A Brandi Carlile Request - How Does One Keep this a Surprise from One’s Own Fiance if One Has to Post Publicly?

Dear Ms. Carlile:

I desperately wanted to keep this a secret, so maybe I could surprise my soon to be wife, but it doesn’t look like there’s any way to contact you other than a public forum, so here goes.  I guess if your followers feel so inclined, they’ll help me get this to you.  I hope you’re well and that the year is bringing you love, happiness, and peace.  I hope, if you have time, that you’ll seriously consider my request.  Thank you.


My fiancé and I were supposed to marry on New Years Eve last year, but we cancelled the ceremony and dance party in the streets of Portsmouth because her father died unexpectedly on that night one year prior.  He went missing the morning of New Years and by that evening, everyone had left their parties and celebrations and gotten into their cars to drive the streets of Western Massachusetts searching for this beloved man who was later found in his car, seemingly sleeping, after drifting into a diabetic coma.

Bob Barrett could have taught us all a thing or two about love.  He was the kindest, most generous, loving, and thoughtful man I knew.  He wanted desperately to be involved in our ceremony, in our tying of the knot.  He gave us his Mother’s engagement ring, which his beloved wife had worn for half a century and demanded that he and his wife help pay for our day.  I’d never felt so loved and supported in my whole life.  He only wanted for his daughter, who had finally found true happiness, to bind with the person she loved and carry on for the rest of her life in love, as he had.  Maybe he wanted a couple of grandkids too, but we’ll never know.  My fiancé, Michelle, loved him with an immensity, a ferocity, which I only knew in my grandfather who is ten years passed himself.  We’re both fatherless now.  No one asks us who will walk us down the aisle at our rescheduled wedding ceremony, that her lost mother is helping us organize.  We’ll take each other and maybe the dog.  

Michelle lost her words the day her father died.  She’s the happiest, most beautiful person I know and she’s struggled through a year of darkness before coming out on the other side of grief with some of her soul intact, but along the way, she lost some of her words.  She barely sings anymore.  She says she can’t write a song, because the sadness is too great.  Before she wrote constantly and sang and played her guitar in the subways or on our porch in the sun, while the neighbor girls hung out the windows with their chins in their palms to listen to her big voice sing about love and life.  She’s a potter now.  And I love that about her too.  When she wants to do something, be good at something, she just goes out to learn it and be good at it.  She just had her first open studio and sold half of her pieces.  But sometimes I ache for the loneliness that her guitar and her notebook feel.  I know she struggles with it.  She drops a whisper of a comment here and there, chiding herself for not just picking up the guitar and writing, but she can’t.  She says she can’t.  But I see a spark, a glint of hope in her eye when she hears your music.  She feels again.  She is reminded that words mixed with music cure so many hurts.  Or they release the demons that weigh us down.  She is reminded that in telling our stories, we become free.  Yesterday, as we drove to her mom’s for Mother’s Day, I asked her to put on Bear Creek.  It’s my favorite driving music.  It reminds me of my Pop and Johnny Cash and how I used to build stairs with him in the summer.  It reminds me of his old blue jeans and the Old Spice smell of his white, cotton Hanes V-necks with the pack of Marlboro’s about to tip out of the pocket.  And his smile.  And the way he used to hold my hand under his on the stick shift in his old Chevy.  I know she has memories like these too and it’s the only time we both stop talking and just listen.    And when she listens to you, she hears her own words coming through her soul again.  

I appreciate your patience thus far and for letting me tell you all of this, but I do have a favor to ask.  I’m sure you get this a lot and I hope I’m not being too presumptuous, but I’ll kick myself if I don’t even try.  I haven’t gotten her a wedding present yet. And yesterday, while driving and then ending up at Bob’s gravesite with her mom and sister to plant new flowers in the ground around his headstone, I started thinking about all of our new beginnings.  I’ve become really healthy over the past three years, in mind and body.  I quit smoking.  I quit drinking.  I try to eat organic all the time and I walked away from the film industry and started a dog walking company.  I spend all day outside in the sun with animals and I write in my head, so I can jot it down when I get home, or when I wake up from a nap.  I’ve gotten quiet in my late thirties and I’ve written two books in the silence.  But at the end of the day, I’ve done all of this to lead up to my new life with her.  I made an agreement with myself a couple of years ago to be the best, most whole, healthy and happy version of myself going into what will be my forever, but the one thing I can’t do to help her, is to find her music again.  Music to me is like String Theory, Quantum Physics, magic.  I can’t pull out my guitar and hope that the sound of me strumming chords brings her back to the center of her soul, but you can.  

We discovered a fishway in the new town that we’re getting married in.  It’s right next to our venue, which is an old mill building in the center of town.  We both grew up in Mill Towns and it feels right to do it there.  After we booked the venue, we found this fishway on the map called the Robert E. Barrett Fishway.  Robert E. Barrett is her father’s exact name, down to the E.  Everything feels right.  Her dress is being made as I type this.  We finally found the perfect cord of linen for my jacket.  We have the DJ and the photographer.  The invitations have gone out.  The cake is ready to be baked.  But I don’t have something other than myself to give her.  I know this is far-fetched and probably just a product of my deluded, romantic brain that watched too many miniseries and John Hughes films in the 80’s, but if I don’t ask, I will kick myself in the ass for it for years. So…will you join us on our day and sing a song or two?  

We talk often of starting anew on this day, the 21st of June, 2014: new breath, new life, new mindfulness, and new words.  I want for her words to come back to her.  I wish her father could be there, but he can’t.  If you’re around these parts maybe you could be there to represent the words and all that her father meant to her.  I appreciate your insanely busy schedule and the simple fact that you may not even be in this part of the world on this particular day, but even a video message would be beautiful and so meaningful to her, I think.  

So if you get this and if you’re able to, I would be eternally grateful.  You’re an inspiration and I want to thank you for helping my love through the darkness of the past year and a half.

Please be well.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Mel Robertson


"I’m open-minded about sex. I’m not above reproach; if anything, I’m below reproach. I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with 15 12-year-old girls tomorrow, people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him." Allen pauses. "Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone," he ventures helplessly. "I admit to it all."

Guess who? Woody Allen, folks. Woody-fucking-Allen, that POS.

From his People Magazine Interview circa 1976


Keep the child molester’s popcorn flowing, boys.

It’s amazing (appalling) to me that a woman, who was a young girl when this happened (seven at the time), who has NOTHING to gain from telling her story, is being taken to task as a liar and a spotlight chaser. It’s a bullshit side effect of living in a culture that believes in rape shaming, victim shaming, and that hazing, bullying, and sexual assault are a man’s ‘god’ given right. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of people not believing the victim and holding this dirty, little man on high because he puts his masturbatory fantasies on film and sells tickets to a few insecure men/women.

Read Dylan Farrow’s story here.

As well, the fact that Mia Farrow is also being chastised for protecting her children by being called a vindictive ex, is also disgusting.  A mother doesn’t ‘invent’ stories of sexual abuse, that will totally fuck with her child/children’s psychology for the rest of their lives, because she’s pissed off at the man.  It’s demeaning and ridiculous to think so. 

(I’m sure there are some bad moms out there who would do this, but it’s not the norm.)

Hollywood protects its money-makers: Mel Gibson, Alec Baldwin, Polansky, Woody Allen because it’s protecting its bottom line.  If you don’t see this, if you don’t understand this, keep buying tickets to their films and perpetuating violence and abuse.  It’s what we, as Americans, understand, right?  Let’s let Hollywood keep us in our place, guzzling Coke (or is it Pepsi now that Coke let the immigrants sing our song) and chugging buckets of popcorn.  Their cost vs. risk analysis reports tell them that we’ll be dead before we can sue.  

Keep the child molester popcorn flowing, boys. 

I really wanted to get behind this article about a white dude feeling bad about being a business retreat at a Plantation in South Carolina, but I just couldn’t for two reasons: 

1. He feels SO bad about his bad decisions and the act of keeping quiet while on the trip that he wants everyone to feel sorry for HIM and to retroactively show what a good guy he is for getting up and singing with the black folks who were serving him and 2: It’s Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.  Not Sweet Low.  You lost me there, pal.  Do your research.  If you write an article about how much you know about slavery, the black struggle, and your southern experience, at least get the name of one of THE most famous songs in the history of history right.  It just shows that this is more about you and your guilt than it is about the black people you feel sorry for.

"On the desolate beach that is the lot of the contemporary book reader, the footprints of one companion can still be found. They belong to the writer, who needs the reader not just to pay her or his wages but also to give meaning to their words. As John Cheever put it: “I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss — you can’t do it alone.”"

Here’s the conundrum:  Let Amazon publish everything (even all the shitty books, of which there are many) or let Big Publishing be more selective and only publish the best. 

It may be my age (I’ll be 38 in February), but I remember a time when you worked you ass off to be the best or at least in top 25% of the best.  Why is there anything wrong with that? Martin Scorsese didn’t just spring from a the flower of his mother’s loins, a genius.  He worked and studied and honed his craft.  Virginia Wolfe spent countless years studying the world and her mind, in a room of her own, before it drove her mad, in order to write a sentence, or a paragraph, or volume.  Walt Whitman was persecuted and ridiculed.  Toni Morrison wrote about suffering on the wings of poetry.  Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Nin, Tolstoy — geniuses, wordsmiths, professionals.  Many of the above even self-published: Whitman, Nin, Wolfe, but they didn’t do it until they were ready.  They didn’t just throw a pile of schlock filled paragraphs with really bad formatting, grammatical, and structural mistakes (I’m talking at you E.L. James) out into the world to make a quick buck. 

Words used to be used to teach, love, bring light to the darkness surrounding us/blinding us (slavery, immigration, abuse, mental illness, politics), to educate us, and yes, to entertain us.  Now the publishing machine is equivalent to a well-oiled laundering operation. 

The longer we allow junk in, the more junk we will become (you are what you eat).  Let’s bring back competition.  Harvard allows in 20% more students than they used.  There is no need to drop our standards in the book world, just because the people have grown ignorant.  Screw the ‘platform’.  Screw Facebook.  Sit down, monkeys, and work at your craft.  Stop half-assing everything and spend a few precious moments away from social media to give a damn about the power of art. 

Let the Publishing companies be choosy.  It’s their fucking right.  And they were right, by the way.  And if they choose you, feel good.  Feel elated that you were the top of the crop.  You worked hard to get there.  Be proud.  Have pride.

(Also know that the occasional ‘memoir’ from Snooki is going to pop up, but the sales from that book, gave you your bonus, editing, and marketing budget.  Deal with it.  Snooki made you money and now YOU make you money.)

Please stop publishing crap.


Mel Robertson, a now patient, diligent, and learned writer who previously chose to self-publish a piece of crap before it was ready to go out into the world. 

Happy Sunday, ya’ll


I love all of these books—what a great round-up!  I never thought of myself as a fan of sci-fi, but clearly I am.

What I love about his man is that his good deeds, his gentle humility, his compassion, and his soft and kind sense of humor are making him into a celebrity.  The same can’t be said for those we usually hold up high (Ke$ha, Miley Cyrus, Snooki, The Kardashians, et all). 

I hope this means that the world is changing again, moving away from plastic communication and community (the internet), our out of control consumption/consumerism, poverty, sickness, fucked up political system, and in general our hatred for one another. 

Let’s make more folks like the Pope into celebrities.  We’ve gotten into a place where celebrity is what changes our minds/lives, so let’s at least make it good, use it for something worthwhile.

(Mel exits stage left after hopping down from her soap box)

No more car accidents today, okay Mom? Let’s just settle in for a warm writing session and maybe I’ll take a nap? Good? Good. #fetch #fetchhappens #sofetch #frogdog #batdog #frenchie #frenchbulldog #frenchies #squishyface #squishyfacecrew #fetchcrew #fancy_frenchies #french #lovedog #dogs #dogsofinstagram #dogsofig #dogwalkers #dogwalker #petsitter #pack #packforlife #mydog #myfrenchie #mypet #ilovemydog #igdogs #instadogs #instafrenchie #instalove #instafetch

I came upon what I thought was a great note left for me in the snow reminding me that I am a #WINNER, but upon closer inspection realized that someone was actually just leaving a gentle reminder that we are in the midst of #WINTER. You know, just in case we didn’t get #mothernature’s memo yesterday.

Here is the #SomervilleMA and #Cambridge line on Cameron. Looks like Somerville Public Works has been busting their butts to make the roads #AWESOME. Cambridge Works, however, is like meh, whatevs. Mass Ave? No one would want to drive on that road anyway right? #blizzardfail Cambridge. #fetch #fetchcrew #fetchhappens #sofetch #dogs #dogwalkers #dogsofinstagram #petsitters #pack #snow #snowy #snowday #snowdogs Somerville, thanks for making our work day safe and happy!!! You’re the BEST!