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Monday, September 17, 2012

This State of Invisibility in Rye Brook


The quiet sashay of ivory, beige and elegant limbs bathed in Gucci, Bermuda shorts and tennis skirts glide past me. And I detect a certain sniff-sniff in the air as the self-entitled and prosperous slide in and out of their Porsche’s, Jags and their Mercedes'.


Yes, I detect a certain sniff-sniff as they throw their sophisticated shade upon me and mine.


I never feel more invisible than when in Rye Brook, NY, on Sunday summer mornings outside of Starbuck’s.

Having learned long ago that, no matter one’s station, no one else is better than, more worthy than, exudes more excellence than myself, I am sometimes still amazed by these bold displays and trips of hubris and uber ego surrounding me.


Someday, when I better understand them, I want to write a poem about these people, these freshly face-lifted aliens who ride around in whips, wagons and starships costing more than my parent’s first home.

Meanwhile, I’ll just continue to feel alone here where everything is so clean and pristine, all clothing, all vehicles, all Colgate smiles, all blinding and all encompassing…


And I’ll never feel more invisible as if I were a walking speck of nothingness in my black skin, black jeans, black tee, black sneaks and black Adidas cap.


Somewhere between the Chase Bank and D’agostino’s, Rye Ridge Bakery and that over-priced Italian deli I refuse to go inside of, I cease to exist.

In this little village, in this little town, in this little hamlet I’ve stopped seeking my renown, and instead, I barely get by with just a little, a li’l, un pocito Espanol and a sly wink at the chico…


… or chicarina behind the counter who calls me “amigo.”


I never feel more invisible than when in Rye Brook, on summer Sunday mornings outside of Starbucks, where the beige and elegant Mercedes set quietly throw their sophisticated shade at me.


Strange, this way I’ve come to embrace, and even cherish my invisibility. Maybe, much like longing and much like yearning, we unseen ones eventually learn to adapt to our own ceaseless, soundless vanishing.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reflections Upon America's Most Tragic Day


"The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom." -Rudolph Giuliani, former Mayor of NYC


"Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11." -President Barack Obama


"For me and my family personally, September 11 was a reminder that life is fleeting, impermanent, and uncertain. Therefore, we must make use of every moment and nurture it with affection, tenderness, beauty, creativity, and laughter." -Deepak Chopra

One Love.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

**Just In Case The Universe Is Listening (Again)

Dear Universe,

How You doin'? You aiight? I hope so. It's Your boi, Lin. You know that cat with all these dreams in his head and longing desires deep in the recesses of his heart and spirit that he *never* tells to anyone? Yeah, that Lin.

Well lately, I've been thinking-- pondering really-- that if we are truly to be on good terms, then perhaps I should speak to You more... tell You what's on my mind, reveal a few of my deepest desires. Actually, this is my attempt at a mini-quasi-prayer session, where I talk, and hopefully... just maybe, You'll listen…

Below are some things I would very much like to see come into my Life.

My Metaphoric Desires:

*"I want to go where the wild geese go.

I want to know what the falcon knows.

I want the sky up over my head.

I want to live until I’m dead."

My Artistic Desires:

I want to realize and manifest my most enduring masterpiece: to live a life of Meaning.

I want to write like no one else, but me.

I want to pen an opus that speaks to and for the human condition.

I want to be artful, and for Art to be my mission.

My Hedonistic Desires:

I want to live out of a suitcase, in Paris.

I want to wear a natty beret and take copious notes inside some small Parisian café.

I want to live and love and dance and sex and live and love and dance and sex.

I want to send my company home, write deep into the indigo hours, and then to sleep, the sleep of accomplishment… All. Day. Long.

My Beauty Pageant Desires:

I want peace and unity and for the world to know the meaning of Unconditional Love.

I want for there to never be hunger in any part of the planet again.

I want every man to realize this own humanity, and to appreciate that same quality in his fellow man.

I want every child on the planet to be safe and happy, and disease-free.

My Selfish Desires:

I want to go on an excavation to all the ancient places within me.

I want every song I ever loved easily accessible to me.

I want to possess every book and manuscript ever placed on my wish list.

I want at least one famous friend who thinks I’m truly “brilliant.”

I want my first book made into a movie with my illustrious dream cast emoting in it.

I want to laugh and cough in the face of every editor/editrix who ever chose to rape my words and sentiments.

I want to be comfortably rich and successful within the deepest regions of my soul.

I want to be known and respected for my gift, and yet remain virtually paparazzi-free.

I want that dream of my grandmother’s prophesy for me to become a wonderful reality.

I want to make sweet Mrs. Ferreri (my 1st grade teacher) be mad proud of me.

I want the astute Mrs. Lang (my high school English teacher) to have been right about me.


I want “The Next One” to be the Best One, and The Blessed One.

I want to buy my mom a modest colonial home in Virginia.

I want a better home, a flyer wardrobe, and finer art on my walls.

I want to throw a huge NY party for all my friends and thank them for their unceasing love.

I want a certain well-loved face to be right beside me throughout my journey.

I want my last play produced on Broadway, and a fabulously memorable opening night.

I want the homeless cat down the street to have and lead a better life.

I want the ease and ability to pay off the bills of all the people I love.

I want a grand piano, topped by a mess of photographs, each with a sepia glow.

I want to compose the perfect sentence, perfect poem, the perfect torch song.

I want to hitch a camel ride somewhere out of mind.

I want to sit with the Maharishi at the foot of the Himalayas, and ohmmmmmmm... from deep within my solar plexus.

I want Heaven to truly exist for all people I love and miss; I need to believe they are there.

I want my spirit to breathe free and my eyes to be wide-open on this journey of self-discovery.


I want to be healthy

And wise

And well…

Always interesting

And interested.

*See, 'I wanna go where the wild geese go.

I wanna know what the falcon knows.’

I want to paint my most enduring masterpiece.

I want to write like no one else on this planet, but me.

Peace-out, Universe. Thanks for listening.


Again, this be Your boi, Lin. Aiight?


•*Partial lyrics to the song “Right On, Be Free” by The Voices of East Harlem


Monday, August 20, 2012

Let No Man Nor Woman Pre-Write My Epitaph

Last Friday as I was leaving my doctor’s office, heading toward the elevator, I overheard a woman having a very disturbing conversation on her cell. I say ‘disturbing’ because it was not your typical exchange between two friends shooting the usual shit. The voice wore this defeated pitch and aggravated tone of a woman who was dying. It was far too early in the day to get so deep, or to be so dour. Yes, when you really consider the Essential Truth of Life, we are all dying, and we begin that process as soon as we’re born. But to hear this woman tell it, she was not even sure if she’d make it for another “week.” In fact, she seemed extremely convinced that she'd be gone, finis, nevermore, and life as she knew it would be some event within the past-tense in less than seven days time.

Her exact words: “I told him it don’t even matter any more. I don’t have much time. I’ll be dead by next week.”

I tried to act casual as if I didn’t just hear her speak those words. But sensitive soul that I am (some might even say punk-ass), it truly stopped me in my tracks... and it made me pause.

This was a very serious place of business. It's an all-inclusive medical center and I was in the cardiology building. The doctors and specialists there tend to give it to you straight, no chaser, and there are times when I’m not so sure if that’s my preferred method of receiving bad or terminal information about my health. For instance, it was at this very same facility last year that I received the troubling news that people with my particular heart condition usually lived “five years after diagnosis.”

I would never be the same again after that statement. It left behind this profound effect. A sobering reality came over me. I guess you could call it a concentrated Sense of Purpose. I went into this daze and it morphed into disbelief, and anger, and then from anger into a case of sheer panic: OH-MY-GOD! Five YEARS! Just FIVE YEARS?! I can’t possibly do all I want to do, need to do, dreamed I’d do in FIVE YEARS!

I left that place deeply depressed, but with an attitude that I was not about to waste a single day on bullshit or bullshit people. I've done my best to keep that promise. I’d all these beautiful plans and suddenly I was given this impossible timeline in which to make those plans a reality, or else that fated Jeopardy BUZZER would sound (ANNNNNT!) on me, and I’d be just another one of those fools who planned and schemed and died with most of his dreams unrealized.

This is why I’d been in this Strict Determination Mode of having, needing, desperately desiring to finish editing my next novel, to release it into the world, and wanting it to be PERFECT... knowing full damn well that nothing is EVER perfect, nor will it ever be. I just feel that artists who leave behind serious, probing, illuminating works are the ones, who, generations from now, will still be remembered… long after they’ve gone on to that great Algonquin Round-table In The Sky… and beyond.

We people who create can be strange, single-minded and a totally different breed. Most folks leave children behind, and they are more than contented and satisfied that this will be their legacy, the physical evidence that they were once here on earth… and that’s wonderful. But children are human beings, first, and all human beings are assigned to these impossibly unfair and often random life spans... and what then? At least with art, there’s a chance that it will live on to feed, to nourish, entertain and inspire others for perhaps centuries to come. And so, my noble goal has been to make Fine Art in my finite time here, and to leave behind this undying entity, perhaps even this deeply immortal evidence that, yes, I once existed and I had a story to tell and some lesson to impart about Life. That’s it. That’s all.

Anyway, that’s MY goal. But this entry isn’t really supposed to be about ME and my dreams!

So, upon hearing this woman speaking of her death and its probable arrival being “next week”, which is now THIS WEEK, if her claim or her morbid declaration is to be believed… it was extremely bothersome to me. However, no matter what she thought and no matter what her doctor might have told her, Doctors AREN’T GOD… and as such, we really should NOT put too much trust or stock into their predictions.

This was a youngish black woman, maybe about 35 or 40. She didn’t appear to be particularly sickly and certainly not even close to looking as if she were in her final days of life.

As I entered the elevator and rode it to the lobby, all alone, her words haunted me slowly. I gather she had some terminal disease, and that perhaps she was just tired of dealing with that specter of impending death looming over her head.

I know and have known people like that, and I just can’t comprehend how they do it or get through it, day in and day out. Does that knowledge (of their death) become their friend, their hangout partner... or does it become their enemy?

But then my mind veered into this other darker place.

How can anyone, not confined to their deathbed, seemingly able-bodied, still appearing to be sane, clothed and in their right mind possibly be so certain of when their end will come? Hmmm… Was SHE considering the possibility of ending her own life? Had she already decided? Maybe she planned to go out on her own terms (much like director Tony Scott just did. RIP, Mr. Scott). It occurs to me that this would be the ONLY way someone could speak with such morbid certainty on when they would die.

But then again, maybe for some of us, if we’ve been around long enough to have experienced people dying who were once close to us, there’s this sixth sense knowing/feeling that can come over you, and it almost whispers: this will be the last time you’ll ever see this person alive again.

I recall the feeling in the late 80s and early 90s as I would see old friends who looked so thin and frail and sickly and sad, as if they were wearing their illness like an old overcoat that didn’t fit gracefully upon their spirits… and was then that this whispering thing would occur to me. I HATED that feeling. I hated that I was getting to be too damned accurate at FEELING it, and then having to deal with the sudden repercussions of it.


I still, to this day, pray for them.

Anyway… before the tears begin to fall and I lose all track of my thoughts, what I’m really trying to say is that this woman on the phone, speaking of her upcoming demise has been on a loop inside my mind. Maybe she was being a realist and maybe she was just completely accepting of her fate, but I don’t think it’s HEALTHY to speak that way, to say NO to life, to embrace dying or to accept one’s death in this almost casual conversational way. I think, maybe it pisses off God. It seems as if, when one does this, they are calling upon some self-fulfilling prophesy.

Everything happens in its own time, and according to The Creator’s Plan. Not any man's... no matter how learned or degreed... and we certainly can't predict our final strut and fret nor our last dance upon this stage.

Yes, when you really consider the naked Truth of Life, we are all going to die, and we begin that process as soon as we’re born.


And the rest..? Well… that’s really not for me to say.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just 15 Quotes To Live By… That’s It. That’s All

“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso

"An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise." ~Victor Hugo

"As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might." ~ Marian Anderson

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ Anne Frank

"There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.” ~James Baldwin

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ~ Oscar Wilde

"Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world… except money." ~ Johnny Cash

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” ~ John Lennon

“I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens.” ~ Woody Allen

“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.” ~Markus Zusak

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ~ Mae West

"May you live every day of your life.” ~ Jonathan Swift

“Snatch JOY!” ~ L.M. Ross



Monday, August 6, 2012

Way Back When Our Faces Were Young And Thin

“Oh my damn!” we silently think to ourselves. “What the hell happened to YOU?! Your face. It blew up, yo! It’s… like ... you just swallowed a damn pumpkin!”

It’s so good to reconnect with old friends. Nothing quite beats that feeling of having shared many of the same experiences and memories, laughed at the same jokes, feared those same fears and shared an affinity mixed with a rich and varied history we have with another person. Yet, in our mind’s eye, when we see or think of those old friends, it’s usually in the way they were, the way they appeared when we last saw them. We don’t always allow for time to do that sly thing and hideous THING it does to all of us: It ages and matures us to the point where we barely recognize each other anymore.

I took particular notice of this last week as I attended a funeral for one of the old neighborhood's elder women. She was very much beloved and we all had warm stories and vivid memories of our adventures in her presence. For instance, for decades, each 4th of July, she would plan these elaborate barbecues where everyone who was anyone within the community regularly attended. She was quite the hostess, an expert chef/griller and her food was always top-shelf delicious. Her spacious backyard became the IN spot, the holiday jump-off, and the hottest place to be.

Rest in Peace, Miss Easter.

And so, with her passing, and because she was so beloved, people came from near and far to honor her memory. It was a wonderful thing to see. Many of these people were faces from my childhood and teen years. I had not laid eyes on some of them in about 20, 25, hell, even 30 years!

After the ceremony, people were stepping to me, as people usually tend to do at such events. They seemed to know my name, to remember me vividly, and that felt strange because these were people who I didn’t know, had no recall of ever knowing, and it caught me by complete surprise. But the biggest surprise came when they REINTRODUCED themselves to me.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking: Oh snap! Oh MY Damn! That’s YOU under all that?

Yes. I know I’m wrong, but that’s me just being real, mentally. I would never say it out loud. It’s just a bit astonishing to see someone you once knew has become this whole OTHER person physically. But it’s also another naked fact of life: Unless we have a plastic surgeon on speed dial, we don’t tend to get prettier or more handsome as we grow older. We change. The body shifts and it morphs. The pounds appear. The gray hairs sprout. The wrinkles settle in…


… and we are no longer the hotness, or the serene beauty queens…


… and awesome Adonis boys of yesterday.

Sad but true.

So as I’m conversing with this person from my previous life as a young buck, I began to do a visual survey by looking for signs of the person I once knew. That’s when it HIT me: Do the people we haven't seen in years all develop chubbier faces? I mean is this to be our true fate: Fat-face-did-ness?


Unless you happen to be naturally or unnaturally angular, maybe sporting a fatter, fleshier aspect is simply the way we tend to age. We don’t obsess about it… in fact, we hardly pay this much attention. However, when we see an unflattering picture of ourselves, and we silently recoil... then ummm... that's a problem. Also, when something happens, some watershed event or some benchmark episode occurs and it brings people together, it has the feel and vibe of a high school reunion, and it’s then we are suddenly face to face, eyeball-to-eyeball with our reality.

And it is then that we are reminded of how time changes the mugs of those people we knew long ago, back when we were young and we all had thinner faces.

This may just become my new reference point to measure how long I’ve known someone. Example: Hell, we go back, waaay back to when we BOTH had skinny faces!

But having noticed that one old friend’s (once thin) head was now a BIG, cheeky ballooning dome, that was just the beginning. It seemed as if people would appear out of the proverbial woodwork to remind me of this strange and growing phenomenon. So many of my old school friends showed up and ALL of them sported these rounder, chubbier faces (yes, myself included)... even the formerly skinny people... and suddenly I was left wondering "What's up with this?"

It can be gradual… so gradual as to be one of life’s more insidious occurrences. Stuff happens to us and we don’t even notice it. We’re too damn busy living our lives to pay any attention. And then, something happens, and it suddenly opens our eyes: “Oh my damn!” we silently think to ourselves:


What the hell happened to YOU?! Your face. It blew up, yo! It’s… like ... you just swallowed a damn pumpkin!”

And please believe I’m not only cracking on the rest of them. I fully own up to my personal bout of pumpkin-headed fat-facedid-ness!


(Top): The more angular Lin…


(Bottom): The current, more fat-facedid Lin…

There are some days I’ll accidentally catch a glimpse in the mirror to find I'm repulsed... because suddenly I possess these mad puffy-verging-on-Dizzy Gillespie-type cheeks!




This is all very odd because, most of the elderly people I know tend to have thin, sunken-in faces. So, perhaps this is all a part of that whole middle-age-spread concept… and IF we live to become older and more elderly, we can at least look forward to a frailer face, and thinner physique.

Who knows.

It’s reached almost epidemic in proportion as it effects the people I know personally. When did it happen that so many of us became afflicted with this dreaded disease of: Fat-Facedid-ness? It seems we are not our physical selves anymore… no… we just become these older people with BIG faces.

Don’t believe me? Go on, do your own visual survey. Trust me, it won’t always be pretty. But it will be LIFE!


Monday, July 30, 2012

PDA: What a Concept! (When a Kiss is MORE Than Just a Kiss)

So the other day I was standing in a checkout line at a local grocery store, right? It was a late Saturday summer afternoon. Ordinarily, I try to avoid shopping on Saturday afternoons because the crowds are typically massive, intense, and the best articles tend to be well picked over. But the meteorologists were predicting, forecasting and then straight out WARNING of vicious storms ahead, so I rushed in to pick up a few essentials. It doesn’t really matter what time you venture into a store in New York, because day or night, night or day, it’s bound to be over-crowded and thick with the populace of pushing, shoving, swarming humanity. This day was no exception.

So I get the few things on my list (plus a couple of extra impulse items) and as I approached the registers, I noticed rather long lines at each. Clearly, I’ve no control over these situations and so after sighing my silent sigh, I shrugged and stepped into the back of the nearest line.

It’s rare that I actually pay any attention to people in stores. I seem to go into tunnel-vision mode. The writer in me prefers to casually check out those who are walking, running, or idling outside on the streets, in the subways, on the fire escapes, etc. However there were fits of wild, lewd animation, and damn-near LIVE SEX ACTS going on in Pathmark, and my eyes couldn't help but to detect this madness. Just ahead, about three customers in front of me was this couple. This man and a woman, in their early 30s, were getting extremely touchy-feely right there in line.

Mind you, generally speaking, I don’t have any problem at all with Public Displays of Affection. In fact, PDA…


when not based essentially upon lust


they present a testament that love still exists in the world…


and love, no matter in what form…


is a beautiful thing.

In fact, speaking personally, I see absolutely nothing wrong with holding hands…

or a kiss on the cheek... or planting a gentle, if momentary, peck on the lips…


but that’s the extent of it.


Anything else would be tres uncivilized.

Exhibit A) Photobucket

B) Photobucket

And C) Photobucket

In other words, unlike Arruh Kelly, I DO See Plenty Wrong With A Little PUBLIC Bump And Grind!

So, there I am, trying to avert my eyes, yet noticing how this couple, completely oblivious to the rest of us, are acting as if they were all alone, in the privacy of their bedroom. They keep going at it, no holds barred, and it really becomes a bit TOO much. I mean, the dude, who at first had his hand ON her butt, has now sent his hand down her shorts, and he is palming, grabbing, squeezing her entire ass! A seasoned multi-tasker, he’s also whispering in her left ear, while simultaneously fluttering his long Gene Simmons-like tongue in it. She then kisses him, her wild tongue darting with such strong and reckless abandon that a part of me became embarrassed for them. I mean damn! I just don’t get it. These were NOT heat-driven teenagers hopped up on hormones and tripping on Ecstasy. This couple was certainly old enough to know better.


My fear was this Public Display of Affection would soon turn into a PDE (Public Display of Erection), and that he’d whip it out and start DOING her, right there, smack-dab-in-the-middle of Pathmark!!!

This was NOT kosher! This was madness! Madness, I say! But there was nothing else going on to garner my attention. I guess I could’ve played with my Smart Phone, but I don’t currently own one. However, instead of staring them down, I decided to ponder the reason behind such exhibitionistic behavior.


Are they trying to make a statement about their status?

Not necessary! People can already tell that they were both together. No one was questioning the legitimacy of their relationship. BUT WHY must we all be subjected to the intimacies of it? What’s the point exactly?


What are they trying so hard to prove?

And if two people really wanted/needed to have sex so desperately, couldn’t they have taken care of those desires BEFORE they ventured out in public?

Or, if the urge struck suddenly, as it sometimes does, couldn’t you have waited until you were someplace a tad, tidbit, a li’l more… ummm… private?

Clearly the dude was the more obvious aggressor, and his mate was merely following his lead. As they were practically eating and swallowing each other alive, they didn’t even notice a gap in the line, or that they were supposed to step ahead and keep things moving. And still they kept at it, with hands and tongues all over each other.

I gathered it had been a while in between sessions. Isn’t it romantic? Wasn't that isht some mad-sweet gooey gushy stuff?

No. Not really. Not so much.

I wondered, was he just back home from a Tour of Duty? No. Considering the long length of his hair, that was not bloody likely.

I wondered some more: Has discretion gone completely to the dogs?

Actually, that was what they reminded me of two rowdy, horny, mangy bow-wows going crazy with heat in the grass. Only this was a public establishment. Little kids young enough to cling to their mother’s hand could even SEE them!

Where was their sense of decency and decorum?

It clearly didn’t exist. The two of them seemed to lack basic home-training, and had failed miserably at Sexual Etiquette, 101.

Finally, I wondered: where was that damned fire hose when I needed one?

Anyway… that entire putrid display inspired to me visit the concept of PDA.

Are you pro or con... and just where do you draw the line?

Meanwhile, I’m still pondering…



Friday, July 20, 2012

Poem For Miss Sylvia (Who Lived and Cooked and Smiled… and We Were Glad)

Sylvia Woods ~ 1926-2012

Surry down, get your
Stoned Soul Food Fix!

Surry down, get your
Stoned Soul Food Fix!


I remember Sylvia’s
Soul Food Restaurant
The way a small kid’s taste buds
Remember deliciousness, and
I recall Harlem-brown women
Stirring, boiling, baking, sweatin’
In tiny kitchens, preparing
Ambrosia with heaping helpings of
Love. I remember Sylvia’s

Soul Food Restaurant
In the colorful sway and easy flaunt of
Black people,
Brown, white, yellow and
Rainbow people
Getting a serious grub on…
You see, Miss Sylvia could
So easily charm ‘em and then
Her food could
Disarm ‘em with harmony.

I remember Miss Sylvia’s
Soul Food Restaurant
Like a flash of some celebrity’s
Sparkle in my
Left eye, and the sweet
Sound of Gospel
Music in my right ear.

Surry down, get your
Stoned Soul Food Fix!

Surry down, get your
Stoned Soul Fix, here!

Southern fried chicken,
Smothered chops
Cornbread and grits
Sassy Catfish and collards
Macaroni and cheese
Sweet potato pound cake
And please, don’t even
Get me started on
Miss Sylvia’s Banana Puddin’

Laws Ham Merrrrrrcyyyy!

When I heard she’d passed
I felt saddened, like the rest
Of Harlem… and the world at large.
But then I just know now
The angels must chowin’ down
Getting their grub on
Their wings growing heavier
Lips bustin', eyes rollin,
With traces of
Heaven upon their tongues.

Surry down, get your
Stoned Soul Food Fix!

Surry down, get your
Stoned Soul Food Fix!

We, who have witnessed
Her smile, or tasted
Her menu…
We thank you, so much
Miss Sylvia…
For whether young or old
Rich or poor, you have
Served and fed generations
And more…

The time has come to remove
Your apron, to loosen those strings,
To let them know you were
"The Queen
Of Soul Food..." as you
Sit down with kings
At the table before your
Heavenly Host.
And you can grin
That shy, Miss Sylvia grin…
And it’s okay to boast
How we on earth say your name
With smiles… and think of
The treasure you’ve given to Harlem
And think of the pleasure you’ve given
The world.

See, it’s called: leaving behind
A Legacy.

Not bad, for a colored girl
From South Carolina with
Some Soul
Food recipes and
A dream.

Surry down, get your
Stoned Soul Food Fix!

Surry down, get your
Stoned Soul Food Fix!


Monday, July 9, 2012

A Meditation On: The Art Of Cool

From a very early age, almost as soon as we THINK we understand the meaning of the word “Cool”, it becomes an admired thing, a desired state, and an ultimate destination. Little kids, keeids, big heads and li'l duns will mimic any adult who they see, think, feel or decide in their formative minds to be that thing called cool. No matter our birthright or disposition, all throughout school we aimed to be seen and thought of as Cool. The way we walked, talked, dressed, acted, reacted, the music we listened to, the people we associated with, it was all in an effort, a singular quest to be seen as “Cool.”

But what is COOL, really? Tell me... tell me, if you THINK you know.

Are we born with it… or is it something that we can acquire? The Jury's still out.

Can we cop some coolness by simply being around it, like in osmosis? Who knows.

Is it thrust upon us or drummed into us by those cooler elder people? It's possible.

Is it the same as popularity? No. I don't think so.

Is it something we can slip on or off, like a fly leather jacket… and suddenly we can claim Cool as our personal ownership? Ummm... 'fraid not!

Actually, to be COOL is the complete opposite of hot, hot-tah, or the hotness (another of those often desired states).

To be Cool is to be profoundly mellow, relaxed, unexcitable and extremely laidback. Cool is a state of mind which ultimately infiltrates into a state of being.

Cool is something one emits. Yes, one can project it but that doesn't necessarily mean that one IS actually The Coolness! You see, Cool is a very strange animal, indeed. It’s not all warm and cuddly. In fact, it can be the polar opposite. Cool is not necessarily ice-cold or unfeeling either. It’s a subtle way of regulating emotion, one's core reactions and attitude. To be seriously Cool can scare the hell out of some people… and deeply intimidate others.

The Truly Cool rarely if ever lose their tempers or raise their voices. In fact, they rarely if ever TRY too hard at anything. They simply don’t give a damn what you might think of them or what you perceive them to be. You can’t upset them, even when you try. You can’t piss them off, visibly, or make them surrender control of that all-mighty coolness. You see, they inhabit coolness. They simply are COOL, 24/7.

That above descript clearly cancels my personal membership to The Ultimate Club of The Care-free, Casual Coolness Clique.

You see, the Truly, Deeply, Madly Cool are like from another planet, yo. They don’t belong to any group or station in life. They eschew all rules and organizations. They don’t follow anything or anyone. Instead, they are the pacesetters, the forbearers, the mavericks and such. They are often misunderstood, lone wolves who buck all trends and humdrum signs of homogenization.

They are either, very wise, or secretly deficient in knowledge. But if it’s the latter, you’d never even know it.

For some erroneous reason, many of us think of Coolness as a youthful phenomenon… and that it has a certain time frame in which it is relevant.

This is a HUGE mistake. I mean, think about it: Who was cooler than Miles Davis, even well into his mid-60s?



No. He did not roll with a one-name-moniker like Cher or Liberace, Beyonce or Usher, Prince or Madonna, but he very well could have. When you hear the name MILES… you don’t have to wonder Miles who(?). Yes, he blew a mean and most pristine trumpet, and he was notorious for turning his back to an audience as he played. People HATED that isht! But did Miles Davis care?


Hell-to-the-nah, man! Man oh man, Miles was one of a kind! This cat was all dat and a slab of swiss, man! His genius could never be denied, man. The dude seemed to redefine the word COOL itself, man. Ya digs, man? Ya digs?


As I’m typing these words, I’m collectively counting up all the cool people I currently know of personally, along with the Icons Of Coolness, and it occurs to me that there are very few Truly Cool Ones left. Well, at least in my opinion. For instance, here are a few of the Iconic Cool:

Tell me, who is cooler than George Clinton, a man now well into his seventh decade?


The cat invents words, phrases and entire social movements with the ease of an emotional Ex-Lax. “Tear The Roof Off The Mother Sucker…” “I Wants To Get Funked Up!” “Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow.” They are but a few Clinton gems.

And yes, his LOOK might be a tad, a tidbit... ummm… urruh… mad-stoopid-crazy-out-there


But that only reminds us of The Beauty of The Truly Cool: See, the Truly Cool don’t give a good damn what the world might think!

Hey, maybe True Cool needs some time to marinate.

Musician Lou Reed... is The Coolness.


From his past as originator and vital member of the iconic and seminal band The Velvet Underground, or his beat poet delivery on the ultra laid-back jam “Take a Walk On The Wild Side,” to his senior status as one of the leather-clad Prince's of NYC Underground Cool, Lou Reed seems worthy of the title.


A legendary rock musician, songwriter and photographer, he even upped his cool factor by marrying Performance Artist Supreme Laurie Anderson. Nah, I ain't mad at Lou.

"And the colored girls go...

Doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo...

Meshell Ndegeocello:


Quite simply: the chick is baaaaadd. Plays a mean-ass, mad innovative bass. She writes songs that make you think, and outed herself as a lesbian way before it was considered cool, en vogue or even acceptable to do so.


Funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, folk, jazz, she has staunchly refused to be pigeonholed or put comfortably inside anyone’s trick bag. Her exterior is calm and so chill that her coolness sneaks up on you, like a smooth hit of herb. Her music, much like her steelo, is so fantastically mellow that it's intoxicating. Sometimes one of her songs alone can become the soundtrack of my day. She always thinks and performs outside of the box.


You have to love the gusty swag and soulful energy of someone so determined to pave her own road.

And speaking of swag...

Johnny Depp: He defined cool undercover cop swag in the 80s with his role in 21 Jump Street. And ever since, on film he has been the cool-azz chameleon... transforming from Edward Scissorhands, to The Mad Hatter, to Captain Jack Sparrow...


Depp is constantly showing us the various personas and facets of his cool.


And that quality seems to extend beyond his movie roles and into his off-screen appearances. Yo, Johnny. That suit is MURDA!

Prince (or “Princeton” as I calls him):


This cat was busy being cool while the rest of the world was trying to figure out what his true sexuality was… or what his lyrics really meant. I mean, come on: "Reach For The Purple Banana Till They Roll Us In The Truck?" WTF?

His whole genre of Cool is different. It’s part retro/part futuristic, part androgynous/part glam-slam swagger. He’s unique and so damned talented, multifaceted, and charismatic, and yet he’s managed to remain this ultimately mysterious character, no matter what has been written, said, attested. Face it. What do you REALLY KNOW about Prince?


To be so damned famous and to still remain an enigma is the very Essence of Cool.

Angelina Jolie:


She's one of those special peeps I consider a friend in my head. What makes Angie so effortlessly cool is not just her distinctive look-- which is edgy, stunning, dangerously-gorgeous and always uber-sexy… nor is it her thoroughbred thespian chops, which have already been awarded with Oscar, Emmys and Golden Globes, and it’s not her notorious past of drug addiction, cutting, self-mutilation and same-sex relationships; it’s her ability to transcend all of that shadiness in her yesterday to become a citizen of the world today, an ambassador, a mother of six and somehow still remain a world renowned icon.


Yes, her glamour game might be beyond extra-terrestrial...


But it’s the global size and scope of her heart and her world vision that makes her so damned Cool.

And then there was One…

Barack Obama aka The King Of Coolness:


Sometimes his sense of cool is damn-near ridiculous for a man of such power. No, I don’t mean the street-lively bop of his gait, nor the fact that he plays a rousing game of b-ball on White House premises. It is that nothing and no one, not the press, not those media vultures, nor the blatant lies of Fox News nor certain Republican candidates can fade him or get this man’s goat.


His cool is so transcendent that to call him 'laidback' would be a most gross understatement. Obama? Fly off the handle? Apparently, that’s NOT in his nature nor his DNA.


Sometimes I'll wonder: has Michelle ever once pissed him off to the point of him raising his voice? Hmmmm... *ponders*

And there you have it. There must be some that I’ve missed, but I fear there really aren’t very many… well, not anymore.

Who or what defines cool for you?

And when did you first become aware of this concept called Coolness?

Any Candidates Of Cool come to mind?