this joyous performance by Jon Batiste and Stay Human on the first day The Late Show with Stephen Colbert came back into the Ed Sullivan Theater:

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The scariest moment (so far) of the Pandemic for me

I get a lot of flack from anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and other fuckwits about my words on the COVID-19 Pandemic and in particular the response to it in the US. I pull no punches about it, I believe firmly that the previous administration and ANYONE who enables them and their policies are complicit in the deaths of all of these people. They belong in prison.

I'm not going to fucking apologize for believing that. The fault for all of this belongs directly in the laps of the Republican Party. If you believe otherwise, you're WRONG. I can bring the receipts.

I've been pretty isolated during all of this. I went into lockdown on March 11, 2020 and I'm technically still there. I now work from home, and even though I've been fully vaccinated for two months now I still go out masked. I may never eat at a buffet again. Sorry Sizzler, but I've learned how to make your cheese bread.

I ripped a tendon in my left knee in May of 2020. I had to go to the hospital, but I was out in a few hours with crutches. I would joke with people that I'm now out of hinged joints to break.

But in July my cough returned with an attitude, and I picked up an infection. Not Covid, but it all made me pretty sick. So that you understand, I have what's called "Chronic Cough Syndrome". I've had it since I was 8. No one knows the cause or the cure. Believe me, we've looked. I just start coughing, and after a few months, I stop. It can be treated but I just have to live with it until someone comes up with something we haven't tried before. 

Doctors have gotten into fistfights over whether or not I have Asthma. I don't, but sometimes Asthma medications work for a bit. To be honest, I've had this for so long that sometimes I don't even notice when I cough. It's just part of the wonder of being me.

I took the Pandemic seriously. I stayed home, I socially distanced, I got real familiar with teams, bluejeans, and zoom. I did a LOT of cooking. Started making bread. Watched the country fall apart at the seams and commented on it from my own little pocket of safety. I contributed a new song to a fund-raising effort for nurses. I did my part to stay safe, but my cough had other ideas.

Anyway, this time my coughing got pretty severe and I finally agreed to go to the hospital. As stated above, turns out I had picked up an infection. Combine that with my cough and I showed all of the symptoms of a severe case of COVID-19.

I'd been careful, but the hospital staff were all very cross with me. If I had COVID, I just exposed all of them, and the main nurse who tended to me had already been quarantined that same month for a different exposure. When the test came back negative the tension in the emergency ward calmed down immensely and everyone treated me kindly and professionally - I was a patient with something they knew what to do with and didn't bring plague into their house.

I spent 4 days in the hospital but the worst part, scariest part, was the wait to move from the Emergency Room to a private room. I came to the hospital in the late afternoon. I finally got my bed nearly 12 hours later, a good 8 hours after my test for COVID had come back negative.

I needed to be hospitalized, and needed a bed, and there weren't any. I had to wait for someone to either be discharged or to die.

I got my bed at 4 in the morning. Someone had died. Musical chairs was played and I was finally moved out of the Emergency Room.

It's really hard to understand how sobering that is without experiencing it. Many years ago, before we even knew about AIDS, I had the honor of donating blood and seeing it get used in a surgery mere minutes later. I became a regular blood donor at that moment - I felt so happy and alive that my blood had been used to save a life mere minutes after I had donated it (I'm O Negative) that I became a life-long believer. I donated every time I was eligible from that moment forward until a blood infection disqualified me from ever donating again 20 years later.

This was just the opposite. The guy with a cough and a treatable infection had to wait for someone on a ventilator to stop breathing. Someone with COVID died so that I could get a bed. They never knew this had happened, and I never learned who they were. Some random person died so that I could get better.

Try sleeping after that realization hits you. I couldn't. I barely slept the entire time I was there.

Despite the fact that I wasn't in the "COVID Ward" I got to see the effects first-hand. The newly disinfected bed and room I had was previously occupied by someone moved up to the Covid Ward. They in turn had moved up there after a ventilator was taken away from a patient who died. Staff rotated through different wards on different shifts. My first nurse was rotated into the Covid Ward. My next day nurse had just rotated out. I have never in my life seen a group of people look so haunted by their day to day lives.

A well-liked member of their staff was on a ventilator. So was a priest who worked in the hospital. I had never seen in person a "Code Blue". There were six of them my first day. There is also a "Code Black". It's much worse.

My wife and daughters weren't allowed to visit me. When your daily soundtrack is nothing but medical staff talking about the good and the bad, terrible television and the moaning/screaming of your new neighbors getting that visit from family is a huge stress relief. It wasn't available this time. I didn't see my family again until I was discharged. There was no outside world.

I admit that being in hospital during all of this, even though I myself didn't have COVID, shook me. When you're in hospital mostly what you deal with is yourself and your own condition, and getting the hell out of there as soon as you can. This time I was not only aware of the people around me, their conditions, their suffering and their recoveries, but I was also aware that a whole section of the building was dedicated to people who were going to die, and that the people who were treating me were also treating them.

This was as close as I got to the Pandemic. When I got home I fucking STAYED THERE. I went to the grocery store and the pharmacy and that was it. That was life for MONTHS.

Our grocery store was fantastic - they enforced social distancing and masks with gusto. They cleaned EVERYTHING. It had been a 24 hour store but converted to shorter hours so that the down time could be spent cleaning. Aisles were made one-way.

The first time I saw someone in the parking lot without a mask I have to admit that I lost it. I screamed at them (a white couple about my age), "PUT YOUR FUCKING MASKS ON YOU FUCKING MORONS!" Understand, I'm a fairly large man with a deep voice and have been a professional singer for decades and have played sax even longer. I'm loud and imposing. Everyone within 50 feet turned and stared at the couple. Okay, me first then the couple.

It's possible they didn't speak English. They exchanged a few words in Russian to each other and then masked up.

I've been known to let my temper show. I try not to because I know it's there and I know it's terrible. I've worked for decades to keep it in check and I just let it all out, screaming at a couple of rando Karens 20 feet away from anyone else who hadn't put their masks on yet. I had to acknowledge that this affected me profoundly. I'm dealing with that.

I've lost friends to COVID. One of my neighbors spent almost 3 months on a ventilator and survived it. Some of my friends have lost family. It hurts. It all hurts. It has changed me.

Some of you have noticed that I've been pretty productive in 2021 in terms of music, after not releasing material for over a decade. This whole experience has changed me, changed my perspective. I was already an angry liberal but I'm far angrier and much more liberal now than I was. The album I worked on forever essentially no longer exists. The person I am now couldn't make that album. I am excising demons and allowing the new to come in and take its place.

And you know what, so far, I'm okay. I'm still here. I intend to stay. In fact, what I intend to be the first song from my next album in its own way deals with the fact that I don't understand depression - I've never experienced it. 

But I have to admit that I'm grateful to have family and friends in my life who accept me as I am, who provide unconditional love and support and I hope I do for them. I have the occasional doubt that I'm as good a friend/family member as I can be. I can be an ass sometimes.

(A couple of my long-time friends have just done spit-takes. "Sometimes????")

Because the scariest thing about what we've all been through - what I've been through - is that we have changed so much that I'm not sure that the people who know me best would be my friends if they met me as the person I am now. I am changed.

And the odds are pretty good that you have too. This is something we're all going to need to deal with, or we're lost.

Please, don't be lost. 

And because it still needs doing, because the pandemic is still going strong as ever among the anti-vaxxers, the science deniers and the Republicans, please support our nurses. Here's the album I'm on that is still to this day, long after falling off the charts, raising money for them: