#Blackout Your Entertainment For Black History Month!

Tessa Claire Hersh @welliTclaire and The fellas of Black Men Can’t Jump (In Hollywood) Podcast  came up with a great idea for February 2018- black out your entertainment for the entire month!

Check out my Spotify playlist here: https://goo.gl/8PxKEe

That means only participating in entertainment created by and starring (where applicable) black people in order to support the culture and exposure. This is probably easiest for movies, TV, and podcasts, but can apply to anything else that you can think of, like music and books and magazines and blogs and?

Recently I watched ‘The Preacher’s Wife’, ‘Almost Christmas’, and ‘Barber Shop’ for the first time, and really liked all of them- so I’m really excited about this mission. Here is my plan for February.

Already Completed, Or In Progress:

Black Men Can’t Jump (In Hollywood) (Podcast) – I’m obviously sticking with this one- it has become one of my favorites over the past year and a half. I fully recommend it to anybody.

The Read (Podcast) – Thanks to my friend Dr.Ro @Rodzillatron1 for showing me this one. OH HAPPY DAAAAYYYY!

Dear White People (TV Version) – Available on Netflix. Loved the first season, and can’t wait for the second.

Blackish – A few episodes are available for free on the ABC app/website, but this show alone makes paying for Hulu worth it.

Family Matters – Available on Hulu. Watching this with my daughter and wife- it’ still as fun now as it was then.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman – I’ve heard nothing but bad things about Tyler Perry movies, but I thought it was perfect for Valentine’s Day movie night with the wife. We both really liked it! I might even check out more Madea’s now.

Fruitvale Station – Netflix – thanks again  – Don’t know what I’d do without you. (This movie was quality, yet heartbreaking- I don’t think I’ll be watching it again.)

Black Panther! – My wife and daughter and I all went to see this week 2 (where even more ticket sales records were broken) and we all loved it. This movie could single-handedly fix the broken and cliche super hero mess we’ve been drug through the past several years.

Boomerang – Netflix – I loved this one in highschool, and it still rules. One of the best rom-coms ever. Does not deserve the current 5.4 on IMDB or the 40% on Rotten Tomatoes- don’t believe either of them.

Set It Off – Netflix – Great action movie with heart-felt relationships between the girls- I actually cared about every single one of them. That’s not an easy task in a 2 hour movie.

Metor Man – Not sure why, but I watched this about two dozen times in 94/95. My wife and I really enjoyed it, but my daughter was like “why does the flying look so bad?” Haha… valid question Kayli. The special effects were hilarious at times. I still don’t know if it was intentional or not.

Sister Act 1&2 – Ignore the ratings on #2! It’s a little silly and cliche and predictable, but who cares. The soundtrack is on fire, and (you can see a theme forming here) the relationships are believable and powerful. And of course the first one is still as great as it ever was.


I Still Plan On Watching These

Black Dynamite – Black Men Can’t Jump have introduced me to so many movies- I thank them dearly. This is the newest entry.
227 – I also loved this one as a kid- hope I can find it somewhere. As yet, I can’t even find bootleg copies.
Death at a Funeral (2010) – I heard this remake of the 2007 British version sucks, but I’m going to check it out anyway because I’m curious.
Soul Food – Same as above; loved this in high school.
Undercover Brother – saw this in the theater with a bunch of friends- loved it
The Ladies Man – also saw this in the theater with a bunch of friends- also loved it

Help me with more ideas! Please post comments if you have anything for me. I’ll update it as I go. Happy Black History Month!

*photo modified and used without permission, but with good intentions


Dear Mr. Chuck Ragan, Please Play At My Wedding


Dear Chuck Ragan, and/or any of the other people who will most likely be reading this instead of Chuck:

I’ll keep it short. I’ve been one of your biggest fans for over 4 years, and have seen you live 6 times, including all 3 stops on your Montana tour, where my girlfriend (now fiancé) and I flew in and followed you all over the state, and talked to you each of the 3 nights. And she kept telling you that we could sleep in our rental car if you wanted to commandeer our hotel room, so you wouldn’t have to keep sleeping in your truck every night. I asked her to stop being creepy, but she was unstoppable; she said you always thank and appreciate those who do favors for others while they are on the road, so we should at least offer.


If you resided in our beautiful city of Omaha, we would pay to see you every single night. We love you beyond words. You are the soundtrack to our morning breakfast and backgammon games, to our meditation times, to our hikes, to our bike rides, to our runs, to our campfires and whiskey, to our rainy days and our stormy nights, to our fights, to our tears, to our love, and to our good days and our bad. You don’t know it, but you have been there every step of the way through our relationship. On our record players, our phones, our computers, in our hearts, and in our heads. An entertainer, counselor, muse, spiritual guide… friend.


We recently got engaged. We are planning a destination wedding, and we haven’t been able to nail down a place that sums us up as a couple. And I got to thinking- it’s not a specific place that I’m looking for. It’s a road; it’s the path we’ve taken up to this point. And your music represents or at least sits hand in hand with whatever represents just about every mile marker along our journey. And we want you there to play for whatever small group of friends and family we manage to muster. Anything between 1 and 416 songs. We’ll pay you a ‘wedding’ fee, or your full concert fee, or we’ll make a large and appropriate donation to Cast Hope, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Miraloma elementary school, The Cardiac Communication, the musical instrument loving children in Munich, The Boy Scouts of America, or anything else- just name it.


Seriously- please play at our wedding, and choose your fee. We’ll get married right on the rocky banks of the Yuba, or we’ll fly you and your family to Hawaii, or we’ll just meet you in whatever city you happen to be in at the time (May). We’ll come to you if that’s what works best.


Please let me know. Thank you so much for everything you do and for every beautiful song you write. Your music changes lives for the better.

-Tony Hartzell

Happy Anniversary My Love, I’m So Glad We Failed

My high school sweetheart and I are having our 22-year anniversary today. Well, I’m having our 22-year anniversary by myself. I haven’t talked to her in a decade, and haven’t seen her since the 90s, but I still like to recognize the 16th of November; the most easily remembered date second only to my birthday, Jesus’ birthday, and the day the United States elected Donald Trump president. That girl got almost all of my “firsts” (the exclusion list is short, and NSFW, or normal conversation) and my heart connected to her in ways I have never felt and probably never will feel again.

Part of me wishes that we would have stayed together so we could have become fat and unhappy couch-ridden TV drone victims of our culture and of religious laws while we suffocated in the filthy mire that is the institution of marriage until we finally cheated on each other and got divorced, or maybe killed or de-reproductive-organ’d the other in their sleep. Who knows what great life and relationship we could have failed to have. The future was wide open, and we had nothing but hope back then.

I miss her. Even after all we went through, I miss her. Even though God told her to break up with me once during our senior year just to test her just to test her faith like he did that day at the alter with Abraham and his son and that knife he was supposed to kill him with, and then years later her parents threatened to disown her and keep her from the rest of her family for LIFE unless she permanently disowned me on the spot right that very second because I was from the devil and my town was the devil’s new breeding ground on Earth, and even though her preacher-to-be (Dad and God’s requirement for a boyfriend) boyfriend in college burned my fucking family photo album (that she still had for some reason) because God said any remembrance of me was unhealthy for her, and even though she stole $400 from me during a series of inappropriate across-the-miles “you’re so important to me Tony, you’ve always there for me, even though I’ve let you down so many times and betrayed you so many times, I need you to still be here for me now during these hard times” Myspace conversations we had during her first divorce from Mr. Jackass Preacher five years after that, I have nothing but love.

That girl will always have the child-like heart that she removed from my chest while pumping the resulting hole full of bitter shit paste, and she’ll always have my virginity, and she’ll always have 5 of my most formative and meaningful years-worth of memories, and she’ll always have the prestigious title of “God told me to do blah blah” crazy religious bitch from my past, and she’ll always have that $400. And she’ll always have November 16th.

Happy anniversary my love. I’m so thankful we failed at everything we tried.

If I Were God For A Day…

If I would God for a day I would create a monster big enough to eat popcorn out of a bowl big enough to hold the world’s entire population of snakes, flies, mosquitoes, (and whatever amount of spiders it would take to round out the food chain after the depletion of the flies and mosquitoes) rapists, murderers, child abusers, and anybody else who falls below a 4 on my scale of worth, and once the monster was all done with the popcorn I’d shrink him so he could fit into the bowl too, and then put a lid on it.

Then everything in that bowl would slide down the sides that are all greased up with popcorn butter into the hellish chaotic center where everything in there would eventually eat each other or destroy each other with absurd amounts of violence and filth, while drowning in their own blood and urine and vomit and puss and fecal matter and eventually rotting into a Texas-sized organic ball of toxins and death. Then I would slowly stir in all of the world’s landfills, ISIS, and every Adam Sandler movie, bake a cake out of it, and throw a party for everyone who has ever betrayed me.

I would not be at this party. I would drink 16 bottles of scotch and get no hangover, make out with Angelina Jolie and Alyssa Milano at the same time, put 4 billion dollars into my bank account, grant myself the power of flight, and end world hunger and male pattern baldness, and call it a night.

Death To UPS Access Points!

UPS Access Points are abomination of a service designed only to increase dwindling UPS profit margins in the face of ever-increasing delivery expenses. It’s an insult to say that it has anything to do with helping the customers. It’s a joke. A lie.

My Access Point is a local bike shop whose extremely high and uneducated employees are great with my bicycle, but they can’t figure out how to use a scanner or what a tracking number is, and never have any idea where anybody’s packages are. Sometimes they just ask my first name, and don’t even ask for an ID. I’ve had to go there over a dozen times for 6 or 7 packages, and with each occasion comes enough time to read another chapter of Tom Sawyer on my phone. What makes it worse is that deliveries don’t occur until the NEXT business day, and these mofos are closed on Wednesdays. To top it all off, their pissy faces that tell me they don’t like it any more than I do. It’s obvious the owner/manager/whoever is making them do this unnatural task against their will.

And I’m far from being the only one hatin’. Check out any one of thousands of Amazon message boards and reddits and YouTube videos and complaints from every corner of the world- not just the U.S.

Hope the money is worth the loss of customers, UPS. I’m still waiting on my copy of “How To Lose Friends & Alienate People”. It’s probably at a Local Access Point.

Goodbye Charlie Brown Tree

Right before Christmas 2011 Kayli and I found a little white $20 Christmas tree that we loved dearly. We made 3 years’ worth of memories decorating it with the Chipmunks and Bing Crosby, eating candy canes, opening presents, and just full of general holiday cheer. Then the little guy went into storage, and we decided to do other things for trees the next two years. Well just now, some old lady from somewhere in Iowa drove over an hour to give me $15 cash for it.

Best $5 I ever spent, but I’ll miss that Charlie Brown tree.


The Steven Patrick Song – Chuck Ragan, or Helen Chambers?

It’s 6:30am on a Wednesday, and I’m trying to slap myself awake for an all-company meeting. I’m getting called upon to answer some random personal questions and to share my favorite quotes. As it usually does in situations like this, my mind moves away from a thought-out response, and moves toward the emotional response of whatever music is currently living in my heart and playing in my mind at the time. This morning it happens to be Chuck’s grizzly voice roaring out a line from ‘Steven Patrick’ echoing in my still-sleeping head.

“Things are never, things are never, as bad as they first seem.”

Sounds generic if you just read the words, but I swear there is so much life and emotion in that voice and in that moment. And I believe that if people slowed down in accordance with the message in these lyrics and in accordance Vulcan philosophy, and stopped letting emotions control decisions, there would be less fights, less hurt feelings, and less emotional reactions to regret later. Less crime. Less war. Once the really bad moments fade just a little bit, they don’t feel quite as suffocating and world-ending. I know this because I used to fail at it all the time. Still do. What helps me in any negative situation is to write my initial response in text or email or whatever, and then walk away for 5 minutes. I guarantee there will be edits when I get back. Then after that I walk away again and when I get back there are more edits accompanied by some embarrassment for my initial emotional weaknesses. Like I said, I still fail all the time, but the recognition of the need for improvement is still there. And Chuck’s voice is still there.

After the meeting I was asked to provide a source for the quote for our company’s blog, and was shocked to find that the lyrics for Chuck’s song didn’t exist anywhere on the internet. And because I couldn’t remember the name of the song, I stumbled around web searches and lyrics sites, completely baffled, wasting the better part of a Friday and the subsequent weekend trying to figure out why. Here is what I found out.

After countless failed searches, hours of YouTube videos, and a documentary about Chuck’s hugely successful and regretfully  short-lived Revival Tour, I discovered that a musician from the UK covered Chuck’s song, and that they sang it together during that tour. Awesome- a new lead. Finally getting somewhere. I Tweeted to Helen Chamers, thanking her for giving this almost unknown song some much deserved attention with her cover. She quickly Tweeted back to give me thanks, and to let me know that it was actually her song, and that Chuck was the one who covered it. That’s why it was so hard to find- All of my searches were Mr. Ragan centric. My newfound knowledge, however, did not help me find the lyrics anywhere- they simply seemed to not exist in any written form anywhere. So here they are. You’re welcome world. I hope I got them all right.

Steven Patrick by Helen Chambers, later covered by Chuck Ragan
Listen on Spotify:
Chuck’s Version
Helen’s Version

One more drink before I go
I think it’s only fair
One more drink before I go
And brave the cold night air

And I wonder, and I wonder
If it’s really going’ down
And I wonder, and I wonder
What you’re doing’ in this town

Steven Patrick starts to sing
Wave goodbye and pack your things
Why dream about tomorrow
When you’re missing’ yesterday

And I’m hoping’, and I’m hoping’
that you’ll wait for me to come
And I’m hoping’, and I’m hoping’
the battle can be won

In to the night, driving forwards, losing time
In to the night, on my own
One for the road, driving’ forward, finding home
One for the road, time to go

Swim against the tide and find
The wind’s not at our backs
The road is never ending and
Our train just left the tracks

Things are never, things are never, as bad as they first seem
It’s too easy, it’s too easy, to give up on our dream

In to the night, driving forwards, losing time
In to the night, on my own
One for the road, driving forward, finding home
One for the road, time to go

And one for the road, driving’ forwards, finding home
One for the road, time to go
Time to go