Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson

Okay, I said I would address the sad Michael Jackson news, so here goes. I have a lot of mixed emotions about the death of MJ. He was a great entertainer. No question there. He knew how to get to an audience. He had learned that as a child. He knew what buttons to press. He had a good sense of what the audience wanted. He wrote some very memorable songs. Many have been played that I had forgotten about and are once again enjoying. On the other hand, he had a lot of problems. There were allegations about drug use and child molestation. And, the term "Wacko Jacko" may have been justified. The stories of the mummy in his house of the Elephant Man and his bizarre lifestyle come to mind. But, there was no doubt that he was an original. I first saw him on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with his brothers. I liked his music for its upbeat style. Yes, I even danced to it. And, for those R&B fans, his music was probably the standard that all others looked up to. But, couldn't we have said that about the generation that grew up with James Brown? And, what about the fans of Elvis or The Beatles, which I am a part of? I understand that the MTV generation knows nothing of music history. But, let's set the record straight. Michael Jackson didn't invent the music video. It was around long before him. In fact, The Beatles used music videos all through their career, although they were called "promos". Michael Jackson may have been the so-called King of Pop, but he was not the greatest entertainer that ever lived, as some commentators have said over the last couple of days. As good as Michael Jackson was, in my humble opinion, he can't touch The Beatles or Elvis or even James Brown. He learned from those people and so many more. And, for all of those folks so amazed as to how well MJ's music is selling in his death, I will tell you the story that I have told before on this blog:
I was working at a department store in Fort Worth in the music department, when Elvis died. I was in my car going to work, when I heard the news on the radio, and I floored it. When I got to work, there were crying women wanting everything Elvis. We sold out of all our records and tapes. Even some promotional material were gone. There were people literally screaming at us. Where were these fans, when Elvis was alive? We couldn't give his stuff away, but then he died, and everybody had to have the stuff. We started taking names to special order his stuff. Page after page of names. It was the same scene at other stores around the country. Every music store, big and small, sold out of Elvis records. All in one day. I called my distributor, and he said that there was a warehouse in Oklahoma that might have some, so he got into his truck and drove up there and got them. He brought them back to our store the next day, and we opened with enough records to fill our special orders. We had a lot of happy people that day. As far as I know, we were the only music store in the entire Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex to have Elvis records the next day thanks to my distributor. And then, it took RCA about three months to ship the reissues to the stores. There were several special issues they came out with that didn't do as well as the albums. But, it was everything Elvis. I had never really listened to Elvis, when he was alive. I was more a fan of The Beatles. But, I listened to his music after he died and liked it. I wasn't working in the music store, when John Lennon was killed, but I heard similar stories about people grabbing all of his stuff, but not quite on the same scale as Elvis. John had just released his first album in five years, so his sales were already good, when he was killed.
Now, one other thing, or maybe two. I am not going to say that I had a lot in common with MJ, but one thing is similar. He was a very shy person off stage. Me too. He turned on, when he was on stage. Me too. People have often said, including my parents, that I became a different person, when I performed. I was my happiest on stage. MJ too.
Another thing. I know that the death of MJ was unexpected, but mention Farrah once in a while, please. She was my icon.
And, one more thing. There have been a lot of entertainers, whose lives were cut short. Buddy Holly. Jimi Hendrix. Sam Cooke. Otis Redding. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Jim Croce. Ricky Nelson. Elvis Presley. John Lennon. George Harrison. And now, Michael Jackson. All of these people touched the lives of others in a profound way, and their music lives on. Last Thursday was another day that the music died, but it will live on in our hearts and minds. As for Michael, it is better to dance than to cry. He was a "Dancin' Machine".

Friday, June 26, 2009

Farrah Fawcett

Yesterday was a bomshell day. First, we were still reeling over the news of our governor. Then, the not unexpected news that Farrah had passed on. Then, the shocking news that Michael Jackson dropped dead. I will probably address the MJ news tomorrow, but for now, I wanted to write about Farrah.

I first became aware of Farrah, when I was living in Fort Worth. I saw the pilot movie of "Charlie's Angels", and I fell in love. Without getting too syrupy, it was an amazing relationship. I bought all of the posters, and still have them. I became a charter member of her fan club and still have the membership card and certificate. I cleared my night to watch the show. And, as fate would have it, my girlfriend looked like Farrah. We would go to malls, and people would stop her thinking she was Farrah. They would want pictures and autographs. Sometimes, she would say no. Other times, she would say yes. Some folks out there have fake Farrah autographs. I hope they don't try and sell them now. She became so paranoid that she didn't want anybody to take pictures of her, and the only one I have of her was a candid photo from her college yearbook. I can only imagine what it was like for Farrah some days. Despite other guys having that swimsuit poster in their dorm rooms at seminary, my posters almost had me kicked out of seminary. I was a Farrah fanatic. When I heard that Farrah was leaving the show, I wrote her a long letter about destroying the chemistry of the show, but I knew she had to move on. When I heard that she was in a film called "Myra Breckinridge" early in her career, I went to screenings of it every night. First in Dallas and then in Fort Worth. It became my favorite movie. I saw all of her films, except one. A foreign film that I guess will be released now. I went to all of the showings of "Saturn 3". It was an obsession. I had just about all of her films on video and all of the "Charlie's Angels" shows. First, it was because of her beauty. She just knocked me out. Later, it was because of her acting. She tried very hard to shed the image of that beautiful girl to be one of a more serious person, but never forgetting her playful side. When we were in Texas, her grandmother passed away in a small town not far from Dallas. I wanted to go down there and get a glimpse of Farrah, but then I heard that she was not going, because of all the hype and throngs of crowds. How sad that was. Her grandmother, who she was very close to, had died. And Farrah couldn't go to the funeral. That's how big she was. Because of my financial situation now, I am going to have to sell my Farrah stuff. It will be a hard thing to do. I don't want to capitalize on her death but rather remember her life. She made my life a little brighter. Now, she is an angel in Heaven. She was my angel on Earth. Rest in Peace, Farrah.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mark Two

Okay, now we know our governor was in Argentina and not hiking in the mountains. He lied to his staff. His staff told that lie to others. He said that he didn't use taxpayer money to travel to Argentina, and I believe him, but it must have cost a bit of money to get there. I imagine he flew first class. After all, he is the governor. With his conservative spirit, he was dropping some bucks to get down there. If he told his staff he was going hiking, he had a good cover story with his car packed with hiking gear, which he left at the airport. He was trying to cover his tracks. He had to have his passport with him, as well as having to book a seat on a plane to Argentina. It is obvious that this was planned by our governor to make this trip. There are a lot of people who are piling on the criticism against the governor. Tongues are wagging. People are laughing. Others are questioning. Still others feel betrayed. I must admit that I have not been a fan of our governor for personal reasons that I won't get into here. But, this issue goes beyond an affair. Yes, it is very sad. Yes, I feel sorry for his wife and kids. And on a personal level, we must say a prayer for his family that they will weather this storm and come out stronger. But, let's talk about what this means for our State. What politicians don't lie once in a while? Some get elected by lying. They lie about what they are going to do to make your life better. Sometimes they lie about their experience. Sometimes they lie about who they know. But, this lie is different. The governor was missing. He switched off his cell phone. He told his staff not to try and contact him. He would call them. He ditched his security detail. He lied to his staff. When officials tried to find out where he was, his staff told them that he was hiking, which is the information they had. His staff wasn't lying, as far as we know. The bottom line is that our governor has betrayed the public trust. I don't know if that is an offense that is punishable by impeachment or resignation. I am not sure he should resign. Maybe he needs to take a leave of absence. But, if he does, he will need to tell someone where he actually is. It is ironic that the legislature is not in session to take up any penalties against the governor. Maybe that was planned. Hopefully, the govenor's big ego will become a bit more humble. I think he has seen the error of his ways, and he can begin healing. I hope his marriage can be saved. I hope his sons will be able to handle the teasing by their friends. And, most of all, I hope that we can all just take a collective deep breath and move on. God bless South Carolina.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Our Governor

There was something on the news last night that was quite disturbing. Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina was missing. When the media tried to find out where he was, his staff said they didn't know. He had been gone for four days. When the media called SLED, they said they didn't know. He had left without a security detail. When the media contacted his wife, she said said she didn't know but wasn't worried. And, when the media contacted the Lieutenant Governor, he said he didn't know. So, Andre's office calls the Governor's office, and they tell him they don't know where the Governor is. Later, they put out a statement that they know, but they are not going to tell anyone. Later, they put out another statement that he is hiking in the mountains. Okay, I have to say I am a little partial about all of this on several levels. Mainly because I am supporting Andre in his political future, and because my Charleston cousins are friends with Sanford. I also can't criticize anyone who needs a vacation. But, here are the problems I have with this issue:
1. Why didn't he tell his wife? And, why wasn't she worried? And, why was he gone on Father's Day? I would imagine that he is with somebody else, hiking in the mountains. I would hope he isn't going to be eaten by a bear or bitten by a snake. But, if that was to happen, I would hope that someone else would be with him to get help. If I was one of his kids, I would not be happy, because my father missed Father's Day, and I didn't know where he was. To me, that would be abandonment. And, if I was his wife and not worried, it would be because there was a pattern of behavior there.
2. Why didn't he take a security detail with him? He is the Governor of the state of South Carolina. After 9/11, the rules changed. Barriers went up around government buildings. Checkpoints were in place entering government buildings. There was a reason for all of that. To protect our leaders. Even Andre, who didn't like security, found it was a necessary evil. Was our Governor too interested in saving the taxpayers some money with a security detail? With so mank kooks running around, there needs to be somebody with him.
3. Why wasn't the Lieutenant Governor's office told where the Governor was? This should just be a given. In the event that the Governor leaves the state for whatever reason, the Lieutenant Governor should be informed. It is called common courtesy. It isn't like Andre is going to change things, while the Governor is away. But, that's why we have a Lieutenant Governor. To give the people of the state a sense of everything is okay. Would Obama just up and leave without telling anyone? He might would like to, but he can't.
4. And, here is the clincher. Some people have been wanting Sanford to run for President in 2012. He, apparently, is the new face of the Republican Party, and true conservatives like his stance on standing up to the legislature on not wanting the stimulus money. Whatever your feeling on that issue is, it had to be decided in the courts. Sanford was ridiculed in the state, which is probably why he left to go on vacation, but his stock went way up on the national stage. But, one very important quality that a President needs to have is good judgement. If Sanford wanted to be President, he probably will need to look for a new line of work after leaving office next year. Anyone running a campaign for his opponent would just have to pull up the old news footage from the last day or so, and ask people--"Where is Mark Sanford?" And all you would get for answers would be a resounding--"I don't know."
South Carolina has been the brunt of jokes for many years. We are at the bottom in categories such as employment and education. Some people think of us as rednecks and hicks. We are stupid. We all have Confederate flags hanging from our cars. We are all racists. We are all poor. But, today, we are all owed an apology from our Governor. If he can't do that, then maybe he needs to look for another job. He is the Governor of the state of South Carolina. All 4 million of us. He was elected twice by the people of the state of South Carolina. He owes us something.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day. It is a day that is not celebrated as much as Mother's Day or Valentine's Day, and I am not sure why that is. After all, most people, except for test tube babies, need a mother and a father to create a baby. At least, I think so. My father gave me the sex talk in the car from Georgetown to Columbia one night, after he was there to preach in a church. I remember his speech well. The only thing that really scared me was that he was driving while telling me the facts of life. Daddy was a very unusual man. He was a Baptist minister. A pioneer in the Southern Baptist Convention. He was very strict. We couldn't do a lot of stuff that other kids could do. And, we did things behind his back that weren't so kosher. But, he loved us just the same. I never really understood my father. He was gone a lot. That was until the last couple of years of his life. We would talk about a lot of stuff, mainly what he did. And, some pieces of the puzzle came together. I never really felt I had much in common with my father. I loved rock music. He didn't. I loved James Bond movies. He didn't. I loved acting. He didn't. I had a big ego. He didn't. The last time I saw him, before he went into a coma, he told me that he loved me and was proud of me. That was the usual thing he said to me, when I would leave after a visit to the nursing home. That time was meant much to me. I didn't know at the time that it would be the last time he said it to me, but I was glad he did. He meant it. He loved me and was proud of me. Nevermind all the things I had done to embarass him. Or disappoint him. He never had grandchildren. But, he loved me and was proud of me. Why? What did I do? I was his son. No matter what. After he died, I started feeling that he had passed on some of his qualities to me. He was a voracious writer. Me too. He was a very humble man. Me too. I never thought I could be humble, but I understood him. He was very famous amongst Baptists. He had accomplished a lot in religious circles. People came to him for counsel. But yet, he never bragged about it or let it go to his head. I couldn't have gotten into college without his influence. My grades were not good. My high school guidance counselor told me that I was no better than a auto mechanic, but my father saw it differently. He got me into college, and the drama bug bit, among other things. I inherited my father's talent for public speaking and became one of the top debaters in the country. But, the one thing that Daddy taught me that I can pass on to others is the importance of family. We were a close family. We ate meals together. We went on vacations together. We went to church together. It was the little things that kept us together. He wasn't there a lot, as he had to travel with his job, but when he was, he was the rock that kept our family together. He believed in the family. I wish more people did today. So, Happy Father's Day to all those fathers out there. I wish I had been one of you. Maybe one day. You just never know. Daddy may not be here physically, but he is in my heart. I love you and am proud of you. What better tribute is there than that? Thanks, Daddy. I love you too and am proud of you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Apology

I would like to take this time to apologize to the PETA people. These folks want to protect animals. I have made it a point to feed the birds and squirrels. I have tried to be nice to cats and dogs, even though I was almost eaten by a dog, when I was a small child. I love to be around horses and enjoyed riding them. I like to look at cows. One of my favorite places in the whole world is the zoo. The nice thing about animals is that they give you unconditional love, at least most of them do. I have blogged before about the birds and squirrels and recognizing that they all had jobs in their community. So, why am I apologizing to PETA? Well, a couple of days ago, President Obama was being interviewed in the White House, and a fly wouldn't go away, so he killed it. PETA was upset with Mr. Obama. They said he should have captured it, and then let it go outside. I got up this morning to go to the bathroom, and there was a roach in the bathroom. I captured it, and flushed it down the toilet. I know I did wrong. I should have captured it and let it go outside, but I didn't. I am very sorry PETA people, but I draw the line when it comes to bugs. I am very afraid of roaches. I lived in a duplex in Fort Worth. Every night, upon coming home from work, I would literally spend an hour killing roaches and moths. The duplex was right behind a Mexican restaurant. Roaches are my least favorite thing. I understand the concept of the elephant and the mouse. The elephant is big, and the mouse is small, but if you put a mouse in with an elephant, the elephant will freak out. That is the way I am with roaches. I don't mind spiders, but I hate roaches. So, PETA people, please forgive me. I do like your ads on not wearing fur though.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Birthday

Today is my birthday. I won't say which one, but you guys can figure it out. WIS TV had my picture on their Birthday Club this morning, but thankfully they didn't list my age. I am not hung up on age, but since most of my friends are younger than me, I don't want to give them a shock. Some may have heart conditions, and I don't want to be responsible for any tragic happening. Today is Wednesday, and I was born on a Wednesday at 4am. I don't remember that day, although I do have pictures. They are in black and white. Another clue to my age. I do remember some stuff about those early years. Mostly, they are times that I got in trouble. Like launching ice cubes across the room of a fancy restaurant. Or the time I got lost in the grocery store. Or the time my next door neighbor showed me how a egg hatches and a chicken comes out. Those were all good times. Anybody, who has kept up with this blog over the last year, knows that times have not been so good. In fact, those times were pretty dark. Quite frankly, 6 months ago I would have told you that there was no way I would see this birthday. But, thanks to some friends (they know who they are), I have seen that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am not out of the tunnel yet. In fact, there may still be some turns before I get out of the tunnel, but I don't want to turn around and go back the way I came. I know what is important in life. Some people may not understand that. That's okay. We all have different priorities. Mine, right now, is to continue to be amazed at life. That is why this birthday is important to me. Some folks might not understand why I tell folks that it is my birthday, or why I told some that my birthday was coming. I didn't want anyone to feel obligated to do anything for me. I just wanted them to know that I made it to another year. For me, it is a great accomplishment. I haven't done it alone.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dorchester Republicans

I participated in a unique opportunity last night. I volunteered for Andre Bauer at the Dorchester County Republican BBQ meeting outside of Summerville SC. It was in a beautiful location in a meeting room next to a lake and house with horses. There were over 200 people there, and 5 candidates for Governor. Andre hasn't officially announced, but he will probably run. I like Andre. He is not a typical politican. He is more of a guy who is one of us. A real guy. And, he seems to care about me and my plight. I also got to meet Congressman Gresham Barrett. He seemed nice, but he may have some political problems in his bid to be Governor. I talked for a while with Dr. Nelsen, who teaches at Furman and is running for Governor. He seemed personable and tried to stay on message with me. State Senator Larry Grooms was there as a candidate for Governor. He seemed like a good ole boy but may not be strong enough to lead the state, but he will appeal to a certain group of people in our state. Then, there was Attorney General Henry McMaster. He said hello to me twice, because he forgot the first time. Henry also spoke too long. He has some liabilites, despite the fact that he has the most money in his war chest. There was also another candidate named Nikki Haley, but she didn't show up last night. I passed out stickers and note pads for Andre and chatted up several of the folks there. I also watched the audience as each candidate spoke. I was looking for those people who were listening to the candidates. I guess my experience with audiences has given me a talent to see things that others may not. I wrote a paper years ago on the psychology of audiences. Interesting stuff. The race is just starting. The election won't happen until next year, but if I had to guess now, the race would be between Henry and Andre. Just because the others will have to spend a lot of time telling voters who they are. I am a political junkie. I love this stuff.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Growing Older

I have known a lot of people in my life. Many of whom have passed on. Most have died from old age. Some have gone on because of accident or suicide. But, it is a fact of life. You are born, and you die. I try not to think about death so much, because I have to stay positive about my life right now. But, I am realizing that I am getting older. I noticed that in a mirror recently. Who was that person in the mirror? I like to think of myself as the same person I was 30 something years ago. I have noticed recently that I don't hear as many strangers snickering about me behind my back as I did when I was younger. They thought that I didn't hear them making snide remarks about my weight or my body type or my looks or whatever. But, I would hear, and it would hurt. As I have gotten older, those remarks have lessened. I don't command the respect of younger people, but they give their respect to me freely. Maybe that's why I get senior citizen discounts at restaurants, whether I deserve it or not. One woman asked me recently how I enjoyed retirement. I'm not retired, but I just played along. I have realized that, as I have gotten older, I cannot do the same acting stuff that I did before. For example, my Bible character monologue of Hosea. I wrote it from two perspectives. A present day Hosea and a old Hosea looking back on his life. With my age now, I guess it will become a two-person skit. One actor will play the younger Hosea, and an older actor will play the older Hosea. But, that's life. I have a habit of thinking of people they way they looked, when they were younger. Or, when I knew them years ago. One of the drawbacks to the internet is seeing people as they are now, as they share their pictures. I was reminded of this tonight, when I saw a picture of a girlfriend from college. Dare I say, my love? Yes, I loved her, and I think she loved me. It was a happy time, but things got ugly. She hurt me, and I hurt her. She was very beautiful, and she knew it. We grew apart. I saw a picture of her tonight as she looks now. I can still see her eyes and smile in her face, but she has grown older. I know we shouldn't dwell on the outward appearance. I am sure her inner qualities are pretty much the same. I would hope that my inner qualities are the same, despite being a little more streetwise now. It is still hard to grasp getting older. I don't really have a conclusion to this blog, because it won't conclude until I shuffle off of this mortal coil. I will say this, though. My body may change with time, but let me have my thoughts of staying young. Or, as young as possible.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Koko Taylor

I just heard that Koko Taylor passed away today. I saw her in concert in Columbia a few years ago. It was a cold Sunday afternoon. The great Buddy Guy opened for her. The show was outside. Buddy Guy worked the crowd with his guitar licks. Then, Koko came on. She was frail and had to sit most of the show, but her voice was strong. I fell in love with the Blues several years ago thanks to WUSC-FM. On Monday nights, they would have a Blues show and play some of the classic stars. BB King, Albert King, Etta James, Koko Taylor, Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and so many more. One could make the case that the Blues was in my blood from being born in New Orleans. After all, that kind of music grew from that region of the country. As did Jazz. I loved Jazz before I heard the Blues. When I lived in Fort Worth, I bought a bunch of Jazz albums. Jazz was pure. Then, I discovered Blues, but I didn't really listen to it much until I got back to Columbia. Every Monday night, I would play volleyball at First Baptist and then go get something to eat afterwards. That is where I would hear the radio show in my car. It was a groovy thing. I started buying Blues albums. BB King came to Columbia, and I went to his concert. It was very close to Heaven on Earth. I even got to meet him after the show. He was very gracious and gave me a pin. The great English bluesman, John Mayall, came to Columbia. I went to that show. Some folks may not know his name, but without John Mayall, there would have been no Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Mick Taylor, and lots more. Then, when I heard the news that Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor were going to be in Columbia, I knew I had to go. Chicago Blues at its best. One could make the case that my life is one case of the Blues. If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. But, that's another story for another day. For now, Koko Taylor has joined all of those other artists in Heaven. Let's have a Wang Dang Doodle All the Day for her. Thanks, Koko.