Conceived during a heinous act of violence, John Joseph McGowan (JJ) was born into a dynasty of darkness and groomed for a life of brutality. Watching his mother be beat beyond recognition by his alcoholic prizefighting father, starved, bullied and abused for years in foster care, boys homes and institutions, John Joseph escaped his living hell for another. At the age of 14, he was living on the streets of New York City which was, at the time, the murder capital of America. Sleeping in burnt out buildings, earning money as a drug mule and hustler John was shot, stabbed, beaten and eventually busted. In 1978 he landed himself in Spofford Correctional Institute, a juvenile detention facility known for its own type of terror.
It’s difficult to encapsulate the violence JJ’s lived for decades. He admits that sometimes he was so violent that he doesn’t even remember and over the years he buried so much terror that he was literally over boiling with anger. Addicted to alcohol and crack-cocaine he describes himself as once being the “crazy crackhead you didn’t want to meet on the streets”.
But today, after following JJ for the last three years and most recently sitting across from him in his home in New York City to record this podcast, I see a man who is a living example of redemption. I see goodness and love and laughter and selfless service. I see someone who prayed for another way and took it when it appeared to him. I see resilience in a way I have never seen before and willingness to tow the line of true healing.
The John Joseph of today is a successful author, screenwriter, lead singer of the CroMags punk rock band and Ironman triathlete living the compassion of a plant-based life and dedicated to his daily spiritual practice. His atonement in life was sparked by the Bad Brains, the Rastafarian punk rock band who extended a hand to John, offered him a job, squashed a KOS (kill on site) directive on his head and got him off the streets. In return, he was to get sober and give up eating animal products.
He says that almost immediately after becoming vegan he noticed a shift in his well-being and that for the first time in his life he was able to feel a calm space within himself. He believes that was because he was no longer consuming the fear, torture and abuse of the animals that is common practice in the US food system. We live in a country that does a superb job of hiding the violence from its public and misleading men to believe they must eat meat to be masculine. For anyone who looks at John Joseph, a vegan for over 30 years, I believe they would be hard-pressed to find any lack of masculinity.
JJ has studied GMOs extensively and we talk about why Hawaii is ground zero for GMO testing. This is not conspiracy theory, he explains, but truth and agenda behind big food business. If anyone is questioning the validity of his argument a good question to ask is “why are chemical companies growing our food?”. We discuss the perfectly ludicrous world of pharmaceutical commercialism and why most drugs are designed to keep their recipients sick.
This podcast covers so many topics, as John Joseph truly is so many things rolled into one of the genuine people I’ve ever met. He’s a perfect balance of backbone and compassion and bringing him to the YT audience was something we held in our vision from its inception. JJ is authentic and true to himself, he is an open book and with that comes much colorful language.
This episode is explicit to every extent of that rating but this podcast is not about censoring and editing. This podcast is about bringing you people who are looking, finding and living their purpose and with that comes truth, vulnerability and authenticity. This is exactly what we are bringing you today. Once labeled by doctors as a “ticking time bomb”, John Joseph, who lived many years in fear that he would kill someone, is committed to a life the promotes a mode of goodness.
We hope you enjoy this episode and follow along with John as he takes life by its reigns and lives his purpose here on earth.
Episode #21 Show Notes:
Photography Credit: Ray Lego
PurePMA – JJ’s official site
Children’s Tumor Foundation – Help John Joseph reach his Kona fundraising goal
Evolve with Power – Erika Mitchner (JJ’s love and black belt who keeps him in check)
Bad Brains – Facebook
Ironman World Championship – John Joseph is Bib #681
Evolution of a CroMagnon and Meat Is For Pussies – John Joseph’s Books
Skinny Bitch by Rory Friedman
The Dark Act – explanation from justlabelit.org
Video: What are the Yugas?
Video: Little Birds Trailer
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