Danny Trejo Celebrates 48 Years of Sobriety and Recounts the Moment in Prison That Changed His Life

Danny Trejo may play one badass after another on screen, but it is all clean living in real life thanks to a promise he made 48 years ago Tuesday.

“Everybody asks me, ‘How do you stay so young?’ I consider myself 48 years old. That’s when my life started,” the 72-year-old actor tells Heat Vision.

Trejo, who has appeared in dozens and dozens of films, including Heat, Con Air, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Reindeer Games and Machete, got his break as an actor playing a boxer in the 1985 film Runaway Train. His decision to live sober occurred years prior.

An admitted hell-raiser in his youth, Trejo says while he was incarcerated, he and a group of others were accused of starting a massive prison riot. Guards were hurt. That was May 5, 1968.

“We went to the hole and were facing the gas chamber,” Trejo says solemnly. “And I remember asking God, ‘Let me die with dignity. Just let me say goodbye. And if you do, I will say your name every day, and I will do whatever I can for my fellow man.'”

Trejo did not get the gas chamber. In fact, he was released from prison the following year, on Aug. 3 1969. With God fulfilling that end of their agreement, it was time for Trejo to live up to his side, he says.

“I have been keeping that promise,” Trejo says. Since that time, the actor has been giving back by living clean and sober and trying to instill values into wayward youth. Becoming a movie star was a happy accident, Trejo insists. And that mind-set is how he has been able to remain sober and grounded.

“I don’t think I am a big Hollywood star,” he says. “I won’t let myself. I can’t, because I’ve seen too many actors with the feeling of entitlement, and I want to slap the shit out of them.”

However, being a household name and recognizable face has allowed Trejo to do an enormous amount of good, he says.

“I help at-risk kids. I go to high schools. I do whatever I can,” he says. “That’s what I do. In many ways, that is my job. I am still a drug counselor.” He adds, “I will get their attention before you or a doctor or a nurse or a plumber or anybody. It helps me with what I love doing.”

To read story, click HERE

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Are Dorms for Adults the Solution to the Loneliness Epidemic?

Architect Grace Kim lives and works in a cohousing community she designed in Seattle. [Photo: courtesy Schemata Workshop]

By Adele Peters

More Americans are single than ever before, and more are living alone. That fact is one of the reasons we’re also starting to die earlier: one studyfound that living alone increases mortality risk 32%. Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. surgeon general, has called isolation the most common health issue in the country.

Architect Grace Kim thinks that a solution may be differently designed housing. “Loneliness can be the result of our built environment,” she told an audience at TED 2017.

Even couples or families, she said, can be socially isolated in the typical house, and barely know neighbors (social isolation, as opposed to living alone, increases mortality risk 29%). In an apartment building, residents might be more likely to stare at their phones in the elevator than start a conversation. Kim, by contrast, lives and works in a cohousing community she designed in Seattle, where families or individuals each have their own homes, but the space was designed for interaction.

Click HERE for full article

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Rachel Rotten finds home in roller derby

The 31-year-old Rachel Johnston, aka as Rachel Rotten, who started playing derby in 2010, says it wasn’t just a thirst for competition that brought her to roller derby and kept her there. Shortly after her first practice, she discovered something.

“When I found derby, I found that ‘wake up’ moment,” she said. “Because I didn’t have to justify my presence to anyone. And the part about how playing ‘like a man’ isn’t a compliment? I feel that in my bones in this sport.”

Outside the rink, Johnston, 31, has also been one of the game’s bigger diplomats. Putting to work her background in marketing and entertainment, Johnston has helped grow the game’s public face and its business operations as the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association sponsorship chair.

To read full story, click HERE

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Inside Jack White’s Third Man Records

For those who follow the vinyl revolution, worth watching the CBS profile on Jack White’s Third Man Record empire. To watch video, click HERE

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Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell honored on the Walk of Fame

AP PHOTO: @goldiehawn #kurtrussell kiss at a ceremony honoring them with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Congratulations to Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell who first met in 1968 while shooting Disney’s “The One And Only, Genuine, Original Family Band.” The couple began dating on the set of their second film together, the 1983 comedy “Swing Shift,” and have been together ever since. This week, the charming couple had a rare double Hollywood ceremony where their stars were engraved side by side on the Walk of Fame.

“To you I owe my wonderful life,” Russell said to Hawn. “Simply put, Goldie, I cherish you and all the stars in the sky or on the boulevard can’t hold a candle to that.

“So if I am to be honoured with this sweet token of memorabilia: that is to be sunk forever in the cement of a street whereupon I will be subjected to the constant harshness of the blazing California sun, blowing winds and pouring rains. And stray dogs of both the canine and human variety perhaps in need of a little relief, and trod upon by the soles of shoes caked with earth from all corners of the globe… there’s no one else I’d rather be next to for all of that than Goldie Hawn.”

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Social Distortion’s Mike Ness: 10 Best Country-Punk Covers

Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

“Around the house, my father liked country and my mother was more rock & roll,” Mike Ness tells Rolling Stone Country. “I remember a lot of Johnny Cash, the Dillards and Buck Owens. Country music was just always in the background and I absorbed all of it. Also, this was in the period of the folk revival, so we had that big Smithsonian box set [The Anthology of American Folk Music] where I distinctly remember hearing the Carter Family for the first time. Their tones and that style of music really resonated with me as a kid. Early on, I wanted Social D to be the Carter Family with electric guitars.”

Inspired by the Sex Pistols and punk’s no-rules approach, Ness channeled that unruly inclusivity to mix punk with the roots music he had grown up loving, seeing a distinct connection between the styles. “To me, the main shared characteristic between the two of them is that they’re both working-class genres that deal with working-class issues in an honest way,” says Ness, who recently produced the traditionally styled country singer Jade Jackson’s debut Gilded. “Whether it’s Billie Holiday or Howlin’ Wolf or Johnny Cash, they’re singing about real-life things and that’s what punk is – a dissatisfaction with the status quo and wanting to honestly sing about it.”

Click HERE for full article

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Bono on the Psalms

Bono discusses the Psalms with Professor David Taylor from Fuller Theological Seminary in five video spots. Click HERE.

Some of my fave quotes:

  • “All art is prophetic.” To clergy, “Look for the drawing in the sand.” To artists, “Draw in the sand.”
  • “I think there are trapped artists — and I’d like them to be untrapped.”
  • “What one difficult or troubling thing the Psalms have required of you?” Bono responds: “Honesty.” Nice discussion about the “alchemy of grace.”
  • “I became an artist through the portal of grief. It was a big hole, but luckily it was a big love.”
  • “It is art, rather than advertising, that the Creator of the universe is impressed by.”
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Summer of Love

By Steve Beard

As cultural mavens are more than aware, this is the 50th anniversary of the infamous Summer of Love when the hippie counterculture christened its fashions, ideals, art, and music. The pilgrimage of the Flower Children to Haight-Ashbury was an attempt to create a fleeting utopia, a chance to experiment with drugs, and an opportunity to dabble in “free love” – a co-ed sleepover without the parents.

When asked to reflect back on what he believed in the ’60s, satirist P.J. O’Rourke responded, “Everything. You name it and I believed it. I believed love was all you need… I believed drugs could make you a better person. I believed I could hitchhike to California with thirty-five cents and people would be glad to feed me… I believed the world was about to end. I believed the Age of Aquarius was about to happen… I managed to believe Gandhi and H. Rap Brown at the same time. With the exception of anything my parents said, I believed everything.”

This was also the summer when the Beatles unveiled Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. With its psychedelic vibe, Indian influences, funky cover art, and wink-and-nod references to drug use, it was a fitting soundtrack for the scene. This was an era of provocative new thinking, troubling for some and liberating for others.

“In some ways the hippie generation appeared to be overturning generations of Christian morality and in other ways they were overturning a soulless secularism and arguing for truth, beauty, and justice,” Steve Turner, acclaimed British poet and author of Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year, recently told me. “Unpacking what happened is a difficult task. Anyone who says it was all bad is wrong. Anyone who says it was all good is wrong.”

From my perspective, I’m more than mildly intrigued by the Summer of Love because I’m a Cold War kid – raised as a punk rocker during the Reagan era on The Clash, Blondie, U2, The Ramones, and The Stray Cats. My generation had its own ideals but it was notably not expressed with saffron robes and sitar music. Despite being on a different side of the generational and cultural divide, I will always be a Beatles fan and have a soft spot in my heart for the ’60s. Despite their sometimes justifiable bad rap, the hippies may have ultimately been in search of spiritual transcendence.

“The rock ‘n’ roll bands are the philosopher-poets of the new religion,” wrote Timothy Leary, a 1960s cultural ringleader. “Their beat is the pulse of the future. The message from Liverpool is the Newest Testament, chanted by four Evangelists — saints John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Pure Vedanta, divine revelation, gentle, tender irony at the insanities of war and politics, sorrowful lament for the bourgeois loneliness, delicate hymns of glory to God.”

Of course, Leary was known for his hallucinogenic hyperbole while tripping on LSD. He is also the one who advocated, “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Nevertheless, his devotional verbiage was indicative of a Flower Power generation that perceived spiritual vibrancy in rock ’n’ roll, and viewed the church as flaccid and anemic. This was most inelegantly and bluntly stated by John Lennon: “We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t now which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.”

Those ended up being fighting words to the agitated and alarmed faithful. Instead of engaging the prickly comments or turning the other cheek, some American fans doused their Beatles albums in kerosene and scorched them. Others sent death threats in purple crayon while the Ku Klux Klan nailed Beatles albums to burning crosses.

In trying to clarify his position, Lennon said, “Originally I was pointing out the fact with reference to England – that we meant more to kids at that time than Jesus did.” Who could argue with that? In one of his previous books, The Gospel According to the Beatles, Turner underpins Lennon’s point: “Members of this generation could have quoted more Beatles lyrics than they could Hymns Ancient and Modern and would know more about John the Beatle than John the Baptist, more about Paul of Allerton than Paul of Tarsus.”

As the Beatles would soon discover, fame and fortune were often vacuous taskmasters. At a later time in Lennon’s life he addictively found himself watching popular television preachers in search of answers. It was reported that Lennon sent a fascinating letter to the Rev. Oral Roberts in 1972, regretting having said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus and confessing that he took drugs because he feared reality. Additionally, he quoted the famous lyrics “money can’t buy me love” and sent a donation.

“It’s true. The point is this, I want happiness,” read the letter to Roberts. “I don’t want to keep on with drugs… Explain to me what Christianity can do for me. Is it phony? Can He love me? I want out of hell.”

In the midst of a thoughtful and lengthy response, Roberts wrote, “What I want to say … is that Jesus, the true reality, is not hard to face. He said, ‘Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’”

Despite the letters exchanged between the rock star and the TV preacher, Lennon’s restless journey eventually led him to embrace philosophies and beliefs that were all over the map.

“You could rattle human authority by growing your hair long, but you couldn’t conquer your inner demons in the same way,” observed Turner. “To ‘change your head,’ as John referred to it in [the song] ‘Revolution,’ required something much more radical.”

Few movements within American Christianity were more radical than the long haired, barefooted hippies getting high on Jesus, revolutionizing church music, tuning into verse-by-verse Bible study, enthusiastically sharing their faith, and being baptized by the thousands in the Pacific Ocean during the Jesus Movement after the Summer of Love.

Looking back 50 years, perhaps that was at least what some of the hippies were trying to discover during that season — something much more radical, a true reality, a change of heart, a touch from God. In hindsight, it’s not such a bad quest.

Steve Beard is the creator of Thunderstruck Media Syndicate.  

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Dissident artist Danilo Maldonado Machado on art and liberty in Cuba

Cuban dissident artist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as “El Sexto,” was in Los Angeles recently for a show and a screening. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

At the tail end of 2014, Danilo Maldonado Machado, the graffiti artist known as “El Sexto,” was detained by the authorities as he made his way to a public park in Havana to stage a work of protest art. In his vehicle, he was carrying a pair of pigs that he had painted with the names of the Castro brothers — one “Raul,” the other “Fidel.” His plan was to release them and let members of the public catch them and take them home.

But the piece, titled “Rebelión en la granja” (after George Orwell’s “Animal Farm) never happened. Instead, Maldonado spent 10 months in jail. His case drew international headlines. As did a subsequent detention in which he publicly celebrated the death of Fidel Castro on a Havana street.

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What did being in prison teach you about Cuba?

It’s that the majority of people who are in jail, even though they wouldn’t consider themselves political prisoners, they are political prisoners. They are prisoners because they don’t work for the state — and that’s dangerous to the state. If you sell peanuts because you don’t want to work for the state’s miserable wage, you can end up in prison.

But [the Castros], they’ve never been held responsible for the crimes they have committed. On the contrary a lot of people think [Fidel] is cool. There are a lot of people in Latin America who think he is cool. But that’s not cool. Cool is Ghandi. Cool is Martin Luther King Jr.

To read entire interview, click HERE

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Jim Marshall, maker of rock-and-roll guitar amplifiers, dies at 88

To the parents of teenage wannabe bedroom rockers, Mr. Marshall’s amps were not welcome household company. But to those young players, Mr. Marshall was the Lord of Loud, the man who gave rock its gritty, beautifully distorted, cacophonous sound.

The big, black boxes resembled refrigerators, and when arranged in formation, they emitted a wall of sound.

Many of the most popular guitarists in history used Marshall amps, including Pete Townshend of The Who, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.

Marshall amps became such staples of the rock world that they became fodder for comedians, memorably in Rob Reiner’s 1984 satirical documentary “This is Spinal Tap.” In one scene, the fictional band’s clueless lead guitarist, Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest), explains that he uses special Marshall amps that “go to 11” as opposed to ordinary amps that only have a top volume setting of 10.

“Does that mean it’s louder?” asks the fake documentary director Marty DiBergi (played by Reiner).

“Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it?” Tufnel replies.

To read the entire story about Jim Marshall, click HERE

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