B-Musings – Simple Minds Edition

30 12 2014

“B-Musings”… sharing random blurbiage and ping-pong balls rattling around my dome.  And a small homage to 80’s New Wave in my last post of 2014.

DoryDon’t You (Forget About Me) – On March 8th of this year, a Boeing 777-200ER airplane carrying 239 passengers and crew disappeared without a trace less than an hour after take-off from Kuala Lampur International Airport in Malaysia. Ten months later, investigators still have no clue where the plane could be or what happened. It is stunning that, given the technology we possess, a 209 foot long aircraft weighing over 304,000 pounds cannot be found. More stunning is that the entire incident is gone from our minds. Be honest!! You had completely forgotten until the AirAsia flight did the same disappearing act earlier this week.

It’s a misconception that “you can never have too much of a good thing”. The continual bombardment of information and media is finally causing sensory overload! I guess we have too many other things to think and talk about – work, family, racial unrest, the sad state of your favorite sports teams, or last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Boise.

Are we at cranial capacity? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” But don’t worry… I googled the words “information” and “overload”, and found thousands of websites!

Eagles-fans-paper-bagsGlittering Prize – Speaking of the sad state of sports… CODE BLUE, PHILADELPHIA!! Get the paddles out!! The Phillies are beginning a garage sale, the Flyers are the poster boys for inconsistency, the Sixers are in the dumper, and my Union is starting over for the third time in five years. It’s clear now that hopes for Eagles success is a mirage – Damn you, Chip Kelly for getting our hopes up with your dynamic offense!

So it will be a long wait for a trophy in Philly, fair weather fans. My hat is doffed to those that don’t jump off the bandwagon, supporting their teams in good times and bad. You few, you know who you are…

Alive and Kicking – Speaking of the Real Housewives… has television ever been better? (You may need to take a few minutes to recover from that sentence… but stay with me.) I watch a lot of TV, but I only have a few shows that I watch regularly. Most of my viewing time is spent on sports, soccer in particular. Lately, I’ve been checking out new programs recommended by friends… State of Affairs, Madame Secretary, House of Cards and others. Because of a recent deal with the devil (*cough* Comcast) I now have HBO and Showtime. So I’ve been binge watching some shows over the holidays – Homeland, True Detective, Silicon Valley, etc. This got me thinking about the quality of television these days. Again I ask… has television ever been better? I can’t remember a time when there were so many outstanding programs to choose from – more than anyone has time to watch.

TVYinYangBut Lucy and Ricky can relax… it’s not exactly the Golden Age of Television revisited. The yin to this yang resides in places like the Bravo network, and with the Kardashians, the Real Housewives franchises and the bottom feeding Honey Boo Boo! It was recently pointed out to me that mindless programs are sometimes needed in this world. After a tough day of work and the minute to minute inundation of information, it may be therapeutic to switch off and watch Bruce Jenner spiralling towards womanhood. And after two minutes of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, I do feel sooooo much better about myself.

The Chinese philosophy of opposite forces actually being complimentary may apply – like light causing shadows to exist. Is television excellence is balanced by shit reality programming? I’ll buy that for a dollar!

Sanctify Yourself – Speaking of unrest… I was sitting in my office early this morning playing shuffled songs from my iTunes list. “Sanctify Yourself” by the Simple Minds came on, and listening to the lyrics inspired me and helped add some much-needed order to this blog post. The 1985 song is about taking responsibility for your actions, and being positive in the things you put forth into the world.

What a fine message, given what is going on in our world today…

“Is this the age of the thunder and rage?
Can you feel the ground move ’round your feet?
If you take one step closer, it’ll lead to another.
The crossroad above is where we meet.
I shout out for shelter, I need you for something.
The whole world is out, they’re all on the street.
Control yourself, love is all you need.
Control yourself, in your eyes.
Sanctify yourself!”

Sanctify each other in 2015. Happy New Year to all… Peace and Love. Enjoy the music…



The Spare Tires of Justice

17 12 2014

“Not all cops are bad. Not all black people are criminals. Not all white people are racist. Stop labelling.” ~ Unknown Author

FergusonI have a fairly large network of social and business connections. Because I work in sales and marketing, part of my nature must be to cultivate relationships according to my various interests – marketing, social media, soccer, writing, etc.

These connections consist of friends, family near and far, business relationships and many other types of acquaintances. In social networks I try to connect with people and professionals I know, or can maybe enrich my network or career.

A quick study of my network shows that I am connected to very few people of color. This is probably because of my geography… born, raised and still currently residing in northeast Philadelphia, an area that has been historically white.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about race lately – relations, prejudices, etc. I recently found something called an Implicit Association Test (try it here). It’s an interesting exercise, designed to measure the prejudices that may be buried in your subconscious. Do you harbor a secret dislike of another social or ethnic group? How do you feel about that?

I was pretty sure that I had a good awareness of my values in this regard. But the test did show that I exhibited a slight bias toward White people versus Black people. According to the study that is a normal result for someone like me. There are a load of reasons, mostly dealing with environment and socio-economic status. My son used to call it “middle age racism”, and I bristled because I didn’t really understand.

ferguson-free-hugAll of this is to make a point… Although I have sympathy for the volatile situations in Ferguson and Staten Island, I will never have true understanding of the feelings of the people involved and affected.

But like everyone else, I have opinions. I will paraphrase from the quote above… The majority of police officers are good people, some are not. The majority of black people are peaceful, law-abiding citizens, some are not. The majority of white people are blind to race, some are not.

I have many acquaintances, neighbors and friends in law enforcement. I have the upmost respect for the police and the job they do to protect citizens every day. I’ve always felt safe and protected. But I’m also smart enough to realize that while the vast majority of police officers are solid citizens, some are not. They choose to shape their opinion of an entire group by a small sampling of behavior. Accordingly, similar biased conclusions are drawn by a small portion of white people and black people using the same process… “If one is bad, they’re all bad.” Remember when the teacher would punish the entire class because one or two students misbehaved? Did that ever make sense to you?

The wheels of justice hit some potholes in Ferguson, MO or Staten Island, NY, largely because the system allows instances for the truth to be suppressed. The details of “why” are too large and multilayered for this forum. I’m not saying that the police officers involved are guilty or innocent, but using a grand jury to decide in these cases clearly did not work. Evidence must be examined without agenda, and the implementation of an independent investigation process for incidents of police using force is the only way to determine the facts. These are obviously hot-button issues generating extraordinary passion – by all groups involved. It is vitally important that all incidents be investigated with complete transparency.

JusticeIf all of that happens… we would still have a long way to go. The media speaks about the latest terrorist “threat”, or the ebola “crisis” but these are small problems in comparison. Mistrust is the crisis, and a true embarrassment for the United States on the world stage. The continuing belief that every member in a specific group have the same behaviors is the largest barrier to meaningful change.

We all have choices… some easy and some difficult. We make them every day. I want to understand issues before I speak, so I choose to be informed and not divisive. And I also choose to disassociate myself from those who are misinformed and feeding the fire with hate… a difficult choice disguised as an easy one. So if I suddenly disappear from your network in the next few weeks or months, this will be the reason.

For years I’ve joked, “I hate the word ‘hate’.” It can no longer be a joke, and I’ve done my best to strike the word from my vocabulary. Ask either of my sons, who by example have taught me more about understanding people and being more open. It may be generational, but we cannot accept that as a reason for resistance to positive change. We shouldn’t accept any reason.

I will happily continue to be a work in progress. Peace and love… to everyone.

Dr. Cosby and Mr. Hyde

3 12 2014

“The only thing that you can get into without a lot of trouble, is a lot of trouble.” ~ Bill Cosby

imageI have a lot of great stories and memories of growing up in Philly. I’m still in touch with many people from my old neighborhood, and we get together a few times a year. I’ve never lived anywhere else, and I will probably be a life-long Philadelphian.

I was recently recounting some memories of listening to Bill Cosby records, back in the day at my friend Mike’s house. Cosby’s legendary stand-up albums were loaded with Philly references, and extremely funny. I’m sure Mike and I could recite them from memory – bits like Noah (What’s a cubit?) and Hofstra (Please do not touch certain areas of your body while on the playing field!). Today, I sent Mike a text asking, “Why is there air?” – naming a classic Cosby routine. His immediate response should have been, “To blow up basketballs and volleyballs!” Instead, it was just one word… “Sad.”

imageCosby is a Philly guy. He grew up here, graduated from Temple University and has always been an outstanding ambassador for the city. Philadelphia has many famous sons and daughters, but few have been held in such high esteem. That is just one of the reasons that the current news about Cosby is so astounding for many Philadelphians.

The attention span of the public is very short. Cosby had similar allegations against him many years ago, that probably were silenced with cash and quickly forgotten about. Similar accusations against other “icons” like Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger are buried deep in the recesses of our minds. We don’t want to hear bad things about people we admire, and we certainly don’t want our “heroes” brought down.

That word is in quotes for a reason. Through many speeches and interviews, Cosby urged parents to be the hero to their children, versus relying on celebrities and athletes to fill that role. He also championed discipline, respect and family. In his famous “Pound Cake” speech in 2004 at the NAACP Awards, Cosby talked about kids respecting their parents saying, “And something called parenting said, ‘If you get caught with it (stealing) you’re going to embarrass your mother.’ Not ‘You’re going to get your butt kicked.’ No. ‘You’re going to embarrass your family.’”

Cosby routinely called out comedians for working “blue”, something he never did. He chastised many others for various perceived irresponsible behaviors. And he advised countless college graduation classes to take up the mantle of responsibility themselves, and not to blame others when things don’t work out.

Has there ever been more layers of irony? Practice what you preach, Mr. Cosby.

imageMore allegations are coming out every day… women previously silent now emboldened by time and camaraderie with fellow victims. There are no arguments being made for his innocence and interestingly, no one is demanding his head on a plate. As women continue to step forward, the situation grows even more mind-numbing. But sadly, there are probably more not coming forward who will continue to bear their pain in silence. Publicly or privately, his victims will not see their attacker pay for his crimes because they happened so long ago. In the end it may only amount to a loss of income, a slap on the wrist for someone as rich as Cosby.

So when my friend Mike replies with the word “sad”, I get it. I’m sad that this idiot’s behavior may reflect badly on my city. I’m sad that my fun memories of listening to his comedy are forever tarnished. And mostly, I’m sad that so many women will carry the memory of being violated by an animal.

Bill Cosby’s level of celebrity, and the irony of his self-righteousness have made his fall from grace unprecedented. Has anyone ever fallen so far? I’ve been asking this question for a few days now, and have yet to get a good answer. Anyone???