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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Peace-Out 2011: Personal Reflections In a Nutshell. . .

As I reflect upon the personal revelations and the ravages of 2011
I am glad I can say with some degree of satisfaction that:

Everything's fine.

Hired a small team of lawyers. Didn’t get my rightful justice, but at least I walked away with some peace of mind… and

Everything’s fine.

Completed a novel. It’s probably my best work to date, yet couldn’t find a decent literary agent to rep me, so, since I am no longer trusting of those within the publishing industry, I will be doing the entrepreneur thing… And guess what?

Everything’s fine.

Quit smoking. Felt sick every day from Early January thru mid-May, before I finally went to a hospital and was promptly diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. Was given a pacemaker and a Second Chance at Life, and now…

Everything’s fine.

I’ve looked at life from all sides, and realized that petty stresses amount to nothing more than nonsense, the petty people don’t mean shit, and the Real Deal ones are truly worth the investment. And…

Everything’s fine.

Love has smiled broadly in my direction... turned its back, walked away, appeared, reappeared, disappeared, gotten shy, showed its ass, and finally revealed its true face… and now...

Everything’s fine.

Yes, as I reflect upon the personal revelations and the ravages of 2011...
I am Blessed to say, with some degree of satisfaction, that:

Everything's fine.


Snatch JOY, y'all!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

*Let Nothing You Dismay (An Urban Xmas Tale)

(Based upon a True Event)

There was once a young man who lived in a Big Bad City of Rich, Mean and Inconsequential things. This young man had a dream of being different, perhaps to one day even do something epic. This idea of achieving was long ago instilled in him by his grandmother when he was a very young boy. In the summers of his youth, he and his baby brother would stay at her small clapboard home in the south. There they'd share a swing, and the young man would sit for hours with his 'gran' those sunny summer afternoons on that large green swing. It was the most vital piece of furniture on her screened-in porch in Virginia.

It was there, one memorable afternoon, she’d tell him that out of all her many grandchildren (and she had close to 60, by then), out of every single one, this young boy sitting beside her was destined for "Great Things." But she had not told him what that Great Thing would be. Perhaps her eyes were clouded by the cataracts of old dreams and the vision outside them had grown hazy. Or perhaps she already knew and wanted him to realize it fully in his own time, and in his own ambitious skin.

As he grew older, the young man had fulfilled a part of that destiny she'd envisioned for him. When most of his friends were running the streets or rotting from the atrophy of urban youth, he’d somehow excelled in school, and soon became a student in college.

The young man worked very hard and most meticulously. While in a Modern Literature class, it was discovered he possessed a Special Gift. Perhaps this one gift was what his grandmother had long ago prophesied. It seemed he was developing into quite the writer. People, professors, pupils alike, not only enjoyed the things he wrote, they actually FELT the things he wrote. This was a magical gift, indeed.

And so as the years passed, he managed to finish school. Unfortunately, in his senior year, his beloved grandmother passed on.

This saddened him terribly, for now no matter how hard he worked, or what he would become, his grandmother could no longer see it. The young man began to question the time, the work, the effort of becoming someone epic.

Instead of fulfilling the hazy vision his elder loved one foresaw in him, he began to drift and loiter. With his grandmother gone and his college days done, the Country was gripped in the throes of a recession. There were no jobs that fit his particular skill, or held out hope for any real advancement.

The summer became autumn and autumn progressed into winter, and Christmas loomed ahead.

And there was this talented young man without a job, without hope nor the promising prospects of any employment.

He’d moved back into his parent’s home, and that alone became a setback that severely depressed his spirit.

Day after day he’d dress in his one blue suit, the same suit he’d worn to his grandmother’s funeral, and he’d head out on his quest to become one of the gainfully employed. But the doors continued to close and slam in his hopeful black face. The young man was now way beyond the point of utter despondency. More than this, he wondered how he would possibly manage to purchase Christmas gifts for his mother, his father and his younger brother.

The Holidays drew nearer.

Late one afternoon, as he and his one blue suit walked dejectedly down the avenue, he ran into an old friend. His old acquaintance appeared to be doing quite well. Though this friend had never finished high school, never considered college, never was driven or ambitious, he was now driving around town in a very fine car, and wearing the latest in expensive designer sportswear.

They spoke, and they joked, as they once had in their golden days. Being slightly amazed at his old friend’s fortune, the young man asked,

“So, what you been doing for yourself? I mean, look at you! You’re looking mighty successful, my friend.”

And that old friend informed him of his booming business in pharmaceuticals, and how, if he wanted, the young man too could be driving a nice new fly car, and sporting the latest in track suit finery.

This was his fork in that snowy wind-drift road. This could possibly be the answer to all his out-of-money-blues. Drugs and their sale had become a thriving commodity within the community. There were other young men, like him, who doing big things by dubious means, and he looked around, he had seen the glossy sheen of their notorious success. Now here was this friend from his past, offering him a ticket to the land of fast food urban riches. The young man was so ready to agree, to do what he had to do to finally, finally achieve and succeed.

Still, something like an old voice haunted him slowly.

And so, he told this friend he would THINK about it, and give him his answer the following day.

On this way home that snowy evening, he passed a group of carolers singing an old Christmas hymn:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,
Let nothing you dismay…
Remember, Christ, Our Savior Was Born on Christmas Day…
To Save Us All From Satan’s Power
When We Were Gone Astray

Odd that he would hear that song now. He recalled how that one carol was his grandmother’s favorite of all the Christmas songs. As he walked away and the caroler’s voices faded… another voice singing the very same song became LOUDER inside his ear, inside his head. It was his grandmother’s voice. Lovely and strident, so soulful and strong… and was if she were his own Christmas angel, singing him home.

The feeling of it made him warm inside, even on that frigid December day.

Later that very night, his grandmother revisited him in a dream.

In this dream: they were sitting together on that sunny summer Virginia porch swing. But instead of the usual warmth of memories past, the young man he felt a sense of cold emanating from her. When he looked closer, he could see his beloved ‘gran’ was crying.

“Why? Why are you crying, Gran?” the young man asked of her.

“Because, my grandchild is blocking his blessings,” she said.

“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”

And she told him, “Son, God has blessed you with everything you’ll ever need… and you keep ignoring those gifts. They are what make you special and rich inside, and you don’t even use them,” she cried.

“But it’s Christmas! I want to bless my family… and I can’t, Gran. Even with this so-called ‘gift’, I can’t!” he said in desperation.

“Oh? Really? Can’t you?” she asked.

And then she turned away from him. The young man held his head in his hands, and when he lifted his eyes, she was gone.

He awakened that Christmas Eve, still unsure of everything, except for one thing. He was going to say NO! The answer was, NO, to his friend’s offer of quick cash through dirty deeds.

And though that friend looked at him as if he were crazy, the young man said it. “No!”

On his way home again, strolling by those same carolers, singing that same song, he happened to look down in the snow, and he saw it. It was a brand new Cross pen. The gold inlay gleamed under the Holiday lights in a way that beckoned him. The gleam of it begged his knees to the ground. He picked up the pen as the carolers sang “Let Nothing You Dismay…”

He headed home with that shiny new utensil. That night, he sat at his desk, and as if by magic, the thoughts and the words and the sentiments began to pour out of that pen. They came out of some sacred place in him, like fresh spring water from a gushing well.

This would be his Christmas present to his family: Poetry. For each of them, a poem composed of the words he felt for them, each special, each uniquely beautiful, each heart-breakingly tender.

In the last lines of the poem he'd penned to his mother, he wrote…

I wish I could purchase you a fine new mink
I wish I could lay the moon, there, at your feet…
I wish I wouldn’t cry as I write this poem
I wish I could prove how much I love you, mom

And so, on Christmas morning, he presented those gifts to his loved ones. Oddly enough, knowing his circumstance, each of them truly FELT the love implicit in his words. But his mother felt hers most especially.

She said through eyes full of tears, “How did you know, son? This is this best gift you could’ve possibly given me.”

He wanted to tell her that he saw it in a dream, about an old woman, sitting on a large green swing.

But instead he embraced his mother very tightly and simply said, “Merry Christmas.”

* * * * * * * *

One Love.

Snatch JOY!


Monday, December 19, 2011

One Whole YEAR, Smoke-free… Dammit, Applaud Me!


Bogie was Coooool & All... But... Please Don't Believe The Hype!


The picture above was taken the last time I ever smoked. I wanted to memorialize The Moment. I wanted to pay homage to Bogart and McQueen (both who died from cancer, btw) and all those very cool cinematic peeps to blew smoke and fury and signified nothing, and yet further served to punctuate their brand of uber mystique.

So… Here’s The Method To My Madness:

Yesterday, December 18th, was not only the natal day of my longest-lasting childhood friend (Happy Burfday, Val!), but it also marked the one year anniversary of my Emancipation from the Nicotine stick.

Yes, applaud me! In fact… BIG-AZZ congrats to me!

Sadly, there were no parties, no NY headlines, no parades, no fireworks, and there was no holiday held in my honor. In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t a banner day that will live in infamy, but it did and does mean something to me, and to those who’ve loved and supported me through my fight.

I have not fallen back, fallen off, slipped back, fell down, went BOOM, fell from some high expectation, and busted my azz on the way down, gotten weak and /or reverted back to type. In fact, I can now state, with just a small bit of determined cockiness that I AM cig-free. This is not some hiatus. This is NOT a drill. I've passed those tests. This is the Real Deal. I no longer crave a morning cigarette, or need a smoke after a full meal. I no longer depend upon a smoke to relieve tension or stress. I no longer need a smoke after sex. I don't smoke anymore when I’m bored, when I could use a physical prop or need something to do with my hands. I no longer feel the need to light up a ‘Port when I’m writing and creating new worlds or trying like hell to finish a cogent thought. I no longer seek that designated spot to light up outside in the summer heat or the crazy cold while communing with my fellow fag igniters. I no longer have to search pockets or ramble thru drawers to hustle up those extra bucks to feed that monkey on my back who refuses to let me be! Gone are those days and nights when I'd be forced to rustle up those extra coins and spare change just to pay that steadily increasing tab on those demon cigs! AND... no longer do I feel compelled to head out in the middle of a freaking blizzard to cop those necessary tits to suck upon as I wait out some hellish winter assault.

Whew! It was mad rough being ME a year ago!

Yes, trust, in the past, I’ve done all those things (and more) until I was indigo-blue in the face! But that was then.... and this is now.

My NOW contains no residual smoky odors, no stuffy coughs, and no stifling air. My NOW is a new and crystal-clear outlook; a brand-new confidence in me and in my ability. The NOW is a celebration of my willpower. The now eschews the thought of lighting up and instead takes a deep breath, goes for a walk, or meditates, or reads a book.

I do not want to come off here as being superior (I’m NOT!) or holier than thou, as some former smokers are apt to do. I am not nor do I ever plan on becoming one of those Cigarette Nazi People! Not a fan. If my friend smokes, I’m not the one to be making speeches, or giving tedious testimony on the evils of the weed. Naw! That cat’s NOT me! I DO, however, have a few rules set into place:

I don’t want anyone smoking IN my crib! Sounds simple, right?

Well, at the moment, I'm currently housing someone (an in-law) who is a moderate-to-heavy smoker. This is a person, who, even AFTER having a scare and then surviving a serious bout with breast cancer… continues to smoke!!! I have already spoken to her about it. I have given her a few medical facts about my heart condition. I had HOPED that by my being so candid, she would, perhaps, if NOT quit, then at the very least STOP SMOKING IN MY CRIB! Second-hand smoke ain’t NO joke! And still I awaken to find my bathroom REEKS of smoke! Not trying to be a hard-ass, and besides, we’ve already ARGUED about this, and how, IF she wants to continue to stay here, she will HAVE to smoke outside or in her car, or a someplace else! And yet, its like that heated convo never even took place! This witch just keeps on smokin' and smoking... and SMOKIN' some mo. I understand the POWER of the habit. I do. I understand it intimately. So, I will give her until the start of the NEW YEAR before I kick her lax, lazy, disrespectful azz to that proverbial curb. Family relationships be DAMNED! After all, this is MY HEALTH and I refuse to allow it or myself to be played. I refuse, after MUCH personal sacrifice, to have it sabotaged by someone else, when I’m trying to do them a favor. Smell me?

In fact, go ahead, smell me. I dare ya! You won’t find anything other than a faint whiff of my Dolce & Gabbana cologne, ironically named “The One.

So, where's the party? The balloons? And can a Brotha get a hug or sum'm up in this piece?

Happy Holidays to You & Yours!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

*Breaking Out Those Holiday Classics...

Lately I’ve been trying to snatch, to retrieve and to retain this thing in me; this lost and sleeping Spirit of Christmas. Sometimes, it waxes, wanes and tickles my brain with a sweet memory from the past. Often it comes and goes, and lasts as long as a snowflake on a red-hot griddle.


Last night and early this morning, it snowed. Actually... it was officially just a “dusting”. Kinda wimpy really. Maybe I needed the snow to remind me of those long ago Christmases. Y’know: kid voices singing carols, people smiling and being kinder, the smell of pine trees shining with tinsel. But mostly, it’s the SOUND of gospel and holiday hymns sung by REAL singers. Maaaaaaan, I loved those Christmas songs. Something about them made me feel a part of the world, so warm and necessary. Thus, I’ve been trying to reconnect with those cursory things that bring forth the angels of memory. Yes, the lights across the street beckon and remind me that tis IS the Season to Be Jolly, but I’m running a bit deficient of those fa-la-lala-las.

One of my first poems ever published appeared in Essence Magazine, and it was called “Cobwebs on my Revolution Poster. “ It was metaphor for a time of promise and expectatation that had somehow faded away. Well, lately I’m beginning to realize that there are cobwebs on my childhood.

My upstairs neighbors have been blasting Hip-Hop and R & B classics. To counteract their sonic assault, I broke out one of MY classic gems: my Merry Christmas From Motown album. Yup, it still plays, even though it skips, pops and scratches from a spinning disc of vinyl.


This was the music from my kidhood. See? For me to reconnect with those good feelings, the emotions, the wonder and promise of the season, I desperately needs me some Ave Maria, some O Holy Night.

I can seriously O.D. on some original Temptations crooning Silent Night....

....And some Jackson 5 way back when li'l Michael was a soulful brown-skin child who wore a ‘fro and was so vibrantly ALIVE!


Calling on Smokey Robinson… come in Smokey… ‘cause lawd knows we could all could use some Miracles!

Stevie… Mr. Wonder, could you please summon that Little Drummer Boy to come out and play for me?

Damn it! Drats! I mean, Good Grief! I somehow missed this year’s showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas! The l’il keeid in me was never very big on animation or hyped on pretend, but he still relates to this one & only cartoon from way back when.

Who even realized back then how seriously COOL and quasi-intellectual that music was when The Peanuts gang got down? The man in me still grooves to that classic soundtrack of those fluently jazz-inspired tunes.

Music seems to bring the joy of Christmas back to me… even more than snow or lights or shiny presents under a tree. Music alone can take me over that river and through the woods of materialism and deliver a few of My Favorite Things.

So, I’m trying to reclaim that rightful spirit… the spirit that’s been stolen, kidnapped from me by those vicious gods of greed and avarice. I’m trying to keep it simple... when the world keeps getting so damned complicated around me. It’s a chore and a war of the heart, but I aim to score and win that small, yet important victory.

After all, it’s my duty and my solemn right to snatch myself a little Holiday

Photobucket !!!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Satchmo's Grin ...

Recently I received an early Christmas gift and it's one that I'll cherish for many years to come. My boy "Brotha Life" (thanks Lifey!) Blessed me when sent me this gem. It's a large coffee table book filled with black and white classic & candid images of the Jazz greats. The book is called JAZZ IMAGE, The Masters of Jazz Photography (by Lee Tanner). And trust me when I say, the photographers who contributed to this epic book didn't miss too many masters of the idom. To name but a few there's: Basie, Miller, Satchmo, and the king of all Sir Duke... there's Blakey and Dizzy and 'Trane and Bird, there's Miles and Ella, Billie and Sarah, Hamp and Roach, Brubeck and Krupa and Cootie and Nat Cole and mo.

I suddenly feel like I'm lost in my own selfish bliss. Awwwww... whatchu know about the Jazz language?

Anyway... best thing is that most of these photos are rare collector's items, and the faces of these people, these creative legends, they tell such real and vivid, lively and sad and mad compelling stories. For instance, there's a shot of Billie Holiday in the studio recording the classic "Strange Fruit." There's Ella singing scat on 52nd Street. There's Bird nodding off inside a mellow mood while holding his sax.
Each picture, each nuance speaks its own quiet poem. I'm sure this book will inspire riffs of crazy poetry from me.

I'm sharing one here. It was written (or maybe it was channeled) in about 10 minutes after staring at a photo of a smiling Louis Armstrong:

Satchmo's GrinPhotobucket

(A Poem To Old Skool Mindsets)

Tuxedo-clad, and glossy
As his horn…
I am diggin on that
Wide-ass grin of
A young
Louis Armstrong. I see that Genius
String of pearls strung across a mask
Of blackness as it unfurls… and
This mad hep
Jazz cat just
Makes you happy, doesn't he?

But was he really
That damn happy? Could anyone
Black in 1920s America
Possibly be that damn

There are notes, some notes
That sing us, slowly… notes
That cry
So sharp
And so high, they define us
In our deepest quietude…

In his rendition of
St Louis Blues
I hear his pain
I feel his scream
I smell the Delta's
Summer steam…

Maybe he dreamed
Not in visions
But in sound…
Maybe that sweet
Racket of his
Horn warmed and
Transformed him.

Maybe. Maybe.
Maybe all that jazz and
Frequent weed-smoking
Tickled his ass into
Some semblance of
Makeshift Negro


Forget back door entrances
And exits thru the kitchens.
Forget fancy establishments
Where he's less than a
3rd class citizen!
Forget Jim Crow abuses… black
Bodies strung from nooses
Seen from the eyes of a
Boy with a coronet
Who can digest
And manifest
The definition of
The Blues…

But on stage
Satchmo blows
Satchmo smiles
Satchmo knows…
The secret to Negro joy…

Yet when someone
Outside his skin, screams,

"Play that Jazz, boy!"

Louis Armstrong Pictures, Images and Photos

Still, Satchmo grins…
His smile
Wider than The Nile.
His pomaded hair
Aglow, in slicked-back style…
His eyes, his eyes
Squinting back
Light and sweat or
Something resembling
And tasting of

There are notes, some notes
Which sing us slowly…
Notes that cry
That strut and fret
So sharp
And so high, they define us
In our deepest quietude…

I listen to the sound of
Louie Armstrong's
Smile… and I HEAR
The St. Louis

Louis Armstrong Pictures, Images and Photos


© 2011 by L.M.Ross moaningmanblues

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Honor of World AIDS Day: When Friends Die Young

When Friends Die Young (For James & Jr. & Kim & Cliff & Jet & Cunning & Rosemarie &
Frankie & Richard & Deborah & Every Tear That Falls Down On The Neighborhood Now

A part of you never
Understands. Your tears fall,
Hard, as violent rainstorms from
The heavens.
You swear at God!
You curse the fates! You barter
In bitter degrees. And you ache. You never stop
This aching. And you wonder why
You’re left behind
To grow older, while
Your friends
Expire into skeletons
Before their time.


When Young Women Die
A part of you never really understands.
You think of babies, never born, and
Of newborns dying,
Of sick babies,
Never forming their lips
In a kiss against
A mother’s cheek.


You swear at God! You curse
This fuckin’ disease! You barter
For survival, in degrees… You make deals with
Your libido, your lust, your loneliness. And
You may exist, for years, without the succulence of
The human

When Young Men Die
A part of you grows angry…
Your heart beats faster than
A speeding locomotive,
Your screams pitch
Louder than a subway’s thunder.
You try to remember:
The sounds of a friend’s laughter.
The autumn’s brilliant colors,
The way children smile and
Play with each other when
They think no one’s watching.

But you are watching them…
Watching these shiny kneed little boys
And little cornrowed chocolate girls…
As they grow, evolve, get older,
And life unfurls for them.
You keep watching, like a sentinel,
Or some quietly sobbing god… remembering
When their loved ones were such
A vital part of our



© 2011 by L.M.Ross moaningmanblues

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For These Things, I Am THANKFUL

I am Thankful to be free… finally free of the slavery enforced upon me by that old rabid dog called nicotine; free from the habit that constricted my life-force and made a mockery of... my health.

I am Thankful for the trials and tribulations because they have made me live my life more intentionally... deepening my sense of purpose while granting me a roadmap to karmic destiny and spiritual wealth.

I am Thankful that, my enemies, few as they may be, have revealed themselves, and thus allowed me and others to see their true face.

I am Thankful to not be in possession of a mean or vengeful spirit, thankful that there is such a thing as showing one’s “True Colors” and for being able to see this in all its beauty or to recognize its ugliness.

I am Thankful Dr. Alexander Del Vecchio exists, and that his impeccable timing, his surgical skills and his goodwill contributed greatly in extending the course of my life.

I am Thankful for technology and for the genius invention of the pacemaker.

I am Thankful for my mother’s strength; and I do marvel at the fact of how her spine and her arms and her back have grown stronger in these times of uncertainty.

I am Thankful to those who had the foresight to have told me “No!” or who said I “Wasn’t Ready” when time has proven that they truly knew better than I.

I am Thankful that people like Whitman and Picasso, Langston and Jimmy, Ingrid and Sidney, Nina and Cicely, Miles and Stevie, Richard and Amiri, Maya and Marlon, and Nick and Phoebe existed and will always exist to teach and inspire the masses.

I am Thankful for those who are so much, smarter, deeper, wiser than I and who continue to show me new Life Lessons.

I am thankful for my Doctors, my Lawyers, my Nurses, my Angels, and my personal Dream Team who have remained so steadfastly by my side.

I am Thankful for the caring of Carolyn, and the charm and company of Jan Yves, and the sunshiny rays Sunni, the good deeds and musical gifts of Derrek and Lucas, the continual loveliness of Lori, and the wonders of Wynn. I just THANK them for being IN my Life.

I am Thankful for the slow yet gradual return of my Right Mind, Right Voice and my Right Instincts... which were once dulled by illness and stymied by anesthesia.

I am Thankful that my blood still races with the pace of a Gushing God!

I am Thankful for breathing, thankful for every breath, so much so, that I shall never take the miracle of simply breathing for granted ever again.

Snatch JOY and a turkey leg!



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Today’s Musical Selection Will Be

Do you ever howl sometimes in a loud, yet quiet note?
Do strange fingers ever reach out and
Stroke some sleeping
Ache, lodged within
Your Soul?

Does a tear ever make a clearly distinct noise
As it crawls… before falling
In a singular ping of
A triangle's

If the written word were a strain of music,
Arranged to echo the sound of your
Essence, what tune would it
Assume? What instrument,
What timbre would suit
The voice of your

Would you strum your strings softly
Or bleat your horn, loudly?
Would you swiftly strike
Every key upon your
Piano, like a

If the spoken words were music, what
Sound would you affect? The vibrato
Of a cello? The rhymic pounding of
Drum? Perhaps a bass
With its resounding

If your emotions were a symphony,
Would they thunder in dissonance,
Vibrate with sound and righteous
Fury… Or stew and brew
Like Miles Davis'

Me? I am muting today, deep in my own
Blue instrumental jam. I am a hobo's
Trumpet… Awaiting the lips of
A muse to stroke me sweetly,
And blow upon my

I am a solo sound with no direction… lyrics
In search of introspection. I am
A wild note, cast to
A mercurial wind.
A distant quake
From a faraway

Perhaps… this is my most authentic
Resonance … the genuine tone
Trapped within the solitary riffs
Of my lone blown



© 2011 by L.M.Ross moaningmanblues

And on a sadder musical note:


Rest In Peace Heavy D...You always brought a sense of fun & a party vibe to the Hip-hop game. You will be seriously missed.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The God Voice: For Coltrane, Dem Blues-Playas & Myself

Sounds like
On a good day or
A bad night,
With a slight cold
In a wheezy
Cry of
The Blues.

Maybe Jazz
And Blues be
The Music of
A Woozy God, High
And addicted to this
Possibility in us,
And yet
To this slick
Grog of

Maybe that
God Voice Cries
From the feet
And the spine
And the lungs
And the lips
And the heart
Of Slaves...
And maybe now
The players must cling
To horns like
Old Negroes
Clung tight to Spirituals
Or lapsed Catholics
Do to prayers and

Maybe the
God Voice
Is in our music, yo.

But, on a good day
In a bad way
Some sanctified players
Still come out to play...
And they reach down
Deep beneath

The lost years
The lost faith
The lost pride
The lost grooves
The lost eyes
The bad trips
The counterfeits
The heroin scabs
And infected chicks
To find magic
In that
Sweet and Mystic Riff.

And That God Voice
Kicks in
So deep,
So painful,
So real,
So necessary that
It clears the tears
From the blare
Of the

And it makes
Its God Noise
So Real and
So strong...
So authentic
So calm
That it makes you
Believe in

Just maybe Jazz
And Blues be
The music of
A Woozy God,
So High,
So addicted to this
Possibility of
And yet,
To this slick grog
Of disappointment.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

When Acts of Love Become Verbs

Yesterday, I became an eyewitness to love. Actually what I saw were little acts of love, and these are among the best and purest examples of love there can ever be. I mean the kind of love that becomes a soft and gentle verb. The actions shifting before my eyes were small, and yet beautiful, so mad beautiful almost to the point of making me want to weep.

Lately, many things seem to touch me in a sweet spot and will literally bring tears to my eyes… even in a public setting. It’s become very embarrassing.


But I digress...

Picture it: I’m in my doctor’s office, waiting, like the rest, for someone there to respect the appointment time I’d rushed from my home like a madman to keep... but somehow the medical profession doesn’t seem to respect or really acknowledge. So, I’m waiting as people slowly filter by, while others sit like I sit, pretending to be engrossed in the shiny magazines sprinkled about on surrounding tables (most of which are at least 3 to 4 months out of date).

Anyway, each time the door would open, we’d shift, redirect our eyes to whoever entered the room. They would steal our gaze temporarily before we’d head back to our shiny magazines. But my eyes refused to shift back to reading. Instead they remained fixed on the elderly couple who had just walked into this space. This was the kind of couple you just know has been married since time was a child. They are old, but still young inside their love. I could intuit this by the slow and gingerly way the husband treated his wife as he made room for her (and her walker) to make it safely inside. I could tell this because it was more than just polite concern... it was an act of love, something he had no doubt been displaying for the last 50, 60 or 70 years for this woman. I suddenly wished I could have seen their wedding portrait. I wanted to see their youthful faces, the features that first attracted them to each other. I wanted to feel their love in a visual, visceral way and to appreciate its history in another time and place.

Anyway, I sat there pretending not to stare and watched them live inside that love they shared. The wife needed help getting around, and instead of letting her rise, he went to the table and asked which magazines she wanted to see. It was such a gentle thing, a small thing... but it too was an act of love.

This man, I could tell, was not in the best of health either. His gait was slow, his posture, a bit stooped, his feet not so surefooted, but he was still able to move, to walk, to get around on his own. I imagined there had been times when he was the weaker one, health-wise, and it was she who did all those small, gentle but loving things for him. Together they truly were the physical ideal of that marriage vow:

“In sickness and in health… until death do us part.”

I suddenly thought about their deaths: which one of them would go first into that bright and shining light, and just how long it might take the heartsick other to join their partner? I gathered it would not take very long at all. People who truly, deeply, madly love each other tend not to survive for very long without their counterpart, that other twin heart, that other loving soul living, breathing and witnessing life right beside them.

Isn't that romantic? Isn't that the biggest verb of all?


Sitting there letting it all wash over me, I was almost jealous of that love; envious that I may never grow so old as to see my late 80s, or have someone to truly love me through it for all those years. I was filled with all these crazy notions of how wonderful it must be to have someone loving me that way, so hard and full and yet so gentle, and for such a long time. I wanted to cry for them and to weep for myself, and yet I somehow managed to keep my stone man-face in order.

It was a good thing too, because suddenly a nurse was calling my name to enter the examination room.


Suddenly all the attention shifted to me, and my sick and lonesome ass.

The thing is: I just could not get that elderly couple out of my mind.

I wonder, no matter what illness brought them to that place, if they realized how LUCKY, and how Blessed they were.


Love is a beautiful thing. But love is the most beautiful of all each and every time it becomes a verb.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Reflections On Life (Or Me "Just Vampin' To Be Handsome")

Lately I have been thinking about the reality of dying. Not that I’m actively embracing it, or wrapping it around me like a cape full of heavenly stars and constellations, so please, don’t get it twisted. No, my thoughts are more centered upon the intensity of the journey and then soul-searching my way through it. So many people I’ve known and loved and expected to be around for the long haul have already departed this life. It makes me very, very reflective. Why am I still here? Why, when some of them never lived to see age 30, or 40?

I’ve always been accused of being a ‘deep thinker' so this is probably just an extension of my own curious nature… But I wonder about things and about people and this deeply finite life we’re all living.

I wonder about those who are so obviously living it too fast, too frivolously or too foul as if they’ve already made up their minds that this, this right HERE is it. This is all there is to life and there is and will be NO afterlife, no place of consequence or judgment for the way they’ve conducted themselves while here. I think of all the hurt, the madness, the destruction and broken hearts left in their wake, and I almost feel sorry for them-- those spirit-breakers. I’ve the strangest feeling that, like Stevie sang at Michael Jackson’s funeral:

They Won’t Go Where I Go.”

Oh. And speaking of music… another thing… and this is kinda crazy so it must be symbolic of something: Lately, for no good reason, I will flashback on a song that I haven’t heard or sang or even thought about since I was a kid and that song will haunt me slowly for hours.

Mental exercise here: Think back to a song you learned in school, or first heard as a kid. Listen to it, right now, in your mind. When you HEAR it, is it still in that kid’s voice... that high-pitched, gender-free noise of your youth? I wonder what’s up with that?

Maybe it’s the sound of our own lives being reviewed, being refreshed, being rehashed, being reflected upon. And that always MEANS something.

These days I’m feeling kinda Blessed because I realize I didn’t have to still be here, still writing, still fighting, still loving in this mad way I tend to love. It’s all a Gift.

Life is a GIFT people. Please don’t be in such a hurry to trade yours in for something better. Don’t waste your time whining and bitching about it when it doesn’t quite fit you the way you think it should. It’s still a GIFT, damn it! So be grateful and gracious about it, or you just might mess around and piss God off!

*A tear falls to my lap.*

Damn! What a wimp! I didn’t even see or feel that one coming.

But much like life, I’m sure it must mean something.


Snatch JOY, y'all!



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Paying Props To A Gifted Wordsmith: Nick Ashford

When a poet dies, I get this sad and romantic notion that the pages they'd written upon have left their grasp and are flying on the wind.

Yesterday, Nick Ashford passed at age 69. He had been undergoing radiation for throat cancer. Today I find myself reflecting, not only upon the over four-decades worth of wonderful and memorable music he made with his wife Valerie Simpson, but I’m marveling at what a fine writer he was. It was he who wrote the words to their hits. It was his sensitive spirit that gave lyrical birth to such classic hit s as s, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," along with "You're All I Need To Get By," "Remember Me," "Somebody Told A Lie," “It Seems To Hang On,” “No One Gets The Prize," and “Solid (As a Rock)”.

There were dozens upon dozens of songs composed By Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Some were great, some were unknown, but still gems in their own right.

My personal favorite was not considered a hit. It rarely received radio play, or the kind of kudos much of Nick and Val’s tunes regularly amassed. It was a song about a loner’s spirit. This was apparently who Nick Ashford was, according to his wife. He liked his alone time, and it allowed him to get in touch with the muse he needed to create. I could relate to this and thus, the song “Stay Free” seemed to speak directly to me. He and he and Valerie recorded it back in the late 70s, and I will conclude this entry with the lyrics from that brilliant piece of musical poetry.


Together Ashford and Simpson, in addition to their musical careers as writers and later performers also owned several restaurant/clubs, including the 20/20 on W. 20th St. and the Sugar Bar on W. 72nd St in NYC.

They were a DJ team for several years on WRKS (98.7 FM), playing the kind of music they wrote and sang.

Ashford, a tall imposing man whose signature hair was long, was known as a gentle presence in the music business.

Nickolas Ashford was born in South Carolina and grew up in Michigan. He moved to New York in the early 1960s with $57 in his pocket, hoping to make it in show business. He was attending Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church when he met Valerie Simpson, a New Yorker who sang in the choir and also had musical ambitions.

They recorded together briefly and unsuccessfully in 1964 as "Valerie and Nick," but had more success with writing songs - which at first, said Ashford, they sold for $75 apiece.

Their first big hit was Ray Charles's "Let's Go Get Stoned," which hit the top 10 on the R&B charts in 1966, and soon after they signed to Motown.

Besides songwriting, they also produced most of Diana Ross's first three solo albums and worked with artists that included Teddy Pendergrass, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson and Chaka Khan.

Ashford did a few solo projects, including some unsuccessful singles and the very successful production of the 1968 Supremes/Temptations collaboration "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me."

Still, he and Simpson remained a team, and they got married in 1974. They had two daughters.

They had disco-era hits with "Send It" and "Street Corner" and wrote "I'm Every Woman," which Whitney Houston sang in "The Bodyguard."

Simpson, who did most of the composing while Ashford wrote most of the lyrics, later said it was "like pulling teeth" to get him to write "I'm Every Woman," but that it was worth the effort.

Ashford later had a few acting roles, including The Rev. Oates in "New Jack City."

His and Simpson's songs have been sampled in recent years by artists like 50 Cent. They received a writing credit for Amy Winehouse's 2007 "Tears Dry On Their Own" because so much of the melody was lifted from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

Ashford is survived by his wife and their two daughters.

The wonderful thing about music is that it never dies. Long after the writers, the singers and the players have been called home, we and the generations behind us will still be warmed by the gifts their music leaves behind.

Behold, One of Nick Ashford’s gifts to the world…

Stay Free:

You like to watch the clouds drifting
'Cause you feel some kind of kindred
Won't tell nobody what you're into
Spend lots of time dreaming
All through the day
When love looks in your eyes you turn away

You like to stay free
That's what you told me
That's all in life you ever want to be
You like to stay free
Standing in my face you said to me
No one would ever fill the space
Stay free
Stay free

You like to sit high on a hill
Count the daisies in the field
It's your own way of playing solitaire
You won't answer no question
Or say where you've been
The last thing you think you need is a friend

You like to stay free
That's what you told me
That's all in life you ever wanna be
You like to stay free
Such a pretty face
There ought to be somebody there to fill the space
Stay free
Stay free
Stay free
Stay free

Ha, ha, ha, ha
Ha, ha, ha, ha

Ha, ha, ha, ha
Ha, ha, ha, ha

You must be some special kind of breed
I could tell from the life that you need
If that's to be your destiny
Gotta feel it, you gonna be lo-o-o-o-o-o-onely
You gonna be lo-o-o-o-o-o-onely
If you stay free, stay free, stay free

That's what you told me
That's all in life you ever want to be
If you stay free
Standing in my face you said to me
No one would ever fill the space

Stay free, stay free

Ha, ha, ha, ha
Ha, ha, ha, ha

Ha, ha, ha, ha
Ha, ha, ha, ha

You like to stay free
That's what you told me
You like to stay free, (free, free)
Don't want
Don't want nobody
You like to stay free

~Lyrics by Nicholas Ashford

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Scar Is The Cousin To A Beauty Mark

So the other day, after over a month of dealing, waiting, imagining the worst of all possible scenarios, I finally had the bandage removed from my surgery.

Maybe a little history is needed here: The bandage itself was made of “steri-strips” taped over the wound where the doctor did the cutting. Over time, a collection of gook would form underneath this bandage, which I allowed the drizzle of soap and water from my daily shower to clean. This was the best I could do. After being told by the healthcare pros that I was not to pull on the strips, unless they were ‘very loose’, I became deathly afraid of removing the bandage myself for fear of the gruesome unknown, the fear of being permanently disfigured, and the fear of scaring the freaking horses! Besides all these fears, I’d also been told that the adhesive would wear off on its own so I should not attempt to remove it. But it never did come off on its own.

I have a visiting nurse service where a nurse comes to my home twice a week to take my blood pressure, measure my heart rate, make sure I’m healing, gaining good weight (not the bad weight, a weight composed of mainly fluid which collects in the feet, legs, lungs and eventually the heart, to which would be serious enough to send a patient back to the hospital).

The nurses, in general, are a crew of friendly commandos who are consistently checking up on whether I’m exercising and taking my meds. My main nurse, a feisty lady named Pat, always asks those probing questions about my bodily functions, and whether or not I’m regular. She’s also a helluva teacher who constantly informs me on medical facts I was never aware of, like ….how anesthesia can deaden one’s memory and recall, and how, many patients who leave a hospital will experience a certain degree of memory loss. I am one of those people. I forget shit. Shit, like nicknames of people I’ve known and loved for a long time, and like, suddenly not recalling where I place things, in effect, hiding them from myself! This shit can REALLY frustrate me, since I’ve never been the absentminded type before.

Anyway, Pat would constantly inquire about the mysterious incision beneath the bandage and whether or not I’d cleaned it, seen it, and just when was the mofo gonna finally come off. I figured she was one of the morbid peeps who got off on scars, deformities and those things that turn us into straight-up carnival freaks.
Truthfully, I was not in any hurry to see what lay beneath that damned bandage. When cleaning that area, I could feel this LUMP that was never there before on my upper chest. It reminded me of a goiter or some such gross deformity, so my imagination began to run away with me:

What if I’m reduced to some heinous creature? What if this new physicality repels people, animals and small children? What if I’m a shadow of my former, and yes, mad-glamorous self?

OK. On that last one, I was only joking. I kid. I’m kidding. I’m a kidder. I kids.

But anyway, I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit to the fear of becoming some physical freak. Not only was this new gizmo implanted in my chest making an unsightly bulge and reveal the contour of something strange resting there beneath my skin… but now I would be some new-aged Quasimodo with the kind of scar only rocked by cinema criminals, noir thugs and 1930s-style gangsters.

You have to understand that I’ve always been a very skin-conscious person. I’ve tried to take care of myself in general. After all, one’s outward skin is sort of the epidermis of one’s soul, isn’t it? If something isn’t quite right with it, people and the outside world in general will subconsciously think something is not quite right, internally, with its host.

People can be so cold, so shallow sometimes.

Anyway. I digress.

So, I go to my surgeon’s office, and I‘m mad nervous. After almost a 45 minute wait(WTF!?)I’m asked all the usual suspect questions about swelling, pain, and weight, and meds. My BP is taken and it has elevated from the norm, because frankly being in a doctor’s office makes a brotha kind of tense and anxious. You never know what they’ll tell you. You can go in feeling just fine, and they can so easily burst your positive bubble with a small pin-jab of medical truth.

Lastly, he asks about the incision, and how it feels. Does it bother me? Does it limit my movement? Does it interfere with my sleep. I answer, “yes” to some degree to all the above.

He then asks me when he did the surgery?

You mean he doesn’t remember? Of course not. The man probably performed such surgeries on the daily, to a myriad of different people.

I tell him, May 25th. Hell, even with my current bouts of memory failure I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget it!

He shrugs and says, “Well it’s due time we remove that bandage.”

What I expect will be a slow and delicate maneuver instead turns out to be a quick, unfeeling flip of his wrist which manifests in a quick, unfeeling RIP. After over a month of dealing, waiting, and worrying and imagining the worst of all possible scenarios…


He rips that sucka off like he’s mad at it.

He looks at it with a slight squint. Is he repulsed, repelled? Is he admiring his work and nature’s way with healing we mere mortals?

I can’t tell, but a part of me wants to see what the hell he’s gazing at, and yet another part of me wants to flee, to dash down those medicinal hallways down the stairs and out the front doors frightening all the patients and townsfolk, screaming and mumbling Michelangelo!

Somehow, I managed to chill.

Here’s the reality. He hands me a mirror, and BAM: It ain’t ALL that bad. It ain’t that large. It ain’t that hideous. In fact, I think I can live with it. If there could ever be such a thing as cool scar, this one would probably qualify. Adding to this is the fact that getting this scar, and the whole scenario behind it has become the story of how my LIFE came to be saved.

Yes, I’ve always been a sensitive person when it comes to the skin, but this is a scar I can and will wear most proudly. This is the scar that’s enabled me to continue breathing.

Scars. What a concept. What I had saw and had previously thought was that a scar signaled the outward death of our human perfection. Well, truth is I was never perfect. No human being is, so what the hell was I so damn uptight about?

I now choose to see scars as something beautiful. In fact, this scar, my scar is my brand new Beauty Mark!



Ain’t it purdy?


Snatch JOY!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rediscovering One's Own Voice

At the very start I need to preface this entry by stating that, I am NOT a singer. No, that description doesn’t quite fit me, at least not a singer in the true sense or meaning of the word. To me, Pavarotti was a singer. Luther Vandross, Donny Hathaway and Nat King Cole were singers. So, no, in the realest sense of the word or in its truest definition, nah, I’m NOT a singer.

I have, however, been accused of possessing the ability to: ‘carry a tune.’ Yes. Truth be told, I have pretty good pitch, and have performed a mad impressive Seal impression (‘Don’t Crrrrrrrrrrr-i-i—aye-eye… you’re not alone’) in a karaoke bar or two where my efforts were pretty well received. History: I once sang in my junior high school glee club, in my high school chorus, and in a pop soul band in my early 20s. I was that cat who could take a popular song and rework the arrangement and make it sound different, but somehow appealing.

So, I guess you could say I HAD the music in me.

None of this semi-talent would pay my bills and I am and have always been a realist, completely aware of the limitations of this. So, I NEVER went around proclaiming myself to be a ‘singer,’ never did wedding and bar mitzvah thing, never played the chitlin’ circuit, never tried out for Star Search in the 80s.

However, and this is the best thing of all, when you can carry a tune, you can sing quietly to yourself and brighten your mood, keep yourself company, carry a good Zen kinda feeling about the world around you that’s yours and all yours. Maybe people who don’t sing so well, but who love music also feel this way. They can croak and wail and cry like strangled cats and still enjoy themselves, because it’ s really the music that uplifts them.

Well, back in January, shortly after I’d quit smoking… a strange and terrible thing happened. I’d lost my ability to sing. Something about my wind, the sudden shortness in it, the lungs limited capacity and their inability to hold air turned any attempt at singing into a horrible sound that no longer felt or sounded like me. I would try and practice and nothing good or pleasant-sounding ever came of it. My favorite music was no longer something I could sing along with, harmonize with or accompany! This reality would soon add to my depression. Damn! I can’t even self-soothe what ails me with the power of my own voice, because my own voice no longer had any POWER.

I can’t even imagine what people who’ve sang all their lives, or who sing for a living and suddenly lose their voices go through. It must feel like a death felt deep in the spirit, or even worse. All I know for sure it that, for me, something beautiful and necessary was missing and I could feel it. I was reminded of its absence every day . The only place I could sing was in my mind… and that just wasn’t good enough. I needed to HEAR the sound of me, the sound coming directly from my body, my chest, my heart, my throat. My spirit! I needed to experience the colors I was manufacturing through the hues of my moods. I wanted this so badly that if wanting something, alone, made it so, then that wish would have surely been granted. But…

That was 5 mouths ago and I never could get use to it.

I am writing this entry to announce that just as suddenly as it disappeared, I’ve gotten my voice back! I’m learning to SING again. I’ve found or rediscovered my breath, my air, my voice… and this is a HUGE thing for me. It’s like the return of old dear and treasured friend. It’s like all at once music matters again! It’s like that terrible punishment I’ve been under was lifted and the freedom to open my mouth and make a sound that doesn’t hurt anyone’s ears has returned. This wonderful development is still brand new (less than a week old) .

I don’t know if it’s the meds I’m taking for my heart condition or whether the effects of time and much needed rest have conspired to make something mildly miraculous happen, but I’m counting it as a Blessing. Its one more thing in a gang of things I’m finding myself being grateful for. Second chances have been coming my way, and trust me when I state that I’m no longer taking any of them for granted!

Speaking of music and songs sang along to, RIP Michael Jackson, on this the second anniversary of your passing.


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Page of Life From The Really Real!

Hello my friends, readers, people, fam and and lurkers.

This is more a notice than a blog entry. You see, I have been away because of my health. I have literally been at Death's Door for much of this year... (no jest) and for most for this year I was not even aware of it.

Congestive Heart Failure Ain't No Joke!

May 18th is now the day I think of myself as running away from home. I ran from feeble excuses, from confusions, from ignorance and from pat answers. I ran from fear, ran from the sound my own frightened heartbeat, ran from my own fearful voices and straight into the arms of the good doctors at Greenwich Hospital in CT.

After an an immediate EKG, it was deterimined that I had indeed suffered from heart failure, and I was told by more than one doctor that I was a "very, very ill man."
This is serious. This can and has been the death of far too many people.

Staying in a hospital, flat on one's back gives you reason to contemplate and to acknowledge just how fragile we are, and how fragile this thing called LIFE can be.

Sometimes those extended hospital stays are necessary, not only for one's health, but for a recharging of the soul. And so that's where I've been relocated for the last 10 ten days. I was TRYING to get well, trying to find my center, my voice, my freakin' Lin-nesss again. The good physicians and nurses have taken EXCELLENT care of me. I can breathe again.

But there's GOOD news too!

The fear I was living in has been overrriden. I don't think I will die today or tomorrow. There was a time when this seemed almost certain, at least in the quiet of my own mind.

I'm on a proper routine of meds regulated for my condition (which I didn't even KNOW I had)... and best of all I've had an operation that has given me a new lease on life! There is something extra inside my chest now. It feels like prayer but in actuality it is a machine will remain there counting my heart beats, making sure they are steady and strong.

I'm about 20 twenty pounds skinnier, and about 20 years more haunted behind the eyes, but I'm grateful.

The irony of this all is that on the same day the world said goodbye to the gifted writer/singer/activist Gil Scott Heron, was the same day that I was given another chance, a second chance at life.

That must mean something, although I haven't quite figured the grand scheme of things out yet.

I wish you all wonderful health. If there is ever something that doesn't FEEL right, please check it out! We lose people every day simply because we take far too many things for granted.

That's it. That's all. That's everything!

Happy Memorial Day!

Snatch JOY!



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ode To Phoebe Snow

I hardly write anymore. So much of what moves me to write ultimately breaks my heart. I received sad news today. Sadder than even I'd care to admit. Phoebe Snow, the distinctively voiced singer-songwriter who penned the ’70s radio staple “Poetry Man” and toured with the likes of Jackson Browne, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, and Paul Simon (she appeared on his hit “Gone at Last”), has passed away following complications from a 2010 brain hemorrhage. She was 58. Some reports now give her age as 60.

Please feel free to talk and remember her uniqueness amongst yourselves.

There are certain things that come to mind whenever I hear her name:

For some reason, long ago and far away, as a teen, it always seemed as if this stranger had GOTTEN me... I mean gotten to the heart of me. She was singing directly to my internal self... long before I'd ever gotten to know the me no one else knew; the true and authentic me: Poetry Man. She was calling me out, my behaviors, my shynesses, my ways which were sometimes unexplainable to even me. Folk, jazz and blues were her calling card and she performed each with such soul-deep understanding. Unique is the only word that comes to mind.

A part of the fascination was that you could not so easily tell what she was or who she was. Her racial breakdown was an initial ambiguity, at least from the pictures being marketed around the time of her debut. Her album cover featured a curly-haired woman-child with a host of moles, but colorless skin tone. I get it now. Perhaps those who handled her career wanted her to be seen as anyone and everyone. I mistakingly thought she was bi-racial. When you heard her sing (SANG!)) you somehow KNEW that Black (and Blues) HAD to be involved. Turns out that in reality, she was a soulful Jewish chick with lots of gravitas.

I don't recall ever crying real tears when reading about someone I didn't know personally until I'd happened upon an old Esquire article reviewing the ins, outs and trapwires of Miss Snow's life, her difficulty in finding love, her feelings of being endlessly unworthy, unpretty, her first heartbreak, the death of her first and perhaps only real lover, the birth of her first and only child who would know a host of mental and physical hardships. It was as if Life had handed this one woman every imagined heartbreak, and had only given her this extraordinary voice as payment.

Snow’s self-titled 1974 debut was almost instantly successful, spawning the top-5 hit “Poetry Man” and earning her a 1975 Grammy nod for Best New Artist (she lost to Marvin Hamlisch... ummm WTF?). Many collaborations and several smaller successes followed, though Snow’s career was ultimately sidelined by the care required for her daughter, Valerie, born severely brain-injured in December 1975.

“Occasionally I put an album out, but I didn’t like to tour, and [the albums] didn’t get a lot of label support,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008. “But you know what? It didn’t really matter because I got to stay home more with Valerie, and that time was precious.”

Younger audiences may know her bluesy croon best from commercial jingles—she sang the theme song for the Cosby spinoff A Different World, as well as “Celebrate the Moments of Your Life” for General Foods International Coffees, and was featured in ads for Michelob, AT&T, and Hallmark. She also appeared frequently on Howard Stern, and performed at Stern’s wedding in 2008. Damn! Even HOWARD liked and appreciated her... and she didn't have to strip down to a bikini, or have cold cuts thrown at her ass!

Another GREAT song of hers is the autobiographical HARPO'S BLUES. It's so far and beyond being simply poetic... like the mark of any true artist, it tells you something real and deep about life and living. It is here that she croons:

" I wish I was a willow
And I could sway to the music in the wind
And I wish I was a lover
I wouldn't need my costumes and pretend
I wish I was a mountain
I'd pass boldly thru the clouds and never end
I wish I was a soft refrain
When the lights were out I'd play
And be your friend
I strut and fret my hour upon the stage
The hour is up
I have to run and hide my rage
I'm lost again
I think I'm really scared
I won't be back at all this time
And have my deepest secrets shared
I'd like to be a willow
A lover, a mountain or a soft refrain
But I'd hate to be a grown-up
And have to try to bear my life in pain
I wish I was a soft refrain
When the lights were out I'd play
And be your friend
I strut and fret my hour upon the stage
The hour is up
I have to run and hide my rage
I_m lost again
I think I'm really scared
I won't be back at all this time
And have my deepest secrets shared
I_d like to be a willow
A lover, a mountain or a soft refrain
But I'd hate to be a grown-up
And have to try to bear my life in pain

I wish I was a willow
And I could sway to the music in the wind
And I wish I was a lover
I wouldn't need my costumes and pretend
I wish I was a mountain
I'd pass boldly thru the clouds and never end
I wish I was a soft refrain
When the lights were out I'd play
and be your friend
I strut and fret my hour upon the stage
The hour is up
I have to run and hide my rage
I'm lost again
I think I'm really scared
I won't be back at all this time
And have my deepest secrets shared
I'd like to be a willow
A lover, a mountain or a soft refrain
But I'd hate to be a grown-up
And have to try to bear my life in pain
I wish I was a soft refrain
When the lights were out I'd play
and be your friend
I strut and fret my hour upon the stage
The hour is up
I have to run and hide my rage
I'm lost again
I think I'm really scared
I won't be back at all this time
And have my deepest secrets shared
I'd like to be a willow
A lover, a mountain or a soft refrain
But I'd hate to be a grown-up
And have to try to bear my life in pain

Damn, that song made me wanna cry, long after I was waaaay too old to be crying, like a baby, in the fetal position. She could DO that shit to you! I loved Phobe Snow. I loved the things her voice could do, the place it could take me, the way it could lift you up from darknesss and I think that was the gift she brought to her own life.

I will miss her in all her sublime and soulful and sadness.

One Love.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

imprisoned, age seven

imprisoned, age seven

it is frozen

inside a sepia photograph. & i

am forever

its imprisoned child.

the dark brown child

grimacing inside, when the white

photographer demanded

"smile..." this is what

"happy" looked like

at seven. after

my father

brushed & greased my

defiant, black hair

into some semblance of

a part. tied a noose around my neck... &

fashioned from my squirming,

crying, wildness this

upright afro-

american child.

& so...


slyly, then rebelliously, i

became "him"... this

little brown clown of

robotic assimilation.

posed, frozed in his

best sunday clothes, until

he did not look, or feel

or even smell like me.

"smile..." you little fool

this one's for




© 2006 by L.M.Ross moaningmanblues

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rest in Peace, "Bessie May!"

"Marilyn Monroe was the sex goddess, Grace Kelly the ice queen, Audrey Hepburn the eternal gamine. Ms. Taylor was beauty incarnate." New York Times-Mel Gussow Screen Legend Elizabeth Taylor passed today, and I'm not feelin' too good myself. She was 79 years old, and she lived a life of great contrasts in happiness, fame, illness, sadness, triumph. Since early childhood she is remembered for her stunning dark beauty and violet eyes. Although physically blessed with otherworldly glamour, she also managed to seem very fragile and very much human. She went on to win two Oscars, marry 8 husbands, give birth to four children, and become the number one spokesperson for people with AIDS the world over. All in all, Dame Elizabeth Taylor was quite a broad!


When you happen to be beautiful in your youth, it's a whim, an accident of genetics. When you're truly beautiful in later years it has everything to do with the size of your spirit and the shape of your heart. Actress Elizabeth Taylor may well have been one of the most physically beautiful females ever created, and then... later, in her Third Act of Life, she earned that beauty by the physical and humane acts of BEING Elizabeth Taylor.

I've always admired that quality.

Rest in Peace, "Bessie May!"



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Inner Peace:

If you can smile like an imbecile, without a worry in your brain
If you can start the day with no nicotine or little caffeine,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring others with your troubles,
If you can eat plain food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

...Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!


Bet ya thought I was about to get all spiritual on your azzes, didn't you..?


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

6 Weeks Later, And Still, That Bastard Nic Is Trying To Fade Me!

I wish I could report that I’m maxin’ privately in Tahiti, laying in a hammock, sipping on a tangy island potion, all smoke-free, all contented, all chi-released, all chill, and loving every minute of it! But that would be a damn lie; a vast and blatant UNTRUTH. The truth is I’m livin’ la vida LOCO, all looped and lost in that special loneliness of another non-smokers Blues.

See, after engaging in that vile habit for over 20 yrs, inhaling, on average, 8-10 butts a day, I found quitting much easier than what I thought it would the beginning, at least.

But as days and weeks passed, there came so many of those dreaded quitters symptoms, also, a very strange phenom I later discovered was called “quitter’s flu” (more on that strangeness later).

This is life presently: I can be going through the normal, for me, activities. Then, out of nowhere, I’ll get this dull, but growing pain in the center of my stomach. That’s always the first sign that something ain’t right. This pain will begin to gnaw and twist and literally crawl up my torso, then find a home inside my chest. This causes my heart to beat quicker, and my lungs to work in tightened gasps. This begins to feel like a panic attack. In fact, it mimics one to the fullest. The first few times this happens, it can literally FREAK YOU OUT!

You think: I’m going to diiiiiie!

Lying down only makes it worse. There’s just no comfortable spot. That night panic attack consumes you to the point where you HAVE to GET UP, walk around, open a window and feel some brisk winter wind on your face!

With me, this tightening chest, crazy uncomfortable sensation lasts a few minutes, and then it passes. The thing is, you Don’t Die!

The human body constantly amazes me with the tricks and games it will play. It even messes with your mind until the reality it manufactures BECOMES your ONLY reality.

Some people have called it a demon, and maybe it is. I now think of nicotine as a silent monster that viciously morphs, constricts, enlarges and changes its shape.
I quit smoking, cold turkey, on December 18th, a week before Xmas. It really wasn’t as difficult as I’d feared it would be (at least at the beginning). What I’d noticed beside the craving to light up, were the strange cramping pains in my belly. But that was only the beginning of the process, BEFORE the Demon Nic began to launch its cruelest tricks on me.


I mean DAMNNNNNN! Isn't it beyond IRONIC that once you STOP smoking it's THEN that the habit takes your breath away, at will??? I could be having a conversation, not even thinking about cigs, or be busy at work, and SUDDENLY it’s like someone hit me square in my chest with a 2 x 4, and the wind gets knocked clear out of me! Scary shit!

Because this has happened before, and then it stopped for several days, I was tricked by The Arrogant Nic; tricked and bamboozled into believing that scurry-ass symptom was gone! A thing of the past. Coooolness! Life was getting lovelier, and I could breeeeeathe again!

But NOOOOOOO! The Ghost of Nic was only biding its time, cunningly planning its next mortal attack. So it keeps happening, again and again. DAMN! When it does happen, I’ll try like hell to shake it off, to be normal, act normal, when normal is some three-dimensional flick not yet shown in the theatre of my head.

So this THING will come on me, big time, and I’ll try NOT to allow the quickness of this panic begin to affect others, but it’s in THOSE moments you feel like, OH LAWD! “THIS IS THE BIG ONE! I’m comin' to join you Elizabeth!” I’m not an actor. I can’t simply put on my cool-face, and act completely unaffected when that unexpected Nic craving has damned near CRIPPLED and toppled me to the ground!

But even worst than this is when you are trying to fall asleep at night. For me, that’s an impossibility!

You lie down. You’re sleepy. You need to rest. It would be next to heaven just to rest. But that bitch-gremlin in the belly begins to bite and as soon as you FEEL it, you KNOW! You KNOW it will soon latch onto your chest, and suck out your wind, and make your heart feel as if its collapsing, and there’s NO position you can switch into to ease the attack. You begin to cough. Not just some short little throat-clearing cough, but a LOUD, hacking, damn-near breath-stoppin cough!!! I mean, this is a serious madness COUGH!!!! And it doesn’t let up! You realize NEVER in all those YEARS of smoking, you'd NEVER COUGHED like that!!! This is that Hard Nic Craving COUGH… and it’s trying with all its might to STRANGLE your ass! You’re afraid to even close your eyes and TRY to sleep, because the mucus crawling up your system feels as if it will wrap itself around your trachea and murder you in your sleep. So you sit up in bed, and allow this thing to have its way with you! Existing in a state of mad anxiety, your mind begins to think maybe it’s better to live w/ THAT...than to risk falling asleep… only to never awaken again! It’s MURDA, yo!

So, for the past two weeks and counting, I have NOT known a decent night’s sleep!!!! It's strictly Vampire Hours for me. This causes a lotta unhealthy stuff, but the thing I never expected: hallucinations. I literally see plumes of smoke unfurling in my bedroom, and there isn’t a trace of smoke around. Lights flicker, flash on and off, and I’m the only one who notices it. In the dark, shadows of furniture become people, actual factual people I silently converse with, until I remind myself that no matter how REAL this all seems, it’s ALL a figment of my damaged, nic-ravaged mind!

It makes you wonder, WHY isn’t this getting BETTER? Why, now, after being SIX weeks smoke-free is it pulling this crazy shit? Why does it feel as if my entire respiratory system's shutting DOWN like THIS?

For my birthday, because I’d been housing this overwhelming need to preserve some slight piece of sanity, I’d gotten some nicotine gum. Nice gift. And although at first that seemed like taking a step backward, it actually helped, a little.

Extreme Junkie Awareness Moment: It was NOT until I’d placed that first piece on my tongue that I knew the True Meaning of RELIEF! It was INSTANT, yo! Like a addict feenin’, almost dying in the streets, then, to suddenly, miraculously receive that much-needed JOLT of a needle’s prick! BAM! It was soooooooo Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! DELIGHTFUL!! And all that damn PAIN was GONE! My mind, my body, my entire SOUL hummmmmmmmmmed. I was experiencing NIRVANA. I could not believe the quick-bliss-kiss I was getting in return for all that PAIN! You realize throughout these weeks of agony, that Bastard Nic was twisting its knife inside you and simply screaming: FEED ME!


But that ain’t no cure, yo. It only dulls the feelings of loss and desperation. It only gives the raging organs, a calmer, more livable pause from those chronic protests.

Here are some the changes I've noticed, some of which are things I have never heard about in those notorious anti-smoking campaigns:

“Quitter’s Flu” : WTF???? But that’s a helluva name for it! Imagine getting the worse case of the flu you’ve ever had in your life, and experiencing every single symptom without ACTUALLY HAVING it! I mean, harsh coughing, body aches, nausea, chills, fevers, sweats, running nose, chest pains, depleted appetite, chills, physical weakness, sore throat, loss of voice, the sleeplessness, and more. These all come along with the package.

Irritability has sometimes made me very creative, even active (until that crushing chest thing happens again!). I’ll clean the house, go shopping... answer email, but while out and about I’ll also witness signs of road rage...and a general feeling that I was becoming something I did not dig at all.

Bloating. Oh damn! Gone is my once-trim 32-inch waist! I’m now sporting this season’s latest bloated belly that resembles a pregnant woman, in her third-trimester!!! It’s hard to ROCK that, yo!

I would not complain (much) about this physical vanity, IF I were eating like a madman. The truth is I have NO appetite! Food still has NO taste! I live on water and fruits. I can’t even eat a whole burger any more, without throwing it away. Food tastes like cardboard, so I figure WHY ingest more empty calories if I can’t ENJOY them? So to SEE this mass form around my middle section seems like another cruel and vicious joke from this freakin’ Nic monsta!

Sometimes, when it’s 3:15am, and I can’t sleep, again, I try to convince myself that I’m actually doing something positive for me, my friends and family.

I just HAVE to believe, that, with time, things will be getting back to normal...the thing is, I cannot think of how. All these so-called experts talk about withdrawal symptoms that last for a few days, or even a few weeks. Really? Then I recently spoke to someone who has been smoke-free for 7 months and she’s still trying to convince herself she’s doing the right thing.

Yes, I know the human body was not designed to inhale thousands of toxic chemicals...but someone has to try and explain the side-effects of quitting too, so that we do not feel we should be going back to cigarettes.

Suddenly, I can recall something I once said to a friend of mine who was so damned INTO health and fitness, and carving the perfect body: “Coolness. You're ripped. You don't drink, you don't smoke, you don't stay out late...good for you… maybe you’ll l die perfectly healthy!”

Sometimes it just makes you wonder if all this pain is REALLY worth it. I really hope it proves to be.

That’s it. That’s all.