Do You Have The Courage To Watch This Movie?

October 27, 2011

I’m going to guess that 90% will claim you do, but then do nothing. Sorry, folks, but that’s who we are, and I hope by challenging you, you will prove me wrong. Let me explain:

Take a look around you. Are you happy with where our society has gone?  Does it bother you to see the amount of violence our society seems to accept as “normal?” Are you uncomfortable seeing children grow up with virtually no concept of right and wrong?  Does it trouble you that young adults seem to make up their own rules as they go along, eschewing the accepted values of society?

It should worry you.

But what should worry you even more is the realization that we are now reaping what we have sown for several generations spawned from those wonderful days of “the sexual revolution” of the 60s. Since then, we have (as a society) sub-contracted the job of raising our children (and, therefore, instilling values) to day care centers, school systems, and the government who now feels it’s their right to establish goals for sex education for our young.

Be mad. But be mad at ourselves.  As a society, all too often we have abandoned our posts as parents. We’ve passed on the one opportunity we get as parents to teach our children. And we are guilty of letting our children be subjugated by a society that has few or no values to offer. The problem we have created is threatening our society, dragging it into a cesspool of neglect and, in many cases, indifference. We have reached a point where young, single mothers with few morals see their babies as a hindrance to their dating and partying.  And all too often, it’s the children who pay a tragic price. But the problem really stems from those who father the children, then simply move on. Therein lies the focus of a movie that may be the most important film you may never have heard of.

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Everyday Heroes: Paying Homage To 1st Responders

October 4, 2010

This past week,  Congress passed (and President Obama signed) H.R. 3978 which is also known as the “First Responder Anti-Terrorism Training Resources Act.” It is essentially, “… An act to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to accept and use gifts for otherwise authorized activities of the Center for Domestic Preparedness that are related to preparedness for a response to terrorism, and for other purposes.” Source:

The new law expands the ability for first responders to train under more realistic conditions so that in the event of such an attack, they are better prepared to successfully provide critical care at a time when desperately needed.

However, mention the term “First Responder” to many people and you might just be surprised at the look of confusion in their eyes. It’s not a term we use every day. And, sadly, it seems that the only time we pay much attention to first responders is when a tragedy befalls one (or more) of them. Our friend, Canadian Singer/Songwriter Dave Carroll (of United Breaks Guitars fame) has set out to change all that in a big way. More on that in a moment. But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page:

Who are “First Responders?”

They are the men and women of our local communities who put their lives on the line for each of us on a daily basis by responding to emergency (911) calls. They are Firemen, Police, EMTs and others who have promised each of us that no matter what the emergency, they will be there for us. And it’s a promise they keep every day of their (and our) lives.

Dave Carroll knows a lot about this from first-hand experience. He’s been a volunteer fireman in his home town of Waverly, Nova Scotia while building his musical career. His brother Don (who shares singing roles with Dave in the band, “Sons of Maxwell“) is a full-time fireman in that same town.

Over the past two years, I’ve written several articles about tragedies that have taken the lives of a number of these hometown heroes. Fortunately, these are not every day occurrences. However, the emergencies in our communities that expose first responders to the danger of accidents, fires, violence, disease (and now, sadly, terrorism) happen on a daily basis. While writing this article, there have been several separate occurrences of sirens screaming past my home. The first was a police car and, later another police car followed by a firetruck and ambulance. None of these first responders know what awaits them, yet they respond without hesitation when needed.

It’s important that we never allow ourselves to forget how fortunate we are that whenever someone is in peril, there are men and women who are our friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters professionally trained in emergency procedures  keeping that promise to “be there” when needed.

Even though the heroes are the first responders, YOU and I play an important role as well: Whenever you’re driving, if you see an ambulance, fire truck or police car with emergency lights flashing in the rear-view mirror, pull over as soon as possible to let them pass. Someone’s life is in the balance and, most likely, seconds count.

Dave Carroll has written and recorded a new song in tribute to First Responders. Appropriately entitled, “Everyday Heroes,” it’s sponsored by Intrado Inc., in Longmart Colorado. For over 30 years, Intrado has been a pioneer in the development of enhanced 911 services used throughout the United States and, now, Canada.  While the song speaks for itself with Dave’s usual musical excellence, the story of how Intrado got involved with him is a fascinating one, best told by Dave himself.

So in another Grand Rants First, here’s Dave Carroll to introduce his tribute, “Everyday Heroes”:

And here’s the video:

Dave’s project to help spread awareness and to pay homage to First Responders is just beginning. Stay tuned for more on this as it develops throughout the US and Canada.

Gerry Ashley

United Airlines Trilogy Ends On A High Note

March 2, 2010

It’s the video millions of people around the world have eagerly anticipated. And it delivers the goods! It’s the third – and final – song of the United Breaks Guitars trilogy by Canadian Singer/Songwriter Dave Carroll.

It was launched with a gala Interactive Webcast the introduced the video before Carroll took questions from the local audience as well as those watching from around the world via the Internet.

The video features some of the best bluegrass musicians around hand-picked by Carroll himself. Grand Rants is proud to have been chosen by Dave for an exclusive interview which you can read here. But before you do, sit back and enjoy some fine pickin’ and singin’ as it’s David VS “Goliath Airlines” one last time. Presenting…

 “United We Stand (On The Right Side Of Right)” 

Note: For more Grand Rants articles on Dave, just type “Dave Carroll” in the “Search” box which is to the right of the title line of this article. 

Gerry Ashley

Exclusive: Dave Carroll Files A New Flight Plan

March 1, 2010

Dave Carroll Talks With Grand Rants About The Amazing Past Year And What Lies Ahead For The Talented Singer Songwriter

by Gerry Ashley

Note: This exclusive interview with Dave Carroll is being published simultaneously with the release and posting of his third and final video in the “United Breaks Guitars” trilogy, “United We Stand On The Right Side Of Right.”  The video is now available on Youtube and here on Grand Rants (click either link).  For more information about Dave and his music both as a solo performer and with the band, “Sons of Maxwell,” visit Dave’s web site.   And for more Grand Rants articles on Dave, just type “Dave Carroll” in the “Search” box which is to the right of the title line of this article. 

A year ago, if you asked someone who Dave Carroll is, outside of his loyal fan base as part of the popular Nova Scotia band “Sons of Maxwell”  (and those working in the United Airlines Customer Service division), a good many of those asked would have been stumped.

What a difference a year (and a flawed approach to customer service by United Airlines) has made!

As most of the on-line world knows by now, Dave’s first two “United Breaks Guitars” music videos became an Internet sensation as they chronicled his 9-month battle with United Airlines over damages to his guitar caused by their baggage handlers.

After United gave Carroll their final refusal, he informed them he would make three videos and post them on YouTube, asking the public to vote for their favorite.  For those of you who have not yet seen those videos, I urge you to watch them here:

United Breaks Guitars Song #1

United Breaks Guitars Song #2

At the time, nobody knew just how viral this would become: The first video had over 1 million hits by the end of the first week, making the 20-year music veteran an “overnight sensation.”

I’ve been in touch with Dave on several occasions (indeed, Stoutcat and I have written rants in support of Dave and the first two videos and I have featured Dave in several other topics).

With the posting of this final video of the trilogy, I thought our readers might like to get to know more about the man behind the music. Dave was kind enough to give me an exclusive interview for Grand Rants. I spoke with him following his appearance on “The View” in NYC and as he prepared for a several concert dates in Europe. As we spoke, I found him to be amazingly balanced, polite and in possession of a keen sense of humor. I invite you all to come join me as I talked with Dave.

So, please put your tray tables and seatbacks in their full upright position, as the United trilogy comes to  its conclusion and Dave’s solo career takes off.
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This Week: Exclusive Interview With Dave Carroll

February 28, 2010

Popular Singer Concludes “United Breaks Guitars” Trilogy With YouTube Release And An Exclusive Interview With Grand Rants

Grand Rants is honored and excited to announce that, coming this week, we will feature an exclusive one-on-one interview with popular Canadian singer/songwriter Dave Carroll as he releases the third and final video in the United Breaks Guitars trilogy. The Interview will be posted Monday, March 1st, 2010, and will be modified   on Tuesday to include the video as the video is released on Youtube. For those of you who may have missed the first two videos, they can be seen below.

“United Breaks Guitars” (song #1) ended up as one of the most viewed Youtube videos of the year garnering over one million hits in its first week.. The catchy country tune chronicled the misfortune suffered by Carroll, whose guitar was broken by United Airline baggage handlers while he was on a flight from Nova Scotia to a show in Nebraska.  While the first “United Breaks Guitars” video was what brought Carroll to the attention of the world, it’s his talent that has sustained (and furthered) interest in his music world-wide.

The video marked the first in what would become a trilogy. The first two videos in the trilogy have been viewed by nearly 10 million viewers and have made Carroll one of the fastest rising stars on the music scene today.

The second video was launched in August and now, on Tuesday, March 2nd, the trilogy completes as Dave releases the third and final video.In the interim, Dave has seen his solo career skyrocket, something he discusses in the interview along with insight you will only find here.

Grand Rants cordially invites you to join us as Dave speaks with me candidly about his musical roots with his brother Don and their group, “Sons of Maxwell” and now, his blossoming solo career and his stunning debut album, “Perfect Blue.” As you will quickly discover, there’s more to Dave Carroll than “United Breaks Guitars”… a lot more. The gifted singer and composer fills us in on not only his background, but where he’s headed. There’s a few surprises and twists that you won’t want to miss.

Again, for those of you who may not be familiar with Dave’s music and the “United” debacle, you can view the first two videos in the trilogy here:

United Breaks Guitars Song #1

United Breaks Guitars Song #2

Be sure to stay tuned right here on Grand Rants. The interview will be posted Monday, March 1st. And when “United Breaks Guitars – The Finale” is launched on Tuesday, you can also see it right here on Grand Rants.

H/T to Dave Carroll

Gerry Ashley

Dave Carroll: Changing Things One Song At A Time

February 8, 2010

If you’re a regular reader here at Grand Rants, you know that we’ve followed the adventures of our Canadian friend, singer/songwriter Dave Carroll this past year. Carroll used his considerable singing and songwriting talent along with humor and a bit of well-deserved sarcasm as he told the story (through music videos posted on YouTube) of how United Airlines damaged his $3,500 Taylor Guitar, then stonewalled him for a year, refusing to pay for the repairs. For those of you who are not aware of the story, please click here and here for our previous coverage and a look at the first two videos. It’s definitely worth the view.

The videos struck a chord with the public, went viral and resulted in United’s stock plummeting by 10% ($180 Million).

Carroll promised three videos and is about to release the third and final song in the trilogy.

I’m pleased to announce that Dave has agreed to an exclusive interview with Grand Rants and that interview will be posted on the day the third video is posted on Youtube. Currently, that is expected to be  March 1. Check back at Grand Rants for any changes on this.

In the meantime, Dave has been a busy fellow. In addition to launching his own solo career apart from Sons of Maxwell (the group he co-fronts with his brother Don), Dave has also started “Big Break Enterprises” which offers a complete line of services in the area of keynote speaking, developing compelling advertising or promotional campaigns, creating custom, inspiring songs for events and a complete line of support services for any and all of the aforementioned.  If you want to learn more about this effort, contact Big Break Enterprises.

And from the “Proof that God does, in fact, have a sense of humor” Department: Several months ago, Dave appeared at a conference on Customer Service held in Denver Colorado held by Right Now Technologies. The only flight available to get Dave there from his location in Canada was on United.

You guessed it: They lost his luggage. Fortunately, he brought his guitar as carry-on luggage and was able to perform, but had to wear the clothes he had on. United still apparently has a way to go.

Meanwhile, Dave has joined forces with Canadian TV stations who have been short-changed (literally) by the cable companies.  Enjoy this latest video from Dave as we count down the days until the final song of the United Trilogy is released along with the exclusive interview here on Grand Rants.

Note: For more Grand Rants articles on Dave, just type “Dave Carroll” in the “Search” box which is to the right of the title line of this article. 

Gerry Ashley

The Incredible Power Of The Individual

August 21, 2009
Or, How A Guitar Cost United Airlines $180 Million

You’ve got to love irony… especially when it’s mixed with Stubris (a term coined by our own Alan Speakman which he defines as is an act of stupidity-fueled hubris). 

It’s the mixture that causes the mighty to be humbled; the undefeated to suffer an unexpected humiliating loss.

It’s Barack Obama with his insistence that whether “we the people” want something, if it’s his will, it shall be done.

It’s the hubris of John Edwards, Rod Blagojevich, Mike Tyson, Gary Hart, Mel Gibson all discovering they are not infallable  although they’ve lived their lives as if they were. In each case, their “stubris” has cost them dearly.

The corporate world has also had its share of embarrassing losses, the result of lawsuits (W R Grace) or simply bad management (Digital Equipment Corporation) all stemming from, that’s right, stubris.  But seldom has a huge corporation been humbled in such a wide-spread public manner by a single customer who simply wanted them to do the right thing.  Until now.

Dave Carroll

United Airlines, meet your biggest headache: Dave Carroll and his $3,500 guitar that has (so far) cost you $180 million.

I’m writing about his story, because I think it’s a metaphor for what even a single individual who is in the right can do if he has conviction (and, in Dave’s case, a good sense of humor and fantastic songwriting skills). The results can change an entire industry, an entire nation, or the entire world.

If you’re a regular here at Grand Rants, you’ve undoubtedly seen our coverage of how United Airlines damaged Carroll’s $3,500 Taylor Guitar and then steadfastly refused to accept responsibility for the repairs. For the benefit of our new readers, however, you can find Stoutcat’s articles  here and here. Go ahead and take a look. It’s well worth it, and we’ll wait…

OK. Now that we’re all up to speed, Carroll, part of a Canadian country band called “Sons of Maxwell,” simply wanted United Airlines to pay the $1,200 to repair his $3,500 Taylor guitar which was damaged by grossly negligent baggage handling. United decided to pass on the opportunity to “do the right thing” in an attempt to avoid paying for the guitar’s repair.

Expensive decision.

Dave tried working with United. Honest he did. And when their final answer was, in effect, “Sorry, you’re just out of luck,” he decided to write three songs and post them on Youtube (the second of three has just been posted). If there had been an iota of intelligence in the upper level management at United, they’d have sent Dave a check with some roses with a note that said, “You had me at ‘Youtube’.”

Since posting the original song,  “United Breaks Guitars” it’s been viewed by millions of people… people who fly and will now think twice about choosing United.

But the biggest impact is that as Dave’s video “went viral” on the Internet and United got inundated with calls from angry consumers, a not-so-funny thing happened to their stock: It plunged in value by 10%. The net loss to United’s stockholders totaled $180 million according to an article in The London Times. And it could have been avoided by simply doing the right thing.

The metaphor is this: Given a chance, big government or big corporate management will usually choose to do what’s in their own best interest, regardless of the impact to the consumer/constituent.  

The simple solution for citizens and consumers is, “Don’t let them get away with it.” And you accomplish this by making every effort to work within the established guidelines . When you’ve exhausted all efforts and are still not satisfied with the results — and if you’re still convinced you are in the right — then it’s time to do things in a creative manner. Sometimes this can be done within the law, but sometimes it requires the guts to perform civil disobedience in order to accomplish something for the greater good.

TianasquareThink of what a single young man accomplished in Tiananmen square 20 years ago, facing down a tank in an act the world would largely note and long remember. 

Over one million people had come to mourn the death of  pro-market, pro-democracy, and anti-corruption official, Hu Yaobang and to protest the government’s dismissal of Yaobang. The group protest led mostly by students and intellectuals, eventually resulted in a government crackdown on public demonstrations. This, in turn, resulted in hundreds of deaths.

Suddenly, the unknown man took a stand in front of a line of tanks. When the tanks tried to go around him, he shifted his position to block them again. Eventually, the man left the area never to be seen again. But in that moment, he defined the power of what one man can do.

rosa-parksThink of Rosa Parks, revered as the mother of the modern day civil rights movement. “Tired of giving in” to racist demands that blacks move to the back of the bus, on December 1, 1955, she simply decided enough was enough and she would not give up her seat to a white person as ordered by the bus driver.  For her efforts, she was arrested. She wasn’t the first black person to refuse, but she was secretary of the Montgomery Alabama chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (although she maintained that she took this action as a private citizen). Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott which was, in part, organized by a young minister named Martin Luther King Jr. And from this incident, by a lone black woman who had the guts to stand up for “the right thing,” a nation would be forced to examine its own behavior towards a major sector of its citizens. The Civil Rights era was born.

john-walsh_fsThink of John Walsh, a doting father of a precious 6 year-old son who was abducted and brutally murdered by a pedophile. After discovering the hard way that America had no organized approach to the problem, rather than letting his son become just another statistic, he dedicated himself towards addressing the lack of child protection legislation nationally.   Through his efforts, there are hundreds of child-protection laws nationally and federally that, while not perfect, go a long way towards making this a safer country for children to grow up in. Most states now require stringent background requests for workers who have any contact with children.  Walsh secured the federal funding to start the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, DC, and for over 20 years has been the host of Fox network’s “America’s Most Wanted.”   I was honored to work with John for several years and can say from personal experience, he is the epitome of what one man can accomplish when he puts his mind to it.

Erin_BrokovichThink of Erin Brockovich who, despite the lack of a formal law school education, was instrumental in constructing a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California in 1993. Her story was an inspiration to what the spirit of one determined person can accomplish to protect her community against the poisoning of the public water supply by an indifferent corporation. Her efforts led to a $333 million settlement which is, to date, the largest settlement in US history for a direct-action lawsuit.

And it’s not just limited to certain people or specific causes. It’s all of us who need to be Rosa Parks, John Walsh, Erin Brockovich, the Tiananmen Square “tank man” and, yes, even Dave Carroll in this world today. It’s that spirit that makes America the greatest place to live.

We’ve seen the power of their commitment and what it can bring. It should be no surprise when you think back to what a bunch of colonists did when they were unhappy with England’s taxation without representation.

And that’s why those of us opposed to President Obama’s attempted takeover/makeover of democracy and the free enterprise system do what we do. We stand up for what is right; we speak out for what is right.

And that is why we will win. 

Gerry Ashley

United Airlines: Revenge is Sweet

August 19, 2009


Dave Carroll’s eagerly-awaited (at least by me) second tune about his trials with United, the airline which broke his guitar last year and disclaimed all responsibility. It’s said that revenge is a dish best served cold. It’s getting colder and sweeter with each song Carroll produces.

Note: Videos number one and three are also available here on Grand Rants as well as Dave’s exclusive interview with Gerry Ashley.  Click on the links above to view them. Also, for more Grand Rants articles on Dave, just type “Dave Carroll” in the “Search” box which is to the right of the title line of this article.  


Flying United? Don’t Bring Your Guitar!

July 9, 2009

The sadly hilarious (or hilariously sad) story of a musician who flew from Halifax to Nebraska via Chicago on United Airways, witnessed his own baggage being mishandled on the tarmac, got no satisfaction from United’s customer service posse, and is now enjoying his revenge, eaten cold and going viral:

More than a year later (and unsurprisingly, only a few days after the video appeared), United has finally figured out that it’s getting a black eye and becoming a laughingstock, and has offered to have a “conversation” with the musician, Dave Carroll in order to “make it right.”

Here’s a hint, United: You break it, you buy it (or fix it).

Carroll has promised to make three videos in order to publicize this incident. I can’t wait for the second and third installments.

Note: Videos number two and three are now available here on Grand Rants as well as an exclusive interview.  Click on the links above to view them. Also, for more Grand Rants articles on Dave, just type “Dave Carroll” in the “Search” box which is to the right of the title line of this article. 

H/T: LA Times Blog