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A shower of red sparks shot up from beneath the chassis of the speeding Camaro, and then a bike, folded up from impact. The Camaro had hit a cyclist, and the rider was pinned underneath the car. The Camaro plunged on for ten seconds, dragging along the 18-year-old rider with it.

One of the rider’s legs was pinned between chassis of the car and the frame of his bike, the other was jammed between the bike and the asphalt. After 30 feet, the Camaro slowed and stopped. The rider screamed in agony, pounding on the side of the car with his only free hand.

Without stopping to think, Tom Boyle who was driving by who had stopped, reached under the frame of the car and lifted. The metal bent and groaned and the chassis moved up three inches. “Mister, mister, higher, higher,” the rider screamed.

Boyle braced himself, took a deep breath, and heaved. The front end of the car lifted six more inches. “‘OK, it’s off me,” they boy called out, his voice tight with pain. The driver of the car pulled the rider free while Boyle held the Camaro another 45 seconds.

The biker was badly hurt and he was in a lot of pain, but he was alive and he would live. Some people have called what Boyle did, by lifting the 3,500 lb., car a miracle but maybe it was something more than that…maybe it was THEM.
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by Push Nevahda

Black ghetto life is so absurd, pointless, hopeless and meaningless that one has to laugh to keep from crying, or go to the dance club to vent the frustration, fear, anxiety and anger rather than let life’s tragicomic existence send us to the asylum or the grave. The tragicomic motif is best seen in black comedy and black music. Black comedy validates and affirms the black ghetto experience while black music cushions the pain of such an experience, sustains the faith, and redirects the heart and mind from things that would otherwise propel one towards suicide, homicide or fratricide.

As one who has spent much of his early life living in the inner-city, I am personally aware of the tragicomic mode of ghetto-life, and the inter-play between music and comedy in such a situation. The way in which the black comedians (especially the ones on BET) bear witness to what is funny yet comforting to black folk because we are glad that somebody understands the depth of our struggle. In other words, black comedians validate the ghetto experience therefore reaffirming our sanity (at which sometime or another one is certain they have lost).  Much of Black life contains those salient dimensions of the tragicomic experience where we are often left to cry and laugh – or laugh to keep from crying – of our dilemma.

The late comic genius Richard Pryor was not necessarily trying to be comical but rather tell what it was like to be black in America. The humor in Pryor’s stand-up was in how raw and rich his stories, analogies, anecdotes and characters seemed – particularly to whites, most of who were completely out of touch with the everyday strivings of black ghetto life. For black audiences, Pryor’s humorous testimonials revealed the essence of what it meant to be black in America. Black folks laughed because Pryor had the gall to be so bold with the truth. Too, blacks realized through Pryor that they’d actually survived and strived through tumultuous times (or, as Curtis Mayfield would say, they managed to “keep keepin’ on”.)

Music is the language of black folk. It is how we articulate ourselves. Black music sustains blacks in the ghetto. Especially inner-city blacks, for whom life can be so ridiculous, that one has to go to the dance club to unwind from the long and arduous week of working, hustling, stealing, conning, begging, pillaging, scheming, blaming, cussing, and doing whatever else it takes to keep ones head above sea-level. So, when the weekend finally arrives, it’s time to release the pent-up frustration and anger, and let it go. And what better way to let it all go than with the titillating elixir of Hennessey, and the Isley Brothers soothing, soulful, and syrupy love ballad, Voyage To Atlantis. And, for the true bona-fide, dedicated, unionized, card-carrying member of the ghetto elite there is nothing comparable to sitting in the club listening to R. Kelly sing about the complex events and dramatic moments of black ghetto love, sex, lies and romance. This is what R. Kelly means when he sings in “Happy People”: “Where do we go soon as the weekend gets here/The club/Why?/ To party and have some fun/What is it that, Can come and take away all your stress, tell me/Music/No further questions, you have passed my test…”

I’d personally note R. Kelly – along with the rappers – as one of few artists to have fully grasped the tragicomic experiences of black ghetto life. For Kelly, the dance club serves as an alternative to the dangerous and frightening imminence of soul-death and ghetto-murder. Shuckin’, jivin’, gossip, conversations, afro-rhythmic dancing (aka ball-roomin’, steppin’ and the hustle), stress-quenchin’ drinking, and soul-stirring music necessarily beset the place and space for blacks to come together and soothe, caress, stroke, and embrace one another’s pains, aches, and other daily sufferings. In other words, for Kelly, the club – like church – becomes a sanctuary of healing, praising, testimony, and conviviality. Both the church and the club serve as psycho-social retreats for black flight from vicious societal bombardment, rejection, discrimination, and inequality – which is why most saved-and-sanctified folk feel just as comfortable in the club as they do the church. (As a matter-of-fact, most sanctified folk I know often head straight to the club the moment church services end.)

So, when we think of how black folks in the inner city cope with the loss of factory jobs, the rise in unemployment, poverty, homelessness, missed-meal cramps, high murder rates, thugs, bad kids, babymommadrama (yes, that’s a word), lousy politicians and school systems, ineffective protestations against the machines-of-urban-disruption, inequality, no quality, meaninglessness, hopelessness, etc., understand the centrality of BET and television shows like, DEF Comedy Jam and ComicView; understand the cultural necessity neighborhood hotspots and dance-clubs like Yesterdays, Floods and  Mr. Mikes (Detroit), Rain (Las Vegas), Liv (Miami), The Savoy and Club Mayan (Los Angeles), Santos Party House (New York), or the Halo Lounge and the Velvet Room (Atlanta); and understand the genius comical commentary of artists like Richard Pryor, Steve Harvey, Chris Rock, Cedric the Entertainer, and R. Kelly in the lives of common ordinary black folk.

Even if you hate Selento’ Watch Me (Whip/Nae/Nae) song, you must realize it is the Electric Slide,it is the Cupid Shuffle for this generation. Go to any outing and watch how that song brings children together, it unifies them, it is how they cope. For us, music, song, dance, and comedy will always be the vehicles through which we most freely express, articulate, and understand our plights and dilemmas. And on that note, that is “The Reason Why the Colored American Spends So Much Time in the Hood, Laughing and Dancing at the Club, While Drinking His 40 Ounce and Listening to R Kelly”  

Push Nevahda is an author, critical book reviewer, feared intellectual and freelance writer. Get to know him well…

The wrench old, rusty, brown
It was about the size of an adult’s forearm
(clinch fist included).
It was a magnificent tool intended originally
for work on aircraft, or boat screws of an over-sized nature.
But in my father’s hand the wrench was his scepter…
A scepter of power.
An intimidating disciplinary instrument
That produced hollow thuds upon impact
follow by unusually large knots, rivers of tears
and animosity.
The scepter could not be argued with
It lost childhood,
It lost:
The time he took me to the hospital when my
pajamas caught on fire.
The time he left work early when I fell through
glass and needed stitches.
The time he taught me how to throw a curve ball.

I wondered was it my fault?
Something I did?
To make father beat his first kid.
Now, it is hard to focus.
Instead of an aged man sitting in his la-z-boy,
for me there is just a hole, a black void
Bellowing smoke from a pipe.

MG Hardie ©

 

It has been said that prayer changes things, well here is my story. My four year old son has always been a free spirited soul. He runs and jumps with reckless abandon. Whenever we go shopping he always gets to get underneath our shopping cart, who knows why.

Going to school and playing in the sand are major parts of his daily activities as they should be. However, things have changed he is no longer allowed to run, throw, or hide underneath shopping carts. He is no longer allowed to play unsupervised. As parent, little did we know that something was looming undetected, something that changed everything for my son and everything for us.

A few months ago my four year old son was diagnosed with a rare eye condition. Diagnosis: Extreme Amblyopia, refractive myopia… basically he is blind in his right eye. Although this news was shocking, his mother and I developed a plan as an effort to reverse this condition. This plan includes “patching” his left eye (the 20-20 eye) for up to six hours a day, contacts, glasses, poly-carbonate lens, a lot of heart-ache and even more prayer. Needless to say the remedy and therapy were tough for the little fella, as well as us. After a few months, my son could only see about four feet in front of him and what he could see was blurry. Why was it necessary to take these extreme measures with his therapy? Because eye input controls brain function, no eye input equals no brain function. By patching the left eye it forces his brain to sort of rewire itself to make use of his right eye.

Every time I  “patched” my son, I would ask him what can you see? With a smile he would say “Dad I can see everything”, something I knew wasn’t true. If he were left unattended for any period of time he would peel off the patch so that he could peek out of the corner, or he would take out his contact because he couldn’t really see.

After two months of fighting, crying, spending and praying my son’s response changed to “Dad I can’t see” usually followed by tears.

My son’s condition is said to be so rare that he is 1 out o 125,000 children. Mind you that all of this is happening as my new book is making the round, I have been invited to do radio show, I have a regular job and other children, so what is a father to do. My son is no idiot, we often have to restrain him to put the contact in his eye. Dealing with a four year old and fear can be tricky, the first facility we went to said that they were not equipped to handle him. As parents to say that we were helpless in this situation is an understatement. I became hardcore, because I knew what was at stake for my son. So I decided to toss away my sorrow, and I remembered how I cured asthma a decade earlier and the difficulty and negativity I experienced during that process, but more on that later.

The contact goes in… no compromise and a song is born… “Don’t touch the glasses, don’t move the glasses, these are my glasses”, a melody that is sure to be a household hit.

My question to the experts was what is his prognosis? There answer: Basketball-out, Soccer-out, Football-out even Water Polo was out as well as a lot of other activities. Okay, no problem, that just means more reading and writing… Did I mention the dyslexia? Because on his eye condition my son  interprets  letters and number incorrectly.

Side note this condition also causes my son to behave what what I deem somewhat “Neanderthalish”, which is equally frustrating for everyone. He falls a lot. He gets injured every day. I don’t even know how he plays like the other kids, but my best guess is that he is using the force.

“Patching”  his good eye basically renders him sightless and forces the brain to use the unpatched eye.

1-Month: No noticeable improvement in vision, still fighting us. More singing. His 15-years old sister decides to call her older sister to apologize for all the pain she caused her when she was younger.

3 Months: Less fighting, still singing. Family members begin to realize the depth of the situation. His mother deserves a whole lot of credit.

6 Months: Hugs are given. Hope is found, routine established. The song is family wide now. Slight improvement in vision is noticeable. Attitude is up and down.

We return to the doctor. My son, with his eye patched, sits down in the chair. The doctor displays a large image on the projector and before the doctor could asked what do you see, my son excitedly exclaims “An Airplane!” His mother smiled. The doctor said “Remarkable”, I shed a single tear. six months a ago he saw four feet in front of him. The doctor said that his improvement was exponential and he was amazed at how fast this approach seemed to be working.

I held my son’s hand as we left the doctor’s office. As we walked back towards the car he asked me for some gum. I said “No gum”. He said, “But dad I listened to the doctor, I didn’t cry and now we are leaving the doctors. I need some gum.” His response stopped me in my tracks because I realized that he recalled the conversation we had when we initially tried to put the contact in six months ago. He actually remembered the conversation verbatim. He would later performed the same memory trick on his mother, in regard to when his patching for the day would be over. Perhaps,the side-effect of the therapy is an improved memory. I picked up my son, hugged and kissed him and said “You know what son… you can have some gum”.

Prayer really does change everything.

*Make sure you get your child’s eyes checked early as possible*

Update: a year into the patching and eye improvement has stunted. Decide to patch 20 hours a day. Kindergartner is extremely trying.

Update: A year in a half into patching Experts agree to abandon patching is no longer working. We decide on whether to hold him back or push him forward in school.

Update: We decide to push him forward. He is slowly catching up.

 

‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’, is the sequel to Tyler Perry’s 2007 movie “Why Did I Get Married”. As many of my readers my know I try not to review Tyler Perry’s films because I have previously been compared to him, in some regard, and most of my reviews, while honest  have not been flattering.  The formula here is the same, couples bickering, exploiting emotions, and all of the marriage challenged have moral, ethical and relationship issues that usually get resolved by the time the movie is over and always with one character who is so horribly flawed that they are beyond redemption.

Honestly, Why Did I Get Married (2007) is when I thought that Tyler Perry had finally shown growth as a director, so I wanted to see this movie. The sequel’s story, though predictable, moves better than most of his films and the subject matter is still shallow. His films have marginally gotten better, but here we are almost 10 movies in and still Tyler Perry refuses to enlist real help with his film making.

This film picks up three years after the first movie, the four couples have moved on with their lives and are now taking their annual vacation. The location this time? The beautiful Bahamas. The couples all seen to be doing fine. Therapist Patricia (Janet Jackson) and her husband Gavin (Malik Yoba) have the perfect marriage and are moving on after the tragic death of their baby boy Noah. The workaholic Dianne (Sharon Leal) and her husband Terry (Tyler Perry) now have a little boy after Dianne had surgery to reverse the tubal ligation. Troy (Lamman Rucker) and Sheila (Jill Scott) are newlyweds and have moved from Colorado to Atlanta and have a little boy. Troy’s inability to land a job has put stress on the couple a matter which is complicated when Sheila’s ex-husband Mike (Richard T Jones) crashes their vacation. The ever mouthy Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White) are dealing with infidelity issues.

‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’ shows each of these couples attempting to portray that they have happy marriages, but before the vacation is over as we find out that real trouble is brewing. When the couples return home is where the couples face their problems head on.  Janet Jackson gives a nod to Tiger Woods in some very dramatic scenes. This film is where Janet turns in what I think is her best performance as an actress, sadly their isn’t much to see here. Now before you start thinking “he’s hating”, let me finish.

To say that this movie is cliché  and over the top are understatements, but what did you expect?  Sometimes the dialogue falls flat and the characters feel like they are on a stage instead of a beautiful island. There are several moments in this movie that will tug at your heart strings and tickle your funny bone. This is a film about relationships, love lost and found. Mr. Perry has continually assaulted my film experience since his arrival, and this movie is not totally good news for those waiting for the recently announced film “For Colored Girls”.  I said all of that to say that there is something about seeing the screen full of black actors and actresses that is refreshing… liberating even. There is something special about black people not being afraid of being black. This fact is something my fellow film critics will never get. Yes the Tyler Perry brand is formulaic and there are many things that can be said about his directing, writing  and acting. However, there is one word I have never heard someone say in regard to Tyler Perry, and that word is “Fearless”. And fearless is exactly what Tyler Perry is.  That is what ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’ fully shows.  Fearless is what Mo’Nique showed by acting in Precious. Fearless is what Lee Daniels showed for directing that movie. They are all unafraid. So in that regard Tyler Perry thank you.

This movie gets a 7 out of 10 and that’s my Film Word.

This film is in theaters.

I have always been a big fan of Erykah Badu. She has in many ways shown the triumph of the uncompromising black female artist. At times she, through her music, has gotten personal, emotional, philosophical, and I love the way she is not afraid to show that she is political. Often, through her level consciousness, she has had the ability to bridge the gender and age gap and have everyone singing her catchy songs. She is unique from her organic sound to her style of dress both of which show her constant groove. Badu’s latest album ‘New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) has recently come out. I am sure that this album will be more of what we have come to expect from Erykah Badu, not over processed, personal, ambient even soulful, but the album is not what this article is about.

This article is about the video “Window Seat” Badu’s new video for her first single. If you haven’t seen it, basically Erykah Badu walks down a Texas street and strips buck naked in front of everybody and lies down near where JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

This is a powerful video that does with actions that her previous videos did with words and color and it stands in stark contrast to them and most videos out there. Now there will be many who won’t see the point of the video. And I won’t give you the point either, because it obviously wasn’t for you. And I appreciate the point and thusly salute Erykah for making it and I must say that Erykah has an amazing backside, but I digress.

Books that are changing everything

Is this really what entertainment has come to? Taking off all of your clothes just to make a point?

Dressing like a cartoon character to be heard?

Making yourself a pop-culture gender bender to become popular?

The answer sadly is yes. With the death of MTV entertainers have been getting more and more outrageous in this say or do anything business and all of it is about as real as a three dollar bill.

Did Erykah have a valid point to make? Could that point have been made without bearing it all in public? Is this really artist integrity? or a calculated risk over reward scenario?

Those are the same questions I asked when I saw a naked Serena Williams on the cover of last year’s ESPN Magazine, especially when I looked through the magazine and found no naked men, not that I was looking for naked men mind you.

Did either of these ladies have to go that far, probably not, but if they hadn’t we wouldn’t be talking about them right now. Let’s be real here, the “mainstream” is not checking for Badu. They are only interested in women of color when there is some kind of controversy. It does speaks volumes that a woman has to take off her clothes to be a viable artist these days and a man has to put on his to be successful. Personally I like Erykah’s counter culture attitude, but it isn’t cutting edge for her to go on television shows with her hair half-done.

How do a real artists compete with these manufactured pop-culture products? How do real musicians stand out in a time-period where the mediocre can go quadruple platinum? The answer isn’t an easy one, but it does depend on where we get our music from and whether the masses really wants to hear real music from real people, or packaged music from created products.  Two weeks ago I recently attended a small event in Long Beach of less than 50 people and the music I was given the privileged to hear there was better than all of the concerts I have been to. It was free, but I would have paid for the experience, you see where I am going with this.

Shocking videos, outrageous dress, and nakedness are not new to the industry, whether it was Elton John with his flamboyance, Prince and his innuendo, D’Angelo and Madonna with their boldness and others who were considered cutting edge with these types of statements. Not only were they out there, most of the time they were out there alone. Those artist never felt that they had to do something that wasn’t them to compete, or more shocking than what someone else did, they weren’t in the same market, but today’s markets are blended. Today we have a country star who isn’t from the country, Rappers rapping country, pop kids rapping, rappers on pop songs, R & B songs that are pop, and the blends go on and on. It is both a testament to the national oblivion and sort of  funny when you hear someone say that they don’t like rap, but the songs they listen to are actually rap.

These industries will feed us this type of empty fair until, or if we get fed up and complain loud enough and just like the media is moving the public from Health Care to Jobs, and Immigration the music industry will create something else for The Mob to follow. Did Erykah Badu have to go to such length to be heard, well we are talking about her now aren’t we? One thing is certain, it is no longer about the music and as long as the public continues to celebrate idiocy, promiscuity, those who will say whatever, do whatever, or those take off their clothes and pass it off as a form of expression I dare say that we should expect no less than the same kind of behavior from our citizenry, so Pack Light.

Learn Here is a handy list for all of the men out there who have absolutely no idea what they are doing in a relationship. Also this list is for those who have no clue what a woman actually means when she says:

Fine.
This word is used to end an argument, when they are right and you need to shut up.

in Five or Ten Minutes.
If she is getting dressed, this is half an hour if you are lucky.

If she says this while you are watching the game then you have just been given a 5 or 10 warning before you’ll be helping her around the house.

Nothing
This is the calm before the storm. This means “Everything” and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with “nothing” usually end in “fine”.

Go Ahead.
Think Dirty Harry. This is a dare, not permission, Don’t Do It!

Books that are changing everything

What does your friend do for a living?
You can’t get IT, but he sure can.

Whatever.
Basic fuck you. This is usually said when it is time for your argument to go away.

I’ll do it today
This means that she has until tomorrow.

Whatever you want to do, honey.
This means that you get to choose, but choose her suggestions, so that she can enjoy herself as well.

That’s Okay.
It’s not okay and you will pay for this later. If this is said in bed then she’s consoling you because you Can’t Finish.

Can you do this for me?
Sounds like you have an option, you don’t.

Nevermind
Whenever this word is used it indicates that she is frustrated that you are not seeing her viewpoint.

I’m fine.
If she responds to one of your questions, with an “I’m fine”, it usually means that she’s not and you may need to rectify the problem.

I’m not ready for a commitment.
At least not with You.

Do what you want.
And you’ll pay for it later.

I want to have sex
We had a great evening. I am really feeling you. I want to be closer to you. Loosely translated- I’m Horny.

We need to do something with this kitchen.
I want a new house.

Do you like this recipe?
I hope so because it was easy to fix, so you’d better get used to it.

I’m not yelling.
Yes I am yelling.

I’m just going to stay at home and relax
So you’d better find somewhere else to be.

I think you’re adorable.
Sorry fellas but this means you are in the “Friend Zone” and that is where you’ll stay. Forget about whatever you thought was happening, it’s not going to work out. You are just a friend.

I like you.
While this sounds like an easy statement to comprehend, it is usually interpreted as ‘I’m still feeling you out’.  But saying “I like you” doesn’t mean ‘I’m ready for a commitment’. Loosely interpreted “right now you are on my good side”.

Loud Sigh
Although not actually a word, the loud sigh is often misunderstood by many men.  This means that she thinks that you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here arguing with you over “Nothing”.

SighRoll
From my new book It Ain’t Just The Size. This is an eye roll with a sigh. Highly Dangerous. This is used as a final warning because you have ignored other advanced warnings to leave her alone, see “stop talkin’ to me fucker look”.

Stop talkin’ to me Fucker Look.
A look that is Self Explanatory

Tapping of the Foot and or Finger nails against hard surfaces.

You have gotten on her nerves and you need to stop now.

Thanks.
Fellas TRY NOT to read too much into this one and just say you’re welcome.

I hope this list helps you out, because we all know that some of you really need the help.

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