Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I have Turkish friends. I have been in that airport before. I remember being amazed at all the different people traveling through the place. It was a giant bridge sitting between Europe and the Middle East, I thought... and I have the privilege to walk across it. That was then. This is now.
The world is so very dark now. For all of us.
All we can do is live. Let the forces of evil do what they will. Let the armies of the world try to destroy them. And in our own lives, in our own quiet moments, hold those we love. Hold them tightly. And pretend.
The best any of us can hope for anymore is to pretend the world is not as awful as it appears to be. Pretend that people in our own country can get along with each other. Pretend that we have a bright future. Get lost in a movie, an album, or a hike in the forest.
I am so grateful tonight for friends (old and new) who I was fortunate enough to spend time with over the past week. Larry and I don't get to hang out as often as we should, but he is a shining light who emits rays of joy and love into the world as far as the eye can see. If you are in his orbit, you cannot help but feel it and smile. John Kurzweg and I only recently met, but the two of these characters just brought so much joy into my world, both on the stage and off. I am truly grateful. Deeply moved.
My heart is with those in Turkey, those who dared to walk in the most pedestrian of places, an airport; that airport where I heard so many languages I couldn't identify, and where I ate a delicious meal I couldn't pronounce while waiting on my next flight.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

How to end gun violence in America, but first: FUCK YOU AMERICA!


Another morning. Another tragic shooting. And this time it gets the label for HIGHEST BODYCOUNT OF ANY MASS SHOOTING IN AMERICAN HISTORY! Mazel tov America! You have so much to be proud of. This is in fact one of the few areas the USA is ALWAYS number 1 at. Never the important ones like healthcare, education, quality of life, or life expectancy. But I digress.

Today's news will bring out all sorts of responses that change absolutely nothing: this can range from emojis, to prayers, to shock, to outrage, to tears. From the top, we can expect finger pointing (always in the wrong direction): towards Muslims (the shooter, even though the vast majority of shootings in America are by armed white conservative males self-identifying as christian), towards gays (for bringing on god's wrath), towards gun control (laughably). But at the end of the day, there are in fact things that will reduce and prevent gun violence in America: (wrote some of this after yesterday's post but hadn't planned on posting it for a while... until this morning).

I get tired of people saying there's nothing we can do to combat gun violence in the United States of America. While I would support an all-out ban like the one that exists in Australia and the UK, short of a ban, here are 10 commonsense changes to our CURRENT laws that could save TENS OF THOUSANDS of lives every single year.

1. Annual licensing and testing to get and keep those licenses. Just like registering a car, this would be mandatory once a year. If you don't have a license and you are found to have a gun, you go to prison. If you are convicted of a violent crime during the year and do not turn in your gun, you go to prison.

2. Mandatory gun buyback for anyone that does not require a license. Give some incentive to those people willingly following the law.

3. The licenses and laws regarding firearms will be identical for all 50 states. This change will be on the FEDERAL level. They cannot change from state to state, and all law enforcement agencies will work together under the same legal guidelines

4. Limit on bullets. If gun ranges want to have more, that is fine. But from now on, gun ranges are regulated by state government like those state liquor stores. Not owned by private citizens/business owners. And also gun/ammunition stores.

5. Along with the annual skills testing, safety test, and criminal background check there will be a psychological profiling and temperament tests. If someone does not want to take this test, they don't get a license nor access to guns. If they are found to have a gun in violation of this policy, they go to prison.

6. Limit on the number of weapons allowed. No one may build an arsenal.

7. Gun owners are forever responsible for any crimes committed with their weapon, even if they are lost or stolen. Especially in cases where the loss is not reported.

8. Purchasing guns for someone else or lending a gun to someone else is a crime punishable by license revocation and prison time.

9. Anyone convicted of any type of violent crime loses guns forever. Whether the crime is actually committed or terroristic threats are made, that person forfeits their right to own a weapon for the rest of their life as a citizen of the United States.

10. Anyone using their weapons to intimidate others people in public or private, loses their license and has to give up their guns. If they do not, they're in violation of federal law and will face prosecution and jail time.

11. Metal detectors and wands in all public places that we can put them. Especially in our hospitals, schools, colleges, malls, movie theaters, nightclubs, restaurants. Build them into door frames. We have the technology. This is no different than when we go to an airport. People will get used to it. And as a result, our children and frankly all of our citizens since will be safer

12. A national database of ALL GUNS and ALL GUN OWNERS must be maintained at all times. This must be cross checked in real time with crime databases of local law enforcement all the way up to the FBI, CIA, and NSA. To get on the database, no one is 'grandfathered'. Anyone already owning a gun MUST register. If they are found not to register with their guns, they lose the right to have them, must surrender them, or face possible prison time.

Alternately: 13. Implement gun technology whereby guns can only be fired with fingerprint of owner. 14. Ban them altogether. It works. Do the research and travel the world. It works.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

RIP Christina Grimmie. RIP America

America, lets be honest, ok? It's just us talking. It's getting a bit tough to defend, isn't it? But my gun owning friends defend it. 300 million plus guns in America. Other countries think we are nuts. And they are right. They don't have guns and they don't have 33,000 avoidable gun deaths every single year. And no, they don't simply replace those gun deaths with knife deaths. Getting rid of guns SAVES HUMAN LIFE!

I emphasized that last part because so many gun owners I know also claim to support the pro-life movement. It is absolute hypocrisy.

I have been in entertainment professionally for 31 years. I have performed all over the world. I remember touring in the USA in the 1990s and having stalkers following me from show to show. Some would drive 500 miles from night to night. They were dedicated, enthusiastic, but unstable and a bit unhinged. I wasn't entirely sure how to handle it. I treated them with respect and approached them with fear; a fear that I kept to myself. From all indications, that was part of the deal and 'these were my fans' I thought. I owe them something.

Some fans would show up at my concerts with gifts, posing in pics with me, telling others they were dating me, and whispering in my ear nonsense about things we were going to do together this weekend. From whimsical pursuits like 'antiquing' to activities that were over-the-top sexually provocative. Again, these were people I didn't know. They left notes, hotel keys, tried to kiss me, full mouth in front of their friends. They would grope my crotch, front and back while desperately making eye contact, saying 'you can do anything you want to me tonight'. And this was a time before the reality TV boom, before Facebook, before Twitter and Instagram. And certainly before American Idol and The Voice.

One time, one of my regular stalkers came to a show. I had started dating someone close to that time. When she saw me kiss my then new girlfriend and get onto the stage to perform, she became enraged. She was inconsolable. She began screaming obscenities at that girl, harassing her, interrupting my show, sobbing loudly, yelling incoherently, and causing a big scene. It was terrifying. Someone escorted her out and walked her to her car a few blocks away. They wanted to make sure SHE was safe. She obviously was not. No one was.

Years later, I was on tour with Liz opening for Sugarland, Little Big Town, Eric Church, Michelle Branch, LeAnn Rimes, etc... As the opener, we got very little security compared to the main acts. After our set, Liz would go out to sign autographs and meet her fans. My (unspoken) job among other things was to size everyone up and try to distract or redirect anyone who might be a threat. We had a few shows where a fan would bring gifts and act inappropriately possessive or jealous of her. I remember one fan who came to several shows. He was 'in love with her', 'wanted to be her singer' and 'wouldn't take no for an answer'. He demanded I introduce him and take him backstage to sing for her. (He was no singer) 'She NEEDED to meet him' and 'she had NO RIGHT not to make him her singer'. He became more angry and aggressive over time.

Those were a couple of examples among so many others. Far too many to recall.

What strikes me this morning of course is how easily ANY of them can get a gun in America. And how much a high visibility murder-suicide would play into their ultimate fantasy to be recognized by any of us artists, then suddenly gain relevance to the world by killing us followed directly by killing themselves.

I am furious. I feel helpless. I cannot believe this is how we exist now. I know, am close friends with, and have worked with MANY artists who gained prominence and visibility on American Idol, The Voice, and America's Got Talent.

I woke up to the news this morning. The awful, the shocking, the gut wrenching, but ultimately the entirely predictable news about Christina Grimmie. I watched her pre-show video on social media. She was so excited. So full of life. Someday, hopefully in my lifetime, people will learn that this sort of tragedy is COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE.

Private citizens don't need guns and this murderer should never have had one. We have failed as a country. Yet again. This is a story that plays out over and over again. Every single day in America until we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

The second amendment does NOT give anyone the right to do these things. Nor does it give anyone the right to BE ABLE to do them. And if a court can honestly find that it does, well we need to take a moment, study some other countries, take a deep breath, then GET RID OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT or at the very least CHANGE IT DRASTICALLY.

Gun violence needs to be treated like the public health epidemic that it is. It is an epidemic that claims the lives of 33,000 Americans every year and injures another 100,000. It is cancer, it is AIDS, it is ALS, it is no different than any other disease except in one significant way: WE HAVE A TESTED AND PROVEN TREATMENT! Using this treatment can greatly reduce deaths from this illness! And after enough years of treating it, it will look like a CURE.  I don't have to sit here and name the countries you can look to as an example. You are all smart. You have google. But please do the research. And become advocates on this matter.

The NRA is a racist hate group (use the google). Worse than that, they go out of their way to keep guns available to private citizens with the greatest of ease, and no restrictions. And who are 'they'? Again go to google, as this is readily available information: but 'they' are the very people who sell the guns, who sell the bullets. They are literally funding, lobbying for, and profiting from the deaths of 33,000 Americans every year and the serious injuries of 100,000 others.

Christina Grimmie had a bright future ahead of her. As entertainers, we are tasked with making all of your lives more manageable. Yes, we make art for a living and that can sometimes seem like a selfish pursuit, but we share our art with you. We open our lives, share our pain, and invite you into our world so that your pain doesn't feel so alone. We hold you in the darkest moments of your lives. When you meet us after our show, in tears, telling us how much a song saved your life, or changed something, or made it ok to be who you are... We feel that to. We share in that moment and it gives us deep meaning and purpose. Our art is supposed to reach you. It is supposed to have meaning. But you do not own us as a result. And you cannot kill us to write the headlines in your fantasy.

I have some hope this morning mixed in with my shock, rage, and numbness. Last night, I was discussing the concealed carry case in the Texas federal appellate courts right now. If that law is upheld, it would prevent 'concealed carry' for the vast majority of Americans. It is a little piece, merely a start, but last night, it would have saved Christina's life.

This murder hits close to home. This preventable murder hurts. They all do. Every single one.