Have a great weekend everybody!
And, don't forget to set your clocks back
on Sunday, November 2nd @ 2:00am!
Have a great weekend everybody!
And, don't forget to set your clocks back
on Sunday, November 2nd @ 2:00am!
It's been 12 years last week since her suicide. I didn't really want to blog about her but, something about Kathy always made you take notice... always made you want to write and say something. That's how she was... expressive, dramatic, inspiring.
I was going to lunch yesterday and I saw a huge metal peace sign that had been constructed at the sight of her death. Someone had printed her many quotes and left flowers. I smiled... finally, 12 years after her death she is taken seriously. Wherever she is, Kathy would have liked that.
This is one of my more bizzarre life experiences. Kathy was not one of my ex-girlfriends. I met her the year after I got married. I can't even say we were friends. I never knew her real name until after her death and she never knew my last name.
I met Kathy in 1990 when I first began working at the university. I was walking across campus with a co-worker and I saw a throng of people crowded around the front of the library. Drama junkie that I am, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about so, I walked over to the crowd and worked my way to the front and there she was... all 5' 2" of her. This little petite Asian woman was standing and giving a rousing speech without a stitch of clothing on.
Usually, when I meet a woman, it takes awhile before I see them in their birthday suit. Standing beside her and holding up two placards were two long-haired white men and they didn't have on any clothes either. They were protesting the first Gulf War and George Bush (the first one, not Junior).
She talked about his involvement in the CIA and how he wanted the United States to go to war with Saddamn Hussein, a man who was once his ally and who he had armed himself. She warned of the very thing we are facing now... an agressive war with Iraq, supposedly in the interest of the American people but, really for the greedy interests of "the corporate-military elite". Twelve years after her death and she was right on the money. Mind you, she was saying this is the late summer of 1990.
Half of the people in the crowd came to laugh because these three people were naked but, if you listened closely to what she was saying, she was correct in her analysis. I didn't say anything to Kathy that day but, I would later see her again (when she had clothes on) and we would talk. I heard that she had once been a student at the university, was a brilliant Poli-Sci major, and then, one day she just dropped out... never to return. I don't know if that was true or not. She was surrounded by mystery. She had been in the forefront of several un-popular causes, like the movemant for world peace, the movemant to clean up the environment, amnesty for political prisoners around the world, divestation of funds from cruel African dictatorships, etc. (real far left stuff).
She supported herself by running a book store off campus that also had incense, top paper for "looseys" (handmade cigarettes or joints, if you were nasty), Greek stuff, paddles, t-shirts, etc. We would talk, discuss this book or that, methods of protest, etc. I found her to be quite intelligent. She was about eight years older than me but, you couldn't tell that by looking at her. She looked a lot younger than she actually was. Her musical taste ended somewhere in the 70's. She was into Bob Dylan... Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young... David Bowie... and such. The only black music she knew of was Sly & The Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Motown, and Stax. I always teased her and said she was trapped in a time warp.
Kathy cared about her causes and she would do anything to get attention.... from protesting naked to laying down at the foot of campus and blocking pedestrian traffic. I don't know what cause she was expousing on the afternoon of October 22, 1996 when she doused herself with gasoline and lit herself on fire. She went up in a blaze and fell into a bed of leaves. Do you know that on that day, me and some friends walked right by that fire from a distance? I had no idea that it was Kathy. I do remember everybody saying how bad it smelled (we were smelling burning flesh and just didn't know it). There was something eerie and just plain wrong about how high the flame burned that day.
I found out in the afternoon as I was getting ready to go home that Kathy had set herself on fire and killed herself. The final act of a public career that had never been taken seriously. I walked by the peace sign yesterday and saw her quotes, name, the year of her birth and death printed in big letters underneath them, and the beautiful flowers. It was all so peaceful. For a minute, I could almost see her standing there on the steps protesting something.
In Memory of Kathy C.
Whatever did we do before the invention of the cell phone? I asked myself that this morning as I was driving around frantically trying to find my own. One of my co-workers has a Blackberry, a personal cell phone, and a TRIO provided by her job. I looked at her one day and said, "Dang, do you have enough communication gadgets?" She laughed as she packed her three toys in her pocketbook and said, "I have to have to have all three of these wherever I go. If I leave my house without one of them, it's like getting dressed and forgetting to put on my underwear." I laughed at that and remarked, "Is it really that serious?" She seemed to think so. Well, last night I discovered that it really is that serious.
If you read my last post, you know that I went to my cousin's engagement party in Maryland this weekend. My brother rented a cream-colored 2008 Ford 300 for the trip. I drove to Maryland and he drove back to Philly. We brought an extra person, my aunt, back with us. After my brother drove me to my car (which was parked in front of his house), my wife, my aunt, and I departed. I dropped my aunt off at her house and then, me and my wife went home. It was the end to a perfect day or so I thought...
As I walked in the house, I reached for my cell phone. I always check my messages when I get home because I have my phone on low or vibrate most of the time and I sometimes miss calls and messages. Guess what... my cell phone holder was there but, no cell phone. I thought, "Oh, it's on the porch somewhere." I used my wife's cell phone to call myself... nothing. I went out to my car with a flashlight and searched under the seats, in the trunk, etc. Nothing. I drove frantically around to my aunt's block thinking it was around there. Still nothing! Sadly, I came home.
You know what I did? I prayed. Yeah, God wants us to pray about everything, even the little stupid things we do that we feel we can handle and are too minor "to take up His time with." I sent up one of those "bullet prayers" that brother SLC talks about. Then, I called the lounge in Maryland. It was around 1:00am and there were still some people in the club cleaning up. They said that they hadn't found a cell phone.
I then called my brother and he looked in the car and didn't find it. I was beginning to think that I would have to go to my provider first thing in the morning and have them cancel my phone and get a new phone. I really didn't relish the hassle of having to do that plus, having to call all of my friends and ask them to e-mail me their phone numbers to load into my phone.
By now, it was about 2:00am so, do you know what I did? I sat down at my computer and started blogging. I went to "Escapades " and wrote the final two installments for my missing person's mystery, "Dead Man Walking" and "Love Is A Losing Game". It relaxed me and around 3:30am, I went to sleep. (What did we do before blogging?-lol)
All night long I thought about my cell phone and all of my phone numbers, unread text messages, and what have you. Obsessive-compulsive that I am, I got up at 8:00am, showered, put on some clothes, got in my car, and drove to my brother's house. And, there it was... my cell phone was lying in the grass in front of his house. He couldn't have seen it last night because it was dark and plus, it wasn't in the car, it was lying in the grass. Yes, God does answer prayers.
I wiped the morning dew off of it, called my wife to let her know that I had found it, and then proceeded to go and get some much needed coffee. What a fuss I made over a gadget... My friend didn't seem so funny now with her Trio, Blackberry, and cell phone fetish. Seems like it wasn't that long ago that the only way you could catch me was if I was at home or you saw me on the street. Times were so much simpler then...
(For Brother SLC, Sister Keisha "Kitten" Isaacs, Little Sis Shanita Waters, and Sister Stayce.)
I just learned yesterday that Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of the Four Tops, passed away. He was 72 years old. If the Temptations was my favorite Motown group, The Four Tops had to be my second favorite. When I think of all of the great voices that Motown produced... Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Dennis Edwards, David Ruffin, Smokey Robinson not withstanding... the emotional, dramatic, and pleading voice of Levi Stubbs stood out above them all as the one that had the most profound effect on me.
Motown records were dramatic because they all told wonderful stories of loves ups and downs and the backing band, the Funk Brothers, punctuated those stories so well that, listening to a Motown record was akin to watching a western or a detective movie. It was a very moving and emotional experience.
Levi Stubb's voice was tailor made for that sound. He had a man's man kind of voice and when he poured his heart out on my favorite Four Top's song, the wonderful Holland-Dozier-Holland masterpiece "Shake Me, Wake Me (When it's Over)", I'm telling you I felt a sense of fear and dread in my soul. It felt like I was being cheated on in a relationship myself... and I was all of 8 years old and hadn't been in a relationship yet!
There was nothing weak about Levi's voice and it has been silenced now... but, it will live on in the timeless recordings made by the Four Tops. I don't know what it is about this year... it seems like we are losing so many greats. Here was another great one.
1. Atlanta, Georgia
I can't remember having ever gone to the ATL and not having a great time. I love the Underground, Buckhead, Justin's, Keith Sweat's joint, and years ago, Dominique Wilkin's had a spot that I ate at once. (Hey, 12Kyle... is that spot still there?)
2. Miami, Florida
It's beautiful beaches and the blue (nearly see through) ocean water is enough... but, the hotels, stores, and the wild and crazy people on South Beach alone make it my second favorite city. Plus, my family originated in the South Florida area.
3. New York City, New York
Nuff said... It's the big apple, what's not to love?
4. London, England - U.K.
I've been there four times and it's really true... England swings like a pendulum do! I loved the "Soul" clubs in the Jamaican section called "Brittany" where I could hear Motown, Stax, and Philly International all night long mixed with a little reggae and some salsa. I ate at some really fine restaurants too.
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
I went there before I got married. This is a city where everything goes... a city of intrigue and suspense. I went to some nice bistros and rode a bike or scooter just about everywhere. I have one complaint... they eat fish at just about every meal. Yuck! It gives the term "Raw Like Sushi" a whole new meaning.
6. San Antonio, Texas
If we skip the fact that I did my boot camp there (Lackland Air Force Base) and just talk about the other times I visited San Antone, I had great times there. I had some of the best steak I ever tasted in my life there at a little place called "We Are Cooks." You buy the steak and you cook it yourself to your liking right there on a hot table. If you know how much I like steak, you know that I didn't want to leave. I was a little disappointed that the Alamo wasn't as large as I thought it should be. I rode the little boat through underground San Antonio six times. Yeah, I know... I'm a little kid at heart (most men are... I'm sure you ladies know that).
7. Denver, Colorado
Once I got adjusted to the altitude and the air quality, I got along quite well in Denver. I went to the Nuggets basketball games every chance I got, partied at a lot of clubs there, and got in for half price (military discount) most of the time.
8. Seattle, Washington
As soon as I got there, I wanted to see where Jimi Hendrix lived. Nobody who I was with knew. Kurt Cobain had just committed suicide that year... everybody knew where he lived and hung out though. I didn't mind... I was equally interested in him too. I drank a lot of coffee and wore my rain coat everywhere I went. It rained everyday I was there except the day before I left. I still loved it though... it was a very beautiful city.
9. Madrid, Spain
I saw my first bullfight right outside of this great city. I wish someone had told me in advance that they kill the bull after the bullfight is over. I wasn't ready for that. I had a great time here... the clubs stay open until daybreak. Here was a time that I wished I had paid more attention in Spanish class in high school. I couldn't understand a thing anyone was saying. One day, I was playing "Juicy" by The Notorious B.I.G. on somebody's boom box and these kids came by and they knew all of the words. I played NAS and Method Man and they knew that... they probably didn't know what it meant, just like I didn't know what they were saying... but, we bonded in that small moment. Apparently, the universal language of Hip-Hop.
10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Like Dorothy always said..."There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
* Chicago, Illinois
I've only been to the "Windy City" one time (1999) but, I had the best oven-baked pizza known to man and the best Polish sausage imaginable. (Why does eating have so much to do with why I like a place?)
* Detroit, Michigan
I've only been to the "Motor City" once (2001) but, they know how to party there and I had a great time. Now, there... I can't remember what I ate (or if I ate) when I was there.
Q. What are some of your favorite places?
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