Addendum

SJC has in fact pulled out a second sailing for 2018.

You know what? Good! Yes, I am in fact glad to see it. Because this means that there is, in fact, sufficient demand and if enough people on waitlist have put down their deposits – which they did – then the production is doing better than I originally gave it credit for.

And I’m glad to hear that.

HOWEVER. My original post, and my original point, still stand: the SJC production definitely, 100% needs to add new artists.

There are more than enough new artists to spice up the sailing lineup. It’s long, long, long past time to introduce new artists to an audience that, obviously, doesn’t know of them, if they keep voting in the same people time in and time out. There is no genre on music that can sustain itself with the same artists: it doesn’t work. Even classical music, which typically does not have a younger-age following, has an influx of younger musicians. These younger musicians, in turn, pull in their peers for the show.

Jazz needs to survive, and because it’s a genre that thrives on originality, on improvisation, on off-the-wall wild creativity, having the same lineups year in a year out does. not. work.

And the SJC, while not the only jazz cruise on the water, is probably the longest-running smooth/contemp jazz cruise production on the water. And frankly, I expect better from it than just the same people day in and day out.

So come on, SJC. Unroll the rest of ’em.

K.G.

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We Need Another Wickersham Commission

A decade ago, I was in college studying criminal justice, because I wanted to be an attorney. Also, last year, when I was in college, I wanted to write my first sci-fi book, which ended up directly bringing me to where I am now.

At the time, I didn’t know that I would quit the criminal justice track and never look back, and in retrospect, in light of now, especially, with police officers declaring open season on black men – seriously: two back-to-back shootings and a lynching in GA on top of that is little else, and no, I will not stop calling things what they are – I am glad beyond belief that I left that track of my life.

Criminal justice, for those who don’t know, is a blend of history, psychology, law, management structure, and legal procedure study. It’s perfect if one is determined to become a prosecutor, a judge, or a cop. The four tracks that go from that particular field is 1. Academia, 2. Psychology, 3. Law, or 4. Public service.

Here’s the other thing for those of you who aren’t familiar with it: “broken windows” policing is basically the primary thing foisted into those who go into this field of study. There’s a brief methodic on how proactive and preventive policing is more effective than reactive policing (which is the primary practice today), but the broken windows thing is shoved onto people from the beginning. Even if you will know, from experience, that “broken windows” is BS, and this approach to any police department does more harm than good, guess what: it’s still the first thing you learn in crim-j classes. And in the police academy, too.

Real world living made me see that it is BS. Seeing a disproportionate slant against people of color by the NYPD, the “stop and frisk” which rarely, if ever, targeted anyone white, seeing the incidents of police killing unarmed black individuals steadily rise not just in NY but in the general world, and seeing cops in my own neighborhood harass high-school kids and threaten them with arrest – high-school kids! who were doing no more than what any high-school kid did 15 years ago! – more and more cured me of any thought that the criminal justice system was equal and equally applied. To even think that right now, after seeing what the world became is almost laughable in its idealism. 

But here’s one nugget of history that did stay with me since college, one that should stand out for you, because it exposed a lot about police departments of 1929: The Wickersham Commission.

Short version: we all know what the Prohibition was. Alcohol was illegal, and then the stock market completely collapsed not long after this commission’s report was released, which was when the world needed a nice strong drink. But digressing, and back to the point: enforcing the law of the Prohibition was next to impossible. The average Americans had nothing but contempt for the Prohibition, and the Commission was formed to investigate the lapses in law enforcement.

The report was damning. Police corruption was exposed left and right, police technology was woefully outdated in too many respects, and the report exposed mob ties as well.

What, you ask, does this all have to do with the current state of affairs? What does a commission on exposing corruption in the 1920s could have possibly anything to do with the police lynchings going on today?

Because it’s ripe time to clean house with the police departments again, and we need another Wickersham Commission-type investigation to expose what’s going on behind the scenes. From training to handling complaints against officers. All of it. 

Already, we know that the cop who shot Alton Sterling had multiple investigations for excessive force. Why was he allowed to stay on the job? Again: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s sure as hell not a goose. Someone with multiple excessive force complaints should not be out in the field – period. I don’t give a damn if he’s cleared: if more than three people who aren’t related or connected all say the exact same thing, there’s a very high chance that they’re telling the truth. Balance of probability/law of averages.

Already, we had a warning from the FBI about white supremacists infiltrating the police departments. We ignored it. This is the direct result. Why are police academy and applicants not screened for ties to white supremacist groups? It’s as easy as a Facebook search. Anonymous, the hacktivist group, already exposed multiple KKK members in the country’s police departments. Do they still have jobs? If so, then why do they?

We see police officers who are involved with these shootings all pull out the trope of “I was afraid for my life” – even with 12-year-old Tamir Rice. They back up their completely irrational fear with the same racist tropes against black men that have been perpetrated since the post-Civil War era. If they’re that afraid for their lives and hold these views, then perhaps they should find a different job. If a twelve-year-old boy with a BB gun scares them to where they have to shoot to kill, then they need to not interact with the public. If they are former military and still think their everyday lives are a war zone, the last thing they need is a job where they are carrying guns. 

We know broken windows policing doesn’t work. Why is this the first thing that is being taught in criminal justice classes? Is it also part of Academy training?  What are these police cadets learning? Why is this not audited? 
What we need is to, once again, collectively, expose and clean house when it comes to police departments, and we need to do so in a thorough a manner as possible. If it means that the UN will spearhead this commission – please! Go ahead. Because at this point, I truly cannot trust, especially with the GOP holding court until this year’s elections, that such a commission will bring forth any sort of results if it’s headed by US citizens or residents. Why? GOP.

While it’s never a good idea to assume, I nearly always make the assumption that if someone is an elected official in the GOP today, they’re likely a racist. Yes, I’m aware that not every Republican is a racist, but every racist is a Republican. And right now, they’re bought, paid for, and armed by the NRA, and they’re in the majority in both parts of Congress. This makes it imperative that a commission to investigate the US police departments is comprised of people who are not part of the US body of government or leadership.

This is why I want an outside agency to spearhead this sort of an investigation in the country’s police departments. Because, obviously, the US has failed, on a very basic, fundamental level, if this is what we’re seeing. It failed on a human level. It failed on a life level, because in this country, people are still not allowed to ask the police to stop killing them without the police continuing to do exactly that, or the “all lives matter” crowd to yeah-but their arguments.

This is why I say: re-establish a Wickersham Commission 2.0 to target racism, white supremacy, and corruption within every police department in the country.

Yes, I know how expensive an undertaking like this is. But tell me: how expensive are human lives? What’s the monetary value of somebody’s father? Son? Brother? Husband? Wife, mother, daughter, sister? A friend? And tell me now that the cost of establishing an auditing commission is somehow more important than saving lives. 

I’m white, and it astounds me that more white people don’t have a huge problem with the way that the police has been treating the black population. Do they not realize that their children are every bit as likely to be targeted? All it takes is the wrong cop, all it takes is one wrong word before bullets fly, lives are gone, and someone has to arrange a funeral. And there are way too many wrong cops, who don’t like their authority questioned, and to them it doesn’t matter who their target is. White people, know this: you have twice the onus to speak against the systemic racism in this country. If you are not protesting this, speaking against it, you’re as good as complicit.

And one more thing: time to criminalize white supremacy groups. It’s a hundred years past time to make the KKK, etc. a bad memory. Don’t even begin to trot out “freedom of speech” – at no point is speech supposed to put lives in danger, and at no point is propagation of your views supposed to come at the expense of others. Hate should never be protected or tolerated.

How did Germany make amends post-Nazism and Holocaust? They banned and criminalized all associations with Nazism. The swastika in Germany is a symbol of hate and grounds for immediate arrest. The shame in Germany’s history runs deep for ever having allowed the Holocaust to happen. Where is such shame in the US for slavery and the Civil War? It doesn’t exist. Some people in this country still, to this day, delusionally believe that the Confederate flag is a symbol of “heritage” and conveniently  divorce the heritage from the ugliness that that heritage actually carries. There was an actual fight to keep a Confederate flag flying. The KKK was an organization directly rooted from the remnants of the Confederacy that were not okay with losing the Civil War and never got over the fact that they could no longer own people with dark skin. This is the “heritage” that the Confederates created, and this is what some people in this country are actually proud of.

I think that, like Germany, the US can do with criminalizing white supremacy groups. Instead of allowing people to be proud of being racists, it should shame them. It should shame them into the ground and ensure they never get back up again. It should make membership in the KKK an imprisonable offense. It should enforce the laws that require any symbol of the Confederacy to be treated as treason. And maybe, maybe then, it can see better days. 

Maybe. 

My faith in humanity is quite low today. 

K.G. 

 

 

Posted in The Usual

The Coat Theory

People ask me sometimes: why do you even keep a blog if you don’t like being watched? Why even go online or be public?

Because, once in a while, and lately more than usual, someone will reach out to me and say, “This post you wrote was powerful, and I love what you’re saying.” They tell me that that post helped them. That it made their lives easier. Or it made them laugh. Or think differently.

THAT is why I keep a blog. At first it was a method of promoting myself and my books. The books took a slight back burner to my photography, but I still need to write; it’s the only outlet that lets me articulate the chaos that often goes on inside my head. But most importantly, I write because I know that reading something powerful can sometimes make all the difference – as a reader, I know it well, and as a writer, I strive to help someone.

Please remember: no one who goes online or who goes online publicly ever does so to provide looky-loos with free entertainment. People go online for their own purposes, and their own reasons.

And I’m now finding out that the post I wrote about depression, The Coat Theory, has had a much, much more reaching effect than I ever thought it would. And it’s feedback like this that reminds me why I keep it public in the first place. Because someone comes back and tells me, “This post helped SO much, and SO many.”

And here it is again. For you guys. For anyone who may ever find use for it. Please refer people here.

Improvisations on Reality

Revisiting this topic on the anniversary of Robin Williams’s passing.
It’s taken me quite a long while to get this post together, so please bear with me.

At the time I wrote the original piece, I didn’t even think that this is the caliber of impact that that post would have. I speak of the long treatise on talking about depression, linked here.

I don’t even remember how I came up with the analogy the first time, but let’s talk about the condition of depression as a coat.

The Theory

Let’s make this an exercise. Look into your closet. Look at the heaviest possible coat that you have. Feel free to even put it on for a moment, just so you know how the weight of it feels.

Now imagine that it’s alive. Imagine that it has a purpose, and its purpose is to break you. Imagine that it’s heavy, heavier than…

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Posted in The Usual

Seriously? Is that the best you can do, SJC?

So I got the email where Dane Butcher, the cruise director, announced the voted-in headliners for the Smooth Jazz Cruise, which is setting out for its 15th anniversary and 20th overall sailing.

It was a huge disappointment. Why? Same people! Again with Peter White, Candy Dulfer, Brian Culbertson. Rick Braun. Same. Exact. Thing.

If this is the case, then here’s one little question to the SJC:

Why. The hell. Did you bother. To hold a vote.

Seriously. Why did you bother to hold a vote when you are just going to have the same headliners anyway? And moreover…what in the world are the fans of your production thinking?

If ever there’s been a reason to facepalm, now is the time. I feel like I’m screaming into a wind tunnel when I call out for new artists, and this is pretty much the reason why. I cannot possibly tell you just how absolutely, incredibly, infuriatingly frustrating it is to keep seeing the exact same thing recycled day in and day out. The SJC’s new artist spectrum has, historically, been scant. Apart from perhaps Grace Kelly and Vincent Ingala, and if memory serves me right, Eric Darius, and Julian Vaughn, I don’t recall seeing many of the new artists on the cruise the past 6 years.

Do I really have to explain it that no genre is capable of surviving with the same thing and the same people being cycled in day in and day out? Because honestly, I thought we’ve been over that.

But you know something, it seems like I just might have to explain it, because if these were the headliner choices by the public, then the collective smooth jazz fan base needs a massive smack upside the head.

People, seriously. Right now you’re just ruining the genre by refusing to sample new music, and I direct this to both the fans who keep voting for the same artists, and to the people who produce shows that have a more than 70% recycle rate for the lineups year to year.

Let’s make one major point clear:

Choosing new artists and bringing new artists on board is not a slight against the current headliners, and you are definitely not helping by deliberately shutting out new talent.

Besides, because they’re headliners in what seems to be every major event in the genre, does it really hurt them if they don’t headline X or Y for a change?

And while you’re over there going “Well, these new artists need to draw better crowds” – they already do draw crowds, and you’re part of the problem if you’re not voting them on the big stages. You’re actually already part of the problem by having that attitude in the first place, because you’re expecting artists who are all but deliberately shut out of the genre to suddenly generate crowds like the headliners without even acknowledging your responsibility to hear them and be part of the crowds you want them to draw. If you keep bitching about how they don’t draw, why don’t you provide them a stage and marketing to help them draw? It’s a two-way street.

Explain to me please: how are they supposed to draw headliner-worthy crowds if 1. the crowds they should be drawing are comprised of you and people like you, and 2. You are the ones not giving them the time of day? Yes, that’s right, I’m saying it: you’re shutting the new artists out of the genre. It’s A-OK for them to make new music for you, it’s A-OK for them to plan and rehearse and deliver a show that’s on par if not better than the headliners, but not OK for some reason for them to get a spot on a big production because you’d rather have the same laundry list and deliberately shut them out? Because the promoters who shut out new artists are always the quickest ones to say “Oh, that guy doesn’t draw” – and the fans believe it.

Fans, please understand this: your headliners are not going anywhere! Peter White will still have a spot on the SJC. So will Brian Culbertson.Would it kill to have Jazmin Ghent on board? Would it be so awful if Tony Exum Jr. and Dee Lucas took their Grover and George show on a cruise? Matt Marshak wins everyone over at any show he plays; why not double-bill him with JJ Sansaverino and toss him onto a ship? Or Phil Denny, who can easily pair up with Steve Cole and square off newfangled Detroit funk and entrenched Chicago cool. There’s more out there than just the same laundry list.

Now look. Not for nothing, but I am having some doubts that the SJC is doing so well financially speaking, and I’ll tell you why I think so: for the really lengthy waiting list for 2017, notice that it’s one sailing this time – after doing two a year since 2010. There was a pretty hefty sale for one of last year’s sailings a month before go time; a sale so hefty that I could’ve easily gone on board, solo, for not much above 2K (except merger, job, etc) – and the sale price was actually below what would be the average new-person solo booking. And they changed from Holland America’s fleet to the Celebrity Summit – all is great, except it’s an older ship, possibly dry-docked for a repair and refitting. Consequently cheaper to rent out for a chartered sailing. All of this adds up to “Not doing so well compared to before”.

Here’s a thought, SJC: If you want to actually justify your slogan of “the greatest party at sea” – I won’t even come near opining on the slogan as a whole – make new artists the focus of your cruise as opposed to the same headliners. Because seriously, those of us who love the genre and are not past guests, are not inclined to come on board your production when there’s absolutely no urgency and no novelty to your lineup. I cannot possibly get excited for your production when I see every single person in your headliner list in the NYC area or on other productions nearby. I just cannot. I love all the artists you have on board, but I cannot justify the expense of flying to a cruise event to see them. There’s no urgency and, unless there are new CDs in production and new music in the show, there’s no novelty. So why spend the money?

And I’m not saying all this because I’ve been a Capital Jazz Productions customer for what will be 6 years with this coming sailing. I’m a regular for a very good reason: the variety is top-notch. Yes, Cap is a mixed-genre cruise, but 1. they’re honest about it and 2. they give every genre equal weight. If CapJazz were to recycle its lineup for X years in a row, they’d get much the same earful as I am giving you. But whom do we have on CapJazz this year as compared to you, SJC? We have Diane Schuur. Lee Ritenour. Jazz/Funk/Soul. Howard Hewett. Incognito. Four80East. Tom Browne. While yes, BWB is on the cruise this year, look at everyone else in the jazz segment of the lineup. Do you get the idea of what Cap is doing here? It’s this little thing called variety.

And it should not be too much to ask for.

Let me once again remind you guys that the radio station shutdown was preceded by a recycling of the same artists and the same music ad nauseum until listenership plummeted. Do you not realize, fans and promoters, that this is pretty much the same situation? What in the world do you think will happen to your events? The law of averages and patterns are pretty much predictable.

Fans, understand this: your dollar speaks, but you really, really need to step up as to the message you need to send. And I suggest you get on that sooner rather than later.

K.G.

Posted in The Usual | 7 Comments

Let’s just remember one little thing, shall we?

And that is….

Social media isn’t real life.

While it’s a part of today’s real life, it’s not at all a substitute for it.

My friend said something very salient a few days ago, and honestly, I can’t say she’s wrong. The Internet has done a lot to ruin general maturity in people. The clickbait headlines, the ongoing deluge of knee-jerk reactionary behavior, the hate-mongering trolls in any comments section, the fierce holier-than-thou moralism that has been further exacerbated with the ability to instantly air one’s opinion worldwide – all of that adds up to grown people just no longer knowing how to act grown.

Look, none of us are wholly innocent of this. We all have our hard-line topics that we get heated about, and I am going to be the first to admit to my temper being my shortcoming. And yeah, I catch heat for it. Deservedly so.

One of the greatest skills I learned, though, was standing up and saying, “This is not acceptable behavior and I won’t stand for it.”

I find myself doing that more and more lately, but I also find myself being more than a little bit pissed off about it. Simple reason. Ready?

I should not have to tell people nearly twice my age to act their age.

Seriously. Granted, the reason wasn’t related to social media, but the last person whom I had to light into was 54. Fifty-four – and acting like a teenager. There’s a point where it’s just plain ridiculous. If you’re in your fifties, sixties, seventies, etc. you should not have to be told what does and doesn’t constitute acceptable behavior from someone half your age. I mean, you are supposed to be adults here, and yet here I am telling you that the way you’re acting is unacceptable? There’s something really wrong with this picture.

This is in general, but the Internet has just made it so much easier to forget certain things. Like boundaries, or common sense. Or just plain being a decent person.

Social media made watching people’s lives a piece of cake, and frankly, no one benefits from it. For those of us who are on the receiving end of being watched, it’s aggravating at best. For those of us who, at any point in our lives, had reason to be concerned for our safety bcause someone watched a little too closely, how do you suppose being watched online feels?

Hint: it doesn’t feel anywhere even close to how good you feel doing the watching at your screen.

Seriously. People. You’re twice my age. Do you not have families? Jobs? Hobbies? Lives? Come the hell on. Why the hell are you so concerned with other people’s online activity, or what they say or do? If you want to make friends, then trust me, skulking around online is not the way to do it. Moreover, no matter how subtle or slick you think you’re being when you sneak around on someone’s page… you’re not. You’re really not. And it’s honestly sad that you can’t handle being called out when you’re caught – either own up to it, or stop doing it in the first place. Not a difficult concept to master.

If you don’t know how to behave at your age, you’ve got far bigger problems than anything people say/do/think about you.

So. Let’s establish some basic rules of etiquette online:

1. Every website has a means of recording visitors, and unless it’s on FB where you hit like and identify yourself, the owner of the website is guaranteed to know your exact IP address, and it’s basic child’s play to track an IP address to its owner and location. So please don’t pretend how it wasn’t you, or you don’t know what I’m talking about, or someone “hacked” you… seriously. Just. Stop. We already know it’s you.

2. If you keep looking at someone’s page, either you say something and have a conversation, or at least make a modicum of effort not to get caught skulking around. If you don’t know someone, spend a ton of time on their pages, and don’t make any effort at all to engage them in conversation, then what you’re doing is basically stalking.

3. When called out, own up to it and don’t go into the BS lines of how you “don’t have time” for this, or how you “don’t play games” and so on. Obviously, you do have time for it, else you wouldn’t have gotten caught doing it in the first place!

4. Remember that people’s online activity is their own, and they do it for their own reasons, that it has nothing to do with you, and it’s not there to fulfill your desire to be entertained at their expense.

This is something I really cannot say enough. I’ve been online since before Facebook was a thing. I’m from the Livejournal and AIM generation of social media. Too many times I’ve had to deal with people going, “Well, you shouldn’t be online if you don’t want people looking at your shit!” – and I will say it again: you’re missing the entire damn point. People are online and they write, etc. because they. want. to. do that. For themselves. For their outlet. They don’t keep blogs for your shits-and-giggles. They don’t write about their lives because you want free entertainment.

That’s why performing artists and celebrities exist, for whom entertaining is a business. They are there for your entertainment. Not the rest of us Ordinary Folks.

And need I even say it? Don’t. Be. A troll. Just don’t.

Seriously, people. Make plans, do something with your family and friends, or take a walk outside. Get away from the screen.

I have a dinner with a friend at my favorite watering hole after work tonight. I am looking into and comparing prices for my next level of professional education. I’m seeing some great music over the summer and working on more photography.

And some of my best moments are usually things that aren’t on social media. They don’t have to be.

Kat G.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in The Usual

Thinking of Orlando…

Behind the cut, because sensitive subject, and all of our nerves are still raw.

Continue reading

Posted in The Usual

Our Potential Madame President

Yes, she basically clinched the nomination. And yet, I am still holding out until the DNC, because that is when it’s official.

THAT SAID.

I cannot tell you how crucial it is to vote for her in November.

Seriously.

You guys know I’m a Bernie supporter, but I was never in the “Bernie or bust” camp. I couldn’t afford that sort of exclusionary thinking, one, and two, my experience in the world and in my political education is vastly different than that of a lot of my peers. When you see a clear and present danger to your country’s future, you really cannot afford to be exclusionary and get yourself in a snit over not voting if your candidate doesn’t win the party primaries. You focus all your efforts against stopping the immediate threat.

In this case, the immediate threat is Donald Trump, and I don’t give a shit who’s on the Democratic side: whoever’s on the Dem side will get my vote. Because there is no way that I would allow an undereducated scam artist with a toddler temper to occupy the highest seat of power in the country. Just. No. Goddamned. Way.

So if you’re in the Bernie or Bust camp? Please get the hell over it and vote for Hillary. Because we. cannot. afford. Trump.

Do I agree with Hillary on everything? Gods no. Do I like her ties to Wall Street and investment in for-profit prisons? Nope, no way. Is she a better candidate than Trump? Yes. Yes, she is. That’s not even up for debate.

And that’s why I’m voting for her.

Not because she’s a woman, not because I agree with her on all points, but because she is, very simply, a far better candidate than Trump will even come near being. Because we, the people, can gather enough momentum to keep her in check if we need to. And again: far, far better priorities than Trump.

That and I will admit that having the first female president come to power after the first Black president is something that I am very, very happy that I may get to see in person, while I’m still relatively young.

And in the event that Trump wins? Well, see y’all in Toronto, London, or Sydney.

K.G.

Posted in The Usual | 3 Comments