So, our empire has once again lost another war. We won our last one 76 years ago this past Sunday. At some point, don’t they relegate us out of the Premier League or sell us off to Yahoo?
In 2001, in the days after 9/11, mine was a lonely voice insisting that we not invade Afghanistan. On September 15th, 2001, I sent a personal letter to my email list, saying this:
I feel I have a responsibility as an American to speak out and say what needs to be said: That we, the United States of America, are culpable in committing many acts of terror and bloodshed and we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants. I know it's a hard thing to hear right now, but if I and others don't say it, I fear we will soon be in a war that will do NOTHING to protect us.
In a subsequent letter I asked the nearly one million people on my list to join me in trying to stop this war. Many of you were on that list. You inundated Congress with calls and letters. Although we couldn’t stop that war, nor the one in Iraq, we continued to organize, to march, to vote and to raise a generation who grew up to overwhelmingly prefer peace and detest state-sanctioned killing (fact: since 9/11, nearly 80 million young people have become of voting age).
I continued sending you those letters. Sometimes upwards of 20,000 of you would write back. These were the days before social media; soon we would all switch to “likes” and tweets — and letters and emails began to fade. I missed that immensely, the more personal and intimate discourse we could have — and it wasn’t long before many others missed it, too. Facebook had made us stupid. Twitter made us angry. Instagram just made us hungry for well-lit food. Emails — the thoughtful letter to a long lost friend, the angry missive to a member of Congress — eventually made a glorious comeback.
I want to reconnect with all of you in this manner by sending you my weekly letter with a bunch of new thinking and fresh ideas of how we can turn things around. We are in the midst of trying to survive three massive pandemics all at once: Covid, Climate and the vicious assault on our Democracy.
We are in a disastrous ecological pandemic that may also be the cause of the coronavirus pandemic. Mother Nature has decided the only way to protect her Earth is to attack those trying to kill it — us! By fire, flood, virus, dead oceans, drought, bats, biomass, starvation — she is just throwing everything at us to see what sticks and I’m guessing she’s thinking two or three more pandemics should do the trick with these mutant apes.
The final pandemic thrust upon us is the impending Death of our Democracy — a plague of millions of white people who know their race is being depopulated and are hellbent on destroying what’s left of our system of elections, governance and our hopes of equity, fairness and freedom. They are the superspreaders of hate and ignorance, and our only comfort right now is that there are about ten million more of us than them — and thanks to their believing Covid is a hoax and bleach is a medicine, we are now going to ironically outlive them because we lined up and got the shots that Trump himself ordered for us.
So there’s hope.
Here’s how my new Letter to You will work. I have teamed up with an amazing free service for writers and artists called Substack. Substack is a publishing platform that I and many other writers believe to be a better and easier way to send you our latest writings, rants, podcasts, videos, ideas, and recipes by way of a simple, elegant email that’s informative, subversive and entertaining. A place where we can write you a poem, sing you a song, help open the only abortion clinic in your state, discombobulate the domestic insurgents, eliminate the filibuster (and the Senate barbershop), and show you our plan on how to get 93% of the world vaccinated.
Each week I’ll share my new writings, a random thought or two, my weekly podcast (embedded in the email), and some bits & bobs or something I’ve run across from a far corner of the world that I know you’re going to like. All of this will come to you in one breezy email! A simple, easy-to-use-and-share Letter from Mike, from me to you. Just like that.
And you can share your thoughts back with me! Here’s how to think of it: A million of us coming together and acting as one! Finding ways to embrace each other, embrace and protect our Democracy and embrace this fragile world which we inhabit.
I have been a witness to 40+ years of those in power seeking to dumb us down, demoralize us, crush our spirits and keep us in our place with little or no political or economic power. If we want to speak up, to write, to broadcast ourselves, to have our voices heard — where do we go? Ask Anderson Cooper to have us on his show? Instead of a hedge fund closing a local paper, how ‘bout give it to us? Social media? Let’s be honest: They’re all massive corporations, complete with their own, often insidious, motivations to “drive eyeballs” no matter the cost to our social fabric. That’s what passes now as “freedom of speech.”
My dear friends, I am longing for a place to have an intelligent, civil exchange of new and brave and beautifully radical ideas, a platform where I can write what I want to say, to have a thoughtful conversation with you, to truly connect without the trolls and bigots stinking up the place. I want to ACT, with YOU, all of us, NOW, in ways that will actually effect change because you and I both know that our time is running out.
I’ve been shaken by loss this year, subsumed by the injustice of it all and consumed in a quiet rage — and by some strange accident of will, I began recording a podcast in my tiny guest bedroom, exactly two weeks before the first Covid death. After that, I didn’t stop. I’ve done 205 episodes, and thanks to many of you, 30 million of those episodes have been downloaded. I honestly don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t had the chance to talk with all of you through my Rode NT-USB microphone, 2-4 times a week. And hey — we got rid of The Former Guy! Right! Right?
I know, I know. Nearly half this country is sick, mad, unvaccinated — and they ate it up and they will again. But remember — we’re the majority now. 80 million millennials have saved us for now.
So this is my plea, my promise, to you. We have a choice. We are all in Earth’s ICU together and yes we can beat back the monster — but it won’t be easy and it won’t work unless we all lock arms and fight the greatest nonviolent fight of our lives.
If you’ve received this letter as an email from me today, that means somewhere through the years you’ve already subscribed to — and are currently on — my email list. You will continue to receive these letters and my online work for free. If you got to this page through social media or from a friend sharing it with you, I encourage you to make sure you are subscribed to my free email list here:
And, of course, if you prefer to not be on this email list, I encourage you to unsubscribe, which you should be able to do at the bottom of this email (no hard feelings!).
All of my writing here on Substack — which will also carry an easy-to-listen-to version of my podcast — will always be free. No paywalls! I want us to reach as many people as possible, and I’d love for you to share this work and these ideas far and wide.
At the same time, if you’d like to help support our work and give us the ability to produce more of it, then please consider contributing $5 a month as a member of our team, and this will help us with the next movie, the next series, the podcast and this Letter (you can save by making a once a year gift of $50 which covers you for the whole 12 months). If you do decide to become a paid member, then I’d love to have you join me for these special member events, which this Substack platform will bring to you free of charge:
● Mike’s Movie Night – Members will be invited to virtually watch with me a brilliant movie I’ve picked out for us all to enjoy. These movie nights will often include discussions with the film’s director, its actors or some of my “special” movie-loving friends.
● As a member, you will get to have an early Sneak Peek of some of my upcoming works and sorta act as my “test audience.” I’ll take you behind the scenes of what we’re up to as long as you promise not to tell the authorities.
● You will also be invited as a member to participate with me in live, video Q&A sessions — where you can ask me anything you want!
Additionally, in the name of keeping this platform free of those trolls and racists, the comments section will only be accessible to members. Those wishing to still troll me can do so on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, MSNBC, Yelp or Myspace.
There are hundreds of thousands of you on this email list that was first started back in 1994. Over the course of 27 years of my email newsletters, not only have I been able to share my thoughts, ideas, fatwas, and fears with you, but I have gotten genius ideas from you, words of inspiration, the title for one of my films (!), story ideas and scoops — all of which have informed me as I’ve made my movies and TV shows and written my books.
You have not just been my audience. You have been my partners, my co-conspirators, my sources, and my mentors. I truly appreciate you, I thank you and love you, and I can’t wait to reconnect with you through this medium and get back to working with and supporting one another on what must be done.
Yours through it all,
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Everyone who signs up as a Day One member in the next 24 hours will have lifetime privileges so cool that I’m not allowed by law to list them here — but suffice it to say you’ll be glad you took the leap and hopped in the crew van with us. (Details to follow when it’s safe).