Tuesday, March 22, 2016

BRUSSELS 3/22/16

First, let me say that my heart is overflowing with grief today for my friends in Europe, in France, and of course in Belgium for the unbelievable stress they have been under and for the tragedies that they have been forced to endure. Make no mistake, the "terrorists" that carry out these "missions" are complete cowards. There is no bravery to claim or pride to be taken from blowing up innocent civilians in a subway or an airport, none to be found while attacking innocent concertgoers at a live music venue on a street that I myself have performed on. There is nothing brave about blowing up a bus full of Jews, Arabs and Christians in Jerusalem, or at a market there. And while it might have been gutsy and ballsy, there was nothing particularly brave about crashing airplanes full of people into my skyline, shattering the heart of my city.

Dear world, I remember when we first met. I thought we knew each other pretty well. You were a safe and predictable place that I didn't quite fit into, so I 'marched to the beat of my own drummer' they'd say. Those early years of relative bliss were pretty great. And although I had a relatively traumatic childhood, I always believed it to be my own personal struggle. My own trauma that I was to bear; One that would fade away and that I could overcome by adulthood. 

The early years of my survival were marked by the strong influence of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and the laid back and stoned 1970's. I found the stage at this time through theater and music. It became my refuge and thought I knew what the world was. Frankly and without exaggeration, the arts saved my life. 

The 1980's were filled with Reagen, with Gorbachev, that damn wall coming down (which was announced to me by Ian Anderson at a Jethro Tull concert on Long Island). That was long before cellphones, smartphones, 24 hour news from ever angle. There was AIDS, space shuttle disasters, Pink Floyd & Billy Joel concerts, my first booze, my first joint, my bar mitzvah, my first girlfriend, my parents' divorce, a war zone at home, and at 12, an impressionable, troubled young kid running away and staying with older and inappropriate people in NYC.

The 1990s brought cars, college, more drugs, Nirvana, grunge, the start of my musical artist career, several albums and tours, George Bush, Bill Clinton, the Oklahoma City Bombing, Waco, friends going off to fight in Iraq, and something that hit very close to home. In 1993, there was a bombing at the World Trade Center. This was pretty shocking to me as I worked in those towers often. I was 20 years old trying to survive as an actor and musician in the brutal NYC market. I was doing singing telegrams that day in Manhattan. There were other similar days I recall... For instance, I was driving in a gorilla costume when the news of Kurt Cobain's death broke over the radio. I pulled over. I was gutted. 

But the Twin Towers. I remember the feeling before and after that day. While that event was trumped by later atrocities and unspeakable horror on that site, it is easy to forget on THAT day in 1993, the terror was immediate and profound. It shook us to the core, as New Yorkers and as Americans. I worked there many times after that bombing up to the point when I left in the late summer of 2001. I was back there in September 2001 mixing my 5th album. We all know what happened then. 

In the 2000's some great things happened and some sobering realities set in. The world I knew was dead. It had changed forever and we all knew it. But after the largest and most fantastic terrorist attack on US soil, followed closely by my almost dying the next year, my life drastically changed course. I couldn't sing or perform after my illness, so I slowly transitioned into producing and touring with other artists. On my presumptive deathbed, I had a few regrets that I vowed to remedy in the unlikely event that I survived. 1. I had never owned a house. 2. I never finished college. 3. I never got married nor had kids. Well I bought my first house in 2004, graduated Harvard in 2006, and well... 2 outta 3 ain't bad. 

In rediscovering my artistic life since then, so many amazing and unpredictable things have happened to and for me. Tours, albums, great loves, tragic losses, the company of my beloved dogs. But nearest and dearest to my heart are my many trips around the globe. I had always been terrified of flying and the events of 9/11/2001 didn't help matters. But after almost dying, you say 'fuck it' about a lot of things. And since then, as most of you know, I have become quite the world traveler. I go to the ends of the earth for art, exploration, creation of music, etc. One favorite destination has been Europe and within it, Brussels. 

Terrorism is pure evil carried out by the brainwashed minds of simple, uneducated, and disenfranchised people. While they celebrate tonight, we as citizens of the earth simply deepen our resolve to root them out. Killing and causing terror is their only ideology. They are programmed to think there is a higher purpose to their mission, but there is not. They are pure evil. Their main goal is destroying free societies like the United States of America, and turning us against each other. Through terror and fear, they enable the rise of tyrants like Donald Trump. These terrorists thrive on hate, and they want us to hate as well. A world full of chaos, violence, war, and hatred is the essence of their endgame. However, the world I grew up in and specifically the country I call home, was much better than that, I am much smarter. So are you.

There are ways to deal with terrorism, and I sincerely believe the Belgian authorities did their absolute best to protect the citizens of the country against these unpredictable brainwashed murderers. But this was not their first attack, and it will not be there last. Not by far. A generation of evil homicidal psychopaths with one purpose has formed over several decades. It was raised out of the ashes of war and inequity and knows only death as a means to communicate. The answer to this scourge is most certainly not more war against sovereign nations. I am no fan of killing, but most victims of terrorism would say that same thing if they were still living.

This evil must be rooted out, terrorists must be culled from society, and must be destroyed. This is not an American problem; this is a responsibility that rests heavily on the shoulders of all reasonable members of the human race. Flattening countries will not get us there. Attacking Muslims will not get us there. Squashing a radical ideology when it pops up is a decent start. However, that ideology is not ‘Islam’. Those who believe Islam is the problem are not 'intentionally' bigots but through fear, conservative propaganda, and programming, that is the only concept their minds are able to grasp. They are so terribly wrong and have a very short memory. 

The citizens of our country that are 'gun rights advocates', that are proponents of 'open carry', those who support hate groups like the NRA, the angry mobs at Trump rallies, the 'pro-life' protesters, the misguided souls who bring their rifles everywhere they go to 'exercise their second amendment rights'; they have been shown time and time again to be one trigger pull away from the insanity and brainwashed homicidal rage that the killers in Belgium and France were raised to believe in. It is no better and no worse. Hatred and fear is just that; hatred and fear. When you are angry and armed, you are just a ticking time bomb. However this moment is a time for a concerted effort between the intelligence agencies of the entire world. This is not at all a time for vigilantes. 

In the end, nothing changes until everything changes. The children of the world need love and education that doesn’t include justified murder in the curriculum. The poor living in all nations need help and equality. People out there have reasons to hate, reasons to resent and yes, some have been programmed with a divine justification for carrying out killings. However, our world has more than enough resources for everyone to grow up with food, healthcare, education, and without resentment and hate. Peace is not achieved through war. Nothing is. War brings more war. Revenge is futile, violence brings more violence, and killing brings more killing. Death is death. And today, I mourn along with the rest of the world, but especially with my dear friends in Europe, Belgium and beyond.

I have been a part of this planet since 1973. We have seen all sorts of great moments for humanity, and all sorts of evil men rise up to interrupt it. We must overcome the urge to kill and instead embrace ‘the impossible’. A new age in which we strive to understand each other's needs, and cooperate with each other. This in no way excuses murder, terrorism, the evil that has occurred today, nor that which will undoubtedly occur tomorrow following today's awful events. 

These are the thoughts I have upon waking up to this horrible news. While it is an election year in the United States, that was not the point of this posting. Although, I can see that our country is deeply in need of a commander-in-chief who will not listen to violent impulses and act with the knee-jerk brilliance of a schoolyard bully. That simply perpetuates the situation we have been dealing with for decades now. 

Brussels, as you sleep tonight, and I know it will be hard, please know my heart is with all of you. Every time a tragedy occurs in a place where I have spent time and have close friends, I take it very personally. I consider and feel these events deeply. I hope you can gather with friends this evening, share a bottle of wine and a meal, play some songs together on a guitar. Smoke a joint if that helps calm your nerves. You, ALL of you, are better and stronger than the cowards who did this to you and all of us know that. I hate to be so far away from friends when they're going through tragedies like this, whether they be in Israel, Europe, or in the United States. I will return to you as soon as humanly possible, but until then, my eyes remain open as do my mind and heart. 

I am absolutely 100% with you in spirit. With love, with tears, and deeply sharing your pain.

Your friend,

Russell Wolff

Saturday, March 5, 2016

So, about Adolph...


Friends, family, neighbors, fellow citizens, enemies even... I can't sleep tonight and I haven't slept much since Super Tuesday. I don't need to say 'I told you so' or make any sort of angry comments to the people who told me I was being a neurotic/paranoid Jew when I compared Trump to Hitler. But I stand by my earlier assessment and am now seeing that it is much worse than we realized.

It doesn't matter if he means what he says or not. It doesn't matter if this is some brilliant plot to shake things up in the GOP. It doesn't matter if this is a joke to him or a publicity stunt to satisfy his humungous ego or get better ratings on a reality show next year. We are WAY past that now. And if we don't act, it will be too late to stop what is happening before our eyes.

So now, and I mean RIGHT now (tomorrow morning is fine) every decent American citizen who loves this country and calls it home needs to think about what is happening here and become an activist. A loud one. This madness MUST be stopped.

I don't care if you are a Christian, a Jew, an atheist, a republican, a democrat, a Muslim, black, white, Arab, Indian, Asian, a whatever...


This is real life. This is not a test. This should be scaring the shit out of you. And we all must do any and everything in our power to stop it. I am telling you this is not optional. We cannot afford to be complacent. We cannot afford to say, "nah, this stuff will never happen." He has already made good on his words. Trump says he will order the military to torture people, and he says they will do as he commands. When he incites violence against certain races of people at his rallies, his supporters listen and commit violent acts against them.

But, I am not simply talking about Trump. The guy is an egomaniacal  fascist asshole and a phony. But 25% of your fellow American citizens agree with his racist and violent rhetoric and plans. Please take a moment to think about how large that number is, and about how few racists you previously thought were in our country. You MUST reach out as best you can to his supporters. You must vote for someone else and not only encourage Trump supporters to cloche from  to as well, but explain to them why it is so important. Our country and all it was founded upon is at stake.

If you care at all about the future of our country and of your children and of future generations, you have a moral obligation to act. Not to hope. Not to pray. But to act. Loudly. Swiftly. This is no longer a joke. This is not a test. This is real life with real consequences playing out in real time. This hellfire of bigotry, violence and hatred must be stopped. Everything is at stake. Everything you know, everyone you love. So I implore you to get involved. I beg you not to fall under a spell of ambivalence and malaise. This is not the time for that. This cancer will continue to grow. It has spread to 25% of our population today and is showing no sign of going away. Don't let it get any worse. Be part of the cure.