Monday, November 7, 2022

Olivia Newton-John: Deep Cuts, B-Sides and Rarities

I have been a huge fan of Olivia Newton-John since age 12 in 1980. Her recent passing had a deep impact on me. I wanted to write some sort of tribute, and rather than list my opinion of her greatest hits, since her biggest hits can be found anywhere, and who cares which ones I like more than the others, I decided to spotlight some of the best (my favorite) overlooked and hard-to-find songs that even hardcore fans might not know or know of. So here is a list of 15, because that's how many I felt the need to mention, in chronological order.

1. Would You Follow Me (John Kongos). I haven't yet been able to find out for certain when this was recorded or first released, I have it on a CD compilation of her early songs, 1971-1975, and it's currently available on the recently rereleased deluxe version of the 1971 album "If Not For You." In any case, it's a very catchy, lively, brassy song with a great arrangement and backing vocals, and the earworm refrain of "Lose or win, thick or thin, where would you like to be? Lose or win, thick or thin, would you follow me?"

Would You Follow Me

2. My Old Man's Got a Gun (John Farrar). This is a surprisingly strong country rocker from her 1972 UK album "Olivia," where she warns off a would-be suitor. If you want an early song with a little edge, and to hear premonitions of her later rock style, this is a good song to listen to.

My Old Man's Got a Gun

3. Amoureuse (Veronique Sanson, English lyrics Gary Osborne). This French song was also recorded by Kiki Dee and Helen Reddy among others. Olivia released it on her 1973 UK album "Music Makes My Day." Many of the songs from that album were included on the US release of "Let Me Be There," but this song was left off. It is also on the deluxe edition of "If Not For You". It is a song about a romantic encounter with a haunting, sensuous verse and a more upbeat chorus which features an upward sixth leap as a hook. Very nice all around.


4. Rest Your Love on Me (Barry Gibb). This song, written by Barry Gibb, was originally recorded by the Bee Gees - as a country song - and released as the B-side to the hit "Too Much Heaven." Andy Gibb and Olivia recorded it as a pop love duet for Andy's 1980 album "After Dark." It was one of two duets they sang together on the album, the other being the hit song "I Can't Help It." "Rest Your Love on Me" was not released as a single, but is a beautiful, sweet, tender love song that features Olivia at her peak of popularity and Andy at the tail end of his.

Rest Your Love on Me

5. Fool Country (John Farrar). This is probably her best-know rarity, from the 1980 movie "Xanadu." It is a two-part medley of a rock song ("Fool") and a stylized country song (I guess they just called "Country"). In the film Olivia sings it near the end as part of the opening-night celebration of the roller-disco club Xanadu. (In the film it opens with an instrumental synth tap number reminiscent of the 1940s, but that is left off the recording.) The song was not included on the soundtrack album, but it was released as the B-side of the #1 hit song, "Magic," and it was also included on the 2-cd compilation "Olivia Gold." The "Fool" section is a nice legit rocker, Olivia being tough with a would-be romantic interest, and the "Country" section is really too synth to be real country, but a simple song telling her man to smile. Both sections apparently try to showcase Olivia's own legacy, both as a country singer and more recently as a rock singer. Interesting to note that when "Xanadu" was reworked and brought to Broadway as a (very hilarious) comedy in 2007, "Fool" was kept in the show, in a different context.

Fool Country

6. You Made Me Love You (James Monaco, Joe McCarthy). This is a real rarity, a well-known standard from 1913 that Olivia also recorded for "Xanadu." In the film, Olivia sings it with a big band in the background as Gene Kelly reminisces about her. The song then goes directly into the lovely duet, "Whenever You're Away from Me." This song was also not included on the soundtrack album and as far as I know can only be found on the B-side to the hit song "Suddenly," which I have a copy of. It's very  lovely, and shows how at at ease and well-suited Olivia is with songs of this era.

You Made Me Love You

7. Falling (John Farrar). This is not much of a rarity, just an incredibly beautiful track from her 1981 album "Physical." Her 1980s albums all seemed to feature one standout slow love ballad, and this I believe is the best of them. John Farrar wrote many of Olivia's original songs, including a lot of her biggest hits, and he often seems to include some really beautiful and creative harmonic progressions. This is a great feature of his songwriting skills as well as Olivia's vocals.


8. Shaking You (David Foster, Paul Howard Gordon, Tom Keane). This ballad is from the soundtrack from the 1983 movie "Two of a Kind," which reunited Olivia with John Travolta. It is very much a 1980s David Foster song at the peak of his songwriting/producing heyday. It's a beautiful song about the struggles of love, but in my opinion is Olivia's most passionately expressive vocal performance ever. One listen and you can really hear the pain in her voice.

Shaking You

9-10. Big and Strong (Mark Heard), Let's Talk About Tomorrow (John Capek, Amy Sky, Olivia Newton-John). These two songs are from her underrated 1988 album "The Rumour." Olivia didn't always convince me that she could sing legit rock music, but I believe these two songs show that she could, and are backed by a strong rock band, though with an 80s sound. Both are message songs, "Big and Strong" being generally anti-war, and "Let's Talk About Tomorrow" being about environmental protection.

Big and Strong

Let's Talk About Tomorrow

11. Not Gonna Be the One (Seth Swirsky). In 1992 Olivia released a greatest hits compilation called "Back to Basics, The Essential Collection 1971-1992," which featured four new songs, including this one. It's just a great song with a great sound, a classic sound like her biggest late 70s-early 80s hits. Even so, it could have been a hit for her in 1992 if released as a single.

Not Gonna Be the One

12. Tenterfield Saddler (Peter Allen), duet with Peter Allen. This was released on her 2002 album "(2)", a collection of duets with different artists. For "Tenterfield Saddler" Olivia added her vocals to a recording by Peter Allen from 1972. Allen died in 1992, but was a friend of Olivia, and cowrote her signature song, "I Honestly Love You." This is a very tender and poignant song, beautifully done by both Peter and Olivia.

Tenterfield Saddler

13. Anyone Who Had a Heart (Burt Bacharach, Hal David). This song is from her 2004 album "Indigo: Women of Song," in which she reimagines songs previously made famous by other women singers, in this case, Dionne Warwick. It's a magnificent vocal performance and is a real highlight of this album and of Olivia's later albums.

Anyone Who Had a Heart

14. Can I Trust Your Arms (Olivia Newton-John, Chloe Lattanzi) This is a song Olivia wrote the music for, to lyrics that her daughter Chloe gave to her as a Christmas gift. The lyrics display a painful honesty about this particular mother-daughter relationship, an honesty not often heard, and Olivia's music beautifully sets the words. It was recorded for her 2005 album "Stronger Than Before," and album meant to provide inspiration and encouragement to women dealing with cancer, as Olivia of course herself battled and eventually lost her battle with breast cancer. It also features Olivia on the piano!

Can I Trust Your Arms

15. Window in the Wall (Tom Paden, Eddie Kilgallon, Tajci Cameron), duet with Chloe Lattanzi. This is a duet, released in 2021, with her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, and is a beautiful song about learning to accept other people and finding ways to come together despite differences. It is also one of the last songs, if not the last song she ever recorded.

Window in the Wall

Monday, February 14, 2022

20 Years of Ultrarunning


February 17, 2002 is a special date, it was the date of my very first ultramarathon. It was the Kurt Steiner 50K, held by the New York Road Runners Club on the central 4-mile loop in Central Park, held in conjunction with the Metropolitan 50 Mile. Just a few words about this particular race. I'd run a few marathons since my first (New York Marathon, November 1997), and I didn't think I'd get much faster, but I could always go farther. Around that time I was a print subscriber to Outside magazine, and I think that's how I first heard of ultramarathons. So I saw this race on the NYRRC calendar and signed up. I didn't do anything spectacular, but I had a lot of fun, it was a relaxed environment, I remember thinking how cool it was to eat cookies during a race, and it was the first time I met Richie Innamorato, who was race directing on behalf of NYRRC. It should be noted that the Metropolitan 50 Mile race had a long history, going back to 1971. It was the 50 mile national championship for some of those years, and many of the greatest ultrarunners in the early days had taken part, including Ted Corbitt, Park Barner, and John Garlepp.

So began my adventure. In the ensuing 20 years, it's not possible to say in this space how much the sport has affected my life. I've certainly had my successes, and I have to allow myself a moment to list some of my proudest moments, as far as tangible results, only because it all came as a surprise to no one more than me. I have won two 24-hour national championships (2009, 2011), I was the first American man to finish in the top 10 at the 24-hour world championships (2007, 4th place), I set an American record for 48 hours in 2011 with 257.34 miles, which stood for six years, I'm 3 for 3 at Badwater for top 10 finishes (8th, 8th and 6th, 2009, 2010, 2012), and have two Spartathlon finishes in 2016 and 2017 when I was the first American. I'm equally proud of my local success, winning the New York Ultrarunning Grand Prix in 2007, 2010 and 2011, and my three wins of what I consider the toughest race I've ever run, the Pioneer Trek 100-mile three-day stage race, in 2007, 2009, and 2011 (just two weeks after my record-setting 48-hour). Coming full circle, in 2007 I won the final Metropolitan 50-mile race ever held (NYRR removed it from their calendar).

In 2018, at age 50, I decided the time was right to fulfill my long-held dream of running across the USA and attempting a world record. I didn't get the record, but I finished in one of the fastest times ever, in 49 days, 7 hours, 55 minutes, which is still the fastest time of anyone over the age of 40, or 50. It was the adventure of a lifetime.

Like I said, all the success has been a surprise to no one more than me. I was never an athletic person growing up. And all of a sudden I'm semi-famous (in a niche circle) for something athletic, something totally unexpected. It's given me an opportunity to travel around the country and around the world in ways that are much more fulfilling I believe than simply visiting on my own as a tourist.

But what means more to me than the successes in the results is the relationships I've made, the friendships, the people I've met. Music has been and always will be my primary passion in life, but the ultrarunning community in the New York City area, across the U.S. and across the world is the greatest, most supportive group of people I've ever met. My best friends are ultrarunners. We all are intentionally putting ourselves into a great amount of pain for an abstract, unnecessary goal. But we all have a reason for doing it. Some of us are exorcizing demons, some of us are trying to prove something. My own reasons will remain private, at least for now. But we all support each other, we all encourage each other, and we all inspire each other. The result of all this is that I have gained a personal confidence I never had before in my life, helping me to overcome my insecurities and self-consciousness. The sport has very literally in many ways changed my life, for the better.

I've had the opportunity to work as creator and race director for The Great New York 100 Mile/100 KM Running Exposition, which I'm thrilled to see has attracted quite a following, and I'm eternally grateful for all who take part, as a runner or a volunteer.

After my transcon in 2018, I've had difficulty training, unable to retrieve the speed or intensity of my previous running. I knew this would be a likelihood, so I'm ok with it, although it is still difficult to work through and accept.

So for the 20th anniversary I wanted to do something special. I decided to sign up for the Jackpot Ultra Festival in Las Vegas, and to run the USATF 100-mile national championship on Friday, Feb. 18. I was torn between that and the 24-hour race, since 24-hour running is how I made a name for myself, but in the end I decided for the 100 mile. It is a national championship after all, not that I'll be running particularly fast or competitively. But it's great to be a part of the event. I look forward to seeing long-time friends there, and making new friends as always.

A huge thanks to every one of you who has been a part of the first 20 years! I might be slowing down for the next 20, but I look forward to more adventures, whether as a runner, coach, race director, writer, or crew person, and I look forward to making more friends!

Friday, September 3, 2021


Photo by Chip Tilden

Phil McCarthy - Voyager

My first album is finally out! Voyager is now available in all digital formats, follow the link above, hopefully with CDs to follow soon! Of course I've been planning this a long time, but with more home alone time during Covid, I was able to negotiate my way through Pro Tools enough to get this one out to y'all. All of the songs are my own. Some of them have been rattling around my head for years, some were recently written, as recently as a few weeks ago. But they each have a story, so here are the stories.

First, a few notes about the album itself. The title is a homage to my favorite album of all time - Long Distance Voyager by The Moody Blues, which obviously also gives this blog its title. It also references my own long-distance running (ultrarunning) adventures, and the places around the world they have led me to. The photograph is by my good friend, Chip Tilden, who took it a few years ago, but I figured I still look enough like this to justify using a pic a few years old.

1. Mexican Mary. Many years ago, I was back in Nebraska for Christmas, and I attended Midnight Mass. This was always a big thing, lots of ceremony, incense, the Knights of Columbus in full dress uniform, complete with swords, dramatic lighting, and a packed church. The choir sang for an hour before Mass to give the people beautiful music to listen to, and to encourage people to arrive early. During part of this hour, a group of Mexican musicians got up with guitar and sang a few Christmas songs in Spanish. It was very nice, especially for the growing Mexican immigrant community in town. A day or two later, I was talking with someone who I have a great deal of love and respect for, who complained about the Mexican singers. "If they want to sing, they can sing with the 'regular' choir." Me, "It's nice that they show their own heritage and culture." "They sounded terrible. And they weren't dressed well, they were wearing jeans." Me, "Maybe those were the nicest clothes they have." "And why do they always have to put up pictures of Mexican Mary?" [referring to the sacred image of Our Lady of Guadalupe]. How do you respond to that? I respond by writing this song, in my mind all this time, but only recently fully written out. So the song isn't about a prostitute or a drug dealer, it's about the Virgin Mary.

2. Gimme Just a Little Bit of Time. I recently came up with the chorus of this song in a dream, but in my dream it was sung by Culture Club. When I woke up, I remembered the song, shockingly, and I looked to see if it really was a Culture Club song, and it wasn't. So I wrote it out in totally 80s style.

3. Come Rest with Me. Originally written as a duet as part of an unfinished (actually barely started) stage musical, along with "Krakatoa" and "Smile Again," but reimagined as a solo, due to me just having to do everything myself. It reminds us that despite whatever troubles there are going on, sometimes we just need to stop and rest and appreciate each other.

4. Charlene. There was a real "Charlene" (I changed the name to one that fit the music better) years ago, and I wrote this song about her. The song is a little obsessive, a bit exaggerated from real life. We actually did go out for a while, and it didn't work out, with quite a lack of drama.

5. Krakatoa. This was inspired by a documentary on Krakatoa I saw years ago. I decided to add a mythological, anthropomorphic aspect, as if the volcano were alive and had finally achieved independence. Metaphorically, it could be about just about anything - how one person's tragedy is another person's revolution, or it could be about a volcano. I wrote it as being simply about life-changing cataclysm, how the things you expect to always be there and unchanging, the very earth beneath your feet, betray you.

6. Summer Passed Quickly. This could also be about just about anything you want. For me, it's simply about the passing of time, getting older.

7. Nebraska Sky. This was written as I ran across the USA in 2018, as I was passing through Wyoming, getting closer to my home state of Nebraska. After crossing the Continental Divide and seeing the landscape slowly turn from high desert plateau to plains and grasslands, and the sky turn from a dry uninterrupted blue to one with a few wispy clouds, I thought, it's starting to look like a Nebraska sky. I wrote the chorus on the road, and I knew it was cheesy and sentimental, but it was genuine, and it brought tears to my eyes when I sang it out loud. I wrote the verses recently to be a little more like a melancholy road song. I do love a good melancholy road song.

8. The Ghosts of Tennessee. This is the newest addition, only a few weeks old. The ghosts are those who live in the past and refuse to move forward, not only those who perpetuate racism in this country, but also those who deny its pervasiveness. It's not just about one man or one state, it's an ideology that eats at humanity, and it's everywhere.

9. Smile Again. This is a reminder that despite whatever troubles befall us, and despite events not turning out as we would hope, we will smile again, and shine again, and laugh again.

10. En El Camino Negro. Free coaching advice - this song will help you run up any hill. I wrote it on the blacktop-covered roads over the hills of northeast Nebraska (yes, there are hills in Nebraska) as a way to remind myself of my hill-running strategy of 32 steps running, 16 steps walking. And it helped me entertain myself as well. It's built on the two pitches I heard from my own exhalations, and I came up with a very simple melody, and eventually more complex countermelodies for the background. The verses are about things that I saw or felt or thought while running across the country. It was meant to be somewhat nonsensical, and I wrote it in my terrible broken Spanish to emphasize the nonsensical and whimsical attitude.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Bridge of the Week #90-91, Starlight Park Bridges

Northern Bridge

Central bridge

I'm such a bridge nerd, it's always exciting to see a new bridge where there wasn't one before. And now in Starlight Park, in the West Farms area of the Bronx, there are three! Two of them are open, the third not yet, so this post is for the northern bridge (#90) and central bridge (#91).

These bridges are especially nice because Starlight Park is part of a string of parks along the Bronx River intending to clean up the river and to revitalize recreation on and around the river, from Sound View Park up to Westchester County. Starlight Park currently runs from E. 177th St. and Devoe Ave., on the eastern side of the river, to Edgewater Rd. at E. 172 St., on the west side of the river, and on the east side of Sheridan Blvd. (Expressway).

I don't have conclusive stats for the bridges, but they are both pedestrian/bike only, both steel arch bridges, with the arches painted a nice blue. The northern bridge is about 100 feet long, and the central bridge about 150-160 feet. The two bridges seem to have been part of a park reconstruction project completed in 2013, which includes some nice park facilites, ballfields, playgrounds, and a canoe/kayak launch, as well as the recreation path through the park that utilizes the bridges. I had been there years before, when the only access was from a ramp at 174 St., and it could barely be called a park, as I remember it. It was quite grungy indeed. Now it is very nice!

The author on the central bridge
I have discovered that the park also has an interesting history. It once contained the estate of William Waldorf Astor. In 1914 it was leased as Exposition Park, and was the site of the Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts, and Industries in 1918. Apparently, the exposition was a flop, but the land was converted into an amusement park in 1920 called Starlight Park. (It's amazing how many amusement parks there used to be in New York City, possibly a topic for a future post.) By 1933 the rides had closed or burned down and the park was used for bathing and recreation, as well as for the Coliseum, which held concerts and political rallies. By the mid-1940s the park was condemned, except for the Coliseum, which was taken over by the U.S. Army, and currently still stands as the West Farms Bus Depot on 177 St., run by the MTA. The site became a city park in the late 1950s and as I mentioned recently underwent a major upgrading.

There is a portion of the park still under construction, which includes the southern bridge and an overpass over the Amtrak rail tracks, and the final extension of the greenway that will run to Westchester Ave. Currently, there is a fence on the south end of the central bridge, not allowing you to continue, so for the time being, it is a bridge to nowhere. The southern bridge will be covered in a future post when it is open.

As I said, Starlight Park is part of a string of parks along the Bronx River. Directly to the south across Westchester Ave. is another new park, Concrete Plant Park (site of a former concrete plant), and below that is Sound View Park, where the river meets the East River (or what could be considered the western portion of Long Island Sound). To the north, there is some river access on the western bak between E. Tremont Ave. and 180 St., and a small park on the north side of 180 St., adjacent to the Bronx Zoo. North of the zoo is the New York Botanic Garden, then Bronx Park, Shoelace Park, which contain some bridges I've covered here in previous posts, then on north into Westchester County. Connecting all the parks on foot or bike does require some street sections, but what the city has done to make the river and the area hospitable for neighborhood residents, as well as recreation enthusiasts, is truly remarkable!

Park entrance at Westchester Ave, almost ready

Pathway under construction south of the central bridge

Southern bridge awaiting opening

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Bridge of the Week #45a - Update - Bayonne Bridge

Resuming my blog after a long absence with a much-needed update to my Bridge of the Week series. This is an update to the Bayonne Bridge post, due to the raising of the bridge deck and construction of a new pedestrian/bike pathway.

This is probably the only bridge post I will do that is affected by the Panama Canal. The expansion of the canal allowed larger container ships through, but the bridge roadway had to be raised to 215 feet in order to accommodate the larger ships and to allow them access to the New Jersey shipyards.

Grand opening on Staten Island, May 24, 2019
The old pedestrian pathway on the west side of the bridge was closed in 2013. For six years while reconstruction was underway, there was no pedestrian access to Staten Island. After raising of the roadway and construction of the new pathway on the east side, the new pathway was finally opened to the public with a modest ceremony on the Staten Island side on May 24, 2019, which this blogger attended.

There were about a couple dozen cyclists and runners who crossed the bridge to Bayonne, NJ and back that morning. There are several advantages of the new pathway to the older one. First of all, it's new, with a nice new surface. Second, it's much wider, 12 feet wide. Third, it's on the east side, rather than the west, which allows for a better unobstructed view of New York Harbor, as well as Staten Island, Bayonne, and beyond. The view is really spectacular. The one negative thing I noticed is that it seemed to be a fairly steep incline. But it's not that bad, it still meets ADA requirements.

I couldn't find additional stats on the new pathway, but according to my watch, it's just over a mile and a half long from entrance to exit.

Being a Port Authority bridge, it is closed from midnight - 6 a.m. The Staten Island entrance is now located at Trantor Pl., just north of Hooker Pl. The Bayonne entrance is at John F. Kennedy Blvd. between W 6th and W 7th St.

View of New York Harbor
Bayonne, NJ entrance

Monday, August 21, 2017

East Bound and Down

  "East bound and down, loaded up and truckin'
   We're gonna do what they say can't be done
   We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there
   I'm east bound, just watch ol' Bandit run"

For many years, one of my running goals has been to cross the USA on foot. At some point, I don't remember when, I thought I'd like to try to break the world record (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) for fastest crossing of the country on foot, held since 1980 by Frank Giannino in a time of 46 days, 8 hours and 36 minutes. I thought the time to try would be in 2018, the year I turn 50.

So along comes Pete Kostelnick, a young 30-year-old, who breaks Frank's record last year by four days, in an astonishing time of 42 days, 6 hours and 30 minutes! I was fortunate enough to meet Pete and run with him on his last day through the streets of New York City. He's a super guy, very cool, very nice, a fellow (former) Nebraskan, and he didn't seem too beat up at all for having run roughly 3000 miles.

But then what am I supposed to do, give up on the record just because it's tougher and seemingly unbreakable? I don't think so. Even though I'll be 50 years old, 20 years older than Pete, I plan to make my world-record attempt at crossing the USA, from San Francisco to New York, starting Tuesday, August 21, 2018, one year from today at 5:00 a.m. PDT. I will then have to finish before 2:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, October 2. That will require running 70+ miles per day, depending on the route and actual mileage. This is something I am confident that I am capable of doing, keeping in mind that it will take nearly everything to go right for it to happen.

It will also take a lot of support both from crew and from sponsors, as it won't come cheap. I will have to do heavy sponsor searching and fundraising, so anyone reading who would like to help, please feel free to contact me.

It's a lot of work ahead, both in physical training and in planning and coordinating. I've told a number of people of my plan, but now I'm making it public, and it scares the hell out of me in a way, but it is the Year of Courage after all, and the excitement is already taking hold. I'd like to thank Pete for encouraging me in my attempt (I think you encouraged me, didn't you?) as well as another man I'm proud to call my friend, Marshall Ulrich, who made his own cross-country run in 2008. I plan to study both of their runs closely to determine the best approach for me.

So there you have it, step one! I will set up a facebook page and a web site for this soon, so I hope you will all follow along. Till then, I've got other races to run, I'll see you all out there somewhere I hope!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

King of Fear/Year of Courage

I consider myself the King of Fear. At one time or another in my life, I’ve been afraid of just about everything. When I was four, I was afraid of thunder and lightning. Now I love a good thunderstorm. At five I was terrified of street cleaners. If I saw one, I’d immediately run screaming and crying home before I got run over and chopped into a million pieces. I’m happy to say that I’ve overcome those fears, and many others. I’m still not too crazy about being in the water, and high places manage to give me the heebie-jeebies, although I did successfully jump 14,000 feet out of a plane last year. So, at the beginning of this year, I declared 2017, for myself at least, to be the year of courage. It will be the year to push myself out of my comfort zone to discard as many of my fears as possible.

Honestly, having always been a very shy person, my greatest fears have always been certain types of personal interaction, especially if they required me to initiate the interaction, or if it involved any sort of confrontation. And there have been what I call milestones of fear that I've had to face that really just made me shake. There was the terrifying moment the first time I asked a girl out on a date (and got shot down - you know who you are!). Then years later there was the exponentially more terrifying moment the first time I asked a guy out on a date (shot down again!). There were the times I had to be harsh with people when required. But certainly living in New York City for over 22 years has been very beneficial, absolutely requiring so many types of interaction on a daily basis, forcing me to overcome many of my fears.

One type of confrontation I've always been afraid to engage in is political arguments. Over the course of 30 years as an adult voter, I've seen and heard a lot of things that I haven't liked or agreed with, some things even that were downright indefensible. But I held my tongue to avoid confrontation. It's so much easier to get along that way. In that time, many of my views, political and social, have changed, many have not, and society's norms have changed as well. I've usually been able to roll with it all.

But what will happen in just a couple days puts another fear in me that will require me to stop holding my tongue, to speak honestly for the months and years ahead. I don't fear for myself, really. I'm an American-born, white Christian male with a job, good health, and health insurance. I'll be fine. I worry for those who are not white, Christian, employed, healthy, insured men, because everyone outside of that bubble is in danger of losing their opportunity, their money, their voice, their freedom, or potentially more. What I see from this individual we have elected to lead our nation is nothing good, but only judgement and immature insults and condemnation, and the appeal not to our courage, but to our fears. I also see way too much of it from our other government leaders. I also see it from those who support this man. I also see it from those who oppose this man. So stop it. Stop the stupid fear.

Remember, I'm the king of fear, I've been there, I've experienced it, I've lived it. I know what it looks like, I know what it sounds like, I know what it smells like. You have it. I have it. Recognize when it is unwarranted. If you are claustrophobic, don't start ripping the walls apart, because they are not actually closing in on you. There are definitely some situations and actions and words that must be condemned, that are indefensible. But the larger the group of people you condemn, the less likely they are to deserve it. Solving the problems in our world requires the abandonment of this fear, it requires that we not fear and condemn, for example, undocumented workers, or Muslims, or those who live in violent neighborhoods, but rather look at the complex economic, political, social and historical issues that bring about problems in the areas where the problems exist. It's the same way in which solving the problems in our own personal lives requires that we lose our personal fears as well.

So I will call on everyone to make this their year of courage, to overcome your fears to find solutions to problems. This is required of all of us as citizens, and it takes a conscious effort. This doesn't mean the courage to shout louder than anyone else, that requires no courage at all. Have the courage to learn (that damn "L" word again!) - this means everyone! Have the courage to own and admit your mistakes. Have the courage to step outside your bubble. Have the courage to listen, respectfully. Have the courage to speak and express, respectfully and responsibly. Have the courage to write your own words, perhaps even in the form of complete sentences and paragraphs, instead of reposting a meme, even at the risk of public criticism, which might even be deserved. At the risk of failure, try. Be better than our leaders, because you are. Aim higher. But stay away from street cleaners. Happy 2017!