Thursday, April 12, 2018

First off, I would be honored if you go read about my article about how the Washington Wizards coach isn't anywhere close to losing his job...not yet anyway.

Second, I have a rare follow-up to the last blog entry I wrote regarding my father's judicious use of profanity.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this on my blog, but my father's girlfriend had an aneurysm last year, and although she survived, she is still a work in progress. She can't talk, she can't use her hands, much of her body is paralyzed and all of this has left my father in the position of being part-time caretaker. His lady is in a facility 24/7, but my father goes by for a couple of hours once a day to check on her, which is quite admirable--for the most part.

Even at the age of 67, my father still has needs which range from primal to just regular companionship and occasional visits to a facility just ain't gonna cut it. He doesn't want to admit this out loud but I hear the loneliness in his voice everyday. I want to tell him to ditch her and the guilt trip that comes with her, but he has to do that at his own pace. So I don't look like an asshole, I suppose I should mention that the doctors have told my father that it is highly unlikely that her condition will improve. Sorry to be depressing but I had to set the scene.

Since his lady entered the hospital, her family has been in and out of town to check on her, and one of the main visitors as you can imagine is her mother (I should also mention that my father's lady is 15 years younger than he is). Prior to her current condition, my father's lady made it her business to minimize the number of times her and my dad met, because she knows how quickly my father can get annoyed. She was also keenly aware at how overbearing and annoying her mother could be.

But now my dad has been forced to deal his lady's mom directly, which has gone just about as well as you could imagine...not too well. She has asked to stay with my dad on a couple of occasions, and my dad says yes the first time and no each and every other time---much to her mother's chagrin.

So a couple days ago, my father mentioned that the mother was coming in town soon, and he was dreading having to engage in small talk with her in and out of the hospital, which led to the following conversation

Me: So when will she be in town
Dad: Some time next week I think
Me: Aren't you going let her stay with me
Dad: Man hell na--I'm sorry, excuse my language
Me: Nah its too late, just say it now
Dad: Let's move on

I can't even begin to describe how big of a smile I had on my face. Ronald Reagan didn't issue a directive to my father to tear down the wall of secrecy that has blocked him from cursing around me, but it is starting to erode organically. I don't want him to start spewing motherf**ker and b**ch, but an occasional ass, f**k, goddamn, and hell would be a welcome addition into our father-son lexicon.

Anyway..thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

My father prides himself on being a very private person. He was like that while I was growing up and that hasn't changed even an iota in my adult life. He didn't tell me he had prostate cancer until his final treatment was done and the cancer was gone. He didn't tell me he was getting re-married until a week before the wedding, then he begged me to be in it. And until I was 35, I never saw him consume alcohol at home or in public--which makes the story I am about tell pretty me at least.

My dad, my Aunt Sharon, my brother and I were in the car on my way to my Aunt Sarah's funeral back in 2001. Sarah was a former White House cook who lived a long life, and died exactly one year after her husband of 60 years passed away. It sounds like a sad story, but considering she got to be with her husband again, there was almost a festive atmosphere surrounding the funeral. She had a damn good run.

So while all of us were in the car and my dad was making everyone listen to the Temptations as usual, he and Sharon were having a conversation in the front seat, and my brother and I were in the back talking about something. My dad would say something that was barely audible and loud ass Sharon would respond in boisterous fashion. My brother and I didn't necessarily want to hear their conversations, but once Sharon opened her mouth, we really had no choice. That was the dynamic in play in the car.

Out of nowhere, Sharon looks at my dad, and says, "Michael you still like to get you a little taste?"

**sidebar** For those of you not familiar with that particular usage of the vernacular, "get you a little taste" for people in my aunt and father's generation is the same as "get your drink on" for younger/current generations. I feel like I shouldn't have to explain that, but at a Christmas party one time, I asked a co-worker of mine if they could "bring me a plate", and instead of bringing back a plate full of food, they literally brought back an empty, white-ass plate--but that was my fault for assuming they were hip to the vernacular. I shall not make that mistake again. **sidebar over**

As SOON as my Aunt asked my father that question, my brother and I shut the hell up and perked up our ears to hear our dad's response. Up to that point, we had not seen him imbibe at all. We had seen beer and wine in and around the fridge, and we'd also seen alcohol in the garbage/recycling bins, but we hadn't actually seen him put mouth to bottle/glass, and it felt very intentional. Now here was his sister asking to him discuss his drinking habits in front of his previously-in-the-dark "children" (I was 26, my brother was 23).

First my father shot my Aunt the look of death, but she had already shifted her glance out of the window after asking the question, so she was oblivious to his quiet outrage. After a long pause he looked at her and said, "Sharon, do we really have to talk about this in front of "them?" Then she made it worse by first saying, "Oh please Michael!", then she looked back at my brother and me and said, "Y'all don't know your Daddy likes to get him a taste every now and then?"

We started to answer, but then we caught our father's scowls in the mirror, and for a minute we hesitated. Then I remembered that was 20 f**king 6 years old and grown enough to speak up (kind of), so I said, "We know but we've never seen it." There was a bit of a pause, and then my dad started laughing, then my aunt started laughing, and after my brother and I were absolutely sure that this laughter wasn't fleeting, we joined in on the laughter too.

After the laughter subsided, they went back to their conversations, my brother and I went back to ours, and that subject never came up again. Ten years later, my brother, my father, my oldest son Carlton and I went out to eat, my dad ordered a red wine we held a mock ceremony to commemorate the embargo being lifted. Now, he drinks freely in front of us, and we join in, like functioning adults.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

This will read as a stream of consciousness-like post, so please humor me...

I kept hearing how good Meshell Ndegeocello's new cd was--it is called Ventriloquism--but up until a couple of nights ago, I really had not gotten around to taking a listen. I started it two nights ago while I was in the shower, and I finished it just a few minutes before I sat down to write this here blog.

Meshell takes some of her favorite 80s classics and puts her own unique Meshell touch on them. Some of the songs like Al B Sure's "Nite and Day" and Janet Jackson, "Funny How Time Flies" and Prince's "Sometimes It Snows in April" work like a charm while others like George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and Tina Turner's "Private Dancer" fell kind of flat in my opinion. But it is hard to ever get truly mad at any missteps on this album, because Meshell's voice is so damn sexy and the music is good.

So after I listened to Meshell's version of "Nite and Day", I went and listened to Al B's version right after that, and it took me back to the summer of 1988, when I couldn't figure out whether Al B was a man or a woman. I didn't watch videos regularly back then so there was no visual evidence for me to lean on, and even though his name was Al B, I thought that was some type of gimmick because his voice sounded like a damn woman---which is why it was perfect song for Meshell to cover. I finally figured out later that summer that Al B was indeed a dude, and his whole album was so good, it really ended up not mattering.

After listening to Al B's "Nite and Day", I decided to stick with that same theme, and I cued up Tevin Campbell's "Alone with You" which was produced by Al B and his main man Kyle West. I was a freshman in college when this song came out, and I made it my business to put it on every slow jam tape I made. I had lots of slow jam tapes but no one to use it on, but that didn't stop me from curating a quality product. But when I look back on that song, it is little weird that 16 year old Tevin (not exactly a pillar in the masculinity community) could make a sexually-charged song that had the proper amount of begging, urgency and accuracy. I think that last sentence danced awfully close to the politically incorrect line, but you know what I meant right?

Anyway, I found myself wondering if Al B Sure sang "Along With You", would that song still have resonated with me and others. Then I found myself wondering why there are no more quality slow jams. These days, there are slow rap songs that lack any scintilla of romanticism, or there are slow R&B songs where the singer "sings" in a rap cadence, which doesn't exactly inspire romance. Although I supposed there is something to be said for listening to rap songs while you and your partner/spouse have hot, sweaty sex with urgency on the stairs.. I get that. But slow jams aren't always about the sex, they are about a mood, a state of relaxation and yes, maybe a little coitus on (or in) the back end.

This concludes my rudderless rant.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I wrote a little something about the NBA and mental health, and I think you should read it by clicking here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rickey Henderson is considered to be one of the best--if not the best--base stealer of all time, and it is the main reason why he has a bust in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. And if you don't believe me, just ask him, because he has such a big ego, that even Kanye West would say, "damn, bring it down a notch!".

Aside from Rickey's ego, his other attributes were his tremendous speed, his quick reaction time that was out of this world, his ability to climb into the heads of pitchers, and last but certainly not least, he knew exactly how much of a lead (the space between he and the base) he could take without getting caught. To watch him play was my absolute honor:

Why did I spend my first two paragraphs talking about Rickey Henderson, base-stealing and leading? Because there are Rickey Henderson imposters walking around the District of Columbia, but they aren't taking leads off of bases, they are taking leads off of city sidewalks. Allow me to explain.

Have you ever been driving down the road wanting to make a right turn and your ability to do so is impeded by a pedestrian? This pedestrian does not have a "walk" sign and for their safety they really should be keeping their ass on the sidewalk. But instead, this pedestrian takes not one, but two steps into the street and cranes their neck while trying to see if they can safely jaywalk. A little something I like to call a lead.

If you are in a car and attempting to make a right turn while this person is taking a lead in the street, you certainly have some options, but they all have varying consequences.

The first option is to widen the right turn in an effort to avoid the pedestrian completely. This will certainly put the pedestrian at ease because a wide turn will spare all of their body parts from "accidental" contact but this puts the driver at risk, because in order to pull this wide turn, it is virtually impossible not to veer a bit into the opposite lane. By doing wtat, the driver could possibly run into the cars traveling in the opposite direction. Even if you avoid a head-on collision, the driver's side mirror could still graze the mirror of the car passing by, and no one needs that drama or potential for road rage.

The second option is to simply stop the car completely and beep the horn until the passenger either crosses the street or steps back on the sidewalk. These two options are dicey too, because the cars behind you may see your stagnant car and cause a cacophony with a symphony of horns and expletives. If the pedestrian steps back on the sidewalk, then all is well, but if they keep walking, then the other pedestrians may be empowered to jaywalk on your watch as well. Then you have a little something I like to call a Beatles' Abbey Road situation:

The last option is akin to a brushback pitch in baseball. For those unaware of what that is, a brushback pitch is a what a pitcher throws when he thinks the batter is standing too close to the plate. The pitcher wouldn't dare hit the batter (not yet anyway), but he wants to not-so-politely let the batter know that it could indeed get to that point if they don't back the f**k up. Here's an example:

The car equivalent of a brushback pitch is a bit difficult to execute because sans intense concentration, the pedestrian could be struck, which will surely cause a loss of license points, a significant delay, or worse. But if this maneuver is skillfully pulled off, and the driver can pull just close enough to the pedestrian, so that they scurry and run back on the sidewalk like mouse in an alley, then dammit it is a job well done, and that small deed goes a long way in ridding the world of these jackasses who feel the need to lead.

I'm proud to say that I've executed the car brushback many times and it is thing of a beauty. In fact, I am usually so elated that I don't see the middle fingers and curses being thrown in my direction--from the sidewalk of course.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When I was in college there was neither Twitter nor facebook to guide me and my peers in terms of figuring out what music was good, bad or legendary. I had to rely on my own ears, a little help from The Source and Vibe magazine, and a big assist from the cars that drove by.

At Hampton--although I'm sure the same thing went on at all colleges and certain neighborhoods--you knew what songs were hot and jammin on the one, by what would you hear playing out of car speakers (back when those were still a thing). In the late summer and early fall of 1994 there were two main artists whose music seemed to be flowing out of every damn car. The Notorious B.I.G. whose death anniversary was just "celebrated" on Friday, March 9th and Craig Mack who passed away yesterday due to heart failure.

"Flava In Your Ear" was the song and every damn body was playing. The band played it at football games, DJ's played it 5 or 6 time at parties, my boy played it in his room while he cut my hair, and I had the maxi-single to play in my Walkman while I trekked around on campus. The beat was sparse yet addictive, the song started with distinctive lyrics (Just. like. Uniblaaaab), Craig's voice was unique as hell, and the way he said, "boyyeeee" made everyone laugh. Those combination of factors alone made the song a classic in my eyes...then came the remix.

I can't remember exactly when the remix came out, I just remember it was out around Howard's homecoming (late October/early November of '94) and that just kicked things up a notch. It started with Biggie, who had already had the biggest album of the summer/fall (his best line was, "You're mad cuz my style you're admiring/don't be mad, UPS is hiring). Craig Mack batted second and his best line to me was (You won't be around next year...). In fact to this day, whenever I want to be dismissive of someone new--whether it is in sports, entertainment, literature or a politician, I use that line has a slight homage to Mr. Mack.

Third on that Flava In Ya Ear remix was a fellow named Rampage, and his verse was not memorable at all, so I won't quote it. Next was LL Cool J, who hadn't done a song of relevance in a few years, so his appearance on there was a welcome surprise. His verse made little to no sense, but it was catchy and on-beat, so he received a pass ( Word to Momma/I tongue kiss a piranha/electrocute a barracuda/I'm here to bring the drama).

Last, but definitely not least on that remix was Busta Rhymes, who from 1992 to around 1996 was on an amazing run of guest appearances, where he'd bring energy and he'd damn near upstage the person who invited him on the track in the first place. This remix was no exception. Busta was screaming and rhyming with boundless energy, and I'm not going to post my favorite lyric of his because it misogynistic as hell, but dammit at 20 I didn't care.

You put all of that together, and you had a song an accompanying remix, that are still impressionable nearly 25 years later. I hadn't really thought about it in this level of detail until I heard that Mr. Mack passed away. He was only 46 and he succumbed to a long battle with heart failure, which is yet another reminder that health is priority number one.

This is one of his songs that my boy used to play in his Geo Tracker, every. single. f**king. day!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I work down the hall from a New England Patriots fan, and she was talking big shit all season about how her team was going to be in the Super Bowl and mine (the Philadelphia Eagles) was not. If I'm being 100% honest, I didn't have much faith that my team was going to make the Super Bowl after Carson Wentz got injured. But lo and behold, at the end of the playoffs, the Eagles and the Patriots were scheduled to meet. This was back on February 4th.

Since my co-worker took it upon herself to talk all that jive during the regular season, I thought it would be mighty black of me to place a wager with her. I didn't know her financial situation, so I suggested something harmless and beneficial: A bottle of wine. I told her that if I won I wanted a Coppola Merlot and she told me what kind of wine she wanted if she won. I didn't even pay attention to what she wanted because unlike during the regular season, I was supremely confident of my team's chances in the biggest game of the year. We shook on the bet the Friday before the Super Bowl and I felt damn good about my chances.

The Eagles won of course, and the next day at work, I just kind of casually dipped my head in her office. My co-worker was still understandably salty about her team's demise, but she told me she would purchase my fine wine by the end of the week. That was on February 5th.

I hadn't seen her for a few weeks until last week when I just so happened to see her in the kitchen, while I was washing my dish after lunch. We exchanged pleasantries, and then she told me that she hadn't forgotten about me, she had just been really busy as of late, and she still was going to get me my wine. I jokingly asked her if she was sure, and she basically said her word was bond---that may be the case, but it damn sure isn't timely.

When the loser of a bet has to pay, it absolutely has to be done in timely fashion. The person who won the bet, needs that instant gratification of knowing that a) They beat and outsmarted your ass and b) the person who they beat had to endure a bit of inconvenience as a result of their loser ways. I felt good in the few days after the bet, but now my good feelings have been nullified due to her neglect. Furthermore, she has the upper hand, because if I don't say anything, she'll continue to not pay but if I do gently remind her that she owes me a fine bottle of wine, I look petty and pressed as all get out, stressing her about a $12 of wine. She's turned the tables on me.

That being said, I have no problems being petty and I fully plan on getting that wine this week. Delayed gratification is gratification nonetheless. It's just a shame she does not know the proper bet-making-and-paying-up etiquette.