My mission is simple: Shine a light through music and laughter and enjoy being with people. That’s it. A little bit of love goes a long way, especially in a world crowded with individuals; a world where all of us equally are prisoners of earth, held down by gravity, struggling with 7 billion different versions of human triumph and human suffering.
(one fuzzy, snoozing seal)
(a zillion pudgy penguins.)
I believe when enough people hold the intention of peace, acting as beacons of hope for others, we will blanket the earth with love and the shift into a non-violent global community will be inevitable. As AVATAR as that sounds, I do believe we’re getting closer to that place everyday.
Soon, instead of stabbing, drilling, carving, and blasting our home planet to bits, we will work calmly and gently upon its fragile skin, using the creative minds Mother Earth has given us to power our cities with more respectable methods. We will not fight over land and money, instead valuing the world based on it’s resources and lack thereof; understanding the true cost of a happy-meal vs. a home-cooked meal of local ingredients. And the price of products and merchandise will directly reflect the price it has on the world as a whole; for instance, were we to add a tax based on how much carbon is emitted in shipping/manufacturing, that alone would greatly shake-up and reshape our material world… and yes, I am all for that. Can you imagine paying $50 for a burger? And that’s probably a cheap burger. But that’s what considering the cost of carbon means to our limited resources.
For the past week I’ve been in Antarctica, otherwise known as Earth’s Air Conditioner, wondering how I can make a difference that makes a difference to the 7 billion inhabitants to the north.
Of those 7 billion, only 40 thousand people get to see Antarctica each year, and many of those people are frequent visitors. People go there for it’s stunning, untouched, uninhabited beauty. It’s a location for those like myself who seek isolation and enjoy intense levels of silence. It’s also a place of exotic wildlife such as whale, penguin, and the eccentric burping/farting southern elephant seal.
(“It wasn’t me,” replied the elephant seal.)
One of the studies scientists have been conducting is to find out if tourism is hurting the wildlife there, and so far they’re concluding it’s how we live at home that causes more damage to their environment than how we act on visits to Antarctica; which from my experience, are carefully thought out expeditions that have strict guidelines and are well-executed. Visits to this region raise awareness about melting ice and depleting food systems caused by our high rate of energy consumption and fossil fuel burning – proving yet again you don’t have to live near the ocean to have an impact on it – and you don’t have to live near the ocean for it to have a impact on you.
Antarctica, which was set aside for science and peace in the 1960’s, is governed by nearly 50 nations, half of which make the decisions and control policy; proof that we as a world people can actually work together to preserve and protect the environment.
I have nothing riding on sharing this information other than a love and respect for all of life. I have no political agenda other than speaking up for that which doesn’t seem to have a voice we listen to; the voice of the natural world, complete with crashing waves, rushing rivers, rustling trees, bird calls, whale songs, and a howl in the wind.
If it’s in your means, go to Antarctica on the Explorer and learn about this special place from the scientists, biologists, naturalists, and generalists who’ve been studying there for 30 plus years. See the incredible landscape for yourself before it’s gone. Or at the very least, take a walk today and experience all that your environment does to support you.
(Whales are the record keepers; their songs are the recorded history of the earth.)
Life. Is wonderful.
If you found a corked bottle on the beach that had a message in it that read, “This is a matter of life or death. Please deliver x message to y person.” It would be up to you and your morals whether or not to deliver that message. Would you do it? Of course you would, and yet how would you describe that moral obligation to the person you’d never met? This is my dilemma.
My new friend and mentor, Al Gore, a recovering politician, received a similar message 40 years ago when he first learned of global warming. *Note: this will be my only post about Gore as I want my sharing on this to be about the issue, not a man linked to the issue, but trust me, his is a good story.
Gore’s college professor, Roger Revelle of UC San Diego, was the first scientist to measure carbon emissions in the atmosphere, introducing the world to the stark realities of how climate is influenced dramatically by greenhouse gas emission, (which summarily for those who don’t know about greenhouse gas, is measured in terms of carbon dioxide emissions and other heat-trapping atmospheric gases. Greenhouse gases are emitted through transport, land clearance, the production and consumption of foods, fuels, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, and services.)
We happen to release 90 million tons of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere every day, which is way more than your average volcano per year, destroying the health of the planet, the health of the people, and the health of the plants and wildlife. All that added heat melts our polar ice, raises sea levels, sinks islands and floods cities. It wreaks havoc on the soil, diminishing our food and water supply, while contributing heavily to acid rain, droughts, and major climate catastrophes.
Pair that info with Gore’s core belief in the democratic system and you’d think that’d be all we’d need to influence Washington. But when Al first introduced this information to congress more than 30 years ago by having his college professor testify, he was – and has been – continually met with resistance.
I asked Mr Gore, how do you do it? What’s YOUR renewable energy source? What keeps your fire burning?
“I do yoga.” he said.
I didn’t see that coming.
“And I meditate.”
I didn’t see that coming either.
“I don’t do as much as I should, but…”
Whoa. This is sh*t new age girls say!
He then went on to tell me what it felt like to almost lose his son who in 1989 was struck by a car leaving a baseball game. During the time Al spent in the hospital with his son, his schedule of serious speeches and meetings no longer mattered. Al contemplated and reevaluated his life’s purpose, blaming himself for letting go of his son’s hand before his son ran out into the street. When Gore eventually returned to Washington, he did so with a new grip on life, determined to never let go of that hand again. The fact that he’d been forced to consider losing something so precious left a raw spot in his heart. The more time he invested in learning continued to touch that same raw place – and in that – he realized this precious earth, with it’s delicate climate balance, natural beauty and richness; a magnificence that we inherited from those who came before us… can be lost.
Re-telling this story is MY effort to inform and inspire, hoping to shift the public opinion on global warming. It is no longer a future problem. It is a now event.
Not until we all agree it is happening will we be able to drive history and have the ability to rethink and redesign our products and policies. But until then, if we keep acting like it’s an unsettled argument, or someone else’s problem, emissions will continue to rise, making it harder and harder to recover from this.
“…the resistance! My god the resistance!” Al went on to say with both hands to his cheeks like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.
“…But for all the negative things people can say …of all the things I’ve heard, Jason… I wear as a badge of honor.”
Inspired by this dedication and unwavering passion, one can easily see why Al is one of my favorite people. And now having spent so much time with the man, not the politician, I know why I came all the way down here to this isolated, frozen continent: To get the message.
“We’ve got to solve it. We have to,” reaffirmed Al, delivering his message in a bottle once again. “And how do we solve the climate crisis? By continuing to solve the climate crisis.”
Over and out.
For friends and visitors to Southern California this Grammy weekend, i invite you to come check out THE MAY I BE FRANK screening at the world famous AGAPE International Spiritual Center hosted my Michael Bernard Beckwith. I’ll be there with the filmmakers and others and will be performing the song I wrote for the film while answering any questions you may have about this powerful project. I look forward to seeing you and your friends there. xo Jason
Click Here for Tickets.
Me and Mona, April 2010
In Persian culture, if your back is to someone, it is polite to apologize. – The response from whom your back is to will likely be, “No Problem, a flower has no front or back.”
How rad is that?
I didn’t learn this little factoid from the poet Hafiz, although it’s romantic enough to seem like his doing. Instead I learned it from Mona Tavakoli; my Iranian wing-woman; co-conspirator in costume warfare; the better half of my new group, The Duo Decibel System; And my most esteemed plus one on this far out expedition to Antarctica.
Me and Mona, February 2012 (photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins).
This morning on board the Explorer, I volunteered to sing the morning announcements over the PA to the passengers and crew. The mellow-melodic “Wake up it’s time for breakfast…” became an instant hit measured by the smiles that echoed throughout the ship. Of course, when I proposed the idea to the fearless ship’s captain-in-chief, Al Gore, he said, “That’s a great idea, but you HAVE to do it with Mona. You’re better with Mona.”
My thoughts exactly.
This is why I decided to invite her on tour with me this season. Mona, who founded the Los Angeles Rock’n’Roll Camp for girls, is a world class drummer who takes my music in an exciting new direction. She’s incredibly smart, grounded, funny and present, which makes her the best possible candidate to represent myself, my fans, and my music. And with talent and kindness so extraordinary, I thought it wisest to bring her on tour so you can see and hear it for yourself.
Somewhere in the middle of our first evening performance on this voyage, the loudest and most recognizable voice on the boat rang out, “We Love Mona!” It was Mr. Gore, who I believe now has a huge crush on my Persian Percussionist.
I met Mona in 2006 at a college gig when I was booked to play with her amazing Los Angeles-based lady-band, Raining Jane. I was so impressed with their attitude and musicianship I asked them to become my backing band.
Since then The Janes and I have teamed up to write a variety of songs; such as the California Wildfire Relief smash Silent Love Song, my personal favorite, the epic Beautiful Mess, and the recent Best Original Song at the Hollywood Film Festival, Collapsible Plans from the feature documentary, The Big Fix.
Look out for Mona and I later this month appearing on Today, Ellen, and a YouTube channel near you.
You can also follow @Mona_Tavakoli on Twitter and wherever else voyeurs like to trend.
At 10am on December 19th, 2011 I received a call from Al Gore. I was at the gym when his secretary, Beth, who has a sweet Tennessee accent dialed me asking if I had a few minutes to speak with the Vice President. Of course I said, I don’t care much for squats anyway.
Over the next 3 minutes I listened with a dropped jaw as the iconic voice of environmental protection, conservation, and climate change invited me to join him on a once in a lifetime journey to the icy blue bottom of our warming green earth. Antarctica.
The goal he said, is to see for myself, up close and personal, one of the most important places on the planet, while learning from top scientists and researchers, all of whom have decades of experience in the region, how rapidly our climate is changing and what it means for the world as a whole. He kind of went on and on as if I needed to be convinced to go on a trip like this. I actually stopped him. I’d caught wind of this event a few weeks prior and was honored that I’d been selected to go.
And so, for the past 40 hours now, I’ve been earning my sea legs on board the National Geographic Explorer, a Lindblad expedition ship that set sail from Ushuaia, Argentina on Sunday. By the time this is posted, I will be on thin ice. Literally.
For the week to come I’ll be exploring the Antarctic Peninsula with The Climate Reality Project, an assembly of minds gathered here from all over the world that works as a kind of floating symposium, much like the TED talks series. In fact, a few of my favorite speakers from the TED series are here, like the brilliant neuroscientist Jill Bolte-Taylor and the famed National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen, who’s been giving me photography lessons.
Our mission is to download information and ideas from one-another in order to return home with stories and solutions, that which might wake up the world to the very serious climate issue.
What’s the issue? In my opinion, it’s food.
The moment the weather goes, so too does our food supply. Droughts, floods, rising sea levels, the change of ocean salinity, all goes against our ability to drink water, grow food, and sustain human life. Sure we can eat processed food, or each other, but I’d rather learn and apply the common sense ways to reduce and/or stop my carbon emissions altogether and live in harmony with the planet, the place that we are a part of, not separate from.
We are not passengers here. We are earthlings. This is our home. The mother from which we sprang. We can be as vital to her system as the sun itself. And we are! Yet, at the moment we’re acting more like a disease than ass-kicking white blood cells. What’s it going to take for us to collectively wake up and make a difference that actually makes a difference?
I’m here to find out.
Yesterday, when checking through security at the airport, the TSA officer said to me, “Keep up the good work. I like what you do for the world.” In that moment, as I walked on with my over weight back pack cutting into my shoulder, I gained a new view of love that I hadn’t seen before. He, like many strangers I meet, wasn’t strange at all. He, like many, is actually cheering me on.
Being recognized can sometimes cause a weird feeling. We all have a sense of being stared at and it’s not easy to know how to act. One’s ego might think, “I must look cute today, or “they totally know me, or “there must be something totally wrong with me. “Do I have toilet paper hanging out of my ass? “Is my zipper down? “Do I have BO? “A cowlick? “What?!
And yet, to be acknowledged by anyone is a wonderful feeling. And it’s beginning to happen more and more. At least once a day in fact. “Hey, Are you… I really like your music. Keep it up.”
I don’t recall this happening at other jobs I had. “Hey, Are you… I really like how you get the shit streaks out of the toilets. And you mop the floors real good. Keep it up!”
“Hey, Are you… Oh man, I really love how you barely get to work on time and sleep under your desk. Keep it up!”
Sometimes people stop me and say things like, “I hate to be a nerd but… or, “I’m sorry to bother you, but… or, “I’m not a creepy stalker, but… And often their hands are shaking while forgetting to introduce themselves. It’s usually a very sweet exchange. I’ve yet to meet a creepy stalker. Even among the creepy stalkers.
The feeling is enormous to have people in airports, airplanes, restaurants, hotels, gyms, malls, markets, theatres, street corners and parks, all around the world, cheer you on. It’s like I’m in some kind of decade long ultra-marathon whose crowd is spread out all around the globe to give me high fives and encouragement – a little hydration for the soul – as I pass them by. And personally, that’s pretty fckin’ radtastic.
Thank you for that.