**Not an actual John Mayer quote. Just go with it!**
This is my final promotional poster to remind you of our little show in a little coffee house in Laguna Hills, CA on January 5, 2011 at 7:30 PM. Really hope you will come out to hear some good music. This show will be 100% au naturale, meaning we’re completely acoustic, humble and awesome.
Excited to also inform you that Mobile Tees will be present to sell you amazing T-Shirts with your choice of 4 designs. These will be printed “LIVE” right before your eyes on FACES T-Shirts, which are high quality, fair-trade, sweat-shop free threads. You will be able to make purchases on our CDs and T-Shirts at great prices so be sure to bring a little cash! A portion of the proceeds will go towards The Well human trafficking safe house in Mexico City– the group that my family and I are involved in.
Here’s our poster once more with all the information you will need! See you there!
I turn 30 years old today.
1. HOLY CRAP! When did this happen?
2. Beautiful 2 year old son. Thank you.
3. Beautiful wife who sets me straight. Thank you.
4. Beautiful DAUGHTER on the way in May of 2011. Thank you, thank you!
5. 30 is the new 20? Time will tell but at the first sign of back or knee failure, that expression is officially a hoax!
6. Time to take up “new” hobbies: Basketball, poker, and gadgets. So what if they’re the same ones from my 20’s?
7. Something I had very little interest in during my 20s but I’d like to accomplish in my 30s: Write a book.
8. Never in my life have I felt so rich and poor at the same time as I do right now!
9. But at the end of the day, I am rich. Filthy rich. Thankful.
10. Did I think that by the age of 30, I’d have my own family? Why yes. Thankful that my inclination was honored.
11. Did I think that by the age of 30, I would have had 2 separate, extended stints in different countries (Thailand, Mexico)? Nope.
12. Did I think that by the age of 30, I would have done something musically relevant? Yes. Which is why I dread getting older!
13. I have to fight very hard not to get depressed on my birthday every year. I don’t know why this is but it is an annual ritual. Must. Keep. Fighting!
14. Newsong. Thankful for you
15. How is it that I get to choose what clothes I want to wear each day? Thankful.
16. How is it that my wife and child wear such snazzy clothes, too? Thankful.
17. I have been able to make a different kind of “living” for a few years now. Thank you.
18. Nearly 80 birthday greetings on my Facebook wall… and it’s only 3 PM. Thankful!
19. My birthday this year was supposed to be donated toward the cause of anti-trafficking. I will be working hard this next year to enable people from all around the world to donate their milestone birthdays to end slavery…
20. Bono, Kobe… look forward to having coffee with you guys some day. We’d be great friends.
21. Oh boy… what I would give to be 21 again.
22. I have no regrets. Thankful
23. We shall overcome
24. Free at last, free at last
25. I have never been hungry, never been truly broke or bankrupt, never been deathly ill. Never been more grateful.
26. As much as I hate getting older, I suppose it’s time to embrace 30 head-on and live like it is awesome. Because it is.
27. I need to get better at asking questions instead of assuming I know or will find the answers.
28. Emotionally and spiritually, I will be Forever 21. What a great name for a clothing store.
29. Thanks for reading this.
30. Is the new… 30.
*NOTE: Not an official Damien Rice publication. Please don’t sue me.*
**DISCLAIMER** – This post is not meant to paint Mexico or the people of this country in a bad light. This is purely a commentary on the unfortunate and heinous nature of sex trafficking and those subjected to the pandemic. Please take note that injustice such as what I am about to describe occurs the world over and is not exclusive to Mexico. Please love and pray for Mexico and its people.
La Merced is the center of prostitution in Mexico City. On my family’s first visit to this city last December, my friend Benny took a wrong turn on our way to a tourist spot and accidentally gave us a drive-by tour of the area. What I saw that day drew some uncanny parallels to the story I heard behind Drew Brees’ recruitment by the New Orleans Saints football team a few years ago.
In his first tour of the city, Drew Brees accidentally bore witness to the destruction of Hurricane Katrina when coach Sean Payton took a wrong turn. Payton’s intention was to show Brees all the best and attractive areas of New Orleans. (Oops!) I’m sure at that point, the coach thought he screwed up his chances of landing the coveted free agent quarterback but as the story goes, Drew and his wife could not deny a sense of calling they had to move to New Orleans. After witnessing the destruction, Drew Brees knew that a move to New Orleans would be about more than just football. This transition was about being a part of rebuilding a city.
My accidental tour of La Merced last year is part of what drove my family and I to make the move to Mexico City 6 months ago in what may turn out to be a 2 year commitment. We witnessed the destruction from a car and felt a calling to help “rebuild” a city with our hands and feet on the ground. What did we see that day? A street full of prostitutes scattered along every few feet or so in the bright light of day.
For the first time since moving to Mexico City, I was able to take a very intentional tour of La Merced yesterday with Benny on foot. To say that my eyes were opened would be an understatement.
Though the area is just 30 minutes away by subway from where we live, La Merced felt like an entirely different country. Each nook and cranny of the street was packed with merchants selling every kind of gadget, trinket, and snack and the congestion of foot traffic makes for a very typical big city experience. One clear distinction however is that this street is home to over 1,000 prostitutes, many of whom are forced to stand and parade out in plain view of everyone in the middle of the day.
I don’t know if it was the street suadero tacos I just ate with Benny but I was on the verge of nausea the entire time. I don’t know if it was the smoke emitted by the cars driving by but I couldn’t help but feel a heaviness and fatigue as we walked by each prostitute. I never thought that such a place was possible and it’s hard to think that anyone could ever imagine a scenario such as what one sees in La Merced.
The place had a rather heavy police presence, which would normally mean that the law of the land is being carried out and the rights of people are being protected. I felt sick to my stomach as I learned that these cops work harder to regulate on street merchants peddling wooden bookmarks rather than the pimps who parade the bodies of countless women against their will. These law officials are paid off and turn a complete blind eye to the obvious evil in front of their eyes.
Within minutes of walking through La Merced, I couldn’t help but think about the United States pre-MLK when something as wrong as segregation and blatant discrimination was commonplace and “normal.” It took a revolution to turn the tide on this norm and though the problem is far from solved, at least the average American now knows that discrimination is unacceptable, un-cool, and definitely not normal.
I realized that if we are going to be a part of the solution here, we need to get people to a place where they are enraged by this injustice and this type of thing should feel incredibly abnormal and outrageous. It was shocking when it hit me that these prostitutes of mid-day were so commonplace that most people would simply walk by these women as if they were trees or street lights—normal fixtures.
Benny led me down an alley where there was another form of sale for men looking for sex. I saw this scene in the movie “Trade” (starring Kevin Kline) where women walk around in a circle as a massive crowd of potential clients gather to view and select their “merchandise.” To see this in real life was a shock and once again, the nonchalant and commonplace nature of this scene was appalling. A female janitor pulled her trash bin right through the crowd of men and ring of women as she needed to access the dump. There was no shock or anger in her voice as she said “con permiso” (excuse me) and walked straight through. Once again, the normality of the scene in front of me was hard to digest. Nausea.
Many of the women on the street were clearly mothers who have probably been forced into this trade in order to provide for their sons and daughters. It is not uncommon to see women in skin-tight jeans, stilettos and cleavage-bearing blouses who also happen to be several months pregnant. Of course there are many young girls on this street. These girls are prostitutes but they are also someone’s daughter, sister, mother, wife, and child. I did not observe a single genuine smile and most wore faces of deep pain and hopelessness.
My heart breaks and my mind is overwhelmed. I told Benny that after this experience I am realizing that the issue is even bigger than I had originally thought… and I already knew that this was big. Not only must we consider the girls, their pimps and their clients, but we must consider the fact that the government and law enforcement is in on this. When we think about the prospect of rescue and intervention, we must think about how we can change culture to think differently about the issue. The issue isn’t just apathy and corruption. There is a real need to empower the general public to take the power we naturally have as human beings in order to stand for those who have had their dignity stripped from them. “Power to the people.”
What can we do? Are we wasting our time by thinking that our little chisels on this great mountain of injustice will provide any sort of real, lasting change? Perhaps that is what Evil wants us to believe so that we simply give up and hope the problem just goes away somehow. It takes audacity to believe that a whole system of wickedness can be overturned. It takes a great deal of faith and a measure of insanity to think that a Goliath of slavery can be killed once more through measly stones launched from the hopeful slingshots of young activists.
I would much rather do something than nothing. I think that’s what it will take. If each person did something rather than nothing, I know we can bring global freedom once more. It’s happened before. We do what we can and then let God finish the work.
So what is the part we’re playing right now? In addition to our rehabilitation safe house, we are in talks to start a women’s center right in the heart of La Merced. Women who want to get out of the slave trade can simply walk in and start receiving the aide and information they need to live life as free people. Benny and I are dreaming about and laying the groundwork for a global campaign we hope to launch some time next year. We are engaged in the small as our sights are set on the big and grand.
Thank you for reading. There is a part each of us can play in this battle. What will it be for you? What questions do you have?
this is the first of several posts over time on the topic of memories.
Something you must know about me is that I don’t know how to fart. (Wait, what? How is that possible?!) Some of my friends have theorized that perhaps 1) I wasn’t properly potty trained or 2) maybe it’s subconscious trauma that took over my body since the time in Kindergarten I successfully crapped in my pants during nap time and proceeded to smother the chocolate butter all over my blankets and soiled my clothes beyond repair. As if that wasn’t embarrassment enough, I ended up wearing the Principal’s daughter’s daisy dukes (aka Short Shorts) with a Playboy bunny on the rear left pocket for the rest of the day. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the most confident boy on the jungle gym during recess that afternoon.
So to this day, I have yet to fart publicly. Of course when I’m on the toilet, this all changes as I’m able to let everything rip without worry of Hershey squirting in my pants. The issue here is that I simply do not know how to distinguish between a fart and a real bonafide #2. I’m afraid to try as this will mean I could risk ruining a perfectly good pair of boxers. Some have suggested the use of Depends –as in diapers for adults–but unless I’m filming my own webisode of Jackass for money, I would rather not take anything away from the national geriatric supply.
I have concluded that this is a hopeless case for now but at least it gives me a fail-proof social boost when a conversation runs dry. Even the most non-talkative or socially awkward person can’t resist commenting on such a ridiculous disability. “No way… that’s crazy. Whoa… Ok, I’m gonna go walk over there now…”
I think we all need a Toilet sometimes. A place where we can let go of all inhibition and just let it rip; let the crap fly, so to speak, without worry of embarrassment, judgment, or need to wipe. Some call this “community” or “deep friendship” but whatever you would call it, we all need it and want it. I’m thankful I have it.
When was the last time you just let it rip on a “Toilet”? Maybe it’s been years and you are in major need of prune juice and stool softener before you jump on the porcelain bowl. I just want to say that it’s all good… just come as you are and take a dump, er– take a risk. This could be a matter of life and death!
(my apologies if you are unable to see the reflective and deep nature of this post due to the gratuitous use of “crap” as an analogy. I assure you that my stories are true, however, even if this is the most TMI post you ever read!)