Thursday, May 26, 2016

So the last time I asked for help via the blog, things turned up lovely for me. My mother-in-law read the blog I wrote about the strange dream, she analyzed it, and then gave me some homework assignments for me to dissect future dreams. Now I have another request for anyone out there who reads this blog.

So back in '91, Public Enemy had a song out called Nighttrain which appeared on their album "Apocalypse '91, The Enemy Strikes Black". The song that appeared on the album was good, not great. The remix to the song--which came out in 1992--was simply amazing for so many reasons.

1) James Brown. The remix used the beat to Brown's song, "Get Into It, Get Involved", which is absolutely impossible not to dance and move to. In fact, my mother and father used to tell me that when they were in college, that record had to be a staple at any GOOD party. Public Enemy was smart to incorporate that into the remix.

2) The presence of Pete Rock and CL Smooth. By the time this Nighttrain remix was released, Pete Rock and CL Smooth had already released their 1992 classic, "Mecca and the Soul Brother", , and "(T)hey (R)eminisce (O)ver (You) was just picking up steam. But they already had an EP out from the previous year entitled "All Souled Out", and Pete Rock had been doing great remixes for a few years now--including my favorite remix of his ever for EPMD's Rampage.. So when they both made an appearance on this Public Enemy remix, it set the song off that much more. Pete Rock was on the beat and the adlibs, and CL Smooth laid an efficient verse which effectively stuck with the train theme:

The conductor, track the structure overstood
Nighttrain the plain, little engine that could
One express so the next stops Mecca
A place to face to make a black man better
CL and Chuck D, we don't talk rubbage
But just like a slave, we gotta ride wit the luggage
On the nighttrain

3) The voice. Chuck D has the best verse in all of hip hop. It really doesn't matter what he's saying, because he has the cadence, the tone and the gravitas of a Baptist preacher. But sometimes it is easy to forget just how adept he is at writing rhymes that flow perfectly over the beat--this Nighttrain remix allows him to "catch wreck" as the kids used to say in '92. Chuck is never on anyone's top 10 list in the rhyme department but this song would get him some honorable mention votes.

So why am I mentioning this damn song? Back in 1992, I first heard the remix on Rap City when they played the video and the next week I went to Sam Goody and bought the maxi single. The maxi single had the original song, the instrumental, the remix and the instrumental to that. Sadly, that maxi single was lost some time betwwen 1992 and 2000, but thanks to lovely music sharing sights that popped up around 2002 or so, I was able to find the song and place it on a CD (I didn't have an iPod back then). I lost that damn CD before I had a chance to convert it to mp3, and now I can't find the song. It isn't on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal or anywhere. I've seen it for sale online via vinyl and cassette, but that ain't helping me get it on my iPod. So I need help. If anyone can help, I'd really appreciate it.

And now, the song:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Nyles has had the same bath routine since he's been a year old. My wife reads him a story or two, and then I give him a bath for about 5-10 minutes. We talk, I politely and repeatedly ask him to wash all of his little body parts, and I always play two to three songs that I want him to hear. When my wife gives him a bath, she tends to play the Pandora station geared towards children, but I do no such thing. I see it as my mission at bath time, to force feed as much good music as I have in my iPod, so when my son gets older, he'll have Questlove sensibilities, and not someone with the music IQ of Fetty Wap (and hell no I'm not hyperlinking anything related to that man).

The first bath song Nyles latched on to around two years old was Michael Jackson's "Human Nature", which made me very happy, since I am the world's biggest MJ fan:

The second song Nyles really took a shine to was the Doobie Brothers song "Minute by Minute". Nyles really had no interest in the verses, the instruments or even the background vocals, but he loved the chorus where Michael McDonald would sing "Minute by Minute" over and over again. I never realized just how catchy that song was until I heard Nyles gravitate towards it.

Fast forward three years later---more specifically about two weeks ago, when Nyles was listening to Maxwell's new song "Lake By the Ocean" at bath time. For the first 50 seconds, Nyles was more interested in playing with his toys than he was listening to Maxwell. Then the chorus came on, and Nyles had no clue what the words were, but he recognized the cadence of Maxwell's song, and he said, "Is this Minute by Minute Daddy?". Now I corrected him and told him it was Maxwell's "Lake By the Ocean" and not "Minute by Minute", but I could barely contain the smile on my face because it appears as if my son has a good ear.

So listen to the chorus of the Doobie Brothers (start at the 1:02 mark):

And then listen to Maxwell's chorus (start at the 48 second mark):

Monday, May 23, 2016

It rained every minute of the weekend, and since my wife and I decided not to register young Nyles for soccer for a fourth consecutive time, it was imperative that we come up with activities for the weekend. Saturday there were errands, an indoor playground, blocks, coloring and indoor basketball (via the timeless invention called the Nerf Hoop), but we needed an activity for Sunday morning. Usually he watches cartoons, while Mommy and Daddy read and watch inane political shows, but this time we decided to switch it up and visit the National Air and Space Museum.

Now, I had not set foot in this particular musuem since my son oldest son Carlton was 12 (almost 7 years ago), so I had completely forgotten how overwhelming the sights are when you initially walk in the building. There are planes, propellers, planets, pieces of space vehicles, exhibits, things for the kids, and of course lots of people. Nyles was just as overwhelmed as I was, but to his credit he asked questions, he (for the most part) kept his hands off the exhibits and he enjoyed setting foot in the antique planes. His questions were not quite a sophisticated as the ones I heard from kids who were seven, eight, nine years old and older, but I was proud of my son for holding it down at the age of four. My wife always says it isn't a contest or a competition, but that's bullshit. EVERYTHING is a competition. I digress.

I will readily admit that I was deeply concerned about setting foot in the museum, because I loathe crowds. People are arrogant, oblivious to people around them (the rule is to keep your head on a swivel, or as we say in basketball, see your man, see the basket and see the ball) and they are loud. But since it was raining, and my son needed an activity, I had to place aside my own personal insecurities and make sure those two hours or so were good for my son. For the most part, I was able to do that, but there were two annoying things I observed.

Cutting in line

There was an older plane which was cut open so visitors could see inside the cockpit, and I'd say the line was about 20-25 people deep. There were people taking annoying selfies in line (more on that later), but for the most part people were patient, relatively quiet, and they acted like they had home training---except for this one gentleman. He looked to be around 50 or so, and he was way too close to my wife in line. My wife would move up three inches, and this ass would move up two and a half inches, so that he was RIGHT on her ass. I mean literally if she took half a step back, she'd bump right into him, which naturally would have set me off. My wife does not like my temper, so I decided I would stew in silence, while keeping an eagle eye on the situation.

As we got closer to the cockpit, the line narrowed a bit, which allowed me to let my wife get in front of me, which meant the creepy old man was now on my ass. When the line moved up, I purposely stood still and didn't move, just to annoy this guy, but eventually he got the point--that was until we got closer to the cockpit. There was a couple in front of us taking pictures, which meant my wife and I were next to view the cockpit. After the couple was finished, but before my family could walk up and in the cockpit, this creepy dude steps in front of us and starts observing the cockpit as if he were next in line. My first impluse was to do a Rambo and then pull out the jammy and flat blast him
, but I instead I opted for the cooler approach. I said to him, "So you're just going to step in front of us like that boss?". He looked back at me incredulously, stood there for a second, and the got the hell out of the way. My family looked at the cockpit, lingered for a minute just to f**k with creepy guy, and then we left. Nyles asked why we were leaving, and I said, ""We have some people really pressed to see the exhibit Nyles", and then I looked back at the creepy guy who was foaming at the mouth to see the exhibit.

Did I mention I hate crowds?

Selfie sticks and camera phones

I apologize if I sound old and out of touch, but back when my family visited museums--and even back in 2008 when I brought my son Carlton, we simply enjoyed the museum. We took a picture or two as we left, but the bulk of our visit was for questions, answers and learning. It was basically an extension of the classroom. Yesterday, every damn kid and parent decided that they had to take pictures of everything and put them on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. There were cameras and selfie sticks everywhere and in some cases, folks got annoyed if you walked into their shot, not really grasping the fact that their were six million people trying to see things in the museum. If folks really want to see what's in the museum, they should bring their ass in there and see, rather than getting an eyeful via someone's social media page. Not five seconds went by without someone snapping a picture of some sort, and it made me angry, but it made me a little sad too. There is such a thing as being in the moment and soaking it all in, but I guess that is lost on some parents and kids.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I've played one instrument in my life and that was the trumpet from age 8 to age 16. I briefly took trumpet and bass lessons, but because of various duties I had to tend to as an adult, they never really got off the ground and I damn sure didn't achieve any level of proficiency. My main man jazzbrew used to be a proficient trumpet player and more recently he has switched over to the bass and he's moving closer to proficiency in that as well. I admire that and one day soon while my son Nyles is taking piano lessons, I will attempt that feat as well.

But this morning while I was in the shower, I was listening to Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al", and the nasty bass solo came on, and it reminded me of why I even wanted to learn the bass in the first damn place. I can think of several songs with unmistakable bass solos or basslines that I would attempt to recreate simply with the air guitar, and I would wonder what it would take to learn the instrument. I shall list some of them now--the aforementioned "You Can Call Me Al" is on the list by the way.

Robert Palmer - I Didn't Mean To Turn You On

The bassline of the song is average and nothing spectacular or noteworthy. And then at the 2:23 mark, there a nasty bass guitar pluck and makes you want screw your face up while you play it. That nasty pluck reappears at the tail end of the song as well. I was 10 or 11 when this song came out, but I'll never forget that.

Steely Dan - Peg

The only reason I knew about this song was due to the De La Soul Song, "Eye Know" which was on 3 Feet High and Rising which used the Steely Dan. I later looked up the song on my own and initially it was Michael McDonald's background vocals which reeled me in. Then later as my ear got more sophisticated, I zeroed in on the nasty bass line and now I can never unhear that part. A few years ago, there was a documentary on Steely Dan, and the bass guitarist mentioned that Steely Dan did not want him to pluck the guitar during the chorus, and he snuck it in anyway (skip ahead to the 1:15 mark of the video below):

Chaka Khan/Rufus - Tell Me Something Good

Come on, do I really have to explain this one? Just listen how the song starts, and tell me it doesn't make you want to do something x-rated..

Stanley Jordan - The Lady in my Life

Yes I am well aware this song is smooth jazz, and I generally am condescending towards the entire smooth jazz institution. However, when I was a nine year old lad going to and from soccer practice, my dad (who was a huge jazz head) fell in love with bassist Stanley Jordan and his inaugural album, "Magic Touch". One of the standout songs from that album was a remake of MJ's "Lady in my Life", and the bass parts were damn good

On Green Dolphin Street - Jimmy McGriff

This is yet another song that I discovered thanks to a hip hop group. A Tribe Called Quest sampled this in their song "Jazz (We've Got)", and thanks to the extensive liner notes in the tape cover, I was able to discover that and other basslines.

Get on the Floor - Michael Jackson

The lyrics were written by Michael Jackson, but the beat was done by legendary bassist, the late Mr. Louis Johnson (half of The Brothers Johnson). The bass is so nasty in this song, I don't even think the air guitar can do it proper justice. It is intricate, it is funky and to me it is flat out amazing. Louis Johnson briefly discussed it in this interview:

Bass Solo: Louis Johnson - "Get On The Floor" by Fanuchi

Here's the real song

I'm sure there are more, but that's a start...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Let me begin by saying I know right from wrong, and for the most part, it is my intent to do the right things in life, and to make correct decisions. Occasionally I fall short of that mark and when I do, it is unintentional 90% of the time--my behavior this morning was not one of those times.

I don't know if you've noticed, but people tend to be obsessed with their cell phones these days. It isn't as big of a deal when someone is at home, waiting on the train or just out of harm's way. But it is a problem when texting is done while driving or walking. Today during my rainy walk to work, I had an encounter with a woman who was texting while walking.

Now the responsible thing to do would have been for me to sidestep her as she walked down the sidewalk with her head buried in her phone, but then I thought to myself, "How will she learn her lesson?". So as she walked towards me, I kept walking towards this woman, and she ran right into me and dropped her phone on the hard concrete face down. The following wonderfully profane conversation took place:

Her: What the f**k man? Watch where you're going

Me: I did, I was walking straight down my side of the sidewalk but you didn't look up

Her: So you just f**king run into me"

**She looks down at her phone***

Her: And now my phone is cracked, what the f**k man? You're a f**king asshole

Me: I may be an asshole, but I'm the asshole who walks with his head up on the sidewalk and my phone isn't cracked so...

Her: Whatever asshole

Me: Have a good day sweetie

Now again, I realize that there may have been a better way for me to handle this type of conflict, but I'm tired of enabling folks who can't look up from their phone enough to simply walk down the street. Of course is someone was texting and driving, the stakes would be much higher and of course I would be much smarter. But since this collision was only going to happen on foot, I thought I had some leeway to teach lessons. The fact is, you can't barrel down the street with tunnel vision--and she should know that as a woman. A myriad of things could have happened to her and a cracked phone is at the bottom of that list. I didn't get mad, I didn't yell, and I overlooked the fact that she was cursing at me like Bobby Knight at halftime. She had a right to be mad, but I had more of a right to be, and that was that.

And I also realize I didn't have to call her sweetie, but I know woman hate to be called that by men they don't know, so I just threw it in for good measure.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Happy Birthday Stevie...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I have no idea if anyone reads this blog, and I definitely don't know if the folks who still read are savants in the dream interpretation area, but I'm just going to write about it anyway to get it off my chest.

I was in the middle of a kickball game with the teachers and staff members from my son's school. I was playing in right field, I saw my son's teacher in center field, and the co-teacher was on the other team preparing to kick the ball. I had on sunglasses, and I distinctly remember swatting gnats away like a crazy person. I can also distinctly remember that it was hot, and I really did not feel like participating, which is unlike me because I like kickball a great deal.

The pitcher rolled the ball to the co-teacher and she kicked the ball high in the air, and far away from me. I remember taking two steps towards the ball, before I quickly realized it was well beyond my grasp. My son's teacher and some random schmo in left field both converged on the ball, and it ended up dropping right between them. I remember saying loudly (come on man, what are we doing out here man , but nobody paid me any attention). The schmo went to pick up the ball and all of a sudden out of the clear blue--and this is where it gets a bit surreal--three giantrobots came on the field and started dismantling the field.

First they threw the ball out of sight, then they started tearing up the grass, the bases and everything. Most of the teachers and faculty started running in the opposite direction, but I just stood there because the robots clearly had no interest in terrorizing the humans. This destruction continued for a good 45 seconds or so, and then I woke up. I didn't wake up via my alarm and I didn't wake up sweating or excited, I just woke up angry that my kickball dream ended a)prematurely b) on an error by my assclown teammates and c) before I had a chance to kick the ball my damn self.

So what the the hell does this mean?