Barking Dogs… January 14, 2012


I’ve only been working on it for about a year.

Honestly, I’m not very good at it. But I still continue to pursue the idea because I realize how valuable it is–and perhaps even necessary to my own well-being and certainly to my fellow-humans. For many years I knew it was something I should consider, but candidly, I just thought people should take care of their own business, be grown-up and not involve me in their messes.

But here’s the truth–lots of people don’t take care of their own affairs. People tend to wear their feelings on their sleeves and then become easily bruised and upset when you bump into them. It causes strife, fighting, feuds and just a general feeling of discontent among the populace.

So that is why, for the past year I have been trying to listen to and note the barking dogs that hound the minds of my fellow-travelers. Because if I take every nasty attitude that’s thrown my way and assume it was meant for me, I am an idiot. People arrive in our presence already cocked to go off like a gun, with feelings of resentment, remorse and insecurity that have absolutely nothing to do with us. They may choose us as a dumping ground, but unless we take the time to suck up some air and consider their plight, we will explode all over them, further confirming their belief that life sucks. It is a step of maturity that I am ill-prepared to undertake–but I do acknowledge that it’s required in order to move forward. People have “barking dogs” on their heels all the time that they’re running from, causing them to be less than considerate, pre-occupied, frustrated and often incompetent.

Let me give you an example. Several weeks ago, I finished performing in a church and a lady came by my book table in a wheel chair and rolled on down the hallway towards a restroom. She sat in front of the restroom for a few moments and then tried to roll to the door but was unable to open it, and after two attempts, backed her wheelchair up and disappeared around a corner, out of sight. It got me thinking. I wondered if she was around that corner trying to figure out how to get into the bathroom, yet completely stymied by her situation and, for whatever reason, unwilling to ask for assistance. I took a chance. I knew she wouldn’t allow me to help her into the bathroom, so I asked a teenage girl nearby to do me a favor. I quickly explained the situation and inquired if she would be willing to go find the lady and see if she was sitting there and ask her if she would like some assistance getting into the restroom. The young girl looked at me like I was a little crazy, but since she thought it was a “worthy” nuttiness, she complied. She disappeared and short moments later, reappeared rolling the lady to the restroom, completing the mission. I don’t know how long that woman would have sat, trying to figure out how to get into the bathroom, allowing the “barking dogs” to create greater and greater dissatisfaction in her soul. But I was glad I could silence the hounds in her mind on this one occasion. You see, in the midst of a society constantly trying to judge the actions of other people based on outward appearance, the more intelligent path is to listen for the barking dogs that hound people into being less than what they really desire to be.

I find it difficult to write about the subject because I am in such an infant stage of discovery that my explanation probably sounds like baby-talk. But this is what I know–ninety per cent of the people who are mean to me are so because they think they’re attacking somebody or something else. If I retaliate solely based upon what they say or do to me, I start an unnecessary war. If I pause for a second and wonder what vicious consequence of life has caused them to arrive in such a foul mood, I allow my compassion to take the forefront instead of my retaliation. It doesn’t always work–but when it does, I offer salvation to my friends instead of incrimination.

Can we tune our ears to hear the barking dogs that are hounding the minds of those we meet? Perhaps it’s a pipe dream. You might even consider it a piece of foolishness. But I know this–to spend my whole life judging things by what I hear and see and never look deeper into the heart is to remove the essence of God from my journey.

Because it is always God’s will to look inside … instead of judging the book by its cover.


Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:


To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

Tales of Whales… January 13, 2012


I don’t want to be a curmudgeon. The condition is usually characterized as an aging person who has become jaded and grouchy about the enjoyment of youthful passions and delights. That’s not me. But every once in a while something crosses the landscape of the American cultural-bus-tour that requires some comment–maybe even of a disgruntled sort.

I, for one, am fed up with the glorification of animals–especially to the exclusion of energy that could be spent in aiding our own race (that being the human one.)

How many movies are we going to make about whales that need to be saved? How many times do we really need to Free Willy? Do we need another scene of teary-eyed proponents of the animal cause, weeping over some creature that’s being thrust into captivity? AND we’re so type-specific! We seem to care about the porpoise getting caught in the tuna net without ever giving a thought to the thousands of tuna which are being eaten! Dogs and cats gain great favor with us, while mice and possums can be discarded alongside the road as necessary casualties of progress. What is the obsession?

Here’s a story. About five years ago, I wrote a movie called The $6 Man. Many of you may even own it. It is the story of a father who loses his financial security and finds himself on the street with his eleven-year-old daughter, attempting to live on six dollars a day, while also organizing and assisting his fellow-street-dwellers. I love this movie. It is full of heart, humanity, mercy, humor, pathos and all the good things that make a terrific flick. But when it came time for it to go to film festivals and be considered for distribution, it was rejected by many because it wasn’t “family fare.” Let me get this straight: three whales stranded under an ice floe, assisted by a young boy, is called a “miracle story for the whole family.” But on the other hand, an actual family stranded under a  freeway overpass, trying to live in a trash dumpster and love each other is “not suitable for children.”

Is this really the message we want to convey? Because when I challenged those powers-that-be about their decision, they explained to me that the situations were “too adult” and parts of the movie characterized the government and people around the homeless as being uncaring. Amazing.

I watched a television show the other night where a gorilla was seeking personhood because the animal had been taught to do sign language–and his leathery, hairy face seemed to have expressions of sadness. A quick search on the Internet will tell you that gorillas are violent, and chimpanzees (which many folks consider to be our closest ancestor) will rip your face off at a moment’s notice. Now, I have met a lot of human beings who are not particularly favorable, but none who have ever ripped my face off.

And here’s another strange thing–this issue seems to be one of the few that liberals and conservatives agree upon: family fare is any entertainment that involves animals being treated correctly, fantasy, warlocks or unlikely scenarios about young people in difficulty, trying to solve problems.

Where are we teaching our next generation to be human? Because I will tell you right now–caring for a whale, a gorilla or even a kitty-cat does not make you a quality human being. Learning to love someone who has the ability to speak his or her mind–and not necessarily love you back just because you bring them a bowl of food–is the true measurement of our earth worth.

Conservatives love to perch their children in front of “safe” movies, where animals are valued and there is a happy ending, which makes the children giddy, although ill-informed. Liberals likewise fear exposing their offspring to any practical realities of life, feeling it’s better that these experiences be “gradually” filtered into the learning process. So saving a whale or hugging a gorilla seems to be an acceptable two-hour-long baby-sitter as the parents go into the other room, sipping some wine and watching old Scorsese movies. As bad as it is to see conservatives and liberals arguing, it is even more frightening when they unite over inhumanity.

Give me a movie where a young boy discovers three homeless people–or decides to visit a trio of housebound retired folks after school. Let us explore his experiences  with these individuals. I can write it just as heartwarming, real and touching as the “whale tale.” But you will never see it–for we choose to throw money at the homeless problem rather than addressing the real need.

Homelessness in America is a three-fold issue:

1. Many of the people need social reclamation. In other words, they’ve just forgotten how to get along with other people.

2. Others lack the skills necessary to leap back into society and make a living without working all day long to still end up lacking a roof.

3. And candidly, there are mental health issues. Thousands of these individuals who are disenfranchised are struggling with their own minds, insecurities and mental lapses. They need attention.

I realize my little essay doesn’t mean much in the vast spectrum of the pursuit of “family fare entertainment.” But I don’t think we can expect humanity to improve if we don’t spend that much time with humans. And I will continue to speak out on the issue, risking being referred to as ‘the old grump,” hoping that someone who has an ear will hear, and allow their children a real education on how to be alive.

Because let me tell you, I have met many people who adore animals–and hate folks. But I’ve never found anyone who loves human beings who doesn’t stop long enough to give a bone to a stray dog.


Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:


To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

Terrified of Tuna–October 25, 2011


It comes in cans. Honestly, I feel that should be the end of the discussion. Fish does not belong in cans. I suppose if you found one rotting in a puddle of water outside your home, you might want to gingerly pick it up with a pair of tongs and stuff it in an empty pork and bean canister and dispose of it in the nearest trash bin. Other than that, I don’t think fish belong in cans—whether it’s tuna, mackerel, salmon, or of course … sardines.

Now, I know it’s good for you. But there are lots of foods that are good for you that don’t taste like tuna or maintain a metallic flavor in your mouth. (I also don’t like canned vegetables, by the way. It seems to me that canned vegetables are the ones that lost the bet in the garden. The fresh ones won and get to go to the market. The frozen ones get to maintain their shape and color. But the canned ones lost—and end up looking like they have some form of anemia.)

But certainly tuna—being a FISH—should not be in a can.  And the problem is—it tastes so much like tuna! It may be the personification of the term “fishy.” Another thing I don’t like is that when you open up a can of tuna, you suddenly have two cats rubbing up against your leg, purring their lungs out. Here’s the weird thing. You don’t even OWN a cat. And then you look down and the cat looks at you and there’s an unspoken moment when you know what that feline is thinking. “Listen, bud—pretend all you want to, but we know what you got there is cat food. So hand it over.”

What can you do with tuna? There’s tuna and noodles, which requires really good noodles, sauce and cheese.  Tuna comes in a distant fourth.  There’s tuna salad. Now, for a long time I thought I liked tuna salad until I realized that what I really liked was eggs, pickle relish, Miracle Whip and a bit of celery. Yes, I got healed of the notion of eating tuna salad one day when I ate egg salad and realized it was better—because there was no tuna in it!

Most people put mayonnaise in tuna salad, too, which is really aggravating.  I like Miracle Whip.  You know what bothers me about mayonnaise? I think it’s a scam. I think some guy forgot to put two or three ingredients into his Miracle Whip, put it in jars and shipped it before he realized his mistake, so he ran to the store and re-named it and re-labeled it, placing the word “creamy” on the front—and there were people out there who were so frightened of taste that they bought it and enjoyed it. That’s my theory.  I think I’m going to stick with it until someone disproves it.

But back to tuna. Some people like to have it grilled—or seared. I never thought searing was a positive thing to do to anything, and of course, grilling makes everything taste great. This summer I ate grilled peaches! Put some black lines on any particular food with a little bit of charcoal taste, and you have a delicacy.

Tuna is not a delicacy. After all, it’s in cans.  And of course, now they put it in pouches. The pouches kind of freak me out too, because they kind of look like Grandpa Ford’s chewin’baccy containers.  Perhaps there’s a new product there—tunabacca.  With this you get bad taste and mouth cancer at the same time.  Pardon me, that wasn’t really funny.

Fish has a public relations problem anyway, especially since people have started eating sushi.  I’m willing to try new things—and I have eaten sushi. But I’ve broken it down to its individual parts: rice, raw fish, and grass clippings. Let me see—what makes this dish work? Even people who are avid sushi eaters might step away from the table if you removed the rice.  Just the raw fish and grass clippings could be a little nasty.

But the main problem—or the ongoing one—is that fish eaters and tuna consumers are very pious. They think because you don’t like tuna that you are an unhealthy person. I love fruits and vegetables.  I love lean meats.  It’s tuna that bothers me.  Or is it tuna in a can? Or is it tuna posing as a real ingredient in a salad?

I think it’s tuna.  Tuna just annoys me. It can ruin a really good sandwich.  And for those who put mustard in their tuna salad—it’s the only time that mustard wins out in a taste test. 

So for me, I am not going to eat tuna. And I’m not going to deceive other people by saying that “fish is ALWAYS delicious.” Because the people who won’t eat fried fish turn around and insist that their grilled fish be covered with butter or tartar sauce.  Does this food have taste, or are we just trying to disguise it behind things with which we really like to tickle our palate?  I’m not so sure it’s better to eat fish when it’s not fried.  And for those folks who insist that THEY just put lemon on their fish, I have to say, that particular taste is dry and makes me think that somebody put a citrus plant too near the wharf.

No tuna for me, please. I’m not usually a picky person, but tuna does tend to terrify me. It reminds me of that joke from the Rocky movie.  Rocky says toAdrian, “Did you know,Adrian, you can tun-a-piano, but you can’t tun-a-fish?”

You can’t tuna fish. Exactly, Mr. Balboa. 



Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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