What’s Going On?

Four decades and Marvin Gaye’s classic is as relevant today, if not more so, as it was on it’s release in 1971.

What happened to the Hippies, the “Peace and Love” generation that was supposed to save the world? Oh, right. Hippies became Yuppies.

I’ll never forget that night. The air was electric with excitement! We had done it. We had achieved something that I never, in my lifetime, thought was achievable. The one image that sticks in my mind is the close up of Jesse Jackson with tears in his eyes. It was what Oprah would have called my “Aha Moment”. It was an instant when suddenly everything clicked into place and I got it. I understood the idea of representation. Here were people who had worked all their lives just to have a seat at the table. Their moment had come. There was a feeling that things were about to change, that everything was possible. We were dancing in the streets!

How could I have been so naive?

If anything, things got worse. I might have guessed that the first black president of the United States would face some difficulty but never in my life did I expect such a deluge of hateful, un-American, bullshit! From Donald Trump’s “Show me your birth certificate” to Mitch McConnell’s famous, “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.” to Eric Cantor’s government shutdown, no president in the history of these United States has had to put up with the level of disrespect and outright condemnation as this one has.

But this post isn’t about politics. …well, maybe not.

You don’t know how many times I’ve sat down to write something about race in America. It’s been on my mind for a very long time. But what can I, a middle aged white male, add to the conversation that hasn’t already be said by people more intelligent and better qualified than me?

When Michael Brown was shot and killed I couldn’t believe it. Another one!? It seems every time I turn on the news I see a story of a black male being killed at the hands of a police officer or, as in Trayvon Martin’s case, a representative of a neighborhood watch organization. — Seriously, why is George Zimmerman still walking the streets? Every town watch I have ever been part of forbade us from carrying guns. AND… He was told not to follow Trayvon! What the hell, man?  When the shoplifting video came out I thought, so what? Even if Michael Brown was the shoplifter in the leaked surveillance video, he did not deserve to be shot and killed. At worse, Michael made the mistake of struggling with the officer, but that is NOT reason to shoot him to death!

Of course people are angry. I’m angry! But at least I have the luxury, the privilege if you will, to turn off the news and go about my boring life.

And don’t you dare whine to me about “Well… not ALL white people“! I hate that sentence. It’s a lie! Each and every one of us is to blame. We’ve so surrounded ourselves with like minded people that we’ve forgotten that this racist bullshit still runs rampant throughout our community.

So how do we prevent this from continuing?

First,  shut up and listen. And while you’re listening, try not to take everything personally. Us white folks need to remember that it’s not always about us. Just because someone is telling you their truth doesn’t mean they are tearing you down. Unless someone is addressing you directly, they aren’t necessarily blaming you. So brush the chip off your shoulder.

Next, When talking with family and friends, don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right. When someone says or does something offensive, tell them. Otherwise, how else are they gonna know what they’re doing is wrong?

If you still feel helpless, check out 12 Things White People Can Do Now Because Ferguson by Janee Woods

Personally, I don’t understand why people find it so difficult to treat others the way they wish to be treated. It’s such a simple concept. :\

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Dear 16 year old self;

I realize you know everything about everything, so I’ll make this brief.

  1. Be true to yourself. You may not believe it now, but you are one hell of a kid. You’re definitely smarter than what most people give you credit for. You should be proud of that.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Most of what you’re going through right now is small stuff. Enjoy yourself. That’s what being a teenager is all about.
  3. Try not to take any undue risks. Remember how I said you’re smarter than what most people give you credit for? Well, if you pay attention to that little voice in the back of your mind, you’ll be just fine.

Oh. One last thing. When you get older, there’s gonna be this thing called the internet. It’s gonna be huge! It’ll be a great outlet for creativity. But please, please, please, please, PLEASE try to come up with a user I.D. that’s easier to understand than ADignorantium! I mean, seriously… What the hell were you thinking? 😛

Cooking, Grandma, Food, and Love

Like Pavlov’s dog, I think of my grandmother whenever I’m cooking.

I inherited my love of cooking from my grandmother. Some of my earliest memories involve helping her in the kitchen. She kept my little hands busy fetching ingredients from the pantry, rolling meatballs, or “tasting” the pasta to make sure it was al dente.

I’m pretty sure I was the only five year old who knew what al dente meant!

Food was how she expressed creativity and love. It was how she passed along wisdom to three of her grandchildren. Involving us in the process had the added benefit of keeping her abreast of what was happening in our lives.

What else are you supposed to do while you’re making pizzelles, but talk about school and friends?

Even as I’m cooking today, I can hear her voice, “Clean as you go.” She would insist that while I was waiting for the meat to brown or the water to boil, I could be cleaning the cutting board, the mixing bowl or the work surface.

food2Ingredients all lined up. One of the things I got from my grandmother is having ingredients prepped and ready.

Onions, wine & stock, tomato, flour, paprika & cayenne, tomato paste, fresh thyme, bay leaves, garlic, brown sugar & salt all wait their turn for “Onion Braised Brisket”

-o-

If it’s Sunday, I’m cooking. If I’m cooking, I’m thinking of my grandmother. 🙂

Interpretation

Remember this song? I maintain that it is not about sailing on the open water at all.

Bear with me…

Take this verse, for instance.

It’s not far to Never Never Land

No reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy

Of innocence again

The canvas can do miracles

Just you wait and see

It’s not far to Never Never Land

1- According to Wikipedia

Neverland (also spelled Never Land or expanded as Never Never Land) is a fictional place featured in the works of J. M. Barrie and those based on them. It is the dwelling place of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys and others. Although not all people in Neverland cease to age, its best known resident famously refused to grow up, and it is often used as a metaphor for eternal childhood (and childishness), immortality, and escapism.

The operative word here is “escapism” – as in losing oneself in dreams. …or art.

The canvas can do miracles

2- They don’t use canvas as sails. They use lighter, man made fabrics, like nylon or polyester. They DO however, use canvas for art.

Of course, I could be wrong. 🙂

What is it about drugs that makes people stupid? …oh, right.

Can someone please explain to me the need to roll and smoke a blunt -or do any drug for that matter- on other people’s property? Seriously. Is this just a South Philly thing? …or does this happen everywhere?

I wasn’t brought up this way. I was raised to respect others. I was taught that people treat you the way you treat them. If you act like a thug, you can’t get angry when people treat you as such.

I often lament having to live within blocks of a crack house simply because we can’t afford to move. Don’t get me wrong. we live on a great block – mostly. But every once in a while reality comes wandering along with the sweet smelling cloud of ganja gas suspended above his head.

I’m not a prude. Mary Jane and I are old friends. It just would never occur to me to get blazed on the steps of a stranger’s house. It’s arrogant. It’s inconsiderate to your neighbors. It calls attention to yourself, and it’s just plain stupid. Why do it?

At the risk of sounding like the old head that I am, when I was young we smoked weed in private. We knew it was illegal, so we kept it on the down low. These days, young turks think nothing of whipping out a crack pipe while strolling down the street! What the hell, man? Get it together! Little kids live on our block! Do that shit in your own house!

Hanging out on our steps is usually enough to dissuade anyone from toking up on the street. But every now and again some idiot will think we don’t notice and light up. In those cases, just asking the person if (s)he can “please do that somewhere else” is usually enough to send them on their way. But occasionally, some little punk thinks his need to get high is more important than the rights of our neighbors.

The worst is when they try to hide on the steps of the small pentecostal church at the end of our street. Here’s where insolence rises to new heights! What the hell is wrong with people? Seriously! Have some f*king self respect!

I grew up in an Italian household. Wine was served with every meal. It was a normal part of life. As children, we were never made to feel left out. Our wine glasses were somewhat watered down, but we each had one. If we wanted to taste any of the “adult” beverages, all we had to do was ask. My family knew that the way to make something more desirable is to ban it, so nothing was forbidden. As a result, the mystery was taken out of alcohol. If there’s no mystery, it’s no longer special. We were free to pursue more important things.

Any child psychologist will tell you, the quickest way to get a child to do something it to tell him he’s not allowed to do it. When you remove the restrictions you take away it’s importance. I’m a firm believer in the legalization of marijuana to abate it’s importance. Decriminalization will help reduce drug related crime. Taxing it will help add much needed money to our treasury.

But when I see these kids hiding in doorways or shuffling down the street like zombies, I have to wonder if maybe I have it all wrong.

The “To This Day” Project by Shane Koyczan

Shane Koyczan “To This Day” http://www.tothisdayproject.com Help this message have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying.

Please share generously.

“My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways.

Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. This piece is a starting point.” – Shane

Find anti-bullying resources at http://www.bullying.org

Dozens of collaborators from around the world helped to bring this piece to life. Learn more about them and the project at http://www.tothisdayproject.com

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