A couple weekends ago brought about two more unspeakably horrific acts of violence in the US. The second of which spoke very directly to my core. 

I was born in Dayton, Ohio and still have many friends there. Their parents and mine are still very closely connected. Maybe I’m not chatting with them much anymore (I moved away when I was only 8) but one thing I do truly love about Facebook is that it’s given me a chance to continue to see what they’re up to. And if there’s one thing Stranger Things has reminded me, it’s that those bonds you forge when you’re that young really stick with you, even if you move apart and lose touch.

So my heart really breaks for them. And while I’m incredibly thankful that no one I know was on that frightening list of victims, I recognize that not everyone can say the same. I’m sending so much love that way…. 

Now, before you stop reading, this is not another political stance post trying to prove a narrative from one side or the other.

I felt compelled to bring this up because as that awful act was happening in Dayton, I began to feel like I was witnessing the early onset of another maniac about to do something crazy, just inches away from me.

We were packing up from a late night gig (I’m a pretty big proponent of the, nothing good ever happens after midnight adage) when one of the employees at the venue got on the mic to encourage everyone (quite intensely… quite vulgarly) to leave immediately. The owner ran on stage to get in the employee’s face, fumes literally (figuratively) spewing from the top of his head. This dude was clearly coked up and I had no fucking clue what he was potentially capable of. And he was losing his shit.

Now, to be fair, I think he was a tad worked up that people were still in his bar when they needed to be out of there ASAP. And he didn’t appreciate his employees swearing (on a hot mic, no less) at the patrons of his joint. But his tactics…. And his coked-out eyes bulging out…. That guy had lost control of himself. There was not a human being in there.


Josh, our lead singer/mandolin-er/guitar-er/booker/heart and soul of everything Ponder the Albatross walked over to him, looked him in the eye and gave the guy a bigass bearhug.

And immediately, the man – the human being – returned in that guy’s eyes. You could speak to him and he’d respond in a mellow, calm and appreciative voice. His demeanor changed and he began connecting with us on a human level again.

A simple hug. Just a little positive energy transfer from one man to another converted a hyped-up maniac back into a person again. 

Let me be clear, I’m not at all comparing the situation I experienced to those unspeakable acts nor am I insinuating that a hug could have prevented them. I’m also not saying it may be wise to insert yourself into a conflict and resolve it with a simple hug.

But I did experience first hand that a simple act of love and compassion – seeing the human for who they really are – in a tense and amped up moment of aggression completely altered the path of the rest of the evening. So who knows what could have happened otherwise? 

I can also think back to many memories where this tactic really could have diminished such escalating incidents. And though I didn’t utilize it in the moment, I know now what an effective use it has to diffuse the temper bomb.

So bring it in – let’s hug it out…

Hugs Not Drugs (sure does take me back…)