Once Upon a Time
Around this time last year, I wanted to challenge myself trying my hand in the blue-collar field. Fresh off a year-long break where I cheerfully worked from home focusing on my first book and the perils of self-publishing (running away from a career in corporate at the speed of light), I thought of the 'brilliant' idea of applying to Amazon becoming a part-time delivery driver. I tend to like challenges, I figured why not?
I'd become my own boss for over a year, not quite ready to relinquish that title, but this job was about as close as I could get - as per Amazon drivers coaxing me on the idea:
"There isn't anyone standing over you. You kinda just drive and do your own thing."
Say no more.
I gave it a shot and actually enjoyed it - except for those days where temperatures soared to the upper 90s and I was sweating like Patrick Ewing at the free throw line; or when routes took me into the woods, apartment buildings or downtown districts where parking was limited (if I took too long making my way around the building I'd usually be greeted with a traffic ticket from an unforgiving cop - deducted from your paycheck, might I add); or better yet, those glorious days being assigned to deliver in sketchy neighborhoods where the only time I felt safe was inside of my truck pulling off 🤦🏾♂️
Oh, the memories...
Keep in mind, I'm a NYC guy - born and raised, having lived through the grittiness of the 80s and early 90s. I'd like to think I've seen and dealt with EVERYTHING. But life as an Amazon delivery driver is a different animal. Imagine dropping off packages in the 'hood, with onlookers commonly advising you not to leave them at the doorstep of a customer who wasn't home?
"YO! I wouldn't do that if I were you. It ain't gonna be there when they get back!"
All in a day's work, but in the end, I didn't have the mental capacity to deal with the chaos, nor was my body cut out for the day to day grind no matter how much of a gym rat I would become. I'd arrive home, drenched, drained, battered and bruised... like boxing against the '88 version of Mike Tyson. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the freedom of a driver, frequently visiting the exquisite homes of handsomely-paid individuals, but after a couple of months, I waved the white flag. No mas!
The moral of the story is, I had the ability to leave on my own and was very fortunate not to skip a beat concerning household expenses. Unfortunately, there are many people currently working frontline jobs who can't afford to get out of the line of fire so easily. This is how they survive and feed their families. Besides, finding a new job probably isn't the easiest of things right now. The eye-popping issues I'd encounter during my trial-run as a driver is considered child's play compared to those who deal with this five, sometimes six days a week - on top of working through the current Covid-19 pandemic. We can't forget about them.
I am here to tell you first hand, delivery driving isn't some walk-in-the-park job. It isn't as simple as driving at your own leisure, delivering packages while whistling The Andy Griffith Show theme song. Sorry. You're dealing with all types of people, scenarios, visiting all types of environments - 365 days of the year. The job never ends - pandemic and all. The next time we think about throwing a fit because our packages weren't delivered on time, let's take some time putting things in its proper perspective. Probably NOW more than ever.
ANYTHING But 'Tiger King!'
While many of us are stuck in quarantine looking for an escape, sadly, it appears the world (or maybe just celebs and regular folk in general) have gone Tiger King crazy in the process. Why? What's the appeal and how can we make it stop?
As you can detect, Can I Be Ernest? is not a fan; admittedly, I haven't watched a single episode. Am I being judgemental? Guilty as charged! What do I have against Tiger King? Quite frankly, I haven't figured it out. If I had to take a guess, it probably stems from how quickly society has gravitated towards the series, while other explosive programs on the popular streaming service have gone unnoticed. In other words, this is all of YOUR fault!
What's the fascination for idiots who collect, abuse and exploit wild animals (the apparent premise of Tiger King) when there are other shows on Netflix highlighting the abuse and exploitation of HUMAN life (remember us?). Am I missing something? It further proves that our current climate is a 'monkey see, monkey do' one. Probably now more than ever. Once there's an "influential" voice stamping their approval of anything, whether it's fashion, lifestyle, or something unexpected... like NETFLIX SHOWS, we tend to bite the bait and lose all site of subjectivity. Seemingly, 34.3 million people watched Tiger King on its opening week. Everyone except for me, of course.
With hopes of grabbing your attention to a few of Netflix's other featured choices, this is where I direct you to my list. Unbeknownst to me, many of these docu-series/documentaries were released a few years ago (before being added to Netflix), quite possibly the lone reason they've gone unmentioned. However, they are now widely available to the viewing audience and the impact can be felt today, tomorrow, forever...
3) Wild Wild Country- A powerful documentary about a controversial Indian guru, his cult-like following and their vigorous influence over a community in Wasco Country, OREGON (bet you didn't see that one coming). It's a 6-part series sure to keep you glued to the screen.
2) One of Us- As someone who grew up in NYC where there's a strong Hasidic Jewish presence, I've always been mildly intrigued by their community and mystified by their lifestyle. This film covers that, documenting three former members of the Brooklyn Hasidic community and their struggles after opting out of the group. Each story reveals explosive details, uncovering some hidden truths that are sure to blow you away.
1) LA 92- If you're a fan of Los Angeles inner-city culture, palm trees and Jheri curls, I'd suggest you watch this documentary. The film dissects the infamous Watts Riots of 1965, the election of a particular state official, the shooting of Latasha Harlins and of course, the Rodney King beating (by members of the LAPD captured on film) catapulting the violence and rioting thereafter. Personally, the images of this film were powerful enough to win every cinematic award there is. In fact, I plan on re-watching it over the weekend. You can feel the emotions through the screen, leaving you at times incensed yet saddened; hopeless yet consciously aware. Not only does the acquittal of the officers still amaze me (although it probably shouldn't), but the fact this incident happened nearly 30 years ago! feeling like it was only yesterday). Where has the time gone?
LA 92 is a sad reminder of the blatant social injustice many people of color encounter here in America, but it is certainly a must-see for those of you who weren't alive at the time or perhaps living under a rock.
Take THAT, Tiger King!
Let's just say 2020 has gotten off to a pretty good start! Minus recent dental work (my 2nd root canal in less than a year - lucky me), I've had quite a few things to smile about. A renewed interest in blogging is one, followed by the possibilities of finally setting up a home office in the very near future (more on that in a later blog). But absolutely NOTHING has made me happier than spotting the return of Arby's fish sandwiches!
As I was driving home the other day, something took over me while passing an Arby's restaurant. Plastered in big, bold lettering across their drive-thru menu was a fish ad. Was I seeing things? Could it be?! YES!
Seemingly losing all control, like a madman in need of a fix, I promptly busted a U-Turn, tires screeching, entering the drive-thru...
Drive-thru voice: *Singing an Arby's Fish Sandwich Jingle*
Welcome to Arby's, can I take your order?
Me: Good Evening, can I please have two crispy fish sandwiches?
Drive-thru voice: I'm sorry, Sir, can you repeat that?
Me: Yes, two crispy fish sandwiches, that's all...
Drive-thru voice: *Inaudible sound*
Me: *Losing patience*
Drive-thru voice: I'm sorry, Sir, can you repeat that once more?
Me: *Sigh*... TWO CRISPY CHICKEN SANDWICHES, MAN!
Drive-thru voice: Two crispy chickens? Is that all?
Let's just say that exchange didn't go all too well, but I didn't allow my lack of patience to get the best of me. I left Arby's in total bliss - two crispy FISH sandwiches in tow and they were ALL MINE!
I would love an explanation as to why certain fast food chains only provide their most favorable sandwiches seasonally (cut that shit out!). I mean, is there some type of "fish shortage" from spring to December preventing Arby's from possibly depleting my bank account? Is there some type of "beef shortage" putting a stop to Mc Donald's selling their infamous McRib sandwich year round? (the McRib sounds gross, but plenty of people vouch for it). Can you imagine if Burger King experienced a "burger shortage?" Popeye's/KFC dealing with a "chicken shortage?" The whole world would go mad! But when Arby's fish sandwiches go M.I.A., not a single word. Somebody get Ving Rhames on the phone!
Okay, I'm done here.
Giving 2019 a Swift Kick in the A**
My apologies for leaving you all high & dry. I'll try to do better.
On a personal note, 2019 goes down as one of THE WORST years to date. There was the passing of my grandmother - which I don't think I'll ever truly get over - coupled with a few life changing events, but in hindsight, there were PLENTY of life lessons which I fully intend to carry forth into 2020 and beyond. Because as we all know, everything happens for a reason.
I am back in my happy place, meaning more content (check out my new YouTube page), more blogs (even if the current population HATES to read), and in due time, my 2nd book. I am not much of a 'Resolutions' guy; admittedly, I set goals DAILY, but I am truly optimistic that 2020 will be a joyous ride. Here's hoping you experience the same 🥂
Architecture Gone Wrong
WHAT IS THIS?! Better yet, WHY would anyone spend over $2000 a month to live in this excuse of a apartment building (strangely resembling a penitentiary) found on the Upper West Side of Manhattan?
NYC has done it again, overpricing tenants with this semi-new high-rise (built only a couple of years ago), selling them on yet another luxury apartment. One that offers close proximity to famous landmarks, spectacular views and the feeling of exclusivity.
Nevermind the nearby fire station with fire trucks regularly blaring sirens in the wee hours of the morning, the lack of a washer/dryer in each unit, a decent neighboring pizza shop, a friggin' supermarket or the limitations on street parking. No. That's unimportant to today's pool of young tenants whose only objective is to experience NYC and all its luxury. P.S.199, my old elementary school, is a few blocks away from this eye sore - still hanging on by a thread - surrounded by towering buildings (some newly built) since my carefree days of crushing homeruns in the school yard. I can remember a time when crafty-imaginative adults and senior citizens roamed and I proudly called this neighborhood home. More important? Everything was within reach. In fact, there were TWO pizza shops found within the same radius! How about that? Now, it's flooded with more out-of-towners, ugly buildings, cranes, scaffolding and a massive Apple store that is seemingly out of place. Perhaps it's me who doesn't belong - and that's why I said hello to Suburbia almost 15 years ago 🖕🏾🖕🏾
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 one above. In the words of Elmer Fudd- "There's something awfully screwy going on around here..."
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.
Food For Thought
Look at that good 'ol burger! I don't know about you, but I am salivating at the mouth. All that is missing is an order of fries (not to mention a licensed Physician and an irate PETA member). We live in a society where health and fitness have become king. The world of fatty foods and gluten products have gone the way of the dinosaurs... but not so fast! There are plenty of us who still enjoy a good burger. Here is a list of 5 foods that have me by the b@!!%...
Microphone Check 1, 2..
If you're here because of the recent podcast episode, allow me to introduce myself - I'm the angry guy who went on a 30 minute rant about a music genre which helped raise me. Sorry, not sorry. Anyhow, nice to meet you and thanks for visiting! Get comfy, I promise not to take up too much of your time.
Have I really turned into that "old man" who hates hip-hop, screaming how 'music was better in his day?' Yes. Do I really hate today's current hip-POP? Gimme a 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin "hell yea!"
I'm obviously hurt and deeply bothered by hip-hop's blatant slap in the face to its long-time supporters. I get it, we're considered old and everything in life is about catering to a younger demographic. But before hip-hop decides to bury the over 35 crowd six-feet deep, can we simply have a discussion?
WHY has hip-hop's narrative changed?
You know the adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Hip-hop's old formula worked to perfection - hard beats with lyricism expressed poetically (whether it was on social issues, or crafty wordplay about senseless gun violence and drug dealing) resulted in superlative record sales, sold out concerts, and scores of new fans. The bedroom walls of teenagers country-wide were plastered with posters of hip-hop's biggest/brightest stars. Fans of the old hip-hop sound have lasting memories that will likely never be replaced by the "stars" of today. Whether you like it or not, hip-hop's best (from yesteryear, of course) are synonymous to some of the greatest musicians in the history of music. That's right - HISTORY. These are the cold, hard facts. So, what changed? Who decided to strip this wonderful art form - bare, to the core - rebuilding it to the travesty its become?
I completely understand how we should embrace change. Everything evolves in some capacity. But can we honestly call today's version of hip-hop an evolution? Is ANYONE capable of saying that with a straight face? The thought alone made me snicker.
Listen, I don't want to hear about record-breaking streaming downloads, sold-out concerts, and the millions of dollars sitting in the bank account of a half-assed rapper who cracked mainstream success in 2018. I am strictly concerned about the QUALITY of music. It isn't memorable anymore. In fact, NOTHING of the past 10+ years - be it musically or cinematically - has been. To this very day, I can remember where I was when I first heard some of the best tunes of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. I can remember the mood the music put me in. I can remember the reactions of my friends. Fast forward to today? The only thing I care to remember is how desperate I am to find something from 1995 to listen to! Certainly not fair to the share of artists who actually try to make quality content, but hey, life isn't fair.
So, this is what its come to; I'm waving the white flag. Like Roberto Duran/'Sugar Ray' Leonard circa 1980 - no mas! I'm done. Finito! Put a fork in me. I'll simply be that guy who will forever be vilified a 'hater.' I guess you can't please them all... hip-hop has already proven that.