Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Amateur Hour

I’d much rather be a passionate amateur more than anything in the world. Don’t get me wrong, being a professional gardener is pretty fucking rad, but I still have to serve other people above their expectations. As an amateur [anything], my inspiration can be as free as the wind and my approach can acceptingly take a lifetime.

The amateur is self-serving, while the professional serves themselves to others for money. I know I know… some money is good, but not at the expense of pimping my genuine happiness. A friend of mine shared this quote the other day that seems to adequately sum up what I’m really trying to say…

“It’s not about being good at something. It’s about being good to yourself.”

Just writing my thoughts and feelings here to share with the world feels good to me. I’ve constantly been battling emotional roadblocks since I was a kid. One of the hardest things still is finding out that some people I look up to, enjoy looking down on me twice as much. My actions and words, in their mind, just insure their place above me and our relationship is really more for their amusement.

Growing up as a husky kid, whose family moved across the country at the onset of puberty, I developed a jester’s mentality at a young age. Sharpening my sense of humor became my defense in what initially felt like a bitter and hostile set of circumstances. Middle-schoolers aren’t the most compassionate age group, so I had to be funnier than people could be cruel. That’s pretty fucking hard considering I was doubling-down as the new kid and the chubby kid.

My heart felt broken A LOT, but somehow someway I laughed my way through the rest of school. I entered the adult world with a heart so full of holes, I couldn’t fill it with love no matter how much I stuffed in there. So… I partied hard to numb the pain, to hide from the depression and used socializing as my escape. Hell I didn’t need to be responsible for my well-being, as long as we were all going to get fucked up together, right??

Then all of sudden, I didn’t feel so youthful anymore. I just felt worn out, lost and pretty fucking creepy. I had reached a dead-end on the road of life and I stayed right there faking every emotion I experienced, except for sadness. That’s right around the time my roommate had lost his mother and right before that, both of his grandparents. Darkness was in full effect at our house, but it was then I started to really realize something about life.

We were suffering from completely different shades of darkness. My roommate had no control over losing his family members and his grief was necessary to cope through all of it. As for me, I had full control of my situation and just got folded into the depths of feeling so damn sorry for myself. Sure we were both sad people, but our circumstances were so different from each other and that’s when I started to write.  

It wasn’t as much of an epiphany, as it was a dense fog slowly lifting over the next few years. As I mentioned in a previous post, I get stuck in these “fork-in-socket routines” where I choose the familiarity of pain over an unexpected outcome of change - 🎶If you’re an emotional masochist and you know it, clap your hands!!🎶  ...and the crowd goes wild - Ahhhh, but I digress. Writing my observations about life was the only thing I found myself motivated to do and everything else I did back then was done in protest… at least it was in my heart.

Eventually all of the writing got me back in touch with myself. It began to detoxify my soul in ways I never thought imaginable. Exercise, meditation and true love all found their own way into my life. I decided to install windows in all of those holes in my heart, not just so it could see the world around me, but so the world could look inside of it too. Life isn’t perfect by any means. Some days are still hard for me to shine my own light, so it’s nice to let some in whenever possible.

In the last few years, I've dabbled in a handful of different blogging projects - RAWdio Podcast, Producers United, Interestingly Human and Michigan Folks, to name a few. None of which I'm currently working on for the simple fact that I haven't felt inspired. I could make a million excuses, but that would only mean I was trying to hide from myself. Instead, my inspiration this winter has lead to writing a "food manifesto" that I truly hope to self-publish later this year. Not to make money, but to creatively inspire others.

Coming back to Brass-Knuckle Love Butter is my way of exploring what's really in my heart. I don’t get paid to write about my life and my observations, but I can’t really put a price on self-exploration anyway - it’s too valuable. This is the true beauty of being an amateur, it’s simply my thing that I do for me. I also cook with reckless abandon, adventurously (and obsessively) listen to music, grow veggies and make love to Mother Nature as often as possible. They are all just the things I do to show myself some love… and without them…honestly...

I would only be a memory.

-Scotty J-

Friday, February 10, 2017

PURPOSE is my New Favorite Color

My intelligence has never relied on your accreditation. I play dumb with some of you because I know you take my silly-heart perspective of the world as a weakness of mine. The funny thing about all of this is that you still rely on me to help you find your smile when it’s lost. I’d probably even help you find your lost dog, a missing set of keys or a better job opportunity too. My silly heart accepts the fact that we’re all lost from time to time, regardless of our I.Q.’s. An ounce of compassion can humble even the most unconvinced smarty-pants in the room, especially when their brain finally steps out of the way of their heart.

Lately with all of the poor political insults being thrown around, it’s made me realize how weak and afraid everyone seems to be of each other. If there are any moderate politicians left in the arena, they certainly aren’t speaking up to the right people or saying anything at all. Americans will not prosper if one side completely eviscerates the other, this is just a cold hard fact. What sucks even more is that there are a lot of us slumping on the sidelines, spewing commentary and pretending it makes an impact. When really we're just being as ineffective as the next guy, regardless of our point of view.

On a truly personal note... I can tell you that it nearly enrages me to think that we have to choose a political affiliation in order to soundly protect our environment. It nearly enrages me to think that neither side of the political spectrum makes education a top priority, coming in second behind our environment. It nearly enrages me that not only does our healthcare belong to those with great wealth, but the wealthy won’t even foot the bill for our veterans - our heroes. It nearly enrages me to know how some Americans are so naive, they truly believe that other Americans will successfully do the challenging work that our immigrants are grateful to do here in this country.

These are only some of the ideas and misconceptions of the truly detached people we have running our country. If there were only a way to collectively exercise our brains and educate our hearts better as a whole population, I would demand it be implemented. Our social progress is instrumental to the longevity of our country and telling certain Americans that they’re less important just isn’t going to cut it anymore. We’re too informed for that bullshit.

A good friend of mine had said that we might not be able to change the system, but we can definitely change who it is that we’re nominating to vote for - and that’s something I really want ALL of us to understand. Our political opinions derive from our social circles and yet we still willingly let the wrong people represent us. I’ve been reading articles about how our elected officials are cancelling events just to avoid questions from the people they are supposed to be representing - IF YOU CAN’T DO THIS JOB THEN YOU NEED TO RESIGN.

Honestly depending on who you ask we probably all have a murky reputation, at best. I know I do, but I’m starting to really realize some things about this place. The actual “American” is a flawed individual with a fearfully selective heart and a strong misguided propensity to feed their own pride. We aren’t broken, but we are suffering from an ever evolving identity crisis and we need people with just enough brains in their head, just enough heart in their chest and just enough sense in their soul who are willing to govern us through these very complex times.

Last week I had a lot of response in regards to finding the different ways we can make an impact. I heard from people with different backgrounds and political opinions, but the one unanimous notion that came across was a genuine desire to be more involved. People shared with me how much they really cared and how they didn’t want to be helpless with their involvement. A lot of people asked me what they should do, like specifically, and that really caught me off-guard.

I , just like you, sometimes spout off without realizing the power of my words. I’m just more of an idiot about it because I write them all out and publish them for the world to read. Which I guess means if I want to make a difference, I better become more responsible for the things I do say here on this blog - and maybe just life in general. This is our awakening… or at the very least, it’s mine. There are great call-to-action movements, petition signings and educational pages via Facebook (links at bottom) that make for a simple start, but there’s clearly more work to be done.

My fiance and I are relocating in a couple of months (not far, but to a new county and city) and we’ve already begun researching different conservation efforts in the area. We’ve also contacted the local farmers market and the center for women in transition in regards to volunteer opportunities. We’re going to create relationships with our new community, listen to others and be a part of what people are actually saying and feeling out there.

In my eyes the only way to ignite a grassroots approach is by being neighborly as fuck, but not nosey. We have to invite people to our ideas and welcome theirs when they bring them along too. We have to create environments that people gravitate towards. The kind of environments capable of inspiring and motivating any willing walks of life. We won’t be seeking out anyone else’s influence, but merely combining all of our own. Music, food and the arts are all interpretations of the imperfect world around us. These are what brings that very simple human part of us together and celebrating them locally is just another way we’ll make an impact.

Urban Roots Community Farm and Education Center - Grand Rapids, MI

We just have to fill in the blanks with a little less Netflix and little more love for where we live. We have to meet with people in our communities and consider the fact that some of them are going to represent us (or maybe even that we might be representing them). We can no longer blindly accept that someone else is doing enough to protect our interests. If we care enough to have outspoken opinions, then we sure as hell should make them count!! Of course another crucial aspect is understanding the who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, why’s and how’s of our government and of course the people willing to teach others this too, but I digress. One step at a time.

I do really wish this was just as easy as opening an app on your phone and swiping twice to be involved, but for now we have got to do the extra work. As for my fiance and I, we’re still going to plant a garden to feed our neighbors, our friends and ourselves - whatever is left will go to the food bank. We’re still going to go fishing, hiking, swimming and camping because that’s what really recharges our “batteries” in this world. We’re still going to entertain and continue on partying with a purpose…. We’re just going to start throwing a bigger party.

-Scotty J-


Indivisible - "A non-political initiative energizing and informing Americans about the value of potential government."

Indivisible Guide - "Former congressional staffers reveal practices for making congress listen."

Daily Action - "Resisting extremism in America, one phone call at a time."

Urban Roots - "The mission of Urban Roots is to cultivate durable, resilient families, communities and ecosystems through urban agriculture" (Located in Grand Rapids, MI)


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

In Search of a Solution, I Found my Soul

Well... It's certainly been a long time since I've left some thoughts here, but it feels good to be back. Brass-Knuckle Love Butter is solely my creation and I've abandoned it for far too long now. It's a good thing I came back because I've been struggling lately. The not so subtle premise of this blog has always been "For those willing to be inspired" and my inspiration has waned since I stopped writing here. My two-plus year hiatus is done. My heart and soul are full of experiences - personal battles won and lost, transcendent moments, mistakes, deliciousness and a love so intense it makes the earth quake.

Well since my heart's so full, I'm just going to pour it all out right now...

I do personally believe it is important to spend your life with like-minded people, but not to a point where it makes you blind from the other things going on in the world, country, community, your relationships, your family or your home. They’ve always said ignorance is bliss, but anytime that I’ve come to realize my own ignorance (which is a lot… trust me) it’s triggered something in me to seek out an understanding about it... Which with all of the misinformation and propaganda going on right now, is really fucking hard to do. So let’s talk about the world today…

We've had a really shitty couple of weeks here in America. I absolutely understand wanting to protect our borders from terrorists and have even been recorded saying it on a podcast a few years ago. However I do not support our new president’s actions because of his haste and whole general explanation of it all or even more so… lack thereof. I truly believe in my heart that a lack of DIPLOMACY puts us at a much larger risk - abroad and even more so, at home.

Last weekend was dark for me. I actually felt scared to be an American. I can explain it a thousand ways, but I know there are a lot of you out there that have already made the choice not to understand it. Now I’m not a religious person, but I do hold my Jewish heritage and their millennia of surviving persecution close to my heart. Watching Christianity slowly squeeze it’s hand around our government and people supporting it for their own reasons from their religious beliefs to their money, just crushes my spirit.

For all of America’s faults, we got one key component right and that was to give people the gift of individuality. We have the choice to really be ourselves in this country without fear of persecution, but as of today that’s been slipping through our grasp. I know I know…. A lot of you Donald Trump supporters out there are like, “It’s alright Scotty, we love you man. We’re not going to let that happen, but we do need to make sure we ____________ .”, well, fuck. That “blank-spot” to me (and a whole lot of other people) represents the poorest excuse of patriotism imaginable.

So what do you mean you’re not going to let that happen??

IT’S ALREADY HAPPENING. You know muslims aren’t the only people out there that can be radicalized, right? Look at all of the unrest around us, people are getting cagier by the second. Also, I’ve got 2 words for everyone…. Steve Bannon. Wait I’ve got 3… DICK. An extremist who thinks so small of the world around him, he could care less if it exists. Go ahead and look up some of his quotes, he’s a lunatic.   

Look I can appreciate, accept and at times even agree with a republican point of view, but not a fascist one. I also will not be lead by the carelessness of narrow-minded individuals who have a higher regard for more corporations than individual Americans themselves. I sum it up like this, Donald Trump is someone who uses the term “drain the swamp” in reference to his presence in Washington and yet he has no fucking clue how important our real wetlands actually are to the vitality of this planet. He’s made it quite clear that he’s alright with the world ending as long it’s by his hands. Now at this point, as the elected leader of this country he’s openly condemning Muslims and championing Christianity. And it really doesn’t matter where these people resided that he’s talking about because his words pose a humongous threat on our own soil.

A lot of you I’m friends with are really smart fucking people. Yes, he prevented travel from a handful of countries, but not just for the sake of national security. If it was, he wouldn’t have needed to even say those other things. This isn’t one of those “oh he’s just shaking things up” moments either, he’s forcing Americans to draw a line between one another. A line that people live and die by in other parts of the world. A line that our own forefathers had enough sense to keep out of governing this great nation. I can’t tell you why, I don’t know the endgame. One thing’s for sure though, he wants it that way.

When he made those remarks he not-so-subtly empowered Christians as the model American. Not to knock some of the good Christian Americans out there, but this puts every other type of American sub-culture at risk. It is the most condescending swipe at the constitution I could ever imagine a president to make. His reckless words are coming at our social expense and for some of you who I love to socialize with, that really sucks. Which brings me back this magical word I used earlier…


It’s defined as “the art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way”. Since the leadership of this country has changed hands, so has our attitudes towards one another. Social media is like the Wild Wild West of communication and The Twitter-Twat-Grabber in command is like the reincarnation of General Custer. There’s little to no repercussions for berating someone online and spreading misinformation. In fact, most of us were already guilty of it well before the election.

Certainly if someone wanted to talk to me in person the way I see people talking online to one another, I’d probably give them one stern warning and if it continued... I’d punch them in their mouth. This just sucks for both of us. I mean, have you ever knocked another man unconscious? Let me tell you from personal experience, there’s about a half-second of awesomeness followed up by a week of nauseating and loathsome depression. It’s unproductive, which is exactly what we can’t afford to be anymore. This form of communication is only working for the people that want to control us.

There's been a lot of political dust-ups in my brief thirty-three years, but the feeling today is unequivocally different. I can feel the negative energy starting to swirl. There's a storm brewing on the horizon and I feel really unprepared for it. Just a couple weeks ago, I wrote to myself - What if it hits? Where are my alliances going to land? Who can I count on for accurate information? And, why can't I shake the notion that "doing what I always do" will only blind me from an imminent threat?

It was that last question that reminded me of how impactful of a person I can really be when I decide to put my effort towards something. I think most people are so stuck on protecting themselves and defending their own words, they do it at the expense of being able to truly help others. I don’t want that and I know there are a lot of you out there that feel the same way.

You know, really I think we turn to social media because it’s an outlet for our feelings and a place where we can quickly gain alliances without having to leave the comfort of our smartphones. Some days it’s like a psychological trap masquerading as a support system though. Fortunately, I am starting to learn from this constant fork-in-socket routine we’re all going through and I’m finding that genuine motivation can overcome fear in damn near an instant, so it’s time to create and mobilize a movement.

However, there isn’t time for the guy on Facebook who pretends to be interested in people’s political views only to bait them into shaming them for having an opinion different than his own. There also isn’t time for the guy who was fortunate to collect unemployment long enough to figure out how to start his own business, but is an outwardly belligerent conservative. I especially can’t bother with the pro-life-science-denier who judges people as if they were God himself and pretends to love them just the same. Plus, I certainly don’t have the patience to sit idly by and wait around to be persecuted... just for being me.

Last weekend my fiance asked me why we don’t start to party with more of a purpose? Maybe it's time we needed to be more diplomatic about how we're contributing to society from day-to-day? It was a brilliant observation considering we love to socialize with our friends and family, which is one of the wonderful things about our freedom we so easily take for granted. Also lately, since our freedom seems a lot more questionable than it ever has before, we thought we should use it to our advantage. Maybe we gather to write letters to our government or other leaders, advocate for educational and environmental programs, brainstorm new ways to contribute to our community, help localize the food supply and just volunteer to do those things we actually want to see change for the better.

So… I hope you stay tuned... but I’m certainly not scared anymore if you don’t because there's too much at stake!!

~Scotty J.~

Please get in touch with me if you’re interested in making something better out of our current situation. I’m open to listening to you if you’re open to sharing with me, so please don’t be bashful!!! We have a lot of work to do, but we’re sure as hell gonna have fun while we’re makin’ it happen!!

Photo by @strickfadenphotography (IG)