All I wanted was a Pepsi

Conformity is a hell of a drug. I’ve said that before and I still stick by it.

Conservatives drafting up laws outlawing transgender care, targeting LGBT+ people with “Christian”-based hatred disguised as ‘moral concern’, outlawing drag shows, banning books, avoiding major health concerns by lying about them, bending the rules to gather more votes, chasing away the homeless instead of helping them, embracing gun culture to the point of pornography, refusing monetary assistance for those who need it, hating on anyone who isn’t cis and white and rich…need I go on? It’s like the fucking Reagan/Thatcher eighties all over again.

And they won’t listen to anyone telling them otherwise. Not that they can’t, but that they don’t want to.

We’re not asking for special laws. We’re not asking for preferred service. We’re not even asking for special privileges. All we want is the same thing the rest of you have. Just one bit of peace. And you won’t give it to us.


What the hell does this have to do with my music blog?

I think about this all the time these days. I mean, it’s hard not to, when several media avenues are filled with this bullshit. Again, forty years later. Same shit, different generation.

I’ve often mentioned how college radio opened my eyes and blew my mind when I was fifteen, when it became apparent that I was not going to fit in with the cliques and social circles of my small town. Even then when I encountered a style of music that resonated with me, I didn’t just connect with it, I took a deep dive. I’d obsess over discographies, get familiar with album cuts and b-sides, learn the band’s backgrounds. I read about the bands’ local fanbases, their inspirations and influences, and why they sounded like they did. That led me to other bands, other alternate ways of listening and thinking. I may not have physically latched onto the scene in the same obsessive way, musically or fashionwise, but mentally and emotionally I’d allowed myself a complete immersion.

That is to say, I’m pretty sure that unlike your casual music listener, I swallowed the whole idea of ‘the alternative’ fully and completely. I pretty much stopped trying to connect with the popular or the status quo. I could connect if I wanted to, but only when I wanted or needed to. [I will freely admit that I had to bow to the status quo for a few years in the 90s, mostly out of financial and emotional desperation, but that’s another story.]

I know many people who don’t take the spiteful evangelical right-wing conservative base all that seriously, partly because for a small but annoyingly loud base, they’re mostly all bark and no bite. I try not to take them too seriously myself by remembering that there are so many more people out there whose social mindset is calmer and more compassionate. It’s easy to slip into the feedback loop that there’s a constant WAR! going on (after all, this base prides itself on such hyperbole) that makes one want to fight back with equal vigor. I mean, this is truly a muddy, chaotic battlefield here, if we’re going to roll with the metaphor. Those at the sidelines might not understand how terrible it is in the middle of it all, and those caught in the middle might not notice how peaceful it is at the sidelines.

Over the years I’ve altered my point of view about all of this, partly because I was utterly sick of reacting to it all. Someone says or does something shitty, I respond emotionally, they double down, and so on. The feedback loop continues. It was taking me nowhere. It was physically unhealthy for me, and something had to change.

I had to remember what I’d learned in my youth: conformity is a hell of a drug. Why was I playing right into their emotional mind games? Why was I reacting every single time? I mean, let’s be real: I don’t have to play by their fucking rules. Never mind asking why I’d been doing so in the first place, because that’s not important. What is important is knowing that I don’t owe them the pleasure. I don’t owe them the satisfaction, especially if they’re spending all their time taking mine away.

It took me a fucking long time to figure that out because of so many social niceties and conflict avoidance issues drilled into my head over the years. It’s not only weird to admit I have that clarity now, but that I’d figured all that out decades ago, back when I was a moody-ass teenager with an obsession with alternative music and the lifestyle behind it. And I decided that considering that I already knew the answer, I didn’t have to dwell on the time wasted…I just had to pick up where I left off.

The status quo and the rigid conformity and the hatred and the ignorance and the bigotry will always be there, unfortunately. It’ll come and go, just like any other cycle of life. The most we can do for ourselves is to remember that we don’t have to play by their fucking rules.

For What It’s Worth

It’s been a busy weekend here in the Bay Area.

We weren’t part of the marches or the protests here, though. Had the one in Crissy Field not been cancelled by the Patriot Prayer group on Saturday, we most likely would have made our way through the Presidio to head down there. So instead we drove down to Half Moon Bay, stopped at the Main Street Grill for brunch, did a bit of shopping at the deli there, and then headed back. We spent the afternoon watching various episodes of Time Team and other things. As it happens, the PP guys’ plans fizzled spectacularly, ending up with an online chat and a pathetic appearance at Crissy Field after all (with the reporters and cameras outnumbering them). The rest of the city, on the other hand, turned it into a party and a love fest.

As for Sunday, we knew better than to head over to the East Bay. They’re a bit more hardcore when it comes to protests, and there’s always that small group of outsiders who stop by just to stir shit up and make the more peaceful protesters look bad. The mood is usually much more tense when there are protests there.

Meanwhile, we kept our eyes out for our friends down in Texas. One of A’s friends was actually not in Houston but elsewhere at a wedding, leaving her husband to hold the fort. They’re both doing okay last I heard. They’re on the outskirts of the city on higher ground. The city itself turned into its own Vienna with streets turning into creeks and rivers. Downtown Houston is quite nice, from what I remember of it, having visited there a few years ago when Worldcon was in San Antonio. It was hot as hell, but I really liked the city.

And during all that, The Fuckwit tweeted about Missouri, a book he really liked, that goddamn wall he’s so obsessed about, and hating NAFTA because Canada and Mexico are being mean to him. He may have tweeted about Houston at some point, but as far as I could tell, it was little more than ‘wow that doesn’t look good’ and went on to the next shiny object.

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down.


I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  I’m not going to avoid talking about it.  Yes, I am still angry that the Fuckwit is pretty much our next President (barring any Hail Mary play by the Electoral College in the next few weeks — I’d love dearly for that to happen, to be honest).

Is Walk in Silence going to turn into yet another political wanking blog?  No.  I’ll still talk about music here.  That isn’t going away.  Same with my writing blog.  But I’ve decided I’m going to…loosen the rules here a bit.

As a child of the 80s, I was well aware of the Reagan and Bush I years.  I understood what the GOP tried to do not only to the Democrats but to pretty much anyone who didn’t toe the company line.  I saw how conservatives tanked the economy.  Hell, I even saw how Thatcher ruined the UK.  Granted, I was a teenager and didn’t really have much idea what to do in response, and I lived in a stable household and made do without a lot of extravagant things (because that’s what you do when you’re a good Roman Catholic American — starving kids in China and all that).  I found my solace in college radio.  The rebelliousness of its sound was enough to validate my irritations.

Now I’m 45 and I’m trying to figure out how the hell to combat anything the Fuckwit and Shithead Jr (his veep, natch) will try to do to curtail the standards of life for those who aren’t White, Hetero, and Rich.  And how to respond to the ‘oh, it was just a joke, we didn’t mean it’ gaslighting.

I mean, other than going onto Twitter and venting.

As much as I hate to use the phrase, I’m thinking of the long game.  I’m thinking not of what we can do now (not that I’m avoiding it — I know of countless other people who are already calling representatives and writing emails and letters and going on marches), but preparing what we can do if that fails.

In a weird way, I’m still somewhat inspired by college radio here.  I’d commented on Twitter a few days ago, in a rare lighthearted mood that day, that my approach was like alternative rock.  Think of it this way:  back in the 80s, college radio was considered weird and stupid and you were a weird outsider if you liked that sort of thing (and maybe even taunted or beat up because of it).  And ignorant conformists cannot handle the square peg.  But it sang to you, knew exactly what you were feeling and thinking at that time, and that was your own vindication, however small.  Then, in 1989, Love and Rockets’ “So Alive” hit the Billboard Top 5.  And then two years later, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the charts and HOLY SHIT did that change things.  Mainstream radio was never the same.

Point being — you may be that outsider.  You may be the one who feels disenfranchised by the bullies and the ignorant jackasses.  But you know who you are.  And in this day and age, you know there are others out there just like you, hurting but holding on through sheer stubborn will and self-preservation.

Focus on that.  Fight back.  Focus on remaining true to yourself, and fuck everyone else if they can’t handle that.  Feed on it.  Expand on it.  Be what and who you are, not what they want to make you.

And make that the mainstream.



[NOTE: Yes, I know calling those two names is petty. Give me that — it’s just me vocalizing just how much I detest the two men, and I’d rather not use c**t in my blog if I can help it. Furthermore, please do not try to argue with me that ‘it was a democratic vote, they won, get over it.’  Say that to all the people who couldn’t vote because of the GOP’s obvious system-gaming and voter suppression.  Say that to all the women who now fear that their health care is threatened.  Say that to the LGBT who feel threatened by Pence’s bigotry.  Say that to the Muslims and the Mexicans and the immigrants who now feel that their country’s leader and his growing cabinet don’t give two shits about them.  And then look at those who are reveling in the Fuckwit’s win and are now spraypainting swastikas, tearing off hijabs, beating people up, and telling others ‘go back home’ when they are home.  And then explain to me how that’s a fair system.]