Dan Slott plays ‘Captain White Privilege’ after Zendaya-MJ casting reported

The announcement on Aug. 18 that Zendaya will play Mary Jane in next summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming spread like wildfire across the internet. It wasn’t long before the usual suspects were attacking anyone who questioned the decision with charges of racism. Dan Slott, the man who once said that Peter Parker’s love for Mary Jane is “anti-Marvel,” joined in the fray to play “Captain White Privilege” (yes, he went there) in his twitter feed.

Since Marvel’s scribe for The Amazing Spider-Man has a habit of sliming long-time Marvel fans with attacks on their integrity, it seemed as if it were time to make a YouTube video on issue. Since Mr. Slott never is a magnet for controversy, I fully expect future installments to follow in the months and years ahead.

Check out the video and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Scott Weiland exits life’s stage too soon, but leaves musical blessings behind

STP concert 2009

In 1992 there was a kid with a chip on his shoulder from Illinois who listened to “Core” by the Stone Temple Pilots for the first time. The attitude and the energy and the raw power exuded from singer Scott Weiland blew the teenager away. There was something truly special about Mr. Weiland, a gift from God wielded with grace and authority that began a life-long love of his work. That kid was me, which is why the news of his death on Friday cast an heavy pall over my mind; it could only be removed by sharing the sincere sorrow.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

Scott Weiland, the charismatic rock vocalist who first gained fame with 1990s rock band Stone Temple Pilots, has died, according to his wife.

The Grammy-winning singer, 48, who struggled with addiction, earned post-Pilots success with the platinum-selling supergroup Velvet Revolver. His cause of death was not immediately available.

His wife, Jamie Weiland, a photographer, confirmed his death to The Times in a brief conversation.

“I can’t deal with this right now,” she said, sobbing. “It’s true.”

Scott Weiland rose to stardom in the 90s, but he wasn’t “of” the 90s. At his best he rivaled David Bowie in terms of his ability to seamlessly experiment with musical styles. He was in a rock band, but he fit in right along Sinatra during the holidays with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” He could do punk, but he often soared with ballads — and no matter what genre he was swimming in from song to song, you always felt as though he was trying to give you a glimpse into the depths of his soul.

Scott Weiland

Life is a lot of things, but part of it involves the slow realization (put beautifully by The Flaming Lips) that everyone you know will one day die. That actually isn’t as pessimistic as it seems — especially if you believe in God — but it can be painful when someone who has touched your life in profound ways passes over to the other side.

I never met Scott Weiland. I never broke bread with him or had a chance to help him wrestle his demons into submission — but he still affected my life in ways most people cannot fathom.

Doug STP concert

If nothing else, this post is a thank you that perhaps Scott can read from the “Great Beyond.”

Thank you for blessing me with your music. Thank you for the memories you helped me create with my sister in our youth and my friends as an adult. And thank you for helping everyone else out there whose problems were temporarily kept at bay by your talent.

We achieve greatness when we grab hold of the potential God has granted within us and manifest it in the physical world. We see the beauty of all souls when we witness those rare individuals who can give us a high-definition musical photograph of their own.

Scott Weiland exited this earth way too soon, but his life’s work left indelible marks in the minds of millions.

Instead of being selfish and cursing God for allowing Scott to leave us early, we should take comfort — the singer’s questions, “What does God look like? And angels’ wings?” have been answered.

Kanye West announces 2020 presidential bid: ‘We da Millennials, bro’

Kanye West 2020Kanye West announced at the MTV Music Awards on Sunday night that he plans to run for president in 2020. Viewers would have saved a lot of time if they had followed the Twitter feed of yours truly.

I wrote on August 12: “America can no longer tell the difference between a political pugilist and a narcissistic peacock. I wonder when Kanye West will run…”

Kanye West campaignI did not say “if” Kanye West will run — I said “when.” The American Idol presidency started with Barack Obama and its mutation now exists in the form of Donald Trump’s current popularity. And, while the future is not linear, one does not need to have mystical gifts of prognostication to see the very real possibility of a Kanye West political campaign.

Mr. West said Thursday:

“We da Millennials, bro. Dis is a new — dis is a new mentality. We not gonna control our kids with brands. We not gonna teach low self esteem and hate to our kids. We gonna teach our kids dat they can be somethin’. We gonna teach our kids that they can stand up for dey self. We gonna teach our kids to believe in themselves. If my grandfather was here right now, he would not let me back down. I don’t know what I’m fittin’ da lose after this. It don’t matta doh, cause it ain’t about me. It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth.

And yes, as you probably could’ve guessed by this moment, I have decided, in 2020, to run for president.

Kanye West 2020: We may not be able to master the English language, but we can master the world! We ain’t fittin’ da lose cause we fittin’ da win, bro!

Sometimes a man needs to hit rock bottom before he realizes that he has a serious problem. On some level I hope that Mr. West launches a serious presidential run with his “new” ideas (that are actually quite old). Maybe then it will sink in with enough people that America is a very sick nation. Or not, and we can continue our embarrassing slide into irrelevance.

Ariana Grande, Ms. ‘I hate America,’ cares about ‘healthy eating’ so much that she licks your doughnuts

Ariana Grande TMZ

It is always interesting to see celebrities whose financial and professional dreams came true in America, who then turn around and bash the country that gave them so much. Today’s example comes in the form of pop singer Ariana Grande, who decided to go into a doughnut shop with her goofy-looking backup dancer boyfriend, lick the food, and then tell him how much she hates the country and its citizens.

TMZ obtained the video and reported on the doughnut-licking, but conveniently left out the “I hate America” part. Telling. Since the click-bait obsessed website decided to leave out the bigger story to protect the singer, I’ll pull from The Hollywood Reporter instead.

Grande was accompanied by three friends, and the footage shows her kissing one of the two men, who also appeared to lick one of the donuts. Grande laughed out loud after he seemingly licked a donut and walked away.

When the shop employee returned with a new tray of donuts, Grande asked, “What the f**k is that?”

“I hate Americans,” she continued. “I hate America.”

As with all celebrities when they get caught saying really mean things about the country that helped make them stars, it was only a matter of time before the “I’m sorry I got caught” apology was released.

Billboard reported the singer’s statement Wednesday:

“I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I’ve always made it clear that I love my country. What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the donuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words. As an advocate for healthy eating, food is very important to me and I sometimes get upset by how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences that it has on our health and society as a whole. The fact that the United States has the highest child obesity rate in the world frustrates me.

We need to do more to educate ourselves and our children about the dangers of overeating and the poison that we put into our bodies. We need to demand more from our food industry. […] That being said let me once again apologize if I have offended anyone with my poor choice of words.

Ms. Grande has yet to explain how licking doughnuts that she has no intention of buying falls in line with her “healthy eating” advocacy, or how her decision to lick those doughnuts was taken “out of context.”

When a woman says “I hate Americans. I hate America,” there really isn’t much to take out of context. It seems as though the “context” that was missing was that the singer meant to say “I hate obese Americans. I hate obese America.”

Notice how she “hates” America, but that hate is fueled by the freedom to choose what, where, and how often we eat particular foods. Ironically, she says it while she is inside a doughnut shop. Maybe next week she can go into a Waffle House and wish that the United States lost World War II.

If I, Douglas Ernst, want to eat a doughnut the size of my head, I should be able to do that without having to worry that the political manifestation of Ariana Grande in Washington, D.C. is writing legislation to limit the size of American pastries.

A woman who simply cares about healthy eating does not say “I hate America” when she sees a doughnut. Ms. Grande’s outburst was an indicator that many more hostile thoughts about her country lurk just beneath the surface. The next time Ms. Grande uses her social media soapbox to preach about public policy issues, remember the time she said she “hates” America. Then, do more homework on the issue somewhere else.

Bono channels G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis to affirm his faith in Christ

Bono on JesusIt’s not often that a giant rock star gives an interview where he unflinchingly affirms his belief in Christ. That is exactly what U2’s Bono did during a March 2014 interview that is making the rounds again just in time for Easter. However, what is perhaps most interesting is how Bono appears to be well-versed in the writings of G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis.

Here is what Bono said in his interview with RTE One’s Gay Byrne, which comes across at times like an FBI interrogation or a courtroom cross examination:

Bono: I think it’s a defining question for Christian. Who was Christ? I don’t think you’re let off easily by saying a great thinker or great philosopher because, actually, he went around saying he was the Messiah. That’s why he was crucified. He was crucified because he said he was the Son of God. So, he either, in my view, was the Son of God — or he was nuts. Forget rock-and-roll messianic complexes. This is, like, I mean Charlie Manson-type delirium. And I find it hard to accept that all the millions and millions of lives, half the Earth, for 2,000 years have been touched, have felt their lives touched and inspired by some nutter. I don’t believe it.

Byrne: So therefore it follows that you believe he was divine?

Bono: Yes.

Byrne: And therefore it follows that you believe that he rose physically from the dead?

Bono: Yes. I have no problem with miracles. I’m living around them. I am one.

Byrne: So when you pray, then you pray to Jesus?

Bono: Yes.

Byrne: The risen Jesus?

Bono: Yes.

Byrne: And you believe he made promises that will come true.

Bono: Yes. I do.

Friendly note to Bono: Your observation is actually more awe-inspiring than you originally thought because billions — not just millions — have been touched by the words of Christ. Regardless, here is what G.K. Chesterton said when “The Everlasting Man” was published in 1925:

“If Christ was simply a human character, he really was a highly complex and contradictory human character. For he combined exactly the two things that lie at the two extremes of human variation. He was exactly what the man with a delusion never is; he was wise; he was a good judge. What he said was always unexpected; but it was always unexpectedly magnanimous and often unexpectedly moderate.

Take a thing like the point of the parable of the tares and the wheat. It has the quality that united sanity and subtlety. It has not the simplicity of a madman. It has not even the simplicity of a fanatic. It might be uttered by a philosopher a hundred years old, at the end of a century of Utopias. Nothing could be less like this quality of seeing beyond and all round obvious things, than the condition of an egomaniac with the one sensitive spot in his brain. I really do not see how these two characters could be convincingly combined, except in the astonishing way in which the creed combines them.” — G.K. Chesterton.

Here is what C.S. Lewis said when “Mere Christianity” was published in 1952:

“Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is “humble and meek” and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level of a man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” — C.S. Lewis.

Chesterton and Lewis beautifully articulate the case before us: either Christ was who he said he was, or he was insane. But, as they both keenly observe, even his biggest detractors generally regard him as a profound thinker and a beacon of light whose example we should all follow.

Think of how many great men and women there were throughout all history, whose names are forgotten within weeks, months, or at most a few decades after they’ve passed away. Then consider Jesus, who for over 2,000 years has captivated the world and changed billions of lives — even those who don’t believe his claims. Like G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, a modern Irish rock star named Bono, and billions of other individuals throughout the course of history, I firmly believe he was exactly who he claimed to be.

Beyoncé’s 7/11 vs. Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude — listen to Western Civilization’s decline

Beyonce 711“Feminist” Beyoncé has a new single out, 7/11, which means that her legions of fans have already flocked to it. Nothing screams “female empowerment” like rolling dice off a woman’s butt and mugging for the camera in your underwear, but this post isn’t about that. It’s about listening to the decline of Western Civilization in action. All you have to do is listen to about 30 seconds of “7/11” and, say, Bach’s rendition of “Jesu, meine Freude” to actually hear what the death spiral of a civilization sounds like.

BachCompare the two works. First, Beyoncé:

Contemplate the lyrics:

Legs movin’ side to side, smack it in the air
Legs movin’ side to side, smack you in the air
Shoulders sideways, smack it, smack it in the air
Smack it, smack it in the air
Legs movin’ side to side, smack it, smack it in the air
Smack it, smack it in the air

Then, Bach:

Contemplate the lyrics:

Jesu, meine Freude (Jesus, my joy)
Unter deinem Schirmen (Beneath your protection)
Trotz dem alten Drachen (I defy the old dragon)
Weg mit allen Schätzen (Away with all treasures)
Gute Nacht, o Wesen (Good night, existence)
Weicht, ihr Trauergeister (Go away, mournful spirits)

How can anyone close their eyes, listen to both pieces of music, think about Beyoncé’s popularity, and not objectively conclude that it is one small bit of evidence that we are collectively spinning down a cultural drain?

Beyonce 711 DiceThis is not me bashing all contemporary music. There is plenty of good music out there. This is me saying that if you consider Beyoncé’s record sales, her $115 million payday for 2014, and the millions of fans who are ecstatic over “smack it, smack it in the air,” then it is hard not to conclude that strange days lie ahead.

This is not me saying that the only music worth listening to is classical. This is me asking you to listen to where we once were and listen to where we are now. This is me asking if you can listen to both creative efforts and honestly deny that Beyoncé’s degrades and debases the soul into an embarrassing spectacle while Bach’s stirs it to strive for greatness.

Beyonce 711 smack itWe sit around and wonder why women like Kim Kardashian are famous for exposing themselves while we listen to songs like Beyonce’s 7/11. We incredulously wonder how it is that a woman can easily tape herself getting cat calls while walking through the streets of New York, while we collectively cheer Beyoncé’s objectification of herself and others — to the tune of millions of YouTube downloads.

That, “meine freude,” is classic.

Foo Fighters ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’: Time to talk about the line between self-congratulation and charity

Foo Fighters Ice Bucket ChallengeThe “Ice Bucket Challenge” has made millions of dollars for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) awareness, which is a good thing, but at some point in time celebrities got involved and the need to “one up” the next guy began. Something pure was altered, and with many people (I make no claims as to the Foo Fighters’ motivations) the event seems to have turned into narcissism masquerading as charity. Perhaps the best case study in examining the line between self-congratulation and charity goes to the Foo Fighters.

Spin Magazine wrote Aug. 19 in a post headlined ‘Foo Fighters Spoof ‘Carrie’ for Best ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Yet’:

“Several alt-rockers, including Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready, have already taken part in the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge, but few clips have been as inspired as the one that Dave Grohl posted today to the Foo Fighters’ Facebook page. […] The video is inspired by King’s high-school horror film Carrie, but instead of pig blood, Grohl is simply doused in very cold water. And instead of killing all of his peers using telekinetic powers, he spreads joy, laughter, and awareness of a poorly understood degenerative disease to those who might watch the clip. It’s all quite silly and heartwarming and, hey, it features Dave Grohl in a prom dress.”

Since when did the “Ice Bucket Challenge” double as a contest of creative wits?

  • Buzzfeed’s reaction: ‘Go Home Everybody, The Foo Fighters Have Won The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge With Their “Carrie” Remake.’
  • The Huffington Post concurred: Foo Fighters’ ‘Carrie’ Sendup Just Won The Ice Bucket Challenge
  • From the Daily Dot: The Foo Fighters’ ice bucket challenge video is bloody brilliant
  • Rolling Stone warps the intent ever further: ‘Foo Fighters Turn Ice Bucket Challenge Into Epic ‘Carrie’ Tribute

Pride loves the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge.’ When a charitable event becomes about who “wins” or who is the most “brilliant,” then something has gone wrong. When the headlines zero in on how “epic” your “Carrie” tribute was as instead of how “epic” it would be to cure ALS, then something has gone wrong.

Foo Fighters ALSIt is a joyous thing that the Foo Fighters’ effort will result in more donations for a good cause. I would much rather live in a world run by the eager participants of an ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ than a world run by Islamic terrorists who behead American photojournalists. However, it is probably a good idea if everyone stepped back and objectively asked themselves what it says about our culture that charitable causes need to contain such a stark “Look at me!” element in order to go viral.

Thank you, Foo Fighters, for donating to a good cause. And thank you to everyone whose acts of kindness are only known to them and God.

Andrew W.K. channels G.K. Chesterton in reply to ‘Son of A Right-Winger’

Almost four years ago I wrote a piece titled ‘The Andrew W.K. Conservative: Scaring elitists everywhere’. While I don’t know his voting history, I said then and still maintain that he is “rugged, witty, down and dirty, but dangerously intelligent.” I do not necessarily use ‘dangerous’ as a pejorative, either. Blessed with top-shelf raw material in the smarts department, Andrew appears to use it to build others up instead of tear others down.

In a recent “Ask Andrew W.K.” for the Village Voice, the artist was sent a letter by “Son of a Right-Winger.” His response is classic.

First, the letter:

Hi Andrew,

I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all. I don’t have any good times with him anymore. All we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking politics or discussing any current events, there’s still an underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

Thanks for your help,
Son of A Right-Winger

Now, the response:

Dear Son of A Right-Winger,

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict. …

When we lump people into groups, quickly label them, and assume we know everything about them and their life based on a perceived world view, how they look, where they come from, etc., we are not behaving as full human beings. When we truly believe that some people are monsters, that they fundamentally are less human than we are, and that they deserve to have less than we do, we ourselves become the monsters. […] This is the power of politics at its most sinister.

Some people might say that Andrew is putting forth a kind of moral relativism that says “there is no point to having a debate.” I do not believe that is the case. I think that he’s tapping in to a mentality that used to go “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” We all have our own ideas on what constitutes “right” and what constitutes “wrong.” We tell people they “ought” to do this, but “ought not” to do that. However, we used to be able to have spirited discussions without letting politics poison our souls — and by extension our relationships with family and loved ones.

Regular readers know that this very blog has undergone a shift in tone and the type of content I tend to favor in recent years. That is because, like Andrew, I believe that it is very easy to allow “politics at its most sinister” to take root and grow like weeds resistant to the best pesticides.

Here is what I said in June, 2013:

The world’s elite would rather have you playing XBox and looking at pictures of animals on the Internet than looking into “God” or “Source” or “Enlightenment,” because when you do that everything melts away (perhaps literally, but that’s a discussion for another time). The sickest thing may be that the elite even enlisted many of your friends and family to do their dirty work for them. Is it possible to convince a prisoner to lust over his own chains? Yes.

Someone who looks within and then turns that eye back on the material world can see the charade. You have been trained to play with the anger and hate and resentment that resides on some level in all of us like a kitten with string.

There are many ways to break free from the mind-forged manacles we’ve willingly fastened in place. Without much effort, you can find many inspirational figures online who are willing to discuss this journey. I happen to believe that real change only comes from looking inward, so here now is my challenge to you:

For one year — every day — actively look for ways to give of yourself. If there’s a man on the street corner asking for change, give it to him. If you think he’s scamming people, give him some money or food anyway. If you have an opportunity to give someone a genuine compliment, do it. Call up (or text if you must) an old friend and remind them of something nice they once did for you years ago; tell them you still think about it and are thankful for what they did. Make someone feel good. Be the light in your office environment or at school or in your immediate family. There are any number of ways you can give of yourself or perform a kind gesture. The key is to make a conscious decision every day to take advantage of — or create — such opportunities.

It is possible to create a world that is more in tune with God’s plan for all of us, but all too often individuals become devils trying to make it happen.

I do not know if Andrew W.K. is a religious man, but what he is essentially getting at (whether he realizes or not), is what Christianity has always done: to balance, as G.K. Chesterton once said, “furious opposites.”

G.K. Chesterton wrote in “The Paradoxes of Christianity”:

“Thus, the double charges of the secularists, though throwing nothing but darkness and confusion on themselves, throw a real light on faith. It is true that the historic Church has at once emphasized celibacy and emphasized the family; has at once (if one may put it so) been fiercely for having children and fiercely for not having children. It has kept them side by side like two strong colors, red and white, like the red and white upon the shield of St. George. It has always had a healthy hatred of pink. It hates that combination of two colors which is the feeble expedient of the philosophers. It hates that evolution of black into white which is tantamount to dirty grey. In fact, the whole theory of the Church on virginity might be symbolized in the statement that white is a color: not merely the absence of a color. All that I am urging here can be expressed by saying that Christianity sought in most of these cases to keep two colors coexistent but pure.”

A Christian understands the importance of balancing “furious opposites,” and as such he should be able to find a way to live in peace and harmony with a father who is a “right winger” or a “left winger,” a Democrat or a Republican. It can and should be done. While my own blueprint for achieving that end comes from the Catholic Church, in this instance I readily acknowledge that we can all learn something from Andrew W.K.’s response to this Village Voice reader. I will not, however, be petitioning my local church to play its own rendition of “Party Hard” during mass.

Kudos to Andrew W.K. for imparting good advice to a young man who needed it. I look forward to reading future installments of “Ask Andrew W.K.”

Editor’s note for regular readers: As many of you know, I have been working on a book in addition to juggling personal and professional responsibilities. If you are a fan of “G.K. Chesterton” or the idea of balancing “furious opposites,” then I think you may enjoy my project when it is complete. I will continue to keep you updated on its progress. It is coming along quite well. Some of the research needed in order to create credible characters has slowed the process down, but I believe the investment in time will pay off.



Eddie Vedder: Kids dying saves me the trouble of wishing it upon gun-owning Pearl Jam fans

Eddie Vedder Pearl Jam guns

I have been a Pearl Jam fan since the early 90’s. I’ve seen countless shows. I’ve spent gobs of money buying PJ’s albums. I’ve written glowing reviews of documentaries about the band. I’ve found ways to promote its videos through my blog. And so, I find it rather odd that Eddie Vedder goes out of his way to say incredibly mean things about me, my friends and all the other Pearl Jam fans out there who also happen to be staunch defenders of the Second Amendment.

Here is what Mr. Vedder said in an interview with professional surfer Mark Richards:

“I get so angry that I almost wish bad things upon these people,” Vedder said. “But I don’t have to because it seems like they happen anyways. It seems like every week I’m reading about a 4-year-old either shooting their sister, their dad, their dog, their brother or themselves, because there’s fucking guns laying around. But I guess it’s ‘fun.'”

Break down Vedder’s logic, and what you get is a man who is so angry that he can’t even see how twisted he is. “I don’t have to” wish sorrow and misery upon people who disagree with me because there are enough bad things already happening to them that I can sit back and stew in my schadenfreude with like-minded surfers. Vedder essentially admits that dying children are a sick salve that soothes his inner frustration and prevents his mind from traveling down darker roads of intention.

If the members of Pearl Jam really want to change minds, do they think Eddie Vedder musing on the “bad things” that he “almost” wants to happen to gun owners will accomplish that goal? Is “almost” wishing pain and misery on someone like being “almost” pregnant? One could argue that divorce wreaks more havoc on society’s children than hand guns ever will, but I would never “almost” wish that upon those who I disagree with on social issues.

Perhaps even more bizarre is that Mr. Vedder can not see that his opposition to guns might stem from his own personal demons; he wants laws meant for mentally unstable individuals that he would apply to himself to now apply to an entire population of law-abiding Americans.

“If I didn’t have music to kind of at least get some of the aggression out or take the edge off, you wouldn’t want me having a gun either.”

Now we get to the heart of the matter: Eddie Vedder doesn’t trust himself with a gun. He has weird aggression issues, so the rest of us should pay the price with thousands of new local, state and federal regulations to pile on top of the thousands that are already in existence.

Question for Mr. Vedder: Are guns or NSA programs supported by gun-control advocate Sen. Diane Feinstein more dangerous to the nation? I would argue that the woman who a.) wants to limit access to guns on a large scale while b.) simultaneously arguing that she must spy on innocent Americans because they “might” become a terrorist “in the future,” deserves more of Pearl Jam’s attention than me — the former Army guy who loves his country and believes in the rule of law.

Finally, I’ll refrain from commenting at length about Mr. Vedder’s assertion that “90%” of the population want new gun laws, when it can be debunked with one question: “How many politicians do you know who would vote against a bill that 90% of their constituents supported?”

I really wanted to get excited about Pearl Jam’s new album. I was hoping to catch a show with my brother or my wife. Since Eddie Vedder had decided that needlessly alienating long-time fans is going to be a part of his promotional strategy, I think I’ll be sitting this one out. Sad.

STP’s ‘Out of Time’ featuring Chester Bennington: Imagine a tank driven by lions

Chester Bennington STP

What does it feel like to cheat on someone you love? If you’re a fan of Scott Weiland, it’s probably a lot like listening to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington take the lead for the Stone Temple Pilots. When I first heard the new single ‘Out of Time’ I felt a little dirty; STP has and always will be Scott Weiland’s band to me — but Bennington is so darn good that I’ve crossed over to the dark side. I would plunk down serious change to see them live. In the end I hope Weiland returns, at which time so will I. Ewoks will sing and it will be awkward.

For years, Scott Weiland has struggled with drug problems, and it’s affected the band. I’m not sure who is to blame (I’m sure there’s plenty to go around) but STP haven’t felt inspired in years. ‘Out of Time’ sounds like a tank rolling through the desert that’s being driven by growling lions. As a friend of mine said, “They sound hungry.” Indeed.

Here’s one of the reasons. Rolling Stone Reports:

In a statement, Bennington expressed his admiration for the band, which is in part how this collaboration came about. “I’ve loved STP since I was 13 years old and they’ve had a huge influence on me,” explained Bennington. “When the opportunity came up to do something creative with them, I jumped at the chance. The guys in Linkin Park have been incredibly supportive of me undertaking this project while I’ve continued to work on new music with LP.”

A friend of mine said that Bennington, these days, “does a better Weiland than Weiland.” I also found a similar comment in the Rolling Stone message boards. It’s a sentiment I agree with and, on some level, the lyrics to ‘Out of Time’ seem to be created as a wake up call for the singer:

Longing is the animal inside you when you bleed
Suffering is critical in finding what you need
Deliverance is evidence there’s more than what you say
Pain is there the moment that you wake up from your dreams

Oh, I know you can’t hide
Oh, when you look inside yourself
You’ve got to cross that line
Yeah, you’re running out of time

Loneliness is beautiful, it leads you home again
Happiness is overrated, joy is infinite
Liberate the hate you feel before it’s permanent
Smile when it hurts, it works like mother’s medicine

Oh, I know you can’t hide
Oh, when you look inside yourself
you’ve got to cross that line
Yeah, you’re running out of time

You’ve got to learn your lesson to see what you’ve been missing
You’ve got to cross that line

Yeah, you’ve got to look inside
Yeah, it’s time that you decide
Yeah, you’ve got to cross that line
Yeah, you’re running out of time

Beautiful! When we look inward and attempt to honestly examine what’s there we can not lie. That is why so many people spend so much time trying to keep themselves busy. They will do anything they can to keep themselves from having to perform the tough task that is introspection.

Video games. Shopping. Drinking. Eating. Exercise. Sex. Drugs. Work. All of these things and many more are used in excess to prevent individuals from sitting in the silence of solitude to figure out who they really are and where they want to go. And all of us — not just Scott Weiland — are “running out of time.”

“Happiness” in terms of that which the material word brings about is fleeting. It does not last. And when it runs out, most people look to fill it up with the same sugary goods over and over again. An honest self-evaluation is always painful, but it is “critical in finding what you need,” as Bennington’s lyrics point out.

I hope that when Scott Weiland is done trashing his apartment that he acknowledges what a masterstroke this was on the part of the DeLeo brothers and says, “Touché.” My fear is that instead of responding positively, he will once again choose the dangerous path, as he’s done since the 1990’s.

Regardless, I tip my hat to STP. ‘Out of Time’ is hands-down evidence that there’s still plenty of juice left in its engine. I’m looking forward to further collaborations between STP and Chester Bennington.