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A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

Signs that Jesus is Putting His Socks On:

There are things happening in the country lately — some funny, some sad, some scary —  that make me SURE  that the LORD is about to crack the sky. We’re at the place now where Gomorrah was when God destroyed it.

1. Seminary student Omarosa’s reality show! “I have an insatiable sexual appetite,” she says as she proceeds to frolic in hot tubs and boudoirs with numerous men.

2. Disgraced preacher, Jamaal Harrison Bryant as moderator/mediator/meditator on said show.

3. People — in the news and in regular life — stealing peoples’ husbands and parading around proudly, pregnant.

4. People I know having “threesomes” and acting as though that is just another way to do life.

5. Snuggies

6. Relativism

7. Sandwiches with fried chicken buns — with CHEESE for meat!

8. Companies that make soy beans AND pesticides.

9. Thus, the FDA.

10. Insurance companies

11. Politicians.

12. Cell phones.

13. Cell phones in CARS.

14. Auto tune

15. Singers with “abs.” But no voices.

16. Gosselins.

17. Real Housewives of Atlanta, or of the NBA, or of the Jersey Shore, or…

18. Booty Pop underdraws.

19. The “Shake Weight.”

20. The NORMALIZATION of everything! Cursing, shacking up, same-sex, promiscuity, un-wed pregnancy…

21. The abolition of shame.

22. Pay RADIO!!! Air is next!

23. Hydrogenated oils.

24. Photo shop.

25. Tolerance.

26. 82 lb. four-year-olds.

27. A robotic, asexual-seeming, married ex-vice president under investigation for trying to forcibly hook up with a matronly, portly, middle-aged masseuse in a hotel room.

28. Raves in football stadiums.

29. Christmas shopping stampedes ending in deaths.

30. Militias.

31. “The Tea Party.” right. We all know what that is.

32. Sequels.

33. Kids not getting spanked — or sternly spoken to, even — because childless talk show hosts and doctors named SPOCK frown on it.

34. The resulting disembowelment of every aspect of society.

35. Celebrity rapists.

36. Cellphone video.

37. Gospel plays.

38.  Open marriages.

39. Lady Gaga

40. Oily oceans.

41. A $750,000,000 divorce settlement, amounting to 75% of a man’s net worth for a woman whose only experience with a golf club is when she swung it at her husband.

42. Guys with a BILLION dollars to lose hooking up with every loose broad, sister, skeez, dame, doll, tomata, heffer, chick, shorty, wench, chicken head, freak in captivity!! And leaving them voice mails with his name!! He might be a golf player, but he ain’t no player!!!

43. Twilight.

44. Blago.

45. John… Edwards AND Boehner.

46. Drunken college frat parties.

47. Tar Balls. Something entendre-ish about that… foreboding.

48. Botox.

49. Fifty-year-old women with unexpressive doll faces and fish lips.

50. $12 doggone movie tickets!!!

51. Something called, “Brangelina.”

52. People all over the place predicting the end of the world.

It is not necessarily one thing, but the accumulation of these — and so many others — that spell doom for this world. I’m not scared of it, though. I just want folk to straighten up and get right with God. He’s not gonna be happy when He gets back and sees what we did to the house!

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July 1, 2010 Posted by | Apocalypse, Christianity, End Times, Eschatology, Faith, Humor, Marriage | 2 Comments

Low Commotion

My two- and one-year-olds running around the house tearing up stuff and making a bunch of noise.

Always into something!

Always into something!

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Childhood, Children, Family, Home Life, Humor, Kids, Parenthood, Parenting | 6 Comments

Dignity and the Made-Up Name

My name is Derrick. My sisters, Cassandra, Karin, and Kim all have what you would call standard, regular American English names.

My son’s name is Max Ellis, and my daughter’s name is, Diana Elise. I wanted masculine, straight-to-the-point, famous-sounding names for the boys, and feminine, delicate names for the girls. And I wanted them to have jobs. Jobs where they didn’t have to wear visors or steel-toed boots. I– we— didn’t want to handcuff our kids to a crusade by short-sightedly giving them names which would easily allow bigots to exercise their prejudices.

We black folk — and you white folk too, admit it — talk from time to time about the “phenomenon” of the made-up name — the Shaniqua, the Montevion, and the Equarious (a strange mixture of geography and an adjective).

I’m not talking about ETHNIC names.

I will admit to being, at times, a little ashamed when watching a college basketball game and having to wince while the play-by-play man stumbles over the names. It is almost as though you can predict who was raised by two parents (Shane Battier, Blake Griffin, Grant Hill), and who wasn’t (DeVanta, Jumawl, LaQuon, “I’d like to thank my mama who raised me…”)

I know a guy, a nice kid, named “Rarecas.” His mom was obviously trying to spell, “Rodriguez,” but missed BADLY! I know Shatericas and Uniquas and Treyvions. They show up on the news and in classrooms all over the country. There are mainstream websites (with white faces on the homepages) where you can pick a nice name of your own for your newborn.

In practically every case, the economic heritage of those with the cute made-up name is that of “less-than.” Poor black folk.

I was just wondering about the whole thing, and came to this conclusion: Folk who name their kids, Lasswon and Bearcolt (REAL names!!!) do so because that is the only thing they can do that costs not a dime! It is the one thing they can give their children (in their minds) that will give them some sense of CLASS and elegance.

They don’t have inheritances and dowries and silver spoons and trust funds and birthday cars with red bows in circular driveways and summer vacations to give.

All they can give is a French-sounding name beginning in De-something, or one with a lot of “Q’s” in it. Everybody knows that if it’s French, it says, “Class.” And if the middle name is “Nicole” that is the coupe de maitre!

As we say around my way, “Black folk like nice stuff, too!” In a messed up kind of way, that is all that is going on.

So, how about exhibiting a little grace and understanding (not conservative traits, to be sure!) the next time you see a NutraGina, or an Alize, or Shardinnay other alcohol-monikered black person. Connor, Brad, and Chadwick would have a hard time in the ‘hood!

Besides, we don’t judge YOU because some celebrity named his child, Apple, Pilot Inspektor, Banjo, Dweezil, Moon Unit, Racer, or Tu Morrow.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Baby Names, Ghetto Names, Hollywood, Humor, Names | 9 Comments

I 40. The Serengeti of the South

“Derrick, you better slow down, the police got somebody pulled over up there.”

“Naw, I’m okay. They ain’t thinkin’ about me right now. You know when you see those shows on The Discovery Channel, and the lions are on the hunt?”

“Yeah.”

“When they go on the attack, all the zebras and wildebeest and gazelles run for their lives, but when they catch one, the other animals will stop right where they are an’ go back to grazing. Right there in sight of one of their own being eaten up! That’s how the cops are.

They’re like the lions, and they’re eatin’ right now, so ain’t no need for me to be all nervous an’ slammin’ on brakes an’ stuff!”

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Driving, Humor, Speeding, Traffic | Leave a comment

I Need to Get the Baby Language Filter

“What you watchin’, Max?”

“Bunbah Beh-pan, Daddy!”

“What? ‘Bumbah Bed Pan?’ ”

“Nooo! ‘Bunbah Beh-pan!!’ “

“Ohhh. “Sponge Bob Square Pants’!!”

“Yeah!” (can’t you speak English?!?)

I can speak English, but I’m still working on Baby.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Baby Talk, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Life, Max, Parenthood | 4 Comments

“Thank you! I’ll be here all week!”

I heard recently that Hitler had only half the standard number of testicles.

Hmmm… So he wasn’t nuts after all. Just evil.

Juuust evil. Thank you… Tip your waitstaff!

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Jokes | 2 Comments

Max’s First Story

“Daddy brushed your teeth?” Kathy asked Max, 2 1/2.

“Yeah!” he answered quickly.
Derrick, did you brush his teeth yet?”

“Hunh?” I asked, perturbed at being disturbed from watching “PTI.”

“Did you brush Max’s teeth already?” she repeated.

“Naw.”

“Max,” she scolded him, “You told a story. You have to tell the truth, okay? No stories.”

“Daddy brushed dee teeth! The END!!”

True story.

My boy!  I’m still laughing.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Children, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Kids say the Darndest Things, Laughter, Life, Max, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 3 Comments

Ann Coulter: Darth Vader with a Pope Hat on

Ann Coulter is a worse representative of Christianity than the Grand Wizard! Will somebody pleeeze tell her to stop invoking God in her tomes? She is a poorer example of a Christian than Mick Jagger is of health and vitalicky! (Popeye) A clanging cymbal indeed! But is she an accurate portrait of a Conservative?

She could simply read from the Book of John, and would make Christianity wither like tomatoes on a vine in the desert. Regardless if she stumbles upon a valid point every now and then, the arsenic dripping from her tongue poisons any possibility of wooing anyone to her position. Those drawn to her point of view/methods are the same carrion-eaters who have subsisted on the flesh of the weak from the beginning.

Is SHE the true face of conservatism? Is her “cookie crumbs in the bed” personality the attitude of true evangelical thought? I hope not, but those like she and Hannity and Limbaugh and the rest of the talk radio consortium seem to be the arrowheads of the movement.

When I learned the definition of a harridan, her face shot up in my mind.

My CHRISTIAN views are pretty to-the-book conservative, but I part ways when it comes to how political conservatives often treat people different than they.

 

There go the rest of my readers, I guess…

January 16, 2009 Posted by | Ann Coulter, Bible, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatism, Conservatives, Current Events, Evangelicals, FOX News, Humor, Liberals, Life | 6 Comments

How I Learned the Bible

“How you gone just sit there and let all them people in front of you? I got somewhere to be! D&%n Good Samaritan! If you ain’t gone drive it, park it!” exclaimed my father, stuck in traffic behind a courteous slow driver.

“Ohhh.” I thought, putting two and two together… “A ‘good Samaritan’ is someone who helps someone else for no apparent reason.” My parents used to use that one a lot.

“G@d! Je$us! Man, PASS the ball! Quit being so d&%n selfish!!” Shouted my father at Andrew Toney, who played for the Sixers back in the day.

“Ohhh!” I realized, “Jesus is God in the flesh, and He committed the most unselfish act of all. I get it now.”

“If I come in this house and these dishes ain’t washed, It’s gone be Armageddon up in here when I get back!” Said my mother upon reaching the end of the rope.

“Ohhh! Armageddon is the battle that occurs at the end of the world!” I discovered after a few times of failing to meet a deadline due to procrastination…

“I don’t know why you askin’ ME for no money! I’m poor as Job’s turkey!”

“Ohhh!” I gathered. “Job was a man, like Daddy, who had had a lot of kids, and was incredibly poor at some point. And if HE didn’t have nothing, you KNOW his turkey was broke! Sorry for asking, Dad.”

Great teachers I had.

(How I learned Civics) “Bring less than a ‘B’ in here if you want to! It’s gone take a act of Congress to pull me off you!!”

(How I learned what color rice was)“Boy! If you don’t turn off that TV and do your homework, I’mma be on you like white on rice!!”

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, God, Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting | 2 Comments

Contra Diction

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who, almost arrogantly,  pronounces each and every letter of every syllable of every word she speaks, grates on my nerves sometimes.

We know you’re smart. We know you’re Ivy League educated. But do you have to go out of your way to elocute even the soft sounds at the ends of words? “…spiked(a) the punnncchh att my best(a) friend(a)s graduation(a) parttee.”  She sounds as if she is spitting out fish bones when she says words like, “terrorrisstss.” Gotta get that darn, tricky “ess”  in at the end! Wouldn’t want to appear ordinary.

If she just spoke like the rest of moderately educated humanity, she could save about fifteen seconds of dialogue per every minute of talking. She could winnow her show down to a half hour!

She sounds like a COGIC preacher.

It’s like listening to Niles Crane recite Shakespeare while gargling marbles. I feel like the next thing she is going to say to me is, “turn(a) lefffft in two pointt threee my-uls.”

Maybe it’s just me… I’ve been ill-tempered lately.

January 8, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Current Events, Entertainment, Humor, Language, MSNBC, Pet Peeves, Political Humor, Politics, Rachel Maddow, Rant, Television, TV, Words | 2 Comments

What’s so Amazing about “Amazing?”

Why do some people use that word so much? Especially in reality shows like “The Real World,” “The Bachelor,” “Rock of Love,” and any other show where people who don’t know each other and are thrust together for the sole purpose of hooking up while we voyeuristically watch? Celebrities wear it out, too! “The director was amazing.” “This movie was an  amazing experience!” “Angelina was just so amazing that I just had to leave my first wife — who used to be amazing. Not so much now…

Overkill indeed! And it’s always spoken with three “a’s” in the middle of it for emphasis and extra amaaazingness. “I had an amaaazing time.” “You’re an amaaazing woman.” “Your body is amaaazing!” You would think they were juggling chainsaws and baking a cake while breastfeeding twins and bathing a cocker spaniel while looking super-hot! Now THAT would be amaaazing!

It is so awkwardly obvious what is going on. It is the verbal equivalent of buying a woman a drink in a club. As subtle as renting a porno movie.

They can’t ALL be amaaazing, can they? If they are, why are they lined up to do reality shows? If they are all amaaazing, where are the regular people? If every thing, situation, and blonde, and brunette is so amaaazing, why is the world so jacked up? If every parent, every child (mine are!) and every relationship is amaaazing, what do we say when we see a nine-month-old who can read, or a savant who can’t speak but can play Chopin, or Stevie Wonder, or Ben Carson, or that father who pushed his paraplegic son through an entire marathon because of a prior wish? Nope. Can’t call it amaaazing because you guys totally, literally diluted the uniquity — if you will — of that term to make some floozy think you were intense!

Save the superfluous superlatives for superlative situations. (I had to sit back and admire that one! Sorry.)

That goes for “miracle,” and “genius,” too!

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Advice, Celebrities, Celebrity, Culture, Current Events, Food for Thought, Humor, Hyperbole, Language, Relationships, Sex, Sexuality, Shallow People, Show Business, Stuff I Hate, Television, Things That Make You Go Hmmm, Words | 3 Comments

Back on the ‘Tation

Want to guarantee your residential subdivision stays all-white?

Put the word, “Plantation” in the name! Baileyville Plantation, Brentwood Plantation, Plantation Estates, Deerfield Plantation… No self-respecting brother, I don’t care HOW much money he has, will be caught living there!

I just heard an ad for one on my local Christian radio station. Slick move, guys. Verrrry slick.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Conservatism, Conservatives, Humor, Race, Racism, Segregation, Stereotypes | 2 Comments

‘Res’dent Obama

I just thought this was funny, so I put it on YouTube so I could put it on the blog. This is Max showing me he knows who the new president is. (McCain was, “BoCain”) Kathy and I laughed and laughed!

The last word is not necessarily a commentary on his views, he is just in perpetual potty training mode.

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Boys, Childhood, Children, Humor, Kids, Kids say the Darndest Things, Laughter, Obama, Parenthood, Parenting, Political Humor, Politicians, Politics, Potty Training | 4 Comments

The First Joke I Ever Wrote

A wife is like a straight-jacket:

You gotta be CRAZY to get one!!

Wrote that in my bitter single days.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Humor, Jokes, Life, Marriage, Quips | 4 Comments

I Don’t Get It.

There are things, entities, and people whose popularity I just don’t understand. As there are too many things vying for the attention God deserves, I suggest that we be more discriminating with our adoration.

Here are a few. I will add more as they come to mind, you may do so as well. I hope I don’t burn any more bridges! I already can’t go back to where I was when I started this whole venture. This post is a little bit on the carnal side.

It’s all in fun, y’all, just jokes…

“Boomerang” era Robin Givens. Don’t get it. Never did. Her affected elocution sounds as though she has a mouth full of greazy marbles, and she looks like she’s pressed up against a force field. Totally two-dimensional face… Mike Tyson was too good for her!

T. Pain. I get the PAIN part. In my eyes and ears. “Buy ME a DRANK” and put some strychnine in it!

The fineness of Paris Hilton. Where? WHERE?

Keith Sweat. Come ON!

While I’m there, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, the “genius” of Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz,  and — yes — Jimi Hendrix.

M.A.S.H. Boringest show ever!!

Madonna. My goodness! Never was sexy, never could sing. Just nasty. I guess nasty is provocative. The emperor is nekkid, y’all.

Janet Jackson.I know I’m alone here. I was able to be mad at her for pulling her bress out on tv ’cause she never appealed to me. Un-fine.

Lil Wayne. This is why we need to re-program our daughters as to what “cute” is! Sets black folk waaay back. We need three Obamas to make up for one Lil Wayne!

  Twins. One is a parasite. The other one sucks your blood.

Steve Harvey. Pryor you ain’t.

David Caruso. (CSI Miami)I guess the definition of “sexy” is being the first man to show your butt on tv, no matter how you look. Arrogance on HGH!

Star Trek. Ughhhhhh! I like C-Span better!

Beer. Who tasted this first and said, “YEAH!! THAT’S the taste I was looking for!”?

Watching poker on television. Read a book. Or play poker!

Tyler Perry. I’m not mad at his effort, just the end result.

Woody Allen movies. Ambien without the fear of overdose.

Other movies; “Citizen Kane,” “The English Patient,” “My Left Foot,” and ANYthing Meryl Streep did.

Allen Iverson. As much heart as missed shots.

And Emmitt Smith (very good, but not the GREATEST), Bill Parcells, and Jim Rome (bullies).

Pecans. HATE ’em! Taste like bark.

Runway Fashion. No one ever wears the cardboard evening gown with the birdcage hat in public.

Horror movies. They never end. I like my monsters DEAD!

Fraternities. I know I’m stepping on toes here. “Hey, let me beat the blood out of you, and humiliate you for weeks, and I’ll let you call me ‘brother’, and then I’ll wreck your car, and borrow money from you that I’ll never pay back!” Stupid.

High Fives. Stopped doing it when everybody else started doing it, along with, saying, “bling,” “shout out,” “chill,” and “da bomb.” Do YOU.

Sagging pants with the drawz showing. Don’t y’all know that is prison chic? The ones who do it are the “woman” in prison.

Hip Hop award shows. Personally, I’m em-burrassed when I run across it. I’m sure God hides His face when they give Him props for Best Song for“Three Hoes an’ a Bottle o’ Criss.”

Spoken word. Pretentious for the most part.

Monique. Wake up! She ain’t deep! Even if she DOES frown seriously with every word! Can’t y’all read Ghetto?

Dr. Pepper. Is this not what anti-freeze tastes like?

Diet anything. Just drink water. I can actually HEAR the aftertaste! That can’t be good.

Bell Peppers. Who said this was FOOD?

ANGELINA JOLIE!!! The Piece of Resistance indeed! Where? Where the sexy at? Come on, folks, speak up. I know I ain’t the only one! If a set of lips made you fine, goldfish would be in Playboy.

This is just the start. I got a lot of them. I’m sure you do, too. I can’t talk Bible all the time…

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Culture, Entertainment, Humor, Hype, Overrated, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Rant, Stuff I Hate, Style Over Substance | 11 Comments

The Truth Fairy

You can tell how old you are by how much you used to get from the tooth fairy. Kind of like gauging the age of a tree by counting the rings.

“Shoot! We’re gonna have to give Max and Diana a dollar a tooth for it to mean anything!” I told Kathy.

I used to get a dime…

October 14, 2008 Posted by | Humor, Kids, Life, Parenthood, Parenting, Tooth Fairy | 5 Comments

PROnunciation: Nunciating for money.

I was on the road this past weekend working with a different band, and my friend, Curtis, and I got into a conversation about how unsatisfied and unhappy I was in the group in which I normally play.

“I’m a disgruntled employee,” I said. I paused, “Hey, man, what’s up with that word? You ever thought about it? Every time somebody shoots up a post office, or a place of business, they are always called, ‘disgruntled’.” He laughed.

“I mean, have you ever heard somebody use the word, ‘gruntled‘? ‘I was disgruntled yesterday, but I got my check in the mail, an’ I’m pretty gruntled today!’ “ We both fell out laughing.

“Yeah,” Curtis said, “DIS- is a prefix, and you would think that the root word would stand alone. But I’ve never heard that word, ‘gruntled’ before. Man, you’re crazy! You think about some weird stuff!” Laughing.

“Naw, man, I’m serious! I been thinking about that for years! I think about that kind of stuff a lot. Like look at the word ‘unscathed’. When was the last time you heard about somebody being in a car wreck on the news, and the reporter said, ‘Yeah, the victim got scathed up pretty good. He was so scathed that he is in critical condition.’ And what is ‘critical condition’ anyway? Is that when you are hurt up so bad that you get two thumbs down? Or does it mean that the doctors all crowd around you and criticize you, like, ‘Wow! That’s terrible! Awful! Look at how his leg is bent! He shoulda known better than trying to ride that motorcycle drunk!’?”

We laughed non-stop for about five minutes.

I love words!

DISgruntled, UNscathed, DISpensed (Has anybody ever “pensed” you?)

What are some others?

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Humor, Language, Life, Things That Make You Go Hmmm, Words, Work | 7 Comments

“Lock the door behind me!”

Why is it that the people who claim to advocate “Small Government” want a job in it?

I keed!

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Government, Humor, Political Humor, Republicans, Rhetorical Questions | 4 Comments

Furr’n Policy

I could have been dozing, but I thought I heard President Bush say this on the teevee during his taped speech at the RNC:

“And what’s all this about Sarah Palin not havin ‘foreign policy experience?’

“Hello?!? She was guv’ner of Alaska!”

September 5, 2008 Posted by | Bush, George Bush, Humor, Politicians, Politics, Republican Convention, RNC, Sarah Palin | 1 Comment

Kathy and I were talking:

As we were watching the RNC on teevee,

“McCain’s mom sure looks good to be as old as they say she is,” I said, when they put the camera on her.

“Yeah,” Kathy responded.

“They call HIM old, but if HE  was on the Mayflower, SHE  was on the Ark!”

“Naw,” Kathy replied, “She was back there wit Eve!”

“Shoooot!” I said, “She IS Eve! That’s why his name is McCAIN!”

 

 

Sorry, y’all… Christians can laugh, too, right?

Oh, yeah… and Palin looks like Tina Fey.

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Conservatives, Elections, Humor, John McCain, McCain, Politicians, Politics, Republican Convention, Republicans, RNC | , | 9 Comments

Forgive Us Our Trusspasses…

Kathy had to sing at a wedding this past weekend.

At the rehearsal Friday, the bride-to-be informed her that the woman who was to sing The Lord’s Prayer ghosted her, and she — right then — begged Kathy to sing it.

Having grown up COGIC, she said that they never “sang” the song, that they only recited it in prose form (Amelodically, if you will). She came home and told me this, and my heart went out to her. I HATE doing weddings! I have played a bunch of them, and have seen my share of calamitous mishaps.

Like the time I did a wedding with my best friend, Kevin, who sings

The building had three walls of brick and a fourth one of glass. Thirty feet high and probably a hundred feet long. Of course the wedding party would make use of that wonderful view of nature as a backdrop. They were all set up in front of the window.

Everything went smoothly right up until the preacher began doing the vows.

There were, on this late spring day, trees right outside full of birds chirping and singing. Something must have startled them.

In one synchronous move — you know how birds do — they all took flight. It was at a very quiet and solemn point in the service (maybe somebody was praying…).

At the very moment when they would have slammed into the window, all the birds veered right.

All but one.

Now, Kevin and I should have been deep in prayer, I’m sure, but we weren’t.

One near-sighted bird missed his turn and hit that window like an open hand —SPLAPPA! — and, just like a cartoon, slid down about twenty feet to the ground. It was very quiet in there.

My boy and I were THROUGH! He sniggled and tried to catch it but didn’t. I think some snot came out a little bit. I held my breath and started praying myself like somebody had sprinkled some anthrax in the room. People started looking at us. Glaring at us. “Silly musicians.”

In order to play it off, at times like these I always start fiddling with my mouthpiece, or my reed, or something to distract me from all the laughter that is dammed up inside my mouth. It was cool in there, but I was sweating and thinking that if I closed my eyes no one could see me.

There was another time where this arrogant lady singer who thought she knew it all and didn’t bother to show up for the wedding rehearsal, and she waved off any pre-ceremony run-through with the piano player. As a matter of fact, she said haughtily that she would be doing the tune a capello. When it all got going, she got lost, and with her hand at her side, waved for the piano player to start playing. He flipped through the wedding program, and acted like he didn’t even see her!
When she got through dropping that stinkbomb, you could have heard folks thinking up in there it was so quiet!

So, back to Kathy…

I had a gig and couldn’t be there as intended, but I couldn’t stand the thought of my girl up there laying eggs and getting laughed at. So we spent hours trying to get that melody ingrained in her head. I found some clips of people on YouTube singing it. Some were good, some were… not. But we found two that were good enough to give her the gist.

She sang it, and sang it, and sang it. And Max started to pick it up, too. Kathy kept running through it after I left for my Friday night gig, but by the time I got home at about 2 AM, she groggily told me that the melody just didn’t sink in. I sang it with her, and she did fine, but when left on her own, she was sort of all over the place.

I was feeling bad, but I told her that since I had prayed for her, she would do fine. The Lord didn’t want her to be up there messing up the song He wrote!

I had an idea! I would write the words on paper, and put lines above each syllable to indicate whether to go up or down, or to stay on the same note as the one before. Like such:

We tried that for a while, but as she doesn’t read music, and the lines above the words didn’t tell her what notes to sing, it didn’t work. And she was now falling asleep.

I had one final epiphany: I went into the living room and got my old micro-cassette recorder (which I still use to write horn lines), re-wound the tape to the beginning, and sang the song in a key in which I thought she would be comfortable. I went and woke her up and gave her my plan knowing she wouldn’t go for it. It was too risky.

The wedding started. Kathy was in the back left side of the room by the DJ table. When her turn to sing came, she took her ipod earphones, stuck one in her left ear under her hair, away from the crowd (She could do this because their backs were turned until she got going.), she ran the cord down the side of her dress somehow, and plugged it into the mini recorder which she held behind her back, looking all formal and stuff! She pushed play.

“Baby! We sang that song!!” she told me on the phone afterward.

“We? Who else sang it wit you?”

“YOU!! I said ‘we’! I hit that button, and we rocked it! You got a little ahead o’ me at one part, but I just waited till you paused, and I caught up wit ya!”

She was so happy. And so was I. I couldn’t let my baby fall.

Yeah, she cheated. WE cheated, but I can’t help but think that the Lord was leaning on the windowsill chuckling at His kids.

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Embarrassing Situations, God, Humor, Life, Marriage, Music, Singing, The Lord's Prayer, Wedding Songs, Weddings, YouTube | , , , , | 6 Comments

Heart of Stone

While I’m on the subject of music, I thought I’d fill you in on that story I said I’d tell you a while back.

It is a sordid tale of trust, loyalty, disloyalty, apathy and disillusionment.

Shortly after 9/11, when the nation was in turmoil, I got a house-gig working with what would become the best band I’ve ever played in. I got the job like this: My bandleader at the time went on an extended crack binge, and seeing the “smoke signals,” I hurriedly got some business cards and went downtown to make my availability known! A week or so later, the Lord blessed me with a job at BB Kings club downtown. We would be the backing band for the headliners, Larry Springfield (of “Star Search” fame), Ruby Wilson (OMG! Wait’ll I get the chitlins to tell you about HER!), and the late, great, Little Jimmy King (gone too soon at 33!).

While I looked at it as just another gig, it turns out that there were guys in this group who had world class abilities. We consisted of the standard rhythm section plus trumpet and me on tenor sax.

The guitar player, Steve, had played with Howard Hewitt, Glenn Jones, Jeffery Osborn, Jill Scott, and saxophonist, Mike Phillips. The bass player, Anthony, was about 19 and had the chops of a guitar player. The drummer, Marles, was a beast. With much drama in his life! The trumpet player we ended up gettng, Marc, is the best trumpet player I have worked with, by far. And the bandleader, Jonathan, was in demand as a producer and has a voice that channels Donny Hathaway!

It is Jonathan, and headliner, Larry, through whom most of our opportunities for real industry work came. The management group for singer, Brian McKnight, on the advice of Larry, came to check us out in ’02 to see if we would be the group to hire to back their client, model and singer (in that order), Cherokee. We got the job. I started to think that I was really on my way after that!

We did one gig, in D.C., before her deal fell through. She was one of pretty much a horde of cute little pop singers with average — at best — voices. It was a crap shoot with loaded dice.

Jonathan was in negotiations to do a production deal with a well-known singer whom I hesitate to name not out of fear, but because I don’t want to cause Jonathan any problems since he — amazingly — still works with her at times. Besides, Kathy thought it wise that I not, as badly as I want to do it. Trust me, though, she is someone you have heard if you listen to any r&b music nowadays. It is she about whom I write. I’ll call her Patty.

Jonathan ended up signing with her. Our deal with the club was that we could do outside work of any kind as long as we either told the club in advance, or hired a substitute to play our position. That turned out to be not so true. BB’s is in Memphis, and Memphis is in the South. This factored in to a lot of the problems we had there.

So, JoNa, as we called him, would sub out quite a lot because in addition to being Patty’s producing partner (she was working on her second record), he was also hired to head up her live band, which was peopled with young guys who JoNa said were unpolished and unhip. He had been trying to get Patty to hire the band he worked with in Memphis, and she was apparently, reluctantly, warming to the idea seeing how bad JoNa was.

In the summer of ’03, I got a call from Jonathan: ” You ready?” he asked.

“Ready for what?”

“Patty got booked to do this cruise, and she just fired her band! We in!”

My heart was beating like those cops on Rodney King! This was IT! “Yeah, I’m ready!” all teeth.

So we did the cruise with one rehearsal with Patty, (still another story) and did so well that Patty assured us (I got it on tape) that she would do right by us. Meaning that since we did the two shows for about $500 — a pittance on that level — she would do better in the future and that we would be her band. Here it was! I was in the industry! Just like I pictured it! Skyscrapers, everythang!* Now, I would get my chance to network with people who would hear me and hire me for bigger and better stuff. I would be able to make real money and not have to remain at the club where I had to argue just to get a bill** a night while they cleared 80 grand a week! Be aware that when you go to these tourist spots that the bands — which drive the industry — get chicken change. BB’s would be Apple-B’s without live entertainment. Someone needs to show that to management!

In July of ’03, we got word that we were going to Detroit to headline a show at Ford Field, where the Lions play. Big show! We started rehearsing in Memphis five or six days a week. It was grueling and none of us liked it. We were being pushed hard. On top of that, Marc and I had to create horn parts for all of Patty’s music, which had none. We did this before, too, and since she had just released a new album (you can still say “album.” That is the forum, like a photo album. The CD is just the format. I’ve wanted to say that for a long time!), so we had to do it again for a whole record. Patty reserved the right to cut whatever we did, and this was a source of stress for Marc and me for obvious reasons. She never showed up for any of the whole month of rehearsals!

JoNa informed management that we would be gone Thursday, the 28th, and Friday, the 29th, and that we would be back to play on Saturday. We were cleared. 

I need to say this right here… Before we got the BB’s gig, the band that had the job — along with their frontman, blues singer, Preston Shannon — left for a higher paying job at the now defunct, Isaac Hayes’ Club one street over. They were rivals. Another good story there. They had by now been let go and were sniffing around back at our club for their job back. We had established a rocky relationship because we basically would not go for the “okey-doke.” Jonathan, a militant with a gift (and a love) for arguing, would let nothing get by. They HATED him! But we were so good! 

We had been fired and re-hired by now, and the new management (hint, hint) had cooled to us significantly. We had been working Monday through Saturday, but Preston got them to give him Monday nights. We were not happy about it, but we were all good friends. We were upset at the bosses, not the labor. So now down to five nights a week, we were all wondering when the next shoe would fall. There were new rumors every hour. They still operate that way to this day!

So, “Yeah,” JB, the club G.M., said, “We’ll get Preston to sub for you guys. No problem.” I heard him myself. 

Here it is.

We depart for Detroit and this gig, which by the way, pays about four hundred dollars less than it should. Patty has not done one rehearsal with us.

When we did the cruise, she barely spoke to any of us, as charming and Southern as we all were. We thought presumptuously that we would have her eating out of our collective hand. NOT! It was on that cruise that we learned pretty much all we needed to know about Patty.

The morning after the show, at about 8 AM, I got a call from Patty’s manager saying that they were waiting on us down on the lower deck to sign autographs. We had been up all night celebrating a great show, and I was in no mood to be getting up after only three or four hours of sleep. I got up.

When we all got downstairs, Patty’s manager gathered us all together and said frantically, “Thank y’all for coming down! Patty is having respiratory problems and she asked me to have you all sign autographs for her. There is a room full of people waiting for y’all!”

Now, right here, something started ringing in the back of my head.

When the manager, “Pinky,” walked hurriedly into the room, we all hung back and I said, “Man, wassup it that? Don’t nobody want our autographs! They came to see Patty! We ain’t got no T-shirts wit our faces on ’em! They don’t know us from a can of paint!” I really didn’t want to go in that room and look like a fool.

“I do hope Patty is gonna be all right, though,” I naively said.

Her background singer, Stephanie, gave me the Sister Mouth and shot, “Boy!! Ain’t nothin’ wrong wit that heffa!She just mad at TMC!”

Oh.

“TMC” (not his real name) was her boyfriend at the time. He went everywhere she did, and lived his living by meeting certain of her needs. He was an ex-con who was a “rapper,” and they were supposed to be in lovvvve. Gonna get married. They fought like two cats though. A cougar and a tomcat. She has operated by the same formula for years. Still does.

So, they got into it about one trivial thing or another, and it meant that the band had to get up before the dolphins and endure the angrily muttered discontent of Patty’s fans.

This was a precursor. I hope you’re still with me. It gets better. Or worse, depending…

In Detroit, we went from the airport directly to the venue for a short sound check. Rather than just check everything out and go check in to the hotel, we launched into a full fledged rehearsal! No one was happy! What she should have done for a month in Memphis, which was her agreement, she tried to do for three hours in the stadium. The sound guys were livid. Curt and short. No one blamed them.

One thing: When Patty’s people bought the tickets for the band, they took it upon themselves — knowing full well that we had a regular gig to get back to — to book our return tickets for Sunday! Meaning that we could get fired from BB’s for not showing up for work Saturday night, on thin ice as we were. When JoNa found this out, he called Patty’s management, and through a lot of back-and-forth, it wound up that the only solution was that each returning band member would have to pay $100 of his own cash to have the tickets changed. Apparently the only returning flights for such short notice were a lot higher, and an hour NORTH of Detroit in Flint!

So, this big star with all this money and clout, who promised to “do right by us,” couldn’t foot the bill for a huge mistake made by her own people? She would pass it down to guys who had to scrap a living $100 at a time.

After our sound check/rehearsal, we checked in to the hotel (where all the people coming to the gig were staying. Remember that!), and went to dinner at a fancy restaurant where I met mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick.

We needed a place to rehearse the next day, and they ended up finding a place way ‘cross town in the hood. We had to take about three cabs to get there. We spent our own money, which was to be reimbursed. “Was this how it was?” I asked myself. “On this level?” Shoot! I did a chitlin-circuit blues festival back in ’96 in Alaska with Little Jimmy King that paid twice as much ( I had to strong-arm him for my cash! He tried to pull a fast one on me. I got fired when I got back home…), and we were chauffeured everywhere! We didn’t have to hail no doggone cabs!

Patty wasn’t with us, though. She took her three background singers shopping with her while the band kicked off the rehearsal! We couldn’t believe it! The singerswere the ones who needed the dadgum practice! Besides, Marc and I needed to know what she thought of the lines we had written, and we needed the time to make the changes and commit them to memory. But she was busy shopping!

They rolled up, with TMC, about four hours later — now, this is the day of the gig — falling out of the car with bags of clothes crackling like Christmas morning.

The backing singers line up on the stage with their music stands to hold the lyrics (!) and we get going. Patty is looking mean and surly sitting up against a wall in the front of the room. She proceeds to change everything — the horn lines (she cut most of them), the vocal arrangements, the feel — everything.

The tension was thick like rush hour in Beijing. Everyone was on edge and snapping at each other. This was definitely not the way I envisioned the “Music Business.” No fun anywhere to be found.

After a couple of hours, we took a break. Marc, formerly of Preston’s band, either called or got a call from Tom, Preston’s sax player. They were engaged in casual conversation until it turned to the subject of BB’s.

It went something like this: “So, how’s it going at the club?” Marc asked.

“It’s cool, you know. Same ol’ stuff. You know how they are. I’m getting ready to head down there now. After tonight, one more night of it, then you guys can have it back!” Tom complained.

“Wait! Whaddaya mean, ‘one more night’?” Marc asked.

“Yeah. You know… Thursday, Friday, Saturday.”

“Naaaw. You guys aren’t doin’ tomorrow! WE are!” Marc exclaimed.

“All I’m sayin’ is what JB told us. You guys are out the rest of the week.” Calm as a fish pond.

“I’ll call ya back!” Marc hung up.

When he told us what had just happened, a sense of dread came over all the guys in the band.

Jonathan got on the phone immediately with JB. All of us were there, Patty too, sitting over there in the corner looking totally disinterested.

“JB! I specifically told you we would be out Thursday, and Friday, and that we would be BACK to play SATURDAY!!!”  “What?!?” ” No, I specifically TOLD YOU SATURDAY!” “WHAT?!?” “NAW! I don’t care!”  “WELL YOU GOT TA TELL PRESTON HIS BAND AIN’T WORKIN’!”  “WHAT KINDA BIZNESS Y’ALL RUNNIN’ DOWN THERE? IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING! WE WORK EXTRA, AND THE MONEY AIN’T ON THE CHECKS, WE COME DOWN THERE, AND Y’ALL TELL US WE OFF… Y’ALL TREAT US LIKE SOME SLAVES!!”  “WE CHANGED OUR FLIGHT PLANS SPECIFICALLY SO WE COULD GET BACK TO PLAY SATURDAY!”  “WHAT?!?”  “I DON’T CARE!” “YOU DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO, AND I’LL DO WHAT I GOTTA DO” ” WHAT?”  “I’LL CALL TOMMY (the club owner)  MY SELF!”

By now, I got heart meat all in the back of my mouth hearing this…

“Hello? Tommy? This is Jonathan.  I just got off the phone with JB. Yeah. He double-booked the club Saturday.”  “Well, yeah, we’re in Detroit now, but I specifically told him we would be there tomorrow! He fired us.”

(WHAT?!?!?!)

“Okay. If that’s the way you want it. We’ll never work there again!”

(WHAT?!? “WE?!?”)

He hung up. The room was like a wake. All we needed was the body.

“JB fired us. (US?!?) Tommy said JB was in charge. It was his call.” Jonathan revealed.

There it was. With Patty and everybody listening, this gig had gotten us fired. The club had us (or Jonathan, so they thought) where they wanted us. We wondered what role the other band had had in all of this. Jonathan — who was going to sub out at BB’s Saturday, by the way — had gone to bat for us in a big way, and we all were canned.

Immediately I went into rationalization mode: We were in the industry now. Who needs BB’s? Pee on ’em. (I was mad, forgive me.) We were the famous Miss Patty’s band now! BB’s was peanuts! They’d be watching us on tee vee!

With great effort, we resumed rehearsal under this pall. We returned to the hotel with only a couple of hours till showtime.

While we were getting dressed, my roommate, Steve (Nope. She wouldn’t even spring for individual rooms! I bet David Sanborn never had to share a room with Steve Gadd!) got a call. After he hung up the phone…

“We ain’t playin’, mane.” He said with a chuckle and a tone of “I told you.”

“What!”

“The gig is off, dude. We ain’t playin.” He was laughing now. First fired, now this. “Patty called the show off. We done.”

Okay, give me a little leeway here. One of the three background singers, Michelle, is amply endowed in the posterior region. She is huge in the backside. She is enormous in the trunkular area. Biggest tailfeather I’ve ever seen shake! And the funny thing is, it is exactly properly proportioned! I mean, if you boiled her down evenly, by the time she got down to a size two or four, she would be Halle Berry, or some perfectly-shaped starlet. But there would be a LOT of grease on the floor!

But she is about a 70” in the hips. No lie. The thing is… a lot of Brothers like that kind of thing. You would be surprised. Most Black guys are “butt men.” But Michelle got stuck in the Butt Line in front of Angelina Jolie and Miss Jane Hathaway and the last fifty years of Miss Americas.

Here’s what happened: In what appears to have been an attempt to start some trouble, one of the other singers told Patty, “TMC shole is lookin’ at Michelle booty!” You couldn’t NOT see it! You could see it from the front if you were facing the other way with your eyes closed!

(Don’t worry. Kathy knows all of this, and is not upset.)

That was all that was needed.

An argument apparently ensued between Patty and TMC (he was innocent it turns out.), and Patty’s famous “respiratory problems” showed up.

“Naw,” I told myself. “This woman ain’t gonna cancel a show ’cause she got into it with her boyfriend! She ain’t gonna just sit in her room while all these thousands of people who came from all over the country on planes and buses go to the stadium and wait on her to show up! She ain’t that selfish.”

So we got dressed and went down to the lobby to wait to be driven to the venue. As we were waiting with our instruments, people began streaming out of the hotel on their way to the place. “I know y’all gonna kill it!” they all said as they passed and saw our faces. And recognized us for later.

And we sat. And sat. And Patty never showed.

About thirty minutes after we were supposed to be playing, and earning the money for our month of hard work, and justifying getting fired, Pinky came down, looking all troubled, “Patty is having trouble breathing. She won’t be able to perform.” Just like that.

We ambled back to our rooms and pondered our fates. I had just gotten married, and now I was out of one job, and unsure about another. And how were we going to make it out of this hotel with everyone seeing our faces and knowing we stood them up?!? I could only pray that God would sustain me like He had done for the fifteen years before I had even met “Patty”.

Guess what? About an hour later, some of us were at the front desk in our civvies trying to decide where to eat when Pinky popped up, “Good! Here you are! Go get dressed! They want you to perform anyway! Hurry up! Stephanie is gonna do Patty’s set!”

So, with much fear and reluctance, we went to the stadium without Patty, who sulked in her room and let us take this beating for her, and proceeded to lay he biggest, stinkinest egg ever laid in the history of Show Bidness.

Those people, out of at least HUNDREDS, if not thousands of dollars, formally dressed, saw us up there sans Patty and hit the exits like it was the second quarter at a Lions’ game! Within twenty minutes we were playing for the wait staff as they cleared the tables of dishes that had not been used! If they had dropped US on Hiroshima, we probably would have blown up all of Asia!

The next day, on the way back home to nothing, Patty, with the Stones of a safe cracker, peeked onto the bus and said, “Sorry. These things happen.” And left.

“These things happen?” I said. “Yeah. They happen when you MAKE ’em happen!”

Patty sat there and watched us lose our jobs at home, and AFTER that, cancelled a show she could have done, and let us take the heat for it. Because she was mad at her boyfriend.You can understand why I want to say her name. I have seen her make a spectacle of herself on tee vee and recognized her abhorrent behavior.

That was the Injury. The Insult is that we didn’t get paid!!! Some guys eventually got half. Jonathan wound up — I know — giving me mine out of his pocket.

That was the last time Marc and I “played” with Patty.

That is another story.

 

 

 

 

 

* “Living for the City” Stevie Wonder

** $100

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Celebrities, Divas, Embarrassing Situations, Entertainment, Humor, Music, Music Business, Show Business, Singers, Stories, Work | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This’ll Be Funny in a Few Years

I’ve been quite busy since Diana got here. (When she starts doing stuff, I’ll be writing about it. She’s just lying there being cute right now.) I haven’t had the freedom to write a frequently as before.

I want to tell you about what has been going on musically lately. Aside from the fact that I have NO movement on my record and starting my band.

I’ve been playing in a band called KW’EST, headed by bassist, Charles Johnson, which plays jazz (fusion) with a Christian focus. This is a different group than the one I gripe about.

We played a gig this past Sunday night that we do at the same place on the third Sunday of every month. The last date was interesting because of everything that went on surrounding it.

When Diana was born, I pretty much did all the nighttime stuff (and much of the daytime stuff, too) because Kathy was recovering from a c-section. Being a night owl made it a little bit easier until the weekends came and I had to work. Most of my work starts on Fridays, but occasionally there is work during the week, too. Plus, there are always some rehearsals and sessions that come up… Sunday mornings were especially rough because I play in the band there, and we have to be there at 8 AM and play both services. We are usually through at about 12:30. I got NO sleep on Saturday nights (not one minute!) because Diana required a lot through the night. She was not happy with being out of the womb! And the foreclosure crisis and astronomical gas prices had her so upset that she could not sleep.

I dealt with this arrangement knowing it would be only a few months before she began to sleep through the night. So on Sundays, I would usually get three or four hours when we all went to my parents’ house for dinner.

When Kathy was set to return to work, however, her shift was changed (this is one of the many dastardly aspects to her job!) yet again. Now, she has to get up at 4:45 AM(!), and so she has to go to bed soon after we really get rolling with family stuff at the house. Our agreement with taking care of Max was that she would do the nighttime stuff, and I would do all the daytime stuff.

Being a person who has always — since childhood — stayed up past two or three in the morning, I had to try to adjust. I have failed. I routinely stay up till past 4 AM against my own will. Obviously, though, my work schedule makes it logical that I watch Max during the day.

“What does this all have to do with music?” you ask. Bear with me.

I quietly made the decision that I would put Max to bed when the time came (he sleeps later than the norm so that I can.), and that I would care for Diana too so that Kathy could get some sleep. She routinely gets about four or five hours.

So, that being the case, I get two or three hours a night on average.

About four months ago, Kw’est booked a recurring gig, and I received three or four cd’s full of music, 95% of which I had to lead. Max won’t let me practice. He tries to climb into my lap every time I pull my horn out, and he pushes and pulls on the keys (and scrunches me in the scrotum, dads) to the point that I can’t get anything done. So when can I learn this catalog of tunes that I have never heard before?

So, to the present. Last weekend ( August 15-16) my family had a reunion in Nashville three hours away.

When my folks — and wife — asked me about going, I said that I would go if I didn’t have a gig. I don’t miss work. I got that from my parents. The band, A-440, in which I regularly (seldomly, lately) play usually has a lot of weddings and private functions this time of the year, and I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t miss one.

As time passed, though, I thought about all the family functions I had missed over the years, and how many of my beloved relatives I had not seen in so many years, and I decided that we would go. I wanted them all to meet my kids, too. I would just have to miss whatever gig came up. So I thought…

Actually, what happened was that three weeks ago someone called me about doing a job, and I said, “I don’t know. I heard we are workin’ that night. Let me call you back in an hour to see if we are.”

I found out that I couldn’t reach the boss because he was on vacation with his family.

When Kathy heard THAT, she flew off the tracks while she was chopping onions; “Awww, so HE gits to go on a vacation with HIS family while his band is sittin’ at the house, huh?!? Y’all ain’t hardly worked all summer, and he’s been constantly workin’ wit everybody! (that was true) You sittin’ around here talkin’ about you not gonna go see your family that you ain’t seen in years, and you gittin’ ready to turn down some work bein’ laid in yo’ lap cause you got integrity! ‘Cause you tryin’ to keep yo’ word!”

“Well, I jus…”

“You betta call him back and tell him you’ll do that gig!!” And that was that on that!

My bandleader is what we black folk call, “triflin’ ” when it comes to handling the business. A-440, I mean. We would routinely not find out about a gig until the day before. And that was if WE called to inquire! Not to mention allll the other stuff that frustrates the “goodness” out of me.

So I decided then to go to Nashville on Friday and return Sunday, the 17th, to make church. I knew I would be tired, but by now, I was used to it. I could get a couple of hours Sunday afternoon before my Sunday night gig with Kw’est. Or so I thought…

Thursday, Kathy and I realized that due to some “financial mishaps” we were waaay short on some bills that were due to be removed from our account on Friday, the 15th.

“I can’t go to the reunion, ” I told Kathy. She refused to go without me. Okay, so now, we aren’t going. I would not get to see cousins I played with as a child. I would not get to see the uncles and aunts who love me so much and whom I love so much in return. This was my knee jerk reaction. After a couple of minutes of thinking, I called the bandleader. Now, by this time I had already told him that I would not be able to do the Saturday night date.

“Hey, John, this is Derrick. You find anybody to sub for me Saturday yet?” I asked.

“Naw. I got some possibilities, but they ain’t called me back yet.”

“Well, call ’em back. I can’t afford to miss Saturday, so I ain’t goin’ to the reunion.” Now, here, I expected a sympathetic reaction something like, “You ain’t goin?!? Aw, man, I hate to hear that. Thass my bad! I know we ain’t been workin’ that much, but I’m gonna do better…”

What I got was: “Aw. Thass cool! I had called Alan, but he didn’t answer the phone. I’ll call him back and tell him ‘thass okay’.” No regret at all in his voice.

“What time does it start,” I asked.

“8:30 at the Germantown Country Club.”

“Cool. I’ll see you then.” I hung up.

When I told Kathy how the conversation went, she made the “Sister Mouth” and said, “Um” skeptically in the back of her throat and left it at that. (Ask your black friend.)

Upon further thought, and council with the Holy Spirit, I decided we would go to the reunion and just leave at about 4:30 in the afternoon. Which was right when everything was getting going good, it turns out.

I made arrangements to get some money till the weekend was over.

So, I was up all night Thursday night to make sure Diana got fed at about four, which I do every night, and Kathy went to work Friday morning. I got about two or three hours of sleep before Max woke up, and when Kathy got home, we packed and left.

I drove through the rain (I got sleepy about thirty minutes in), and we arrived at about ten. We fellowshipped with family, checked into the hotel, and I got to sleep sometime after 1 AM. I thought I would finally get eight hours of sleep. I thought…

Diana, used to that 4 or so AM feeding woke up angrily at five griping about all the negative campaign ads airing on TV. She, being so dependent on outside help, is a Democrat right now.

So after getting four hours of sleep, I wasn’t able to fall back.

I felt like I was going to have a breakdown. We went to the picnic, and as I said, right when everyone was getting settled in for a day (and night) of fun, I packed up my dejected wife and crying son and drove the three hours back to Memphis to do a gig at a place I hate with a band I don’t enjoy for some money which I shouldn’t need but do.

The gig was over at 12:30 Sunday morning, and I had to go buy diapers afterward because both kids were out of them. I got home at about 1:30, and had to at least listen to the material for church Sunday morning and the gig Sunday night, practically every song of which I had to lead. When did I have time to learn these songs? When did I get to sleep? Well, at least I would get a couple of hours after church, right?

On the way home, I got a text message from Charles, the Kw’est bandleader, stating that since the band wasn’t able to rehearse Saturday (I was excused from that one), we would have to rehearse at 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon! No excuses.

Okay. At least I would be able to come back home and get something to eat and maybe lie down for an hour. So I thought.

The saxophone is the quietest instrument in the band, relying on the vibration of a three inch reed to produce the sound. Everything else is amplified electrically except the drums, which are loud enough by themselves. So, in order to be heard in a group setting, I need a microphone!

When we got to the rehearsal, which was at the venue at which we were playing, there was no sound man, so while everyone else had their own amps, I had to resort to simply blowing harder in order to be heard. The drummer asked me to turn and face him because he still couldn’t hear me.

One keyboard player — we have two in the band — neglected to show up till over two hours later. (When I called him at 3:40 to see whee he was, he was at home asleep!) Two problems; HE was the one who needed the most work, AND the rehearsal was supposed to only last for two freekin’ hours!!! Rehearsing during soundcheck is a professional no-no.

We ended up having to run over everything we had already done when he got there, and it ended up being a four hour rehearsal for a three hour gig!

And I didn’t get to go back home. No food. No sleep. And I haven’t slept for almost five months. And I have already played two church services, and a four hour rehearsal with no microphone. My mouth is SHOT! (imagine squatting for four straight ours…) And I have to be up front entertaining people, playing unfamiliar material confidently and alertly. But “The show must go on.” No excuses.

Oh, yeah, and the person after whom I have patterned my entire professional life is going to be there. And my tank is empty. Here is my chance to have Kirk see me in the environment I claim to be born for, and I have been sapped of all my mental and physical strength. And HE is the one I remember saying that to get that big shot is to be prepared at all times. I wasn’t hoping that he would sign me or anything like that. I just wanted him to know that I was ready. And I wasn’t. And no excuse was sufficient. People spent their money on a product, and they don’t want to hear, “Oh, the food isn’t as good because the cook is sick.”

I couldn’t even remember the horn line to, “What You Won’t Do For Love,” which I’ve been playing for fifteen years! My brain was fried. I felt that I had let myself and the band and the audience down. And the sound man was taping the show! I kept thinking that I surely didn’t want to hear that monstrosity.

Kirk (Whalum) sat in with us and played the paint off the walls! He was great. My parents, sisters, and church members were there in force, and they loved everything. I remember praying to God during one song that He get me through this night because I couldn’t hold myself up. I think He carried me.

The one thing about playing music is that when the audience is caught up in the moment, they can sometimes see the colors but can miss the lines that separate them. Ask Simon Cowell. Listening to a recording can often tell a different story.

The sound man forgot to tape the show! Look at God!

There is no overarching moral here. I just wanted to write about my weekend. But I DO know that God lets adversity occur in order to tone up the muscles. And I don’t mind that. I’m getting pretty strong in my soul bone lately!

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Humor, Life, Music, Parenthood, Playing Music, Work, Writing | 6 Comments

Why Ya Think They Call ‘Em “Happy Meals?”

Max bows his head sorrowfully, as if about to pray, “Daddy?” soft as a whisper.
“What?!” I answer, sharply.
“Paw Paw… Richie-Ryan… Chic-kan nug-gets,” referring to my father and two young nephews and a food he likes.
I cover my face so he can’t see me smile.
 
Okay, imagine John Edwards saying to his wife: “Hey, Honey, did you lose weight or do something to your hair? You look GREAT!!”


Or Senator Craig saying to the arresting officer: “Wow, they sure keep these airport bathrooms spotless!”

 

Max, two years old now, has just gotten caught doing one of his list of a thousand daily things he knows not to do, and is trying to soften up the wrath.
“Paw Paw… Richie-Ryan… Chic-kan nug-gets.” I hear it twenty times a day.
But what can ya do?
 

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Boys, Children, Christian Life, Discipline, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Home Life, Humor, John Edwards, Kids, Larry Craig, Life, Max, Parenthood, Parenting | 6 Comments

Another Malaprop

Kathy, on this post-partum diet, said to me yesterday, “I’m thinkin’ about becomin’ a veterinarian.”

“Fine, ” I shot back, “You can doctor on aaall the animals you want to, as long as you still cook ’em up for me!”

August 13, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Diet, Dieting, Food, Food for Thought, Home Life, Humor, Malaprops, Vegetarians | 2 Comments

Welcome to the Club(bed Foot)

CRASH!! STUB!!

“Oww! Sunnava…!!”

Okay. I’m officially a daddy now, kicking one of the kids’ toys — a heavy one! — in the dark in the middle of the night while making my rounds.

August 10, 2008 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Humor, Life | 2 Comments

Kidspeak

“Daddy, Daddy!”

I’m looking at a movie. Max is crawling all over my back looking through the window behind me into the sunroom.

“Daddy, Daddy! Ma Targit!” he pleads, tapping me on the shoulder. I’m watching a movie.

“What did you say?” I asked.

He is two inches from my face, and I’m backing up, and he’s moving in: “Ma targit, ma targit!” As though his life was at stake.

“Your what?”

“Ma targit. Ma targit!” He is pointing into the sunroom, which stays locked to keep him out.

“Pleeease?”

“Okay. Show me whatcha talking ’bout.”

We get up, and he pulls me into the back room and runs to get the object of his urgency.

The instrument he has been playing with ever since it was iven to him a couple of months ago: His targuit. His GUITAR! He switched the syllables! It was so funny that while he was still playing with it, I had to write it down before I forgot.

Is there such a thing as “verbal dyslexia?” Welll, the Bible does say that “the last shall be first.” He’s just doing God’s will.

July 23, 2008 Posted by | Baby Talk, Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Max | 2 Comments

Home Trainin’

“Hey, Max!”

“What, Daddy?” Smiling.

“Max, don’t say ‘what’ when I call you, okay? Say, ‘Yes, Daddy?’.”

“Okay, Daddy.”

He walks away. Five seconds later…

“Hey, Max?”

“What, Daddy?”

This is gonna take some time.

July 21, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Home Training, Humor, Kids, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 5 Comments

Babee Tawk

“Jlknsphote giso dnb tjiom rhsdder!” Max said to me, dead serious.

“What?!?” I thought.

So, I repeated what he said, word for word: “Jlknsphote giso dnb tjiom rhsdder?”

He frowned and looked at me out the side of his eye as if to say, “Man, what’s da mattah witchou? Speak Englitch!”

Then he said, “No, Dah! Sefcka tehpmfn hse SOAVEX!”

“Oh. Okay. MY bad.”

It was so funny! What he said to me — he always has these extended conversations with us — made perfect sense to him on the inside of his head. Everything makes sense in there! Including putting cell phones and dead leaves in his mouth, using a sharpie on my desk and the washing machine, and pushing and pulling the keys on my horn while I’m playing it. Oh… and getting his big head stuck under the couch!

Whatever he said, it sure wasn’t what I said. What I said was just gibberish, I guess.

June 17, 2008 Posted by | Babies, Baby Talk, Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 2 Comments

What a Difference a Play Makes

Wow. The world is inside out. Who’da thunk it? Here we are with a black Presidential nominee, me (the perpetual uncle), married with two kids, and I’m pulling for the Celtics, and against the Lakers!!!

“Daddy, who you want to win?” I asked, at ten years old.

“The Steelers,” he answered, eyes never turning from the screen.

“Highcome?”

“Cause they tough! They’ll knock yo’ (bleep) outdowes! Plus, they got a black quarterback!” Daddy loves toughness. So do I. Leopards and rhinos are my favorite animals for that reason.

The Steelers became my favorite team.

“Daddy, who you want to win?”

“The Yankees.”

“Highcome?”

“Reggie Jackson. He can knock a aspirin to the moon, and he got a rifle for an arm (most people forget that). Plus, the Dodgers ain’t got no Brothers on the team.” I hated the LA Dodgers, then.

“Daddy, who you want to win?”

“Ali!!”

For all those obvious reasons. Plus, he was cocky! Not Arrogant! He said what he was gonna do, and he did it! Flat out. He never made one feel as though he were innately inferior as a human being. He was as fun to listen to as to watch. My folks loved Ali, Mom too. So, I hated Frazier, Liston, Foreman — the first one, Norton, and Quarry.

Daddy loved Jim Brown. So much so that he wore the number 44 because that was Brown’s number at Syracuse. (And that was my number when I played basketball in the military) If I had a doggone scanner(!) I could show you how much like Brown he looked.

My parents grew up in Jim Crow Arkansas and Florida. If your team had a black player on it, they liked you. If you didn’t, they rooted against you. It seemed, I guess, that if you had black players on your team, it was proof that you were not a racist. It was one of the signs we had in the new free America where it was all of a sudden not vogue to utter overt racist statements.

So they — and by extension, I — loved USC and hated Notre Dame and Alabama and Ole’ Miss. I Loved UCLA and Georgetown basketball, and hated Indiana and Kentucky. And I hated the Cowboys. And the Utah Jazz. (Utah=Jazz?!? That’s like saying that John Philip Sousa played bebop!) If you didn’t like me, I didn’t like you.

So (Post Bill Russell) my daddy hated the Boston Celtics. And so did I. My whole life. Till now…

Daddy went to coach and teach at an all white school which had always been easy win, and by a string of track and basketball victories,  proceeded to inculcate a thirty year culture of winning that exists to this day. He had those white kids running and shooting to the point that they were whipping black schools all over the county! The track team won so much that the other schools protested (Germantown had their own track on campus) and in a knee-jerk move the school board cut their track program.

As a kid, I never saw so many white folks love a black dude as much as those rich white folks loved my daddy! And not as a servant. He taught their children, made men and women of them. At Christmas time, it was a ritual for my sisters and me to see how many presents he got from the kids and their parents. They loved him and he loved them. He was fine with white folks as long as they were fine with him. Daddy was hard.

So, it is under that cloud that I find myself where I am today. Living in a paradox.

note: I use the word “hate” here in the competitve sense only

All through my childhood, I hated the Celtics. Havlicek, Cowens, Hot Rod Hunley. Even Jojo White and Tiny Archibald. “How they gone sell us out like that? Playin’ for them white Boston folks who hate black folks!” I was just a kid, y’all…

And in ’79 when Larry Bird went to– where else– the Celtics, I hated him, too. Although I had started to hate him the year before when Indiana State dared to try to beat Michigan State for the NCAA Championship. I couldn’t stand him or Danny Ainge or McHale or that bandwagon jumper, Bill Walton, when he played for them. And I hated those “Oreos”* Cornbread Maxwell, M.L. Carr, Robert Parrish, and Dennis Johnson (whom I loved when he played for Seattle and beat those Washington Bullets whom I hated ’cause I couldn’t stand that fat butt Wes Unseld! I was only a kid, y’all)

I had always said that I wouldn’t pull for them blankin’ Celtics if my own MAMA played on the team!

The Sixers were my team during that time. Along with the Lakers. I rationalized that I would pull for the Lakers unless they were playing Doc and the Sixers. Dr. J. was the coolest display of power on the Earth! Till Jordan came. But Magic Johnson was smoother than Stacy Adams’** on a greasy floor! I loved that dude!

I remember when the Celtics beat the Lakers in the finals in the eighties… I walked outside and felt that the whole doggone summer was ruined. What was the point?

— Enter Kobe Bryant stage left–

 I was still a Laker fan — the Chicago Jordans were my hands down favorite, though– when through a trade, Kobe was made a Laker. I was, however, put off by his high school press conference(!) when, sunglasses on head, he announced his intent to forego college and jump straight to the NBA (cue the screeching teenyboppers…). But I managed to give him a clean slate.

There was a moment, just a fleeting moment, in the finals of the first of their three-peat when I noticed– in a flash — a display of supreme arrogance. I can’t adequately describe it. It was the crossing of that fiber-thin line that separates cockiness, confidence, from arrogance. Arrogance. That flimsy film that delineates pride from excessive pride. I saw it. Maybe he didn’t mean for me to see it, but I did. And I was then and forever through with him and whoever he played for.

As cool as I thought Shaq was, he was on Kobe’s team, so he was the enemy. Sorry, Shaq.

From that point, Kobe proceeded to prove me right. We began to hear rumors about a rift between him and O’neal, the consummate team guy. Kobe went from a guy who shot three or four airballs in a playoff game to the point where he thought he was good enough to not need his big man. He wanted to do it himself. Did Magic run Kareem off?

He has developed a reputation for being phoney. I saw all that.

So, after a lifetime of pulling for the Lakers, I jumped ship.

I will pull for the San Diego Satans before I root for a Kobe Bryant team. I hate arrogance.
I’d root for the Arizona Anti-Christs first.

Sorry, Rick Trotter. I know he is your man, and I know that you will say that (MY man) Jordan was the same way. I disagree. But I can no more explain to you the difference than I can explain the degree to which my right knee hurts more than my left! Besides,he got his whole style, his whole game, from Jordan! He walks like him, uses the exact same gestures, and must have been fed Jordan game tapes intravenously his whole life! Jordan is his DADDY, and you can’t be better than yo’ daddy! (I say this knowing full well that I stole everythang I got from Kirk Whalum! Robbed ‘im blind!)

When Doc Rivers got the Boston job, My pops and I hollered, “NOOO! Don’t do it! Don’t you remember the busing riots of the seventies, and Chuck Stuart who killed his wife and blamed a Brother?!?” When they made the trade this season to acquire Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, I was like, “Oh well… Garnett, I dig ya, but I gotta pull against you.”

And I was fully prepared to do so until these stars and planets all lined up to force me to make some hard choices.

And here I am, going against my very DNA and rooting hard for them Celtics, baby!

Some say Kobe has matured. I say it is easy to be mature when your team gets you the players you think you want. It is easy to be mature when everything is going your way. As Aretha says, “You can’t prove that by me!”

 My sister and her husband love him. And so do their sons. Me and Daddy hate him! When they asked me, “Unca Bo, highcome you’on’t like Kobe?”

I answered, “There ought to be a point at which your bad behavior costs you something!”  You don’t get to act a fool and still have ME as your fan! Even if you ARE the best player in the league. Which He is. I hope my nephews learn that lesson soon. 

 

*Black on the outside, white on the INside.

**Shoes often worn by black deacons and dime store pimps

June 14, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Basketball, Celtics, Humor, Kevin Garnett, Kobe, LA Lakers, Magic Johnson, NBA, Race, Ray Allen, Sports, The Finals | 4 Comments

Look at You, America!

Medgar Evers. Shot dead in the back in his driveway in front of his family. Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman. Civil rights workers, murdered. Four little black girls. Blown up in a church, for goodness sake. King. Shot in the face. Black women and men, sprayed by fire hoses, chewed by german shepherds, beaten with sticks, spat upon, hanged, burned, castrated, terrorized, cheated, miseducated. All these atrocities and countless more in attempts, mainly, to keep black people from that one central symbol of human, American freedom: The Vote.

The crux of the Civil Rights Movement was the right for black people to vote. Voting was the most direct route to economic fairness, education, and basic human rights, and both sides knew it! That was probably why there were so many trumped-up rules and restrictions. That was why so many black folk, and sympathetic white folk, died premature deaths. Voting is more “America” than that fabled Apple Pie.

I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. And I am not a “Bill O’Reilly Independent,” either. I have true non-negotiable differences with both parties.

I don’t support a woman’s “right” to have an abortion any more than I would be expected to have the “right” to kill my two-month-old daughter sitting next to me. But I also think that there are life-and-death repercussions for systematically leaving whole segments of the population to perpetually, generationally fester and prey on each other. Spiritually speaking, I think there are souls being lost in poverty, gang and drug-infested areas of America, and frankly, God says that loss of the soul is more serious than loss of the body to death.

You think white girls are not getting pregnant, too? Look at the “Girls Gone Wild” phenomenon. Look at Ft. Lauderdale and Cancun during spring break. Come with me to an Ole Miss frat party! I submit that if their conservative daddies were not paying for so many abortions, the white out-of-wedlock-birthrate would look like the black one.

I just don’t think that either party is the “Party of Christ.” Were that so, eight years of George Bush would’ve done something to curb — not advance — gay rights and abortion. Twenty years out of the last twenty-eight of Republican presidency would have decreased some of the moral ills that plague us. Practically speaking, Republicans don’t appear to love God any more than do Democrats…

This is not about for whom I am voting or endorsing. Don’t dismiss me as just another Brother voting for a Brother because he is a Brother. I don’t do that. Besides, we black folk have been voting for white guys for years! We don’t tend to discriminate like that. We get or surgeries from white doctors, we get our teeth pulled by white dentists, we get our loans — when we can — from white bankers, we buy our homes — or rent them — from white realtors, we fly planes piloted by white pilots, and on and on…

We even worship a white Jesus! And we don’t care! (melody: I Dreeeam of Genie…) “I wor- ship Je-sus – with the light – brown – hair…!”

But there is a reason why so may blacks were Brooklyn Dodgers fans. There is a reason why so many black folk moved to Detroit to work in the auto industry back in the day. They gave us a chance. That is the reason why so many blacks vote with the Democrats.

But never did I really think that even democratic white voters, West Virginia notwithstanding, would en masse vote in favor of a black dude with an African name for the highest office in the most powerful nation! I am nonplussed! My wife cried her eyes out as she listened to his ostensible acceptance speech. This was US up there! Our dead sharecropper, housekeeper grandparents. Our lynched great-uncles and stepped-on progenitors.

I am so proud! Michelle Obama was skewered for daring to hint that her American experience was anything but idyllic. But as someone who was — and occasionally is — persecuted for my pigment, I totally understand her perspective. I have never been ashamed to be an American. In fact, when I was in the military and overseas, I was almost overconfident in my Americanness! But black folk see the country from under the stairs. I am overjoyed that America has come this far in this struggle to take an unknown black guy and rocket him past a woman who started this race five feet from the finish line.

I really feel like an American now, like I have a chance, however remote… And if you ave a problem with me just now saying that, I am not bothered. 

I never once thought I could tell my son that he could grow up to one day be President. Now, I can. My folks told me that if I applied myself, I could be a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer. They never told me I could be the President, though. If they did, it rang hollow like knocking on a pressboard dinner table with an aluminum spoon. That ceiling was plaster and concrete! They never thought this day would come. In a way, the nomination is more significant than the general election would be. It speaks of possibilities, of what might be, of living on stars.

When he first got into the race, I was totally dismissive, not believing that this country would ever let a Negro run the show. And then he won the Iowa caucus… I never thought I would see it.

The Republican machine can be treacherous though. Sean Hannity, et al, will not go gently into that good night to be sure!

This nomination definitely does not kill all racism, not even most of it, but it shows that the ship is actually turning.

Hank Hanegraaff, a theologian whom I admire greatly, and from whom I have learned a countless amount, often is known to have said that “the Bible says nothing about race except to run the race.” The problem that I have with what appears to be only lip service to the realities of racial disharmony is that he does not address the fact that we still have to live. We still have to “do life” in this country. How does his statement make those people feel who have had to start from a mile behind the starting line? How does that statement play out in this current predatory lending crisis? How does it work when I have to read racist jokes written by co-workers in a black magazine? What does it do when a racist neighbor confronts my wife?

It is fine to say that when you get to come and go as you please, and play golf at whatever country club you please without stigma, but it does me little good when I have police walk up on me with their hands on their guns because my tags were out.

And the Bible certainly does deal with race! Moses’ own sister was struck with leprosy when she rebuked her brother for marrying a Cushite — a black woman. And Peter, Jesus’ own disciple, was reprimanded by Paul for showing racial prejudice towards non-Jews. So, while Hanegraaff is a kind of mentor to me, his seeming dismissal of racial issues hurts those like me who expect a prominent “evangelical” to echo the heart of God on the practical application of Christians on everyday racial issues.

It makes it look as though “evangelicals” don’t mind us serving the same God as long as we do it from our own neighborhoods, our own churches, and with our own women. Surely this is not the case!

But regardless of the political ramifications, regardless of how this affects potential Supreme Court demographics, how doggone cool is it that people of all hues can truly look past exterior differences and cultural unfamiliarity to nominate someone unlike themselves? THAT is America! That is a glimpse of what this country can truly be! Irrespective of how you see the role of government, how great is it that the most historically oppressed group of people in this country can be finally equal enough to win the nomination of a major party in a cycle when the OTHER major party has so alienated people that it is highly likely that the latter will likely lose power?!?

No, Obama is not someone to whom I would look for Spiritual guidance, but neither was Reagan or Nixon or Clinton or Carter or Bush. Maybe Huckabee, but definitely not Romney or Gore. But we are not electing pastors. We are trying to find someone to competently run this nation’s business. To govern and legislate justly in the best interest of every American, not just the rich, the Spiritual, the privileged.

Race doesn’t determine my politics. But I refuse to be angry that someone who lives life through the same prism that I do has a chance to sit in the Top Chair.

I am exceedingly proud to finally, really, be able to tear up my Three-Fifths of a Man card and step into this full surrogate American humanity.

This is like Joe Louis versus Max Schmeling. Jesse Owens versus Hitler. They run, they fight, for themselves, but for the rest of us, too.

So, gimme five, America! On tha black-hand side! You got soul!

June 4, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Christian Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, George Bush, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Martin Luther King, Obama, Politics, Pro-Life, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Sean Hannity, Vote | , | 8 Comments

Son, Don’t Point it Till You’re Ready to Shoot!

We can leave Max alone to watch educational television on the Sprout, or Noggin networks, but we cannot leave him alone for a second on his potty.

We’re training him to go on his own, and it is proving to be the hardest thing yet about child-rearing! Kathy and I have dealt with colic, wildfires of diaper rash, mounds of “butt mustard”, gallons of re-gurj, waterfallian sinus infections, cuts, all-night feedings, soap tasting and ant eating, penny sucking, picky eating, and nap refusing, but this potty training is kickin’ us in da collective butt!

Put him on the pot and go right down the hall, “Son, don’t move!” and the next thing you know, Max is spraying the bath mats like he’s a hose-fed weed killer and they’re crabgrass, or he’s triumphantly swirling his hands around in you-ryne like he’s filming a Palmolive commercial! “You’re soaking in it!”

 Now, I have to watch out for shiny spots on the floor when I go back in to get him, or I’ll have a disgusting slip-and-fall incident. 

He’s 100% boy, and I just LOVE it! Every exasperating moment! My son!

Kathy’s gonna deevorce me for this!

 

May 29, 2008 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Pictures | 7 Comments

Max’s Mother’s Day Sentiment

This is the card Max “wrote”* to Kathy yesterday:

This is Max

*Actually I wrote it (he dictated…) with my off hand. It took almost an HOUR! My hand is still hurting! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Life, Mother's Day, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 2 Comments

No, No, No Ya Don’t…

I had to change the words to that familiar children’s song, ’cause every time I turned around, Max was getting into something else he shouldn’t have.

Like just today, he pulled ALL the clothes out of Kathy’s bottom drawer, threw them onto the floor, and put his toy remote control in it. And when he was supposed to be taking a nap, he instead threw all the blankets out of the bed, and was sitting upright with the liner from his dirty clothes hamper on his head. Smiling at me.

Last night, he came into the living room with the vaseline jar on his hand like a glove, and a jar full of vaseline in his hair. He has broken tusks from elephant statues at my folks’ house, phones, and computer keypads, and he has eaten a Christmas light. He tried to climb up into the automatic swing that Diana was sleeping in. He mistimed it, fell, and the swing began mindlessly hitting him until he could get up and out of the way.

Monday, when he was supposed to be taking a nap, I heard him in his room talking. (He knows not to do that) When I burst into his room, I saw him sitting, still as a mailbox with his blanket over his body. “Max! Lie down and go to sleep!” No movement. I walked closer: “Max! YOU know you’re not supposed ta be in here talking! Lie down!” No movement. I pulled the blanket off of him, ready to chastise him for not doing what I told him to do. He was just smiling up at me , all sixteen teeth showing.

In a hurry, I put the blanket up to my face so he couldn’t see me laughing. I laid him back down. See, HE thought that, even though he was sitting up, I couldn’t see him sitting up! His little child’s mind told him that to be very still under that blanket made it impossible for him to be seen. It was sooo funny! That’s my boy!

My mother and sister bought him one of those motorized trucks that you can sit in and drive for Christmas. Now, he is only one year old, and I tried to tell them not to do it, but it was no use. He can’t even associate pressing the gas pedal with making the truck go yet. Well, the other day, I brought it home from my folks’ house (it was too big to fit in the car, I thought…), and when I took it out, Max jumped in it and proceeded to slam it into the car repeatedly. “No, no, no, Max! Stop! Wait! Don’t…!” We just laughed

So in that spirit, and for that reason, I have changed the words and the meaning to that singalong:

No, no, no ya don’t

Don’t you mess with that.

Don’t put that upon your head,

A shoe is not a hat!

No, no, no ya don’t

Don’t you eat the keys.

When Daddy has to go to work,

He’ll be needing these.

No, no, no ya don’t

Poke your sister’s eye.

She needs that to watch for you

You’re a dang’rous guy.

And so on…

April 3, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Nursery Rhymes, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 Comments

It Takes a Village to SPOIL a Child!

“Max just put a battery in the toilet upstairs,” young Demetrius calmly said to the adults who were downstairs watching the game and having adult conversation.

Exasperated, Kathy looked at me and sighed, “Go up there and get it out.”

“There’re some yellow gloves under the sink you can put on to get it out,” Daddy said, laughing.

As I made my way through the kitchen to the stairs — about eight boys were having a sleepover/party for my nephew, Ryan, who just turned ten — I heard a yell from up in the gameroom, “THASS OKAAAY. MAX GOT IT OUUUT!”

What? As if THAT’S better! So I get upstairs just in time to snatch the wet battery from the soaked hands (and arms) of my boy an inch before he put it in his mouth! I couldn’t be angry at him. I had to shake my head and laugh. He’s incredibly curious, and I know this curiosity will pay off for him in the future.

We were at my folks’ house tonight since I didn’t have to work.

My parents were the most no nonsense parents in the world when they were raising my sisters and me. I said “WERE.” I get most of my parenting techniques from them — with a few modifications. They did not stand for spoiled behavior in us. They spanked WAY more than we do. We didn’t drink Kool-Aid with meals — only water. We did as we were told with no backtalk, no “whys” and no stomping off into another room. We toed the line, no exceptions.

Now, as grandparents, they are doggone marshmallows! You know what I mean…

At home, and in stores, and at church, etc., we have Max pretty much locked down, behavior-wise. He does as he is generally told the very first time. If I say, “Max don’t go in that room,” he turns right around with no whining. We don’t have to get after him that much.

On most Sundays, our family gathers at my folks’ house for dinner, and as soon as we get there, Max, somehow sensing the change in the rules, does what HE wants to do.

Tonight, as every time we visit, he wanted to go upstairs and play with the teen-agers, who were playing video games, pool, and wrestling. Kathy — rightly — felt that those boys shouldn’t have the responsibility of watching a nineteen-month-old Super Ball bounce from one new discovery to the next! It was their time to play and have fun, so we, to the great chagrin of the former wicked witch (NOT in an evil way!!!) of MY childhood and the current jellyfish of my adulthood (Ma) declined to let him go upstairs. He whined and cried all night. To the guests who had never seen him, I’m sure he looked like a brat.

Max is a LOT of work at my parents’ house. There is so much more room, so many more things to get into. Rather than acquiesce to our commands, he chooses to pout, and we — to our fault — sometimes give in to the peer-pressure and the possibility of being seen as mean parents and don’t cut the bad behavior off quickly like we do at home.

My parents have spoiled that boy and he knows it and they won’t admit it. If I did to Max what they did to us, they would probably cut me out of the will like a cancerous tumor!

So, Kathy and I went to the store, and asked Ma to watch Max for us. “Yeah,” I said resigned, “You can go ahead and let him go upstairs, but I’m gonna make him come back down when I get back.”

That’s how he ended up being up there. Kathy and I were only proven right. And as further confirmation, there’s this:

After I took off his shirt and washed all tha HEPATITIS off his hands and arms(!), Ma took him with her into her bathroom while she put up some towels. “Come on, Max! You can stay with me!”  As soon as I got back to the adult conversation and to my four years pregnant wife (that’s why I was doing everything… She can’t MOVE!), I heard Ma in the back; “No Max! No. NO! When I got back there to to see what cat as trophy he had wrought, I saw my mother laughing and wringing water out of the silk-lined shower cap that she hangs on the faucet of her jacuzzi which just happens to be just the right height for a nineteen-month-old baby to reach!

All the adults in the living room, even Daddy, chuckled and agreed: “Thass what she GIT!”

March 15, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Grandparents, Humor, Kids, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 2 Comments

The Night the Lights Went Out

Never in my life. Never has this happened to me.

Kathy and I were watching tivo, and Max was playing destructively, as is his bent. “Bent” being anything he has touched.

Karen from the church gave us one of those easels with the chalkboard on it, for the kids to write on. There is a tray under the board that goes from front to back which is to hold supplies — crayons, pencils, etc. The tray also serves to support and strengthen the easel. Its base is pressboard. Not very sturdy at all.

Max likes to crawl inside of stuff… When Kathy had a contraction last week and slightly panicked and started packing hospital bags and asked me to quickly put the bassinet together, Max crawled into the little space at the bottom where the baby supplies are kept.
Well, we were watching tivo, and Kathy tapped me on the leg and whispered, “Look at that li’l boy!”

He was crawling, legs sticking out, hanging down, onto the tray part of the easel. It was about two feet off the floor. I forgot to tell you that of the four butterfly wingnuts that hold up the tray, only three were actually in service. One being unfindable.
Max is nineteen months old, but he is as big as some three-year-olds. He weighs about thirty-five pounds. I know he will bump his head in life, and I don’t generally rush to save him from every skinned knee and fat lip. I didn’t move. Just watched him…

He pulled himself up into the tiny space, and as soon as he tucked his legs in, in slow motion, the tray began to break apart and collapse. Verrrry slowly. You could hear the pressboard crackling like giant graham crackers. Max, who is MOSTLY head, rolled head-first onto the floor amid a pile of what was now kindling! (I’m laughing now. But I’m scared to laugh anymore…)

Kathy and I howled like two wolves. More like two hyenas.
I laughed so hard. So hard that I couldn’t breathe. My eyes began to roll back, and my head felt like it was floating…This has happened before when I have laughed really hard, but what (apparently) happened next never has.

I was frozen. All I remember is that I was holding my glasses limply in the crook of my thumb and forefinger. I remember that when we started to laugh, we both lifted up the blanket that covered us to hide our faces. And our shame at laughing so hard at our boy.

Now, though, my fingers were curled as though I were still holding it, but it had dropped.
“What happened?” I asked. “What’s going on?” I didn’t feel any pain, but I felt as though I had just awakened. It felt as though days had passed but the same tv show was on.

Kathy was crying, but I couldn’t remember if she was crying from laughing, or crying from crying. So many unformed questions swirled, alphabet soupy, in my head. The fog began to clear when I saw Max walking around swinging a stick that looked like it came from a tray that attached to an easel.

Kathy was leaning over me, scared to death, and now crying from crying. “What’s wrong?!? Don’t play with me like this! You can’t leave me now! We got too much goin’ on!” (I wasn’t dying or anything. She was just scared.)

I was still trying to get it together. “A B C D E F G… Now, smile… okay, I can smile. Move your left arm… okay. So I didn’t just have a doggone stroke!” I knew what had happened… I laughed so hard that I lost oxygen and freekin’ blacked out! (It’s called “hypoxia.” I looked it up online as soon as I got up!) I have gotten that light-headed feeling a lot of times in the past when something reeeeeally funny has happened, but I have never gotten to the point where I lost consciousness!

I asked Kathy what let her know something was off since Max was on her side of the room and she was looking away from me. She said that she knew something was wrong because I had suddenly stopped laughing and it wasn’t time for it to stop being funny yet. She said that when she saw me, I was staring up into space, “What’s goin’ on? What’s happ’nin’?”, as though I had just seen Jesus or an alien. Seriously, I wondered if I had just gotten back from a summit meeting with God.

I guess this is what they mean when they say, “I fell out laughing!”

Folks, don’t laugh at your kids. It could kill you..

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Family, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Life, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Writing | 4 Comments

Use COCKY in a Sentence.*

Guys I grew up with had the funniest way of butchering words, with their “domino pigeons” (doberman pinschers) and “speed thermometers” (speedometers). Scratching a chalkboard would make your “flush cross,” and a luxury automobile was a “Catlack.” They used to say “Holy GOAT.” As in, “Eric caught the Holy goat last night at the revival.”

 I pictured my friend chasing this funky billy goat around some hay-covered pen and tackling him in a cloud of dust. I figured that there must have been a cool reward for catching it!

There were WAY more than six degrees of separation between these guys and a dictionary!

Today, people still have misconceptions about God, the Holy Spirit. Jehovah’s Witnesses call ”it” an ”active force,” like electricity, while many Charismatics think He only functions to pounce on you like a vampire and make you fall out and flop around like a catfish in a rowboat!

We, as Christians who ardently seek to defend our Faith from those who would wish to distort it, must be sure to accurately define the terms we use — especially when dealing with essential matters like the nature of God — when dealing with our neighbors. 

So, when you hear Juanita call herself a “prophetessss,” or when Creflo says “ye are gods,” or when Paula, Eddie, Crouch, Benny, or the rest of the “pack” use the term “sow a seed,” see what they mean by these words, and see what the Bible says. Find out what the Word of God says about the “power of the tongue,” and “healing,” and God’s sovereignty, versus what the Word of Faithers say.

Or else you could wind up on the wrong end of that Eternal Stintchin’ Cord! An’ you don’t want that!

*”My daughter thew my COCKY down tha sink!”

ed. I, of course, am not belittling my own people here. I grew up in this environment, and so have a shared experience which makes it not mockery to laugh at things which I used to do myself. The grace of God allowed me to have two teaching parents who insisted that I learn and that I navigate the waters between a colloquial way of speaking and an orthodox one.

March 5, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Evangelism, Faith, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, Humor, Jehovah's Witnesses, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Language, Paula White, Pulpit Pimps, TBN, Word of Faith, Words | Leave a comment

Makin’ Grosy

So, since I work at night, and Kathy is on max-swole* right now, I do a lot of the grocery shopping. Trying to be a good husband. I tend to make fun of the way we black folk tend to speak down here in the South, and as such, what follows is the phonetically-spelled-out list of items for purchase:

                                                    Grosy Liss

Mennit Rise

Gobbitch Bags

Pento Bens

Hole Chikums

Crem uh Chikum

Crem uh Mushrome

Unyun Soop Miks

Bred

Shuger

Murk (a Memphis thing, sadly)

Jeffey Conebred Miks

Sereul

(And then I had to go to the)

Butey Suplie Stoe (to buy an afro)

Pik

The problem came when, because of my own smart-aleckiness, I found myself repeatedly standing in the middle of an aisle (dodging old ladies) frowning, trying to figure out what the– heck “Sereul” was! I thought I was being funny, and instead wound up being the butt of my own joke! No social or underlying Christian message this time. Just something funny that happened to me today.

The black folk will know what these words say. White folk, ask your black friends…

*Extremely Pregnant!

February 25, 2008 Posted by | Family, Humor, Language, Life, Marriage, Race, Words | 4 Comments

As I Carried Him Across the “Threshold of Pain”

“Max, don’t kick me in the… Uuhhhhhhhhhh!!!”

That is exactly as it happened.

February 20, 2008 Posted by | Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids | 2 Comments

“Daddy, when will racism be over?”

“Racism will be over, Son, when cartoons hire black people to do the black voices instead of using white guys to put bass in their voices and butcher the way they think we talk.”

see: “The Simpsons”, “King of the Hill”, “Family Guy”.

February 14, 2008 Posted by | Humor, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Stereotypes, Television | 4 Comments

“Thanks, Dr. King, for Everything. I’ll Call You When I Get Off.”

Don’t take this the wrong way… I thought this was ironic, and genuinely funny!

Today is, of course, the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday. A federal holiday which, I remember, was strongly protested back when the campaign was in full swing. A LOT of White folks saw no need for it. (The picture of the man is rosy in hindsight, but he was hated in his day!)

Kathy, my wife, works in tech support at a cellphone company. The personnel are pretty much all Black while the management is largely White. She is at work today. They are mostly off.

I play music for a living. Tonight, Monday, I play at BB King’s club. The band is pretty much all Black, while management and the mostly tourist audience is White.

There is an NBA basketball game being played here today. The players are… aww, YOU get it by now.

“Ain’t this supposed to be our day? Well, why are we all workin’, an’ all the White folks (who didn’t even want the Day in the first place!) are off?!?”

HiLARious! I’m not angry. I’m just saying…

January 21, 2008 Posted by | Civil Rights, Humor, King Holiday, Martin Luther King, Race, Racism, Work | 3 Comments

“In the Money-Green Corner… Juanitaaaaa Byyyyyynummmm!”

 Watch the video, and come back and read my comments.

Now, didn’t this sound like the intro to a champeenship fight?

I saw this while watching her show on tv, and it is my understanding that it is on her own website as well. Where is any semblance, any modicum, any crumb of humility? As we say around the way: She is a mess wit’ herself! There should be no further question as to her true character and motives now.

I mean, I understand that in business, there is a need for some self-promotion, but even in non-Christian related ventures, this would come across as arrogant! I think the word “God” was mentioned twice. This wasn’t just a little bit over the line, this was two minutes and fifty-four seconds of supercilious pride and haughtiness that would make Terrell Owens turn the channel.

Donald Trump was like, “C’mon. Juanita. That’s a bit much.”

Some Quotes;

She “cries loud” all right! All that yellin’ scared me and flashed me back to my childhood! I thought somebody was gittin’ a whuppin’ in the back room and I was next! Spare me!

“A tangible anointing.” Will someone pleeeze tell me what that is?

“The prophetess to the nations!” Says who? She profits from the nations! Yellin’ loud don’t make you a prophet!

“She’s an awful — Oh. Did he say ‘awesome’? — teacher who delivers God’s Word with ‘boldness and authority!’ “ Yeah, but how about accuracy?!?

Her ministry has been MARRED, not “marked with signs and wonders.” I remember seeing her once say to a vast, gullible throng something like, “Man! I wish y’all could see what I see! There’s angels and spirits flyin’ all around here! They ate that stuff up like it was Bluebell Homemade Vanilla!

“Bestselling author…, popular television personality (who) causes ratings to soar…, humanitarian…, a national ‘recarding’ artist (sorry, I don’t get that singing thing. SouljaBoy went platinum, too. The emperor has no clothes on, folks.)…, executive producer…, playwright, and powerful actress(!!!).” Okay, I was going to protest the “powerful actress” part, but as I think about it, that is pretty much all she does, based on comparing her demeanor and content to the actual Bible.

“Businesswoman, entrepreneur, blah blah blahblahblahblah…”

Y’all catch how they showed the one White woman in the crowd when the “promoter” mentioned “crossing denominational lines?!?” Now, THAT was some slick, subtle editing, there!!

She’s going to have a show (200 seats!), a radio show, a reality show, a magazine, a spa, some candles, some tea, and some make-up! She’s doin’ it BIG!

Let me axyou something, Miss Profitess: What about Jesus? What you gone do for Jesus? What big thangs is HE doing? Where is He in all of this, since you have folk thinking that He is your primary focus? All I see is you strutting and preening like a peacock back and forth across the stage. I only see pictures of your beautifully reconstructed face, not a picture of Christ in your carriage. All I see are your products. Your tea, and your make-up, and your magazine. All I see is YOU. Yet, you claim to be doing strictly the Lord’s work.

David boasted. But he boasted on the LORD! Because of him and those like him, we know of how great GOD is, how strong and mighty HE is, how matchless HE is, how wonderful, loving, just, merciful, beautiful, HE is. (Although, I would say that it is acts like yours that show us how long-suffering and patient he is!)

What about Jesus? Can we see Him doing this? Even though He has a right to?

Can we picture Peter saying on Good Friday,

“Ladeeees annnd gennnnelmen… Arrrre yooooou redddy for STAR time?!? Git up on yo’ feet an’ giveitup! He was rich, an’ gaveitup for YOU! From the town of Nazareth, by way of On Hiiiiigh… Commmin’ to you straight from the right hand of The Father HisSelf… He healed the sick, He raised tha DEAD!… Cured lep-ra-see! He fixed crooked legs an’ blinded eyes, He fed tha multitudes wit’ five loaves a’ lightbread an’ two cans a’ Jack Mack!… He ran off demons… He’s performed in Galilee, Jerusalem, an’ is comin’ to a hillside near YOU!… Some know Him as the Firstborn, the Bright an Mownin’ Star, The Son o’ Mannnnn, THE Angel of the LORD, E-Man-U-EL, YOU call ‘Im Saavyuh, I call ‘Im Friend, Howbouta grett big handclap ‘a’ praise… ridin’ on a thurrabred Arabian stallion, wearin’ the purple linen robes of pride an’ exaltation… Y’all giveitup… for Jeeeeesus!!!!!

(Sorry, Lord. I’m just trying to make a point…)

I don’t think so, yet you, Bynum, are bold enough to sell yourself in such a brazen, arrogant fashion while riding on the Lord’s back as though He were your pack mule, your opening act!

 I’m glad you let us see your real mission!

You must’ve sent one of your armor-bearers out to get your sheep outfit cleaned when they cut this promo… Would that Creflo, Paula, T.D., Copeland and the rest do the same.

I guess we have to learn the Bible to peep their game. I wish we all would. That is all I am saying. “No More Sheeps”, people.

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, False Prophets, False Teachers, Humor, Hypocrisy, Juanita Bynum, Paula White, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, T.D. Jakes, TBN, Uncategorized | 32 Comments

“Where Do Bibles Come From?” Max asked.

My expectant wife, Kathy, and I were on the couch talking, and she remarked that Max (who is now 17 months old) has been increasingly poking her in her rapidly disappearing navel and asking, “Baby?”

She told him, “Yeah, that’s where the unbib — I mean — the umbilical cord is!”

“Yeah, son, ” I said to both of them,  “It would be called the unBIBLICAL cord only if we weren’t married!”

January 8, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Humor, Jokes, Malaprops, Pregnancy | 4 Comments

“I Have My Ph.D In The Rejection of the Obvious!”* — Hitchens

It seems as though one must be a genius to be an athiest. One must have an exhaustive knowledge of astronomy, physics, history, biology, chemistry archaeology, as well as every other belief system, mustn’t one? 

You gotta know a lot to be your own god!

To be a Christian, one can be a genius, but it is not a firm requirement!

One simply has to KNOW Christ.

*or, “Lalalalalalalalala! I’m shutting my eyes! Lalala!I can’t hear you!Lalalala!” he said.

January 4, 2008 Posted by | Atheism, Bible, Bill Maher, Christianity, Christopher Hitchens, evolution, God, Humor, Religion | 2 Comments

MY New Year’s Eve

 Tonight (Monday, new year’s eve) I am playing a party. I’d BETTER be! This is the biggest gig night of the year for a musician. My gig will pay me almost six times my normal amount. It is about a forty minute drive from home at a casino in Tunica, Mississippi.

I found out by text message at about 1 AM last night that the 5 o’clock sound check is mandatory. Now, normally, sound checks don’t involve me because I am just the sax player/background singer and I don’t have to set up any amps or pedals or anything. Usually the boss will tell me to just get there about thirty minutes ahead of time to check my mics and everything. I assumed that today would be no different.

I was wrong.

My wife hates her job. One of the reasons is that, for example, today she has to work. (She works every Christmas Eve, too.) She gets off at five. I watch Max during the day, and she takes over when she gets home. See where I’m going?

I text messaged the bandleader, who has always been reasonable about stuff like this — even on big gigs, to ask what I was supposed to do about sound check since I had Max and that Kathy didn’t get off till five.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that our other car has not been roadworthy enough for extended trips since this old lady ran me off the road and into a curb, and now whenever I have to drive more than a couple of miles, I start to smell tire rubber burning…

What am I supposed to do? I wrote.

In less than a minute his reply was, That’s not my problem.

Not his problem. Motherfather! (sorry. I don’t curse but sometimes substitutes creep into my mind… Pray for me)

So, as far as he knew, my wife would have to leave work early, or I would have to bring the baby with me to sit around and wait for two hours just for me to say, “Check, one two, one two” and come back home and get ready for a gig that won’t start till about 9:30!

Let me inform you here that for the type of gigs I usually do, sound check is a COLOSSAL waste of time. We all knew that if the time was set for five PM, they would not even start running cables until the entire rhythm section was set up. Why did I have to be there at 5? I HATE with a passion having my time manipulated and wasted!

That is EXACTLY what happened.

Heck, the boss — whose problem it was not —  didn’t even get there until 5:20! When I got there at 4:50 or so, the drummer was the only one there!

Okay, lately, I’ve been mulling and praying over the idea of starting my own band. I have a lonnnng list of grievances with my bandleader, the latest of which is the fact that I went the entire Christmas season without playing ONE Christmas party! This is usually the season to be jolly, pocket-wise! Meanwhile, he has been playing with other bands (he is the bass player in the band), renting out his audio gear, and is going to Singapore next week with a blues singer.

I’m not jealous at all. The thing is that we, his band, have been either sitting at the house, or scraping to find work while all the other bands are booked up. Part of the reason why he gets so much more than I do is because it is his job to deal with the agents and the clients, and to find us work! He expects us to be available when he books a gig, but his incentive to do so has been compromised because he has so many less stressful outlets by which to make money. 

It is a lot harder for a non-essential sax player to find work than it is a drummer or keyboard player. (I wouldn’t trade my horn for anything!)

When airing my grievances to the other guys (the boss basically blew me off and tried to string me along when I tried to talk to him), they felt that it was my job to take care of mine, and that when it was all boiled down, Bossman was looking after his OWN family.

Okay.

I always said that I didn’t want to form a band of my own until I got a manager to deal with all the headaches — lateness, drunkenness, drugs, irresponsibility, laziness, skirt-chasing, etc.

But the more I talked, the more I heard, “You’re ready! Get your own group.”

I am making a point with all of this. Bear with me…

I talked to a few guys, none but one of whom plays in the band with me regularly, about the particulars and possibilities of doing this.

“I want to play more jazz and Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra-type standards, and not this top forty/old school junk that we play ad nauseam. Is there a market for this here?”

“Should I deal with an agency, or go by word-of-mouth?”

“If an agency, what measures do I take to get signed?”

“I have no gear. How much would I need for this type thing?”

“How much would a small set-up be?”

“If I do this, would YOU want to play with me?”

“When I get enough cash to make a record, will you work with me on it?

I asked around to get the tenor of the times, so to speak, and a lot of guys wanted to get on board.

The thing is this: Was Bossman’s attitude so cold towards me earlier because he had somehow heard about my possible plans? I was very discreet, but my wife seemed to think that was the case. I felt that since I was not doing him wrong by trying to support myself — without taking any of his guys with me — he had no reason to be upset. Besides, I was only just thinking about it! I wasn’t trying to burn any bridges. The river’s too wide to try to swim back across!

Back to the story…

Everyone had told me to play it cool and not to go off, even though he had it coming! I’m terrible at the poker-face.

So it’s 5:30, and everyone was at the venue, but nothing was set up, and the lone sound man was dragging his feet. Setting up a stage this size is an hour job for three or four guys, so having just one didn’t bode well for us, time-wise. And I had to go all the way back home to get dressed.

Most of the other guys had brought their clothes, but, as I tersely related to the foot-dragger, I didn’t assume that I would not be able to return home from a 5 o’clock sound check for a gig that started at freekin’ 9:30! That’s why I didn’t want to go all that way in the first place! I knew they would be piddling around with my time!

He made a smart remark that left me biting a hole in my lip.

The funny thing is this: When the boss saw me, he smiled, said, “What up,” and proceeded to pass out calendars for next year! As if all this down time were just a blip! He was totally oblivious!

If he were planning to pre-emptively fire me, he surely wouldn’t be doing that!

At 6:40, 6: doggone 40, the lead singer walks in cool as iced tea, and nobody raised an eyelash. Now if he could do that, why did I, as far as the bandleader knew, have to get my wife to leave work early and lose money for me to sit around for two hours before any microphones were turned on?!? Why was it so crucial that I be there to stew in my own suppressed anger with nothing to do but watch the “Beverly Hillbillies” marathon backstage on Nick at Nite?
At 6:45, we were ready to check the mics and the instruments. The lead singer’s mic was awful, and the sound man, frustrated by his lack of help, and by our absence of sound check etiquette (everyone was checking stuff all at the same time. I hate that), snapped at us.
This, this set the boss off, and he proceeded to curse the guy out as I walked past them both on my way to the car for the forty minute trip home to eat and change. I thought it was interesting that he went to bat for the guy who showed up an hour and forty minutes late, but left me to fend for myself earlier without even a thought.
All night during the show, he tried to crack jokes with me and make light while I concentrated on being professional, and sang on a mic that wasn’t even on! I couldn’t even be phoney enough to make eye contact with him.
As the lead singer butcherized the words to “Auld Lang Syne,” my decision was being hardened with every beat.
The show was complete with belly dancers, showgirls, fire-baton twirlers, full-scale pyrotechnics, and smoke machines that made the place look like the devil’s lobby! All I kept thinking was of the rich man in the Bible, all nervous,  saying, “Please! Somebody get Lazarus on the phone! He knows me! Somebody call Lazarus!!”

 I told Kathy about all of this when I got home.

“Baby, now, a new year is coming in!” she said in an attempted motherly tone. “You can’t be ticked off for the new year.”

“Why not?” I asked, ” ‘Cause I’ll be ticked off the whole year?”

“Well, you know,” she said, “History does like to repeat itself…”

“No, it doesn’t LIKE to. It just TENDS to.”

We threw back our heads and laughed. (freeze frame, roll credits…)

This year will be different.

Happy New Year, dear readers! I love you all. Thanks for indulging me in this endeavor, and for encouraging me. May God bless you as He has blessed me, and may He give you the nervous anticipation and hope that He has given me as we all embark on this new journey called 2008.

January 1, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Employment, Humor, Life, Music, New Year, On the Job, Playing Music, Saxophone, Work, Writing | 4 Comments

Marsh-malaprops II

 Recently, while Kathy and I were watching a CNN news program, I called the guest,  Al Sharpton, portly, in an effort to mitigate his true squishiness.

Kathy interjected, “No, he is ‘hogly’! as opposed to being just ‘porkly!’

I can’t stop laffin’!!! I’m gettin’ dizzy!!!

December 18, 2007 Posted by | Al Sharpton, Humor, Jokes, Malaprops, True Stories | Leave a comment

Marsh-malaprops

Money is tight this Christmas season.

When I came home from work the other night, all happy and cheerful, and shouted, “Merrrry Chrisssstmaas!” to Kathy, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “BUM HUNGBUG!”

I fell out laughing!

December 18, 2007 Posted by | Christmas, Humor, Malaprops | Leave a comment

“Hamlet” Sittin’ on a Dictionary

I’ve been dealing with a cold all this week. It’s been pretty miserable, as you must know. 

My sinuses were stopped up, and my comedian-wife asked me if I wanted her to turn my HUMILIATOR on! She’s the funniest woman I’ve ever met!

December 7, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Malaprops | 4 Comments

Buckles Made of Irony

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I thought it apropos to post a brilliant nursery rhyme I penned as a tribute to the hardworking pioneers and pilgrims who lived so long ago:

One, two, buckle my shoe…

Three, four, milk a cow,

Five, six, yoke a mule,

Seven, eight, dig a well,

Nine, ten, pull up a stump.

Thank you. Derrick L. Williams.

p.s. They lived such eclectic lives…

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Irony, Nursery Rhymes, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

“Thou Shalt Sell No Bootleg Movies.”

The other day, while the band was on a break, the subject of the new Denzel movie, “American Gangster” came up. A couple of the guys were talking about how good it was, and since it hadn’t come out yet, I asked, “Waitaminnit. How y’all see the movie and it ain’t came out yet?” (My conversational grammar is not always as polished as my published grammar. Besides, there were no White folks around!)

They laughed at me, the church boy.

“Bootleg, mane*! You wont it? I got it,” Dude 1 said. (I’ll not name names here)

“Naw,” I replied. “I’ll wait to see it at the movies.” Chuckling.

Dude 2 laughed and said, “The preacher don’t want to tick the Lord off!”

Dude 1, the seller, eyed me sideways over the top of his shades and asked sarcastically, smiling, 

“The Lord don’t like bootleg?” He was trying to corner me…

“Nope.”

It is important for the sake of timing,  to note that the rest of this exchange came rapid-fire, without pause:

Dude 1 asked, “Aw, rilly**? Where dat at in the Bible?”

” ‘Thou shalt not steal!’  (They fell out laughing!) Yeah, thass EARLY in the story! Thass in the firss act, even before the firss commercial!” (They’re rolling, laughing now, falling backwards and stomping like we Black folk do. We LOVE to laugh.) Yeah, man, you ain’t even gotta be a theologian to know that one! I gotcha, didn’ I?”

“Yeh, mane! I cain’t argah*** witcha right there!” We kept right on laughing.

I don’t get many opportunities to preach to the guys with whom I work, and it is cool when I do. It is a delicate balance– trying to be relevant while not selling out the Lord. They see me as separate, not doing many of the things they do, yet they do not shun me thereby rendering me ineffective.

This is one small reason why I do not see a problem with what I do. I play music for a living. “Secular music.” (I HATE that term! Is YOUR job “secular”?) I don’t get high, I don’t get drunk, I don’t run around with women, etc. And if I slipped, my entire Christian witness would be torn down. But how many street folk read the Bible recreationally? How many of them go to church and ACTUALLY adhere to the ad they hear? We are told to go out inTO the world. That’s where the people are.

These guys knew that selling and buying bootleg movies was wrong. That’s common sense. I didn’t impart some startling new revelation to them. But what I hope I did was to let them know that God is in every corner of life. And that, hopefully by my meager example, it is possible to be holy and still be an enjoyable person to be around. Christian life is not to be boring and stiff! Will Heaven be that way?

*Man
**Really
***Argue

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Common Sense, Entertainment, Food for Thought, Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Movies, Playing Music, Work | 2 Comments

Pregnant Pause

My wife, Kathy, is not ditzy. She is not an airhead. She is not goofy. She would want me to let you know this.

She IS pregnant, however, (Diana Elise. Baking rightly at 98.6 degrees!) and it is to THAT that I will attribute her latest expectant escapade:

“Oh LAWD!” she exclaims inside her head, “I can’t find the carkeys!” She had just walked out of her office building, having just gotten off.

“What am I gonna do?” she thought frantically, mind racing. She searched her purse. Nothing. Her coat pockets. Nope.

“I’mma hafta go all the way back in the building and retrace all my steps! Oh, LAWD!”

She’s trying to focus, but she can’t because the radio is up too loud. As she throws her head back into the  headrest and looks up through the sunroof at the rapidly purpling sky, Kathy begins to howl, laughing…

She is IN the CAR! It is RUNNING! She has unlocked the car door, gotten inside, closed the door, put the keys into the ignition, started it, buckled up,         and forgotten all of that!

Now, I know we all have looked for a set of keys that were in our hands, but I don’t think ANYone has ever sat inside of a running automobile and fretted over lost carkeys!

The Lord takes care of babies and fools, the saying goes… He got two for one in this case!

Part of the reason I married her is because of how funny she is, but she is USUALLY funny on purpose. I’m worried about her now, though. “For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for smarter or absent-mindeder?” I don’t know…

November 10, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Life, Marriage, Parenthood, Parenting, Pregnancy | 7 Comments

Quips

The KKK:

Dressed to oppress!

November 2, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Quips, Race, Racism | Leave a comment

Malaprops.

My wife, Kathy, is (sometimes unbeknownst to her…) proficient at the art of the malaprop. I sometimes slip up and do it too. She’s gonna kill me if she sees this…

She said that an old magician practices “crustydigitation!”

Kathy got a million of these! I got three. 

November 2, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Malaprops | Leave a comment

Cone CHIPPIN’!

All right, so here’s another one:

This is how slang terms get invented.

A couple years ago we, the house band at BB King’s club in Memphis, went to Chicago to do a gig at the Isaac HAYES’ club (this got us cussed out by Tommy Peters, the BB’s owner! “How tha bleep y’all gone take off from playin’ at MY fragglerockin’ club, an go all tha way ta ChaCAgo to put money inta tha pocket of tha shadrackin’ people that tryin’ ta shut my meshackin’ place down?!?). The parent company of Isaac Hayes club in Memphis “allegedly” tried to mount a subversive campaign to drive the club out of business.

We were known as “Ty Brown,” and to date, it is the best band I’ve ever played in. 

It was the dead of winter, and the eight of us were crammed into this 15 passenger van, which any musician or church group knows won’t seat 15 grown, often fat, people! It was TIGHT! Plus, all the pillows, blankets, bags and snacks took up any extra room. I, after six years of playing for blues singer, Denise LaSalle, had grown used to sitting in the back. Sorry, Rosa.

When we reached our destination, I squeezed my way out from the back past some of the guys in front of me who were moving too slowly. Then it hit me. Rather, it hit my NOSE.

“Man!” I said. “Somebody FEET cone CHIPPIN!” (meaning, for the unaware among you, that somebody’s feet smelled remarkably like an open bag of corn chips whose expiration date had lonnnng passed)

They all laughed. But one guy laughed the hardest. I suspect that HE was the posessor of the putrid podiatry. I did not do further investigation, though. It ain’t good to be in close quarters with your shoes off on a long trip if your dogs are barkin’.

I just said it in passing, but it kind of caught on. The next thing I knew, it had transmogrified into a musical term which defined bad playing. Now, if a band is doing a bleep-poor job of execution, they are “cone chippin’,” or depending on your geographical configuration, “corn chipping.”

We see it all the time. I don’t like to be hyper-critical of guys’ playing abilities, but when they act like they got it going on and clearly DON’T, they become fair game. See: Most of the bands on “The Next Great American Band.” 

Sadly, I have played quite a few gigs where the chips were flying, and in the interest of providing some relief from all the crooked-preacher-ranting, I will be recounting some of them from time to time.

Like two weeks ago when doing a Jewish wedding, our boss/bandleader neither told us that we had to play “Hava Nagila” nor provided us with the music!!! Come on, now! How you gonna do a JEWISH wedding and butcher up the Jewish WEDDING song?!? I was furious! That’s like playing for Sinatra and not knowing, “My WAY!” That’s like George Bush writing a speech and not using spell check! Cone CHIPPIN’, y’all!

And a WEEK later, we were supposed to do “Just the Way You Are” for the bride and groom’s first dance, and he didn’t tell us about THAT either!!! That doggone song has more changes in it than a freekin’ Liberace show! The singer knew the words, and thought the keyboard player knew it. The bandleader/bassplayer (the LOUDEST instrument on the stage!) tried to catch it on the fly and sounded like he was playing with oven mitts on from the back of a galloping horse! It was crickets and coughing up in there after that was over. (add to that the fact that we started 45 minutes LATE!!!) I can’t go on like this!! Chippun’! Calgon, come git me!!!

The only Christian tail I can pin on this is that I can’t cuss folk out and act a fool in public because of how it would make God look. Thanks for the handcuffs, Lord.

By the way… click this link and you will hear a rehearsal for a Marvin Gaye tribute we do yearly. http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=8227470 The other horns and the strings and backing vocalists were not here on this day, so use your imagination. This is NOT the band I was just griping about!

Sax- me.

Trumpet/flugel- Marc Franklin

Bass- Jackie Clark

Vocals- Larry Springfield

Drums- Dave Mason

Keys- Tim Terry

Percussion-Felix Hernandez

Guitar- Joe Restivo

November 2, 2007 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Humor, Music, Slang, Work | Leave a comment

F.O.D. Not What You Think… Wait. It MAY Be.

Okay, this one may get a little scatological…

I used to be in the Air Force in one of my other lifetimes. I was a missile technician. Sometimes we would work on the flight line and be around the fighter jets. We were constantly warned about foreign object damage (f.o.d.). Screws, gravel, ink pen caps… all this type stuff, anything on the runway that can be sucked into the jet engine, is considered FOD.

A few years ago, well after my time in the service was completed, I played in this band, Three Nice Guys, that used to do all kinds of stuff;  jazz, pop, country, r&b, everything. An executive at FedEx here in Memphis had an idea of incorporating live music into their monthly (I believe) status meetings. I’m not a corporate guy, so I’m probably not calling it what it was.

We would meet at the front gate of the “Hub” at the unGODly hour of around 7 am, get passes, and drive our vehicles onto the highly restricted and secure flight line to set up for the 9 am meeting. It felt kind of cool to see the stares of the working stiffs who seemed to think, “Who are these guys who get to drive their vehicles onto the highly restricted and secure flight line?”

What was to happen was that we would, in this room that seated about 50 people, play while the corporate types drank coffee and ate and mingled and such. When the main speaker got up, we would do some Johnny Carson-type fanfare stuff. When each new person was introduced, we would play something appropriate from a TV show, a commercial, or anything. For instance, If the person was from Chicago, we would break into “Chicago” as he approached the podium. Breck, the keyboard/keyboard bass player, is a genius and knows a million songs. He has perfect pitch (google it) and almost perfect recall, so we had a library of tunes at our disposal.

Now, what I must mention here is that the band was set up in the front of the room on the stage. Directly next to the podium. Remember that.

This one particular meeting is the point of this post. A lady got up to talk about the status of “foreign object damage” and what improvements there had been in its reduction. She spoke about how important it was to be vigilant in the prevention of foreign object damage and how much money was lost at each incidence of foreign object damage. After a while, she abbreviated the term to F.O.D., and a minute or so later, she just shortened it further to “fod” to save time.

 It is important to note that White folks and Black folks speak differently. This woman was White.

FedEx is a company known and admired for its fairness is diverse hiring practices. at least half the room was Black. The band was all Black.

The speech went something like this:

“I just want ya to know, you’re doing a bang up job in keepin’ yer fod to a minimum. But we can do better. The Memphis hub has had a 30 per cent reduction in fod over tha last quarter, but in tha last month, you had 3 cases of fod. What happened? Why the increase in fod? You managers are gonna have to do whatever it takes to keep the fod down.”

Right here is where I tell you that, phonetically, the word WE use for the Godly act of passing gas sounds UNCANNILY like “fod”. Now, I pride myself in not being inappropriately silly. Certainly, as a musician, I have heard all the stereotypes about how irresponsible we are. I did not, sitting right up front in front of all these corporate executives, want to appear silly. But this woman had “fod” on the brain. And being White, she appeared to have no IDEA that what she was repeatedly saying was like poking us in the side. I’m ticklish right there.

We were cool the first couple of times she used the word, but Lord have mercy, she talked for about thirty minutes!!!

“Fod damage is dangerous and costly, folks. It costs us in lost equipment, but also in lost man hours. I can’t tell you how much looking at the fod numbers leaves a bad taste in my mouth! When a plane has to be repaired. It’s cuzza fod. When guys haveta do extra duty (doody?)? It can usually be traced back ta fod. We GOTTA keep it down folks! Fod is a stench in the nose of a company like FedEx!”

It started with a shiver.

We in the band were set up in somewhat of a circle, facing each other. I could see every attempt they made at trying not to laugh. It only made it funnier.  When something embarrassing happens onstage, I usually try to avert my attention by fumbling with my reed or mouthpiece, or by otherwise occupying myself.

Like the time when Kevin, my best friend, and I were doing this wedding…

The church was set up so that the whole back wall was glass. CLEAR glass. From floor to ceiling. The preacher’s back was to the glass, and the audience was facing it. Kevin sings, and while we were waiting soberly for his turn, we noticed this big flock of birds sitting in a tree outside. A squirrel or something scared the birds and they suddenly flew away in our direction. Now, the preacher was praying, I think, so everyone’s eyes were closed but ours. We were working. Playing soft music.

Most of the birds veered sharply away at the last moment, but one       missed. He didn’t see the glass.

BAM! flutterflutterflutterflutter. Dead. I squeezed my eyes shut!! Tears forming. Shuddering. Bowing, praying now. “Lord! Pleeeeeze help me!” I snorted and snotted a little bit… I fumbled with my reed to busy myself.

But Kevin outright laughed. In the middle of that solemn prayer. For just a nanosecond. But that was all it took for him to get glares from a lot of the people there… So when I have moments like these, I PRAY to the Lord to take the funnyness away.

Breck shivered. He and Herman, the drummer, weren’t saved back then, and they didn’t seem to have the compulsion to be serious. I fumbled around with something or other, praying to the Lordthat this woman wouldn’t say “fod” no more, and I think He was laughing, too! I had to close my eyes. It worked for a few seconds. I thought it was over. “Cool. Okay. I’m cool”

“So, what can we do to prevent fod?”

I know you all have had those moments. In class, or in church. You tell yourself it’ll be funny later, but it suuure ain’t right NOW! Even though it is.

We were all looking at each other pleeeading for something to make it stop! But she just kept on, culturally blind to what she was doing to us! I mean, we were in the front of the room! And I could clearly imagine what would happen if one of us undisciplined musicians lost control.

“What can we do to keep the fod down? Fod fod fodfodfodfodfod.” She would    NOT    STOP!  

Herman, who was crying, let out a squeak that sounded like when someone steps on a dog’s foot. My face was mashed all up as though someone really waspassing gas, and when Herman squeaked, Breck, who was sitting on a swiveling stool, jerked around, away from the audience in this small room.

At that point, the Lord heard my prayer. Someone in the audience, someone Black, probably heard Herman and broke out laughing, and the room erupted! Exploded in laughter! Relieved and thankful, we all did the same! It felt like making it to the bathroom juuuust in time. We spent the next two or three minutes in uncontrolled head-shaking, knee-slapping tripping!

I was just so glad that it wasn’t one of us musicians who broke that particular iceberg. What surprised me was that so many of the rest of the people in that room were trying to fight off the same onslaught. White and Black. The only person clueless was the speaker, who looked up, startled, trying to see what had happened. The head guy, who was Black, came up and whispered it all in her ear. She was mortified!

Those times happened to me a lot. It is proof that God DOES have a sense of humor. He HAD to have been laughing. Flatulence was His invention, although the word for it is probably ours…

It is cool that in spite of all our supposed differences, we of different races find common ground in times of humorous adversity.

God invented laughing. He is all right wit’ me!

October 27, 2007 Posted by | God, Humor, Life, Music, Race, Work | 8 Comments

The Hypocralypse

Williams’ Dictionary. 

The “Hypocralypse”  (hi-POK-ra-lips)   n    def. – The sudden upsurge of “preachers”  (read: “Carnival Barkers”) who convolute the Gospel into a means of obtaining wealth from their “marks” by telling them to go get it from God.

Key sign of the Hypocralypse: They boast of  great wealth and “Supernatural Favor,” they flaunt their Bentleys or top-end Mercedes’, they regale with stories of  lavish mansions, (tax free “parsonages”). And rather than share with you the wealth they got from you, they make up magical formulas disguised as “Biblical Principles” for you to “tap into” the same blessings of God.

ex. “Use the same faith God used, the “God kind of Faith,” and create whatever you want, just like God did! Being made in the image of God means you can develop your Faith to the point to where you can do exactly what HE did!”

The Hypocralypse is often associated with “Immagettin” (ah-mah-GED-n)  n  , which is the great battle being waged by biblically loyal Christians against crooked, heartless, greedy, satin-tongued fake prognosticators who are “gettin'” every dime they have from those who don’t know and don’t WANNA know the hard Truths of Scripture.

The fighting is fierce, and the enemy is great in number, but as always, the Lord will win out with fewer soldiers that He may prove His might! There will be no secret, “catching away” of the saints in this battle! The example of Scripture is that Christians have to join the battle, not hide away from it.

If you are angry about these terms, you are either a three-legged sheep, or a wolf with a lambhock in ya mowf (mouth)!

 

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Bishop Thomas Weeks, Carlton Pearson, Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, E. Bernard Jordan, Faith, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, Humor, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Kerney Thomas, Paul Crouch, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rod Parsley, T.D. Jakes, TBN, Televangelists, Word Network, Word of Faith | 10 Comments

HELP! And Read the Other Stuff, Too.

I need help. I am a struggling musician. I make what some would consider a decent living, and what yet others would call nothing! I want to do more, but I am in a field that is totally dependent upon knowing someone on the other side of the door. I want to make records. I want to write song lyrics. I absolutely love the art of making music.

I also love words and the clever employment of them. So I write. I would like to do it on a professional basis as well. I take care of my baby son (another one is on the way!) during the day while my wife works, and she does so at night when I gig. Writing would give me much more flexibility as far as practicing and taking gigs I don’t want to take because I need the money. I have musical standards, but having to eat and live indoors makes me step all over them!

 I started this blog at the advice of a friend and church member who suggested it as a way to build up a following of sorts. I have posted a lot of things on subjects about which I am passionate, such as Christianity, parenting, politics, race, and various other social issues. The problem is that the only things that get read are the posts I write about crooked preachers. That is fine, in and of itself. Apologetics is a passion of mine, and blogging about charlatan preachers gives me the perfect opportunity to defend God and Christianity. I HATE to see people deceived and treated unjustly! Those guys need  the literary butt-whuppins they get, and more. And I love it when I get either an “amen,” or a challenge from a supporter of that mess.

My current dilemma is that while I feel that the primary purpose of this blog is to enlighten, entertain, and educate people, to the extent that I can, I need for the other things to be read as well. I need feedback and assistance in my endeavors, as we all do. I am not the boldest person in the world. As a matter of fact, this blog (and ESPECIALLY this particular post) is perhaps the most forthright thing I’ve ever done in my life. Even asking my wife to marry me was kind of easy, because I knew she was gonna say yes!

I need an advocate. Like an actor needs a manager. I can do the artistic stuff. I can stand on the stage and play because there is a thin veneer of separation that exists, however unnoticeable, between it and the audience for me. This is the mechanism I use in order to be able to perform effectively. I can hide behind my horn. I can write things that express emotion for essentially the same reasons.

But I am not the kind of person who can go from door to door trying to sell vacuum cleaners, or whole life insurance policies. (Don’t buy “Whole Life,” by the way…) I need some help in the marketing of myself. My (flawed?) thinking is that the gift will make a way for me, that these words and stories and turns of phrases will speak for whatever ability I may possess. My thinking is that if I play well enough, or arrange cool enough horn parts– which I do as well– someone will engage me in some fashion. Apparently, I am wrong.

So if you are reading this and feel that, “Man! THAT guy needs to put this stuff in a BOOK!” Or that, “Man! I am a literary agent (or an editor), and I see a market for this kind of stuff!” leave at least a comment. And if you happen to be a musician who can’t write lyrics, let me know. I feel really awkward doing this, but that may just be my paranoia gene kicking in. The art of self-promotion is not one in which I am trained.

At the very least, don’t just read the stuff I’ve written about the false teachers,  Juanita Bynum, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Kenneth Copeland, or the Word of Faith prosperity movement. Read about my time onstage and my thoughts on parenthood, morality, and life in general, too. And tell me (and many, many others) what you think. Thanks, Derrick, the Daddy of Max.

See how I threw those “tags” in there to justify drawing you here? Was it not subtle enough? Thanks for indulging me. I thought it was funny… Sorry for the subterfuge. Not trying to be disingenuous.

October 18, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Columns, Creflo Dollar, Employment, False Teachers, Humor, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Opportunity, Paula White, Prosperity Gospel, Recording Industry, Word of Faith, Writing | 14 Comments

Music and Drama.

Yeah, I play the saxophone. Mostly, right now, I play section stuff in r&b bands doing clubs, occasional casinos, and various parties. I want to front my own band, but with all of the drama that goes on with guys showing up late, getting drunk, forgetting parts, and other musician stuff, I’ve declared that I would not get my own band until I got a manager to deal with all that junk!

I see a lot of stuff. Things that make me laugh, things that make me angry, and things that make me pray! I’ve seen guys do things that I can’t figure out how to clean up enough to write about that would make you fall out laughing.

See, being a Christian puts me in the position of being the “Mr. Good Guy” who tries to be some kind of example (at least) in the face of a lot of debauchery. The one band that I work primarily for, which will have to remain nameless because some guys’ wives may read blawgs, provides a lot of material. We do this club gig on Monday nights in downtown Memphis, and although I haven’t seen anyone knifed, I’ve seen just about everything else. Like the time my boy Curtis got into it with these two guys about them stealing money from the tip jar…

Curtis plays trumpet with us sometimes, along with Marc. On this night he was playing with the house band, of which he is the leader.

Anyway, Curtis confronts this guy, a part-time bodyguard and full-time drug seller Darryl, I believe he is named, about the cash, and the argument escalates until Darryl, about 6′-4″, 280, draws him outside where his unnamed accomplice sneaks up behind him and knocks him down. (Curtis had slippery-bottomed dress shoes on, and it was drizzling outside.) After they get him down, they proceed to peel his head open with a music stand! All this while the band was onstage! Nobody helped him. A couple of the guys were mad at him about band stuff, and I guess the others were reluctant to maybe get shot. That was real messed up, though, for them to let that happen to him.

Curtis got a concealed weapon permit shortly thereafter. He said that he wasn’t takin no more “A” whuppins!

So, yeah, a couple months later, after his stitches and everything came out, I was onstage at the club on a Monday and out the front window (the whole front wall is basically a window…), we see all these blue lights flashing. Folks in the club started to turn away from all the scintillating entertainment to see what was going on… Okay, here’s what happened:

Apparently the night before, Curtis (A lot of stuff happened to Curtis, but he always lands on his feet. Except for that last time…) was hanging out at the bar. He wasn’t working that night, just hanging. His wallet came up stolen. So, I guess the guy who stole it, not knowing that the guy he stole it from actually WORKS in the place(!), was at the front window bar posing as guess who?! The manager on duty (foolishly?) calls Curtis at home and tells him about it and that the guy is running up charges on his card but not to worry that he has him on ice.

Curtis, I guess, gets this new gun and shoots down to the club. We’re onstage while all this is going on.

So, anyway Curtis gets out of the truck, a Tahoe with big, shiny rims on it, and decides against bringing the gun in. See, the cops set up shop right outside the front door of the club.

But just at the last second, Curtis has a change of heart and turns around to get his gun. This is Beale street, a main tourist attraction in Memphis, and there were a lot of people walking around on a Monday summer night. This White lady saw Curtis stick his gun in his pants and immediately calls 911 with the details: “This Black guy just got a gun out of this big, pimped-out suv and stuffed it in his pants! He looks angry!”

Okay, now we’re back to the point at which I see all the blue lights.

So, they got Curtis on the ground, right? And they got guns drawn on him, and feet and knees and stuff on his neck, and they’re shouting and cussing at him, okay? And Curtis was thinking, “I wasn’t gone shoot the guy, I was just gone persuade ‘im. Scare him a little bit.” He didn’t get a chance to say none of that to the cops. Too much aaasphalt in his mouth.

We were almost through with our second of three sets when all this came together, so when we ended the last song, I shot out the side door and ran around to see what had happened. See, a waitress came to the front of the stage and told the lead singer that Curtis had been arrested, and he told ME. So all I knew at that time was that my padnuh (friend) was in the “back seat.” As I approached the car, his girlfriend (I GOTTA tell you about HER!) beseeched me, “Tell him to bee qwiiiiet! Carlos almos’ had him out, but hee won’t quit cussin’ the po-leece out!” Translation: They were about to let him go, but his persistent belligerence negated that possibility.

“Curtis, shut up!” I said. “Just shut up!”

Curtis said through the tiny crack in the window, with his arms politely behind his back, something like, “Man fornicate these cops! I tole them I had a permit, but they ain’t lissen!” That was probably because cops don’t generally like to be cursed out by gun-toting Black guys. Permit or no permit. If he had just calmly let them slam him to the ground, everything would have been sorted out with only minor cuts and bruises. Better yet, if he had adhered to the law that states that you can’t have a pistol where alcohol is sold and left his gat in the truck, I would have no story to tell.

As it was, Carlos, the manager, was able to get the thief locked up, but unable to keep Curtis from going to jail. It was a CIRCUS! We were back onstage playing “Brick House”(I hate that tune!), or some other drivel,  and Curtis was in the back seat of a police car in the front window of the club where he worked, spitting and cursing, and about to go to the BIG house while the actual criminal was in the car next to him chillin! They spent the night in the SAME JAIL!! The folks in the club looked like they were watching a tennis match, heads going back and forth from the band to the front window.

That, folks, is the environment in which I live out my Christianity. I try to be light to the guys with whom I work, doling out Scripture and advice whenever appropriate, but guys don’t often like to be preached at. I pray for them, though. Would you do so, too? My work world is not much different than a restaurant (I did that too, once, and it was BABYLON, believe me!), an office, or many other occupations. I am blessed that the Lord strengthens me and enables me to remain free of drug use and some of the other common pitfalls that accompany a musical life. Ironically, it was Curtis Monday night who suggested that I write some of these stories down in a book. Maybe I will clean up a few more stories, if you like, and write them here. Let me know. In the words of that great theologian, Rodney Dangerfield, “I gotta million of ’em!” 

Remind me to tell you about the time one of his women tried to run him over. Or the time Larry, another singer, got mad and walked out while we were playing his intro music… Or the time Bill C. took a deaf groupie to his hotel room and tried to whisper “sweet nothings” to her in the dark! Naw, I can’t figure out how to tie a Christian tail on that one. Peace.

October 17, 2007 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Humor, Life, Music, On the Job, Playing Music, Saxophone, Work | 2 Comments

Is Homer O.J.’s Daddy?

Maybe this is the real proof that he DIDN’T do it…

If O.J. was stupid enough to get caught up in this mess, storming into a room with ARMED guys, (one of whom was taping the whole thing!!!) how was he smart enough to do two murders and get away with it? He HAS to know that everyone is just waiting for him to stumble.

The Siiiiiimpsonnnnns. Cue the theme music.

 Just a thought…

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Crime, Current Events, Humor, O.J., O.J. Simpson | 1 Comment

The Gospel According to Jay-Z

What is the difference between the Prosperity Gospel movement and hip-hop as it is currently portrayed?

Nothing!

In the version of hip-hop, or rap music presented by 50 Cent, Ludacris, Nelly, Li’l Bitty Kim, Paul Wall, the Cash Money crew, P. Diddy, or just about any of the “artists” of the last 15 years, from the Notorious BIG, and Mase to now, the genre is all about materialism. That is: what you have, how much money you got, and how many women you got.

In the current aberrant version of Christianity being thrust down our throats by such luminaries as, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, John Hagee, Joel Osteen, Rod Parsley, Paula White, and the whole TBN, Daystar, Word Network cabal, the focus is all on materialism. That is: what they have, how much money God is tryin’ to git to you, and how many women they got.      In their congregations. (‘Scuse my grammar)

In hip-hop, you are bombarded with images of expensive exoticars, champagne bottles spilling over with the nectar of the idol gods, multi-thousand-dollar watches, million-dollar rings and necklaces, fur-clad beauties, mansions, and lear jets.

In the Word of Faith milieu, you are bombarded with images and stories of (say it with me…) expensive exoticars (just look at Jamal Harrison-Bryant’s website), $25 vials of anointing oil, jewel-encrusted watches, flashy suits and milti-million-dollar edifices, fur-clad CO-pastors, ostentatious mansions, and privately owned lear jets.

Wowww… this is spookily similar!

In hip-hop, the focus is not on art, but on self. Self-promotion, self-indulgence, self-reliance, self-importance, and self-satisfaction.

In this prosperity trash, the focus is not on the Divine Artist of all creation, but on self. Self (I really could just “copy and paste” from here)-promotion, self-indulgence, self-reliance, self-importance, and self-satisfaction. Here, I will elaborate:

They promote themselves and what they have, and rather than spreading the ill-gotten wealth, they tell you to go get it from God.

They indulge themselves on the helpless sheep, from whom all their blessings flow. They indulge their own greed, and instruct you to do the same.

They are relianton their own “Faith” to get their personal will done. God, to them, is “illegal” (Myles Munroe, Hinn, Dollar, Copeland, Hagin, and on…) in this Earth realm without man’s assent. How blasphemous!!! HE relies on Creflo, et.al.

Of course they are self-important! All those titles! Apostle this, Prophetess that, Bishop the other… Call T.D. Jakes, mister Jakes, call Juanita, missus Bynum-Weeks, and you might catch a dirty look and a beatdown from their security cadre– I mean- “Armor Bearers.”! With Juanita, you’ll get TWO dirty looks!

Self-satisfaction? Their game is all about self-satisfaction! This enterprise is not about loving God, the beautiful and wonderful Creator of the universe. It is all about getting needs met, never about getting saved. It is about getting that job, that car, that MAN, that healing, that MONEY. As Creflo says, “You ain’t gone HAVE no peace unless you got some MONEY!” God is a by-product. God is a side effect. God is the Middle man. The only use for God, in their economy, is to facilitate the transaction!  God is just the bus that takes them to the bank! (sorry, Lord.)

Hip-hop seems to be inundated with rump shaking strippers, euphemistically re-termed “Video Vixens.” (I guess I know too much about this junk…)

The current Charismatic, Pentecostal, Prosperity movement (sadly, these all seem to transmogrify-to use a COGIC-style word- from one to the other) appears to advance the notion that if they can keep you dancin’ in the aisles shakin’ that “money-maker,” you won’t have time or energy to learn how to read and interpret Scripture, or to watch your wallet!

          note: David danced, for sure. But he knew his Word!

Gangster rap/hip-hop has prostituted and diluted the significance of the term “art” for personal gain.

Crooked preachers have pimped and distorted the image of the true Word of God for personal gain.

Hip-hop proponents tell us that if we criticize the genre, we are un-hip, and neglecting to notice that Elvis did the same thing and that they are only ghetto journalists. They label naysayers, “haters.” You might get shot.

Prosperity junkies tell us that we fail to realize that Jesus was rich, and wants us so. They warn that if we “touch God’s anointed,” we are judging, and in danger of hellfire. 

 This is amazing! Hip-hop and Prosperity preaching are conjoined twins! I can’t tell where one begins and the other ends!

 They were doing this in the earliest days of the Church; prostituting the Word for sordid gain. The current hip-hop brood has learned their trade admirably.

September 16, 2007 Posted by | Art, BET, Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, Gangsta Rap, Hip-Hop, Humor, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Music, Paula White, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, Pulpit Pimps, Religion, TBN, Televangelists | 12 Comments

Sean Hannity or Rosie O’Donnell. Pick Your Poison.

Anyone who knows me, or has read my words, knows my positions on most issues and knows that I stand outside of any particular demographic. I am watching Sean Hannity and forcing down the bile that rises, and wonder:

Where’s MY party?

 I am a Christian.

I am a Black male.

I am actually MARRIED to the mother of my son.

I was in the military. I’m not a pacifist, but THIS war is creating problems, not solving them.

I make my living in the arts.

I believe Affirmative Action is the best known way of closing the opportunity gap in America. (Uh Oh…)

I believe in gun ownership, and tough crime enforcement.

I believe that there are policemen who abuse their power, and let their racial prejudices influence their work. I have experienced it. Recently.  

I believe in abstinence before marriage, and that Godly marriage is between one man, and one woman.

I hate taxes.

I think that the government owes me protection and opportunity since they take my income before I even get it.

I don’t hate, or even dislike, White folks.

I HATE racism, though. I don’t ignore it when I see it, and I talk about it when it happens.

I think that (this will probably hurt some of you…) The “Christian Right,” is populated by a LOT of people who are flat-out racist. 

Abortion is a dealBREAKER!

So, I ask you: Where do I go? For whom do I vote?

Democrat? I can’t, because as I stated, abortion cut that tie. Also, being a Christian, I do not agree with many other of the moral positions they, as an organization, take or endorse. For example; school prayer, gay marriage and all things pro-gay, EMBRYONIC stem-cell destruction, partial-birth abortion, (the regular kind is bad enough!) feminism, and the eradication of my faith from public discourse or display. Besides, any voting atheist would likely vote democrat. Even though atheist Christopher Hitchens is in favor of the war, he’d rather drink a gallon of holy water and tattoo the Cross on his right cheek than vote for Mitt Romney! How can I vote with those who hate God?

They are cotton-soft on the punishment of crime, to the point that practically NO murder is heinous enough to warrant the death of the perpetrator, even with indisputable evidence. Prominent democrats are known to bash active Christians to mush at every opportunity. The Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry kind of Christians are cool though, because their faith has never been taken out of the package. Christians are the last group that it is still politically proper to ridicule.

Democrats (and once again, I am generalizing…) would tell me that if I hear an intruder in my house, I should cower in the closet and wait for the police to come rather than shoot him myself. That’s because they have enough money that the cops will come RUNNING if they call. I shouldn’t even own a gun, according to them. But who’s going to stop the crooks from getting guns? THAT bell can’t be un-rung. 

The only time they quote the Bible is to mis-quote “Thou shalt not kill,”and “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

If you are engaged in almost ANY immoral activity and need an advocate… Get a democrat! You want to smoke weed? Get a democrat.  You want drug use legalized? Get a democrat. You want to marry another YOU? Get a democrat. You want to say all manner of foul things on the air, or join NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association ), or teach second graders about using condoms, or get rid of all those offensive nativity scenes at Christmas? Call the ACLU. The PUPPET of the democrats. Are you a female who wants to join a football team, or are you a gay male who wants to teach young boys how to camp in the woods? Get a democrat. They’ll get it done for you!

You make a lot of money? Get a democrat! They’ll take a third of it before you get a penny and propose to spend it on some unGodly enterprise you abhor. They don’t care, they don’t have to tithe. Let the ignorant Christians worry about all that junk. Rather than actually care, they simply throw money at a problem and pat themselves on the back for it. 

Maybe they weren’t about this stuff in the past, but they are now.

The Democratic party came into my awareness as the party of those who freed us from the bonds of Jim Crow. They were the Kings, and Kennedys, and L.B.J.’s of the sixties who obtained for us the right to vote, intermarry(!), and attend any school. They were the party of fairness and equality. Generally speaking, of course. My parents voted democrat, and so did I. But in the last few years, as society has become more permissive, the party has done the same. 

They are populated by a lot of passive, pacifist, communist-minded, put-all-our-resources-into-the-same-pot, anything-goes-except-for-anything-I-don’t-agree-with folk who don’t see that there is no perfect society, and that their way of operation is plunging us all into an orgy of moral debauchery that is rotting us from the inside out… WHEW! They love animals, but hate fetuses. They think that men and women are exactly the same. Democratic women value career over family, and sex over marriage, abortion over the right of the unborn.

Ask Rosie O’Donnell who she votes for. Susan Sarandon. P.DiddyPuffDaddyPuffyCombsHoneyCombsPufftheMagicDragon*. Oprah. Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy, any rapper, or pop singer, (if they even vote at all!) Gloria Steinem. Ask Madonna, or the head of Planned Parenthood. Ask Al Sharpton. Jessie. Ask any atheist, or random college professor. Democrats don’t worship God, they worship their own Righteousness.

 I don’t care what anybody says, my vote is a mark of my loyalty, and I refuse to align myself with those whose beliefs and sentiments are diametrically opposed to the God whom I worship. I will not give my loyalty to those who operate in contradiction to my worldview. As stated in an earlier post, my beliefs inform all my decisions.

So… Does all this mean that I am a         republican?

NO! Just as emphatically, if not moreso.

Yeah, republicans say that they believe in upholding the same moral values I have, but they repulse me in other ways. (again, for you knee-jerks, I generalize)

I mentioned Sean Hannity at the outset. For the purpose of this lesson, he will be my prototype. He claims Christ, he is clean-cut, and fiercely patriotic. He loves the police, and is willing to give them as much rope as they need. Until, like tonight, one is caught on tape threatening a motorist with trumped-up, made-up charges for sassing him. (I don’t dislike police, some of my friends are cops, I just happen to be of an ilk that has seen what those with “God Complexes”- a term a cop friend gave me- can do when motivated) Hannity is, apparently, God first, America first, family first. But it is my considered opinion that, after exhaustive research, he, Laura Ingraham,  Ann (tiChrist) Coulter, and Rush (to judgment) Limburger will be riding the four horses at the Apocalypse! I’m just sayin’…

Hannity appears to be a nice guy, but there is something in he way he speaks that bothers me. When he interviews someone with whom he disagrees, he does so only in an attempt to corner them, not to advance the discourse. He is a shill, a sycophant for his party, and (facetiously) if I am better than anybody, I am better than he, because I at least try to look objectively at all political sides! He may not be a racist, but he looks just like one!

Republicans, in general, are the party of the Cold. They ignore the plight of the haven’t gots. They are sincere in that, unlike democrats, they don’t care and don’t care that you know  that they don’t care. And rather than throw money at a situation, they just throw empty platitudes, peppering their rhetoric with terms like, “bootstraps,” and “self-made.”

Republicans are the party of law enforcement. As I stated earlier, I am Black. I know some of you may have wondered what difference THAT made. (many republicans view the “Race Card” the same way Dracula looks at a Cross!) Being Black makes me sensitive to issues of wrongful incarceration. Being Black also has made me a victim of unfair treatment. In the last few years, DNA has acquitted many unjustly imprisoned Black men. Republicans would have said, “Why are we wasting so much time on this case? He was convicted by a jury of his peers!” They forget that juries are populated by people. Not twelve Jesuses!

I am in favor of the Death Penalty insomuch as it is justly applied. Which it is NOT. I have a friend who, when working for a public defender, was involved in a case in which a mentally retarded teen was put to death for accessory to rape and murder. He was in the car and was not allowed to get out when the incident began. He did not have the reasoning skills to make the right decisions. He WAS RETARDED! and now he is dead. This has happened many times. We are a country that executes mentally deficient Black people. Republicans look at the news and say, “He’s Black. He’s on the news. He’s guilty.” Tell me I’m wrong, Hannity.

I was in the military, so I cannot be accused of being a pacifist. War is sometimes necessary in order to restrain great evil. I understand that it is not an exact science, and that sometimes innocent people die. But there is point at which talking is done, and one must fight.

When those planes hit those buildings, I said, “Let’s get whoever did that. Not arrest them, but kill them.” Terrorists are punks.  I think all terrorists need to go see the Lord. Flat out. I was on board, honestly, when we went into Afghanistan, but when the President started to turn that big machine left towards Iraq, I jumped off. When he said that they had WMD’s I gave him the benefit of the doubt -more doubt than benefit- until it became apparent that Iraq was on the table from the beginning.

I am against this war now, not for the pacifist’s reason, but because if you ask me to loan you my car to go to the store, and you drive right by the store and proceed to Vegas, I will rebuke you and doubt your word in anything else. I will not, as Hannity does, hang in there with you truth or lie, right or wrong. And that does not make me a bad American. (Hannity regularly calls those he agrees with, such as Ollie North, G. Gordon Liddy, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, or Charlie Daniels, “Great Americans.”)

The Religious Right are republican, and as I said earlier, I agree with their moral stances on certain Christian issues, i.e. abortion, sexual purity, gay rights issues, self-protection etc. However, there are other moral issues, too. Jesus commanded us to care for the poor, and parentless, and to show compassion for the weak, but I don’t see them crusading about that. It is often said that the (late) Falwells, and such tend to love the fetus and hate the baby. This seems to be true.

It appears that the Religious Right say all the religiously right things. But when I see you in the street, or in the store after church, or in your schools, or dating your daughters, your actions and glares tell the TRUE story. Your faith has a loud, powerful-sounding motor, but no transmission! You say that you love the Lord, and follow His tenets, but your lives rat you out. You say racist things, you think racist thoughts, you live apart from any unlike you. On purpose. You go to all White churches, send your kids to all White schools, if at all, join all White country clubs (are there any other kind?), and live in all White suburbs. I know whereof I speak: I am the only Black man on my street!

When you close your bibles, and speak on political, social matters, you begin to sound like a party full of Archie Bunkers. You eschew government programs clearly designed to help the poor, neglecting to notice that there are more White folk on welfare than Black folk, and you talk about quotas as though someone made you eat mud. You take your kids from schools that get too Black, and you defund them and wonder why Black kids are undereducated. I have even heard some of you, in true Bunkerian fashion, dare to say that White men are the most discriminated against! REALLY?!

So you get profiled, and shot 51 times while unarmed, and targeted for predatory loans?

YOU have to ask permission to sit under a tree, and get charged for attempted murder for a school fight, too?

Oh. Is this about a JOB you didn’t get?! Is that all?! You know how many jobs I didn’t get?  ALL of ’em! Except for the busboy job, or the stockboy job. You’ve got the world at your FEET! You know how long my WIFE has been trying to get a better job? And SHE graduated magna cum oh lawdy! Did YOU have to disguise, change, or alter YOUR name because it sounded too WHITE? Miss me with all your boo-hooing!

 Government programs, such as CETA, gave me, and countless other inner-city teens, jobs when I was a kid. That ended under the reign of the Great Reagan. That is just a fact. When I was young there were NO gangs in my city. Crime, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy were anecdotal and not ubiquitous, as they are now. We had government mandated programs to provide us with the diversionary activity not needed by privileged republican children. That was one significant block in the Jenga pile that, when removed, began to topple Black youth. Republicans don’t like government programs.

 I’ll have to do another enitre post on Affirmative Action, but I’d like to ask an honest question. Give me an honest answer: How would you, Hannity, or Hannitite, propose to FAIRLY deal with the opportunity gap that has been in the very DNA of this nation since its inception? How do you propose to even up a race that has been going for generation after generation after generationaftergenerationaftergeneration? Someone whose father’s father’s grandfather was allowed to obtain a grant or land rights or inherited a plantation or a Harvard admission that allowed him to enrich his great-great grandchildren when my great-to the third power-grandfather couldn’t, by law, learn to read, or own a horse, or vote, or get a bank loan. Those are the cold hard facts. We are here now, all of us, and we have to figure out the best way to do things.

When you ignore the pus-filled, bleeding pimple on the nose on your face, and tell me to “Get over it! None of you were slaves,” you expose yourself as heartless and worse!

You know what? When Beaver Cleaver was going to school in an air-conditioned building, and learning from new, state of the art books and equipment, my mother was being taught by a woman who didn’t even finish high shcool, in a school in the weeds, with inadequate books, if any at all! This still happens to this very day! My grandfather “worked hard,” according to your simple formula, and HE didn’t get to live out the fulness of the American Dream. My mother had to watch him call eight-year-old White kids “Sir.”

My sister, an aviation major, had to endure having a flight instructor LIE and tell her that the plane in which she had to train in order to complete her flying hours for graduation was out of order for months. When we had a White woman call to request the same plane, he said, “Sure! When can you come in?” My sister is now an elementary school teacher. You want more? I got a million of ’em! 

It is a cold and heartless person who can look at this evidence and say that all that needs to be done is to hire the most qualified person regardless of race. By that reasoning, you know, Hannity, that the Haves will Get, and the HaveNots will Get Screwed! Being poor doesn’t equal being stupid. Those with none have the same capacity to learn and achieve if given a fair shot as those with everything.

One final point: Who do the racists vote for? Who do the KKK that vote, vote for? What party does David Dukes Claim? What was Strom Thurmond’s affiliation? After the civil right’s era? Stop someone with a rebel flag in their back window and ask them whether they voted for,

Bush or Clinton.

Clinton or Dole? 

Bush or Gore?

Bush or Kerry?

The prosecution rests. Racism and hypocrisy, like abortion, are dealbreakers.

I will not be voting alongside those who hate me! That would be the same as going to the Grand Wizard’s restaurant and orderin’ up a mess a’ fried chikken an’ greens! What would be the chances of my getting some added substances, some special sauce along with my order? I won’t vote for who the racists vote for, because their programs and such might cause harm to those who don’t share their hue. They might ignore real cases of racial mistreatment in order to feel good about themselves. Republicans don’t rock those kinds of boats. I will not look ahead in the line and find out that I and the disingenuous, dual-faced Hannity are buying the same items. 

I will not vote with those who claim Christ, but don’t SHOW Christ.

So, to my earlier question: Where is my party? How do I vote and maintain loyalty and integrity. I recognize the sacrifices made by those courageous forebears of mine. Blacks, of all Americans, have an obligation to vote. But what do I do? Independents are often irrelevant. How would Jesus vote? Would he align Himself with the baby-killers, or the racists? With the militant lesbian feminists, or the dispassionate Pharisaical hypocrites?

Where is the party of the morally upright (sex, crime, punishment, pro-life, family), fiscally sound (reasonable taxes, programs), socially compassionate (education, underprivileged compassion, racial fairness) American? Show me. Tell me. Write me.

 Before I close, I want to say that I attend a church that is iconoclastic in the sense that they tear down every negative stereotype about the interaction between Blacks and Whites! They are multi-racial, mostly White, and WONDERFUL! Our church has actively plunged into the torrid waters of racial reconciliation. They love me and I love them. They have almost made a liar out of me in this post, which is partly why I continually stated that I was generalizing. If the whole world were MY church, I dare say, we’d all be living just one floor below Heaven!

*Sean Combs, a hip-hop performer.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Abortion, Ann Coulter, Barack Obama, Christianity, Conservatives, Democrats, George Bush, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Liberals, Mike Huckabee, Political Correctness, Politics, Race, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Sean Hannity | 9 Comments

Candy Dates

Why are they called “candidates” when they are never CANDID about anything?

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Al Gore, Barack Obama, Conservatives, Cynicism, Democrats, Elections, George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Humor, John Edwards, John McCain, Language, Liberals, Mitt Romney, Political Correctness, Politics, Republicans, Rudy Giuliani, Satire, Semantics, Truth | Leave a comment

On The ’08 Predilection- excuse me- PresiDENTial Election. sorry…

Maybe politicians who claim to be Christian and approve of abortion do so because a fetus can’t vote!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” (The Lord, Jeremiah 1:5)

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Abortion, Al Gore, Barack Obama, Christianity, Current Events, Democrats, Dennis Kucinich, Faith, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Immorality, John Edwards, Juanita Bynum, Liberals, Morality, Oprah Winfrey, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Religion | 1 Comment

Oh! I’m Sorry, God. Was That YOUR Sandwich?

How do you expect to spend eternity in

Someone’s house and not bother to get to know HIM?

Get to know the real God you claim.

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Advice, Bible, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God, Humor, Intelligent Design, Monotheism, Polytheism, Quips, Religion, Salvation, The Bible, Truth | Leave a comment

Juanita: The Transparent TeleVANDAList.

You ever had a feeling about someone, an inkling, an undelineated indication that you can’t specifically identify? I know you have. We all have from time to time. I have had this feeling on numerous occasions, and have been wrong a couple of times. However, I have been right a LOT.

 The person about whom I have this feeling currently is Juanita Bynum, the -self-proclaimed, self-fulfilled (pun)- prophetess. This feeling does not stem from my bitter aversion to her abuse of doctrine, or of her OBVIOUS prostitution of the Word and name of the Lord for her own personal accruement of wealth. (No, I am NOT jealous of her! No more than I would be jealous to usurp the position of anyone who would dare put a millstone around his own neck in the enterprise of misleading baby Christians!) No, this is not about her abominable doctrine.

I’ve heard her screeching at the top of her shrill voice countless prophecies that did not come to pass.  I’ve heard her say some of the most inappropriate, titillating things on the altar of the Lord that appear to be only for shock value. The shrieks of her mostly female audience prove my point. To her proponents, she is only being “real.” She intimidates those in her presence in a quite masculine manner. I’ve heard her demanding folk to empty their bank accounts and send them in. I’ve heard her speak of having “intercourse in the spirit(!)” with a male televandalist, and heard her justify this statement by saying “you have to have a male and a female” to do this! I’ve heard of her blessing out a woman in front of an entire assembly who DARED enter a thousand-dollar line with only fifty dollars! I have heard her torture the Scriptures in a more efficient fashion than an abattoir overseer!

I have heard all this and much more that I’ve forgotten, but her heresy is not my issue right now… When I hear her speak, I hear a profound arrogance. A pronounced self-importance! I get the sense when I hear her, that there’s no one in that room on her level. No one as important as she. The words she speaks seem to roll syruptitiously (my word) down her surgically reconstructed nose to the longing ears of her eager thrall.

I cannot STAND arrogance! How dare we seek to take credit from the Lord for any ability or blessing? Yes, one may claim to give God the glory, but their actions usually spell out the truth. She may claim humility, but she fairly drips with hubris.

I remember her relating a story one time recently where a niece of hers asked for a key to Bynum’s house. Bynum reproved her shrieking, “Naw, honey! I got MILLIONS in my house!” Her audience hummed approval; “Yeh, she DO! Umm-Hmm. Thass right, gurrl.” ARROGANCE. She often has her audience at the point where she can say just about any crazy thing without fear of reprisal. 

I come from a neighborhood where a lot of “worldly” guys lived. We had a pimp named “Percy” who lived down the street and always kept a yellow Cadillac and a woman with a rabbit fur coat on. Percy the Pimp!! The man next door did time for accessory to murder in the commission of an armed robbery. His son would lie and say, “He gone to the Army,” or, when we found out he was in prison, “He stole a lawn mower.”

There was a housing project in the neighborhood behind us, and when it was built, bikes mysteriously began coming up missing, and fences were erected in previously open yards. There were people who had a little, and people who had nothing, all living in the same neighborhood. We had police officers, teachers, like my parents, laborers, drunks, and hustlers, all there on Gainsville. There was a time when I was fairly gullible. I was quick to trust and believe the word of someone I thought my friend, because I thought the world was a nice place when I was five. I soon learned that if I were going to make it, I would have to be able to discern the truth from a lie. You see, a liar is not going to come straight out and say, “Okay, I’m gittin’ ret ta tell a lie, but ack like you believe me anyway*!” I had to get burned a few times before I figured out how to spot a liar. I had a guy in the second grade tell me that if I gave him my Hot Wheels ’68 Cougar, he had this machine at home that could turn it into a fancy CORVETTE! I’m STILL waiting on that car… You don’t have to have grown up on the streets to recognize a hustler when you see one, but it doesn’t hurt. (I saw Kobe’s arrogance WAY before he got into trouble!)

Watching Bynum on video doing an interview on her recent, alleged, beating at the hands of her Rook-I mean-Bishop husband left me with the sense that something was amiss. She was double-talking, contradicting earlier public statements in which she stated unequivocally that, “even if we KILL each other,” she would not leave her husband. Here, she emphatically pronounced the marriage over. She seemed the perfect victim: a few tears, an uncharacteristically calm, demure demeanor… All who know her story know that she is the dominant partner in the union. Just look at some of their photos.

 She has spent most of her on-air time since then touting her new destiny as the “Face of domestic abuse.” Not a scratch to be seen on that face. Now, I don’t expect her to come right out and say, “I’m gone ride this hoss till it DROP!” (that would be counter-productive) But something in her words and manner says just that! Growing up as I did makes me kind of recognize when someone is “Runnin’ Game,”** as we say.

I noticed that she said repeatedly, on the video, that she would not disparage Weeks, “As long as he is my husband.” (transparent statement) But I also heard her repeatedly refer to the occurrence as “a parking lot incident.” Over and over. I was reminded of Mark Antony’s clever speech in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” He claimed that he came not to praise Caesar, but to bury him, all the while subtly turning the crowd’s wrath on the men who murdered him while constantly repeating that they were “All, all honorable men.” I don’t know if the “Prophetess” ever read the play, but I recognized the strategy, and she employed it deftly!

I have seen the faces of beaten women, and they look just that. Beaten. Why do I have to pause here and say that any man who hits a woman is a punk? Of course that is the case. If he did it, HE needs to be medicated in the same way, so to speak. But I suggest that even if he just pushed her down, or tripped her, she can SAY that he did whatever to her, and will automatically be believed. I have seen it happen. Why were there no pictures of her face?

Why did she go after him when he chose to leave?

If you are going to fight in a parking lot, you’ll fight in a restaurant. If he was that angry, he would have done it inside. They are both public places.

The bellhop said THEY were fighting, not just that he was beating her.

She has used her platform as a motivational speaker (that’s all she really is) cleverly enough so that her legion of fans need nothing but her word that he did whatever she says he did in order to be convinced. She is so arrogant and prideful, that she, supposedly a minister, adamantly pronounces the marriage over- with NO adultery, the ONLY Biblical reason- and states that she would have to give 250% to her union in order to save it, while her ministry, her DESTINY, is more important, requiring only 190%! Does she not know that God says that you sin if you forsake marriage for ministry? Is it more important to be the the face of domestic violence than to lead souls to Living Water? Or, is it simply more lucrative?Does not Christ and the Gospel suffice? Should she not concentrate on proper exegesis and marital soundness? Should she not learn how to-Biblically- submit her pride and arrogance as a proper wife? 

Has she not made a cottage industry out of “teaching me how to love you,” and counselling couples and “ministering” to hurting women who need a good man? Should she and her husband already know how to navigate such waters as these? Don’t they know that God can fix anything? Are her “millions” more important than her standing before the God she claims to serve and obey?

I guess I write this because I know that she is about to milk this incident dry. At the expense of women who really have been brutally abused and murdered at the hands of their husbands and boyfriends. I am tired of her ubiquitous presence on “Christian” airwaves. I am sick of hucksters, pimps, and dream-sellers abusing those really in need, and unlearned. I am sick of the arrogance and pride with which they so boldly bilk the multitudes. It is just another business angle for her, and I’m frustrated because it is all so transparent.

There is just something about her demeanor and attitude that rubs me the opposite way. Something in that shrill, croaking voice that does not impress upon me the love of God… There appears to be a character chip missing from the programming. I don’t see that she truly respects people. Certainly not the ones whom she demands empty their bank accounts and such! There is refuge for her, I guess, in the fact that I’m not a prophet, not a mind-reader. But I know I’m right, and many of you feel it too. Is that what the Bible calls, “discernment?”

Maybe. However, I can’t stand arrogance in people. It’s okay if I esteem you, brother, as better than me, but humbug it if YOU esteem yourself so! How dare you, Rosie O’Donnell, or Trump (Paula White’s landlord), or T.O., or Bynum, or anypuffed-up “Apostle,” or “Bishop,” or any other phoney prideful prognosticator seek God’s prominence for yourself based on how much money, or power, or influence you have?! I don’t hate you, but according to I Cor. 5, specifically, verse eleven, I wouldn’t, don’t have to, even EAT with you, or anyone so haughty and disingenuous as to claim Jesus and be so obviously, repeatedly, out of His will. Get fixed up. Quickly.

Pride goeth before the fall, baby girl! Thass Proverbs 16:18! 

*”I am preparing to prevaricate. Conduct yourself as though you are benighted to this fact!”

**Being deceptive

September 9, 2007 Posted by | Bishop, Bishop Thomas Weeks, Character, Charlatans, Christianity, Commitment, Common Sense, Current Events, Divorce, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, God, Humor, Jesus, Juanita Bynum, Language, Marriage, Morality, Paula White, Personal Responsibility, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rationality, Religion, Respect, Sin, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, Thomas Weeks, Word of Faith | 6 Comments

The Boy Who Cried “Wolf!” Was Right. Once.

I, being a musician, am up till the wee small hours of the night. in what is perhaps not the best expense of my time, I usually end up watching televangelists on networks such as, BET, TBN, the Word network, and the God Channel (how presumptuous!). Some may call me a “heresy hunter,” or some other such derisive term designed to steer one’s focus away from “the  man behind the curtain.” (see: “The Wizard of Oz”) In my mind, I am fulfilling a Biblical mandate to defend and protect the faith which was handed down to us. I don’t “hunt” heresy. I am simply a Christian who is learning about the Lord, and who sees a need to defend His character as I would my earthly father if he were being constantly lied on and misrepresented. I NOTICE heresy. I don’t get caught up in the charisma or the personality of a “Mand of Gawd.”* God is not Santa, and these hucksters are not His little helpers. They’re more like little “self-helpers!”

“Pastor” Kerney Thomas, is a popular (I guess) late-night info-preacher, that is known for his empassioned, almost tearful pleas on behalf of those poor souls who need his healing power, his healing hankies, his anointed oil, and YOUR money. So that you may know him when you see him, he looks like Clifton Davis**, and he frequently breaks into these sudden, startling shouts when the power of GOD! is released on someone, whether in person or through the teevee screen. He apparently is so anointed that his healings are effective on tape at three-fifteen in the morning when all the ladies with the green dresses on, and nebulous migraine headaches are asleep! Wow!

One problem: If he is so good at healing folk — through the power of GOD!– why is he going bald?

Can’t GOD!, grow hair?

Why does he heal the chicken parts, the backs, and legs, and necks of people who are still overweight and still wear glasses?! Wouldn’t a true God be able to restore sight and take off a few pounds? It is interesting that Bruh*** Thomas only heals that which cannot be seen. Through the power of-GOD!

If God– the REAL God– can make a man out of some DIRT (which He did), can’t He replace a leg? If He can raise someone who has been dead for days, can’t he put an eye into an empty socket? On teevee? Yeah, Benny Hinn, or some other one, always tells stories about people being raised from the dead watching his program, or what happened in some revival in east Africa somewhere, or in Iowa forty years ago, but we never see it on teevee. All we see are people getting up from wheelchairs (that were probably given to them on the way in! Robert Tilton!).

Rather than join in the chorus of “Fake!, Fake!,” many of those claiming Christ would rather squelch the cries by calling us heresy hunters. Rather than examining these public teachings, which should rightfully be scrutinized, they launch websites casting  judgments on people who are simply pointing out the wolf. But all the while, they say that it is wrong to judge… Why don’t they see the contradiction in their diction? It is as if they are saying, “It’s wrong to hate, so I hate those who hate me.”

These people are the Discovery Channel hyenas that feed on the old and weak wildebeest and zebras in the teeming, needful herd, and just like hyenas, they laugh sarcastically at us all for not being learned and able enough to protect them. So, if I had only two choices, I’d rather be a “Heresy Hunter” than an accomplice to the pillage of the poor!

*Man of God, Preacher

**Used to be an actor, now a TBN host.

***Brother

September 3, 2007 Posted by | Benny Hinn, BET, Charlatans, Christianity, Common Sense, Faith, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Humor, Kenneth Hagin, Kerney Thomas, Logic, Pulpit Pimps, Religion, Robert Tilton, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, The Nature of God, Truth, Word Network, Word of Faith | 3 Comments

Let Me Vent For A Moment.

What defines a worthy expense of a life? Do you have to cure a disease, or feed an entire nation? Do you have to build a corporation from scratch, or save lives weekly? I don’t know that we have to succeed to that degree, but what I do know is that, Nicold Richie, Perish Hilton, Lindsey Lowhand, Brittly Spears and their entire ilk define the WASTE of life!They are no different than skid row, train-hopping, M.D. 20/20* drinking, trashcan burning, spare change begging CRACKheads! Only, the crackhead peddlers are at least TALENTED enough to create some of the most astoundingly convincing lies ever uttered.The fact that these “ladies” have money makes it worse.

More can be accomplished with such resources. More than endless, mindless parties, wrecked Bentleys, rehab stints, and sex videos. More than shopping sprees, license suspensions, photo ops with “dogs” that make rats look adorable, and tv shows that make me feel worse for watching than if I licked the floor of a biker bar at closing time!

It’s WAY bad enough that ”woman of the eeevening,” Li’l Kim**, and other “tough” hip-hop performers gain acclaim after run-ins with the law, and after doing time, but now we have socialites, rich, spoiled little divas, sparking world-wide frenzies doing the Perp Walk!! There is an entire segment of the cream of society that spend their whole lives doing heroin, doing cocaine, doing the club circuit, doing multiple partners, and doing nothing!

I see their disciples all the time at the frat parties I occasionally work. I hate it! These kids are catatonically drunk, often racist, and sadly, soon to be the pillars upon which our shriveling hopes rest.

Their conversations are frustratingly vacuous (“That pink blouse is HOT!”), their interests are superficial (“Oh, my God!, is that a Fendi bag?!”) and their thoughts don’t appear to be deep enough to douse a match! (“Yeah…, someday I wanna, like, feed all the hungry babies in Africa, end all the wars, and, like, such as, save the Arizonian rain forests!”). And these are adults!

Yet we immortalize them, we ”celebretize” them in tabloids and on gossip tv shows. We follow their every action, we appropriate their standard of beauty, we adopt their attitudes and their speech patterns, we ape their hairstyles, and we buy their “products.” (Why does every celebrity inevitably, boringly, launch a line of clothes, or some acrid fragrance? Or model? Or try to sing!?)

If these people are the “cream,” I’ll be content down here at the bottom of the glass with the seeds and pulp! They have so much influence, and all they use it for is to help drag down the standard of behavior for our entire population.

On the other hand, now that I think about it, they DO serve a purpose! They exist to make me feel better about myself. Thanks, Paris!

*A cheap, potent potable, if you will, liberally imbibed by the more darkly-hued discriminating  inner-city drunk.

**A stripper, prostit,  rapper.

August 29, 2007 Posted by | Britney spears, Celebrity, Current Events, Entertainment, Fame, Humor, Immorality, Li'l Kim, Life, Lindsey Lohan, Morality, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, Rant | 1 Comment

Think…

“An Armed Conflict With Enemy Combatants”:

Of course you know this means WAR!

August 29, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Quips | Leave a comment

Repugnicans and Democraps

A Republican will see someone broken down on the side of the road and yell to him,

while speeding by in his luxury vehicle,

 “Fix your car!”

A Democrat will pull over and give the guy HIS car.

August 29, 2007 Posted by | Conservatives, Humor, Liberals, Politics | Leave a comment

I’ll Love You Forever. Right Now…*

A Married couple cannot “drift apart” if they are in the same boat!

                                                                                   Derrick L. Williams

*Or: “For Richer or For… WHAT?!?!”

August 28, 2007 Posted by | Celebrity, Commitment, Common Sense, Divorce, False Prophets, False Teachers, Food for Thought, Humor, Juanita Bynum, Life, Love, Marriage, Morality, Paula White, Pulpit Pimps, Quips, The Battle of The Sexes, Thomas Weeks | 5 Comments