Saturday, July 21, 2012


This post is certain to piss some people off, but since those who believe in conspiracy theories are usually pissed off anyway, I don't suppose it matters.

It is amazing to me that in this high tech, instant communication world we now inhabit, millions of undereducated, ignorant, and naive individuals believe in far-fetched conspiracy theories and plots. The massacre at the Batman screening in Aurora, Colorado is just the latest to provide fodder for these lizard-brained, monkey mind folks (Am I being offensive enough?).  

What is most shocking is that the lone gunman involved, by all accounts, seemed a rational human being. But just as shocking are the theories being proposed and promoted by seemingly rational bloggers and others. That the U.S. government is behind it all, that the FBI has been enlisted to cause this mass shooting to influence the coming UN debate on small arms control. Or that it is part of the non-American President Obama's plan to take all guns away from private citizens before installing sharia law nationwide. 

One of my comments that really upset the conspiracy aficionados was my suggestion that the paranoia exhibited by the "Washington is going to take away my 2nd Amendment right to bear assault rifles." crowd should disqualify those folks from being able to buy guns just on mental stability grounds.

Here's my difficulty accepting almost all conspiracy theories, as a former journalist and investigative reporter, and especially in today's 24/7 news cycle. It has been my experience that once a secret is shared by more than one person, it is almost impossible for it to remain a secret. JFK was not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald alone? Do you realize how many people would have had to keep that secret now for almost fifty years? To resist selling their story for potentially millions of dollars? Even cults like Scientology don't enjoy that kind of 100% loyalty. It isn't that I don't believe conspiracies are possible, just unsustainable because of human nature. 

Then there's the politics of it all. Do you really believe all FBI agents are Democrats (or Republicans or even Independents)? So if there was a plot carried out by the FBI under orders from the current Administration, surely one Republican agent would leak the true facts. And surely the NRA, with its many millions it uses to wage anti-gun control campaigns, would pay millions to any individual who could provide proof that this was all a government plot aimed at eliminating private gun ownership. 

But the attraction of these harebrained theories will persist, simply because it is hard to convince those holding them of their silliness--even hard facts get lumped in as part of the whole evil plot. I suspect that people who today believe in many of the most delusional conspiracy theories were absolutely convinced monsters lived under their childhood beds.

As to guns, I believe they should all be destroyed and we should return to a more organic, natural way to settle disputes and threats. Bring back clubs and spears and slingshots. If they were good enough for biblical times, they are good enough for me!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012


When I was sitting in my prison cell, I often thought I should come up with a tougher first name than Jerry. But I didn't want a nickname so tough that people would want to take me on, like Fist, or Brute, or Killer. In the end, I kept my own name. I haven't used the first name on my birth certificate, Gerald, in a long, long time. 

My driver's license was always Jerry, as was my passport. But after 9/11, the rules changed, and when I sought a California identity card at the DMV after my parole, they insisted my name match my birth certificate, so it and now my CA driver's license and my new passport all say Gerald. I don't think that would have done quite as well for me at Folsom as Jerry did.

People are more accepting of unusual names now, ethnic names and such, than they were just a few decades ago. Look at the names, for instance, usually provided by agents or the big studios, for some of the most glamorous movie stars. Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe. Now we have RenĂ©e Zellwegger and Angelina Jolie. 

In my neighborhood in South Philadelphia, much was made of the match between a Jewish girl and Italian boy who got married and thus gave her the unforgettable name of Yetta Benadetta. And there was Carol Crumb, whom I dated when I worked at a radio station and lived in Dover, Delaware. She was a lovely blonde, smart and sweet, but I have to confess than whenever I introduced her to friends or family, I mumbled her last name out of embarrassment. Ironically, it became famous a few years later when her strange and talented brother, Robert, became the world renown cartoonist, R. Crumb.

As part of the shift toward self-identification, more and more people have decided to change their names since the 1970s. Two former relationship partners I am still close to, Bonnie and Barbara, now are known as Rupa and Maggie.

Old friends like Judy and Rachel and Jane now have daughters named Ashley, Courtney, and Taylor. While I'm pretty sure I'll be sticking with Jerry, there is one thing I hope is true--that people will think my name is the most ordinary thing about me.

A blog by any other name on the subject of prosperity:

Friday, July 6, 2012


A lot of people seem to want to stop the one immutable force of life--change. When I say, "Keep the change...," I mean stop avoiding, denying and trying to do away with change in your life. Often we first hear those horrible words from our parents, "Settle down," which is usually accompanied by, "and grow up," as if adulthood means a time when we settle into our lives, make our final choices, and learn to live with them. Thank you, but I'd rather keep the change, keep it coming, keep having as something to embrace and look forward to. 

Look back on your life, and you might very well find that some of your happiest times were filled with all sorts of changes--new places, new adventures, new people, new opportunities, discovering new skills and talents you possess. Maturing as a human being doesn't mean getting rid of change, but rather of learning how to use it well, how to take advantage of all the changes that keep occurring for all of us, even when we try to eliminate or slow them down.

One big secret of success is learning to maintain a calm sense of stability and strength in the midst of change. In my own life, I am excited about what could be the biggest series of changes in my life. I am starting my new career as a stand-up comedian and I am seriously considering exploring living in another country. I may be able to do both in Panama, and will be visiting there in the Fall to explore these possibilities.  The fact that I have a good friend there who has many contacts and connections, especially with the English-speaking ex-pat community will make it easier. And the Internet helps a lot in terms of me physically leaving without breaking my connections with many of the people I care most about. 

For decades, one of my favorite affirmations has been:


Might I suggest you try this on for size?  I strongly believe that our individual perspective and position on change dictates a lot of what happens to us in life.  And if you do accept and welcome change, keep it only as long as it keeps working for you.

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