I am a veteran of the War on Christmas. I am just emerging from a battlefield strewn with dead trees and torn shreds of brightly colored wrapping paper.
Never once have I thought that Social Security would be something that would ever be available to me.
We city dwellers, we residents of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, are for the most part urbanized to some extent. We know deadlines, start times and traffic.
I would hate to think that some people have found themselves in a musical cul-de-sac and have ceased to explore new music, or at least music that is new to them, because they are so glued to the past.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was vigorously and vociferously opposed by the Southern states. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it into law nonetheless.
As far as I have been able to understand, the Japanese seem to keep things close to the vest. Friendly but remote and polite to the point of being invisible. It is in the music, literature, film and art that the Japanese really seem to express themselves.
I wonder if it is Australia's great distance from more populated land masses that allows its inhabitants to be left to their own devices, to be incredibly creative and, at times, to be wonderfully weird.
I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to tour with the Beastie Boys and watched almost every set they played on all those dates. Why not? You do your set and then you get to see the Beasties play? Best deal in town.
Motivation has always been a fascinating factor when considering a touring artist, especially when the years stack up. What keeps one out there year after year?
As performers grow older, I reckon there are two ways they can go. They can either be up there, playing more deeply from their guts than ever, or they can be phoning it in so crassly that it leaves a lump in your throat as you leave the venue at the end of the show.
My first introduction to African music was by my mother, who bought the 'Pata Pata' album by the great Miriam Makeba when it came out. Now that is an album. What a voice.
The history of apartheid-era South Africa is incredibly sad and at times infuriatingly incomprehensible.
Death metal uses a lot of white face paint and black hair dye to make its point. I quite enjoy this genre for its intensity, extremism and underlying irony: You have to be alive to play it and listen to it.
I think it's fantastic when the young enrage their elders. I really do believe that if it's too loud, you are indeed too old, and that if it has been standing for too long, it needs a thorough inspection.
Jazz music is as American as it gets, and so is the U.S. Postal Service. A Miles Davis stamp is a perfect marriage of two great American institutions.
In blues music, there's a lot of borrowing, so it's often difficult to identify the originator of a song.
Ramones music has a Pavlovian effect on me -- the song starts, and the world blurs around the sound.
The Ruts were a great punk rock band from England whose songs were as excellent as their time together was short.
August in sub-Saharan Los Angeles is one of the great and awful tests of one's endurance, sanity and stamina.
Too bad that Paul Ryan confessed to being a fan of Rage Against The Machine. By doing so, he not only begged for a bucketing by many of their fans but actually got one from the band's guitar player, Tom Morello.
Rock is ironic in that, up to a certain point, you can get better and better at it if you don't mind possibly looking more and more ridiculous.
At times, I feel America is something that I can actually put my arms around, more than a land mass and a Constitution, something far more containable and understandable. I don't exactly know what it is, but at these times I feel completely woven into it.
Enough Americans saw fit to give president Obama a second term. I don't think there will be many people keeping their Romney Ryan bumper stickers on their cars.
What does New York sound like? For me, the Charlie Parker at the Royal Roost recordings on the Savoy label are the total embodiment of the New York music experience.
Trying to write music, be in a band and keep it all happening is one of the hardest, morale-destroying, heartbreaking things you will ever try to do -- and that's when it's going well.
Sometimes when you meet a musician you are a fan of, and he or she isn't the friendliest person, you walk away from the experience wondering if you will ever be able to listen to their music again.
I always found the Chicago audience to be a smart, fast-moving, violent and cheerful lot, and it's always good to be back.
People like Jefferson, Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony and M. L. K. are larger than life to me. I find myself staring at photographs of Lincoln almost in disbelief that he was a man who walked the earth and not merely some fiction writer's creation.
I try to get myself up and moving as early as possible. Optimum is to be on the treadmill while it is still dark outside.
To anger female voters in America is to tread on the tiger's tail. Women turn out in huge numbers, and they are well aware of how their bodies work and what they need.
It is instilled in thousands of American males from an early age that one of their requirements is to be able to both dish out and take a lot of pain. They are taught the rules of this road in gyms, rings, backyards and fields all over America.
I believe that contentment or any sustained period of joy that doesn't inspire thought that leads to action almost immediately is useless.
I think, to a great degree, we humans still divide ourselves into two species, even though we are monotypic. There are males and females. We see them as different and not equal.
You can pass all the gun legislation you want. None of it will make me feel any more or less safe than I do right at this moment.
In many ways, America is on the receiving end of a pendulum that has been swung with great force, and for a long time, outward into the world. The impact is a wake-up call on every level.
I have to do things for myself, and if those standards are set high, then it's up to me to pass or fail.
The opportunity to write for the 'L.A. Weekly' has been one of the better breaks that has come my way in a long time.
Edward Snowden, who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, professes to have had access to whatever he wanted to know about anyone's anything. If he's telling the truth, why does he have such permeability without any government oversight? Is that OK with you?
It has been hard to get my head around how Justice Antonin Scalia rationalizes his decisions. His body blow to the Voting Rights Act was a head scratcher, but at least he was calm when he attempted to justify his odd logic.
In my many trips to South Africa, I have met and spoken to a lot of people there, and they all seem to find apartheid as repellent as you would.
The fact is, in the minds of many, Trayvon Martin received the appropriate punishment for a true crime: He was black, male and dared to walk outside. In life, young Trayvon was just a teenager; in death, he has been transformed into a scary, lurking, suspicious, prone-to-violence spook.
If there is one set of laws, one Constitution for every citizen, its protections hopefully applied equally to all, then why do the results seem to differ so radically? What do you call that? Look around -- you're living in it.
There is not one single police officer in America that I am not afraid of and not one that I would trust to tell the truth or obey the laws they are sworn to uphold. I do not believe they protect me in any way.
Think about it: No matter who you are, the past plays a large part in your life. I am all about living in the present as best as I can. Try as I might, there is only so much I am able to achieve on this front.
While I have no empirical evidence to back this up, I bet that the number of homosexual people per thousand has not fluctuated all that much over the centuries. I do not believe the dented wisdom my father used to extol, that homosexuality was a sure sign of a civilization in decline.
Please don't think that I am one of those squishy types who can't handle reality. I have plenty of real-world things to deal with all the time. I have deadlines, meetings, I answer the phone, I get turned down, I wait in lines and am forced to pass for normal all the time.
Being in New York is an almost overwhelming experience. While Washington, D.C., is my favorite American city, I regard New York City as the most amazing city in the world. No other comes close. It is an incredible, inexhaustible engine.
If you want to go the scorched-earth, Obamacare-is-like-slavery route and choose to stay uninsured, you will have the Palinesque guts, the Cruzian fortitude to wave off the ambulance that will appear to scoop you up should something bad happen to you, right?
In the late summer of 1986, the band I had been in for five years stopped playing. Suddenly, I was on my own. This new state of bandlessness was, at first, traumatic. When your group breaks up, a lot of broken parts hit the ground.
When a band becomes as truly iconic as the Velvet Underground, there will often be a box set released, overburdened with mediocre material that dilutes what was fine left on its own.
It's not lost on me that everyone dies, but some people have a kind of immortality about them, and you can't imagine that they will ever be gone.
Like a lot of inwardly drawn young people, I spent a lot of time in libraries. At my high school, I often spent my lunch breaks there.
We Californians can watch the Weather Channel for images of winter's brutality unleashed upon our fellow Americans and thank our lucky stars we don't have to contend with it.
I am afforded a bit of easy wonderment in relative comfort as to how humans have lasted so long. Climate- and geography-wise, the planet seems to have little use for us.
I have had a number of less-than-enviable moments in my life when dealing with other people. I won't attempt to blunt that by saying I am not the only one.
To our enemies all over the world who plan America's demise, please take my advice. Give up now. No matter what, you will lose. You will lose it all.
We spend millions of dollars to remove pain from our lives. It's why so many people get hooked on painkillers. The body becomes addicted to painlessness. That tells you a lot.
The only thing about sanctions is that, like a lot of drone strikes, there are countless unintended victims. Cutting off aid to Uganda only increases the pain there.
The first Van Halen album makes Johnny Rotten out to be what he really was and still is: a hairdresser.
Someone like Ashlee Simpson, she lip-synchs on 'Saturday Night Live,' gets totally called out la Milli Vanilli, and no one really cares that much. It doesn't make me hate Ashlee; she's just taking instructions.
Every politician, every president gets votes by getting people that don't like him to like him. That's why politicians are slippery: because they talk out of both sides of their mouth.
After I wrapped 'Sons of Anarchy,' I traveled by myself for ten weeks. I started in Jordan and finished in Mali, in Timbuktu.
I think self-reliance and self-responsibility and self-accountability will help you as a parent, a teacher, as a citizen as a friend.
I'm of the opinion that the Democrats have the ideas I agree with more often than not. Reenergizing the middle class and giving people a break.
When I see the hatred exacted at Mr. Obama -- you know, he lowered your taxes, killed your number one bad guy and got your guys out of Iraq -- I don't understand why he seems to inflame people so much. You know, unless, unless there's a race problem.
Let's pretend my career in music is a bell. Whether you like my music or not is up to you. But you've got to admit I rang that bell pretty hard and pretty often.
I hate painting with a broad brush, but I think the birther thing, at its root, is racist. The guy was born in Hawaii. A black guy is president. It's cool. Get over it. Just deal with it. There's nothing you could show these birther people that would shut them up.
It's hard to get people at a record company to talk about music. They don't seem to want to talk about music, it's all marketing, and that's part of a record, you gotta get it out there, people have gotta hear it, but you could do it in a way that's not repulsive.
Seven-11 is the pulse-beat of America. I think that Bruce Springsteen should do a song about a 7-11 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, but write it in such a way that American's youth can identify and slurp along with the Boss. Hail the Boss! Hail 7-11!
I was at the first Minor Threat show, and you could tell, 'This band is going to be the king of the town.' It was obvious. They were so good.
I don't have a crystal ball, but I'm willing to bet one of my arms right now that as long as there's electricity, Ramones music is going to be relevant.
I've been on 'Jay Leno,' and everyone likes Jay, but being on that show is a really boring afternoon. I sincerely like Jay, but I wouldn't want his job, because I'd have to interview Kathy Ireland, and there's nothing there I'd want to know.
I've never heard Daft Punk; I've never heard a track of theirs in my life. They're the two guys with motorcycle helmets on?
I think the U.K. is an amazing place and has been extremely good to me. Some of my favorite and most-listened-to bands are from England. I have met many good people there and have been in front of some of the most loyal audiences I have ever encountered.
To see change in your own area code is very powerful. There's a little orphanage down the street from my company, and we donate $1 from the sale of each CD we sell to the orphanage.
You want to meet a bunch of really friendly people? Go to a Slayer concert. There'll be some real psychos there, but most of those people will take care of each other.
I'm actually on the Twitter like all those crazy young kids are, and if I'm going to do an in-store appearance or I post something on my website, I tweet these followers, a word I don't like so much, and over 50,000 people go, like, 'Okay, I got it.'
Rarely do I do film press because I'm so low on the food chain of the movie, and for me it's just this thing I did for four weeks before the next tour started.
When you are young, there is so much ahead of you, it's like the Saharan desert. You can't even see across it.
The best compliment I get every year is that a band will write me and say, 'We were just on tour, and we had people coming to our show saying they had never heard us before they heard us on your show.'
I would like go to Palestine and interview people there about what their lives are like; same thing in Iran.
As a young person, I was on the road playing music, so I was getting new environments shoved in my face whether I wanted them or not.
There's tons of junk food for your mind on the Internet. You can sit there for three or 10 or 20 hours a day getting in online arguments with other people who also choose to waste their time.
If you listen to 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,' by Gil Scott-Heron, that album is dripping with rage.
I'm not into fame. I'm not into making money, outside of financing my books. I'm not into status. My thing is basically about time -- not wasting it.
I love capitalism. It rewards me for being brave -- it awards me for being innovative and thinking out of the box.
All my big heroes are literary, writers.
All my big heroes are literary, writers. I'd love to meet Jimmy Hendrix or John Coltrane, but I'd much rather meet Thomas Wolfe, or F. Scott Fitzgerald. Words and books have always meant a lot to me. That someone can take words and string them together to where they will move me is just a hell of a thing. It's amazing to me; more amazing to me than music or painting. It's always been the written word or the spoken word, like a great lecture or a great lyric, or a great poem. To me it's just amazing. And I always aspire toward capturing that, or my version of it.
For a long time, when I was very young, I went to go see arena rock bands. I was 16, and it was all I could get in to see, legally. And I saw Led Zeppelin and Ted Nugent and Van Halen and all that.
I don't think you'll ever have a perfect world because we humans are prone to error, and so we're always in search of an upgrade.
I think a lot of Americans have never been all that hungry. They've never had war on their shore, and they've never suffered the way other cultures have suffered. I'm not saying we should go suffer. Not at all. I'm saying we should be more aware of how other cultures exist.
I have never experienced anything like walking out onto the stage of an oversold venue and, before the first note is struck, realizing that there is not going to be enough oxygen for all of us.
When people hold you in high esteem, it's very delicate relationship. When they meet you they're putting all their chips up. It's make or break.
I mean Black Flag happened. I was lucky. I don't think I could have put together something with one percent of that oomph on my own.
I'd like to talk to Arnold Schwarzenegger, 'cause I live in California and I just want to see that canned, chemical filled body in my office.
There is no way you are going to be forgiven for blowing up a village and killing a bunch of people.
I get angry about stuff, I get very emotionally intense about stuff and that's how I get it out -- with books, with the band, on my own onstage, but it's always kind of a wail.
Most poets are elitist dregs more concerned with proving their skill with a dictionary than communicating ideas with impact.
And I love the hate mail I get, the unsigned, misspelled letters I get telling me to go back to Russia or wherever.
There's a lot of mountain climbers trapped inside of bodies of people behind the counter at Kinko's.
I think more tolerance, more people having more access to a chance to be literate, and a chance to stay healthy makes for a more peaceful planet.
I'm mellower now, I'm over 50. But I don't think I'm too mellow. I'm still angry at a lot of things.
Why do you think the old stories tell of men who set out on great journeys to impress the gods? Because trying to impress people just isn't worth the time and effort.
The only difference between me and others is that they think they can change something with cute little poems, nice cards or embracing trees and being nice to little lapdogs.
So I'm more at home with my backpack, sleeping in a hotel room or on a bus or on an airplane, than I am necessarily on a bed. It's weird being here. It feels like I'm standing next to my real life.
I've always seen it as the role of an artist to drag his inside out, give the audience all you've got. Writers, actors, singers, all good artists do the same. It isn't supposed to be easy.
Being an artist is dragging your innermost feelings out, giving a piece of yourself, no matter in which art form, in which medium.
I can deal with people who watch me on stage but I am not good in communicating with people any other way than through my work.
I don't mean to be arrogant and I really appreciate my fans but talking about what I am doing is not something I'm good at. I do what I do and that's it. I want to get back to my work and do more of it instead of talking about it.
I mean I appreciate fan mail and that the people like what I am doing but I can't answer it. If I would answer 25 letters a day I would be just a guy answering mail and not an artist anymore.
I'm 36 and if I met a woman of my own age and married her, I'd also be marrying her former life, her past. It might be OK for some people -- I don't want to judge it or anything -- but it's not for me. It would destroy my creativity.
I just get things done instead of talking about getting them done. I don't go out and party. I don't smoke, drink or do drugs and I'm not married, that leaves a lot of time for my work.
I'm most in my element on tour, with a gig that day, like today. I'm on the road where I am supposed to be. I will be where I'm supposed to be at nighttime, on stage, in front of people, doing my thing.
So, one way or another, I found myself in a few movies. I take it seriously when I'm on the set, but I don't take myself seriously as an actor.
Every year, August lashes out in volcanic fury, rising with the din of morning traffic, its great metallic wings smashing against the ground, heating the air with ever-increasing intensity.
Each year, every city in the world that can should have a multiday festival. More people meeting each other, digging new types of music, new foods, new ideas. You want to stop having so many wars? This could be a step in the right direction.
Consumerism is at once the engine of America and simultaneously one of the most revealing indicators of our collective shallowness.
If people are being upstanding citizens of the Republic, then you have to widen the net to incarcerate them. This explains why America's prisons are full of nonviolent offenders -- a perfect example of American exceptionalism.
I don't know if you have ever seen the Woody Allen film 'Annie Hall,' but it is, in a way, to Los Angeles and 'Hollywood' what 'This Is Spinal Tap' is to many musicians.
Even though I am not hungry when I get up, I try to eat to get me ready for the day. Within an hour of getting up.
Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a hopeless romantic who listens to love ballads and doo-wop songs all the time.
With age, life becomes complex and difficult, often fraught with risk on several levels, from the practical to the fiscal.
I don't believe in fate or destiny. I believe in various degrees of hatred, paranoia, and abandonment. However much of that gets heaped upon you doesn't matter -- it's only a matter of how much you can take and what it does to you.