Music as a Reflection of My Personality

Growing up I had quite the eclectic taste in music as evidenced by my collection. During the days of vinyl and early compact discs, affectionately known as CDs, I racked up an impressive inventory of popular, soulful, rock, punk, new age, jazz, and every genre in between. My music collection was even admired by the crooks that broke into my apartment and stole my entire collection. Incidentally the crooks broke into my neighbor’s apartment the same day but left my neighbor’s CD collection barely touched. My neighbor embarrassingly stated the crooks had a pretty good musical acumen.

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However, for me my selection of songs always seemed to come from some deep place in my soul. Music, as we all agree, can reach the depths of our souls and provide us some type of haven for whatever emotional experience we are dealing with at a given moment. This is no different for me, thus I’m not saying anything new. But what I do recognize is where my mind is as a given song “speaks” to me. My awareness is critical to understanding things about myself.

I have recognized the hills and valleys of my emotional journey and have come to appreciate and manage through most of those times. So far so good considering my stupid ass has made it this far in life.

When I think of some of the bands or lyrics I have connected with and how they spoke to me I shiver. From my beloved Circle Jerks to the heavenly voice of Yolanda Adams I have experienced a musical rollercoaster – sometimes all within a day. Really? I can go from punk to gospel within minutes? There is something seriously disturbing about this – but at the same time quite interesting.

I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything

But then again I was thinking about nothing

And then my mom came in and I didn’t even know she was there she called my name

And I didn’t even hear it, and then she started screaming: MIKE! MIKE!

And I go: What, what’s the matter?

And she goes: What’s the matter with you?

I go: There’s nothing wrong mom

And she goes: Don’t tell me that, you’re on drugs!

And I go: No mom I’m not on drugs I’m okay, I was just thinking you know,

Why don’t you get me a Pepsi?

And she goes: No you’re on drugs!

I go: Mom I’m okay, I’m just thinking

She goes: No, you’re not thinking, you’re on drugs! Normal people don’t act that way!

I go: Mom, just give me a Pepsi, please

All I want is a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me

All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me

Just a Pepsi

Institutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies

What my taste have done is allow me to analyze the emotion I’m experiencing and then make some type of assessment on how to cope. Or it might open my mind to a moment when I should be rejoicing. Even more, the music might give me a calming effect [Music calms the beast] that will get me through the day. It’s all good and it is usually needed for the moment the music presents itself.

I can appreciate having this discernment about myself and the impact of music. Nearly every day I have theme music in my head for how I perceive myself for the day. It’s kind of like the Shaft music but not as cool, nonetheless, just as effective. And in my growth as a human being I no longer feel strange because of my eclectic behavior. I am still learning to embrace this part of who I am – I just need to connect with those who have similar experiences with their musical taste.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Things My Dad Never Did

Recently I experienced some venom targeted my way and luckily I dodged it by my wit. It was nothing major, just the same ole “people-only-know-you-by-what-you-post” kind of nonsense. While some of what we post reveals a little about our personalities it is necessary to take a deeper dive into our lives to truly understand who we are as individuals…and as a society.

Thus, I started thinking about who I am and compared it to how I was raised. However, parents for people of my generation, especially our fathers, did not have the same things to contend with during their days of parenting. Society has changed so much that the norms of today may appear foreign for an entire generation. God only knows what the norms will be a generation from now.

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And so I decided to write some notes to capture the spirit of my thoughts. These notes detail some of the things my father never dealt with as he and my mother (in the same household no less) raised me and my siblings:

  1. Texting – the closest thing to my dad having used a text message back in the day was…NOTHING! I guess you can’t really call smoke-signals coming from his angry head as texting but that was pretty close. Usually his voice could carry across the neighborhood to grab my attention. While texting is very useful these days it doesn’t give much in the way of tone UNLESS I TYPE IN CAPS or use Emoticons. (When did this become a word? When it showed up in Wikipedia?)
  2. Working from Home – Many of today’s businesses are allowing folks to WFH. Keep in mind, it might appear to be for the benefit of the employee but not-so-fast…I’m using up my electricity with the air blasting, I don’t engage in water cooler conversations (unless it’s FB beef – see # 6 below), and I have to make my own lunch. Argh, the struggles I endure.
  3. Be a Stay at Home Dad – There were only a few men who actually admitted to being stay-at-home-dads back in the day. It’s commendable so don’t get it twisted, it just wasn’t practiced nor was it embraced. I do welcome the time I am allowed to hang with my kids while they struggle in the comforts of luxury and modern technology. #privilegedlivesthesedays
  4. Take a Selfie – Colin Powell admitted he was the first to take a self-proclaimed-selfie with a Polaroid (see picture above) and I can’t even imagine my dad (or other dads) doing such an act. The times have changed – and I’m certain the egos have not.
  5. Deal with petty shit – Did I ever see my father deal with petty shit? Not to my knowledge. Usually he would say something grumpy or down right indignant and leave it there. No room for pettiness in the old world. #pettypatty #politicalcorrectness
  6. Get into an internet (or public) IG, FB, TWITTER, beef – There were probably some good brawls that I was never privy to as a kid. But I can respect a good ass kicking every so often, up to a certain age. But nowadays you get into sissy-like confrontations hiding behind a GUI screen while in the security of your home. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  7. Get divorced – Granted, marriage ain’t for everyone, nor can every couple stand the test of time. My parents have been married for a gazillion years and they’ve made the best of it. Right, wrong, bad, or indifferent they committed like many others did and they worked through their differences. Nice job parental units. Good luck with this to my Gay and Lesbian fellow human beings.

These are just a few things that come to mind about how my life differs from my dad. Not saying it’s better or worse, it’s just…different.

Now ‘scuse me while I get into a beef about Hillary vs Trump. It’s funner this way.

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Go well and with love good peeps.

Son Don’t Let these Streets Get You (A letter to my boy)

The seduction of tight-ass bitches twerking under bright lights as you make it rain hundreds can make any lil homie have a desire for the streets. Dope cars, dope chains, dope clothes, and swag like no other. The Hip Hop music is on fleek! Fast life as you cruise down the street bumping the hottest beats.

Yeah, it’s enticing, but it ain’t worth it son.

My love for you won’t allow me to let you stray into an environment that will make you a statistic. I won’t be responsible for your slide into a life full of risk with only quick rewards. I know you may not understand at this time but please trust me when I tell you. My father said the same thing to me as I’m saying to you “Don’t hang with street-walkers cause nothing good comes from that.”

I realize my conservative life style may not appear as sexy or fly or whether I have swag but I still know best. I only know best because I’ve seen many things in all my years on this earth. Therefore, I want to impart this wisdom onto you so you do not have to experience all of the pitfalls life will throw at you. Make a choice to avoid them. Life can and should be beautiful – all of the parts coming together like a well-played symphony.

The allure of the almighty dollar will not allow me to see you fall to the streets. I’d rather be a poor son-of-a-bitch with a lifetime of non-material riches than to die young or live an empty existence. Or to have my life interrupted by a prison system that is unfavorable to people like us.

I pray that you hear my voice as I make this public plea to you at an age where you may not quite understand all of the pressures you will face down the road. We live in a different era these days and it may not be the kindest to you.

I get it… I’m not ignorant of what is out there and how you might believe you are doing what you have to do as you might struggle with the balance act of being a stand-up guy but not looking like a punk. I hear the music and agree that we have very good music these days that has evolved over time. But do know we are living in an over-sexed period and it may have longer term detriments than advantages. Resisting these temptations is what will mold the man I want you to become.

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One day it will all make sense – what I am spouting off to you. I need to lay the ground work today so that you will have a future tomorrow. It is my role and obligation as your father to enlighten you. We should always be learning from one generation to the other. My lesson for today is to show you how much I love you by exposing you to the harsh truths of life.

I look forward to our time together in the years to come. I look forward to sitting with you and having a beer with you and listening to you as you spout off knowledge from your own experiences. And God willing, we’ll make it to that day together.

Go well and with love good peeps…

You Are Valued

Words or phrases like self-worth, value, confidence, or “knowing thy self” all kind of relate in a similar way. These words or phrases are the cornerstone of our being and drive us to become what we become in life. They take us to higher planes of emotional aptitude and give us a light that others recognize and value.

But what if you have lost your way and feel you have no value?

What if a boss is terrorizing you and chopping you down every chance they get? Or a boyfriend or girlfriend that doesn’t see your value in the relationship and they begin to treat you like dirt? Or you’ve become “dead weight” to your family because of broken promises or instabilities that got the best of you?

Well I’m here to tell you none of that really matters. None whatsoever and it should not keep you from sleeping at night.

In the words of NWA – F* them muthaf*ers!

Value is found everywhere on God’s green Earth. Value can be found from the sands of Lake Michigan to the shores of the Ivory Coast. A mosquito buzzing through a Louisiana swamp has value. A grain of grass deep in the Everglades of Florida has value. A cloud floating overhead on a warm summer day has value. And all people have value. Life is worth living.

It may not feel like your life has some value during difficult times – we’ve all been there. But it does and it usually takes a life-shaking moment to wake some of us up again in believing we are worthy. I truly hate hearing someone declare another that they are worthless. And I, too, have been on this side of the equation – not feeling someone had any worth to me. Unfortunately anger and resentment can cause us to feel a certain way and needlessly or uncharacteristically lash out at others. The recent Baltimore riots are indicative of this devaluing of self. And we need to stop!

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Most often a value of an object is merely man deciding the object has value, thereby raising the object to a level of subjectivity based on the popularity of the object. But I declare the object had value before man came along to provide his stamp of approval. The trick to recognizing our value in life is to cut out the noise of the haters and know that our self-worth is not based on how many Facebook or Instagram “likes” we receive.

So many relationships lose value because the individuals have decided there is no value. A decision that can damage the psyche of one or both parties involved in the split. Unfortunately, it may take some time to repair the psyche from a broken relationship; however, I say again, neither person lost any value for which they have. Their decision to claim the relationship no longer had any meaning was an affront to stop trying.

Next time you are walking down the street and eye that homeless person remember they too have value. Or if you spy that angry kid that is always getting in trouble take a moment to help him or her see the value in themselves. Also, know that your dick of a boss might be going through something because they are not feeling valued. Let them know they are valued.

If we all felt valued every day think what kind of world we would build. We could build a utopian society indeed.

Go well and with love good peeps.

End of the World Series: Chivalry Just Died

And now, for something completely different…did you hear about the old lady that couldn’t open the door and the young man who walked in before her? Yep, neither did I because the old lady is still waiting by the door.

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And so it begins the dismantling of our civilization.

A recent study (Chivalry is dead) claims to prove that acts of chivalry are nothing more than sexism in wolf’s clothing.

WTF?? Wayaminute. Hold up. Wacha’ talkin’ bout Willis?

Before I completely crushed this report I thought I should take a moment and understand where it was coming from. And frankly, the good doctor might be onto something (or on something). And it does seem to be a lost art in terms of the acts of Chivalry.

In today’s competitive landscape, the denigration of social norms, and explosion of divorce our society is taking a turn for the worse when it comes to holding onto antiquated traditions. Equality is something to strive for but where do we draw the line to separate the grey when good manner’s stray into manipulative behavior? Or is there any way to distinguish the two?

I have been an old school individual for all my life. I enjoy opening doors, paying for dates, fixing light bulbs, etc. But I recognize the conundrum created because of these acts. What if a woman thinks I’m only opening the door to “check her out?” What if I expect the woman to pay for her own meal while on a date? Why can’t a woman change her own tire? These are the things that can take this conversation from kindness to sexist in mere seconds.

If women want to be equal – and again they should be – then they should experience partaking in those small dilemmas that are mostly attributed to men. And if women want to be equal then they should pay for a date occasionally or propose to a man. Is there really anything wrong with forcing our women’s hands to get dirty by doing the dirty work?

But I am a fairly kind individual and I still believe in kindness and chivalry. I feel good when I can be of good service for a woman. It makes me feel valuable at times when I fix a tire of a damsel in distress. (Yes, I know that sounds sexist.) I appreciate a woman that can cook like my mother. Apparently, these gestures I do are making me out to a benevolent sexist according to the report. Should I accept this behavior as such or refute it?

Conversations such as these make me long for the days when I was a child. My toughest decisions were deciding on which park to play in or whether to use my bat and ball or my friend’s for the cross-neighborhood baseball game. I only worried about getting home as the street lights came on and wondered what mama cooked for dinner. I was afraid of catching cooties from the cutie next door but I recognized how butterflies grew in my stomach as I spoke to her. There was no thought of sexism, racism, hatrism, or any other ism. My thoughts felt pure and life felt grand.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Relax and Let it Flow

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Some days you just want to sit somewhere in silence. You merely want to observe the beauty around you and absorb it like a sponge. You allow your mind to relax your and allow thoughts to enter. Thoughts about anything and everything. Your problems. Your solutions. Your desires. Your needs. Your loves.

And once you allow these thoughts to overtake your emotions you may cry. You might laugh at the thought of your child’s crazy antics. You may feel saddened by the loss of a loved one. Or perhaps you are overwhelmed with a high pressure job. But you can’t help that the thoughts overtake you. And you find yourself letting out emotions that grew like weeds in the crevices of your most inner thoughts as they consumed your psyche over a period of time. It happens. Let it happen.

Then you bring your mind back to the current moment. You let out a big sigh of relief. It is this moment the healing can begin. Life is going to hand us challenges, how we manage those challenges is up to us but it is always best to exercise your mind so that you might become stronger as you deal with life’s challenges. Finding the right place where you can allow the magic to occur is key.

I have found my place now go find yours.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I’m In Love with the Coco!

Imagine hearing your young kids, gleefully, energetically and with gusto singing a Hip-Hop song with the title above. Imagine them laughing innocently to the parody YouTube videos showing people drinking cocoa, snorting cocoa, or doing other things with cocoa. Now think about how catchy the tune might be and how it might stick in your mind. Shortly you might find yourself humming and singing, “I’m in love wit da coco!” while you are be-bopping your head like Jay-Z. [Coco Video]

And then you realize what the song is about. And the light-bulb goes on.

Now you think, “Uh-oh.”

This happened to me. However, before I impulsively jumped on the hypocrite bandwagon declaring that all Hip-Hop and Rap music is from the Devil and that our young people are doomed, I caught myself thinking back to my youth recalling songs where drugs were either explicitly or implicitly cited. And lo and behold a number of songs came flooding back into my memory without me having to Google the subject.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll…and Hip-Hop…and Country…etc.

So here is my simple list of songs that came to mind for me:

  • Cocaine – Eric Clapton
  • Got to Get You Into My Life – The Beatles
  • Molly – Tyga
  • Flying High Again – Ozzy Ozbourne
  • Pusherman – Curtis Mayfield
  • White Lines – Grand Master Flash
  • White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
  • Purple Haze – Jimmy Hendrix

And a whole bunch from the Red Hot Chili Peppers!

I am not only familiar with these songs but I know most of them by heart. Some of the songs are older and others more current. There are a variety of genres and artists. And, of course, they are not all Hip-Hop. Drug songs.

Thus, it’s easy to look down on certain classes of people based on our own experiences, but this is one area where we don’t have to look any further than the mirror before we judge. And what is even more interesting is how musicians have been singing about drugs for a long time – even before Rock & Roll. We all have some accountability in this as we have bought the records, tapes (8 track or cassette), CDs, etc.

More importantly, as we get older and have the tendency to frown upon such songs (admit it, you do) and artist we find ourselves recalling the very same type of song from our own childhoods. The conundrum we find ourselves is perplexing – what example are we showing our youth?

In my case, fortunately my kids are still too young to understand what the song is about – although I’m sure someone will blurt it out at some point. I can either get ahead of this potential situation or I can be ready to address it after the fact. At some point I have to address it.

But right now I just enjoy the innocence in which they operate and I wish I could freeze the moment. Heaven knows what I will be dealing with after they realize the nature of the song. Sigh.

Now go have yourself a hot-cocoa and enjoy the music.

Go well and with love good peeps.