The End of Reality – My Quest for Truth in the Post-Truth Era

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Part I – The Diagnosis

For a man of my age (36), perhaps no piece of pop culture spoke to my still-forming personal identity than the 1999 film The Matrix. There are several cultural memes that my generation draws from this film’s enlightening philosophy to this day. First, the metaphor of “waking up” from a sedated conformity could be applied to almost any rudimentary societal norm from a working a boring job to the banality of tradition like church or marriage. Second, the image of Morpheus holding the blue and red pills I think speaks to us all when contemplating ideas of free will, fate, or encountering our most consequential crossroad moments. Third, and most relevant to this essay, is the concept that nothing about your reality is real. This line from Morpheus explaining The Matrix to Neo is something I think about constantly.

“What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste, and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

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The Ex Man Podcast Ep. 05 – Christian Olde Wolbers (ex-Fear Factory)

Doc talks with ex Fear Factory bassist and guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers about how Christian originally joined the band, Fear Factory’s influence on metal, how and why the band split up, potential of a Fear Factory reunion, and dig into Christian’s passion for firearms.

Subscribe and listen on iTunes HERE.

The Ex Man Podcast Ep. 04 – Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Corrections House, Brain Tentacles, Led Zeppelin 2)

Doc laments on the election results, and speaks with his old friend friend Bruce Lamont, vocalist and saxophonist of bands like Yakuza, Corrections House,Brain Tentacles, and Led Zeppelin 2. They discuss Bruce’s journey as a career musician who has found a way to balance art and commerce over 20 years.

This episode features the track “Fruitcake” from Brain Tentacles’ self-titled debut release available through Relapse Records.

Listen and subscribe on iTunes HERE.

Transmissions From The Bubble – How Did All The ‘Smart’ People Get It Wrong?

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That sinking feeling in your gut. Acid swirls. That sick feeling of unease. Your mouth is dry. You can’t eat. Your heart pounds through your chest with anxiety as you try to sleep. I wasn’t alone feeling like this in the days surrounding Donald Trump’s Presidential election. Others cried, fumed, took to the streets.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

I can only relate the feeling to an intense heartbreak or a period of mourning, and in truth what amplified this feeling for many of us is how caught off guard we were. During the election, people like me perused 538.com analytics after debates and significant events to test the pulse of the country, and quell our fears. The experts were wrong. The intelligentsia was wrong. I WAS WRONG.

After the fact, I am grateful for this feeling, because it has made me wonder, is this how half the country felt when Barack Obama was elected? I can have a greater empathy for how someone’s victory is another’s suffering. In this case, I do feel the country lost, and not me personally, even if I’m sure many won’t believe that. I didn’t love Hilary Clinton, but I thought it was a duty to have anyone else but this man in office. Clearly, many disagreed with that sentiment.

What has erupted is a circular firing squad of blame and negativity that I haven’t experienced in my lifetime. The tears of liberals bring joy to those who support Trump or those who just despise liberals. Bernie supporters blame the corruption of the DNC. Pretty much everyone blames Hilary Clinton for being corrupt, establishment, or just a bad candidate. Those who didn’t vote for Trump, but happen to hate Hilary blame liberals for being smug elitists that ignored the white working class. Liberals blame Trump voters for being racists and misogynists.

We’re probably all to blame somewhat, including myself. On a recent election themed Ex Man podcast with Phil Labonte from All That Remains, I talked about how I had to put politics in a box of entertainment, so that it wouldn’t affect me so much. I was wrong. This shit isn’t entertainment. It’s real. And I was lying to myself about not taking it that seriously. I did take it seriously, but I just didn’t admit it to myself.

That’s what that sick feeling in my gut was. It’s that feeling that in an instant, you do not know what’s going to happen next. Uncertainty. All you know is that world has changed. The course of history has altered. I experienced real fear, and I dismissed others who held fear about their issues be it terrorism, crime, immigration. Even if I didn’t agree with them, I got to taste what fear actually was. I can’t lie, I’ve had it pretty good lately, and I got comfortable. Maybe all of us in progressive enclaves like Seattle, and Austin, and Brooklyn who have “cool people” jobs got really comfortable. We thought the tide had turned.

I too am stuck in that bubble of the professional and artist class in urban utopias with our dope coffee shops, food trucks, and weed dispensaries. I like the bubble. It’s the one I chose, but the other bubble has different news, different facts, and different fears.

You can call Trump voters racists and idiots, and some of them are, but it doesn’t help anything. It just pushes them further into their own bubble, because they’re feelings about how awful the left is are validated.

Liberal America has to reform it’s views on political correctness. I think this is the real reason Trump won, not the economy, or even Clinton. The balance between sensitivity and free speech is apparently a tricky one, but this again is where our bubbles shield us from understanding that we are living in different worlds.

I tell myself to be as objective as possible, but I have my biases, and I have to do better to get out of my bubble.

My main job right now is to listen and try to understand people, regardless of whether I agree with them. The other thing about that sick feeling of uncertainty is it is a signal that you have to do some soul-searching. I have to soul search, and engage in a personal reckoning, because things are going to get tough.

Fight or flight kicks in and I have to decide 1 of 3 options – 1.Get off the sidelines, and become a true activist. 2. Forget politics altogether, and just live in blissful ignorance. 3. Develop a serious drinking habit.

Truth be told, I haven’t made a choice on how to be, hence the soul searching that has to be done. And to those who think it’s funny that people are crying, and are “butt-hurt”, you have to do your own soul searching. Women, people of color, Muslims feel like the entire country rejected them, and thinks they are 2nd class citizens. This is a massive deal for people. If others misery brings you joy, then I understand the content of your character, and perhaps Trump’s rhetoric has affected the country more than I would have hoped. Empathy is a 2-way street.

Also, singling out the worst offenders of the opposition and stereotyping all liberals or conservatives as that is dishonest and immoral. This tactic has only been emboldened by social media. It’s viral propaganda. There are racist Trump supporters but not all or most I believe. There are radical, destructive protesters, but most anti-Trump people don’t take to the streets. We have become bigoted towards those we disagree with. If you find yourself denigrating the “other” side consistently on social media, check yourself. Ask if this is productive or self-satisfactory mud slinging. All sides of the political spectrum are capable of hypocrisy and betraying core values.


And how do I feel about a Trump Presidency? I am worried, but I and all the other “smart” people were wrong about this. So let’s hope my fears are overblown, and all in my head. I have to be fair and judge the reality on the ground, not my paranoia. Those who are staying optimistic are counting on that either Trump was not serious about what he said he will do, or that he is incompetent to achieve his aims. I don’t have as much faith. With control of the Presidency, House, Senate, and soon Supreme Court, there won’t be much to stop his goals. I really hope he does help the working class (I am one of the them), but I remain skeptical.

If his agenda go down as planned, expect a very turbulent, divided 4 years – Affordable Care Act – Gone (20 million without health insurance including my father), Muslim Ban, Roe V. Wade – Gone, Climate Change work – Gone, Reinstatement of Torture, Nationwide Stop & Frisk, Southern Border Wall, 12 Million Undocumented rounded up by force.

I’m sure if he got your vote, you support all of these measures, but it will be devastating for those who disagree. It will be ugly. If you voted for Trump, I don’t judge you. I want to communicate with you. I hope you want to communicate with me.

The Ex Man Podcast Ep. 02 – Angel Vivaldi (ex-Black Market Hero, Vext)

Doc talks with virtuosic, solo instrumental guitarist, Angel Vivaldi, about his humble beginnings in New Jersey playing with Black Market Hero, how he launched and built his solo career using social media, how he dealt with the traditional music industry, his role as a gay man in the heavy metal world, his dedication to environmentalism and worthy causes, and his recent tour with Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, Gus G.

Listen and subscribe to The Ex Man on iTunes HERE!

Doc Coyle Launches The Ex Man Podcast

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After several years of guesting on other podcasts like Metalsucks, Danko Jones, and 100 Words podcast, I had been contemplating starting my own show for quite some time. As a huge fan of the medium, I wanted to take my time, and put something together that is hopefully unique and reflective of my experience and personality.

This inaugural episode features my good friend John Boecklin (ex-Devildriver). John and I discuss John’s exit from Devildriver, life after the band, his artist management career, his new band I of Tongues, and his relationship with Phil Anselmo.

Listen and Subscribe to The Ex Man Podcast on iTunes HERE.

Vagus Nerve Announce EP Release Date; Debut Music Video

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Starting as a passion project of ex-God Forbid guitarist, Doc Coyle, and Phyllotaxis singer-songwriter, Ravi Orr, Vagus Nerve became fully realized as a band in 2014 when they enlisted the talents of drummer, Moe Watson (Shai Hulud), bassist, Aden Oxenreider (Cosm), and guitarist, Mike Gowen (MoTHER).

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the atmospheric rock band is ready to take the next step. Everyone’s hard work and dedication has been leading to this moment as the band announces the official release date of their debut EP, VisceralFriday, September 30th 2016 – Digital & Physical Pre-Order available HERE.

The band have also debuted their 1st music video for the song “Pull Me Out”, directed by Douglas Henderson for Bold Creative Media out of York, PA. Like the songwriting, music production, and album artwork before it, this video falls in line with the elegance and beauty that characterizes Vagus Nerve.

HOOP LOGIC – The NBA’s Ageist Problem

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Everybody knows that professional athletics are a young man’s game. As sage Charles Barkley has lamented, “Father Time is undefeated.” While this is true, I’ve noticed a trend in the NBA media to send our aging veterans off to pasture before their skills have expired.

When Dwight Howard forced himself out of Orlando in 2012, everyone in the world would have killed to have D12 on their team. He was the NBA’s smiling, lovable good-guy. He was 26 years old, a 6-time All Star, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, and even led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals.

Fast-forward 4 short years (or long years if you’re Dwight), and you would think this guy has the basketball equivalent of leprosy. He is viewed as a problem-child in the locker room, injury prone, and his stats have steadily fallen. The peculiar thing is if you compare his Per 36 numbers for the ’15-’16 season, they aren’t much different than his last season in Orlando, except points per game, but Dwight only had 8.5 FGAs per game in 2015-16 – the lowest since his rookie season.

2011-12 – Per 36 Minutes – 19.4 PPG 13.7 Rbs 2.0 Blks .573 FG%
2015-16 – Per 36 Minutes – 15.4 PPG 13.2 Rbs 1.8 Blks .620 FG%

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HOOP LOGIC – Kevin Durant to Golden State: Villainous or Virtuous?

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I was in stupefied disbelief when I woke up to text messages and tweets learning of Kevin Durant’s exit from Oklahoma City to the Bay Area. KD re-upping for 1 year in OKC just seemed like the prudent maneuver. They were 5 minutes from the Finals, and showed the Warriors a unique type of athletic challenge that even the Cavaliers couldn’t replicate, despite winning it all. Golden State is 1 year removed from a title, and a couple months removed from the greatest regular season in history, and led by the first unanimous MVP in league history. There’s no way an historically great team that was a sniff away from it’s second title in as many years needs a generational talent like KD to tip the scales further in their favor.

But I guess it’s the same reason Coca Cola, McDonalds, and Budweiser still run countless ads on TV and billboards despite being ubiquitously well known; you have to stack the deck to insure market dominance.

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Are Metal Musicians Doomed to a Life of Poverty?

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This is a subject I meant to address a few months back when Thy Art Is Murder vocalist, CJ McMahon, quit the band due to claims of horrific financial living conditions that he could no longer accept. He claimed to only have made “$16k-$18k each over 6-7 years”. It was not made clear if that is in US dollars or Australian dollars, or if he meant $16,000-$18,000 per year or the total amount earned over a 6-7 year period. It’s worded in a way to insinuate that he was only making $2,200-$2,500 per year, which seems a bit far-fetched, but I’ll push forward with the notion that whether he made $18,000 per year or $2,200, either amount was insufficient for leading an independent adult lifestyle.

The first thing that baffled me by the online reaction to this story was the surprise from non-musicians that extreme metal bands might not make a lot of money. When I started with God Forbid in the late ‘90s, I didn’t know you could even make a living doing extreme music. In that time, an assumption has grown that metal musicians should or deserve to make a living solely from making albums and touring. I don’t know exactly where that assumption came from, but it just strikes me as an odd, if not overly idealistic stance.

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