Thursday, November 16, 2017

When I woke up this morning and started scrolling through my phone before I got out of bed, I noticed a picture from Questlove's Instagram page. Apparently he went to the Janet Jackson concert in Brooklyn last night, and in addition to meeting and speaking with Janet, he got a chance to speak with Randy Jackson--someone he credits with inspiring him to drum:

Dude. Randy Jackson is the PRIME reason I chose the drums. All of @TheJacksons were superheroes but Randy was one of the first drummers/percussionist I’ve ever SEEN on tv. So watching a kid drum on tv w his magic brothers was like ***mind blowing***—-(actually i got in trouble once for trying to remove the legs from my father’s keyboard player’s #Wurlitzer trying to play it like a keytar just like Randy did during the #Destiny album period) Like I was mid convo w his sister and then **whoooosh** I vanished like *snap* (“jan, uh I love talking to you but your brother is the only Jackson I haven’t met and HE started me being drummer so I’m out!”) he gave my Jacksons 78-80 logo shirt props. This was without a doubt the best day EVER. Janet was pulling the deep cuts out the woodwork (@flytetymejam you didn’t tell a mug bout #TwentyForeplay!) definitely a must for the die hards (well, nothing from 1st two albums #DontMessUpThisGoodThing is too awesome to toss aside, that song STILL is a miracle in the clubs—-but zero complaints here. This is THE MOST hype I’ve seen a crowd at a concert dancing like no one is watching since—-well...Prince) & meeting Randy (@randyjackson8 NOT @randyjackson dog) was just the ultimate. #StateOfTheWorldTour

A post shared by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on



Questlove did what Questlove does and told a long story of how Randy Jackson touched his life, and it was a damn good read. But it also made me think of my own personal Randy Jackson story. No I never met him in person or talked to him on the phone, but I do have a funny (at least to me) story to tell.

Back on September 7, 2001, there was big concert at Madison Square Garden, and it was a tribute to Michael Jackson and his 30 years as a solo artist. Usher, N'Sync, Chris Tucker, Beyonce, Muhammad Ali, Bobby Brown, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael's brothers and sisters and countless others were in the audience. Michael himself was there as well..but barely. After he died eight years later, in one of the many documentaries chronicling his struggle with prescription drugs, we learned that MJ was basically in a drug-induced haze the entire show--in fact he had to be awakened out of that haze in his hotel room and reminded that he had to show to do. It is amazing that he was able to summon an above-average show out of that haze, but it is sad that as far back as 2001, prescription drugs were wreaking havoc on his life on and off the stage.

Anyway, towards the end of the show, Jermaine, Jackie, Marlon, Tito and Randy joined MJ on stage so they could breeze (and I do mean breeze) through a medley of their hits. I'd argue that outside of seeing MJ peform "Billie Jean" the crowd had specifically gathered to see MJ and his brothers get down, and get down they did. They did "Love You Save", "I Want You Back", "Dancing Machine", "Shake Your Body Down to the Ground" and others. But my favorite of the night, which happens to involve and incident between Randy and MJ, was "ABC".

About 20 seconds into the song, everyone starts singing the chorus, and right afterwards, Randy starts singing, "You Down with OPP?" which is the Naughty By Nature song that sampled "ABC" (sorry for insulting your collective intelligence). If you know anything about MJ, you know that he is a control freak and perfectionist, and I'm sure he did not appreciate Randy sullying the reputation of the Jacksons and that quality song by bringing up a song in "OPP" which basically about doing the nasty with someone who is not yours. The camera doesn't show MJ's reaction the first time Randy says it, but 26 seconds into the song, the camera shows MJ staring at Randy, just daring him to say it a second time.

Sure enough, Randy does that dumb shit again, and this time MJ--who rarely breaks character or shows anger on or off stage--literally walks directly towards Randy with bad intentions, and Randy has to push MJ away, but not before MJ threw him a few more death stares. Five seconds later they transitioned to another song, so there was no residual anger, but man was it fun to see MJ uncut so to speak.

My story isn't as good as Questlove's but I still like it. Here's the video:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thanksgiving is just about a week away, which means my mother will be coming in town to cook and bless my family with her presence. The wife and I will be buying the groceries so that all we have to do when my mother arrives is kick back and relax--and by we I mean me because I'm sure my wife will assist my mother in making the magic happen. My job will be to entertain and play with young Nyles...or so I thought.

My mother sent me and my wife an email today with a list of the ingredients she will need to make the dinner, and in her message to me she said the following:

Please let me know whether there are items you prefer to cook; otherwise, I don't mind cooking it all. Marion will be helping!


Now, my mother and I have been discussing her Thanksgiving visit for damn near a month, and not one solitary time did she mention the presence of her friend Marion. She mentioned that she wanted to spend time her son, daughter-in-law and grandson, and she also mentioned that she was looking forward to some relaxation time, but there was never mention of a +1 situation.

Before I give off the impression that my mother is now a lesbian--which would be a much better blog entry I might add--let me explain who Marion is. Marion was the caregiver for my grandmother before she died, and during that time her and my mother became good friends and travel/prayesr partners. They drive together, they fly together sometimes, and since they both live in Cleveland, Ohio, they attend church together. In fact, my mother calls Marion her "Prayer Warrior", which is odd because I've seen neither shield nor sword.

Since 2011, my mother has lost her mother, her father, her favorite aunt, and best friend of 40+ years, so she values family and companionship a great deal these days, and I get that 100%. In fact, I've wanted her to have that type of relationship with a friend or husband, since she divorced her last husband (not my father) in 2005. I say all the to say, I respect Marion's presence in my mom's life, and I don't dislike her. Yes she is slightly annoying and devoid of any semblance of a personality, but that's my mom's friend not mine.

What annoys me most about this whole situation is that my mother never asked me if it was ok to bring her friend. She just TOLD me that she was bringing her friend to my home--something my mother taught me to never do. She used to tell me that I should never bring an extra person to someone's house where food was going to be served and that the polite thing to do is to give someone a heads up or better yet, just ask. I know that's my mother and she's getting older, but damn couldn't she have asked me if it was cool or at least tell me that she wanted to bring someone, instead of just casually working it into a sentence about the cooking of food?

As I'm typing this, I'm realize that I sound petty, so maybe I should stop typing. Just to put a bow on this entry, I reached out to my mother and said:

Hello again Mommy. So Marion is coming too? That isn't a problem but I wasn't aware until that email.

Her response, just one word

Yes


I love her...but damn

Sunday, November 12, 2017

My wife and I sent our son to his grandfather's house for a couple days which allowed us some time to go to brunch--bottomless mimosa brunch at that. We sat at the bar, so as you can imagine, the bartender talked to us about a variety of subjects: The Pittsburgh Steelers, how many DC bars he'd worked at during his career, and unfortunately, we also talked about Bill Cosby.

The subject of Cosby came up because we were talking about the rash of male public figures, who have either admitted sexual abuse or have been outed by past victims. It is funny because earlier that morning I had seen this tweet from comedian W. Kamau Bell:



I had to check myself when I read that tweet, because I am quite sure that in my 20 or so years of being in the workforce, I have said inappropriate jokes, looked at a woman the wrong way, or encouraged unflattering jokes/behavior. It is important that dudes surround themselves with other dudes who can serve as their own personal check and balances. Surrounding yourself with a bunch of "yes" people will get you hemmed up---ask OJ Simpson. We as dudes can do better and given the current climate, it is imperative that we do that sooner rather than later.

Anyway, while talking about Bill Cosby, the bartender proceeded to tell my wife and I that he had doubts about Cosby's accusers. He kept saying "if" Cosby did it, and then he said he thought all the women were lying just to get his money. Never mind that most of his accusers simply spoke up about his behavior rather than sue him or take him to court. They just wanted to let Cosby's other victims know that they were not alone. Still, this bartender--like many men and women I know who grew up idolizing Cosby--think Cosby and his reputation are pristine clean.

The proper reaction, especially given the tweet I had seen earlier that morning, would have been for me to check the bartender and his sexist bullshit, to let him know that it was possible that one or two of those accusers were lying, but the not all of the 30+ (I forget how many there were) were lying. I should have informed that his b.s. logic is currently being used by Roy Moore, Donald Trump, Matthew Weiner and countless others I'm sure. Creepy folks like Kevin Spacey and Louis CK have owned up to their behavior, which I gave them slight props for, but it doesn't absolve them of guilt.

Anyway, instead of picking a fight with the bartender and calling him on his b.s., I just sat there and continued to drink the mimosas he was so generously pouring. I didn't want my personal views to sabotage the wonderful outing I was having with my wife. But when the bartender walked away, my wife looked at me and acknowledged that the bartender was on some bullshit with that line of thought, but she also said I did the right thing by letting it go. I felt slightly validated, but in the two days since that outing ended, I feel like I dropped the ball.

That bartender was at least 50 years old, so it is possible that any words that my 42-year old ass had to say, wouldn't have done much damage. But still, I should have tried. I could have been disarming by starting my comments with a "hey man" or "come on don't you think that's kind of harsh?", and perhaps that would have been the catalyst to a spirited, but respectful dialogue. Instead, I chose to imbibe copious amounts of alcohol and blog about it 48 hours later.

I'm not being the passive again.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Last Halloween, my wife, my son and I went trick-or-treating shortly after the sun went down. My son was Iron Man and his costume took a little time to get completely fastened on, but my wife and I got him squared away. The wife was a ballerina and I just threw on an Ahmad Rashad jersey, which is about as much as choose to do at the age of 41 (I'm 42 now) on Halloween.

Since it was Halloween and my wife was taking a little bit longer to get ready than I thought (surprise, surprise) I decided to keep the Halloween-vibe going by putting on Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. I felt like the wife and I had done a great job of exposing our son to MJ's music, and all that goodwill would be more than enough to offset the fear and scariness the video invariably would cause. Plus I felt like showing him this potentially scary video was ok, but if he really was scared and shook, the candy and trick-or-treating experience would brainwash him 100%.

Now if I had been properly using my brain I would have realized that when I first saw the video I was 8 years old, and I literally was laying down on my dad's back alternating between watching the video and burying my head in his back. I loved the song, and I loved MJ but I didn't understand why he a) kept turning into a zombie and b) insisted on dancing and cavorting with the other zombies he literally had just met when he set foot in cemetery with Ola Ray. The whole operation both scared and confused me, and it was shaking the previously rock-solid trust I had in MJ--it feels weird to say that as a 8-year old I trusted MJ, but humor me.

After I watched that video, I took down my Billie Jean and Human Nature posters for a good month, before I finally got over my fear and watched the video three or four times. Using that logic, I had no business showing my 4-year old son the video last year, but I did it anyway. And you know what? It wasn't half bad.

My son watched the video and he didn't flinch, hide or cry. He did ask a million and one questions about zombies, cemeteries, MJ's transformations and why MJ and the monsters vacillated between being friends and enemies. These were all valid questions, and I did my best to answer each and every one of them. Then we went trick-or-treating and everything seemed to be ok. But while we were trick-or-treating, and once we finished, my son was sure to tell me, "Daddy I don't want to watch that again". I said ok.

Fast forward to this past Sunday, when my son started begging me to see the video again. I've been playing the Thriller album a lot lately, and my son has fallen in love with the song, "Thriller"--especially Vincent Price's diabolical rap/laugh combo. I guess hearing the song repeatedly built up my son's confidence, because all day Sunday he asked me to watch, and I reminded my son that he told me one year earlier that he never wanted to see the video again. Right around the time I almost gave in, I realized it was about 30 minutes before his bed time, and I didn't want MJ to be the catalyst for his bad dreams.

The next day, about two hours before his bedtime, I let Nyles watch Thriller. Just like the first time, he didn't move, cry, scream or hide, he just sat there and watched while asking questions. I got up to dance and he ignored me and remained fixated on Michael Jackson and the zombies around him. Then, about two minutes after the video ended, Nyles lightly hit his head against the couch--something he had done countless times in the past few months without crying--and he just started bawling like a baby. First he tried to say his head hurt, but he quickly pivoted and said that he was crying because Michael Jackson had scared him yet again. But this time his shunning of MJ had a little nuance involved. He no longer wanted to see the video, but he clarified that he definitely still wanted to hear the song--and he did all this while crying, which was quite impressive.

Sadly, the bad reactions did not end there. My son woke up about four times between 8 and 11pm, and each time he was crying and whining about what MJ did to him. He made me promise that I wouldn't show him the video and that I'd keep playing the song for him and I agreed. I also told myself (and the wife) that I was an idiot for allowing a 5-year old to swindle me into showing him a video I knew good and goddamn well he could not handle. This incident--combined with last week's incident when I slipped hummus into my son's sandwich instead of mayo/mustard which caused him to vomit and the teacher had to call me to come get him--means that my Dad-of-the-year award is in peril.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

My son Nyles has reached that phase where he test his limits as a five year old. He's been watching the kids he went to summer camp with, he's been to some parties where he's witnessed other parent-to-kid interactions, and now he's peppered in what he's learned after one week of kindergarten. I was informed that this phase was coming by other parents, so in theory I should have been fully prepared for whatever he attempted to throw my way. But I still managed to let that little mfer get under my skin--especially this past Sunday.

Nyles went to a birthday party on Sunday morning, and that party was at a gym where they allowed the kids to run, jump, tumble, roll and hit heavy bags. It was a two-hour party and he burned an insane amount of energy which always makes parents happy because it leads to an equally as insane nap. At the conclusion of the party, they gave the kids pizza, cake, a cape and an accompanying mask. Parties like this did not exist when I was a youngster.

My son devoured the pizza and the cake, but his favorite parting gifts were the mask and cape. He wore them home, he wore them before and after swim lessons, and he basically kept them on right up until bedtime. If I had allowed him to wear the cape/mask combo in the shower, he would have tried to pull that off as well. Unfortunately, while he had on the cape and mask, he ran, jumped and stomped all over the damn house. A couple of times he even mimicked a superhero by trying to fly--and given that he was wearing a superhero's uniform, he was certainly well within his right. But not really.

After the seventh time of asking him to stop running, jumping and superheroing, I got in his face and raised my voice a bit. I forcefully asked him to keep his butt still and respect the house rules, or I'd take the cape and mask. I felt pretty good about myself and based on the sad, puppy dog look on Nyles's face, I think he got the message. Then I looked over to the wife, and she was laughing at me. Then I looked back at Nyles and I realized I was attempting to discipline this child while he was still wearing the ridiculous cape and mask. The following conversation ensued:

Me: I don't know what the f**k I think I'm doing trying to yell at him with a cape and mask on

The Wife: I was going to say, you look completely ridiculous right now, there's no way he's listening

Me (shooting a stern look at Nyles): He better be listening

The Wife (more laughter): Yeah I don't think so buddy


The lesson here? Before you discipline your kids, remove their superhero costumes. This blog would have been funnier if I recorded video of this bless-ed event, but somehow I doubt that my stern lecture to my son would have carried weight if I had a camera in my hand while my son was running around looking like a midget Batman. Just a hunch.

And my how times have changed in this blog over the years. I used to blog about women, masturbation, exercise and inane observations. Now the blog is kid-dominant, which combined with my extended periods of dormancy, have led to a reduced readership. I thank all five of you for continuing to humor me.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I told myself I was not going to cry today. Yes it was my son's first day of kindergarten, but this was the same school he attended last year, so I felt like my emotions would be in check thanks to the familiarity. Not only that, he had gotten on my nerves so damn bad earlier that morning, that I was looking forward to dropping his ass off. Even when we stepped into the classroom, the teacher asked Nyles if he wanted breakfast and he got a little spicy and said, "Well actually I already ate." My wife and I gave him disapproving looks and the teacher said, "So we say no thank you right?"..smartass kid.

Right before I walked out of the classroom I pulled Nyles to the side, and gave him the be-good-don't-embarrass-yourself-or-your-parents speech, and he kissed me, looked back at me once, and the buried himself among the other students in the classroom. The wife and I walked to the car, and I kept asking her if she was going to cry, and she said she was good. Then I walked to work and she went home, and I didn't take five steps before I started crying. It was not the ugly cry that I did when my son was first born, it was way more classy than that. My eyes filled up, a few tears actually made it down my face, and it didn't help that I was going through a mental montage of Nyles-related thoughts---starting from birth and ending with me dropping him off this morning.

When I got to work and had a chance to fully compose myself, I took a step back to really examine why I cried yet again. Part of it relates to the natural emotional investment we have in our kids--especially as they reach significant milestones. But the bigger part of that emotion is the journey. There was a time when I dropped Nyles off at daycare, and I had to carry him or closely monitor his steps so he wouldn't fall or wander off. And then when he'd get to school/daycare, he wandered around aimlessly not quite understanding how was supposed to function without the safety net of his parents around. He eventually figured it out and thrived like a champ.

Today, my son looked nothing like that shy, unsure kid. He damn near ran to the school without his parents, he knew about 10 kids in his new class, and he was ready to dive in and be a model kindergartner (minus the sassing of the teacher over breakfast). That tiny bit of growth over a 2-3 year span has made me proud and was easily enough to tip over my emotional equilibrium. And I have no regrets...






Saturday, August 26, 2017

My father was in town today, and we did our usual routine of going out to lunch alone, and then we came back to my house so he could see his grandson and my wife. His hair is disappearing and significantly more gray, his glasses are thicker and it takes him like 10 minutes to back out of a parking space, but he's still mentally sharp and he looks spry for a 68 year old.

While we were sitting in my living room watching Bad 25 he noticed the commotion going on across the street where the church is located. I let him know that this was Communion weekend at the church, and all kinds of folks were in town, and more importantly, all types of food would be on sale both in and outside of the church. My dad, who doesn't eat chicken, beef or pork, asked the wife and me if they sold fried fish, and we answered in the affirmative. He looked at me and said, "We're stopping by there before I head back to my hotel."

When we stepped into the cafeteria of the church, my father made a beeline to the fried fish. He inspected it with his eyes and made the decision that it was up to snuff and good enough to eat. All he really wanted was a piece of catfish and a piece of whiting, but the ladies at the church made it crystal clear that there were two types of fish "plans". Either he got a sandwich, or a "meal" with two sides. My dad re-stated that he just wanted two pieces of fish and a bit of potato salad, and the staff nicely, but firmly told him that he had two choices: a sandwich or a meal. Dad ordered a whiting and a catfish sandwich, asked them to hold the bread, and then asked for cabbage and potato salad. Everybody laughed....

After that minor standoff, these old church ladies shifted into flirtation/caretaker mode with my dad. They said he looked too young to have a 42-year old son, they said he looked like he needed to eat more, and they added a piece of cornbread when technically he had already exceeded the side dish limit. They ended every sentence with "baby", they told my dad and I to have a bless-ed evening, and we walked out of the cafeteria.

As soon as we walked out, dad told me a story about how he used to go to his mom's church on the weekends--not because he wanted to hear the word of God--but to get him a plate of fried fish and sides to devour with his friends. He told me the church ladies managed to be polite, motherly and condescending all at the same time, and he appreciated every bit of it. Then he admitted to me that he missed his mother, but those women in the church today were the closest thing to a mother that he'd felt since she died in 2004. Neither of us shed tears, but it was definitely a tender moment.

What's the lesson here? Sometimes, you need the special TLC power of an old(er) black woman...