Manifest Destiny And The Affliction Of Entitlement

Good Morning! I’m sure you’ve noticed the sense of entitlement of the average person at your job, at the next table in your favorite restaurant, or even walking down the street as you over hear conversations. I’ve certainly noticed and Whoopi Goldberg even wrote a book about how courtesy and decorum have taken a back seat.

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Whoopi, it’s not just you. I’ve noticed that people are entitled, at times rude, and concerned with their own agenda despite who it may negatively affect. After asking questions like, “Is it just me?” or “WTF is wrong with people!?”, I may have found an answer (and a solution?). I can’t speak for other countries, but here in America the concept of Manifest Destiny never died, it has just changed focus over the years. As taken from Wikipedia… “In the 19th century, Manifest Destiny was a widely held belief in the United States that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent. [One of the] basic themes to Manifest Destiny: The special virtues of the American people and their institutions. Historian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of “a sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example … generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven”.” Yes, that’s right, the murder of indigenous people in the 19th Century as settlers explored this country was born out of what they thought to be a God-given right to do so. There are no more settlers that seek to proselytize or ostracize natives. We [Americans] no longer apply the concept of a God-given right to settling this land as our own. But, many of us confuse the concept of rights with the misguided ideology that we’re owed something.

When we pay attention to the language of self-entitlement, some of the Manifest Destiny ideals appear. How many times have you heard someone confuse their right with their privilege? There was a police standoff in my neighborhood. First of all, I always thought people in movies were dummies for standing under falling debris to watch Superman fight the villain. Run for your lives, dumb bunnies! Turns out, people do that shit in real life! I walked past a police standoff. I saw two humans walking in the opposite direction and I suggested that they find an alternate route. “You should go around that way, the police have rifles out!” One human responded, “What’s going on!?” I said, “Don’t know, don’t care. They have rifles out.” The human’s companion said, “I wonder what’s going on!?” as they continued to walk towards the police standoff and ignoring my suggestion to stay out of harm’s way. I spoke louder, “What difference does it make? They. Have. Rifles. Out.” At that point, I kept on walking and just left them to the will of Darwinism. Later that day, I over heard another pair of humans talking. Apparently, they were upset that the police weren’t telling them anything about the standoff. Civilians wanted to know what crime the man had committed and why the police felt the need to point their rifles at him. When the police didn’t respond with details, some civilians became upset. I heard one of them say, “But, this is our neighborhood! We have a right to know!” Actually, you don’t have a right to receive information on an ongoing police investigation. The fact that you bought an overpriced house around the corner entitles you to fuck all. No police officer, in any city, will (nor should they) give details of an ongoing investigation to a civilian. We’re talking about Police Academy basics. It is not a right to have such information. If you have questions for cops, don’t talk shit on social media, take some classes with the Oakland PD to expand your mind.

To register for the Oakland Police Citizen Police Academy request an application by contacting Ana Martinez @ cpacoordinator@oaklandnet.com (510) 986-2715 Classes include: Organization of the Oakland Police Department; OPD Dispatch T our; Criminal Investigations; Laws of Arrest; Gangs and Narcotics; Crime Lab Tour; Community Policing; The future of the OPD. [This information was current as of March, 2015.]

Is it just me, or does everyone feel as if they’re owed something when life doesn’t go as planned? Not long ago, there were two fires at separate buildings surrounding my gym. One of the regulars was about to leave, so I gave her a heads up. “Because of those building fires, the streets are blocked off and they aren’t letting anyone out of the garage.” She gave me an indignant look and replied, “They’re going to pay for my extra parking time in the garage!” I replied with head-leaned-to-the-side brand of muted confusion. She stormed off and I was left to wonder… Who were the they to whom she referred? Were the arsonists going to pay for her extended garage parking? Perhaps the firefighters owed her the money? Wait, I know, it was her God-given right to be compensated for her mild inconvenience! Manifest Destiny, Bitches! Pay me for doing your job as a first-responder and saving lives! WTF!?

One of the most frequent examples may be the concept of being owed the best experience possible. We live in the future. Movies were made about the year 2015 and we watched them as kids. We live in a time when choices are abundant and businesses, let’s take restaurants for example, are vying for our attention by providing their definition of the best experience. When faced with many choices, we humans have a tendency to become frustrated if we feel as if we’ve chosen poorly. Don’t believe me, read Yelp reviews.  Why are some people so hard on places and others are cool about the same experience? Some humans feel it’s their right to be treated extra special. Some humans feel it’s their right to rent a personal servant for the low low price of 20% of their tab. [Please note: There are Servers and there are Servants. You will only find the former in a public restaurant. Also, if you don’t believe in tipping, be brave enough to say that (out loud, to your Server) when you sit down and note the difference in your service experience.] All restaurants want to give great service. Sometimes, that restaurant may fail to meet your standards. It’s a basic communication breakdown. Try as they might, no restaurant owes you good service. (You’re paying for the food and the business overhead, you’re not paying for service. Good service is given based on the pride the employees take in their work and the amount of respect they receive from you.)

Spoiler alert: No one owes you shit. Not now, not ever. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll find peace. “Wait a minute, that jive sucka down the street borrowed $12 from me on Tuesday! He OWES me my $12!” No, he’s agreed to pay you back. If he chooses not to, you just paid $12 to buy him out of his friendship contract. “Bullshit, my wife took 10 years of my life and then left me for her hair dresser. She owes me some alimony.” No, she owes you nothing nor did she take anything. You willingly conceded 10 years of your life. While you may find a lawyer that can get you that alimony, she doesn’t owe you shit.

Here’s how we can save the world. Gather your friends and repeat this oath, loud and proud.

I have been placed on this earth to help humanity in any small way that I can. The world owes me nothing for my gestures of kindness and compassion. I’ll do nothing with an ulterior motive. I will forget all favors that I’ve done for others choosing never to bring them up as a passive suggestion that I am owed reciprocity. I am owed nothing. I am here to help make the lives of those around me better in some way without telling them my mission in this life.

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Upcoming Burlesque Shows

What’s that, you still haven’t made plans for Halloween!? I’ve got just the thing for you. Instead of those lame costumes at the night clubs, come see awesome costumes get (mostly) removed! Want to see horror films, me being body painted, or my Jekyll & Hyde routine (with new choreography)? Come to one or all of the events listed in October!

Upcoming Burlesque Performances
Saturday, 10/24 @ XOXO Nightclub (EBX Scream Fest)
Friday, 10/30 @ DNA Lounge (Upstairs)
Saturday, 10/31 @ The Konservatory
Saturday, 11/7 @ DNA Lounge (Bootie SF)
Friday, 12/11 @ DNA Lounge (Main Stage)
Monday, 12/21 @ DNA Lounge (Upstairs)
Monday, 12/28 @ DNA Lounge (Upstairs)

Fitness Classes [Find me on the schedule at Studiomix, in San Francisco]

Mondays:
Studio Road Ride @ 5:45PM
Tuesdays:
TRX Bodyweight Burn @ 7:15PM
Wednesdays:
Studio Road Ride @ 7:00AM (Moving to 6:15AM in November)
Tabata Cross @ 5:45PM
Cross Mix @ 8:00PM
Fridays:
Studio Road Ride @ 6:15AM
Tabata Cross @ 8:30AM

No Easy Solution [The Culture Around Mass Shootings]

This isn’t an easy subject to approach so I’ll just come right out and say it, mass shootings. There, it’s on the screen. Before you make a decision to close your browser, I’d like to point out the title of this post. I’m not here to reveal the magic cure-all that will end mass shootings tomorrow. If I were a powerful Wizard, I would wave my wand and stop them all forever. Since I’m not a Wizard, it’s up to all of us to work towards creative changes in our society that could stop mass shootings. Please note the emphasis on the idealistic word could. I’m a dreamer and I imagine changes that could make a difference. So, I’ll type some of my opinions here and I hope that you’ll remember they are opinions before anyone goes off the deep end telling me how wrong I am. Here goes… the 5 difficult steps to change the culture around mass shootings.

Difficult Step #1: Change the media response to the event. Here’s an anecdote involving Roger Ebert. “The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.”

Every time I hear about another mass shooting at a school or some other easily accessible place, I begin to hope that they won’t show the attacker’s face. Without fail, they show some goddamned smiling mug on the screen as if to suggest that he was such a nice guy or what went wrong, society. I agree with Mr. Ebert’s sentiment about making posthumously popular sensations. What if all media outlets told the story without telling the perpetrators name, age, race*, or posting photos? [*-Please stop telling us that a person was “Middle Eastern-looking” and put an end to broadcast news racial profiling.]

Difficult Step #2: Give up the gun control rhetoric. I can sum up, in one word, why a gun control bill, that meets 51% public approval, will never become law. Lobbyists. The NRA has spent over $7,000,000 over the past 24 months in Washington D.C. Check out this site for information that’s on public record. Let’s say some very strict gun laws do make it on the books. If this country has been fighting a fallacious war on drugs for decades and drugs are still in the poor communities, what’s going to happen when Big Brother starts a war on illegal guns? Gun laws are not the cure-all answer and I can sum up why in two, frightening, words. Clerical error. I won’t type his name here, but one attacker bought a gun through the proper channels and due to a clerical error was approved a license when he shouldn’t have been. He shot and killed multiple people in a church. Here are two more, frightening, words that should make us all re-think the gun control rhetoric. Black market. Strict gun laws will do for weaponry what prohibition did for alcohol.

Difficult Step #3: Reduce the power of lobbyists. Before you blame this (or any) POTUS for anything, remember that it’s not about one person, it’s the system that needs changing. As long as lobbyists and “contributions” can sway votes by Senators, our voice is limited. Let’s work to change the political contribution limits and laws.

Difficult Step #4: Create/Improve the mental health care infrastructure. How many times have you heard the story about the mental health care facility that closed down? Why are there so many homeless people here? The mental health care facility closed. What cut backs did the new Governor make? The mental health care facility closed. I want to be clear, I’m not saying that every person that committed the crime of a mass shooting was in need of mental health care. Mental health issues were a correlation, not always a causation of the act. But, what if mental health care was in such abundance in our culture that any and everyone felt like there was a compassionate ear that was easily accessible (and affordable). I know, I know. Healthcare is a shit storm, let alone mental healthcare. Hey! I said that it was a difficult step! Until we start opening up Arkham, Briarcliff, and Northville Regional, let’s do what we can to help people. Make a friend with the quiet one in the corner and just be nice to people with no ulterior motive. What if more people were to do that? In your face, Utopia!

Difficult Step #5: Student/faculty/staff training. We’ve gone through no less than three earthquake drills in the past 18 months at my school. There’s been one earthquake and it was 30 miles away from campus. I understand that it could be traumatic to train kids what to do in the case of a shooter and I’m sure the helicopter parents would have a shit fit. But, isn’t it better to prepare for the thing we hope never happens (like an earthquake)? If none of this works, just hire Deadpool to work campus security.

But, seriously folks… I wrote this to point out that it touches everyone when these senseless tragedies occur. Everyone begins shouting their opinion of the one light switch fix to resolve the issue. Remember, this is a multi-layered issue that happens for myriad of reasons. There is no easy solution. Try out my suggestions and in the mean time, just be nice to people.

It’s worth mentioning (again)… This post is not intended to stop mass shootings. This post is merely food for thought, aka my opinion. If you don’t dig what I’m saying, that’s cool. I’m not here to debate. Getting angry with me won’t stop mass shootings any more than me typing 1,200 words will end them. Enjoy your week.

A Perversion Of Love?

“Today I believe in the possibility of love; that is why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversions.” -Frantz Fanon

In a city that is quickly losing it’s right to be considered the most liberal place in America (has it already lost that right?) I saw a billboard that wreaked of conservatism. The city is San Francisco. The billboard claimed that Porn Kills Love. Perhaps the promoter of this message should visit the Armory (not far from the billboard) where they don’t kill anything, but they do beat the shit out of lust. I don’t claim to fully understand the sentiment behind the message that Porn Kills Love. But, it doesn’t take an in depth analysis to figure out that the promoters of this message are against porn, its production, and the employees of the porn industry. (The website proclaims, “Fight the new drug!”, you know because porn is a new thing.) As a sex worker myself (read here to bring yourself up to speed) I take issue with any message that is against the sex industry. I was having dinner with a friend when I mentioned the billboard to her. She asked, well what is love? Fair question.

In fact, I asked that question quite often some years back. I just used it as a conversation lubricant in social settings. “How do you define love?”, I’d ask. There were no wrong answers, but there were certainly some interesting ones. The most interesting answers were from those that couldn’t answer. I don’t mean that they refused. I mean to say that their answer was, “I don’t know!” Wait, let me get this straight… You’ve used the L word to describe your feelings for everything from an appetizer at a restaurant to your mother and you can’t define the word!? You say it 437 times a day, but you can’t define it!? WTF!? Well, it saddens me to type that I ultimately stopped asking the question because it no longer acted as a conversation lubricant. More often than not, people couldn’t define it and it would grind the conversation to a halt. Wow! Something to think about the next time a significant other (SO) tells you those three little greeting-card-filler words.

The definition of porn that most can agree on is that “porn is hard to define, but you know it when you see it.” Conversely, there is no cute catch phrase that most can agree on in regards to the definition of love. With that being said, how can hard-to-define porn kill even harder-to-define love? I don’t know either. Further, if love is half as powerful as all of those songs, movies, and books suggest shouldn’t it be impervious to porn or any other would-be attackers?

Porn vs. Love. Why must everything be so goddamned either/or? Porn is watched by intelligent adults that know bad acting and lame costumes when they see them. Porn is also watched by impressionable youth that assume the boning they see on the screen is the boning they should attempt in the bedroom. It’s true, that’s a thing and that’s unfortunate. But, that’s where the intelligent adult parents have the opportunity to step in and talk to the kids about what’s happening on screen and why (without judgment). “Hey! Everybody’s gotta make a living!”, a parent could say. “No, you don’t have to dress like that the first time you have sex… wait until at least the third time!”, could be another reminder. Then there’s the classic, “Trying to learn how to have sex by watching porn is like trying to learn how to drive by watching the Fast & the Furious!”

Porn doesn’t kill love because they are not in competition with one another. For the sake of argument, let’s wave a magic wand and all porn goes away *poof*. Now, let’s look at some other challenges that romantic-sticky-sweet-greeting-card love must contend with.

1.) The fallacy of monogamy and possessiveness. We are not a monogamous species. Yes, you. The human that’s reading this post. You may practice monogamy. Society has programmed you to do so. Hell, you may even be happier than Pharrell with your SO. But, I challenge you to name five couples that you know personally that have been together for greater than five years that happen to still be happy together. Not TV couples. Your friends/family. Name. Five. Oh! You can name five? So much for anecdotal evidence. Here’s some empirical evidence. Compile the divorce AND breakup rate of couples worldwide. You don’t have to know specific numbers to know that it’s high. Possessiveness is also an issue. The concept of “my” BF/GF/Husband/Wife/WTF often causes subtle objectification. To think of another human being as mine suggests that they are no longer driving their own life. I don’t want to possess another human being. Any woman with whom I begin a relationship should be a partner, not a possession. #BeingPossessiveKillsLove

2.) The societal lie of the one. We’ve heard all of the happily ever after fairytales about finding the one. We’ve heard the stories so much that we have convoluted ideas of love based subconsciously on some of those stories. RomComs that give hope for unrealistic relationships with fictitiously awesome (read: stupid) characters (not real people) aren’t doing love any favors. Two words: Love Actually #RomComsKillLove

3.) Family and sphere of influence. Everyone has to meet and approve of the new one that your dating. Isn’t that a pain!? I mean they’re not making sweet love to that person, you are. But, there’s an unspoken protocol to these sort of things I suppose. #NosyParentsKillLove

Because I’m sure that one of the promoters of #PornKillsLove will read this and have some words for me, I’ll leave you with these thoughts.

~Before telling everyone that this kills that, be sure that everyone agrees on how this and that are defined.
~You can still promote love without demoting porn (or anything else). Unless you’re writing a stage play, you don’t need a specific antagonist and protagonist.
~I’m not really mad. I’m just talking shit. I just wish San Francisco was as liberal as it once was.
~The world doesn’t need less porn, we just need better porn… and more sex positive people… and more support for sex workers.

Enjoy your week, I’m off to look at some videos of Nuns… praying, yeah that’s it.

Master My Body And Control My Actions

This week’s post is part 4 of 4 regarding my personal commitments to be a better human that are tattooed on my arm. (See previous posts at links below.)

Develop my mind and share my knowledge
Face my fears and conquer them
Extend my hand in friendship and fairness
Master my body and control my actions

In a job interview for a (restaurant) manager position, I was asked the best response by a manager to an unexpected rush. Without hesitation, I cited the importance of being the “calm one in the room.” I went on to explain that the worst thing to do in that scenario would be to, “lose my head and respond with visible anxiety.” “Be calm, be cool, and lead by example so that the staff doesn’t lose their cool and cause mistakes.”, I said.

When we encounter a situation in life, for which we’ve been prepared, it’s important to control our actions. Last week, I wrote about how frustrating it can be for me when people see my physical vessel and make a judgment before they take a moment to see who I am within. A few days ago, someone saw me and it was a refreshing rarity. Whilst training a client, at an outdoor park, a curious (although shy) dog approached me to sniff and check me out. I offered her a hand for petting but she didn’t feel that comfortable so I let her lead the exploration. Her owner made a comment that made it clear that he saw beyond my appearance. “It must be your calm demeanor. She’s usually very shy and doesn’t get that close to anyone!” Imagine that, a stranger described me as calm. He didn’t describe me as intense or menacing based on my appearance, he described me as calm. Thank you, sir. Thank you for seeing me. After years of controlling my actions through anger management and suppressing my ego (the root of most anger) that dude paid me a very high compliment. There are times when my anger will relapse in the form of a frustrated vent or road rage, but I view those incidents no different than a former smoker intentionally walking behind a present smoker for old memories of the olfactory. In the spirit of mastering my body, I’m certain to keep my temper in check before it affects my heart rate. In the spirit of controlling my actions, I’m certain to keep my temper in check before I lose control and have a physical outburst on some human source of agitation.

These four commitments came from the world of martial arts. The idea of mastering the body and subsequently controlling the actions of that body was put in place to prevent the irresponsible from using their new found self-defense skills to hurt others with an offensive attack. My perception of mastering my body is based on my daily practice. I believe in expressing gratitude for the gift of an able body. I express that gratitude in the form of training myself. We all have a daily practice, realized or not. Our present life situation is a result of that daily practice. Practice doesn’t make perfect (that’s a myth). Practice makes us consistent. My choice of deliberate physical practice is how I choose to master my body. With that being said, my daily practice must be about more than strength. My daily practice must be about more than achieving beast mode (whatever the fuck that means) or making sure that I’m sore the next day (that is not a measure of a good workout).

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My daily practice must find balance in the many components of fitness.I must master my awareness of the present moment and understand that peace comes from within, not from my surroundings. I must breathe deeply when it’s not my place to intervene. I must control my actions when it’s not my fight. Despite the lessons of Batman, Spider-man, Wolverine, et al. it’s not my job to save the world. My commitment to myself is to master my body through my daily practice of treating my mind and body as one and training them both to be prepared for the unexpected. My commitment to myself is to control the actions of this bodymind in order to suppress my ego and prevent my anger from taking control. I’m aware that there are many things I can’t control, I find peace in knowing that. Billy Blanks was asked if he was able to stop a bullet. He said, “yes, in a way. I’m able to talk the situation down to resolution before the bullet is fired.” You have your own commitments on your own journey. But, trust the suggestion of a former mediator, recovering anger addict, and the calm one that has talked several irate people to resolution in lieu of fighting. Master your bodymind and be the calm one in the room.

Until next week… Find me on Spotify under “JetNoirMuse” to listen to some of my music Playlists.

Check out the Jet Noir Shirt Company to wear some of my Jisms around town! Check it out!