About The Funk...

Observational Spittle from the mind of a man of color in his 40s, without the color added (most times). Come in, laugh, and you may learn something...

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Doves Still Cry

I have told this story before, but I wanted to start this by bringing it up once again.

On my 15th birthday, my Aunt Emily and Uncle Robert took my cousins Terry, Carol and myself to go see a film called “Purple Rain.”  Back in the day my cousins and I were tight, like brothers and sisters in a lot of ways.  I can’t remember exactly if going to the movie was for my birthday or just good timing, but I was excited to go see the film.  At the time I liked Prince, but I wasn’t the die-hard fan that cried at his desk uncontrollable when the news of his passing hit my smartphone some 32 years later.  I dug “1999”, “Little Red Corvette” and earlier songs like “Controversy” and “I Wanna B Ur Lover”, and I heard that the film was pretty cool, so off we went.

In hindsight I was surprised that my aunt, a fairly religious woman, would take us to a “R”-rated (which it definitely deserved) picture, but as a 15-year-old teenaged boy, seeing Apolonia in that, ahem “light” was pretty cool.  But the “adult” scenes in the film were nothing compared to its star.  Here was a guy dressed in what most people would think was a woman’s shirt who handled a guitar like an extra limb, oozing badness in the coolest of ways.

I was hooked that night, and I immediately picked up the soundtrack, listening to it all the time at the loudest of volumes when my mother wasn’t home on her old Fisher stereo.  

Fast forward to my 17th birthday….better known as the most embarrassing of many times in my life.  The year before my friends (yes, once upon a time I had people who actually liked to hang out with me) threw me a surprise 16th birthday party, the first one I remember ever having, and it was so awesome I tried to hold one on my own.

Good Lord, that was a social disaster.

I wore these way too tight dress pants and shirt that I sweated through so bad, it was that sort of hot that day.  Growing up in the Bronx in the late 1980s was in the back end of the birth of hip hop culture and fashion, and folks, I wasn’t dressed for it.  A lot of kids did indeed come, but they cleared out REAL fast as I kept playing “Kiss,”, “Mountains” and “Anotherloverholenyohead”…over and over and over again.  Those kids wanted to hear Eric B. and Rakim and others from hip-hop’s royalty of the time, and thankfully (and unthankfully as well lol) my cousin Terry, the cool kid from Brooklyn who was a DJ on the side, brought his vinyl and danced with the girl I had a crush on at the time (oh, let me mention that my ex, a gorgeous Jamaican girl that I should have NOT screwed up with as well as the girl that I broke up with her for was at the party as well….ugh). 

But Prince was to be played at that party, and I thought folks dug that.

No.

In college, when “Purple Rain” was being blared out of my dorm room, folks knew that I was not in a good place and left me alone.  I remember a girl’s who had a crush on me (but back in my shallow days her weight deterred my interest) got me the bootleg of the “Black Album” (which was released some 10 years later legally) and I played that sucker until the tape broke (tried to carefully splice that sucker with scotch tape; y’all know you all tried that at least once).

As his popularity waned and the hits stopped coming, I always made sure that every Prince album/cd/digital download was in my possession.  Throughout my life, even tho I would never meet the man and the closest I got to him was several hundred feet away at an outdoor venue in Indianapolis, his attitude,creativity, stubbornness, secret charitable nature and all around uniqueness was the one constant that gave me peace in what turned out to be a disappointing life so far.

Then April 21, 2016 came.

I know a lot of the people who know me think I am being silly; he was a celebrity, someone who wasn’t a friend or family member, or knew I even existed.

But that wasn’t the point.

He was my muse, my hero, my therapist, my screaming at the top of my lungs as I drove to a job that I didn’t want but I had to do to survive.  He was a guitar god, a musical prodigy, a 5 ft 2 inch heel -wearing androgynous dude who could handle a basketball (right, Charlie Murphy?) as adeptly as a 6-string.  He spoke of the Sign ‘O’ of the Times, talked about when doves cried and his mother never being satisfied.  He probably helped procreate more than his fair share of babies with “Adore”, “Scandalous”, and duh, “Do Me Baby “playing in the background of many a lovemaking session.  He could rock, he could roll, he could get funky, he could jazz you up…about the only thing he couldn’t do well is rap.

Prince Rogers Nelson tried, but it wasn’t good.

Ultimately, as today is the 1st anniversary that he left the world a gaping hole, I can only say these things:

I wish he got help in time, and for those who are suffering as he did in silence, please do so.
I love my aunt and uncle for bringing me to the movies that night in Times Square.
I thank you, Mr. Nelson for providing me the light in the dark times, and the sun when things were good.

And finally, I wish you were still here to live to see a few more Dawns with us, because these people who are calling themselves “musicians” couldn’t hold your guitar pick.

I miss ya, and if people think I am weird for it, so be it.  A short dude who wore high heels, makeup, 7-inch heels and once wore sunglasses with 3 lenses (representing the mind’s 3rd eye) was pretty weird too.

Yet we cried when he was gone.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Desensitzed

“Desensitized”

March 19, 2017



So I got up this morning way too early as usual (it seems that since I passed the age of 40 sleeping in late is simply no longer in my DNA) and as is my norm (especially those days that I have to get up and have to deal with the confused, entitled American public) I picked up my phone to see what was going on in the world. 

Stopping to look at one of the biggest social networks (wasn’t that a movie?) in the world as usual, an old friend (who I made out with once; great kisser, much better friend) posted an article about some local students, some Mexican, some African-American, who recently won a robotics competition.  Instead of reveling in their victory, they instead became news fodder when some fine Hoosiers told the Latin students to “Go Back to Mexico.”

Yup, that happened.

Now I should be partially grateful that for once the black kids weren’t told to go “pick some cotton” or some ignorant shit like that.  However, since one of my best friends is of Latino descent (not Mexican, but doesn’t matter) and a spent a good deal of my childhood with folks like this, this did not amuse me much.

But it gets better.

My sister posted a video of a black woman being taken to the ground and placed in a chokehold by a store owner who felt she was shoplifting eyelashes from his establishment.  She started to say that she couldn’t breathe but he wouldn’t let her go.

Sound familiar?

Oh wait, probably not because that’s “old news.” 

Sort of goes along with the whole “Fake News” deelio POTUS 45 keeps either blaming the media for…or makes up himself (see “wiretapping”).

So as I watched the video (and the accompanying video of black leaders in her community confronting the shop owner, reminding him that African Americans make up a good chunk of his business) as well as thought back to those poor kids (and these were LITTLE kids as far as I can tell), I realized something…

…I’ve become desensitized to this stuff.


Holy shit that saddened me.

As I mentioned above, I moved to Indiana 22 years ago last month.  When I got here gas was about .89 cents a gallon, and I remember as I woke up (my girlfriend at the time got a promotion here from NY and I was helping her get settled) we arrived in a town called Ellettsville, a few miles away from Bloomington (a town that a lot of Hoosiers know quite well, even though they have a problem accepting that those glory days are LONG gone). 

The very first thing I said to my former amour was, “Holy shit, I am in Mayberry.”

Now anyone over the age of 40 knows that is the fictional town from the classic show “The Andy Griffith Show.”  It’s funny that comes back to me now; my mom (God Bless her) LOVED that show.  Before her mind started to go bad, she would hunt that sucker down on cable, and even though she watched every episode of that show at least 100 times, she still laughed. 

That show right now reminds me of what the current state of America (namely, its current leadership) is trying to go back to.  A simpler time where you left your doors unlocked, everyone was friendly, you had family meals…

…and white was right.

That bugs me a tad. 

I don’t get where some (operative word, SOME) folks of the majority continue to think it is OK that they are so perfect and everyone else is so flawed.  They cannot accept that other folks from other cultures or persuasions can accomplish great things…and sometimes do it better than they can.  Because of this psychological block (or a lesson taught over and over again), they can’t deal…so they do what they can to make sure that some of us (race, religion, sexual choice or whatever doesn’t fit into their idea of the “round hole”) believe what they think of them.

Kids won a robotics completion, fair and square.  Instead of being proud of them because they were children, they tried to remind them that they will never be viewed as such.

If the black woman did steal, call the cops.  What I saw when that shop owner tackled that woman (true man there; his penis must be HUUUUUGE and BIGLY) was “WrestleMania”, except there was no script involved. 

Oh, wait a minute…she was black.  Perhaps she got off lucky being slammed to the ground. 

It explains how we ended up with a guy who thinks that feeding poor people doesn’t work, that having 60 degree days in January is not unusual, and why only folks like him (not like YOU folks, don’t think because you have the same melanin content you are “down”) and that same “white is right” mentality isn’t gonna butt-bend-us-over-and-insert-here us all.

241 years of the same thinking, despite the fact that we as a country put a black guy in the White House…twice.

We are a true oxymoron.