The Different Drummer

By Carl J. Petersen

Politics, Family, Music and other Musings.

Blending a Family

TheBackSideOfFamily.jpgThroughout the years, Disneyland has been the background for many happy memories and raising my family in Southern California has allowed us to claim our fair share. Donald fawning over my newborn daughter and then trying to get my Ex to stop yelling in the excitement that he had talked. Cinderella declaring to my daughter on her sixth birthday that it was her two hand birthday as we entered the park. My son insisting on standing up to the height check sign to see if he had grown enough in the past couple of weeks to ride the rides his big sister could go on and he could not.

The Happiest Place on Earth took on more significance as the marriage started to fall apart. The kids and I took weekly pilgrimages to escape the turmoil at home and make new memories in our evolving family unit. We made friends with other visitors from an online community of fellow enthusiasts. The days where we would be blacked out from our annual passes were looked upon with dread. 

Once upon a time,

Somewhere online,

A man and a woman met,

And soon after they fell in love.

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Avoiding Our Inner Jack Walsh

This article was originally published in The Patch on April 7, 2013

Nicole_and_Carl2.jpg

In retrospect, the separation should not have been a surprise. However, at the time it came like a punch to the gut. After 16 years of marriage, I was now a single Dad.

As one would imagine, family and friends played a huge role in getting me through that difficult time, filling needs within my physical and emotional worlds. However, my spirit also needed healing. Since I am a man without a religion, I turned to music to soothe my soul.

REM took the first turn: “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.” When doubt set in, I turned to Anthrax’s Finale: “Now I’m free, now I’m free, me me me, finally!” Then it was time to fight and Limp Bizkit’s Boiler took a turn: “But sometimes, some things turn into dumb things, And that’s when you put your foot down.” That agonizing series of “whys” at the end of the song let me know that Fred had also been there.

However, the biggest push from culture came from a movie that I had not seen in many years. Even before the separation was final there a little voice in my head acting like Jiminy Cricket who was constantly reminding me not to turn into the Dad from Pretty In Pink. For those unfamiliar with the movie, Jack Walsh’s wife left him and he never recovered. As a result, family roles have switched and as the movie begins his teenage daughter, Annie, is taking care of him.

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#BLACKLIVESMATTER

And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.”

- Jesse Williams

Complaints about policing in minority communities are not new, but changing technology has made it harder to ignore. When a bystander caught Rodney King’s beating on videotape, this violence was brought directly into our living rooms. Unfortunately, the video could not guarantee justice. The police involved were acquitted and the streets exploded.

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Putting A Face On MS

Nicole_and_Carl2.jpgShortly after my wife and I had met, we had what I now refer to as our “clearing the calendar” phone call. We knew individually that we had hit it off and were ready to take it to a higher level. This involved sharing our feelings and then syncing our complicated calendars. However, before we could do this, Nicole told me there was something that I needed to know first.

For some reason, the first thought that quickly crossed my mind was that I should have never watched the Crying Game. After all, what other plot twist could justify the gravity in her voice? I already knew that she had triplets and that two of the girls were on the autism spectrum. If I was willing to accept these challenges, what else could she possibly tell me that could cause me to run?

And so she cautioned me, “Before we go any further I need you know that I have Multiple Sclerosis. M.S.

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Trump the Alpha Male?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

-First Amendment - United States Constitution

In the era of false equivalency it should not be surprising that television's talking heads have tried to place equal blame on victims of Trump inspired violence. It is no surprise that Fox’s Greta Van Susteren stated without any proof that the rally in Chicago was cancelled because “a few protesters who looked like a few anti-Trump supporters, went up there and caused problems.” However, it is bewildering that when Trump states on MSNBC that “some of these protestors are dangerous people...extremely dangerous, extremely physical” and host Chris Matthews does not even ask for an example of this violence. Certainly the example Trump gave of a protester “jumping up and down for 15 minutes” did not rise to the level of “violence or potential violence.”

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It's In The Blood

NY.jpgBuddy you’re a young man hard man

Fighting’ in the street gonna take on the world some day

Blood on your face

You big disgrace

Kickin’ that banner all over the place

-Brian May

It was not easy being a young contrarian. I still remember clearly the day in the second grade when I broke the social rules and played with the girl who had “cooties” as it was my first experience with ostracization. If this was supposed to bring me into social compliance, it did not work. It was not long before punches were being thrown in my direction.

While fighting may get you in trouble in school, not returning a punch was not an option in my house. My dad had grown up on the rough streets of New York City and worked hard to move his family to the suburbs. The lessons that he had learned on those streets were important to him, especially the necessity of standing up for oneself. It was a value I saw him keep throughout his life. He also made sure to install it in his children.

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Exercising The Mandate

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Out of Smell, Out of Mind

“Witnesses cannot ask questions of the parties, lawyers or the Hearing Board”

-South Coast AQMD Hearing Board

A good way of determining how long someone has lived in my neighborhood is to ask them which “city” they live in. Long time residents will state that we are in Northridge, which, according to the City of Los Angeles, is the official designation of our area. However, newer residents are likely to refer to Porter Ranch. Since the two areas share the same zip code, their real estate agents simply used the designation that had the better reputation (and higher housing prices) and it stuck. With the months-long natural gas leak affixing itself to the Porter Ranch name, realtors will probably revert to using Northridge, at least for the near future.

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Apologizer in Chief

Have we ever had a president who was so eager to address the world with an apology on his lips and doubt in his heart?

-Mitt Romney

No matter how genuine your intentions, it is impossible to negotiate with a party that refuses to talk. Still, faced with the colliding problems of Republicans in Congress who viewed “any government action [as] bad for the country” and an economy quickly descending into depression, President Obama tried to keep his campaign promise of changing the tone of Washington. Since the opposing party would not negotiate, he used their publicly stated policies and replaced infrastructure spending with tax cuts in his stimulus plan. To overcome an attempted filibuster he reduced the amount of spending. For his efforts he was rewarded with a package that passed without any Republican votes and an opposition party that gloated any time that a projection did not meet reality as America slowly recovered from near calamity.

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Meet the Impotent Press

You have to be really careful with the press -- not all of them, because I know some great reporters. But I’m going to start naming names because it really is incredible how dishonest the press is.”

-Donald Trump

In a poll released last year, 16% of Americans said that there was no “solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades”. It is very important to note that they were not passing judgement on the cause of this warming, they were denying the fact “that Earth has warmed since 1880...with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.” A large amount of blame for this ignorance falls on our media which covers this subject by pretending that it is debatable, sitting two people side-by-side, creating the appearance that they have equal weight. If, instead of this false equivalence, they held “a statistically representative climate change debate” that had 97 scientists debating three climate change deniers, the American public might have a greater understanding of how science works.

It has yet to be proven how much the hot air coming from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will increase the rate of global warming. His increasingly outrageous statements have continuously kept him in the spotlight allowing him to brag that he has “spent nothing” on his campaign and that he “can’t advertise because [he’s] getting so much coverage.” He keeps the reporters who cover him in line with a mixture of public ridicule at his rallies and threats to cut off access. The press reacts by allowing him to confuse biased reporting with doing the job of asking hard questions of the person who seeks be the leader of the free world. Nowhere was this more obvious than on Trump’s appearance on Meet the Press:

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