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


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.