Rest in Paradise
On January 13th, I only had ONE thing in mind when posting about Kobe Bryant and that was to pay homage to a man who played a significant role in my latter teen years (into early adulthood). I wanted to poke fun at how I tried to emulate him, how I saved every magazine featuring his face, how I'd watch every interview, but most importantly, how proud I was to see his name mentioned as one of the candidates for the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame. Little did I know on January 26th, just thirteen days after that post, Bryant, his daughter and seven other victims would be involved in a tragic helicopter crash out in the hills of Calabasas, CA, leaving their families and the rest of the world to mourn.
My eyes have poured out real tears for several days now. At times, I can't help myself. In fact, my vision is quite blurred as I type this - fighting through an overwhelming feeling of sadness taking over my soul. This sensation occurs whenever my mind wanders to that horrific day or when I catch a glimpse of Kobe's peers pouring their eyes out on national TV, or something simple, like staring at the photo above. This f*cking hurts.
I thought long and hard on whether I should even touch this story. After all, this is supposed to be a 'feel good' blog and it was only a couple of weeks ago where I was singing Kobe Bryant's praises. Now, here I am, sadly talking about this man's death. I cannot believe this; something is terribly wrong with that last sentence. To be frank, I find all of this extremely eerie. But I am a writer, writing has always been therapeutic and I desperate NEED to type: today, tomorrow, next week, so on and so forth. Whether it is read by one set of eyes or thousands. I have to do this or I am as good as done.
This whole ordeal doesn't seem real. It's almost like there was some sort of glitch in the matrix. Yes, we all die - it's a part of life and I completely understand. I lost my grandmother of 93 years back in September and there isn't a day that goes by where I don't think of her. Although, I felt she could possibly live forever, 93 years is quite the accomplishment. But when we look at this tragedy on January 26th, Kobe lived to see 41, his daughter, 13. They were cheated at life and I won't feel otherwise.
Bryant and his daughter were on the cusp of transitioning to that 'next level' - post NBA Kobe as a husband, father, entrepreneur, Academy Award winner, author, coach/mentor, his daughter Gianna, as a superb 8th grade basketball talent just welcoming those challenging teenage years - quite possibly on the verge of becoming a highly sought after student-athlete. Its been well documented how Gianna took on her father's 'Mamba Mentality' so perhaps those teenage years would have been a breeze, but now we'll never know how far her talents would have taken her. The thought alone puts a lump in my throat.
I can't fathom the pain and devastation going through Kobe's wife, Vanessa, losing a husband and child on the same day, left to explain to their beautiful three girls that their father and sister are no longer here. My goodness. Let us also not forget the sting of the other families involved. This story is about as bad as it gets and I don't know if this numb feeling ever goes away.
The NBA All-Star Weekend begins in a few weeks and I am certain there will be a monumental ceremony commemorating Kobe Bryant's life. I've watched less and less of the All-Star festivities over the years and I will continue that trend in 2020. It is sure to be a tear jerker and there is simply no way I'll allow myself to endure that type of hurt. After experiencing a few heartbreaks in 2019 and now with this recent news, I think my eyes, mind, heart and soul could use a much needed break.
As words begin to escape me, it is probably best that I cut this short. But R.I.P. Kobe & Gianna Bryant and the other victims lost on that tragic day,
Is It Worth It?
I REALLY try my hardest to make this a feel-good blog, ignoring the foolishness of society and staying clear of politics... but I couldn't resist this time around. While scouring the net, I came across a story that not only had me SMH (shaking my head - for those of you un-hip to texting slang) like an angry toddler refusing to eat their veggies, but actually questioning whether I should continue identifying myself as human. After all, humans shouldn't act this way.
The internet strikes again as yet another "challenge" reared its ugly head; triggering the minds of the youth with tantalizing thoughts of a vast views, likes and of course the allure of going viral. Press play if:
1) You enjoy stupidity
2) You enjoy ice cream
3) You enjoy stupidity AND ice cream
Finally, I don't want to hear anything about "mental issues," "kids being kids" or "the punishment not fitting the crime." Spare me the bull. We've got to draw the hard line in the sand. Enough is enough.
Here's to hoping this young lady can now put her tongue to use in a nice 6x8 cell block.
Ella Fitzgerald Would Be Proud... I Think...
'Blue Skies,' was a feel good tune performed by Ella Fitzgerald (click on her name to listen), but I DON'T think she had this in mind. The proximity of the planes caught me off guard, so I snapped away. Minutes later, there were more trails in the sky (all gathered around the sun) and before long, an overcast.
I took some more pics, but didn't find them as blatant as the ones above. In the words of Elmer Fudd- "There's something awfully screwy going on around here..."
Politics with a Twist
Just when I've given up on politics, Andrew Yang comes along. I went from not putting much stock into the 2020 presidential election, to possibly voting for someone who actually 'thinks outside of the box' (hallelujah!) and can truly transform America (that's IF he sticks to his ideas - but we all know how this usually plays out). Wang is looking to do away with our antiquated rigged financial system, among other things, proposing a few ideas that can potentially impact the lives of Americans in a way unseen before. I expect mainstream media and anyone afraid of change to rain on his parade, likely killing any momentum moving forward, but Wang's proposals are a breath of fresh air and his support is growing. Click on his name for more.
AJ Walker Takes A Leap
Admittedly, I am not much of a 'news' guy; I'd finally decided to take a stand. Thanks to my grandmother, I grew up watching the news - around the clock - eventually growing numb to the countless stories of random shootings and inaccurate weather reports. Enough was enough. Yes, it was tough parting ways with some of my favorite anchors, weather/traffic girls, but something had to give. Through the years, I'd question the appearance of many news personalities, wondering why so many looked young, yet appeared conservative in their head shots (clean shaven, side-parted hair, fades, etc). In recent years, anchors/reporters have branched out, with men growing 5 o'clock shadows, and women becoming more daring with their wardrobes. Yet, many of the hairstyles remained traditional. It's almost like a happy medium: Hey, young world, look at me, I can wear cool clothes too! ... with a hairdo resembling a character from the Brady Bunch. Borrrrinnnng!
I understand there's a level of "professionalism" required for news types, but we're living in an age where gossip, the Kardashians, and the latest trends, have masked themselves into hard news. It would behoove us all to see news personality types... well, show a little personality! This is where CBS News 12 West Palm Beach news reporter AJ Walker, wins the award for 'News Reporters Who Get it!'
In what many will find courageous, AJ recently "pushed the envelope" wearing braids on air in honor of her late mother (Hi-five, AJ!). Does her act call for every on-air news personality to tap into their inner Janet Jackson (e.g. Poetic Justice) by sporting braids? Absolutely not. Perhaps this movement allows for more women of color to embrace natural looks instead of what we've grown accustomed to (I long for the day where an accomplished male with a curly afro, small taper and groomed beard is broadcasting LIVE from the New York Stock Exchange offering stock tips). I know their are many more like AJ who share a passion for news, looking to embrace their true self, yet, afraid of the backlash/blackballing from a group of people who wouldn't understand this movement. This is HUGE - not only for television, but culturally, and I wanted to take the time out to acknowledge AJ for her bravery!
Probably The Most Eventfully Boring Month On The Calendar
It all started with Black History Month, the Superbowl and Groundhog's Day (ugh!), followed by my birthday where I experienced a nagging toothache (lasting through the month) and finally, pitchers & catchers reporting to Spring Training. But here comes the caveat. There's the incredibly lame Grammy Awards (sadly, the Oscars are in a few days), the joke of a day called Valentine's Day, the dreadful NBA All-Star Game, and the Jussie Smollett fiasco (what an absolute mess that case has turned into). To top it off, February is the month I found out they're re-making a childhood favorite movie: Child's Play. For the love of God, NO! That was the straw that broke the camel's back; I'm absolutely DONE with Hollywood!
Can you imagine if February had 31 days?! The world would go mad!
I'm baaaack! Back to writing about the things many of you THINK about, yet carefully store in a safe place. Not me. I promise to be more active on this blog... as soon as Bryce Harper signs with an effin' team. My predictions so far have been on the money just a tad bit. Machado did in fact sign with a National League team (as I predicted), signing with the San Diego Padres for 10 years/300 Million (so I guess my dreams of seeing Harper in a Padres uniform are out of the question, unless, the Padres are willing to sign TWO players for 300 mil... not inconceivable, just plain 'ol dumb). My Spidey senses continue to tell me he'll sign with an out-of-the-blue team. All signs continue to point to the Philadelphia Phillies, but I say no. I'm going out on a limb with this, but Harper signs with the... *drumroll*
Anyway, enough baseball talk for now - they'll be plenty of time for that (yes, I am gearing up for yet another fantasy baseball season *rubbing hands*). Stay tuned for more nonsense. I'll be posting an Academy Awards themed blog shortly. March couldn't get here any sooner.
I Don't Think He Had This In Mind
Today, we pay respects to a legacy that has almost been tarnished some 55 years after his death. Some would argue that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was the last great black leader, others say he was the last great leader of a generation. However you wish to spin it, I am truly saddened at how far away we've gotten from King's potent words of wisdom. Sure, I can go ahead and list a bunch of MLK quotables to honor his great name on the day we celebrate him as a nation, instead, I'd like to pinpoint a couple of recent isolated incidents involving young men leaving me angered and outright confused. When will some of us will ever get it?
I probably shouldn't expect much from those born into the 1990s and thereafter. If that comment bothers you, I suggest you remove your blinders and pay attention to your immediate surroundings. Unless you're a Type A Personality type who craves knowledge, history and over-standing the way of the world, Millennials (and others) are decades removed from an era where men like King paved the way for a better America. Many will never know the feeling of racial segregation, senseless hose spraying and vicious attacks by ruthless dogs. All we have left are images and stories from those who are old enough to remember that dark period of this country's history. Despite the sporadic heinous murders of brown men by those in law enforcement; paid to protect & serve, joined by the questionable behavior of those who continue to get a kick out of uttering the N-word and antagonizing people of color, our world today still doesn't compare to what many endured in the south during the civil rights era and before. As years progressed, regardless of how we feel in 2019, opportunity does exist for all (albeit it's broken down into tiers to avoid blatant prejudice experienced in years past). With that said, I expect better from anyone reaping the benefits of that same opportunity thousands died for. The same opportunity MLK put his life on the line for whenever he delivered a heart-felt message. Yet, when I watch the current generation's obsession with gang culture and everything else, I am blown away when that list includes multi-millionaires; the one-percentile, the people we'd expect to be above that.
We've learned over the years about rappers/entertainers and their affiliations with gangs. Oftentimes, when you've become a product of your environment, there's really no escaping it - rich or not. But what about when you're far removed from that environment (or haven't grown in that environment at all), basking in the limelight, enjoying a healthy bank account and luxurious lifestyle? Why then would there be a need to become an "overnight gangster?" I felt my ire rise after watching rappers Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Cardi B (the lone female of my ire), along with NBA player, Marcus Smart, announce their gang ties to the world. That's correct, Bow Wow! I had mixed emotions listening to Bow Wow (real name: Shad Moss) yell "On Piru!" (a well-known set from the L.A. Bloods gang) at the 0:09 mark. Part of me wanted to laugh, thinking I'd just finish watching a comedy sketch, the other half felt like I'd just watch a dramatic plea for help.
Most of us remember Bow Wow (formerly Lil' Bow Wow) as the cute kid who took the music industry by storm after his 2000 debut hit album, "Beware of Dog" captivated children, catapulting him to mainstream success. Many of you us were too old for his music, yet we witnessed Bow Wow influence a generation of kids and watched him grow into a man. Now 31, Bow Wow should be held accountable for his recent attempt to insult our intelligence (declaring his gang affiliation) and it shouldn't be tolerated by OG's - in this case, the older generation. Someone in his camp desperately needs to pull him aside.
Can just about anyone join a gang these days? Sure. The question I have for Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Marcus Smart and others is: since when? and why?! Why come into millions of dollars, fame - the stuff Average Joe's and Jane's dream about - only to renounce it in an effort for street cred? Why not use this platform to your advantage instead of risking it all, dealing with questions of authenticity and becoming a punchline for jokes from people like me? Who in their right mind would be intimidated by Bow Wow, Cardi B, Soulja Boy or a player throwing up gang signs - someone who attended college, currently earning a 7-figure income? (watch 1:03 mark). Does the latter sound like a gang banger to you? If anything, these same individuals have made a mockery of gang culture and that upsets me. Why? Because they have choices. Their income and lifestyle enables them to escape the hardships of street life. They can stay far away from the hood. Furthermore, their paycheck allows them to keep their affiliations to themselves (the way others have; see D.L. Hughley) because the general public really doesn't need to know. No one cares! In the age of social media, it has become everyone's job to share everything. Even senseless acts. But something to keep in mind when you're attempting to become an overnight gangster - think about those who are less fortunate. Think about those who join street gangs because they don't know of another way to survive. Think about those who have never traveled outside of their city or state. Think about the ones who were born into gang culture because it was an essential part of their lineage, engrained in their DNA. Think about the men and women who have actually traded bullets in the streets. Why mimic a lifestyle many everyday people can't escape? Why wait until you've become an established brand, someone who has sat in board rooms with high-level execs signing major contract deals to suddenly announce your gang ties? Why wait until you've become a platinum-selling artist, having traveled the world? Why wait until you've made a couple of bucks to confidently throw up hand gestures in an all out rage on national TV? If entertainers are so desperate in becoming street soldiers, unwilling to separate these contrasting lifestyles, why not relinquish your riches and live the life you truly desire to live? Who's stopping you? What's stopping you?! In the words of the great Big Daddy Kane, 'Ain't No Half Steppin.' Why have one foot in the door of entertainment, the other in the streets? Pick one. Your move.
The fact that this subject matter isn't discussed on a broader platform is concerning enough. Perhaps, people really don't care (or have chosen not to take these entertainers seriously). Clearly, MLK's "Free at Last" message was lost in translation from a group of misguided lost souls; lost souls who derived from a generation of little leadership - parental or public. The individuals I've named aren't free, in fact, they're trapped in a sorry state of mind, oblivious to their privileged lives, unbothered by their acts of unexplained behaviors, unmoved by an iconic figure's impact to the world. This is more than a "day off" or a "holiday," it's a day of reflecting, as we remember a world we used to live in and a man who took a bullet striving to make it a better place. Why wouldn't we want to do better?
The Story of Mr. Toles and the Overzealous Tenant
I wonder which topic will receive longer news coverage: Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson's break up or the black gentleman who was denied entry into his home by an overzealous tenant in St. Louis? I'm sure newscasters NATIONWIDE are scrambling to figure out the more newsworthy story...