straight from the heart

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Birth, Growth & A Father’s Love

In Parenting on August 29, 2010 at 12:35 pm

I remember each day like it was yesterday; they were three of the best days of my life.  The birth of my my three children were monumental occurrences for me, making me see life through different lenses.  As I saw them scream the instant they arrived, an uncanny sense of warmth and joy flowed through my soul.  Here were little bodies entrusted to me, from me & of me.  Each child was different, but the feeling was the same.  Nothing can replace the smorgasbord of feelings a father feels that day.  Joy, uncertainty, fear, happiness, worry, exuberance and strangely, a peace.  It sounds difficult to feel all those things at once, but it’s true – one feels each emotion throughout the process & then all at once.  The peace comes last when you think to yourself, I got this!  Then you watch in anticipation as these offspring begin to grow.  Their first steps, their first words.  Ah, when you first hear “papi or daddy” come out their mouths, wow – that may have been the ultimate.  I remember feeling such a sense of unconditional love for them, I would sing and hold them constantly.  I paraded them around everywhere, proud dad all the way.  When they first go to school and you see the apprehension in their faces as they are walked away that first day, tears well up in your eyes, but you know they will be fine; their MY kids, why wouldn’t they be you think to yourself.  As they begin to make friends, play team sports or perform in school productions, you continuously try to formulate a plan to make sure they have ample opportunity to thrive, putting rules & responsibilities in place so they can begin to understand what life is and will be about.  I used to drop what I called “Daddy Jewels” to them all the time, little sayings or life lessons for them to better understand what was going on around them  You do these things hoping one they they remember at least some of them, and when they come to you and say something happened and they reacted to it remembering something I may have told them, well the emotion I felt is indescribable.  The pre teen years are the best, because their innocence is prevalent.  A father can sit, hug, talk and kiss them all he wants unencumbered. They actually embrace it, coming up to you unannounced to just cuddle or show you something they may have done, for your approval.  Those are the best of times; when you leave the house for anything, they actually want to come with you and when you come home, they are waiting with open arms.  The smiles on their faces lighting up your heart like nothing else.  Then the teenage years creep in and things begin to change.  No one can really prepare you for these years as your children begin to change their ideas, attitudes and sometimes behaviors.  Not all bad, not all good, just different.  They go from asking your opinion to knowing it all.  From listening to you and enjoying your company to earphones and never leaving their rooms.   The opposite sex comes into their lives and all hell breaks loose.  You try to help them navigate through these treacherous times, but sometimes, nothing you do seems to work.  Things keep changing, almost daily with them.  You start questioning your parenting; where did I go wrong, what happened to my little babies, you ask yourself.  How could they not understand that no one loves them like you do and everything you tell them is for their own good.  A sense of helplessness hits you & your heart sinks the first time you say to yourself, I don’t like my child right now.  I remember dropping a few tears that day. I couldn’t believe I would ever feel that, but I did.  I didn’t understand the emotion or how it could be.  However, after some introspection, I realized one thing never changes, my unrelenting, unconditional love for them; that will always be a constant, never wavering.  Throughout the disappointments, the disobedience, the awkward growth to adulthood, my love for them remains.  I still get excited every time I hear from them or they share a goings on with me.  I relish their successes and feel disheartened over their defeats.  I root for them to make their way and try to let them know I am here for them always. Sometimes, it is difficult to let them fly on their own, to make mistakes and get hurt.  But I have realized it is the only way.  I have faith I have thought my children the right things and ultimately they will be fine.  I look forward to their continued march to adulthood and all the trappings that comes with it;  to their careers and ultimately their own families.  An old proverb says, we give our children two things in life.  We give them roots and then we give them wings.  I have provided some deep roots, now I hope their wings take them far.  I hope they know the one thing that will never change or be far is their father’s love.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

                                          – Unknown

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America, The Media & Instant Celebrity

In Media, Society on August 26, 2010 at 11:47 pm

There is something wrong when a simpleton like Steven Slater becomes a “folk hero” for his melt down recently while working on a Jet Blue flight. After his now infamous reaction, which I will not fan the flames by elaborating on, this clown became wildly popular. Within days he allegedly had over 200,000 new fans on his Facebook page, which solidifies my stance against such sites & believe it or not, several offers for a few reality show – I rest my case on that issue too. What a sad situation and another example of mediocrity being rewarded. What does it say about so many who seem to rally behind this nitwit, instead of those who go through the day to day tribulations with dignity? We all have bad days, shit I have had a few just this month, but where is my support group? Where are my fans? The media has reported on this at nauseam, even applauding the fact he grabbed a beer as he departed, like that makes him some sort of tough guy hero. Those who write this forever lose their credibility and can never be taken seriously. Those in the media who promote such tomfoolery are much worse than Slater. While exhibiting their limited talents, they create a sort of hysteria for all the wrong reasons. Now, I am not trying to hate on Slater for his new found popularity – it really is not his fault. I am sure he had no idea this would occur. But the media, those we entrust to provide us with insight into important news, get no such pass. It is this careless news reporting behavior that can be dangerous. By painting a certain picture, they can embolden less enlightened folks into believing they too are just a stupid act away from infamy. They use these poor lost souls for a few articles, then discard them when they are no longer of use. So enjoy your fifteen minutes Mr. Slater, your time is almost up.

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot & hang on.

– FDR

Religion, Etiquette & The Constitution

In Politics, Religion on August 25, 2010 at 10:55 pm

I must admit I am torn over this mosque being built near ground zero. On one hand I feel it is extremely insensitive to built this mosque and Muslim community center near where nearly 3000 Americans were killed by terrorist allegedly in the name of “their” Islam. It’s almost like flaunting what was done without recourse. On the other hand we live by a constitution that supposedly grant civil liberties like freedom of speech and religion. If we don’t allow this to be built, we are going against everything this country stands for and only allow these rights to be exercised when it is agreed upon by the majority or by a popular vote. We must remember this heinous act was committed by zealots who disregarded what Islam is supposed to stand for. Timothy McVie, an alleged devout Christian, once blew up an office building killing numerous citizens.  Should we not allow a catholic church within a mile radius? The problem is, as I see it, is fear. Most people really do not understand the true meaning of Islam, they equate it with those who are intolerant of other religions. Then again, they can build this center in an area where the feelings are not as raw, where people can’t help but look at it as a slap in the face and a sort of terrorist “trophy” for their action on that fateful day.   My hope would be that if completed it would promote understanding and healing. But who am I kidding, nothing can ever remove the stench & anger over what occurred that day. If we don’t allow it, aren’t we just like those same people we detest. If we do allow it, then what the hell do we stand for?  So back and forth I go.  If we go by the constitution, the document this country is supposed to live by, then they have a right to built the mosque, although it may not be wise to do so. The problem is the constitution also states all men are created equally, with the right to purse happiness and freedom – things not always adhered to by all citizens of this great country.   If they go through with building this mosque it would do more to alienate the masses then bridging the gap to acceptance. The area is not ready for it. It will create greater animosity, fear & contempt.  If given the opportunity, I would tell the Imam to do the right thing, understand the pain felt by what transpired that day, the pain still felt by those directly affected and those of us New Yorkers who will never forget.  So go ahead built your mosque, foster an understanding of your religion, just do it elsewhere.

Passions unguided are for the most part mere madness.

– Thomas Hobbes

Friendship, Reunions & Lasting Memories

In Friendships, Relationships on August 22, 2010 at 11:23 am

Friends are God’s way of making up for family.  Friendships are a very important part of a person’s life, be it your significant other, who usually becomes & should be your best friend, or new friends you meet during your day to day experiences.  However, there is something to be said about old friends, friends one grows up with; friends who have shared good, bad & ugly moments with you as you migrate thru your formative years.  These are friends one may not see for a few years, but once they get together, it’s like they never stop.  Like they are back in the neighborhood playing stickball, “snapping” on the corner or just hanging out shooting the breeze.  There is a bond that forms that is irreplaceable really.  Stories that unfold and become things of legend.  Sure, we stay in close contact with some throughout life, we are disappointed in others life choices or we hold grudges against some for some real or perceived infraction.  But on the real, at least for me, my friends have always been able to count on my shoulders, my ears & my voice.  To see some of the old guard at a recent reunion made me smile.  It bought me back to a simpler time when life was fun and things were much less complicated.  The hugs flowed easily & the pride in seeing “my boys” was huge. Watching how their families had grown, how little miniature replicas of them have joined our lives was priceless.  Watching our children interact like we used to almost bought a tear to my eye.  My son called one of my friend’s son a “partner” and at one point my son was sitting at a table, side by side, with the son of one of my closest lifelong friends – like he & I used to do many years ago.   I just looked at them and could not help but hark back to our younger days, when we were their ages.  It was like having an out of body experience, as if I was looking at us during our many skull sessions we have had over the years.  Now here they were, imitating us unknowingly.  Looking at old photos of each other and being able to laugh – hey it really was cool to dress like that back in the day – was classic.  Not everyone showed up, which was to be expected, but most of the major players were all there.  Unfortunately those that failed to show did not get to experience and re-live the special moments we all shared.  It’s ok to meet new people and develop new friendships, but it NEVER replaces our old “brothers”.  There is a special bond that no matter where we are or what we are doing, there will be moments in our lives when something happens that causes us to remember a moment in time when we were all one.  It’s not about being extra sentimental, but rather about embracing our youth and the people who at different times, have helped shape who we are or even what we have become.

Everyman’s memory is his private literature.

– Aldous Huxley

Rex, Dungy & Muscular Christianity

In Religion, Spirituality, Sports on August 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a die hard NY Giants fan, I respect Tony Dungy & believe wholeheartedly in God.  With that said, I must respectfully disagree & call out Mr. Dungy for his comments recently regarding Rex’s use of some, or obviously to some people, a lot of profanity during a taped segment of the HBO show, Hard Knocks.   Now what possessed Tony Dungy to criticize Rex Ryan to the nation is beyond me.  And therein lies the problem with people who I call “Muscular Christians”. Now come on, we all know people like that, very good people for sure, but people who try to force their Christian beliefs down your throat every chance they get.  I consider myself a spiritual person, but not religious.  I believe in a greater spirit, one who looks over us & provides us with guidance when needed.  However, I do not believe the use of profanity makes anyone less Christian than the next.  I mean known criminals have committed crimes Monday thru Saturday, only to go to church on Sundays to absolve themselves – every week.  Now I would understand Mr. Dungy’s comments more if Mr. Ryan worked in Corporate America, was a doctor or held some sort of political office.  Rex Ryan however is a football coach and from what I see, a damn good one.  That fact that he curses a lot is irrelevant, as he works in an environment of Alpha Males who, by the way seem to enjoy his banter.  It’s not like Rex is being disrespectful to his players; in fact he seems to be quite caring & motivational to them.  Tony Dungy was also a damn good football coach.  Actually he is a Superbowl winning coach, but he had a different style, a quieter, calmer, more stoic approach to his game.  Regardless, I am sure he has heard cursing before.  By lashing out at Rex, Tony came across as being judgmental, intolerant and well unchristian like.  It is that type of behavior that turns people off to Christians and the positive message they try to spread.  It is also a bit hypocritical of Tony to come down on Rex for cursing, but then support others who have committed crimes against society.  It’s like their cause is better than others?  Spirituality is a personal thing expressed differently by everyone.  Now I am not condoning all of Rex Ryan’s rhetoric.  He can sometimes come across as a blowhard.  But if one listens close enough, one can hear the voice of a passionate, caring coach who just wants to win.  Come on Tony, you’re fucking better then that!

Cursing the darkness only delays the dawn.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Society, Mediocrity & Acceptance

In Self-Improvement, Society, Spirituality on August 18, 2010 at 11:51 pm

I have been saying for years how we have become a society where mediocrity has become the norm.  Where being average has become cool and most individuals feel a sense of accomplishment when they just get by.   Want proof?  The passing grade at my kids high school is 60%.  Most people want a job, but none seem to want to work.  You hear people all the time complaining about what they can’t do, but never stating what they CAN do.  I have had individuals come to a job interview after being unemployed for months, some for over a year, and still do not hear or see the sense of urgency expected from some one who initially express a need for a job, but when presented with the work, they fold like wet noodles.  Its like they rather starve then put in an honest day’s worth of work.  And God forbid they have to work a little extra or put in a little extra time – you might as well as them for their first born.  When discussing this with people, I can sense the uneasiness in the air.  Some become agitated or personally offended, beginning to make excuses for why they do things the way they do & how it doesn’t mean they are mediocre.  Forget the fact I neither stated they were nor gave examples of mediocre behavior, but obviously a nerve was hit and they feel the need to defend themselves.  Colin Cowherd, a sports talk radio personality recently agreed, stating 70% of society is mediocre; however he bellowed that everyone should accept it and “move on”.  Why though?  Why should we accept this malaise?  I have always believed that once one becomes satisfied – one might as well die.  Life is about constant growth.  We should all continually strive to improve Mentally, Spiritually, Emotionally, Financially & Physically and then improve some more.  You see my people, life is in reality a struggle to reach the pinnacle of each of these existences simultaneously.  These five aspects of life are hard to attain individually, let alone in unison.  But that’s the point, everything worth obtaining takes effort and dedication.  Now we all come upon times in our lives where things don’t go as planned or we have moments of self doubt, where life seems to get the better of us, but it’s how we stand up after the fall that counts.  So pick up a book, hit the gym, work a little harder and you see how luck begins to favor the prepared.  So no Mr. Cowherd, I will not accept mediocrity as the norm.  I myself will continue to strive for the freedom I seek.  You all with me?

Winning isn’t everything; Wanting to win is.

– Catfish Hunter

Bron, Favre & Hero Worship

In Sports on August 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm

This is the summer of LeBron as its been called in the sports world.  Billionaires lined up to woo this so called “King”, begging him to please take their millions and play for their team.  Fans like myself, I must add, waited with baited breath hoping & praying he would grace our cities with his “talents”.  But something happened on the way to South Beach.  As I watched this unfold, I became increasingly disgusted with not only this process, but with the arrogance depicted by today’s athlete’s. To watch Bron attend these, what amounted to speed dating sessions, dressed in shorts, sweats and t-shirts, while grown men groveled at his feet made me realize we are most to blame for this fiasco.  If we would not be so enthralled with watching a mere human fly through the air, perhaps LeBron would be a bit more humble.  Now he’s a grown man and should show a little more respect for others and the game itself, but if we did not care so much, the “decision”, as his hour long spectacle was called to announce where he would provide fans the privilege of seeing him play, would be but a byline.  We see it across all sports.  Brett Favre is at it again.  He retires & un-retires weekly, yet it is still reported as big news on all broadcasts.  His continued selfish acts of skipping workouts, training sessions and other team functions, under the guise of not “being certain” he wants to play has turned into a soap opera, yet he is still labeled a leader?  Why?  What is it about most athletes that have grown men chase them down for their name on a piece of paper, or pimp their kids smiling faces just to get a handshake & a simple grin from people who can care less you even exist?  Is it because they can do things physically most wish they can do, that have some make fools of themselves just to get their attention?   Are they worthy of this hero status bestowed upon them?  As a coach, I have seen this phenomenon even at the grade school level, when adults excuse some young athletes boorish, pompous behavior or unsportsmanlike conduct as him being a competitor.  At a very young age, these young athletes begin to believe they are bigger than the game, feeling they are entitled to different rules, all because they have always been given a pass, when none was deserved.  As I hear LeBron continue to act incredulous as if he has been dishonored,  while all his enablers prop him up further and make excuses for him, I realize he just doesn’t get it – but it’s not his fault.  We created the monsters we see before us.  Now if you would excuse me, I have a baseball game to finish watching, Santana is pitching….

Toxic Radio & Dangerous Right Wing Rhetoric

In Politics, Racism, Radio on August 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm

People like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh & Sarah Palin are dangerous.  Each time they open their mouths, they run the risk of inciting some disillusioned, ignorant or racist individual of caucasian decent to commit violence against others.  They create a fear deep within them that America, their so called riches and their freedom are being transferred to people of color.   Recently a white man in San Francisco was arrested for drunk driving in his pick-up truck (so cliche’) stocked with weapons, on his way to massacre employees of a foundation Mr. Beck had numerous times called a “central player in the left wing conspiracy” .  This idiot, who I am positive was not the first & will not be the last, claimed he was motivated by Mr. Beck’s rants.  People like Mr. Beck hide behind the Freedom of Speech mantra to spew their hatred.  They rip Obama every chance they get, not due to racism they say, of course not, rather it’s for what they claim is the betterment of “their” Amerikkka.  Back in the late 60’s, early 70’s the Black Panthers and to a lesser extent, the Young Lords, were systematically dismantled and sometimes murdered by these same types of individuals who hide behind their alleged love of freedom.  Back then, they claimed the brothers where spreading hatred and government overthrow – not exactly different than what we are hearing from these right wing zealots who have a powerful forum in Fox News in which to spread their dangerous verbiage to distrustful and scared citizens, who have been deceived not by those they are told to hate, but by the same types of politicians they now listen to point the finger away from themselves.  Sort of like a more advanced three card monty scheme hustlers invented back in the day.  Damn these jokers even try to steal our hustle.

There are some that only employ words for the purpose of discussing their thoughts.

– Voltaire

Old School, Memories & Reality TV

In Music, Parenting, Radio, Television on August 15, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Seven holes on my face as I look out the window, speak with the beat & it feels like the wind blows….Ahhhh the good ‘ol days when Hip Hop was from the heart, life was simpler & real was, well real.  What happened to those times when we would get excited about a new track, congregate on the corner & just cool out listening to it?  The music, although simple, moved us with its passion and melodies.  It didn’t matter what the message was, from KRS’ “My Philosophy”, Public Enemies “Fight the Power” or Naughty’s “OPP”, the music meant something to us.  It was ours, created from the same corners we would listen to it from.  The boom boxes or car radios blaring, the linoleum rolled out & the ambiance was all fun.  Somewhere though the music lost it’s innocence.  it was replace by corporate pirates who stole the creativity & in my opinion, the pure joy of the music.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are still hits out there, artists that can still make one feel the energy or evoke feelings of self, but on a whole it’s gone.  Replaced by pseudo talents with very little substance.  I know some of you younger folks are thinking that older people always think their times were better than the current versions.  Well, I agree, most times the new is better than the old, but NOT with Hip Hop.  It just isn’t.  It’s to the point where I can’t listen to it much anymore.  There is just too much garbage out there.  Don’t believe me, just count how many Hip Hop is dead themed songs have been produced.  Very few artists today have anything of value to say.  Most of the lyrics, at least those that are played on the radio or “sell” are shallow.  There are lyrical artist still out there, but they can’t seem to sell, to reach the masses.  Why?  Because we live in a current time within a society where fake is the new real.  Where everyone is focused on instant gratification and beemers, benz’ or bentley’s.  Where Reality TV shows blur our vision.  The other day my kids where watching a popular reality show & a sadness came over me.  I questioned my parenting, asking myself how had I let my kids down, where they actual thought this was a “good show”.  These new age shows are not real at all.  It is basically all wanna be’s acting a certain way for cameras they know are there.  They are prompted to act certain ways and respond to things in a way that creates drama.  And we wonder why the world is so full of drama kings or queens.  We have kids now thinking this is actually how people should handle things.  Somehow we have lost our way; my wish is we find our way back.  Like Pac once said “Real Eyes Realize Real Lies.”