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Posts Tagged ‘art’

Remember How We Forgot

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Shane Koyczan is amazing and the violinist Hannah Epperson is equally so. I have listened to several pieces by Shame and he always impresses me. Wonderful.
Where did your story start?

One of Many Reasons I am Proud of My Son and Why He Won’t Be Listening to Eminem Again

In Inspiration, Random on October 23, 2013 at 8:58 am

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Yesterday my almost 20 year old son and I were running errands and he asked me to listen to this new song by Eminem. He told me most of the rest of the album sucked but he liked the title song “Rap God”. As he started the song I told him that I had just read a headline that said that Eminem;s new song was controversial due to some anti-gay lyrics. Turns out he hadn’t picked up on that so he REALLY listened to the song. Here are the lyrics that we heard.

Rap God by Eminem

Look, I was gonna go easy on you and not to hurt your feeliAnnotatengs
But I’m only going to get this one chance
Something’s wrong, I can feel it (Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on)
Just a feeling I’ve got, like something’s about to happen, but I don’t know what
If that means, what I think it means, we’re in trouble, big trouble, and if he is as bananas as you say, I’m not taking any chances
You were just what the doctor ordered

[Hook 1]
I’m beginning to feel like a Rap God, Rap God
All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod
Now who thinks their arms are long enough to slapbox, slapbox?
They said I rap like a robot, so call me Rapbot

[Verse 1]
But for me to rap like a computer must be in my genes
I got a laptop in my back pocket
My pen’ll go off when I half-cock it
Got a fat knot from that rap profit
Made a living and a killing off it
Ever since Bill Clinton was still in office
With Monica Lewinsky feeling on his nut-sack
I’m an MC still as honest
But as rude and as indecent as all hell
Syllables, killaholic (Kill ’em all with)
This slickety, gibbedy, hibbedy hip-hop
You don’t really wanna get into a pissing match with this rappidy rap
Packing a Mac in the back of the Ac, backpack rap crap, yep, yep, yackity-yak
Now at the exact same time
I attempt these lyrical acrobat stunts while I’m practicing that
I’ll still be able to break a motherfuckin’ table
Over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half
Only realized it was ironic I was signed to Aftermath after the fact
How could I not blow? All I do is drop F-bombs, feel my wrath of attack
Rappers are having a rough time period, here’s a maxipad
It’s actually disastrously bad for the wack
While I’m masterfully constructing this masterpiece as

[Hook 2]
I’m beginning to feel like a Rap God, Rap God
All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod
Now who thinks their arms are long enough to slapbox, slapbox?
Let me show you maintaining this shit ain’t that hard, that hard

[Verse 2]
Everybody want the key and the secret to rap immortality like I have got
Well, to be truthful the blueprint’s simply rage and youthful exuberance
Everybody loves to root for a nuisance
Hit the earth like an asteroid, did nothing but shoot for the moon since
MC’s get taken to school with this music
Cause I use it as a vehicle to bust a rhyme
Now I lead a new school full of students
Me? I’m a product of Rakim, Lakim Shabazz, 2Pac N-
-W.A, Cube, Hey Doc, Ren, Yella, Eazy, thank you, they got Slim
Inspired enough to one day grow up, blow up and be in a position
To meet Run DMC, induct them, into the motherfuckin’ Rock n’
Roll Hall of Fame
Even though I walk in the church and burst in a ball of flames
Only Hall of Fame I be inducted in is the alcohol of fame
On the wall of shame
You fags think it’s all a game ’til I walk a flock of flames
Off a plank, and tell me what in the fuck are you thinking?
Little gay looking boy
So gay I can barely say it with a straight face looking boy
You witnessing a massacre
Like you watching a church gathering take place looking boy
Oy vey, that boy’s gay, that’s all they say looking boy
You get a thumbs up, pat on the back
And a way to go from your label everyday looking boy
Hey, looking boy, what you say looking boy?
I get a “hell yeah” from Dre looking boy
I’mma work for everything I have
Never ask nobody for shit, get outta my face looking boy
Basically boy you’re never gonna be capable
To keeping up with the same pace looking boy

[Hook 3]
I’m beginning to feel like a Rap God, Rap God
All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod
The way I’m racing around the track, call me Nascar, Nascar
Dale Earnhardt of the trailer park, the White Trash God
Kneel before General Zod this planet’s Krypton, no Asgard, Asgard

[Verse 3]
So you be Thor and I’ll be Odin, you rodent, I’m omnipotent
Let off then I’m reloading immediately with these bombs I’m totin’
And I should not be woken
I’m the walking dead, but I’m just a talking head, a zombie floating
But I got your mom deep throating
I’m out my ramen noodle, we have nothing in common, poodle
I’m a doberman, pinch yourself in the arm and pay homage, pupil
It’s me, my honesty’s brutal
But it’s honestly futile if I don’t utilize what I do though
For good at least once in a while
So I wanna make sure somewhere in this chicken scratch I scribble and doodle
Enough rhymes to maybe try to help get some people through tough times
But I gotta keep a few punchlines just in case cause even you unsigned
Rappers are hungry looking at me like it’s lunchtime
I know there was a time where once I
Was king of the underground, but I still rap like I’m on my Pharoahe Monch grind
So I crunch rhymes, but sometimes when you combine
Appeal with the skin color of mine
You get too big and here they come trying to censor you
Like that one line I said on “I’m Back” from the Mathers LP1
Where I tried to say I take seven kids from Columbine
Put ’em all in a line, add an AK-47, a revolver and a nine
See if I get away with it now that I ain’t as big as I was
But I’ve morphed into an immortal coming through the portal
You’re stuck in a timewarp from 2004 though
And I don’t know what the fuck that you rhyme for
You’re pointless as Rapunzel with fucking cornrows
You’re like normal, fuck being normal
And I just bought a new Raygun from the future
To just come and shoot ya like when Fabolous made Ray J mad
Cause Fab said he looked like a fag at Mayweather’s pad
Singin’ to a man while they played piano
Man, oh man, that was a 24/7 special on the cable channel
So Ray J went straight to the radio station the very next day
”Hey, Fab, I’mma kill you”
Lyrics coming at you at supersonic speed, (JJ Fad)
Uh, sama lamaa duma lamaa you assuming I’m a human
What I gotta do to get it through to you I’m superhuman
Innovative and I’m made of rubber
So that anything you say is ricocheting off of me and it’ll glue to you
I’m devastating, more than ever demonstrating
How to give a motherfuckin’ audience a feeling like it’s levitating
Never fading, and I know the haters are forever waiting
For the day that they can say I fell off, they’d be celebrating
Cause I know the way to get ’em motivated
I make elevating music, you make elevator music
Oh, he’s too mainstream
Well, that’s what they do when they get jealous, they confuse it
It’s not hip hop, it’s pop, cause I found a hella way to fuse it
With rock, shock rap with Doc
Throw on Lose Yourself and make ’em lose it
I don’t know how to make songs like that
I don’t know what words to use
Let me know when it occurs to you
While I’m ripping any one of these verses, that versus you
It’s curtains, I’m inadvertently hurtin’ you
How many verses I gotta murder to prove
That if you were half as nice at songs, you can sacrifice virgins too (ughhh)
School flunkie, pill junky
But look at the accolades the skills brung me
Full of myself, but still hungry
I bully myself cause I make me do what I put my mind to
And I’m a million leagues above you, ill when I speak in tongues
But it’s still tongue in cheek, fuck you
I’m drunk so Satan take the fucking wheel, I’m asleep in the front seat
Bumping Heavy D and the Boys, still chunky, but funky
But in my head there’s something I can feel tugging and struggling
Angels fight with devils and here’s what they want from me
They’re asking me to eliminate some of the women hate
But if you take into consideration the bitter hatred I had
Then you may be a little patient and more sympathetic to the situation
And understand the discrimination
But fuck it, life’s handing you lemons, make lemonade then
But if I can’t batter the women how the fuck am I supposed to bake them a cake then?
Don’t mistake it for Satan
It’s a fatal mistake if you think I need to be overseas
And take a vacation to trip abroad
And make her fall on her face and don’t be a retard
Be a king? Think not – why be a king when you can be a God?

Needless to say, I was not happy. My son sat there for a minute and then said, “Mom, I really didn’t hear that. I just liked the beat.” Then I said something about spreading hate and he turned to me and said, “Well, I guess that’s the last Eminem song I’ll listen to.” The reason that I was impressed is that as a parent we hope that we communicate good values and sometimes its hard considering the outside influences that our kids are exposed to and it made me very happy to know that my son also believes that everyone deserves to be loved.

Here is a song that expresses how we feel.

Here are the lyrics:

Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

[Verse 1: Macklemore]
When I was in the 3rd grade
I thought that I was gay
Cause I could draw, my uncle was
And I kept my room straight
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like, “Ben, you’ve loved girls since before Pre-K!”
Tripping, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
A bunch of stereotypes all in my head
I remember doing the math, like
“Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A pre-conceived idea of what it all meant
For those that like the same sex had the characteristics
The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition, playing God
Ahh, nah, here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And “God loves all his children” is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five hundred years ago
I don’t know

[Hook: Mary Lambert]
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm [x4]

[Verse 2: Macklemore]
If I was gay I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We’ve become so numb to what we’re saying
Our culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots
Behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate
Yet our genre still ignores it
“Gay” is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk-outs and sit-ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference
Live on! And be yourself!
When I was in church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed
That Holy Water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same but that’s not important
No freedom til we’re equal
Damn right I support it

[Trombone Interlude]
I don’t know

[Hook]

[Verse 3: Macklemore]
We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on!
With a veil over our eyes, we turn our back on the cause
‘Til the day that my uncles can be united by law
Kids are walking around the hallway
Plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful
Some would rather die
Than be who they are
And a certificate on paper
Isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law’s gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever god you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear, underneath, it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up!

[Hook]

[Outro: Mary Lambert]
Love is patient, love is kind
Love is patient (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)

 

 

We have an obligation to imagine: Neil Gaiman on Reading. Brilliant.

In Freelancing, Inspiration, Random, Writing on October 18, 2013 at 8:14 am

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The following link will take you to a wonderful article that the author, Neil Gaiman wrote on the importance of libraries, reading and imagination. He really makes a wonderful argument for how important books are in our lives and the workings of society. I was saddened to read that the size of prisons can be based on what percentage of 10 and 11 year old children can’t read. And I was interested to learn why China now encourages the reading of science fiction.

Read and enjoy. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and a pretty neat human being.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens

Also you may want to watch a Commencement Address that Neil Gaiman gave in 2012. Amazing Stuff. I have watched it several times because it reminds me to be the best I can be as an artist and writer. Make good art.

Art and the Fight Against Breast Cancer…For Mom Day 16

In Breast Cancer, Inspiration on October 16, 2013 at 6:59 am

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Ray Ferrer is a wonderful American artist. His work is created using spray paint and hand-cut stencils. For the rest of this month Ray is donating a portion of his sales to the fight against breast cancer. Ordering one of his pieces will not only help support a very talented artist nut you will also be giving to a wonderful cause. To order visit Ray Ferrer’s Etsy site.

 

In Memory of My Mom, Ann Brooks

Mom BW car

Creative Sleep and Stephen King

In Freelancing, Writing on October 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

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The Art of “Creative Sleep”: Stephen King on Writing and Wakeful Dreaming

 

NaNoWriMo….Yep, I Am Taking the Plunge

In Freelancing, Writing on October 2, 2013 at 9:47 am

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Photo Credit: http://thebrasharian.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/best-mens-diving-photos/

WARNING: This Writer Will Be Writing a Novel of 50,000 Words During the Month of November. Should she exhibit random screaming fits,  twitch uncontrollably or begin speaking in tongues (which sound eerily like a recitation of basic grammar rules) back away and close the door.

I have considered participating in the insane NaNoWriMo challenge for several years but until this year I could not make the time commitment. But this year is different. Maybe as I age the hardening of my arteries has caused an irrational belief in my abilities or I have chemical imbalance leading to delusional thoughts. Of course, the voices in my head have gathered together and are using all of their powers of persuasion to let me know that yes, I have finally lost my mind. Being the rebel that I am I am ignoring the noisy little buggers and moving off into uncharted waters. Before you ask here are the answers to questions you may have:

Question #1: What will your novel be about?

Answer: I don’t have a clue.

Question #2: Where will you find the time?

Answer: Not really sure but my soon to be 20 year old son suggested that I could free up close to seven hours a day if I did not bitch at him. I think giving up food or sleep may be easier.

Question #3: Why on earth do you think this is a good idea?

Answer: Because I think that if at the end of 30 days there may be chance, no matter how slight that I might have created something that could really be something when it grows up.

Question #4: Are you scared?

Answer: Of course not. Well, OK that maybe that was a little white lie. Actually it is a whopper of a lie. I would say I am scared Sh^*less.

Question #5: Who is going to cook, clean and make sure your meet your other deadlines?

Answer: I have no idea. What are you doing for the month of November.

BTW if you would like to join me on this insane odyssey fueled by cold cups of strong coffee and the burning need to fill pages with lifeless characters and poorly structured plots… please do. Wait a second that last line was infiltrated by the voices in my head. What I meant to say was, “If you would like to join me on this fulfilling odyssey  fueled by the desire to create and bring forth the next great novel then hang on it’s going to be a wild ride.

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A Story for Memorial Day: Bad Break

In Uncategorized, Writing on May 27, 2013 at 9:47 am

Bad Break Art

Here is a story that I wrote. I am posting it for all the men and women that have been part of our Armed Services as well as those that have dedicated their lives to help them cope when they return home.

Bad Break

By Laura B. Williams

Behind me I heard the other customers talking and laughing, the buzz punctuated by the occasional crack of a rack of balls being scattered across felt. I reached for my beer that had begun to warm as I waited. My other hand rested on the leather case beside me.

“Hey Reggie. You playin’?” said a voice coming from over my right shoulder. I turned around and saw that it was Mickie, a young kid with promise on the pool table but he lost all his shine once he stepped away.  “I’m busy Mick, catch you another time.” Mickie nodded his head and turned back to the football game on the big screen.

The door cracked sending a shaft of smoky dim light across the floor guiding the new guest through. I could see him pause to allow his eyes to adjust to the dim pool room. He looked slowly around and I raised my hand. He walked with a rolling gate over to my table, some may think that he had developed his own swag but I knew it was caused by two broken legs in Cincinnati in ’72 in the parking lot of a pool room much like this one. The price for a winning hustle. Just like the metal plate on the left side of my head that gives me headaches when the temperature drops, I can thank a ball-banger with an attitude and a cheap house cue for that one.

“Joe. You’re late.” I say to him as he slowly eases down into a chair. “Yep.” Joe isn’t much of a conversationalist and honestly I am not sure if it’s because he is dense, thoughtful or just plain grouchy. The waitress stops by and Joe orders a coke. I don’t think I have ever seen Joe drink anything with alcohol in all the years I have known him.

“I’ll get a table. There’s a corner one open.” A couple of minutes later I came back to the table with a rack of shiny balls. One of the funny things about pool rooms is that the carpet may be filthy and ragged, and the place may look like its falling apart which it probably is but the pool tables will have decent felt that has brushed and cleaned and the balls will usually have been run though a ball cleaner. For the promise of free pool there are usually a couple of table rats that will take care of the upkeep of all the equipment.

Dust danced under the table light as I set the rack down and reached over to open my cue case. Out came my two most prized possessions. My Josh cue that had seen me through twenty plus years and a break cue that I would swear had a power all its own. I screwed the cues together and wiped them down and then gently leaned them next to a chair. “It’s my rack isn’t it?” I asked Joe. “Yep, you lost last time, as I remember it.” Joe reached down in his case and pulled out a black and white photo and propped it against the ashtray on the rail. The picture was of three guys leaning against a pool table in an army tent. It was me, Joe and Frank Miller. Three young guys smiling and laughing like all they had to worry about was their next shot not being shot at. Joe and I were both eighteen and Frank was the old man at twenty. That was in 1962, fifty years ago. Somehow we all made it home even though Joe left more of himself back in the paddies.

I racked, something that you would think requires no thought in nine-ball but actually a good rack can decide the game. Once I made sure that the rack was nice and tight I picked up my half glass of now warm beer and raised it. “To Frank the Tank, who’s bustin’ someone’s balls somewhere.” Joe and I touched glasses.

Joe stepped over to the table stretching out and as he followed through with a loud crack I was taken back in time for a moment. Joe and I had been drafted right out of high school but Frank had dropped out of college and volunteered. I think he did it to piss off his old man he said it was out of guilt from watching some of his friends headed over and hearing that they weren’t coming back. The truth is probably somewhere in between.  We were just three scared, dumb kids from Ohio who had been sent into a jungle to fight the good fight. That’s what we told ourselves for a while. Until mind-numbing exhaustion, rotten feet and staggering sense of futility crept in with fear and desperation that changed us forever, each in our own way.

I watched Joe cleanly pocket the one, two and three moving the cue ball around the table to make sure that he had position for the next. I felt a small amount of hope rise as I noticed he had a difficult kick shot to make the four but he made it and there was the set up for the five. It was an easy run to get out of this rack now, for Joe anyways. Once the nine-ball dropped I stepped up and racked again. Frank had always been the best player of the three of us. His dad had an amazing solid, beautiful Brunswick in a billiard room in that big old house. Frank would hide out in the billiard room and practice as often as he could so that when his Dad would come home from the country club or some meeting drunk and irritable and call him down from his bedroom half asleep he would maybe avoid the beating he knew was coming if he missed a shot. It took a long time for Frank to realize that no matter how well he played that beating was coming. Frank’s dad resented him. Frank was smarter than his old man and his dad knew it. Marrying into money was the end of his dad’s self-esteem. What looked like a great gig from the outside turned out to be a life of failure and disappointment shared with a woman who hated the sight of him. All made worse by the birth of his golden boy. So Frank’s dad became meaner and meaner and took his pain out on his kid as many parents do.

Half way through the second rack Joe got a bit too much of the four and ended up after a two rail bank attempt unable to reach the five. I held the cue ball, assessed the table and planned my run. It was only a couple of minutes before Joe was racking. It felt good. I hadn’t played in a couple of months. At almost seventy it was getting harder to see and it had become necessary for me to adjust my leaves so that I had shorter spans between balls or else I just couldn’t see the cuts. Back in the day we used to be able to play for hours, sometimes days but not now.

“How’s Mel?” Joe asked. Mel, is my wife. The love of my life and the most patient woman I have ever known. She had to be to put up with me and our two boys. I met her in a poolroom in Chicago. She was waiting on tables but I could tell that that’s all she was doing there, waiting. I was there for a weekend tournament which I won. I used the cash I had earned form the tournament and side bets and holed up in a room in a small hotel and there I stayed for three weeks, until I had convinced my future wife that we belonged together.  I’m not sure if she was ever truly convinced but it was enough to get her out of there and get a ring on her finger. Once we were back in Ohio we stayed with my parents and I went to work on my dad’s construction sites and she worked in the office with Mom. I kind of forgot about pool for a couple of years until Charlie was born and money got tight. A couple of nights hustling usually helped make up the difference between the bills and our pay checks. It was a the night that I ran into some ball-banger out of Wisconsin who had more money than sense that got me five grand to put down on the three bedroom house that we still have today.

“She’s been better, I guess. She doesn’t even know who I am most days. After all these years that may be a blessing” I said sarcastically. Mel now lived at the Rolling Hills Retirement Home. Actually she wasn’t living, she was back to waiting.

“Don’t know how you ended up with a class act like that.” Joe said as he always said when my wife’s name came up.

“Me either. Are you going to rack or sit around running your mouth?” I laughed to break the mood. Considering that Joe was the least conversational of all my friends that was far from the truth. Life weighed heavy on Joe and in the past years it became even more so. Joe stayed on the road hustling thought the Eastern half of the US after we returned from Vietnam. He never married or held onto a woman for long. He was a great shot but sometimes he allowed himdelf to be played. There are times when the balls can’t seem to break wrong for you and your pockets are full and that is when you should quit while ahead but not Joe. It may seem at first glance that Joe is just one of those quiet guys that can shoot a good stick but in reality he has an ego that has gotten in his way more often than not. Most of the time he doesn’t know when to quit and then he’ll go home broke. Since his cancer he doesn’t play as much and lives in a little trailer on Social Security and the bit of winnings he picks up in small local tournaments when needed. Of course, he doesn’t play his real game in these tournaments. He plays just enough to place in the money because if he always wins he’ll burn out the field.

We played a few more racks. Joe was ahead. “Have you seen him?” I asked. “Nope.” Joe replies, wearily. You see, Joe and I believe in ghosts. We believe because we know one, our buddy Frank. You don’t have to be dead to be a ghost. You just need to be invisible and lost in a place that none of us can visit. You see, Joe came home and went away at the same time. At first when he came home we thought maybe he would be OK. He married his childhood sweetheart, Gail six months after he unpacked his duffle bag and eight months later they had a beautiful little girl, Emily. He worked at the big Ford dealership just outside of town and everything seemed alright. Frank, Joe and I met every Thursday to shoot pool. Most of the time Joe and I racked as Frank won all our money. After that first year Frank started drinking too much on our pool nights and soon he was picking fights with anyone over anything, including me and Joe. Then he stopped showing up. We heard from around town that his marriage was on the rocks and he was having financial troubles. We knew he was headed down into the rabbit’s hole and we tried to throw him a rope several times but he couldn’t seem to hold on. Gail died when Emily was 10 years old and she was sent to live with Gail’s parents. That was when Frank quit. He quit being Frank and disappeared. We see him around sometimes, wandering. He doesn’t really know us anymore, he’s dirty, scary and out of his mind. It seems to me and Joe that between his father’s hatred of him, his time in the field in Nam and the struggle to try to fit in when he got home that he imploded.

The only person he sees with any regularity is his daughter Emily. He’ll show up at her house at any hour of the day and she’ll feed him and let him shower and make sure he is somewhat alright. I think her kids are a little scared of the filthy, smelly old man that their mom makes them call “Grampa”.

Each year Joe and I meet and we play for a little bit of money which we take over to Emily to help take care of Frank. That’s what friends do.

“It’s getting late.” Joe says several racks later, putting the now dusty balls back in their rack. I reach in my wallet and take out some bills and lay then next to Joe’s case. “I can go with you if you want.” I offer. “Nah, I got it. You went over last year. I heard he’s been sick and I want to see how he’s doing.” Joe picked up the money and the photograph.

“See ya’ later, Joe.” I walked out into the cold early morning with my cue case slung over my shoulder. My mind wandering through all those old memories good and bad that made up my life.

If I had looked in the shadows of the pool hall I would have seen an old man watching me. Crouched under a ragged coat with his face half hidden by a floppy, beat up hat, was the ghost of Frank the Tank.

Photo Credits for montage

The view from inside Marine helicopter Yankee Papa 13, Vietnam, March 1965. (Larry Burrows—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Quiet afternoon with an Elephant

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Elaphant DrawingThis is what happens when I have a quiet couple of hours.

They’ll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed— I, too, am America.: Our Power is Our History

In Inspiration on April 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

It’s odd how some days have a natural theme of their own. Unintentionally you are surrounded with information that is all tied together. Yesterday was such a day. Yesterday’s theme was racism.

Earlier in the day I came across a reading of Still I Rise by Maya Angelou, this lead me to follow other YouTube links. In college I studied African-American history and literature. When I home-schooled my daughter I taught her much of the same. To me I think my fascination with this history is the strength of the human spirit. The beauty of the soul that continues to have hope in the direst of circumstances enthralls me. I came across a PBS special on a remarkable book and its background. Its title is simply, Slave Songs. The songs of slavery offer inspiration, painful naked truth and many were used to hide codes to lead escaping slaves.

 Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

HISTORY DETECTIVES | Slave Songbook | PBS

Here are a few:

McIntosh Country Shouters preform Adam in the Garden

Louis Armstrong: Go Down Moses

Black Gospel Quartet Singing: Roll Jordan Roll (Acapella)

And my favorite

Hazel Miller – This Little Light of Mine

There are so many more songs that I haven’t mentioned.

Still on YouTube I also found some wonderful videos about the period in history known as the  Harlem Renaissance. There was I. Too, one of my favorite poems. This is a very powerful poem by Langston Hughes, an incredibly talented man. Then there is one of my favorite authors of all time, Zora Neale Hurston,  read “Sweat” .

I, Too by Langston Hughes

The History of the Harlem Renaissance

Biography of Zora Neale Hurston

Today there is a book signing in the small town of Mount Dora, Fl. it’s a book about a dark part of Florida history. The book is called “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America  by  Gilbert King  More of the  story of the Groveland Boys can be found on PBS’s site, The Legacy of Harry T. Moore “.This part of Florida’s racist history is a fascinating and terribly sad story.

Then there was a conversation I had with a friend. She is a beautiful 25 year old woman and she also is an amazing artist and one of those people that as soon as you meet her spirit attracts you. She is also bi-racial. Here’s what she told me when we discussed race.

“I am so offended when people ask me. ‘What are you?’ What kind of questions is that? What are you? Am I a dog or a freak? Who the hell do these people think they are? I choose to not let my race define me. I am me.” Me being me, I told her to answer, “I am a human being”, and walk away.

Racism is still creeping through our society and eating away at people’s hearts. It disturbs me on a profound level. The only protection we have against evil such as racism and hatred is our history and education. I find it terribly, terribly sad that so many people do not know the African-American history. When I took an African-American literature class the teacher pointed out to the class that I, a white woman in her 40’s and the only white person in the class knew more about their history than they did. She said it was shameful. Sounds harsh but it opened up a door in many of the young people’s minds and they started listening and asking questions. They became my friends and would talk to me about their history and we would discuss the good and the bad. I came away from that class having had the richest educational experience of my life.

One of the things that make me the proudest as a parent is that my children are color-blind when choosing their friends. My son’s best friend growing up was African- American and it wasn’t until years later that my son realized that when he was invited to join in a parade that was planned to celebrate Martin Luther King Day that he was the only white person in the parade. He never noticed. My children choose their friend by their character not their color.

There has been progress made in the fight against racism but there is so much further to go. I hope that in some small way this post has enlightened you, maybe educated you or at least made you think. Whether you are white, African-American, Asian, Latino or any other ethnicity the dark history of our world needs to be studied, if it’s not we are in danger of repeating it. We need to come together as the Human Race.

The introduction video was Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, it is sung by Rev. Timothy Fleming Sr. at the Rialto Center in Atlanta, Ga.. Powerful.

Mr. Vickers: A Random Conversation

In Florida, Writing on April 12, 2013 at 10:36 am

The Lost Parrot atnight

I love to hear other people’s stories. I love to hear from people where they have been, who they are and what happened. I heard such a story yesterday. There is a restaurant in downtown Mount Dora, Fl. that is now called The Lost Parrot. Over twenty years ago it was not a restaurant it was a gas station and bus stop. Under the wood floor in the downstairs bar you can still find the old car lifts. At a table close to me was a gentleman looked over to me and said, “Years ago this used to be the bus station.” I told him I had heard that. “This is where I met Mr. Vickers.” He goes on to tell me the story of Mr. Vickers which I am going to relate to you.

According to Mark:

One day I was down the street at my restaurant and someone told me there was an accordion player at the bus stop. I walked up hill to see what was going on. There on the bus bench sat a man and next to him was an accordion case. He sat very still. As I watched him I realized that he was completely blind. Eventually I went up and introduced myself. We talked. I told him that he could come to my restaurant and I would make him a sandwich and get him a beer if he played for the customers. He did. Mr. Vickers was a wonderful accordion player.  Several of my regular customers were local musicians and they loved to hear him.

I asked Mr. Vickers to meet me at the restaurant at eight o’clock the next morning. I showed up a half hour late because I had a few drinks the night before. As I pulled in I saw Mount Dora’s finest loading Mr. Vickers into the back of their patrol car. A little while later I called down to the police station and asked how much it would cost to get Mr. Vickers out of jail. They told me they hadn’t thrown Mr. Vickers in jail they took him down to the shopping center. I went down to the shopping center and there he was playing his accordion and he had a hat next to him filled with money. I asked Mr. Vickers if he would be interested in coming down to the restaurant and playing for a bit. He told me to come by and pick him up later. I did and he played and I fed him.

As I got to know Mr. Vickers, well know him as well as I could since he was very close- mouthed about his past, I learned that he had crossed the United States seven times without the benefit of a seeing -eye dog. He used his cane and his wits to find his way. Can you imagine that?

Mr. Vickers smelled something terrible. To remedy the situation a friend of mine picked him up one day and threw him in his shower. That Mr. Vickers sure could play his accordion and he drew people to my restaurant. Whenever he played my little place was packed. It was just a small sandwich shop but we had some good times there. Every once in a while as Mr. Vickers played I’d hand him a beer. The arrangement suited both of us.

I asked Mark if he stayed a long time and he told me, ”No it wasn’t very long, but I will never forget Mr. Vickers.  I found him right outside here sitting on a bus bench.”

I just thought that was a nice story. Everyone has a story and if you pay attention you may learn something about them and maybe even yourself. I wonder if Mr. Vickers is still alive and still playing his accordion.

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