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.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

I haven't been inspired to write lately, and then the wife and I sat down to watch the movie, "Midnight in Paris", which centers around the thoughts, comings and goings of a writer. Something about hearing a writer's process, the neurotic way they organize their thoughts, and the quirky routines writers put themselves through to achieve what they think is perfection, just made me want to sit at this damn laptop and start writing. The main character in the movie was working on a novel, I am simply writing a blog entry, so those two things are hardly the same, but humor me please.

Now when the movie started, the wife and I immediately saw two things: The movie was produced by Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein was affiliated as well. I looked at my wife, my wife looked at me, and we thought we were dead wrong for watching the movie, but we discussed it and decided to keep watching. We've been trying to see this movie for seven damn years, and something always comes up--and that something just so happens to be our son who was born the same year the movie was released (2011).

I shouldn't be supporting Woody Allen, just like I should be boycotting the NFL, burning all of my R Kelly music, and ignoring the Cosby show when the reruns are on television. All of that stuff is rooted in logical thought, but on an emotional level, it is difficult to discard those individuals and some of the fine work they have produced over the years.

The fact is, I like the way Woody Allen writes and constructs movies. He's a chronic overthinker (which is the only similarity he and I have) and that trait is evident in all of his movies. He has a knack for impeccable casting, his movies are usually concise, and they always make me think. There aren't many directors who can check all of those boxes. And yet, I have skipped most of Woody Allen's movies over the past several years, because he clearly has a problem with leaving some underage girls alone. All these creepy scandals over the years have taught me that someone can be brilliantly talented at their craft, while being a royal fuckup in other aspects of their lives.

Yes I should be responsible and distance myself from any and everything these people have created. But damn, why do I have to deprive myself of that good stuff, just because they can't get right? This is the type of dilemma millions of people have endure daily.

And as I am writing this, I imagine there is one person reading my words, and wondering why I haven't mentioned the victims of all the creepy individuals I have described. I am not ignoring them, nor am I downplaying what they may have gone through, I am just being incredibly selfish with this blog entry, which means I am choosing to focus on how their behavior affects me.

That's all for now.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

John Coltrane was born in 1926, Michael Jackson was born in 1958, Rakim wss born in 1968 and I was born in 1975.

I discovered Michael Jackson as a four year old when Off the Wall came out. I was introduced to John Coltrane by my father in 1985 when he played My Favorite Things for me on vinyl. And I discovered Rakim in 1988 during an episode of Yo! MTV Raps.

Michael Jackson is my favorite performer ever, John Coltrane is my favorite jazz musician and Rakim doubles as my favorite rapper and the greatest of all time.

I'm sure all three of those statements can be both argued and challenged, but not within the confines of this blog. Those are my statements and I stand firmly by all of them. Why do I mention these things?

In the past two weeks, I have discovered a couple pieces of information that link all three of my favorite musicians--a bizarro Kevin Bacon game if you will.

Two weeks ago Quincy Jones went on a bit of a media rampage, and started snitching by telling stories about various celebrities he had hobnobbed with over the course of his sprawling career. As much I doubt the accuracy of some of these statements, I really can't hate on Quincy, because he's doing exactly what 80+ year old men tend to do: Talk a lot of shit.

That being said, there was one particular passage, which I found quite interesting. I had seen this in an article a few years ago, but I hadn't been able to find it. Luckily for me, Quincy reiterated it for Vulture Magazine:

Michael Jackson's "Baby Be Mine" is usually viewed as the weakest link on "Thriller" and with good reason:

1) Wanna Be Startin Something has the African Chant at the end
2)The Girl Is Mine has a Beatle as the co-star
3) Thriller has Vincent Price as the guest star and is accompanied by the best video of all time
4) Beat It has the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo
5) Billie Jean is arguably the best pop single of all time
6)Human Nature is unlike any song you've ever, and it was written by the 80s pop group Toto,
7) PYT has Janet Jackson, James Ingram and LaToya Jackson on background vocals, plus it has the "na na na/UHH" breakdown
8) Lady in my Life is the ONLY song MJ has ever begged on.

Well now you have a reason to love "Baby Be Mine" because the chord changes you hear at certain point of this song are akin the chord changes all through Coltrane's "Baby Steps". Don't believe me? Listen to the Coltrane song starting at the 26 second mark and continuing through the rest of the song...

Now, listen to MJ's Baby Be Mine right around the 3:30 mark, and check out the chord changes there. It happens two other times after this point, but that's the first time.

That may not be a big deal to you, but it made me giddy. Quincy is a fan of jazz music but more importantly he used to play and compose jazz music, so knows what he's talking about. The fact that he brought a bit of Coltrane to MJ, and they are BOTH in my personal pantheon of great musicians, is a big elfin deal to me. But there's more.

Today, I was listening to Toure's podcast with Rakim. Toure asked Rakim about how he wrote rhymes and who influenced his cadence, and Rakim guessed it...John Coltane.

Rakim's mother used to play Coltrane records and one day his mother played "My Favorite Things" and Rakim was blown away at how Coltrane seemingly played two notes at once and how off-the-charts his improvisation was. From there Rakim started discussing how he would hear songs, and decide to cater his approach to rapping/writing to how Coltrane approached his solos.

When I heard him say that, I instantly though of Rakim's flow in "Lyrics of Fury"---specifically at the 32-second mark, starting with the line, "Haven't you ever heard of an MC murderer"

Notice the syncopation and how he starts a little after the "1", and then continues flowing rapid fire similar to Coltrane on the horn. It is beautiful, poetic and an homage to his favorite musician.

I like Coltrane, MJ and Rakim because of their talent, the way they sound and how much of an appreciation they have for their craft. But now that I know that they are all intertwined in some weird way, makes me extremely happy. And it should make you happy too goddammit.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

In my last blog entry I did a bit of bellyaching over my slightly advanced age and the tangential consequences that I now suffer as a result--like losing my keys. This morning I had a different type of issue that had nothing to do with age, and everything to do with stubbornness and laziness.

Two weeks ago I noticed that the heel of my shoe was slightly loose. I don't wear real cheap shoes, but these aren't exactly $700 shoes either. They are good solid black shoes that I wear to work, and they have served me just fine for about two years now. BUT, I also walk about two miles to and from work every day and that--combined with the fact that I'm not one of those dudes who wears tennis shoes to work and changes to dress shoes when I arrive--has caused a bit of wear and tear on my shoe. Thus the loose heel.

When I saw the loose heel, I took a long look at it, and used my non-existent loose-heel experience to make the determination that I could get a few more weeks out of it. In hindsight, I should have just bought new shoes during my lunch break that very day, rather than chance a tragic accident. But I do not like shopping for clothes, food, my son, or any of that. The only time I have patience for shopping is when I'm buying records, but that's only because I consider that to be a borderline, orgasmic experience. Clothes/shoe shopping? Not so much.

Anyway, I was walking into work while listening to the Tony Kornheiser Podcast, when I tripped over a loose brick in the sidewalk (why sidewalks are made out of brick, I do not know). I was a bit embarrassed about how hard I tripped, but I was determined not to linger too long in that spot, so I attempted to keep walking, and that's when I knew the heel was even more damaged. When I looked down at my shoe, I noticed the heel was 80-percent detached from the rest of the shoe, and I had to make a decision: 1)Do I walk slow with a damaged heel? 2) Do I rip the heel off and walk lopsided 3) Do I call an uber home and just forget this day altogether. I chose option #1.

I walked about 20 feet (no pun intended) and I realized that I wasn't going anywhere fast. The heel was flopping around which made it nearly impossible to have any semblance of a cool gait, but I kept trying to walk while simultaneously trying to make sure no one was walking behind me or looking at my feet. I can't begin to communicate how uncomfortable I was, and even though the door to my job was just 500 feet away, it felt like 500 miles, and all I wanted to do was comfortably sit down, work and eat my breakfast.

Finally the heel fell off completely and I just did the lopsided walk into my door. Luckily for me, there weren't many people around, and I was able to make a beeline to my desk. As I type this pitiful entry, I am sitting at my desk sans shoes, but I still have to figure out how I'm getting home to change, and eventually out to get more shoes. This is pitiful I know.