Throw Back Thursday – Dedicated to My Grandparents

Genrations

PHOTO: Christmas circa 1981 in New Kensington, PA (suburb of Pittsburgh) I was 14, to my left was my father Otis McCaleb, (R.I.P.) Below L-R Grandfather Leo “The Lion” Moore, Grandmother Georgia Moore, (R.I.P) and my sister Darcel (McCaleb) Tyson.

This was the last time I saw my grandmother alive. Still breaks my heart that I couldn’t be present to help lay her to rest. Grandma was a strong willed woman who loved cooking and Falstaff Beer. When my sister and I visited her every summer, she cooked every single night except Friday. On Friday, it was ‘Mustgo.’ I used to ask, “Grandma, whats Mustgo?” She’d yell, ‘Whatever didn’t go yesterday, MUSTGO today!  It took me years to figure what that meant because she phrased ‘MUST GO’ as one word!  She rocked a gold cap on her upper tooth, smoked and drank on the weekend listening to The Bucs (Pirates Baseball) on KDKA radio.

Grandma never missed a Sunday Service either.  Deeply religious and equally superstitious, she would never let me split a pole when she and I often walked to the ‘5 and 10 Store,’ downtown.  (Yea the 5 & dime she called it.  Used used to buy me those pajamas with the feet in them. Loved those things.)   But I digress: She would never ever allow a female to be the first person to walk through the front door after the New Year.  She said that was bad luck!  As New Years struck the year pictured above, I had the pleasure of walking out the back door and around to the front to ensure the year wouldn’t be doomed towards destruction! The night of January 1st however, I thought the opposite was going to happen after Dan Marino thew that 35 yard touchdown pass to John Brown to beat Herschel Walker and Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.  I jumped with joy thrusting my fist in the air shattering a bulb from her prized chandelier!

Grandma - Georgia Moore

As far as discipline goes, she was the bad cop!  And she did it well too!  No matter what I’d try to get away with when she wasn’t there, she always, and I mean always found out about it.  She worked at a nursing home by day.  I wasn’t allowed to go outside or have company over till she got home from work.  But my girlfriend Vonda lived next door.  As a matter of fact, we each lived in a brick double-connected 3 bedroom townhome that her grandmother owned.  Her grandma, Lucille Brooks lived at 490 McCargo St.  Our side of the building was 488.  Our families were literally close like family, not just neighbors.  Anyway, I would check, check, double-check all of the windows and peek around the doors, give the all clear signal and my girlfriend would bolt form 490 through my back patio door.

Sure enough, at 4:15 when grandma walked in the door, she’d come home and be like, “Christopher Keith?!!  (I knew I was in trouble when she started using my government) “Didn’t I tell you not to have that girl over here?  Yes I did… and yes she was!  You had her over here from from 11:30 to 2!”  I’d try… “But grandma, we was just watching game shows.  Like The Price is Right, and the $20,000 Pyramid!”  She’s come back, “The price is right for me to beat yo ass with a pyramid!”  I’d think to myself, “Now how in the hell?”  I swear I think that nursing home thing was a front.  She had to be NSA!  I mean, just look at her picture above.  Does this woman look like a joke to you?

One of the reasons I love old people today is because of my granddaddy. (who we called Leo as kids)  After serving in the Korean War he was a race car driver in his hometown of Meridian Mississippi! When I was a shorty, before he got into buying luxury cars, he had a bright red 1970 Ford Torino stock racer that was his everyday coup.  It still had all the racing gages and stuff in it too.  (Like some Fast and Furious stuff!)  And yes he drove it around town like he was his name was Wendell Scott. 

GT

During the week, Granddaddy was straight laced to the bone because it was a work night.   In the evenings, he’d come home, read his newspaper, eat dinner, watch Gunsmoke and Bonanza, calling it a night promptly at 9pm.  He wasn’t mean, but you couldn’t get more than two sentences out of him at a time.  He was just that locked in.  Now come Friday night?  That was another story.  It was like a metamorphosis.

If you’ve ever seen the movie A Soldier’s Story, two of the characters were at extreme odds against one another.  Sargent Waters, (the upwardly bound Negro looking to forge a new way for Southern Blacks through discipline, becoming Eurocentrically bourgeois, and less backwoods colored) vs. CJ Memphis (the good ole simple country boy who loved to sing, dance, and entertain people.  CJ loved everybody.  And everybody loved CJ, except Waters).  My grandfather was Sargent Waters during the week.  But instantly transformed to CJ Memphis from the moment he clocked out Friday night through Sunday before going to bed.

He’d sit me on his lap and sing songs to me;

“Goodbye Joe, you gotta go, meo-myo!  Son of a gun we gonna have fun on the bayo!”  or “Imma dance with the girl with the hold in her stockings and her knees keep a rocking!”

I mean he was the funnest dude in the world!

Waters

He took me with him on his many trips to the local bars and taverns. He would say, “Come on grandson. I’m going to get a shot!” We’d roll and in those days you could walk an 8 or 9 year old right up to the spot. (Always in the day time of course) He would get his ‘shots’ and I would listen as the old men told stories while laughing with one another…which I just LOVED!  I’d look at their faces and as far as I was concerned, they could have been from the 1800s.  Their faces held such distinct characteristics with the various shades and wrinkles.  I pretty much thought they knew EVERYTHING!  Add to that the fact that these men of distinction always treated me with such high regard and respect.  They’d talk to me to see how if and how I’d speak back.  Did I smile, was I unafraid, yet respectful?  Saying things like, “Oh your grandson is smaaaart!” or He gone be something…(looking at me) aren’t you young man?”  ““Yes sir!”  We’d bar hop for several hours doing the same thing…. every weekend!

And don’t let it be a week where I had to go to the barbershop.   That meant an excuse to stay out a couple more hours long way past the time it took to actually cut my hair.  Which meant more bars and taverns!   The guys in the barbershops told awesome stories themselves.  They’d pat me on the head, tell me to keep my grades up and be something!  

Of course when we’d get home and granddaddy was lit up like a Christmas tree, she would give him all he wanted!  “Leo you old crazy fool!  Drunk ass!  Git yo hands off me!  I don’t want no kiss!”  Grandad would say something like, “Now Georgia stop all that damn fussing at me!  I’m grown!  Fix me some dinner!”

This was standard operating procedure every weekend and all summer long!  And it was the best of times!

CJ

Grandma died in 1984 after doing some Thanksgiving grocery shopping.  She collapsed at the local Food Mart while waiting on a cab.  She never drove a car.  My grandfather was at work.  Oh do I miss her till this day.  She never got to see me as an adult, or to see any of my own children.

Granddaddy has since remarried, and has long retired as an electrical engineer from ALCOA Steel.   His wife Judy, who is a lovely woman, is an AME Minister in Pittsburgh.

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Scandal’s Season Finale…. May Be Slipping A Little

I was late on the Scandal train.  Some friends at work got me hip to the party.  I blazed my way through the first two seasons via Netflix like my hair was on fire!   Once, my daughter came home from school and had forgotten something important in her locker.  I had to take her back.  But I was in the middle of some serious shenanigans involving Mellie at the time.  I had to pause my episode.  WTH?  I took her back like a good daddy would.  But don’t think I didn’t give her the straight business all the way there and back! I didn’t mention the show of course.  I went with the ‘being responsible’ rant instead.  #VeteranMove

Like so many, I love the show.  Shonda Rimes is a genius.  She can weave a plot and spin a narrative.  Writing good television is harder than it’s ever been before.  This is one of the reasons there are so many reality TV shows.  Not only are they cheap to produce, it doesn’t take much imagination.  Who needs a Rhimes to write a great story when you can just roll out a Kardashian, Honey Boo Boo or a Desperate Housewife in front of the camera?

When a well written show strikes gold, it creates a cult following.  Social media carries it even greater heights.  I consider myself a veteran and eclectic television show watcher.  I was Marin Tupper sitting in front of the TV set as a kid.  From Kojak and Columbo, Starsky and Hutch, and Berretta, Hill Street Blues and LA Law, The Sopranos and The Wire, The West Wing and Breaking Bad, I know good, and imaginative story telling when I see it.  The bar is higher than it’s ever been.

dream on

One of the biggest challenges for a great show with a cult following is to continue to write at the level that rocketed the popularity of the show in the first place.  Success and an abundance of praise can make writers lazy.  I’ve seen it with the best.  McNulty’s serial killer fiasco in Season 5 of The Wire come to mind.  Breaking Bad had some ridiculously unbelievable moments as well;  like Gustavo’s desert hospital on standby ready to pump his stomach after taking poison during his revenge plot.

This brings me to last night’s Season 3 finale of Scandal.  The challenge Rhimes faced, was having the ability to tie up a particular set of loose ends, while giving the viewer a taste of anticipation of what’s to come.  She had to to leave us reeling, giving us water cooler material to chop up over the next several weeks.  If not careful, the narratives can be rushed leaving the cake half baked.

This is how I viewed last nights finale:  (SPOILER ALERT)

Sally Langston’s cold blooded murder of her husband was ok.  I’ve always seen her character as a more fluent Michele Bachmann.  Her husband wanting to suddenly leave her in the wake of having a one night stand exposed with James Novack seemed lame.  But going Norman Bates on him lines up with her ambition to be president.  The fact that she called Cyrus, the man in charge of handling her political enemy instead of her own fixer didn’t make any sense.

Speaking of which, how in the hell did David Rosen’s assistant suddenly come up with an NSA link into Langston’s phone?  I knew they had to figure a way to expose that Langston was murdered.  I have no logic to explain that.

The scene at the Pentagon where Fitz and Eli went mano-a- mano was epic! The president’s insecurities made him feel desperate and powerless enough to talk sh#! about screwing Olivia; bragging about how she tasted as if Pope were a former lover rather than her father.  You would have thought it was Drake talking to Chris Brown.  Eli’s,  ‘I’m a man while you’re a boy’ rant was some of the best theater you will ever see.  It reminded me of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman going toe to tow in Crimson Tide;  Or Pacino and DeNiro at the diner in Heat.  John Morton is one helluva actor, and Rhimes let him loose on Fitz.  As far as I’m concerned, he should win an emmy for that scene alone!

Pope

One of the reasons Eli Pope could step to the President like that was because he’s was the head of  a clandestine organization (B613) whose power exceeds that of the oval office.  This makes Pope untouchable.  So how in the hell could Fitz flip the script, put Pope on the street and make Jake Ballard ‘Command?’  Jake Ballard?  Seriously?  How does that even happen?

That’s a problem!

Speaking of B613; What is Rhimes doing with Quinn Perkins?  I get that she’s a bit looney.  But her direction started to smell the moment she got involved with Charlie and foolishly got played into killing a security guard.  Hadn’t Huck taught her anything?  Further, because Huck told her she wasn’t a gladiator anymore she then goes back to Charlie?  There was nobody else in that office to talk to her before she walked out?  Don’t tell me she’s that lost after being hard core enough to rip a GPS from her chicklets!

Lastly, the plot of Olivia’s mother being a terrorist was masterful.  The fact that her and Eli are devils in their own right is fittingly and awesomely complicated.  It makes me wonder what kind of person Olivia will be down the road.  Does she have some Eli or Walter White transformational potential?

Still, towards the end the plot became sadly predictable.  I’m sitting on the couch watching the show, and I said outloud, “That plain ain’t landing in Hong Kong.”  And, “Oh, that’s Olivia’s mom calling,” all before it was revealed.  But I’m supposed to believe she shot some dudes akin to the Navy Seals, landed the plane in an abandoned air strip in Angola and made it back to Washington D.C. by episodes end?

narcisse

I’m hard on television shows.  I know it’s fantasy.  But the astute viewer will maintain a certain standard of expectation once it’s been established.  If there is too much slippage to the point of lazy pandering I will cold drop a show.  This happened most recently with Boardwalk Empire.  It has it’s share of blunders in Season 3 but it ended strong.  Season 4 was a complete fail!  The writers just started smoking crack or something.  I finished the season hoping it would recover but it didn’t.  I’m out!

I hope Shonda Rhimes hasn’t lost control of her masterpiece.  And that she doesn’t let the hype get in the way of her creative genius.

Contradictions and Compartmentalization of the Jameis Winston FSU Case

no

After the state attorney announced that there would be no charges in the Jameis Winston case, I listened to a Miami based sports radio talk show via podcast.  The context was ‘IF’ the accuser in the case made up the story regarding sexual assault, would you feel bad or sorry for her?  Of the three person set of host, two said they would and one said he wouldn’t.  One of the host assessed, (paraphrasing)  “I don’t believe at her age she would have really thought this all the way through.”  Another host said, “If it’s true that she made it up she has to live with that in front of her family, in front of her father for the rest of her life.”  The third host said he wouldn’t feel sorry for her at all.  His argument was that there is no excuse for making a false allegation of rape.  And that the consequences of what could have happened to the accused far outweigh any ‘reason’ she may have had.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

I am a man with a wife, a mother, two sisters and five daughters.  I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that most of the women I know have experienced some form of sexual assault or abuse.  Sexual abuse towards women is horrifically pervasive to the point that men should recognize that the question is not how many women you know who have been sexual assaulted in some form or fashion.  It’s how many do you know that haven’t?!  This is NOT hyperbole either.  The subject matter has hit home for me several times over.  I don’t envy women at all.  It is a fact that our society, hell our world is stacked full of misogyny.  Women are the last and the least recognized of the worldwide historically persecuted and oppressed people.  It’s not so easily recognized either as it’s so pervasively normal to attack and witness attacks on women’s value and character.  Sexually speaking, men have dominated women for centuries from female genital mutilation which still goes on in many cultures, to rapes on college campuses, in the military, so called ‘date rapes’ within acquaintances, relationships, marriages and so on.  Needless to say, us MEN need to re-evaluate and assess ourselves and ask ourselves if we are treating the women in our lives with the proper respect and dignity they deserve.  Most of the time the answer is, “Hell no!”  Let’s start there!

mysogony

RESPECT:

Giving women the credit they deserve, I have to acknowledge that they have held down the families, the churches, and have still risen to great places of power in society.  In so many ways they have had to learn a develop a cunningness about themselves to advance in what James Brown called, “A Man’s World.”  Women have skills and mental expertise that men simply don’t.  They know men’s strengths and weaknesses inherently.  They can read us like books when they really pay attention.  And yet, the sophistication of the female species is one men can rarely grasp.  I’ve always said that smart men rule the world, but wise women rule men.  (thus ruling the world by default without the hassle) Without them there is a missing element essential to our existence.

TABU:

I think it’s a good thing that mainstream media didn’t go in on the accuser despite the details of the Winston case which revealed she pursued and attached herself to the QB seeking sex.  I think this was in deference to the challenges women have had to deal with day to day.  I imagine they believe that this case shouldn’t take the focus or deter recognition of the legitimate sexual assault victims.  (see statistics)

What should not go unsaid however, is that women are sexual beings.  They enjoy sex.  They are not just submissives but also dominates.  This is a newsflash to many Americans as we tend to view women and women’s bodies from a religiously conservative perspective.  Thus the dichotomy of boys sowing oats for sexual explorations while women’s are not afforded the same privilege.  I can’t even imagine how hard it is for women to navigate through these messages growing up.  Nevertheless, women and their sexuality eventually manifest through the cracks.  They get it in even in the most male dominated venues.

So called ‘groupies’ have existed for decades.  Just look at any episode of Behind The Music.  Women used to throw their panties at Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye and Tom Jones concerts.  There are women who seek the affections of ‘ballers,’ (high school, college and pro.)  At FSU they call them, “Cleat Chasers”.   (Yes they have a name for it.)  Many are very deliberate in the fashion in which they pursue and dare I say attempt to conquer their targets.

supa

Look at someone like Karrine Steffans.  She wrote a book on how she sexually conquered dozens of celebrities.  She bragged about it.  And yet when she was on the Tom Joyner morning show was got offended and hung up the phone when Jay Anthony Brown referred to her as “Super Head.”  She gave herself that name and was promoting a second ‘tell all’ sexual conquest book.  But she was offended as if Jay was disrespecting her.  Are you kidding me?  But she is hardly the only one.

As this relates to the Winston case, from the pages in the report, she was not only a willing participant, but initiated and pursued the entire event.  Along the way something happened that caused her to make a decision to tell a plethora of false narratives that could have put an innocent man in jail and ruin his reputation.  Sexual promiscuity among young people is a side issue worthy of debate.  Winston himself said he has some growing up to do.  But otherwise, the only thing that happened was a consensual sexual experience between consenting adults.  The only victim in this case was a man who was accused of taking something from her that she didn’t generously give.

To go even deeper specifically as it relates to racial matters, most of my adult life I’ve heard older black folk tell their sons before they go to college, “Don’t go messing with them white girls when you get in that school.”  Translation: There is no trouble for a young black male like ‘white girl’ trouble.  Having an interracial relationship is one thing, but if it turns negative and the authorities get involved, you’re a gonner!  Even if you don’t make jail the chances of getting kicked out of school are massive.  The black male is the one going to catch hell regardless of what really happened.   Or as Ice Cube said, “Smilin’ cuz you out on a date, But sooner or later, the bit#!’ll yell rape.  Soon as daddy founds out you a jigaboo, he’ll kill like he did Emmitt Till.”  (Don’t shoot the messenger.)

If the state attorney decided to take this case to a grand jury, chances are Winston would have been charged.  A grand jury will indict anything including my pet cockatiel.  Sure we would have found out about the details a year or so later during trial.  If he would have been found innocent, (cause that’s not a sure thing) in the meantime at best, Winston would have been dismissed from the team, possibly from school and his family name tainted for life.  His sexual cavalierness is not justification for suffering a lie and being dragged through the legal system.

sex education

FINALLY:

This case should be another example of why we need to educate young people on sex, sexuality, education and self respect.  Men have used and abused women as sexual objects for centuries.  This must stop if we are ever to be about anything seriously. Women need to be able to express their own sexuality freely as validated people without the stereotypes of being called sluts, whores etc.

I as a man am willing to hold sound off in holding other men responsible for the way we have disrespected and abused women over time.  Equally so, women should hold women accountable, in calling out those who use sex as a means of weaponry.  Women who willingly do the deed, then tell lies to protect their reputation from friends, boyfriends and parents.

Day 3, Are you kidding me?

knee braces

Say hello to my little friends!  These are the 4 way adjustable hinged knee braces I wear every night to my basketball games.  Though they look like a bulky mess actually they allow for quite a bit of freedom.  I am not slowed down in the least bit.   And best of all, they take the pounding OFF of my knees so I come away with no pain whatsoever on most nights such as tonight after two games at a JV tournament.

Back to Day 3; Well the good news is that I did walk another 4 miles of power walking today.   The bad news is that while adjusting the volume on my cell phone while listening to a book, I dropped the thing clean on the concrete!  For the first time I had one of those phones with the cracks all over the screen.  Not just any cracks either, but the cracks you can actually feel.  Thank goodness for insurance right?

The second part of the bad news is that while I was closing in on the last mile and a half or so, I got this rubbing irritation on the back of my left heel.  Though I took my shoe off and adjusted my socks, I couldn’t get the rubbing to stop.  The results was the onset of a big blister on the back of my heel.  This is just what i needed considering that I am working multiple games ever day until December 22nd.

Walking was a pain and I had no idea how I was going to ref the games tonight without clean rubbing the skin off the heel.

There are two things officials need to know when entering a gym.  1) Who is the administrator?  2) Do you have a trainer on staff?

I met the administrator at the door who directed me to the trainer.  After explaining my dilemma, she treated and wrapped the heel to perfection.  To my relief, it felt at least 90% better!  Crisis averted!

Game on!

Day 2… Staying True

day2

 

 

So far so good.  Just finished a 4 mile power walk.  Started off a little painful as my shins were stiff heading out.  They eventually loosened up.

Great day to do it as well.  The local temperature is 57 degrees and the skies are sunny!  Taking advantage of a day like this allows me to save on burning gas driving to the gym.  I don’t expect this to last forever!

My breakfast was a banana, and my lunch a meal of protein only.

When I first got out of bed.  I did not feel the same amount of enthusiasm as I would have liked towards looking forward to the extra workout.  But the best thing about it, is that I didn’t have force myself out the door.  I felt that inner motivation, that light that goes on in my psyche that says, “I WANT to go out there and capture the momentum that propels me to the point where I will feel as if I missed out on something wonderful if I don’t work myself out!”

It’s like the more you work out, the more you want to work out.  Just like the more you sit around, the more you want to sit around.

There are many accomplished people out there who are not as physically disciplined in their bodies.  For me, when I am physically sharp I am mentally and spiritually sharp!

The best part of it all, I still have a basketball game to officiate this evening.   In the meantime, I’m going to make myself a carrot and pear juice cocktail in the Blendtec, relax and ice my knees.

Looking forward!

 

 

Transformations and Other Necessary Changes

Many a day I have quietly obsessed about my weight.  I have been successful at reaching goals as well as frustrated with what seemed like little or not movement in the direction I’ve wanted to go in.

As I approach 47 years old, I’ve faced many changes in my body.  A life long athlete, it’s often said that as we get older, ‘confidence is the last to go.  And the mirror is the last to know.’   In other words there is a bit of rebellion in us that says we can do what we used to, at the same level without any falloff.  I’ve always prided myself in being able to compete when people of a younger age.  Being an sports official has helped.  And I can honestly say, there are no high school, or college age ballers that can out-run me on the court. As an official I’m going to be in position to give myself the best chance to make the right calls.

mays

Still, after 7 surgeries, a few grey hairs, and a history of horrific back spasms,  I can’t deny that often it may take me quite a bit  to recover and be ready to officiate night after night during the season.  Frankly, there have been countless days where I’ve awaken and said to myself, “I can hardly move.  How in the hell am I going to officiate tonight?”  Between the aches and pains including a well worn set of rickety knees, it may take an entire day of preparation.  But when its time for tip off I go out there and taken care of business.

One of the surest ways of staying healthy is by keeping unnecessary weight off my frame.  I’ve gone up and down with my weight as I said before.  And again that is challenging.  During the day time, I eat relatively small and healthy without a problem.

However, I work most nights, and when I get home I want to eat big time.  (And I don’t mean veggies and fruit either.)  Eating after a long night of managing high level competition and competitive people is a comforting exercise.   This includes tasty meats and starches along with a cold brew.  Normally the night ends with some type of sweet.  This exercise is far more mental than physical.

The results may mean that I am in essence fighting against my own cause.  So what am I to do?

Though I’ve done many things to fight excessive weight gain, my new mantra is to totally take my focus off of weight.  I took a long walk today.  (6 miles to be exact)  And while thinking about it, I figure that weight is not a problem but a symptom.  A symptom of food choices, age, the amount of exercise, genetics, and perhaps other factors I cannot think of.  Some items are within my control while others are not.  The best thing I can do for myself to alleviate the unnecessary stress (stress being another internal homicidal factor) by focusing on what I really want out of my body.

fatboys

What I want is to be in shape; meaning able to do my job and enjoy normal physical activities;  Gain strength and maintain a certain level of flexibility and elasticity.  Being physically in shape can help me complete my earthly task and serve in a fashion that I am capable of.  As much as I enjoy sports and working with youth, being in shape allows me to gain a certain level of respect and credibility from the get go.

So, instead of being weight conscious, I have decided to be health conscious.  Meaning I am going to control the things I can control. I may as well face that I like to eat.  And sometimes the things I like to eat are not that good for me.  That being said, it doesn’t mean that I can’t consciously take steps to make sure that I move a lot more.  Walking that 6 miles today took me a little less than 90 minutes of my time.  My thinking is, if I can keep a daily regime of exercise, stretching and strengthening of my body, (even outside of my officiating activities) I will be more healthy and the weight issue will take care of itself.  Don’t get me wrong, I ref a lot of games.  But my body has become used to that.  I can’t measure that activity the same way I used to.  So I have to do more.  This is what I promised myself I will do starting today.  I am committed to doing some cardio, strength training and or stretching every day in addition to the work out I get every night officiating.

workout

Therefore I am determined to reject being weight conscious, and affirm health consciousness.  I am going to challenge myself to move and stretch, to work more.  I am going to walk this journey and make each day a day to win.  I am going to live with a liberated sense of self and allow my spirit to direct me.

With that said, excuse me while I attend to a piece of sweet potato pie.  There is still plenty left!  And ain’t nobody in this house helping me to eat it!