America the Beautiful: 2014 Coca Cola Super Bowl Ad and Why I Endorse Free Speech for Everyone

Regarding the Coca Cola commercial last night (in case you haven’t seen it, I posted below), there’s a few things that apparently need to be said:

1. Yes, many Americans speak English. Many other Americans don’t speak English. We are a nation of immigrants. The melting pot of the world. What I bet a lot of the bigots who were upset about the commercial don’t know is that America DOES NOT, in fact, have an official national language. Furthermore, “American” is not a language. We speak English. Which originated in England. Which also happens to be more closely related to Dutch than any other language because it comes from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. None of which has any roots whatsoever in America. Next time you say, “Speak American!” or even “Speak English!” understand what that really means.

2. America is a global leader in business. We have the world’s single largest economy. That’s entirely due to the ingenuity of Americans. Americans that have come from every walk of life. And we wouldn’t be the world leader in business if we didn’t have long-standing alliances, partnerships, free trade and relations with just about every other country in the world in all the sectors of business that we excel in. This was a direct result of the entrepreneurship of many millions of Americans. Our economy thrives because we trade with the other 6.7 billion people in the world.

3. So if you intend to boycott Coke simply for spreading a message of solidarity and unity among Americans by celebrating our collective and individual diversity instead of promoting hate and discontent for our differences like we as a nation have done for the last 400+ years, you might want to consider this:

Coke doesn’t care if every bigot and xenophobe in this country never drank another Coke in their life. As much as you’d like to think you have the support of many other people who feel like you do, if you all were to come out from behind the computer, you’d see how very few would actually support you publicly. And those people liking your status or favoriting your tweet now wouldn’t speak up for you if you were standing in front of a room full of regular, normal people. They would quietly sit there and watch you make a fool of yourself. This is because you are in the extreme minority. Which is why Coke doesn’t care if you never drink another one in your life. You won’t make a difference. Oh and because we’re a global leader in business and Coca Cola is one of the most recognizable brands internationally from the middle east to east Asia, Europe to Latin America, to the tiny islands you’ve never heard of in the South Pacific like Vanuatu, and all across the continent of Africa. That’s a market share of over 7 billion people. You won’t make a difference.

4. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
“Better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

I do, however, fully agree with one singular principle whereby you are allowed to express your opinions: the right to free speech. After all, ain’t that what makes ‘Merrica great? This same principle that has given us some of the greatest minds and thinkers the world has ever seen, also allows people to expose themselves as the racists, bigots, nuts, crackpots, fools and idiots they are. Without free speech, it would make it that much harder for the rest of us to differentiate between the fools and everybody else. Please, continue to speak your mind. Freely and openly.

5. God bless America.

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I wrote a poem for a poetry class.
I was told it sounded like a love story.
I was told it didn’t work.
I was told it was too much of a romantic love poem;
that the love I was speaking of didn’t exist
between the people I spoke of.

I was told by a scholar and published poet,
a master of fine arts in literature
with a focus in poetry,
that I should re-examine my poem.

I was told to research the definition of love
as proposed by the Greeks thousands of years ago.
My version of love didn’t fit into their perspective.
Perhaps it was too broad for them.
Perhaps it was too narrow.

Either way,
if their perspective didn’t understand my love,
then they had never truly experienced love like I have.

I was told it was too much of a love poem.

It is.

Because that poem was about the first time I ever saw you.
The day you were born.

Music Mondays: “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys

I’m back (momentarily) with Music Mondays. And today I just wanted to share this one from several years ago by Alicia Keys. “Superwoman”. Hmmmm, makes me wanna write a story. Enjoy. Bon appetit.

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“Daddy’s Girl” (Short Story) by Casey Robbins

I’ve never seen him cry, the man I call Papa. He’s my grandfather, the one who, as a kid I used to arm wrestle with both my hands, practically standing on his wrists with all my weight and still couldn’t beat. Not even close. He’d sit there in his spot on the couch, shoveling peanuts into his mouth and adjusting his heavy bifocal frames. He’d ask me when I was going to try before turning my wrist over and placing it gently to the end table top.

The man who, years later when I was in my late teens and at the strongest and most physically fit, I thought I actually stood a chance of beating at arm wrestling. I still couldn’t. Not even with both hands. He was in his sixties then.

He was always a big man at six-foot-two and easily a stout two hundred seventy-five pounds with tree-trunk legs and Popeye forearms. Despite his belly I’d always known him to have that got bigger with age, despite the heart attack he suffered before I could even remember, he was still the strongest man I’d ever known.

The closest I came to actually seeing him cry was the day I left for the Army. We were always close. I spent a decent portion of my childhood living with my grandparents. And when the day came he was nervous, pacing.

He jiggled the keys in his pocket, stared out the window and finally after some time of doing that over and over again, he said something to me.


“Well, you’d better get going, babe. I know how the Army is when you’re late for things,” coming from a man who’d done his tour in the Army many years ago just as the Korean War was coming to a tentative cease-fire. “I’m sure gonna miss you. I better get going. I’ve got things I have to take care of.”

He hugged me tightly, not at all like any hug he’d ever given me. He told me he loved me with a pained look on his face. If I had looked closely, perhaps I could have seen the lump in his throat.

And with that, he got into his truck and drove off. I didn’t see him again until a year and a half later.

I found out months later from my grandmother that the reason he’d left before me is that he couldn’t stand the thought of me leaving and didn’t want to cry in front of me.

And so, I’ve never seen him cry. He took his mother’s death with dignity and acceptance. She was getting worse over the years. At first she didn’t recognize her great-grandkids. Then, she had trouble remembering her grandkids. Her two sons were mere memories of little boys growing up in Melon Valley just outside Buhl in Southern Idaho. Once she got to that point is when I’m sure he felt like he had already lost her. He kept his composure through it all. Many times he even joked about it but you could hear the tinge of pain in his voice even through the jokes. That’s how Papa dealt with pain.

This was different. When I arrived at my grandparents after the news, I was the last to show. I drove cross-country with my wife of four months and my son of three weeks. This was my first time seeing any of my family since joining the Army a year and a half earlier.

My oldest brother, who was also in the Army at the time, had gotten the news before me and been there a day or two ahead of me. My brother and sister, aunts and uncles and of course my grandparents all lived within a day’s drive.

My drive took me two and a half days at roughly 2,500 miles. I couldn’t exactly afford a plane ticket for myself and my wife and my newborn son. So we drove the whole way.  Naturally, we were the last to arrive.

As happy as I was to see everyone, the joy was taken away by the one simple fact of the circumstances of our reunion. Papa was the first one I hugged. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if there was anything I could say. And so I didn’t. I just hugged him.

His hug felt more like the day I left for the Army, only tighter. It was almost as if this man who towered over me was leaning on me. I was his support as much as he was mine.

You see, I’ve never seen my grandfather cry. I’ve felt him, though. As tight and strong as his hug was, his huge frame still trembled and shook as he wrapped his arms around me. I didn’t see the tears. I don’t know if they came any closer than the bottom of his eyelids. Certainly not flowing like mine.

As a new father, I could now fully understand his love—and his loss.

I was a mama’s boy. She was a daddy’s girl. She was my mom, but my God how hard it must have been for him that she was his daughter.


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Vices (A Conversation With a Friend)

“I need a fucking drink.”
“I need a fucking drink, too.”
“Yeah? If I was there, we’d go have one together. I need somebody to talk and drink with.”
“You’d have a partner in me. I love to have a social cocktail every now and again.”
“If by every now and again, you mean you’re a degenerate alcoholic like me that’s already drinking at 4:00 in the afternoon, count me as a friend. I should have gone to Nevada to hit the craps tables. Guess it’s not too late. Only a 45-minute drive…”
“Hell, I’d go if it was only 45 minutes away. And no, I seriously drink socially and that’s it.”
“Oh. I drink to take the pain away. Does that make me an alcoholic? Only if I admit it, right?”
“I write to take the pain away. Does that make me a writer? Only if I admit it, right?”
“Can one have multiple addictions at the same time? Answer: no. So you’re a writer with other vices. I’m an alcoholic who happens to write as a vice. I just wish my other vice wasn’t sex. I’m often disappointed and still have to practice ‘self-reliance’ on a regular basis.”

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“I Can Love You Better” by Joi Miner

This is by one of my favorite poets, Joi Miner. Приятного аппетита!

I love you hard and deep
Like pains kneaded from shoulders after manual labor
Like chops through wood in preparation for Winter’s chill
That penetrating kind of love
That blisters hands and leaves hearts pusting just beneath skin’s surface.

I love you with no expectation
Openly like a flower welcoming the Summer sun though it may soon be beaten by the same beams that warmed it.
Innocently as an infant loves the mother nursing it, though the toxins from chain smoking will certainly poison her
That trusting kind of love
That asks not what should be given, only tries to meet the invisible quota set at its creation.

I love you tirelessly
Like the quarks in a watch strive to accurately record each moment in time
Like the cycle of hydration, evaporation, and precipitation course from earth to heaven to earth once again
That repetitive kind of love
That can come to be expected causing chaos in its change.

I love you passionately
Like a succubus draining the life through kisses
Like a lizard wrapping tongue around meal that squirms hopelessly rather than accept its demise
That smothering kind of love
That smolders a flame in its youth, killing its warmth and promise with my ambition.

I loved you angrily last night
Suffering from the exhaustion that weighs on a body following overexertion
Swallowing saliva to silence stomach pangs from a hunger not satisfied
That single-sided love that forces one’s hand in Poker play
Your Poker Face had me taking faith in your bluff because you loved me with a love that was never enough.

I loved you stubbornly today
Continually giving you everything you never asked for
Wishing to meet needs before knowledge of them arose
Deafly thinking my knowledge of your desires far surpassed your own.
That dehydrating kind of love
That offers sand in place of fluid, and then gets frustrated with suffocation.

I have loved you ignorantly.
Like dying roses in a vase littering the floor with withered petals
Like sparkling diamonds sitting upon satin bust in museum chambers
That useless love
That disguises its lack of attention with moments of grandeur.

My love a feast spread here to yonder
Like plastic décor fruit dusting on grandmother’s table
Like Christmas dinner lain out before homeless orphan just beyond window pane
That taunting kind of love
That could be enough with a bit more effort.

-Joi Miner, “I Can Love You Better”

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“Our fears inhibit us from our full potential. Our greatest fear is in anticipation. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. Our deepest fear is not that we exist for no reason, but that we exist for a purpose we believe we cannot fulfill.”

-Marianne Williamson, Francis Chan and Casey Robbins

This is for me. This is for you.
This for my son and the select few,
Who believe in me and the good I can do.
Bismallahir rhamanir rahim.

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