Friday, May 29, 2009
I was driving home yesterday listening to the Michael Baisden show (as I usually do) and thinking about nothing in particular (as I usually do). There is a large intersection at the foot of a bridge right before you get to the street where I live. A kid on a motorcycle drove right past me (going eastbound) and two police cars darted past me in pursuit of this kid. This was not unusual because it's spring and it's Philly... the cops here are always chasing somebody... it's the spring ritual. However, this time... it was different. Then, three more police cars and a paddy wagon came up behind me and drove around me. Another police car drove up the street and blocked traffic. Three more police cars came racing down the street and now, I saw a fire rescue truck coming too. I thought to myself, what is going on here?
When I saw a tow truck, I knew that something was afoot. The light turned green and I drove pass the large intersection at the foot of the bridge and finally made it to my house. I could see a crowd of people running towards the crest of the intersection I just passed. I parked my car, grabbed my cell phone, and headed towards the action... anything to break the monotony of what was a mundane day.
What I saw when I got to the corner is simply hard to describe unless you actually saw it. The kid who passed me on the motorcycle had slanted his bike and run underneath a parked car, moving the car up into the air, and then, having it land on top of him. The car was on top of the kid, who was still on the bike, laying sideways with blood running everywhere. How this kid did this is still unknown and inconceivable to me.
The fire department and fire rescue trucks came and some of the men in the neighborhood tried desperately to lift the car off of the kid... all to no avail. Finally, the firemen used some type of hydraulic lift to remove the parked car but, it was too late. The young man died almost as soon as the car was lifted off of him. He was literally broken in half. I've never seen anything quite like that before in my life. The neighborhood activists were already starting... "That's messed up!" "They chased that boy to his death! That's messed up!"
I don't know why the police were chasing the young man but, chances are, it was not for nothing. He probably had done something... it's not uncommon. My neighborhood has been hit with a rash of burglaries lately and there's a notorious drug corner a few blocks from me. Chances are, the kid was no choir boy. If he attracted that many cops, he couldn't have been... but, in all fairness, I really don't know. I'm just weary and tired of death... tired of seeing life snuffed out before it begins. I'm just tired and I can't go on any more. I've given all of the gory details. I'm just not into this right now.
Perhaps, I'll return tomorrow with something smurfy... it is, after all, the weekend.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
PHOENIX (AP) - The 4 year old daughter of former Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson died at a hospital on Tuesday, a day after her neck apparently got caught in a treadmill cord at her Phoenix home, police said. Mike Tyson left Las Vegas for Phoenix upon hearing of his daughter's accident. (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)
Exodus Tyson had been on life support and police have said their investigation showed her injury on Monday was a tragic accident. "There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Exodus," the family said in a statement. "We ask you now to please respect our need at this very difficult time for privacy to grieve and try to help each other heal."
Police said Exodus either slipped or put her head in the loop of a cord hanging under the console. Her 7-year-old brother found her and told their mother. She took Exodus off the cord, called police and tried to revive her. The responding officers and firefighters performed CPR as they took the girl to the hospital.
Tyson was in Las Vegas at the time of the accident and flew on Monday to Phoenix. The family's home is in a modest, quiet neighborhood. Neighbors say they saw Tyson there from time to time and the children played outside regularly. Dinka Radic, who lives across the street, says the little girl would ask her if she had any chocolate in the house. When Radic would get some and give it to her, Exodus would hug the woman's knees and "kiss, kiss, kiss."
"She would say 'hi' to everybody. She was really friendly," said Abdul Khalik, 53, who lives next door. He said Exodus rode her bicycle in the neighborhood and often played with his two children and his niece. He said his 14-year-old daughter had cried all day after hearing of Exodus' death. Ben Brodhurst, 20, who lives across the street, said Exodus and her family went trick-or-treating at his house the last couple of Halloweens. She was "very lively, very enjoyable to be around," he said.
The neighborhood contrasts starkly with the lavish lifestyle Tyson had through his tumultuous years of boxing, when he spent tens of millions of dollars and says he had millions more stolen from him by unscrupulous associates. During two years at the height of his career, he earned $140 million.
The death of his child in such an unusual accident adds an awful chapter to the boxer's troubled life. Tyson first began boxing in a facility for juvenile delinquents in upstate New York at the age of 12. Eight years later, he became the youngest Heavyweight Champion ever when he knocked out Trevor Berbick in 1986. But in 1990, he was defeated by James "Buster" Douglas in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history and soon after, he was convicted of raping a beauty pageant contestant in Indianapolis.
Tyson, who still denies he raped the woman, served three years in prison. As his career continued so, did his bizarre behavior. He bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear during a boxing match and once threatened to eat the children of Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis. Although Tyson's children had lived in their unassuming neighborhood for several years, he purchased a separate home in the posh Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley in 2005 for $2.1 million, selling it two years later for $2.3 million.
In November 2007, Tyson spent 24 hours in Maricopa County's jail after pleading guilty to one count of cocaine possession and one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence. Police found the drug when they pulled over Tyson's car after he left a Scottsdale night club. At Tyson's sentencing hearing, nearly a year after the arrest, his attorney David Chesnoff said his client had taken 29 drug tests without a relapse and was attending Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. "He's tried his hardest, despite coming from almost impossible beginnings" Chesnoff said.
The above is an excerpt from the AP story that ran yesterday concerning the death of Mike Tyson's daughter. Why they felt the need to bring up his decade old rape trial and conviction is beyond my understanding. Everybody knows who Mike Tyson is and his past legal troubles have no bearing on this situation. This was and should just be about little Exodus.
I don't want to read any self-righteous posts (written mostly by people who don't have any children) asking... Where was the mother? Who lets a 4 year old run around unsupervised (or what have you) ? This was an accident. People who have toddlers and small children know that they get into everything and that if you blink, a small child can be into something. Such was the case here. To second guess that mother, who I know already feels bad enough is criminal.
I mourn little Exodus and I also grieve for Mike Tyson... a guy who has already lost more than he should ever have to lose in his lifetime.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the director for the defining criteria regarding whether or not a patient should be institutionalized. The director said, "Well, we fill a bathtub with water and then, we offer a teaspoon, a teacup, and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub." The visitor said, "Oh, I understand. A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup." The director said, "No, a normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window or one next to mine?"
Sunday, May 24, 2009
As most of you know, I've been tagged for awards several times over the past few months but, this one really took me by surprise. Believe it or not, my 3 year old grandson received an award for his blog recently and he decided to share the love with his Pop-Pop (and a few others) by passing it on to me. So, many thanks to my little man, The Booga Wooga, over at The Booga Wooga: Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, & Tigger Too! for naming me (my blog) as one of his recipients for the Nemo's Award!
Criteria for the award:
* To be passed on to those who love to blog and encourage friendships through blogging.
* To seek the reasons why we all love blogging!
Rules for the award:
* Put the award in a post when you receive it.
* Name and link to the blogger who gave you the award in the post.
* Write the reason why you love to blog.
* Pass the award on to other bloggers that you know.
* Name and link to your recipients in the post.
* Let your recipients know that the award was passed on to them.
The reason I love to blog:
Because I get to entertain both myself and others.
I would like to pass this award on to:
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I sent an email to Blogger Help concerning my problem and then went on the discussion line and found out that this was affecting a large number of bloggers. Apparently, they could access their sites on Firefox but, not through Internet Explorer.
At first, I thought it was possibly a connection problem with my router at home because it was affecting both computers in the house. But, when I went to work and the same thing was happening at my job, I knew that it was a Blogger problem. I sent Blogger Help another email and I found that the number of complaints not only got longer, but angrier.
The "wonderful" folks at Blogger then issued a statement saying in effect... "A number of you have been experiencing difficulties when trying to log into your blogs from Internet Explorer. We are aware of the problem and are working on it." I felt relieved and decided to just enjoy the night off from being the Maverick of All Bloggers. I checked Blogger Help again and discovered that the "Friends & Followers" widget might possibly be the cause of the glitch. I have temporarily removed the widget from both of my blogs and it seems as though the problem is gone.
As of this writing, Blogger has not solved the problem. I have tried to access other blogs who still have the "Friends & Followers" widget and have encountered the same problem, "Internet Explorer cannot open this website, activity aborted". I don't know what to make of this. The pictures of different Bloggers in my comments section aren't showing up either. As you can imagine, I'm pretty frustrated. I'm waiting patiently for the wonderful folks at Blogger to give their full attention to this matter. Until then, I'll communicate when I can and try to put out a quality project on both of my blogs.
Well, at least as good as possible!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It's graduation time and around this great nation of ours, people are graduating from high schools and institutions of higher learning. Most of the speakers are going to be the lions of the business world. (Are there any of those left? I'm just asking.) Politicians, athletes (both current and retired), a few musicians, fashion models, and I'm even told a rapper or two, will speak at these commencement ceremonies. The one thing all these folk will have in common is that they have garnered a bit of success in their chosen field.
A lot of them are where they are because they are just plain ol' lucky. They won't tell you that and nobody would dare think it but, in some cases, that is just the way it is. They were blessed with good looks, they were in the right place at the right time, and/or ran into the right person who pushed them along and that was that.
Now, of course, they won't ever admit to that in any commencement speech. They'll tell you that it was hard work, a never say "die" attitude, and total dedication to their craft that got them to where they are today! They'll also be looking at their watch and wondering if that check is signed when they finish their spiel.
The kids won't be listening... not really... because they will be looking at their watches and thinking about all the beer they are going to be drinking at their graduation party (I know I was). I can't remember what the speaker said at any of my graduations. Oh no, that's not completely true. When I graduated from Air Force Technical Training School (boot camp), Mr. Jimmy Stewart gave the commencement speech. Yeah, that Jimmy Stewart... the famous actor, who was also known as retired Air Force Colonel James Stewart to be exact. Colonel Stewart, if you're nasty!
Yes, I was all gushy and star struck. I can't tell you how many of his movies I watched in black and white when I was a kid and how many times I did a dead on imitation of the man that had my mother and grandmother in stitches, as well as a few friends. I still can't remember what he said at the commencement. I do remember shaking his hand at the end and that's about it.
My point to all of this is... why not have the kids listen to someone not so famous, that stumbled a few times in life? Give them a realistic look at what they might have to face out there in the "real world" that everybody whispers about but never really talks about. You know, because we Americans are so star struck and such celebrity worshipers, I don't know if the kids would listen any more than they do now... but, at least it would be authentic. (Although, I'd pay money to hear Snoop Dog speak at any commencement!)
Show them what could happen to them and give them something to think about. I know I learned a lot of my life lessons from watching the failures of others before me. It shook me up, gave me a reality check, and set me in the right path a lot more than the words of some politician, athlete, or entertainer speaking to me (before their scandal came to light) ever did. I know I'm a sick and demented individual but, don't laugh at me. Pray for me! That's just me. I'm somewhat of an odd sock anyway.
I can respect the success of a Bill Cosby, an Oprah Winfrey, and a Barack Obama. I am in no way trying to negate their real life success. What makes me and other people listen to them is that these individuals had a lot of failures and mis-steps in their lives before they became the personalities we know. And, in the case of all three, they are not afraid or ashamed to tell it. Their authenticity is what draws people to them and I'm not talking about people like them in this post.
I'm just saying, why not have authentic everyday people speak at these commencements to talk to the students about their struggles, their failures, and how they managed to succeed in spite of it all. They could even talk about how they haven't succeeded yet and are still trying to make it. This would be so different that it might make a student stop thinking about who is in the stands taking pictures of them, who is going to be at the after graduation parties, if they are (or aren't) going to get laid afterwards, and think about the life they are about to enter into soberly for just a minute... just a minute.
Then, they can go party like a rock star!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
In November, I saw people in the lines at my polling place that I hadn't seen in years. People I who thought were dead were, in fact, alive and on fire about voting. One old man got in line twice that fateful day in November. When he was told that he had already voted, he said without shame..."That's alright, I just wanted Barack to know that I'm still here, just in case he needed an extra vote." We all had a good laugh but, I couldn't knock his spirit.
Yesterday was another election. I had no trouble getting to the polls, there were no long lines, and no electricity in the air. There was roughly 100 people at the polling place (that in itself was a small miracle, I expected less). It was what my wife calls one of those "little elections". We had several judges running for re-election and some for "first time" posts in the Court of Common Pleas. We had an election for a new District Attorney too but, not many people took notice. Now that Obama is president, I'm afraid that is the extent of most people's political astuteness.
Do you know why I voted? Okay, not just so I would have a post to write about in "Keith's Space" or so I wouldn't look like a hypocrite but because every election is important. You don't think a D.A. is important? Think about the next time your car gets stolen or you get robbed and a "miracle of miracles" happens... the police actually catch the guy. Wouldn't you want the D.A.'s office to assure you that justice is served? If you don't care, then don't complain when the guy who robbed your house is riding home on the bus with you the next afternoon because the D.A.'s office wasn't prepared for his case, they had to throw it out, or they had to hold it up. A judge is also important but, no one seems to think so, until they are in front of one. Here's a story...
When I was in college, I rarely locked my room. Any and everybody I knew went in, went out, ate, slept in my bed, took a shower, and what have you. I was rarely ever there. One day a guy took some girl in my room and got in the bed with her but, he failed to lock the door. Well, her boyfriend walked in on her and this guy in mid-stroke. In anger, he lifted a chair and sailed it out of my window!
My college was a state owned school and, therefore, all of the property in it was owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Even though I wasn't present at the time of the altercation, I was handed a bill by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the damages. It is times like this that I did what any young man would do... I called my mama!
You know, it's a wonder I'm alive considering all of the trouble I seemed to get myself into. My mother gave me the money, mortified as she was, and we secured an attorney who I'll call "Hickock" (this was not his real name and he wasn't a real attorney to me either). He was supposed to represent me in Small Claims Court or whatever they had in that county... it might as well have been Klan County. I wasn't in Philly... I was in upstate Pennsylvania, where I think the mayor was also the barber and the postman in this county.
This knucklehead attorney (and I use that term loosely) falls asleep during my hearing and begins to snore. To make matters worse, I think he passed gas too. As you can imagine, I lost my case. I didn't really have one to begin with but the judge, an old gray-haired white man that I might have called a redneck in some other time or place, had pity on me. He said that under the circumstances, I didn't have proper representation and he reduced the amount of money I had to pay for the window and the damaged chair to under $500.00. It could have been worse.
In hindsight, I might have been better off just paying the bill and saving the state the cost of that silly hearing. Needless to say, they allowed me to pay it in installments. I had a job cleaning the pool and another one working in the cafeteria. I paid it off but, I didn't go on any dates for awhile. My mom just looked at me and shook her head, like she had done many times before. Yet, this woman never abandoned me... no matter what stupid thing I did or situation I managed to get myself into. She just shook her head, with that mortified look that I now perfectly understand.
When there is an election for a judge, I remember that kind old man who gave a 21 year old immature black kid a break one day. I remember to vote because, as unimportant as these type of elections may seem to some people, you never know when you might come before a judge and you want it to be a good and compassionate judge.
My memory is still sharp. I remember things and I look up the records of people I might have to vote for one day. My political astuteness didn't end with Barack Obama's election. I don't have a short memory and I hope you all don't either. Vote, while you still can!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I also walk off a lot of nervous energy during the day. I haven't dusted off that exercise bike in my basement yet but, now that my wife and I have cleaned the basement and I can actually SEE the bike, now seems as good a time as any. I found out recently that you don't have to go cold turkey on everything you like... you just have to learn other ways to prepare it and eat in moderation.
I was doing some research on foods recently and look what I found out, much to my surprise, is actually good for you...
Buttermilk: Originally, buttermilk was the liquid remaining after cream was churned into butter but today, it's made by adding lactic-producing bacteria and non-fat milk solids to pasteurized milk. Buttermilk can be made from whole milk but, the more popular varieties are low-fat (1% fat) and reduced fat (1.5% fat). Related recipe: Buttermilk Pancakes. Who doesn't like pancakes? I know I'll still get a lot of flack on this one but, you know (of course) I jumped on this. Can't you see me grinning?
Cream-style corn: There was cream in your grandma's recipe but, the liquid in today's cans is actually a component of the corn kernels themselves and other ingredients such as starch. If you look at calories and fat, canned cream-style and whole-kernel corn are identical. Related recipe: Corn-Cheese Soufflé: Ahhhh, don't know if that's my cup of tea.
Pork: Lean cuts (tenderloin, boneless loin chops) compare favorably with skinless chicken. So, if your family is crying "fowl", vary the menu with these healthy cuts of pork. Related recipe: Pork Tenderloin with Dijon-Fennel Rub and Sweet-Potato Fries. This (on the other hand) sounds great!
Salmon: Yes, half of its calories come from fat but, it's the heart-healthy omega-3 type (often called fish oil). Some studies indicate omega-3 fats reduce the likelihood of blood clots that can lead to heart attacks or stroke. Related recipe: Five-Spice Salmon: Unfortunately, I can't eat Salmon or any kind of fish. I'm allergic.
Eggs: One large egg is a significant source of a number of vitamins and minerals, and contains only 75 calories and 5 grams of fat. Moreover, most of this fat is the healthy, unsaturated variety. (Eggs are high in cholesterol but, the chief villain in raising blood-cholesterol levels is not the cholesterol in our diets but rather, in saturated fats.) Also, egg yolks are rich in the pigment zeaxanthin, which seems to help protect the eyes from macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in people over 65 years old. Related recipe: Asparagus Omelet: Now, that sounds interesting to say the least. I might just try it.
Chicken thighs: They are higher in fat and calories than breasts but, as long as you remove the skin and any excess fat, economical thighs fit into a good-for-you diet. They also provide 25% more iron and more than twice as much zinc as the same amount of breast meat. Related recipe: Country Chicken: I love Country Chicken!
Frozen/canned fruits and vegetables: We agree that fresh locally grown produce can't be beat but, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables compare favorably (in terms of nutrition), providing an array of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. Related recipe: Frozen Fruit Yogurt: I don't like frozen yogurt at all. Frozen fruit juice, fruits, and vegetables are things I'm already eating.
Beef tenderloin steaks: Ounce for ounce, this tender cut has about the same calorie and fat content as skinless chicken thighs. The key is portion size. At home, count a 3/4 inch thick steak (about 3 + 1/2 ozs) as a single serving. At steak houses, order the petit filet mignon. Related recipe: Steak with Mushroom Sauce: I'm a meat and potatoes kinda man. Now, this is what I'm talking about!
I got the above information from a site called Delish that has interesting facts about food and healthy eating advice. If any of you have the notion, check it out sometime. Bon Appetite!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Beyonce, Stringer Bell!!! Can you lose here?
2. Star Trek
I'm no Trekkie but, I did watch the original Star Trek when I was a kid and I always wondered how Kirk, Spock, and the guys got their start.
3. Angels & Demons
I admit, I like stuff like this. I didn't see the Davinci Code until after it was on DVD (at my barber shop) but, this one is worth watching with some buttered popcorn and a small Coke.
5. Next Day Air
It's always nice to see Mos Def, who is becoming quite an accomplished actor nowadays. Mike Epps and Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale from "The Wire") also make this worth the trip.
Boy, this is the season for guy flicks. Hey, I went to see all of the Tyler Perry movies that were released last year with my wife so, it's my turn now to see some explosions and mass destruction!
Ex-heavyweight champions who bite ears need love too!
Have a blessed weekend at the movies fam!
Friday, May 15, 2009
I don't have time to answer this in one blog post and I'm not sure I could write a book to answer this but, I do know one thing... people don't have a clue as to what really brings them joy. It has been said by someone wiser than I that we all live lives of quiet desperation and everyday that I'm still allowed to breathe in and breathe out, I realize that is true.
Somewhere after the age of (let's say) 21, life stops being this wonderful journey of constant discovery and wonderment to us and we get serious. We get locked into jobs, relationships, morgtages, automobiles, bigger homes to store more things in, and making more money than the next guy. Before we know it, life is over and we find that we don't know our spouses... our kids have grown up and we don't know much about them or feel comfortable having a conversation with them... and most of our friends have gone on to other jobs, new cities, or what have you and at the end of the day, you really don't have much to smile about. This thought came to mind this afternoon.
I was driving past the first place my wife and I lived as man and wife. It was a huge house on the corner of the block that the owners had turned into a duplex. Their son lived on the top floor, they inhabited the floor below it, and my wife and I lived in what was really a basement that had been turned into an apartment. It was very roomy... the bedroom we had, as well as the kitchen, were actually larger than the bedroom and kitchen in the house that we live in now. There is a huge for sale sign on the house now and the couple that rented the apartment to us have since died and, the last I heard, their son was living in Washington, DC.
I spent some of the happiest days of my life in that place. We didn't own a car but we lived near the train station so, I commuted to work everyday. We lived near a market and a dry cleaners and there was another black newly married couple that lived near us. They moved into a house a few years before we didbut, I couldn't tell you where they are now. The point is, I was blissfully happy. I don't even think I had a credit card then.
Today, I have a home, a car, a grown daughter, two grandkids, a job that is very stressful and unfulfilling but pays well, and a lot of stress and free-floating anxiety. I've got a savings account, checking account, credit cards, and the like but, I'm not as happy as I was then when it was just the three of us and we had next to nothing, except each other. The funny thing is, if you had asked me back then, I would've told you something like... "When we get a home of our own and a car, we'll be so happy and so set. We all do that... "If I can get a bigger house, I'll have it made!" "If I can get that new BMW, I'll be happy!" "If I can make 200K next year, I'll be king of the hill baby!"
When we do get what we say will make us happy, we find ourselves miserable still. Do you know why? Things can't make you happy. Some of us never find that out until it's too late. I'm not writing this to make you think that I'm depressed. I'm not... I'm doing real good. It's just that the things that really made and continue to make me happy have nothing to do with money or the accumulation of things. Usually, people who don't have any money or anything else write something like that but, I'm being the exception to the rule.
Think about this... every dollar, every quarter, every nickel, and every penny you ever earned and put aside will go to somebody else after you've gone. The house you are living in will, more than likely, be lived in by somebody else. The car you're driving now will be driven by somebody else. You're only using the stuff that you sweat and bleed to obtain for a short period of time. Money doesn't have an owner... only a spender.
So, what makes me really happy? What makes me smile? Probably something different from what might make you smile but, I can say this... what makes me smile are things that can't be bought. Things I brought here with me when I came and things I hope to take with me when I leave. The answer is in the spiritual... the unexplainable. Those things, those moments... with a child, a lover, a good friend, or a pet that are priceless. Those things that can't be measured... at least not by man.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Several obstetrical practices associated with one of Texas' biggest hospitals for births, said that they're expecting a "mini baby boom" which is apparently connected to the storm that slammed into Southeast Texas on September 13, 2008 leaving thousands of people at home with no electricity for days and, in some cases, even weeks. Of course, this meant no cable, no internet, no computer games, no radio, no nothing! Imagine that for a few weeks. "You can only do so much when there's no television, nothing's open, and there's nowhere to go," said Dr. Rakhi Dimino, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Houston Women's Care Associates, whose first baby is due on June 10th.
Dr. John Irwin, the Chief of Surgery Service at Woman's Hospital of Texas, said he usually delivers 15 to 20 babies a month but, expects 26 deliveries in June. Woman's Hospital, which had more than 9,000 births in 2008 and expects to break that record this year, is expecting to have at least 100 more births over that this summer.
Other Houston birthing centers, including the Methodist Hospital and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, aren't ready to predict an "Ike" baby boom just yet. Well, they might not but, it's quite obvious to me that these people have found alternative afternoon entertainment that trumped watching tv, blogging, and Facebooking. I, for one, am not mad at 'em!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
1. There is something very dangerous about what we find funny... it reveals a lot about us and at times can be downright frightening.
2. I love Italian food almost as much as I love Soul Food. I used to wonder if that meant I had a cultural identity problem. I know now that all it meant was that I could eat spaghetti one day and some Ribs the next.
3. My dream job would be to have a radio show. Imagine getting paid to just talk for four or five hours and play music. I do that now for free, which brings me to something my grandfather
told me once...
4. Find a job that you love so much that you would do it for free and you'll never work again. It took me a while to figure it out but, I know what he meant now. I just never found such a job... that's why I'm still working, I guess.
5. My father used to write all of his checks to pay various bills. Then, he would get in his car, drive to each place, and deliver the checks personally... the electric company, gas company, phone company, etc. He didn't mail anything until he got old. He would often take me or my brother or both of us with him when he went on his runs. It seemed bizarre to both of us at the time but, our lights, gas, water, nor phone never got cut off. There wasn't a lot of other people around who could say the same.
6. Age and ruthlessness beats youth and inexperience on any given day. An old guy told me that when I was a kid. It took me all these years to realize he was indeed on to something!
7. At some time in your life you have to say, "I won't do this and I don't care if everybody is doing it or not."
8. At some time in your life you have to say, "I'll try this. I know nobody else has done this before but, I might just pull this off.
9. Sometimes people are right, even when they clearly don't know what the hell they are talking about. Just dumb luck, I guess.
10. Live everyday as though it's your last because one day, you'll be right.
Monday, May 11, 2009
What I left out was that, while on route to that same reunion, I got a rather disturbing phone call from a friend of mine. It seemed that another friend of mine had suffered a massive heart attack the day before and was in the hospital in critical condition. I was stunned because I had been out with this guy just two nights before and had even run into him and his girlfriend the day before that and he seemed just fine. I was just blown away by this news and with everything else that was going on, I couldn't bring myself to write about it.
Any of you who have a huge network of friends knows how news can get passed around and how a story can morph from one thing to another very quickly. It's bad enough when news is being transmitted by word of mouth but, email and texting haven't made it any better. I got a story that my friend was in an induced coma, his liver had failed, and he had to be resuscitated ten times to keep him alive. Then, I got a story that he had come out of his coma and was awake talking to people. None of these stories turned out to be true.
By Thursday, I decided to find out the truth for myself by visiting the hospital. I knew he was in intensive care but, I took a gamble that, since I knew so many of his people, I might get a chance to visit him. While I was en route to the hospital to see him, my daughter called and informed me that "she thought her water broke and she was on her way to the hospital to have my second grandchild.
At this point, my mind was traveling in one million directions. I entered the hospital, asked for my friend by name, and was told to go to intensive care. I wasn't prepared for what I was about to see. He had all kinds of tubes in him and he was breathing heavy. He was on life support. A doctor was explaining to his girlfriend, closest relatives, and comrades that, if he was removed from life support, he could die right away or he might breathe on his own but, the person we knew and loved was gone because there was no brain activity.
To say I was shocked would be putting it mildly. His closest friend explained to me that he had a bad heart for a couple of years and he kept it a secret. Further, he rarely took his medicine or made any attempt to slow down his lifestyle (you had to know this guy... he truly partied like a rock star). So, he had suffered a massive heart attack and was now brain dead. I had never known about his heart and neither did anyone else, including his girlfriend.
Well, they took him off of life support and miraculously he didn't die right away. He gasped for air for a few minutes and then, he turned his head toward the ceiling and just stopped moving. For a minute, he just looked very serene and peaceful. The doctor came in, touched his chest, and then said to all of us... "He's gone." I have never seen anything like that in my life.
Of course, the room filled with howling and crying and I stood there, numb and stunned. A man had just died right in front of me... I didn't figure on that! I left the hospital, got in my car, and called my wife. I told her what had happened and I asked about our daughter but, she hadn't heard anything yet.
The next morning at 4:26am, as you now know from my previous post, my second grandchild was born. Unlike my first grandchild, I was not present for the birth yet, I was overjoyed just the same. In a period of 12 hours, I had witnessed a death and celebrated the birth of my grand-daughter. As you can imagine, I was in an emotional freefall.
Saturday, I attended my friend's homegoing service. This funeral was a virtual who's who of people we've known for years. There was so many people there that we had to go in shifts to view the body. I know that he would've loved that.
Yesterday, I celebrated Mother's Day with my two favorite mommies... my wife and my daughter (and grandchildren) and thus, the circle of death and life came to fruition. I've purged myself for the time being. Now, I can go on. I still have some living to do myself. Peace!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Well, it seems that I'm "it" (tagged) again and this time, I would like to send out a "thank you" and appreciation to CareyCarey over at Carry Me Home for naming me (my blog) as one of his recipients of the Noblesse Oblige Award.
1. The blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervades amongst different cultures and beliefs.
2. The blog contents inspire; strives to encourage and offers solutions.
3. There is a clear purpose at the blog; one that fosters a better understanding on social, political, economic, the arts, culture and Sciences, and beliefs.
4. The blog is refreshing and creative.
5. The blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.
1. Create a post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.
2. The award conditions must be displayed in the post.
3. Write a short article about what the blog has achieved - preferably, citing one or more older posts as support.
4. The blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the award conditions.
5. The blogger must display the award at any location on the blog.
My Blog Achievements:
I didn't set out to be a crusader or an activist of any sort, but I was most proud of some of the posts I wrote near the election of President Obama...I was most proud that this blog has opened people's minds and made people think about important issues. I have even angered a few people, which is okay, because that means that at least they have been made to think. If I brightened someone's day or made them think in a way that they might not have thought before, then my job was done.
I only have three recipients for this award and they are as follows:
1. Rippa (The Intersection Of Madness And Reality)
Honestly, this is one of the funniest and thought provoking blogs out there. Whenever I'm taking myself too seriously or feeling down in the dumps, I need do no more than go over to Big Rippa's blog for a good rib-hurting and belly-aching laugh and some thought provoking insight. I love this brother and his blog. Check out Big Rippa.
2. Clnmike (The Happy Go Lucky Bachelor)
The title of this blog first got my attention... then, the contents just blew me away. Funky rock music and just like Rippa, thought provoking and often humorous commentary. If you haven't checked out it's author Clnmike (and you must have because he comments on just about errbody's blog) then by all means, do so.
3. Keith (Escapades)
Yeah, I know it's my other blog but it is, in my humble opinion, the most original and one-of-a-kind blog out there. I don't know of any other that is a combination of so many creative idioms. When I started it, it was envisioned as a poetry blog but soon after, I added short stories and continuing long-form fiction. I also added art by (mostly) African American artists and erotica... thus, this blog became something else altogether. I really enjoy writing it and I wish that more people in addition to my loyal friends (who don't have blogs) would read it.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I was certain that she misunderstood and that there was some kind of catch... the kind of catch where we had to wind up paying a small fee. Nobody "gives" you anything and I guess that's just the cynic in me. Then again, I thought that Oprah does give people stuff on her show every once in a while and she does have it going on financially like that so, who knows? I went to the link and downloaded two coupons. I even got fancy with it. Instead of sending it to the black and white printer, I sent it to the color printer in another part of the suite and then rushed to get it.
Armed with my two tickets (in KFC red and white no doubt), I met my co-worker outside of my building and we caught the subway downtown to the nearest KFC. Guess what? They didn't honor our tickets and they didn't even know what we were talking about. We got back on the subway and rode further downtown to yet another KFC and not only did they not know what we were talking about, they were out of chicken! Yeah, you know my reaction to that... "For God's sake! How are you going to call yourself Kentucky Fried Chicken and you don't have any chicken?"
By this time, we were both hungry and had four useless coupons and a 1/2 hour of our lunch hour was gone. We got back on the subway, returned to the original KFC we went to before, and we were told that they had run out of chicken too! How do you run out of chicken during the lunch hour?
Dog tired, we got back on the subway and headed back to work. We both got some General Tso's Chicken and fried rice off of a lunch truck. I asked my co-worker if she thought this might be a hoax. She told me that they were talking about it on the radio and that everybody in her office was talking about it too. Was it a hoax? I still don't know for sure but, what I really want to know is how did two KFC's run out of chicken during the lunch hour?
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Question: What does Frank Sinatra, Jay-Z, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Brett Favre all have in common? Answer: They all retired and came out of retirement again and again... (I'd include Michael Jordan, but he only came out of retirement once.)
Brett Favre announced yesterday that he might be looking to return to the NFL next fall and play for the Vikings. The New York Jets formally released him from his contract a few days ago, which makes him a free agent. He is now able to talk to any team that will have him so, here we go again.
He "retired" from the Green Bay Packers, only to "unretire" and play for the New York Jets. Unfortunately, that didn't work out too well so, Brett "retired" again. Now, I hear that he is once again considering unretiring and coming back with the Vikings.
Someone on Facebook said that Brett might just wind up dying on the football field. That's not something I'd relish seeing. What's more likely to happen is he's going to get banged up and wind up becoming a shell and a parody of himself.
Nothing is more sad to me or disheartening than watching a once great athelete get traded from team to team and cut from team after team in his later years. The punch drunk old boxer comes to mind... once a feared warrior and now reduced to a club fighter who stayed around way too long and took one fight too many. That's going to be Favre.
Frank Sinatra should have been able to sing for as long as he wanted but, cigarette smoking and drinking reduced his once great voice to a shell of the incredible instrument it once was. (My parents told me it was incredible. I wasn't around to really know.) That is going to be Favre too... a once great athlete reduced to the bench one day, just working out with the hot new quarterback of the moment, and finally being released from a one-year contract.
I wish Brett and some of the others would have just retired with dignity and not put the public and themselves through this. Bill Russell was talking about coming out of retirement to help the Celtics out, since KG is out for the season. His Aunt Cora Beth called and promptly told him... "Bill, put that weed down and cut out all of this foolishness." Thankfully, for him and us, Bill listened to his auntie.
Okay, I'm kidding about Bill Russell but, Brett Favre's aunt or somebody needs to give him a call!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I was only at this wedding in the first place because the bride was the niece of a friend of mine. I didn't know the bride or the groom personally. The first thing about this wedding that took me out was that the groomsmen came down the aisle from one direction and the bridesmaids came from another direction. Once they were lined up, somebody cued up the music... Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's classic "You're All I Need To Get By". The groomsmen turned counter clockwise and the bridesmaids turned towards them. Then, they all walked past each other, came back, spun around, and walked down the aisle together. I suppose, somebody thought this was cute. I just chuckled and sat in the back of the church in my suit and sunglasses, trying to look cool. Then, the wedding singer appeared.
If you thought the bridesmaids and groomsmens little "whatever" was bizarre, it got worse. First off, the song she sung had nothing to do with a wedding, love, or anything. She sang "Listen", the song that Beyonce sang in the movie "Dreamgirls". Maybe it did have something to do with the wedding.
Usually a wedding singer sings one song right? They had this woman down to sing two songs. She was so obnoxious and over emoted so much that, one song from her was more than enough. She then belts out the Keisha Cole song "Sent from Heaven" and dragged it on as though Simon and Paula were in the audience. I just shook my head. At least, she didn't sing "Bust Your Windows" by Jazmine Sullivan.
Do you know that at the reception, she had to nerve to be asking people if they thought she was good? Of course, people lied and said... "Oh, chillle, you was wonderful! I ran off to the restroom because it's hard to hold your food down amongst so much B.S. As obnoxious as this woman was, at least she could hold a note. The other wedding singer that I'm going to talk next about brought me to tears.
I was the best man at my frat brother's wedding and this guy comes in wearing a pink suit with ruffled sleeves and a gerri curl. He looked like an overweight version of Martin Lawrence's character, Jerome. He also looked like time and good fashion sense stopped for him on December 31, 1974.
We were standing up in front of the church and this guy was singing (and not well, mind you) "You Are My Lady" by Freddie Jackson. He's doing all of these runs and fills and making me hate the song that I once liked. I was holding my head down and trying as hard as I could not to bust out laughing. I looked over at my frat brother and he's got his head bowed and waving his hand at me as if to say, "Don't look at me, man." I can see tears running down the side of his face.
I looked at the bride and she's not even trying to front... she is visibly laughing (a girl after my own heart). Anyone who has ever been in the black church knows that, no matter how bad you sound, someone in the church will egg you on. "Go head boy! Sannnnnnng! Let Him use yahhhhh! Alright now! Welllll!"
Upon hearing this, Gerri Curl Jones really began to perform. He got down on one knee and held the mike like he was James Brown. I was about to burst. If somebody had walked out with a cape, put it on his shoulders, and walked him back to the pew, I would have left the church.
The piano player stopped playing, folded his arms, and just glared at this guy. I just couldn't take it any longer... I howled! My frat brother lost it and his bride, who was already laughing, let it hang loose. The groomsmen smiled but, they tried to hold it together. A few of the bridesmaids began to laugh too. Nobody in the audience had a clue as to why we were laughing. I'm sure that they thought we were just nervous young people.
Unlike the American Idol runner up in the other wedding, this guy knew that we were laughing at him. He got his check and caught the fastest thing smoking out of that area when his part in the wedding was done. He wasn't at the reception or around for any of the photos. Thank God!
Now, what I didn't mention is that I used to be a Wedding Singer too. In the 80's and once in the 90's, I sang at a few weddings and made pretty good money at it. I always wore a black tux or at least a black or gray pin-striped suit and had a nice close haircut... nothing extreme. I would like to think that I always picked tasteful music and brought my own musician with me to make sure it was done right.
I haven't sung at a wedding since 1992 so, when a co-worker who is the daughter of another one of my former college friends asked me to do so today, I respectfully declined. After the way I have laughed at and clowned the previous two wedding singers, bad karma might be following me. I might trip and fall or get my pants caught on a hook and rip them off in the middle of the church or something. I choose not to tempt fate.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I was eating lunch today and the flat screen TV in the restaurant where I was eating just happened to be on CNN (usually, it's on ESPN). A Republican spokesmen said that the "party was going to get back to listening to the people." I laughed out loud at that... get back to listening? Did they ever listen to the people? Maybe they did listen to some people... you know, like folks who make well over $100,000.00 a year (stop hatin' Keith). Maybe even folks that hang out in country clubs but, certainly nobody that I hang out with. I hear you... "That's your problem Keith, not mine. Maybe you should hang out with those kind of folks." Oh, believe me, I would if I knew anybody like that so I could learn how to have it going on like that too.
Last week, Senator Arlen Specter defected from the Republican Party back to where he began in the first place, The Democratic Party. Senator Jack Kemp, another Republican who I kinda liked (and not just because he once was a quarterback who won two AFL championships either) was lost to Cancer.
Senator Kemp understood and spoke of the need for inclusion in the party... something they have given lip service and tokenism to but, have not practiced. Ask Michael Steele if you doubt what I'm saying.
They are on a Capitol Hill that is radically different from the Hill that existed this time last year. There is a wildly popular president who is liked by 81% of the American public and there a nation where only 21% of the populace will even admit to being Republican. To make matters worse, the "permanent GOP majority" that former right-wing apologist and theorist Karl Rove envisioned, has given way to a Washington DC totally dominated by Democrats and "Obama groupies" who call them the "party of no" and, in the words of New York Times columnist Frank Rich, "somewhere between a doomsday cult and scientology." He's not far off. Nowadays, that's exactly what some of them sound like. One of the reasons Senator Specter said he left the party was because they "had embraced the extreme right-wing." (I know my cousin Arlene thinks he's an opportunist and he may be but, I'm just quoting what he said.)
How did the Republican Party fall out of favor so fast with the American public? Was 1995 that long ago? Back then, people were saying that the Democratic Party was out of touch with the American public and was on life support. Even though there was a Democratic president in office then, Bill Clinton, he was surrounded by a sea of Republicans in both the House and the Senate.
For one thing, the Republicans began to embrace the extreme right-wing and just plain old nut factions of the party. Do you remember the nutty rallies out in the mid-west last year that met the McCain campaign? Those people were so nutty and extreme that even John McCain was turned off by them. They were frightenly racist and held some very extreme viewpoints about everything.
These are the dogs you pull out when you need extra votes to push an election in your favor but, would rather not be seen with, after you win the election. The Republican party played with and got in bed with these people one too many times and pretty soon they began to dominate the party.
As much as I have disagreed with their policies in the past, I have never believed that either George W. Bush or John McCain were racist or that either man held some of the extreme views of these right-wing extremists. Yet, they have played with these guys and pandered to them for votes just enough to make you wonder.
I applauded John McCain when he chastised one of those people at a rally in Wisconsin. This person called Barack Obama a terrorist and called for him to be killed. John McCain chided him and said, "Wait a minute. Mr. Obama is a decent and loyal American. We disagree on politics and we are running against each other but, he is not a terrorist and we will not hear any talk of taking his life." A lot of folks never heard about that but, it did happen and it took a lot of courage for John McCain to stand up and say that. So, I give credit where it is due and I give him his due for that. Yet, if you lay down with dogs, you'll most certainly wake up with flees.
Another thing Republicans have done over the years has been to almost completely abandon the working class and becoming a party of corporate shills with all this talk of "trickle down" economics. People now know, after thirty years of "trickle down and voodoo economics", that very little actually trickled down.
The worse thing the Republicans did was to start scamming votes by saying that they were pro-God, pro-life, and pro-anything that didn't require them to actually be committed to solving a real economic problem. This worked really good for years until the bottom fell out of the economy last fall. People wanted answers and they got a replay of all of their same old tricks. Well, it didn't play.
In the movie "This Is Spinal Tap", the band that once played major arenas fell to a level where they were only playing small intimate settings of a few people. When the reporter asked them if their popularity had dwindled, one of the band members vehemently stated that this was not the case... only that the band's appeal had become "more selective". Sound familiar?
Monday, May 4, 2009
I just got finished listening to and watching the video "Pretty Wings" from Maxwell. I love it. It has a nice summery sound. (Is "summery" a word? Well, if it isn't, you all get my drift, right?)
It has been a long time since Maxwell released anything so, I for one am very glad to know that he is still recording. I have heard a rumor that D'Angelo is getting ready to come out with something too and this brings me to my topic.
It's 2009 and this decade is over. Did any classic music come out of this decade? I'm sure that is an open-ended question and, depending on your age and musical tastes, there might be a variety of answers. I'm looking over this decade and I'm shaking my head. It just seems to be that barring a few people, a lot of the music that came from this decade was well, forgettable.
My wife and I were talking about good music the other day and she said that it seemed as if the 90's was the last decade of really good music. Think about it... the 90's gave us Boyz II Men, Jodeci, Shai, Johnny Gill, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Biggie, Tupac, Public Enemy, R. Kelly, Maxwell, D'Angelo, Toni-Tone-Tony, Guy, Babyface, TLC, Jagged Edge, and Jay-Z, just to name a few. Outside of Beyonce and (ugh) Lil Wayne, who has this decade produced? I'm kidding, of course. No disrespect to Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, John Legend, Robin Thicke, Solonge, Jazmine Sullivan, and maybe a few others... but, most of the people I named are recent stars who have emerged in the last three years or so and that's just on the R & B side.
On the hip-hop side, the field of truly great artists have diminished even further for me. I stopped listening to hip-hop a few years ago because every MC was beginning to sound like the one before him. I wrote an op-ed peice in an independent periodical (i.e. Free) one year before I started this blog that said hip-hop was losing it's creativity and edge, at least it has for me. I'm from the era that produced Rakim, L.L., Biggie, Tupac, Dre, Eminem, 50, Jay Z, Method Man, Redman (thank God they have something new out as I write this post), The Roots, and Nas. I haven't heard an MC from this decade who I could call an equal to or better than any of the people named above. (I know a lot of Lil Wayne fans are going to kill me.)
I'm sorry folks... "The Stinky Leg" just doesn't do it for me. Like I said... these are just my opinions. I'm somebody's grandfather now so yeah, I'm old... but, I would like to know if any of you out there feel as though this decade created any classic music on both the R & B side and hip-hop side. I don't care if your opinions differ from mine. I'm just one person who is feeling pretty disappointed in what I hear on the radio nowadays. Is it just me? Talk to me fam!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
"Well, at least, I don't look like I'm twice a grandfather."
"Pop-Pop, my big brother already warned me about that grin!"
"Pop-Pop, I remember when you held me like that too!"
Friday, May 1, 2009
After a while, the husband gets irritated by the ticking of the stick of the blind man as he taps it on the sidewalk and says to him, "Why don't you put a piece of rubber at the end of your stick? That ticking sound is driving me crazy!" The blind man replies, "If you had put a rubber at the end of YOUR stick, we'd be riding the bus so, shut the hell up!"