An Open Letter to Whoever Called the Cops on My Band

Dear Whoever Called the Cops on My Band,

Stop it.

We’ve been rehearsing at my house for the past ten years (in various forms), and TWICE in this past year, you’ve called the police on us. It’s not like we’ve been rehearsing late into the night. You’ve been calling before 9:00. Plus, I know you’ve got to be one of my neighbors, and I’ve known you for 28 years…are you telling me that after all that time you can’t do me the courtesy of calling ME before you call the police? I don’t get that.

For the record, the last cop that came by seemed more irritated by YOU than he did by us. He seemed shocked that he was called out at that early hour and he said he didn’t even hear us as he drove up. His exact words were, “Just wanted to let you know one of your neighbors didn’t like it.” I asked him about the noise ordinance (which says we can rehearse until–ahem–TEN o’clock if we want) and he said he still had to come out. So, pretty much you’re just wasting the time of the police at this point, who–frankly–have much better things to do. I mean, what are you expecting them to do? Arrest me for OBEYING the noise ordinance?

Plus…how are you even HEARING us??? We’re not too loud, and we stop by nine at the latest. Unless you’re standing on my porch, you shouldn’t be too bothered by it. Plus, if you’re who I think you are, I’ve got to wonder about your priorities when the words “mobile meth lab” have come up more than once in close attachment to your last name… If you’re just sitting outside on your porch and you hear us…you don’t get to call the police for that. If you can hear us IN YOUR HOUSE, that’s another matter…but you can’t. You’re just being a jerk…and yes, I’m pretty sure it’s you. Or it’s the old guy on the other side…neither one of you has ever been particularly kind to me…and that guy once accidentally broke one of my windows and lied about it, so I’m not thrilled with him either.

Like I said, you could just talk to me about it. Odds are that I’d be pretty receptive and try to practice on a night when you don’t have to go to bed early or whatever the problem is. I’m a pretty nice guy, up until you do something like call the police on me for no good reason. I’m not breaking any laws. I’m not harassing you. I’m not parking in a way that blocks your driveway (and, by the way, I’d appreciate it if you started showing me the same courtesy). I’m just playing with my band…and we actually sound good and are pretty tame. It’d be one thing if Motorhead or the Pixies moved in…but we’re not that.

I’d much rather discuss this with you in person, in a civilized way…but you haven’t given me that opportunity. Even the cop–who, you’ll recall, you irritated–said it came up as anonymous on his screen. So either you’re a coward or you’re just a jerk. Either way, I don’t have any respect for that. Since you’ve addressed me anonymously and embarrassingly, you’ve left me little recourse than to RESPOND anonymously. Unfortunately, my anonymous response does not afford you the public embarrassment of having a police-car pull up into your driveway and making all the (non-jerk) neighbors point and whisper…but at least this lets SOMEONE know that you’re out there, and they know WHAT you are, if not who.

Hope you sleep well,
-Derek

A Christian’s Perspective on "Cursing"

As my long-time reader(s) will know, I sometimes like to play it fast and loose with my vocabulary. Once or twice, this has landed me in some hot water. I’ve never really understood why some people think it’s an original sin to say words they *might* censor on television (depending on which channel you’re watching). I’ve also never figured out why those who ARE offended take so much time to complain about it when there are so many other options of things to watch/read/listen to/do that don’t involve “cursing.” Seems like it takes more energy to get mad about something like that than it does to just change the channel or avoid clicking over to a blog, y’know? …but maybe this is just the George Carlin fan in me talking

People occasionally ask me how I reconcile using “off colour” language with being a Christian. My answer is that I don’t think the former affects the latter, so I don’t have to reconcile anything…but that usually just pisses people off. Instead, I have developed a hermeneutically (look it up) sound theory on language that I base on the way Bible translations are developed. Follow me on this… Here are some examples of how the translators of the Bible have shaped the Greek words of the text into English.

1. There are three Greek words for “love.” One implies lust, or erotic love. One implies fellowship or brotherhood. The last describes perfect, all-consuming love–most frequently used to describe the unconditional love of God. The English translators almost universally have decided to translate the first one in some way to imply “fornication” (though that is not always its intention), often referring to sex as “knowing” someone–and how they arrived at that is anyone’s guess. However, what fascinates me is that the latter two words for “love” are virtually always translated simply as “love” with no mention of their specific connotations–two words with different meanings, translated the same way. This has led to some misconceptions in the Bible. For example, when Jesus re-instates Peter, He–according to the English–asks him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” All three times, Peter replies (essentially) “Yes, You know that I love You.” However, what the English leaves out is that the first two times, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him with the unconditional love of God, and Peter’s actual reply is “Yes, You know that I love You as a brother.” The THIRD time, Jesus asks, “Peter, Do you love me AS A BROTHER” and Peter replies, “Yes, You know I love You as a brother.” This implies that Peter could not say to Jesus that he loved Him with unconditional love, but instead loved Him as a brother. Kind of changes how you view the First Pope, doesn’t it?

2. Another example… Somehow, the English translators created the word “Baptism.” The Greek word for it is “baptitzo” (or a similar such spelling). Sound familiar? That’s because, under the order of King James, they didn’t bother translating the word, but just came up with a word that sounded the same. They invented new language–and don’t get me wrong, that DOES kind of impress me. Why? Because King Henry did not like the meaning of the real word, as he did not practice baptism by immersion, but rather by sprinkling…because the actual Greek word LITERALLY means “to dip, plunge, immerse.” As such, we’ve had arguments about baptism splitting the church for years and years…but not based on the MEANING of baptism (as was argued in the Bible in Corinthians), but rather on the method. Shame.

3. One more example of interesting Bible translation… There has been bitter dispute in the church for many, many years over whether or not there are good, Biblical reasons for divorce outlined in the Bible. What justifies a divorce? Well, people point to Jesus’ words where He says (in the English translations) that the only reason for divorce is “marital unfaithfulness” (meaning one party or another had an affair). The only problem is that Jesus never said that. Jesus used the word “pornea” as the reason for divorce (and, yes, this is where we get our root for “pornography”). Pornea does not translate to mean “marital unfaithfulness.” It translates to mean “idolatry.” Idolatry could mean any NUMBER of things. Unfaithfulness, mistreatment, abuse, loving football more than your wife, her just plain not liking the look of you…this can ALL be idolatry. Once again, language has failed us.

Now, I offer two secular re-workings of language.

1. The word “faggot.” We know this word today to be a hateful word to describe homosexuals, or just as a general term of abuse hurled from one straight person to another, often in good fun. However, this is a word that was born in English, and whose meaning has changed within the lifetime of some of those still walking the Earth. It used to mean “a small bundle of sticks.” It was kindling, used to stoke a fire. If the fire was going out, you’d throw another faggot on the fire. If you do that now, you just piss off the GLAAD people and give Pat Robertson an erection. (Just a side note: I accidentally misspelled that as GLADD a moment ago…Gays and Lesbians Against Drunk Driving, I guess…)

2. The word “ass.” Used to mean donkey. Now it’s your rear-end and/or a sexual euphemism. Shoot, this one’s in the Bible too, actually. My personal favorite is when Abraham instructed his men to stay with his ass as he went up the mountain…and let’s not forget Balaam’s talking ass. In English, we used it to refer either to a donkey, or to refer to someone making a fool (or ass) of themselves. But time has changed that one, too.

So, let’s bring this all together. Both religious and secular culture have agreed that words may be changed, adapted, or even completely ignored in order to express the direct intent of the person speaking–often completely disregarding the original intent of the word and/or the person who spoke it. So…if faggot can mean homosexual and/or sticks…If ass can mean donkey, fool, or butt…If “baptize” can mean sprinkle, immerse, or just be a symbol…if love has only one definition, unless it’s dirty…If all that’s allowable…

What’s so bad about saying “the f-word?”

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“OFFENSIVE” WORD WARNING…THOSE WHO ARE OFFENDED, PLEASE CLICK AWAY NOW

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Wanna know the definition of the “f-word?” Here it is, right from the Webster people:

Main Entry: 1fuck
Pronunciation: \ˈfək\
Function: verb
Etymology: akin to Dutch fokken to breed (cattle), Swedish dialect fókka to copulate
Date: circa 1503

intransitive verb
1 copulate
2 mess

used with with transitive verb
1 to engage in coitus with —sometimes used interjectionally with an object (as a personal or reflexive pronoun) to express anger, contempt, or disgust
2 to deal with unfairly or harshly : cheat, screw

Anybody find any of that offensive? Me either. Hate to burst your copulating bubble mother-cheaters! Mess you for thinking it’s vulgar!

There are Bible-thumping, Alabama ministers who would not even blink at the way I’ve thus-far used the word in this post–after all, all I’ve done is quote the dictionary. I should point out, by the way, that the good people at the dictionary have left out that it can be a verb, noun, adjective, pronoun, adverb, exclamation, etc. etc. It’s actually probably the most versatile word in the English language…and yet it’s the one we’re the quickest to censor. Hmm…chew on that one for about a half an hour.

Why are we offended by words? If it isn’t because of their definition…it must be because of the REASON they’re said. There’s a difference between someone quoting the dictionary, and a guy who cut you off in traffic rolling down his window and shouting “F**K YOU!!!” At least, to me there is…the latter is mean to be hurtful. It’s MEANT to cause offense. The former is just an attempt to prove a point. That’s why I’m comfortable censoring the latter in my post. I don’t mean to cause offense, so I’ve removed the offensive tone. TONE has everything to do with the effect of language. So I say…let’s not censor words, let’s censor tones.

How about this…if George W. Bush (and no, I’m not going to call him any bad names this time) wants to refer to an irritating reporter as a “major league @$$hole” (which he did…on camera…), we’ll go ahead an censor it. He meant to be hurtful. If he comes out for a formal address and says, “We are going to bomb Iraq,” I think we should censor that, too…after all, what hurts more than a bunker-buster to the skull? (But, to be fair, I guess there aren’t a lot of people around who can answer that.) Seems to me that the war in Iraq has caused more bitter dissension between people in the world over the past six years than any use of the word “fuck” has caused in all the time we’ve been throwing it around. It’s also caused more death, I expect.

…however, if Kevin Smith writes the phrase “Who the fuck would pay to see that?” into a script (which he did in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”), I say we let that one go. Tell me…who does that hurt? Who does it imply hatred toward? Why is it offensive? Because of one word that means, in its primary definition, “copulate?” Can’t be that…can it???

Call me crazy, but I’m much more outraged by the ideas of murder, rape, child abuse, spousal abuse, terrorism, and Jimmy Buffett than I am by someone using the word “fuck” instead of “made love” or “oops.” But maybe that’s me.

So…as a Christian (that’s where this started, right?) I have absolutely no problem with “profane” words, because they’re just WORDS. I have a much bigger problem with profane actions…and I’ve based that on scriptural interpretation methods. Even if you want to throw the “taming of the tongue” stuff from the Bible at me, I say they are not specifically talking about “curse” words in that passage (though I can see where you could get that). I’m thinking they’re saying, “Don’t use your words to hurt people.” Go ahead…read it. Show me where it says, “don’t say fuck.” It doesn’t. Doesn’t even imply it, really. (I was going to deal with that text more thoroughly, but this is already long enough, so I’m going to assume you’ll do some of your own work.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would never use certain words in front of the congregation on Sunday morning. That’s not because I think they’re “profane,” but because I recognise that OTHERS think that, and I do not want to offend them…but if I’m hanging out with my band, or just sitting around the house, or even writing on my blog, I may choose to use some of those words because they don’t offend ME, and they don’t offend anyone I’m with (unless I’m using them in a hateful or hurtful way). …and if anyone IS offended, I can easily go to a different room, choose different words…or (GASP!) they can be the bigger person and either cope with it, or click away from the blog-entry. No need to be confrontational about it…

They’re just words.

Top Fifteen Graphic Novels

I’m a big comic book fan, but I’m not the traditional type. I don’t hang around the comic shops every Wednesday waiting for the doors to open so I can grab all the new issues. I wait sometimes YEARS before I get caught up on the coolest plot-lines and stories. That’s because I don’t (usually) buy single issues. I wait for Graphic Novels to come out. Graphic Novels, for those who don’t know, are either collections of multiple issues of a single comic book compiled into one volume, or they are independent stories written specifically for the medium of Graphic Novels. Basically, it’s a comic book BOOK. I buy those because you can have the ENTIRE story in one sitting, and it’s cheaper overall than buying issue after issue. (Plus, no one really cares if you have a Graphic Novel in “mint” condition or not…I’ve always thought that kind of stuff is ridiculous.)

Below is a non-definitive list of fifteen Graphic Novels that I’ve really dug over the years. Some of them are on the list for historic impact…some are just stuff I liked. I was going to do TEN, but I ended up leaving out some really important stuff, and I didn’t have enough for twenty without going with WAY too much Batman…so I landed on fifteen. My opinions change rapidly on stuff like this…but this is where I stand currently. Thought the few comic nerds among you might like seeing this list. Either that or you’ll judge me harshly. Anyway…here we go. (Fair warning, there’s still more Batman than there should be…also the list is in no particular order.)

  • “Bone” by Jeff Smith – This is the series that got me back into loving comics. Smith is a freaking genius, and it’s little wonder that his work has been printed, reprinted, reprinted again, and is now being colorized by Scholastic, who are making a concentrated effort to get his work into school libraries. It’s a sprawling epic in the vein of “The Lord of the Rings” but with significant comedy and less wizards–though only a FEW less. I can’t describe it, exactly. It’s pretty much written with all ages in mind, but it’s got real depth to it. It’s funny, it’s dramatic, it’s gripping. There’s stuff that’ll make you laugh out loud and stuff that’ll just about make you teary. Even if you don’t dig comics, you’ll probably like this book. It’s available in a (HUGE) one-volume edition, if you’re not into collection eight (nine?) full-sized novels…check it out. (I also recommend visiting Jeff’s site/blog at www.boneville.com.)
  • Batman and Dracula: “Red Rain” – No, I’m not kidding. It’s a Batman story with Dracula in it. It’s stupid…but I loved it. It’s exactly what you’d expect, I think. It’s just Batman vs. Dracula…but it’s way more awesome than you want it to be! 🙂
  • Batman: “Hush” – This kind of revived Batman a few years ago. A new villain (“Hush”) is bringing up all kinds of ghosts from Batman’s past. Virtually every major Bat-villain from over the years makes an appearance (or two) and the mystery keeps you guessing, and has some really interesting twists. A little-bit predictable at times, especially if you’re used to how Batman stories work…but still great. Definitely worth the read.
  • Batman: “The Killing Joke” – Yeah, this one’s been mentioned in the news a LOT since Heath Ledger’s death, since it’s one of the books he based his read of the Joker on. It’s quite probably the sickest Batman story ever written and actually accepted as canon. Written by Alan Moore (of “Watchmen” fame) and really twisted. As much as I HATE his take on the Joker’s origin (I mean…he actually NAMED the guy “Joe Kerr” prior to the “accident” – UGH!), it’s an essential read…and the actual post-origin Joker stuff is pretty intense, and almost makes up for that awful, awful pun.
  • “FABLES” – I’m mentioning FABLES as one series, though it’s in multiple paperbacks. The basic premise is “What if the fairy tales were real, and they lived in modern times?” It’s a very adult-orientated telling of what it would be like for all of the heroes and villains from old children’s tales living in one community. It’s actually remarkably sick in places. Sometimes bordering on pornographic. Not for kids…but really gripping for some reason (and not just for the drawings of boobies).
  • “The Quitter” by Harvey Pekar – This tells Harvey’s life-story as a kid. It’s pretty dark in places, but has Pekar’s wit and humor sprinkled throughout as well. Really good read and beautiful art.
  • “Another Day” by Harvey Pekar – This is more in the style of Pekar’s “American Splendor” comics. It’s a bunch of happenings from his life (more recent days than covered in “The Quitter”) and it’s funny. You might have to already be a Pekar fan to really dig it, though…but I’d recommend it even if all you’ve seen is the “American Splendor” movie. Kind of picks up from there.
  • “Infinity Gauntlet” – Okay, as a kid, this was one of the BIG collectibles everyone I knew (including myself) sought after. It was a six-issue run dealing with multiple characters from the Marvel Universe fighting a war for control of the universe. People loved it. It was recently re-released in Graphic Novel form, and I bought a copy thinking it’d be cool to re-live the hype and re-experience the War for Time Itself (or whatever)…and I got to about page three before realizing that I didn’t understand what the hell was going on…but it was significant to me at the time, so it made the list. 🙂
  • Marvel Civil War (Particularly “Frontlines“) – Okay…the ending of the Civil War sucked and made absolutely no sense at ALL. We all know they dropped the ball, and that it was terrible…however, there were some good moments, and the “Frontlines” arc was among them. If you want to see the GOOD version of the “Civil War” I’d recommend getting the “Civil War” title, the ones for Iron Man and Captain America, MAYBE the Spiderman one, and DEFINITELY “Frontlines,” which I’d read immediately following the “Civil War” one. Prepare to be let down by how the war ends…but the story of the “Frontlines” arc makes getting to the letdown kind of worth it.
  • “Watchmen” by Alan Moore – People keep singing Alan Moore’s praises, but I’ve never really gotten it. I think he made ridiculous, terrible decisions with the Joker in “The Killing Joke.” I found “V for Vendetta” incredibly boring. I thought “From Hell” was a good movie, but a terrible book. Even “Watchmen” drags in a LOT of places, and it’s clear that the guy primarily just wants to write stories of perversion and try to fit “adult” themes into comics, whether they belong in that particular narrative or not…but for whatever reason, even though part of me thinks it was a colossal waste of time, I liked “Watchmen.” It’s multi-layered, and there are some really interesting characters. But, in typical Moore fashion, it’s a little bit drag-ass (a new favorite expression of mine) in places, and he does some really, phenomenally STUPID stuff that isn’t at ALL justified coming from the characters as we know them. Read at your own risk, but it’s worth it with the movie coming out soon.
  • Batman: “A Death in the Family” – This is the one where the Joker kills Robin. It’s pretty cool and intense. One of the first times comics were so intense. It’s a little bit dated and there’s some of the old-school cheesiness in there, but the murder scene is so nuts that everything you have to muddle through is worth it. I hear this one caused a rift between DC and Frank Miller (a legend of the genre, who made HUGE strides in keeping Batman interesting). Apparently Miller wanted the Joker to sodomize Robin as he was murdering him, and the DC people told him that was going too far, so he parted ways with them. I don’t know if that story’s true or not, but if it is…uhh…Frank? You know the primary Batman audience at that point, was made up of KIDS, right? Just checking.
  • Alice Cooper: “The Last Temptation” – Okay…I admit, it’s not great…but I enjoyed it. I liked it when it first came out (my brother got the comic along with the first-release of the CD of the same name), and years later when they FINALLY completed it in a re-release, I enjoyed the ending. It’s still out there for purchase, and I recommend it…and no, you don’t have to be an Alice Cooper fan to enjoy it. I will say that the ending kind of chickens-out…but it’s still a good read.
  • X-Men: “House of M” – This re-shaped the Marvel Universe when it came out. Apparently, this hit the stands and people at Marvel actually RESIGNED because they didn’t think they could go anywhere after this story. Anything I tell you about it would have to be BATHED in spoiler warnings, so I’m not going to bother…but I will say that I’ve always been a DC guy, but this got me thinking that Marvel writes better overall stories.
  • Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil!” by Jeff Smith – The Guy who did “Bone” took his hand to Captain Marvel, and it’s really good. It’s bland, and it’s old-school, but it’s a fun read. Don’t expect to be blown away, but if you just want a light, fun read with Smith’s trademark genius, this is a good one.
  • Batman: “The Long Halloween” – This (along with “Year One” and “Dark Victory”) seems to have made up the background for the “Batman Begins” movie. Incredible read that keeps you guessing. A MUST for all Bat-fans.

That’s it… There’s some stuff I probably SHOULD have on the list, like “Blankets” or “Strangers in Paradise.” Only reason that kind of stuff isn’t here is that I just haven’t gotten around to all of it yet, even though I’m quite aware of it. That’s why I qualified the list as “non-definitive.” 🙂

Current Listening:

  • Jackson Cage – self titled first release. Kind of a cool, roots-rock record. I don’t know it that’s the guy’s name or if it’s the BAND’S name and they named it after the Springsteen song (I’ve been listening to it on Rhapsody and I don’t own the physical CD yet)…but if it IS a full band, they picked an accurate name. The Springsteen influence is obvious, and welcomed.

Small Web Note

Just a quick note about DerekBrink.com, which I think will be posted on the main page of the site later today…

Some of you may be aware that I received a report that some links looked weird in Firefox last week. I’m checking into it… So far I’ve only heard that from the one person (thanks again, Jim), and I’ve been checking it out on a number of machines, but haven’t noticed the same error…but the fact that it happened at all worries me, so I’ve contacted the software-people to see if there’s anything I can do to prevent the anomaly.

All that is to say that the stuff that was noted to be “coming the week of June 30!” obviously didn’t go live (mostly because it’s pretty link-heavy, and I don’t want it ALL to look like crap). It should go up THIS week, as I’m expecting whatever problem may or may not be there to be easily corrected, if it even needs to be in the first place…

I’ll tell you what’s going up, though… I’ll be posting the following:

  • Full, record-length commentaries of me listening to my two existing CDs and talking over the music (like a DVD commentary, but with a CD instead).
  • A bunch of audio-downloads of re-dos from the “Grounds” and “Things I Meant to Say” records. These are NOT the album versions, but are instead complete re-imaginings of the songs. Some have completely new melodies. Some just have different vibes to them. I’m even playing piano on a couple of songs! (Think of them as alternate versions, but y’know…free.) I’ll be posting re-workings of “Fall Apart,” “Stranger,” “Battle Cry,” “A Song for Friendship,” “One Man,” “Scars,” “Hands,” “Being There,” …and I’m determining if I want to throw in anything else. That’s eight tunes, and I’m thinking a nice even 10 might be nice, especially since I’m making you wait for it. Might even throw in something new as kind of a preview of the new record, I’m not sure.
  • HOPING to have things fully worked out for the “guitar gallery.” There are some pics that just aren’t looking good when they upload for whatever reason…and of course, they’re my favorite guitars…
  • Should have full record write-ups.
  • A few “Easter Eggs” that you can have fun trying to spot.

So, yeah…that’ll be THIS week… Sorry for the mild delay. I know you’ve all been scheduling your lives around it. Sorry to all those who DIDN’T go out of town over the holiday weekend because they were just sitting in front of their computers hitting “refresh” every hour to make sure they hadn’t missed it.

I’m amazingly delusional.

Current Listening:

  • Still on “Dual Hawks” by Centromatic/South San Gabriel. It’s kind of layered, and you’ve really got to dig into it.
  • Grooving on some Bruce Springsteen, too. He’s coming to STL in August, and I’ve got tickets. First time I’ll be seeing the Boss! 🙂