Friday, November 18, 2016

Donald Trump: the perfect President for the United States of America.

Donald Trump is the perfect President for the United States of America, a country I am deeply ashamed of, and one that for the most part seems to deserve no better.

I have spent the last week of my life mourning bigly, drinking bigly, dreaming bigly, and making plans bigly, folks. I no longer have the strength to be the loud New York voice of reason and equality screaming out to the deaf angry ignorant ears of the confederacy. I have fought my heart out for nearly a decade here and it is time to pass on the baton. Luckily I have seen the future in the beautiful voices of young black America. They will never give up. They will not be silenced.

As I speak to my black friends, my Jewish friends (who still have a shred of humanity in them), my Muslim friends, my Hispanic friends, my immigrant friends, my female friends, I wonder to myself… How in the holy pho could this happen? How did it happen here? This is supposed to be America, land of the free and home of the brave (though we know that phrase has always applied mostly to affluent white christian males). This is not Nazi Germany, right? But, after a week of reflection I have come to an inconvenient and unpleasant conclusion…

Donald Trump is the only logical and proper representative of these <never truly> United States of America, even as his rise signals for many of us, the death of our nation. May she rest in pieces like the tattered flags left on many a bloodied battlefield.

The great veils of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ have been lifted and the infection that has been festering underneath them this whole time is too grotesque and awful to look at. But I ask all Americans to look at it anyway. And never look away again. Take a deep breath and approach slowly, with a steady gate and with eyes wide open. Understand that complacency and blissful ignorance brought us to this place we stand and to this sobering moment in time. We took certain things for granted: that the civil war was over, that slavery had ended, and that all Americans have access to freedom and equality. However, this was all a great lie and brutal betrayal of our national trust.

Fueled by racism, bigotry, sexism and white nationalism, capitalism and greed have been taken to their most gruesome & horrifying end (by design of course). That is Donald Trump. Stepping on everyone in your path and destroying people's lives on your way to the top of society to grab infinite, unfettered and unchecked power. That is Donald Trump. Raping and pillaging, both in the literal and figurative sense, to fulfill your ‘god given potential’. That is Donald Trump. Corruption, racism, classism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia, islamaphobia, and xenophobia of all kinds. That is America, and THAT is Donald J Trump.

Capitalism and entrepreneurship in and of themselves are great. They stimulate the economy, inspire innovation and invention, advance science and healthcare, they make a life in the arts possible, and they bring about social change and progress, etc… But take them to their darkest inevitable place, and that's where you will find America today; the land of the free (while having less freedoms than many other countries and incarcerating more than all, including the institutionalized imprisonment of so many black men, our new slavery); and the home of the brave (couldn't possibly be less true right now as the fear and ignorance of so many Americans brought them secretly to pull the lever for a fascist president and his Nazi sympathizing white supremacist cabinet); America is the land of the have everythings and the have nothings. And yet somewhere, hiding in the middle, are the people like me and you, who grew up being fed a steady diet of a lie that was known as 'the American dream'. While this dream exists for affluent and privileged whites, it is systematically denied to everyone else.

America has always belonged to and been governed by rich powerful white men who want to control everyone else who doesn't look, think, or pray like they do. Our founders of course wanted none of this, but to the original point, they themselves were free, white, landowning men. They wrote the rules which set in motion what could have been a beautiful experiment. However, I ask America today to look in the mirror. If you keep your eyes open, and are honest with yourselves, what you will see is Godzilla. A terrible toxic monster born out of years and years of a failed experiment. And right behind those eyes, sitting at the controls of that mechanical beast, is Donald Trump. He is wearing a gold-plated crown, sitting on the throne, and dare I suggest, he sits exactly where he belongs. Don't think so? Ask Vladimir Putin, James Comey, and other foreign and domestic players who had a heavy and corrupt hand manipulating uneducated whites to place him in power.

There was another option of course, but after decades of abusing her, you decided to pass on electing a lifelong public servant. A fighter for children and women, a former First Lady, a Senator from New York, and a globally respected Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was too good for America. Many of us Americans are. We fight the good fight year after year, we help each other, we build communities, we give to those who have nothing, and we bring hope to those who have none. You America, you rejected all logic, reason, and compassion, and instead embraced lies, conspiracies, racism, and egomaniacal serial rapists… you elected the worst human being America had to offer. Hats off to you America, you know what shoe fit.

Growing up in and around New York City, I was led to believe that someone's religion, skin color, or socioeconomic status did not dictate their station or potential in life. However, this was a lie like so many others I was told about our country. The United States of America could have been a great place; a land of opportunity for all; a place where we educate our young people and provide healthcare for all of our citizens. But instead, this country became a shameful place. And now, with the veils of democracy and freedom finally and completely lifted, America has been exposed for all to see. Everyone around the world now knows who she is and what she stands for. America is a selfish place filled with hateful people who care nothing for anyone but themselves; they care only for what's right for THEM, THEIR religious views, and THEIR families, without regard for others who don't share their beliefs or look like them. They apparently have no compassion for others. Am I painting with a broad strokes? Fuck yes I am… But America, fuck yeah!

Donald Trump's America is the one you have been fighting for since 1776.  And I'd like to share with you just a few short examples of what has become of America since you decided to support this monster. I work with kids in the Nashville Metro school system. There are daily incidents of Muslim children being attacked verbally and physically (Hume-Fogg, Vanderbilt undergrad, others), of immigrant children being threatened by students and teachers alike to be turned in to immigration and returned to their country of origin. (Oh the irony involved there Murica!) The black children I work with feel more disenfranchised than they ever have, yet their voices WILL be heard. I know of several girls and women who have been sexually assaulted while their attackers scream things like "I am just grabbing a pussy!! USA!! USA!!"  And sadly, I know many Jews, both teachers and students, who have endured antisemitic attacks the likes of which haven't been seen for decades. And that's just within the last month.

THIS is finally AMERIKA, unfiltered. THIS is finally the real world. And THIS is just the beginning. If you have any hope left, cling tightly to it. If you have a moral compass, may it guide your path. If you believe in a god, pray to him or her for strength. If you have a soul, reach out to blacks, gays, women, Muslims, hispanic people, refugees and immigrants. Open your minds, your hearts, your doors, and your homes to them. Talk to them. See what they need and how you might be able to help them. To my white heterosexual male friends: please don't assume they automatically see you as part of the oppression. They can tell the difference. They need your love, compassion, and support at this moment more than ever. Take a stand. Reach out. Be an ally.

If you have a fight left in you, fight like hell for this place. Fight until your voice is merely a gasp for air. Fight until all of your blood has spilled onto those streets our ancestors paved and that the oppressors now walk on with comfort and safety. Fight until you can fight no longer. Fight as if your life depends on it. Because frankly, it does.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This is 9/11. Or something far worse... like Kristallnacht on THIS VERY DAY in 1938.

Full text from my blog for those who don't like clicking.

This is 9/11. Or Krystallnacht which occurred ON THIS DAY in 1938.

Friends, famiy and haters alike, I reluctantly write to all of you this morning. You know I am and will always be a New Yorker. I spent significant portions of my life in New Jersey, in Boston, and now in the very red city of Nashville. Don't listen to the people who tell you this place is liberal/blue. Or progressive.  It isn't. It is simply red. Only without the cheesy 80s lyrics and cover art.

As I finally mustered the energy to go outside and walk my dogs this morning, I entered the New World. Here is what struck me: This indescribable feeling I had as I look up at the perfectly blue sky is earily familiar. And it is not a good sign. I have only had that feeling one other time in my 43 years on this planet. And that was when I awoke to a loud noise and head up the street to get a bagel... on 9/11/2001.

My country is not what I thought it was. The people in it are not who I thought they were. And if you are not white, wealthy, and christian, I have genuine concern for your health, your safety, and your future. Nashville was never home for me. I am not a conservative. I believe in equal rights. I don't believe in guns or gods. I am not 'a Christian' though arguably neither is any Christian I have met here. In fact EVERY atheist, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist has been
more Christian than any Christian I have encountered in the Bible Belt.

So after nearly 10 years, Nashville still isn't home. I came here to advance and continue my career in music and I have no regrets whatsoever about that. The friends I have made here, the records, the greatest musicians and artists in the world, the many tours around the globe, my Music Row recording studio which has become a sacred space for me, my work with underserved kids in the teen center of the Nashville Downtown Library.

But it has all come at great price. Living here has destroyed my soul and obliterated my faith in humanity. It is time to move on. For some people, that means leaving Nashville. For others, that means leaving TN, and for yet another group of people, that means leaving America. And as I contemplate my next move VERY carefully, I support and stand in solidarity with all of them. Also I stand in conflicted tears thinking of those who will be left behind. I have spent decades fighting for them. I will never stop fighting for equal rights, financial equality, education and healthcare, but I can no longer do it from the south with a clear conscience.

My friends in the south who have always counted on me to be that loud New York yankee atheist Jew they hear fighting for what's right in a place where so much is so wrong, I am sorry. I truly hope you can forgive me. I will never stop fighting for equal rights. I'm a Jew. It's in our DNA. But I can't fight all the time. I need to strike a balance. I hope someday you can forgive me.

I just had my first American experience racial profiling: I went to the doctor and a nurse was about to take my vitals. She looked like one of Hitler's super babies: beautiful, blonde hair, blue eyes, flawless skin, perfect white smile. I asked if she had voted for Trump. She looked at me like a 'christian' deer in the headlights and I heard a southern black woman say from around the corner yell, "OH SHE SUUUURE IS". I said it that I wouldn't allow someone who voted for Trump to touch me and had that other nurse who turned out to be black came around and we shared a moment. She did NOT support that monster. I said I would only allow her to touch me. Escape can't come soon enough.

After that interaction, we hugged, we cried, she told me about her kids and what she said to them this morning. I have already had three similar  conversations with black women I didn't know. Each of those long and difficult conversations about what just happened in America ended in tears and hugs. These were strangers. Good Americans. But we found ourselves instantly bound by grief and mourning for our country and fear of what this means for our future.

My future is bright. Perhaps that is foreshadowing. But no matter where I land, I promise
you I will fight for the rights of women, Jews, minorities, Muslims, the gay community, and black lives until I can no longer draw a breath. I WILL NOT REST. But I have lost the strength to continue this fight from Tennessee, a place I never fit in from day one.

Over the next few months, I will be in Israel (where I am
afforded dual citizenship), LA (which it's own country after all), Holland, and Tokyo. I need to connect with kindred spirits and forge a new path that makes some sense of the great American tragedy that just unfolded before our very eyes.

Trump, while being a truly vile human being, has never been the cause of the problem. The true problem remains the millions of Americans willing to support such an evil racist bigoted misogynist child rapist and the conservative/religious ideology that created that monster. I had no idea how many of you are out there. I am deeply ashamed of America today. And I don't have the answer to the question on everyone's mind: What now?

I still have a studio for now. Come see me. Have a drink or
five. Make a record. Money is meaningless at this point. Pay what you can. It's a limited time offer as my time here has become limited.

I love my country. Deeply. But unfortunately, it no longer exists. And for blacks,
Immigrants, and other non-whites, it never really did. As an atheist, I lack faith, but I believe in hope. I lack god, but I believe in love and kind acts. I used to believe this country was worth fighting for. Now it feels like a scary place to escape from.

As a Jew, we are taught to never forget the lessons and horror of the holocaust. We are taught to learn from the past, to never forget. I am reminded of this very famous poem:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

Pastor Martin Niemöller

The end of the world as we know it and I feel sick.

Thank you to all who came to the wake and funeral of the United States of America. She entered the world with such hope and promise. But she left us after a decades long battle with cancer. I love you all and could not have survived last night without you. I am planning my next moves on this earth carefully and thoughtfully, but also rapidly. It began the minute the Nazi rise to power was complete and our country was lost forever. Reach out publicly or privately whenever you need and I will do my best to be there for you even at this moment when I can barely move.

With love and compassion for humanity,
Russell Wolff

Monday, November 7, 2016

Dear comrades: It's the end of the world as we know it.

And I feel sick!

My comrades: Be like a mensch. Be braver than all of your haters combined. Be a beautiful soul.  Have a strong spirit and compassion for others. Please vote. Please see reality. Hillary Clinton is the only logical, sane, and uber qualified choice for president. May #JamesComey face treason charges for what he might have done (single handedly end the USA with lies and propaganda for an entire week before the election while early voting was already in progress)

Our end of election Tuesday night event at my recording studio will either be an 'END OF TRUMP' celebration or an 'END OF THE USA' mass suicide. But we will need the laughs either way.

I have snacks, tissues, water bottles, and seating for a batch of folks. But bring some booze and be ready to go in for some pizza or something. Remember, Domino's Pizza corporate colors are Red, White, and Blue. Come Wednesday morning, our flag may truly be all red with a long hated yellow symbol on it.

If you still support Trump, maybe you don't follow history. One of his nicest early campaign promises it to wipe out healthcare for millions of Americans. (That directly impacts the poor and minorities) But among his truly terrifying promises is 'mass deportations' of undocumented immigrants and certain other groups like Muslims. After imposing surveillance upon free Muslim Americans simply for praying and practicing their faith in their houses of worship. One other man rose to power with promises akin to these. Adolph Hitler. Not only did he wipe out one third of my race of people worldwide, but he personally convinced millions to follow him and take part in the torture and murder of parts of my family. NEVER FORGET! NEVER AGAIN!

Misogyny, sexual assault, child rape, decades of racist crimes and payoffs to avoid them. Nonstop lies that constantly contradict other lies or things he has said. If you support him, do not DARE call yourself a Christian. You aren't. If you support him and you are a Jew, shame on you. If you support him and you just don't know any better, I wish I could reach you, but I know I can't. None of us can.

Before you vote (if you haven't already) go into that booth and imagine that YOU are a girl or woman (if you are a man). Imagine that you are a Muslim. Imagine that you are a Mexican. Imagine that you are an immigrant (undocumented or not) who contributes to our great and diverse society. Imagine that you are every person around the world who is terrified at the prospect of this thin-skinned aggressive and unpredictable evil orange dictator gaining control of the most powerful nation and military on the planet.

Whatever reason you might dislike Hillary Clinton, if you allow yourself to align yourself with actual facts and documented record, you have no choice but to concede: she is a powerful hard working accomplished woman, respected around the world, who knows exactly how government works both locally and globally, and who has a decades long record of working her ass off for YOU America. Despite all the bullshit and abuse you continue to throw at her, she wakes up, goes to work, and continues to serve YOU. She and ONLY she deserves your vote. She and ONLY she has warned it.

The way you have behaved as a country over the last several years, it is YOU who don't even deserve her. But you better wish, hope, and pray that you get her anyway!

Long live the land of the free. Long live America. Long live real estate websites with listings all over the world.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Welcome to November 2016.

This has been one of the darkest years of our collective American existence. The true character of a large part of our nation has been exposed to the entire world and played out tirelessly on the media circuit. We Americans have some deep soul searching to do and for many of you, I hope you do it before you step into the booth to vote for our next leader. I don't have to tell you who the only real choice is: Hillary Clinton, a woman who has spent her entire lifetime in public service and has the scars to prove it. Don't listen to me. Do your own research. Look up the facts, not the theories. Look carefully at her opponent's record and compare it HONESTLY. But also listen to the opinion of calm and experienced republican as well as democratic sources; to major news outlets and respected newspapers; and to many of them who have never endorsed a democratic candidate. But believe it or not, I didn't wake up today thinking about the election.

I woke up today thinking about triggers. I realize that while this might be a common concept to many of us, still others see the word used on Facebook and don't fully understand it. Once you have been the victim of and subsequently a survivor of assault, discrimination, physical or mental trauma, have been on the battlefield, or dealt with any other abuse, you are the recipient of triggers. They are unavoidable and can happen at any time, place, or setting. Sometimes 'appropriate' sometimes embarrassing. Always a personal burden. They hit like a lightning strike then drown you in a tidal wave of panic, emotion, tears, dread, terror. With the flight or fight response in full gear, you just want to escape. I know you do. I do.

The past couple of years have been riddled with triggers. As far as I can remember, mine began with the Bill Cosby case and continue to this day. If you have been raped, you have had to deal with triggers. If you have been abused, you have had to deal with triggers. If you have had an angry boss or other male authority figure talk over you, scream at you, demean you, you have been dealing with triggers. If you are Mexican-American, you have been dealing with triggers. If you are a recent immigrant (documented or not) you have been dealing with triggers. If you are a Muslim, you have been dealing with triggers. If you are a woman, you have been dealing with triggers. And if you are black in America, you have been dealing with triggers, both from words and from guns.

When I hear Donald Trump talk with intense rage over Hillary Clinton during a debate, I hear my father screaming at my mother as my brother and I cried and banged on their door to get him to stop, then ran away to hide from him once he did and shifted to come for us. When I hear Donald Trump talk smugly about how smart he is, I see the familiar and sadistic smirk of a camp director who abused me and countless other young boys. He knew he would get away with it. When I hear Donald Trump talk about women, including his own daughter, I hear the voices of older men who raped young female friends of mine growing up; and I also hear the voices of the older men who saw me as an easy target as well. When I hear Donald Trump encourage his millions of supporters to take violent actions against minorities, I am reminded of how people were encouraged to take violent actions against me as a child, simply for being a Jew. When I hear Donald Trump talk about mass deportation of immigrants and Muslims, I hear the voice of Adolph Hitler deporting my family to other countries, then later to their deaths in the concentration camps. And when I hear his supporters, foaming at the mouth, screaming things like 'Killary' 'Lock her up' and 'Jew-S-A', I am frozen in a state of shock. When I am working out at the Christian-based Green Hills YMCA and I hear white women and men responding to yet another murder-by-police of an unarmed black civilian by saying 'Well if he just listened to the officer like we do, he would still be alive', I know deep in my soul that we are a nation beyond repair.

This was once the United States of America. It shouldn't take a massive terrorist attack to draw us closer to that place. I am simultaneously embarrassed of and terrified of my homeland. Who are we? What have we become? Regardless of who wins this election, I challenge all of you to search your souls and your conscience for answers. Please walk up to a mirror, look yourself directly in the eyes, and ask yourself: Am I really ok with all of this? Am I 'proud to be an American'? Or, is my 'patriotism' really a cloak for racism, bigotry, fear, and hatred? I would imagine it is hard to face these questions, especially for those out there who would have to answer yes. But this is the situation we are in and those are the most pertinent questions one can ask themselves this morning. If you survive those questions, go deeper: Am I helping matters by speaking out against racism, bigotry, fear, and hatred when I see it? Or am I going along with it? Am I remaining silent at a time when doing so means direct violence against blacks, Muslims, immigrants, Jews, and other minority groups?

In the 1980's, as AIDS took the world by storm and ravaged the gay community, an activist organization emerged called ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). I marched with them several times in Greenwich Village as I was in NYC and NJ at the time. I was already living a life in the arts; specifically theater at the time. I am certain that to many in the south, this group seemed radical. But to those of us in the arts, watching so many people we loved dying all around us, as our President Ronald Reagan remained silent about the epidemic, the movement was anything but radical. It was a moral imperative. Not so different from the moral imperative we face right now as a nation. ACT UP came into my mind as I awoke this morning, November 1, 2016, a week before the most important Presidential election of our time. I was reminded of ACT UP due to the direction our nation has taken; specifically because ACT UP chose to use the Nazi symbol from the uniforms of homosexuals in the death camps for their logo; and specifically for their slogans calling the public to action: IGNORANCE = FEAR, SILENCE = DEATH.

Ignorance and fear fueled the rise of the conservative movement and led directly to Donald Trump. SILENCE now means DEATH to so many of your fellow Americans. This is not an exaggeration. This is happening right now, and in real time, right here in these once United States of America.

I beg all of you who have not yet voted to read this before you go out to the polls to vote. I beg you to consider these words and to take on that mantra. For those who have already voted, please share these words with any undecided friends, and with any supporters of Donald Trump. Please take this all in and may it guide your lives. Otherwise, this country of ours, it might be finished, for good.


Be safe. Be strong. Be courageous. Do the right thing for our country.