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Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Regarding Chiropractors…

18 Oct

I’m an old man in a 22 year old’s body**. Between braces, my legendary sports career, and saxophone playing I’ve ended up with many neck and back issues.

A lot of folks I know are scared of chiropractors…they view them as witch doctors who do more harm than good. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I can only speak for myself, but every time I’ve gotten an adjustment life’s been better. It’s just a good thing to do, whether or not you have acute pain. Your bones are the foundational structure for your body, and a lot of problems can be caused by maladjustments…headaches, ear pain, all sorts of stuff.

This is a random PSA, I know, lol. But I can’t help but suggest chiropractors as a viable option of pain relief. I’ve sent a lot of people in the direction of my chiropractor, Dr. Stewart Loeb. Gonna keep doing the same!

**my extraordinary amount of facial hair is also a sign of my aging prowess

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By the dub, there’s been a bunch of great music coming out lately:

-Bilal’s newest album is dope!

-As is the Foreign Exchange’s!

-Same to Chuck Brown’s new joint!

-Lizz Wright’s too (production credits to Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock!!) Music ain’t dead, folks! Far from it.

 

If the Founding Fathers Jumped Off a Bridge…

05 Sep

What up, folks!

Lots of stuff going on in the past few weeks**. My apologies for the lack of updates, but I’m finally out of my writing shell. Today’s topic:

I’m getting kinda tired of all things politics, particularly how often any side appeals to the founding fathers as “endorsing” their ideas. Dems and Reps are equally at fault, each claiming “the founding fathers intended this or that” on virtually any issue.

Let some of them talk long enough and you’ll start hearing some really off the wall stuff: “the founding fathers wanted me to have my internet connection” or “the founding fathers would have really enjoyed that new Justin Bieber album.” It’s such a weird way to have discourse…how can you refer to what the founders “want” in the present without them being here.

Beyond that, why should we care what they think? They certainly had some good ideas about government, and their system has eventually worked out pretty well. But by no means were these infallible folks. Everyone always cites their (general) favor of slavery and all things “keep women in their place”‘ville, as reasons to doubt their near-worship, but it’s more than that. These people were people, and as such, they should be treated as (you guessed it…) people.

I’ve yet to meet a perfect person. I take everyone (including myself) with a grain of salt, as a being capable of good and bad decisionmaking…but certainly not someone who has a feel for how events will play out several hundred years in the future. So yea…all sentences starting with “The founding fathers would have wanted…” should end with “…umm, I don’t know because it’s hard to group people of varying opinions into such monolithic opinion blocks, let alone imagine how dead people would think.”

**(graduate school has started and is taking up a lot of time. This isn’t a bad thing, though. I’m slowly getting accustomed to being a Terp. All my classes in the School of Public Policy have been great  ((keep those compliments in mind as you grade me, web savvy professors who have found this site)). That said, UMBC is still in my heart. As far as undergraduate experiences go, I couldn’t have had a better time. They prepared me well, and I miss the school mucho.)

 

Spooning in a garden of pillows

22 Aug
  • First up, big thanks to those who made it our (Ndelible’s) performances at Liv and Jazz Under the Stars. Both were amazing shows where we met some great folk. Hope to have videos/photos up soon.
  • True Blood is entirely too addictive. This is problematic because…
  • School starts soon. I’m liking UMD’s School of Public Policy thus far (sans the random and unanticipated fees). It feels a little weird to be a Terp after four years of UMBC’ing. On a music note…
  • Kem and Esperanza Spalding both released purchase-worthy new albums last week. Spalding’s newest work is a lot different from her last album…it’s more strings-centered than her 2008 effort, but I like it nontheless. And Kem’s CD is dope as well. He’s one of the few singers I know who can say something like “don’t you want to spoon… in a garden of pillows,” and get away with it. lol.
  • Switching tracks a bit…I don’t understand this uproar over the planned NY mosque. Sensitivity concerns are legitimate, but we weren’t attacked in 2001 by Islam as a whole. We were hit by a radical contingent. That’s like saying no more churches should be built in Oklahoma because Timothy McVeigh once described himself as Catholic. Distortions of faith (and avoidance of their primary tenets) are no more representative of Islam than they are of Christianity. Besides, there’s already a mosque near the memorial.

Dahwell, enough random thoughts for the day. Hope everybody’s well. The Ndelible mixtape shall soon be upon you. Foe free!

 

The BET Awards Saved My Life

08 Jul

After a show last week this guy came up to me and started doing some extreme talking, the kind that alcohol brings on so well. He wanted to know all about me, how long I’d been playing sax, what bands I’m in, etc…all cool. But then I started talking about school, and things went downhill. I told him I’m planning on getting my Masters of Public Policy at University of MD, to which he replied: “Why in the helllllllllllll would you do something like that? You need to just be doing music man! That school stuff is for the birds.”

I tried to explain how I have dual interests: music and public policy. These aren’t mutually exclusive. I assured him that I’ll continue playing music for the rest of my days, but feel compelled to a life of public service as well.

After struggling to explain my plans to him (and myself?) for another 10 minutes, it clicked. I don’t know what in the world I’m doing. I need a clearer plan.

Inspiration came in the form of the BET Awards. (That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. That’s like the “Redskins” and “playoffs” getting along well). *

John Legend has an initiative called the Show Me Campaign that BET profiled.  It’s a great org that fights for quality education, both here and abroad. Unlike a lot of celebs with foundations, this dude actually knew what he was talking about. It seemed like this was far more than a puff piece for him.

So yes, I wanna be John Legend.

Well, maybe not. My singing is a shower-only deal. I wanna be like John Legend, someone who’s as equally involved in music as policy. More importantly he realizes the indelible (plug!) connection between art and activism. As musicians/singers we can’t be a voice in the community without saying something at least a little bit substantive. It doesn’t have to be this heavy-handed thing of uberconsciousness 24/7, but there’s gotta be some balance.

So yes, a man under the influence of copious amounts of Blues Alley drink’age and the BET Awards have helped my life plan. Goes to show good can be found where least expected.

*here’s hoping that McNabb, Wall, and Strasburg will lead masterful revitalizations of their respective franchises, ushering in a new era of sportly success in DC. Ha..I can dream.

 

There Were No Mirrors In My Nana’s House

17 Jun

My Nana passed yesterday.

Those of you with the most recent album know her as the fine young thing featured in the liner notes.

She turned 99 this year. It’s hard to explain how much I miss her, and I have no idea how I’ll play at the funeral next Tuesday.Writing on what this wonderful woman means to me is an endeavor I can’t quite reach. As is so often the case, music helps me speak better than anything else.

The group Sweet Honey in the Rock has a song called “No Mirrors in My Nana’s House.” I grew up thinking the song was about her.

There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

The world outside was a magical place.
I only knew love.
I never knew hate,
and the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).
…was in her eyes.

These lyrics so perfectly explain Nana. I didn’t need a mirror to see myself and my worth. She gave me (and so many others in my family) an awareness that we had something to offer the world, no matter what we may have heard otherwise…that no matter our race, our income, or any other arbitrary factor, we were golden in her eyes.

Her scope of experience is one I have a hard time grasping. To have lived a century, watching as a nation tried to live out its creed…to have dealt with racism on such a personal level, seeing the world change as open prejudice became socially unacceptable and politically incorrect. I can’t imagine it.

Love you, Nana

And I can’t imagine her not being here. She is beauty personified to me. I wanted to write this because I seldom focus on the good moments in life. I’m a cynical old man in a 21 year old’s body, and I often take good news for granted. But this woman’s life was good news I can’t ignore. As depraved as this world can get, she’s one of the few pure things I know.

Every time I left her house, she’d say: “make sure you love one another! Take care of your brothers and love one another! That’s the most important thing.”

I can only hope to follow her advice as well as she did.