• Don’t Shoot! I’m the Guitar Man

    Date: 03.01.11 | by Judge Tom.

    “Don’t Shoot! I’m the Guitar Man” by Buzzy Martin (2007)

    Juvenile gangbangers may not spend alot of time reading, or in school for that matter, but Buzzy Martin’s story of prison life is a book they won’t be able to put down. The opening sentence sets the scene: “You want me to teach music in prison? Are you nuts?” “Don’t Shoot!” is for anyone interested in the power of music and song regardless of one’s station in life.

    Buzzy is a musician, singer and lifelong performer. He has spent many years as a child advocate and spreading his message “There are no losers, only winners who give up too soon.”

    Once he decided to accept the offer to teach music at the San Quentin State Prison in northern California, Buzzy set out on a three-year journey unlike any other. What he saw and heard each week from the guards, inmates and convicts (he explains the difference between the two) is life-changing. Less confrontational and more subtle than the Scared Straight programs of the 1980s, Buzzy shares his experiences with kids he visits at juvenile hall–some who may be headed to the “Q.”

    Going to music class with Buzzy behind the walls is as close to living the life of a convict as one can get. Many of his students are lifers who realize they will die in prison. They don’t take the music class to look better before the parole board–there is no parole for these men. They will never again, as Buzzy says, smell or taste freedom. However, he writes that ”music heals the soul. For a few hours each week, guilt, shame, fear and abuse can be forgotten . . .frustration and rage are lessened.”

    Buzzy shares his stories from the “Q” with his Music for Kids at Risk Program at juvenile detention. Through guitar lessons and song he motivates and empowers  teens to think about their future. The reality of prison life he brings to his students are meant to dispel the myth that “Prison ain’t nothin” and that’s it’s cool to do a stretch at the “Q.”

    Buzzy’s straightforward account of a grown man’s reaction to human behavior among prisoners is a jolt to one’s senses but a needed dose of reality for anyone who thinks prison is an acceptable way of life. ”One has to have a damaged soul in order to desire the prison lifestyle,” he writes.  When contacted in February, 2011, he explained his mission to promote “Education-Not-Incarceration.”  ”If you have goals and dreams, pursue them. Never take No for an answer and never give up.”

    “Don’t Shoot! I’m the Guitar Man” is being made into a movie by Prodigy Motion Pictures. Starring Eric Roberts as Buzzy, it is scheduled to be released in 2012. A press release for the movie came out in July, 2011, see here:  http://bl156w.blu156.mail.live.com/default.aspx#!/mail/InboxLight.aspx?n=2065654747!fid=1&fav=1&n=569064444&mid=d477d29f-bafb-11e0-a545-00215ad9ed78&fv=1

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    3 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Copperfield’s Books
      Thu, 03 Mar 2011 at 06:03

      Buzzy Martin has tirelessly promoted his message to youthful offenders: "You don't want to end up at San Quentin."… http://fb.me/ScentpuF

    • Askthejudge.info
      Thu, 03 Mar 2011 at 05:16

      RT @Copperfields Buzzy Martin has tirelessly promoted his msg to youthful offenders: u don't want 2 end up @ "the Q" http://fb.me/ScentpuF

    • Bob Kennedy
      Fri, 04 Mar 2011 at 04:09

      I haven’t given up trying to be a more interactive supporter of Buzzy and his goals …

      Theoretically, we both have a reasonable understanding of rejection … such as it is.

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