If You Miss The Latest “Scandal” Episode, You Can Always Catch Up with “Cartoon Scandal”

•November 9, 2013 • Comments Off on If You Miss The Latest “Scandal” Episode, You Can Always Catch Up with “Cartoon Scandal”

I’m a sucker for Scandal, the Shonda Rhimes-produced ABC TV political thriller starring Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn.  However, I did not start watching the show until last spring, just before it went on hiatus.  I don’t go off willy-nilly to embrace TV drama shows—for example, it took me a long time to even watch Cheers.  But I got hooked after members of my black women’s Facebook group seemed to turn into mini-Gladiators.

I  now belong to at least three Facebook groups— Scandal Watch Party, Scandal–It’s Handled, ScandalHolics—that follow and comment on Facebook about the show that has black women swooning and black men simmering  about the illicit affair between political fixer Olivia Pope and President Fitzgerald Grant.  However, some brothers are also members of the Scandal groups, both straight and gay.  Men are at least 26% of Scandal‘s audience, and on the FB  pages, male viewers sometimes give their own critiques of the show in online videos on FB as well as indulging, along with the women, in some of the most hilarious scene-by-scene commentary I have read in years.

Black men are generally bummed out about black women’s attraction for story lines involving romantic love between black women and white men, and Scandal is no different.  They get mad and they stay mad.  I think that it stems from black men wanting to be the one and only with black women, even as they chase after other women of color and white women.  With Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. (Central Time) becoming a time when black women simply will not tolerate interruption or bullcrap, I think some black men want to understand why Scandal has such a pull with black women and will follow the show to engage in dialogue with black women on Facebook and elsewhere.  And then there are others who will shout out that Liv is nothing less than a whore.

Continue reading ‘If You Miss The Latest “Scandal” Episode, You Can Always Catch Up with “Cartoon Scandal”’

Aprina Paul Update: Former Burglary Accomplice Says Nathan Middleton “Talked of Wanting to Kill People”

•November 8, 2013 • 14 Comments

This just came in about an hour ago.

Apparently, the authorities are not half-stepping in the least.  They just didn’t want to tip their hands.  They suspect Middleton of murder one.  Court documents filed in Rock County indicate that police gathered over 100 pieces of evidence at the home of Nathan Middleton, 12016 West Highway 14, in Porter, WI where Aprina Paul died.  These include a baggie of marijuana and many far more gruesome articles.  Read on:

Nathan Middleton, 29, the suspected killer of Aprina Paul; eight years ago, his accomplice in a burglary caper told a detective that Middleton said that he wanted to kill people (Courtesy: WKOW.com)

Nathan Middleton, 29, the suspected killer of Aprina Paul (Courtesy: WKOW.com)

An affidavit for a search warrant for the property states authorities suspect the man renting the home, 29-year old Nathan Middleton, of first degree intentional homicide.

Authorities say Middleton has told detectives Paul answered his online ad seeking sex, and after taking Paul to his home, they had sex and used drugs, and Middleton discovered Paul unresponsive the next morning. Authorities say Middleton said he burned Paul’s body in a burn pit he dug on the property.

Search warrant records state officers seized a chainsaw, tools, women’s makeup, fixtures, material from the burn pit, sixteen possible teeth, a bag of marijuana and many other items.

Middleton remains in the Rock County jail on a probation hold.   Middleton was convicted in 2005 of armed burglary.  Court records show a burglary accomplice told a detective Middleton talked about wanting to kill people.

Circumstantial, that last sentence.  But it’s definitely on record.  All the cops need to do is to continue to build the case.

That admission by the accomplice occurred some eight years ago.

Aprina may not have been his first victim; but for damn sure, she may have been his last.

Get this, too:  Middleton’s baby was in the back seat of the car he was driving when he picked up Aprina.  I’ll bet that this was a way of disarming Aprina and allaying some of her fears.  This guy wouldn’t mess with her if he had a baby.

Earlier, he had dropped off Brittney Humphrey at her job.  The child is variously described as being between 5-8 months old.  Some have identified the little girl as being Middleton’s child, other sources have described her as being Brittney Humphrey’s daughter.  I think that this is merely to indicate that the pair were not yet married.

Anything that Middleton is saying about Aprina using drugs or accepting cash for having sex, the authorities are taking with a grain of salt.  Meaning, since he’s destroyed possible corroborating evidence (Aprina’s body, purse, ID, etc.), they can’t confirm it readily, and it could mean that he is lying.

This article linked above also relates that the cops will be interviewing Brittney Humphrey in more detail very soon.  That development promises to be very interesting.  If Humphrey’s a smart woman, she’d better tell all that she knows because it appears that the fuzz are not going to let anyone off the hook.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Can’t Get Online to Obtain Obamacare? Go The Paper Route

•November 7, 2013 • Comments Off on Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Can’t Get Online to Obtain Obamacare? Go The Paper Route

The Healthcare.gov application to receive Obamacare; don't worry, it's for real, and you can fill it out and mail it the good, old-fashioned way.  By hand (Courtesy: Money CNN.com)

The Healthcare.gov application to receive Obamacare; don’t worry, it’s for real, and you can fill it out and mail it the good, old-fashioned way. By hand (Courtesy: Money CNN.com)

I figured that by the second week of October, I’d have Obamacare.  Nope.  And I thought that I could jock anything on the Web.

You’ve got to think outside the box when you can’t get online.  And if it means that you have to ride the Pony Express rather than the Super Chief, at least you will have started the process.

I had already decided to go paper when, on a trip to the Wisconsin Job Center, I strolled over to the area set aside to get people signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act, and see whether I could still get through.  Nope.

The large room was singular for a lack of applicants:  applicants who might be pre-Medicare older adults unacquainted with the Web, or those who are former Badger Care  or welfare recipients who do not have an Internet connection at home.  There was a bank of computers, health plan brochures from plans like Unity and Humana, and people wanting, dying to help and assist, but who were succumbing to the boredom of another frustrating day.  Hardly anyone could get through, and if they did, they were tossed out several times by the compromised software.

Well, I downloaded the paper application and instructions from the Healthcare.gov site.   Yeah, at least that works.  Here are the links below.

Continue reading ‘Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Can’t Get Online to Obtain Obamacare? Go The Paper Route’

No Mystery: The Circumstances Surrounding Aprina Paul’s Death Strongly Suggests a Homicide (w/Update)

•November 6, 2013 • 18 Comments

(UPDATE (11/08/2013, 8:07 P.M.):

A guest to this blog directed me to the right Facebook page of Brittney Humphrey Middleton, the former fiancée of person-of-interest Nathan Middleton in whose company teenager Aprina Paul died the night of October 27-28.  The page looks fairly innocuous, until one gets to Friday, November 1.  Two messages were sent at different times from her cell phone:

“Need big time help form god right know”

“My life need to end I don’t think it can get any worse then this”

Then on November 2:

“Lord take me away”

Again, from her cell phone on November 3:

“Lord Jesus help me threw this ,I miss u and love u Nathan”

Finally, the messages end on November 4 with this:

“Nathan hunny I k.ow u did do it I miss u and love u and will get threw it some how”

A friend of hers warns her against saying too much on Facebook because it is a public venue, so Brittney changes the subject.  Brittney also states that she is married on her Facebook page.

SMDH.

___________________

This is the missing poster for Aprina Paul, 18, who vanished October 27; police were finally brought by Nathan Middleton, 29, to the rear of his home  in Evansville, WI, Rock County to find her charred remains (Courtesy: Facebook.com)

This is the missing poster for Aprina Paul, 18, who vanished October 27; police were finally brought by Nathan Middleton, 29, to the rear of his home in Evansville, WI, Rock County, to find her charred remains (Courtesy: Facebook.com)

Why do I think that this was a homicide?

Why attempt to get rid of the dead body of a young woman that you barely know unless you did something to the woman to cause her death, and you want to cover up evidence of the deed?  It makes things infinitely worse.  I don’t need the law to tell me this.

A smart, truly blameless individual, no matter what his/her marital status, would have called the cops right off the bat and admitted everything.  Including creeping on his fiancée, Brittney Humphrey, 27, who was already styling herself “Brittney Humphrey Middleton” on her Facebook page, and their 8-month-old baby daughter.

Nathan C. Middleton, 29, told investigators that Aprina Paul, 18, died “in his company” after he picked her up and drove her to his house just outside of Evansville early last week, Sheriff Bob Spoden said.

In a state of panic, Middleton hid her body before burning it in a pit fire that continued for days last week, Spoden added.

“He has not admitted to killing her,” Spoden said.

Rock County Sheriff’s investigators are still calling Middleton — a Madison taxicab driver — a suspect in a homicide, Spoden said.

“Our concern is: Why did you go to the extent that you did to cover it up?” he added.

Aprina Paul on her graduation day from Madison West High School (Courtesy: TranspireMag.com)

Aprina Paul on her graduation day from Madison West High School (Courtesy: TranspireMag.com)

In another story, Sheriff Spoden called the burning of Aprina Paul’s body “very repulsive.”  He reiterated his feelings in a GazetteXtra story:

Most people, if someone were to die in their presence, would not respond with that type of an action … They don’t just hide a body and burn it.

Continue reading ‘No Mystery: The Circumstances Surrounding Aprina Paul’s Death Strongly Suggests a Homicide (w/Update)’

Hello! Still Here…

•November 5, 2013 • 1 Comment

I'd like to write on water, and make it stick (Courtesy: Ian Hayhurst)

I’d like to know how to write on water, and make it stick (Courtesy: Ian Hayhurst)

Still job hunting, and still broke.  I’m still writing on other projects, like a novel and poetry.  I’m also going to be appearing, along with others, at a reading Thursday night at the Chazen Museum, celebrating the artist Romare Bearden‘s Black Odyssey collection of paintings.  if you’re in Mad City, drop by.

Soooo, there’s a lot on my plate.

  • I’ve got a few things to say about the final outcome of the Shaniya Davis case.
  • Wisconsin‘s gotten into the headlines regarding a mishap that had skydivers escaping from two planes that collided, and
  • Tragic news regarding a possible murder of a black Fitchburg teenager by a white man in the nearby hinterlands.  Her charred remains were found on his farm property.
  • A few links to obtaining Obamacare that you might really appreciate.
  • More on Trayvon Martin.
  • The racist bullying of Dolphin Jonathan Martin,
  • And maybe some other stuff, like that crack-smoking Toronto, Canada mayor.

So keep your shirts on.  I’m going to have to get a bit more organized; even a relative asked me recently whether I had abandoned my blog; I said no.  But twice a week could do it.  Let me know what you think.

See you in a bit…

Another Shooting in D.C.: An “Erratic” But Unarmed Woman Drove to the White House First, Tried to Breach Security, Then Was Chased by Cops, and Finally Was Shot and Killed with Her Child in the Back Seat

•October 3, 2013 • 1 Comment

It may be a black woman, too.

From Stamford, Connecticut.

Another one with a history of mental illness.

But this woman, identified as Miriam Kerry, 34, was said to be unarmed.  Kerry drove at top speed from the White House—where she tried to break through a security barrier—to the Capitol, where she was finally gunned down and killed.

Her bewildered child, a little girl with little pigtail puffs probably gathered by barettes, is okay.  I saw her being recovered by a woman officer while watching CNN.  Now I’m at MSNBC with the Reverend Al.  That’s how I knew it must be someone black.

At this juncture, some cops have shown up at her home with some robots to search it.  Yep, the TV cameras from Connecticut media are there, too.  The robots  are there just in case it is booby-trapped,

People are going off.  

People who need help are going off.  And the country is being held hostage by lunatics.  The shutdown is in its third day.

When I first heard that it was a woman with a child, I thought, this is probably a desperate woman who wanted to get through to Obama and perhaps to plead her particular case to him.   We have no idea how the sequester and now the shutdown are affecting others, be they Federal employees, military, or whoever.  If anything, there is additional pressure being brought to bear on people who don’t need any more bad news.

We will probably know more in succeeding hours and days, but it’s been two weeks since the mass shooting at the Navy Yard.  Now this.

How much farther down will we go?

This state of affairs cannot last.

Because all this is wrong.

AEG Found NOT Liable For Michael Jackson’s Death

•October 2, 2013 • Comments Off on AEG Found NOT Liable For Michael Jackson’s Death

Katherine Jackson, 83, at the wrongful death trial of promoter AEG; she still believes AEG drove Michael Jackson to death and stole his money (Courtesy: CNN)

Katherine Jackson, 83, the face of grief at the trial of music promoter AEG for the wrongful death of her son, Michael jackson; Katherine was on the witness stand for nine hours over three days.  She was at turns forgetful, combative, and confused.  She still believes AEG drove Michael Jackson to death and stole his money.   Joe jackson, her husband, appears to be sitting beside her (Courtesy: CNN)

I know that I haven’t been following events in the aftermath of Jackson’s death, and the prosecution and conviction of his quack physician, Conrad Murray.  However, I felt that the Jackson family‘s pursuit of AEG in Jackson’s death was not going to end in their favor.  It seemed like hysteria, not prudence, was driving this lawsuit.  The Jacksons had a ready-made conspiracy theory narrative: that AEG wanted Michael‘s money,  that AEG was manipulating, pushing and punishing Michael with this series of 50 concerts in London, and that AEG eventually killed him with a doctor who was inept and incompetent, and may have been in cahoots with them to sedate Michael into the Next World.

Thing is, something like the theory has to be based in fact, and there has to physical as well as circumstantial evidence and witnesses to support and to prove the case.   Something like this ain’t coming from Perry Mason.   The Jackson family, with 83-year-old Katherine Jackson suing as chief plaintiff on behalf of Michael’s surviving children and plaintiffs, Paris, Prince Michael, and Blanket (Prince Michael II), were standing on shaky ground.   Nothing like that was happening.  The Jacksons, in effect, blew a large wad of money to try to get hold of Michael’s money.   They were asking up to $10 billion.  The real question now is, what’s next?

A Los Angeles jury decided Wednesday that AEG Live hired Dr. Conrad Murray, but also concluded that the concert promoter was not liable for Michael Jackson‘s drug overdose death.

The jury decided that Murray was competent, so even though AEG Live hired him, it was not liable for Jackson’s death and didn’t owe the Jackson family millions of dollars in compensation.

“The jury’s decision completely vindicates AEG Live, confirming what we have known from the start — that although Michael Jackson’s death was a terrible tragedy, it was not a tragedy of AEG Live’s making,” attorney Marvin Putnam said in a written statement.

The verdict brings the five-month-long trial to a close.

The jury accepted AEG Live lawyers’ arguments that the company was not negligent because its executives had no way of knowing that Murray — licensed to practice in four states and never sued for malpractice — was a risk to Jackson. The singer was a secretive drug addict who kept even his closest relatives in the dark about his use of propofol to sleep, they contended.

Katherine Jackson and her family members left the courthouse without comment.  There had been applause in the courtroom from the Jackson camp when it was announced that AEG did hire Conrad Murray, but when Murray was found to be competent, gasps of disbelief were heard.   The jurors, however, have spoken:

Continue reading ‘AEG Found NOT Liable For Michael Jackson’s Death’

Antoinette Davis: Second Shaniya Davis Trial Delayed Until October 28, 2013

•October 2, 2013 • 1 Comment

Antoinette Davis is escorted into court during a hearing  in  October 2010; she will not face the death penalty for prostituting  her daughter Shaniya Davis to Mario Andrette McNeill  (Courtesy: SpillDaBeanz.com)

Antoinette Davis is escorted into court during a hearing in October 2010; she will not face the death penalty for prostituting her daughter Shaniya Davis to Mario Andrette McNeill (Courtesy: SpillDaBeanz.com)

Yeah, I’ve been watching developments with this, too.

There was first a delay in the trial of Shaniya Davis’ mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, until Monday, October 14, and then another one was announced in late September until Monday, October 28.  Paperwork, always paperwork.

The trial for the mother of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis has been postponed until Oct. 28.

Antoinette Davis’ trial was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 14 in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Davis, 29, is accused of giving her child to Mario Andrette McNeill on Nov. 10, 2009, to settle a drug debt.

McNeill was convicted of Shaniya’s murder and sentenced to death in May.

Davis’ trial was continued because of a delay in getting the transcripts from McNeill’s trial, said Dollie Bray, who assists her husband, lawyer D.W. Bray, who is representing Davis. The defense and prosecutors needed the opportunity to look at the transcripts, said Dollie Bray.

Again, Antoinette Davis does not face the death penalty but life in prison.  At present, she is still being held at  the Cumberland County Detention Center; she is not out on bail.

Davis is accused of first-degree murder, first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, child abuse, sexual servitude with a child, child abuse sexual act, human trafficking and indecent liberties with a child.

I still wonder whether there is going to be any more obfuscation on the true facts of who really delivered Shaniya up to McNeill, whether it was her sister or whether it was Antoinette herself.  Apparently, the sister, Brenda Davis, had more to gain from making McNeill happy, not Antoinette.  It was Brenda who had slept with McNeill for three months prior to the murder.   This is what I wrote in April during McNeill’s trial.

Now, this is interesting, only because it shows what Mario McNeill’s attorneys are up to.  I think that it was mentioned before during the first few days of Shaniya’s disappearance and murder  that there was a family connection to McNeill, that either Antoinette Davis herself or her sister Brenda Davis had slept with him.  After their break-up, Brenda, now 23, became pregnant by the brother of the then-girlfriend of Mario McNeill, April Autry.   Now it’s coming up again, and it brings up a hitherto undiscussed (at least publicly) aspect of the case.  What if it had been Brenda Davis who pimped and sold off her niece to Mario McNeill?

Now get this: in order to stay within McNeill’s orbit, Brenda went and got pregnant by the brother of McNeill’s new girlfriend.  Isn’t that a little weird?  Antoinette’s sexual exploits before the murder, in comparison, have not been discussed in court or elsewhere or even whether she was serious to the point of marriage with Clarence Coe, her boyfriend at the time, or was trying to make a play for McNeill.  Her baby, a daughter, was for Coe, not McNeill.   Isn’t that a little funny?  Selling a daughter off to fulfill a drug debt?  Antoinette was working.  Something is wrong here, just as I knew something was wrong when Bradley Lockhart did not face any charges for essentially dumping Shaniya off at her mother’s.

All I am saying is stay tuned for further details.  The DA as well as the defense attorneys are going to have to clear up this madness.  Not because it might mean Antoinette would be convicted of a lesser charge, but that the right people are prosecuted for this horrible deed.

Obamacare Is Winning

•October 2, 2013 • Comments Off on Obamacare Is Winning

The Health Insurance Marketplace website, otherwise known as the gateway to Obamacare; I think I am going to wait until next week to apply and skip the disappointment.  It just means that people are willing to make it work (Courtesy: Think Progress)

The Health Insurance Marketplace website, otherwise known as the gateway to Obamacare at healthcare.gov; I think I am going to wait until next week to apply and skip the disappointment. It just means that people are willing to try it to make it work (Courtesy: Think Progress)

Good morning, all.

I tried to get on the Health Insurance Marketplace website yesterday, the first day of open enrollment for health care that would begin in January, 2014, and even earlier.  Couldn’t.  The site was crashing from the onslaught of millions wanting to enroll, including myself.  Let’s hope that these crashes aren’t deliberate; I would not put it past some hater(s) to try something.  But it is reasonable to assume that people are curious, want to fill out forms, and want to learn more.  By all means, people, read up and turn off cable.

I noted, however, that the top article that many people were reading were how to opt out of Obamacare, thus probably helping to back up access.  Oh ye of little faith.  In about a year or so, I predict these people are going to be crying to let into the program.  I’ll say more later about why, but Jennifer Hudson may be put out of business sooner than Obamacare.

What can I say? There were bound to be glitches during the first few days.  I’ve been thrown out several times from the site because it is busy, busy, busy.  The wingnuts are braying that this portends failure.  No, it doesn’t.   We also don’t really know yet how many people actually registered the first day.  Yet all indications are positive:

Continue reading ‘Obamacare Is Winning’

The Ancestors Summon Michael Moses Ward, 41, The Only Child Survivor of The 1985 MOVE Bombing in Philadelphia

•September 28, 2013 • Comments Off on The Ancestors Summon Michael Moses Ward, 41, The Only Child Survivor of The 1985 MOVE Bombing in Philadelphia

Michael Moses Wood, then 13, also known as Birdie Africa, when he was captured by Philly police during the standoff that ended with the C4 bombing of the Osage Avenue MOVE headquarters in 1985.  Eleven people, six adults and five children were killed, including Ward's mother, Rhonda Africa.  The firestorm also incinerated 61 houses in the immediate vicinity (Courtesy: Philly.com)

Michael Moses Wood, then 13, also known as Birdie Africa, when he was rescued by Philadelphia police during the armed standoff that ended with the C4 bombing of the Osage Avenue MOVE headquarters in 1985. Eleven people–six adults and five children–were killed, including Ward’s mother, Rhonda Africa. The firestorm also incinerated 61 houses in the immediate vicinity (Courtesy: Philly.com)

UPDATE: Michael Moses Ward’s death was ruled an accidental drowning due to alcohol intoxication.

This is a really sad story.  

On September 20, Michael Moses Ward drowned unexpectedly during a family vacation cruise on the ship Carnival Dream.  He, his father’s family, and several extended family members were on  board celebrating several wedding anniversaries, while sailing to Cozumel, Belize and the Dominican Republic.  According to his father, Michael was not in poor health and was physically fit.   But it is not unlikely that Michael (born Olewolffe (Arabic for “prince”) Momer Puim Ward in 1971, and later known as Birdie Africa) died from the heat of the hot tub, or from an undiagnosed heart problem, or from taking some drugs—legal or otherwise—that did not agree with him or from all or even two of these possibilities.  Or that it was an accident—he may have slipped, hit his head, and sank under the surface.  He may not have known how to float or swim and struggled before he drowned.  Or worse, he committed suicide.  This last surmise—I hope not.

Until we know what happened from the toxicology reports some three to six weeks down the line, this is an unexplained death.  If people are seeking a conspiracy theory or an assassin that slipped him a lethal mickey, what kind of threat did Michael Ward present?  From all indications, this man simply wanted to forget what happened to him after his mother died, and he was given back to his father, Andino Ward.

Michael Moses Ward in 2005; he changed his name, went to school, married, had children, divorced...and then died too young and too soon (Courtesy: NBCPhiladelphia.com)

Michael Moses Ward in 2005; he changed his name, went to school, joined the military, married, had children, divorced…and then died too young and too soon.  The scars from the MOVE conflagration were visible on his body for the rest of his life (Courtesy: NBCPhiladelphia.com)

From NBC Philadelphia:

Ward was the only child to survive the siege and bombing of the MOVE Organization‘s compound along the 6200 block of Osage Avenue on May 13, 1985.

The radical group, which broadcasted anti-government rants from loudspeakers in the home at 6221 Osage Avenue, engaged in a day-long armed standoff with police after officers tried to serve arrest warrants.

Police eventually dropped an a bag filled with C4 explosives from a helicopter into a fortified bunker on the home’s roof. The resulting explosion ignited a fire that spread to 61 adjacent homes.

Then 13-years-old and injured with severe burns, Ward was pulled from the home by two Philadelphia Police officers. He was living in the compound along with his mother. An adult, Ramona Africa, was also able to escape.

First of all, what was MOVE?  From Wikipedia:

MOVE was founded in 1972 as the “Christian Movement for Life” by John Africa, a charismatic leader who, though functionally illiterate, dictated a document describing his views known as The Guideline to community college professor Donald Glassey. Africa and his followers (the majority of them African-American), wore their hair in dreadlocks and advocated a radical form of green politics and a return to hunter-gatherer society while stating their opposition to science, medicine and technology. As John Africa himself had done, his devotees also changed their surnames to show reverence to Africa, which they regarded as their mother continent.[4]

The MOVE members lived in a commune in a house owned by Donald Glassey in the Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia. MOVE members staged bullhorn-amplified, profanity-laced demonstrations against institutions which they opposed morally, such as zoos (MOVE had strong views on animal rights), and speakers whose views they opposed. MOVE made compost piles of garbage and human waste in their yards which attracted rats and cockroaches; they considered it morally wrong to kill the vermin with pest control. MOVE attracted much hostility from their neighbors. Their actions brought close scrutiny from the Philadelphia police.[4]

The aftermath of the C4 attack on the MOVE compound in Philadelphia in 1985 that enveloped an entire city block (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

The aftermath of the C4 attack on the MOVE compound in Philadelphia in 1985 that enveloped an entire city block.  The surviving residents are still trying to recover and to rebuild (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

Michael Ward was undersized and undernourished for his age.  He was 4’7″ and weighed less than 100 pounds at the time he was pulled out from under the MOVE compound.  In other words, he looked exactly like a seven- or eight-year-old child as in the photograph above.  Most of the MOVE children ran around naked and ate raw, rotting vegetables (considered “pure” food by MOVE) and scraps from the adults, who were afforded hearty home-cooked meals.  They even managed to scavenge food dropped by other neighborhood children or from neighbors’ garbage cans.

The children slept on the roof naked in all weather until they were six.  John Africa, the MOVE messiah, formerly known as Vincent Leaphart, also decreed that the children not attend school, or develop relationships with other children.  Toys were forbidden, so the children stole what they could and buried them in the backyard so that they could play with them later.  When John Africa got wind that the children were planning to escape, they were told that if they attempted an escape, they would be tracked down and killed.

“I’m still afraid of them, of MOVE,” he said. “Some of the things that went on there I can’t get out of my head, bad things, things I haven’t told anybody except my father.

“But I’ll tell you this: I didn’t like being there. They said it was a family, but a family isn’t something where you are forced to stay when you don’t want to. And none of us wanted to stay, none of the kids. We were always planning ways to run away, but we were too little. We didn’t know how to get away. And we were scared.”

But that was the life he had always known. His earliest memories, he said, were of growing up at a MOVE commune in Virginia.

He said his mother tried to leave MOVE, but threats to her and him made that impossible. Instead, they lived in fear of everything: police, the neighborhood, MOVE founder John Africa, and anything else that came their way.

“The only regret I have is about me being hurt and my mom dying and the other kids,” he said. “I feel bad for the people who died, but I don’t have any anger toward anybody. See, I got out.”

Continue reading ‘The Ancestors Summon Michael Moses Ward, 41, The Only Child Survivor of The 1985 MOVE Bombing in Philadelphia’

George Zimmerman Stopped Again by Cops, While Soon to Be Ex-Wife Shellie Is Having Second, Third and Fourth Thoughts About His Innocence…And They Deserve Each Other

•September 27, 2013 • 1 Comment

Shellie Zimmerman still believes that George Zimmerman did not kill Trayvon Martin out of racial animus and that the justice system worked. But in another interview, this time for yesterday’s The Today Show, Shellie is sounding like an increasingly doubtful believer in the innocence of her husband.  Especially after the confrontation that occurred at their former residence on September 9, in which George punched her father in the nose, smashed her iPad, and also had another woman in tow. Shellie now claims that she doesn’t know what Zimmerman is capable of doing.

She’s serious, right? Now that the trial is over and she has finally been rudely shunted aside, she claims that she doesn’t know her husband any more?  Do you believe this?  This is not the only time he’s argued with her or even laid hands on her or her own relatives. Bet you.  Just because that highly publicized incident comes during their countdown to divorce proceedings doesn’t mean something like this hasn’t happened before.  Either it was hushed up or he threatened her.  And you know that she has admitted that she wasn’t even living with him the night of Trayvon’s murder.  She had left him because she had had enough of the shouts, screaming, threats, violence—and debts.

Now there is money at stake.  He may even write a tell-all book with a ghost.  It is rumored that George has stashed over a million dollars, much of which has been raised from well-wishers, which he may refuse to share with Shellie or his defense attorneys, despite crying poor mouth for so many months.  That’s probably another reason why the divorce proceedings are on hold because process servers don’t know where he is.  (And if they knew, the paranoid Zimmerman might also think, others might know who’d want to pop a few slugs in him in fulfillment of the death threats he’s sustained.  Like he is worth the trouble.)

But Shellie knew what she married. She just wasn’t paying attention, thinking that his former domestic troubles with his ex-fiancée Veronica Zuazo, for instance, wouldn’t lap into their marriage like so much Florida surf during hurricane season.  She thought he loved her, that she was special, and he wouldn’t do her like that.  And for all that, she would naturally share even more of his ethos and beliefs, beyond those that she holds.  Now, those beliefs are dying and they are dying hard in the failure of the marriage and in the harsh spotlight thrown by the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case.  This woman even slept in the woods for him and lied about the $200,000 first raised for his defense.  She may not have a job; and he is not supporting her.  She resides with her parents, who paid for that rented house they lived in not far from the courthouse where he was tried.  Want to bet that all of these interviews—especially with journo Christie O’Connor who is writing a book about the case—are to make some pin money as well as to smoke him out to sign the papers?

Why didn’t this woman speak out when it counted?   Could it be because her admissions would be on behalf of an unarmed black teenage male?  She doesn’t possess the length of spine it would require to not only go against her husband and his family, and the justice apparatus in Florida, but against that racism that underlies Florida.  What the poet-feminist Adrienne Rich called “disloyalty to civilization.”   In short, being disloyal to all those things that made her privileged despite her own precarious situation—being silent while awaiting the payoff and the return to normalcy that he promised but he never delivered after the trial.  He used her.

Shellie didn’t need to be a kumbaya activist.  She just didn’t—and still doesn’t—share in the kind of morality that would make listeners buy her turnabout and sympathize with her current plight.  She wanted to get paid for sticking with this murderer.  And she’s getting paid alright, but not in the way she envisioned.  Because frankly, it’s blood money.

Continue reading ‘George Zimmerman Stopped Again by Cops, While Soon to Be Ex-Wife Shellie Is Having Second, Third and Fourth Thoughts About His Innocence…And They Deserve Each Other’

BREAKING: Florida Appeals Court Orders a New Trial for Marissa Alexander

•September 26, 2013 • 1 Comment

The First District Court of Appeals in Florida has granted Marissa Alexander a new trial.  Here is their ruling.

From The Grio:

The Florida mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May 2012. Alexander testified that her then-husband Rico Gray physically assaulted her on August 1, 2010, just one week after she gave birth to their baby daughter. She testified that following physical abuse, she escaped to the garage with intentions to leave the house, but the garage door was not working.  She retrieved a gun, which she had a permit for, from a vehicle in the garage and reentered the house, where Gray confronted her in the kitchen. Alexander said Gray charged her “in a rage,” and she fired her gun into the air as a warning shot.

Alexander was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon because Gray’s two sons, aged 10 and 12 at the time, were with him in the kitchen when the confrontation took place.

Alexander’s former husband whom she has twin boys with, Lincoln Alexanderspoke to The Grio over the summer saying that “Marissa’s spirits are high, and that she is ‘fully aware’ of the Zimmerman verdict, though he declined to elaborate on his or her feelings about it, given that they face the same prosecutor in Marissa’s case.”

The prosecutor, Angela Corey, argued Alexander acted on anger, rather than fear.

If there is going to be a new trial, Alexander and her attorney are still going to have to face Angela Corey.  Corey is already notorious for what many believe is her and Bernie de la Rionda throwing the Trayvon Martin case, and her weird, triumphant smirk and demeanor immediately after the verdict was reached for Zimmerman confirmed the fears of many that the boy was lynched again, this time legally.  In several cases where blacks have claimed the Stand Your Ground defense in Florida, they have been convicted of murder or manslaughter.  This case, apparently, was different.

Continue reading ‘BREAKING: Florida Appeals Court Orders a New Trial for Marissa Alexander’

Some Thursday Love: Kenny Rankin, “Silver Morning,” 1974

•September 26, 2013 • Comments Off on Some Thursday Love: Kenny Rankin, “Silver Morning,” 1974

I’d forgotten how beautiful this Kenny Rankin song is.  And it doesn’t finish the way it begins, either…

What can you say about a guy who was directly influenced by another idol of mine, Laura Nyro; who played guitar with Dylan on the seminal  Bringing It All Back Home,  and who wrote the song “Peaceful,” for Helen Reddy?  His covers of Beatles songs so impressed Paul McCartney, that he asked Kenny Rankin to sing a medley of them when McCartney was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.  Johnny Carson invited him some 20-odd times to perform on The Tonight Show.

Kenny Rankin was a Renaissance guy.  His work was an amalgam of the best of jazz, folk, and pop music.

Rankin is no longer with us; he died of lung cancer in 2009 a year after he sang at the funeral of his touring buddy, comedian George Carlin.   He was definitely grayer, and he had shaved his trademark mustache.  But he did write, and interpret, some great, beautiful songs.  There are some days when it doesn’t pay to get up in the morning, so to speak.  And then there are mornings when you are joyful just to breathe.

This is one of those days.

Enjoy yours.  If anything, the weekend beckons.  ♥

Kenny Rankin’s website is here.

I’m Not Gone, Just Writing and Job Hunting and…

•September 26, 2013 • 1 Comment

whatwritersdo

Well, I had to get away from the blog for a while, but now I am feeling the itch again. Facebook doesn’t deserve me.

There were more pressing things to do—like try to find a job after my UI benefits were cut some 75%. This was due to this draconian tier system Wisconsin has, as well as The Sequester. It’s not that I haven’t been looking or applying for writing and editing jobs since January. There are still no jobs on the horizon doing what I do best (editing, writing, opining and featuring), as well as jobs while I wait for the Next Big Thing.  And it’s crazy making when I cannot make my rent or even get on the bus for an interview.

Freelancing sometimes requires that one get out of town or go to places in Madison where the buses don’t run.  And it doesn’t pay much.  In fact, it may not pay as well as it did when I was writing book reviews freelancing for the San Francisco Chronicle.

There are very few of these kinds of editorial jobs here in Madison, much less Wisconsin.  You know, the kind that involves 9-5, and some benefits.  There are more of them on both the Left and the Right Coasts, but they are more focused on marketing and flogging products like games, or revamping user manuals. And they seem to go to much younger and blonder types who have just gotten out of college but don’t have the requisite 2-3 years. It’s been rather demoralizing.  But more to the point:  I have got to get out of Wisconsin.

More importantly, on the upside, I am some 60 pages into a new novel. I want to get it up to 100 pages before I present it to a writing coach who could probably tell me what I need or don’t need to do. Unfortunately, one needs cash for this kind of thing as well.  But as I slog through the plot, and delve into my characters’ motivations, understand that I have to focus on this work as well.   And I must disappear.

It’s not that I haven’t been paying attention to catastrophes and crises lately.   And all of the absurdities in between as well as the meaningless deaths and meaningful lives.  I have.  It was time, however, to take a rest.  Trayvon’s death, and the end of the travesty of his killer’s trial was enough.  There were many times I just escaped into the backyard garden to see something as run of the mill as vegetables flowering and growing, but just as affirming.

And now I am back for the moment.  Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Boy and His Mother Featured in Famed Auteur Werner Herzog’s 30-Minute Anti-Texting While Driving Documentary

•August 13, 2013 • 3 Comments

And this is the film:

This is not just about survivors and victims.  This is also about those who committed vehicular murder when they kept on texting when their attention should have been on the action on the street.  And the film travels to Wisconsin, to Indiana, to Vermont, to Utah.  The human wreckage is not just astounding.  It is infuriating, because it all could have been avoided.

This is nothing like the cautionary but sensational driver’s education films that I saw as a teenager that were focused on the dangers of joyriding at top speeds, and of drinking and driving, showing a lot of made-up blood and gore.  So much gore, I remember, that not a few girls and boys went to the back of the room, unable to watch anymore.  It’s a bit more sophisticated than that.  These are real people and not actors.  The blood has been cleaned up, but the carnage remains.

The documentary film begins with Xzavier Davis-Bilbo’s mother and chief caregiver, Valetta Bradford of Milwaukee.  “X” as he calls himself was five in 2010.  A very active little boy who loved the Packers, X is now paralyzed and in a mobile wheelchair because the woman who was texting while driving ran a four-way stop sign and kept on going, literally taking  the boy from the hand of his older sister Aurie while they were going to school.  He is now eight years old, dependent for life on his family and ultimately the state.

Valetta Bradford had already told part of her story in a nearly four-minute public service announcement for the Department of Transportation in 2011.  It is not the same narrative that she gave to Herzog, and it adds more information to what happened the day of the accident.  The name of the film is Faces of Distracted Driving.

I recall when people began talking on their cell phones while driving in California. Law enforcement began to see that drivers getting carried away on the cell phones were taking their attentions away from the road and causing accidents that resulted in injuries and deaths.  They were warning, don’t talk and drive.  Even in PSAs.  Guess what?  People still talk and drive.  I see them while awaiting the bus, driving and talking as if they were masters of the universe. They don’t care; they think that they are slick.  And it is not just young people.  It’s almost as if the drivers are willing the inevitable, the last throw of the dice.  They don’t realize until the end that they are riding in a nearly two-ton murder weapon that could take their lives and the lives of those that it hits at 35-70 mph.

Continue reading ‘Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Boy and His Mother Featured in Famed Auteur Werner Herzog’s 30-Minute Anti-Texting While Driving Documentary’

That Was FAST: George and Mellody Hobson Lucas Welcome Daughter Everest Via Surrogate

•August 12, 2013 • 1 Comment

UPDATE (8/13/2013, 8:45 a.m.): This is the first time this has ever happened. The newest Lucas’ name is Everest, not Harvest. My abject apologies.)

Mellody and George Lucas on their wedding day in June 2013; now they are a dad and a mom; better late than never (Courtesy: E!)

Mellody and George Lucas on their wedding day in June 2013; now they are a dad and a mom with a little pumpkin; better late than never (Courtesy: E!)

Dang.  Just two months after the big wedding, and George and Mellody have a newborn.  Apparently, they had this all planned out.  Some, like the New York Daily News, are already calling the infant Lucas’ new Padawan.

This is the first biological child for Lucas and his 44-year-old spouse, whom he married earlier this year in June.

The famed director and producer also has three adopted children, Amanda, 32; Katie, 25; and Jett, 20.

His eldest daughter Amanda Lucas adopted with his first wife Marcia, and following his split with the film editor in 1983 he went on to adopt Katie and Jett as a single father.

The couple’s baby joy comes after Lucas and Ariel Investments president Mellody tied the knot earlier this year.

The pair exchanged vows at the billionaire’s Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California, in front of 200 guests including Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, Glenn Close, Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Quincy Jones and his daughter Rashida.

The bride wore a white dress by Peter Soronen and carried brightly coloured roses as her ‘something blue.’

Former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley walked her down aisle, Francis Ford Coppola did a reading and journalist Bill Moyers officiated the ceremony, according to the Huffington Post.

Another Hollywood heavyweight, filmmaker and producer Steven Spielberg, is said to have given a toast, with a source revealing: ‘He joked that the Force finally had a name: Mellody!’

It was a family affair too, with Lucas’ son, Jett, acting as his best man, while his daughters, Katie and Amanda, served as bridesmaids.

The reception included entertainment by Janelle Monae and Van Morrison.

Interesting that not many mentioned Bill Moyers as officiating at these particular nuptials.  Bill is an ordained minister as well as a political gadfly on PBS.  And Van Morrison?  Hoo-boy.  That’s the Irish soul brother, right there.  These people have taste; their choices tell you exactly who and where they are.

Mellody and George in a more casual moment (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

Mellody and George in a more casual moment (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

And then they had a big damn deal in Chicago, too.  But, of course, you already knew that.  Complete with a Prince concert, too.  And they paid for everything.

What do I think about all this?  Well, if you have money, you can pay for everything, including a surrogate who will suffer those aches and pains and pangs before and during the delivery, and who won’t get one’s busy schedule askew.  But you also have to think about the fact that Mellody is in her early 40s, and by that time, some women may need help having children.  It could be that Mrs. Lucas’ womb may not have been viable enough to carry a child to term, but she probably still had some good eggs.  She was ready to be a mom; Lucas obviously loved her enough to make her a mom and to become a dad, and that’s really all it took, money or no money.

I am soooo tired of seeing people’s comments saying that because Mellody had her own money from her own firm—worth $3 billion dollars—Ariel Investments, that she must not be a golddigger and she doesn’t need Lucas’ billions.  Give me an effing break.  Must every woman who isn’t particularly rich be a golddigger if she finds a man who makes more than she does?  Especially a woman of color.   What about the other way around?  For everyone’s information, Lucas is worth between $3 to $5 billion smackers after the sale of LucasFilms to Disney.

I will say, that little Everest is going to be not only a rich child, but a very intelligent one as well, with fantastic genes on both sides of the family.  Sure, George Lucas is old enough to be the child’s grandfather, and may not have a lot of years left in this saha world, but that also did not matter as well.  (Paging Tony Randall.) This is his first biological child, and a biracial one at that.  And I am sure that there will be nannies and minders for the child while her parents are away, but there may also be Mellody’s parents (if they are still here and able), and even Lucas’ older children.  Lucas has raised three adopted children already, two after he was divorced from Marcia Lucas, his first wife.  He’s well-equipped.

It’s going to be quite interesting watching little Everest in the years to come.  Who knows if the couple will try for another baby later, to give her a brother?  I wish Mellody and George all the best.

“Stop and Frisk” Ruled Unconstitutional in New York City: Attorney General Holder May Strike Down Current Sentencing Rules for Nonviolent and Lower Level Offenders

•August 12, 2013 • Comments Off on “Stop and Frisk” Ruled Unconstitutional in New York City: Attorney General Holder May Strike Down Current Sentencing Rules for Nonviolent and Lower Level Offenders

Wow.  Monday’s turning out to be quite a day, and at this writing, it is not even noon yet.

From the ABA Law Journal:

A federal judge in Manhattan has ruled that New York police violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause when they disproportionately targeted minorities with stop-and-frisk tactics.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin issued a 195-page decision (PDF) today after a two-month bench trial, the New York Times reports. “A police department may not target a racially defined group for stops in general—that is, for stops based on suspicions of general criminal wrongdoing—simply because members of that group appear frequently in the police department’s suspect data,” she wrote.

[…]

Scheindlin also noted an unwritten policy for police to target “the right people” for stops. “This is a form of racial profiling,” she said. “While a person’s race may be important if it fits the description of a particular crime suspect, it is impermissible to subject all members of a racially defined group to heightened police enforcement because some members of that group are criminals. The equal protection clause does not permit race-based suspicion.”

According to Scheindlin’s opinion, 52 percent of the 4.4 million police stops were followed by a frisk for weapons. A weapon was found after 1.5 percent of those frisks.

In 52 percent of those 4.4 million stops, the person stopped was black, in 31 percent the person was Hispanic, and in 10 percent the person was white. Weapons were seized in 1 percent of the stops of blacks, 1.1 percent of the stops of Hispanics, and 1.4 percent of the stops of whites. Contraband other than weapons was seized in 1.8 percent of the stops of blacks, 1.7 percent of the stops of Hispanics, and 2.3 percent of the stops of whites.

Continue reading ‘“Stop and Frisk” Ruled Unconstitutional in New York City: Attorney General Holder May Strike Down Current Sentencing Rules for Nonviolent and Lower Level Offenders’

New Film Bio Focuses on Romance Between Princess Diana and Dr. Hasnat Khan, Her “Mr. Wonderful,” Coming in September 2013

•August 10, 2013 • 4 Comments

From The Hollywood Reporter about this film bio of the late Princess of Wales:

The film centers on the final years of Diana’s life and her post-divorce romance with Khan, who was reluctant to trade his anonymity for the fame (and relentless media coverage) that came with being involved with the most famous woman in the world.

Diana, which was previously titled Caught in Flight, is directed by Downfall‘s Oliver Hirschbiegel and produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae.

It will have its world premiere in London on September 5, and then will be released worldwide by September 20.

I have mixed feelings about the casting of Naomi Watts as the late princess.  I’ve seen her in other roles, and she’s very good.  However,  she doesn’t look a thing like Diana, and her assumption of the woman’s mannerisms seems forced and mechanical, even from this very short trailer.   What was endearing with Diana goes down with a dull thud with Watts.  More of a revelation may be the casting of Naveen Andrews as the surgeon who fell in love with a princess, and she with him.  Diana was also a white English princess, and probably the most famous—woman in the world.

The depiction of Dodi al Fayed, however, may promise to be a comedown for romantics, although he was probably most able to give buy her the peace, protection and privacy she desperately wanted, if not the intimacy that she craved, but could not receive from Dr. Khan. The al-Fayeds were friends of the princess’ late father, Earl Spencer, so it was fairly easy for Dodi to move into her orbit.  I’m of the school, however, that is convinced that Diana did not want to marry al-Fayed—no matter what his grief-crazed father, the acquisitive owner of Harrods Department Store, believed about possible conspiracies.  The relationship was a comfortable respite, even a rebound relationship, but Diana may have already seen its limitations no matter how much jewelry she was presented.  Khan was the one for her; he was the love of her life.

That Diana’s last major relationships were with a British Pakistani Muslim and an Egyptian Muslim—both brown men—is something else to ponder.  I don’t think Diana was looking for something exotic.  I think she was looking for anyone who would love and protect her, and it appears that no one of her own class was willing to take her up and keep her.  Not James Hewitt (who is a bit of a mess these days) and who has retired, at last report, to Marbella, Spain.  Not James Gilbey, who affectionately called her Squidgy.  Not Oliver Hoare, the art dealer who was already married.

The Royal Family has not participated in the making of this film biography, and has not yet made any statements regarding it.  While Diana, Princess of Wales remains a popular figure among many commoners, she is still a controversial figure in the Establishment as well as among the older royals.

Dr. Hasnat Khan finally married in 2006 to a distant cousin and a descendant of Afghan royalty, Hadia Sher Ali, in an arranged marriage.  (His two previous engagements had also been arranged by his family, but he was gun-shy.)  Unfortunately, it did not last, ending nearly two years later.  Khan is now 54 years old and has no children.  A workaholic heart and lung surgeon, Khan has never spoken about the depth of his feelings for the princess, although plenty of print has been expended on how she felt about Khan, whom she called “Mr. Wonderful.”

Today, Khan remains a very private man who was convinced that if he married Diana, his life would turned into pure hell because of the media pressure.  He would be reduced to mere arm-candy to his wife, and his skills, practice and vocation would founder.  His mother reportedly wasn’t so hot for the idea either, although his father  was said to have genuinely liked her.   Some of Diana’s friends believe that her relationship with Dodi al Fayed was really aimed at Khan to make him jealous and to get him back.

Some of her friends, such as Simmons and Rosa Monckton, then head of Tiffany & Co, the jewellers, believe that her subsequent courtship of Dodi was a deliberate move to make Khan jealous and encourage him to change his mind about living in Pakistan.

And yet his life seems haunted by the princess’ premature death.  The Daily Mail hinted in a 2007 story during the inquest into Diana’s death that Khan felt guilty over the princess’ death in Paris, although he had long gotten over the end of the affair.  “He no longer loved her but the shock was immense because, a friend explains: ‘He felt responsible for her death because, but for him, she wouldn’t have been with Dodi in the first place.'”

I would not doubt that in the wee, wee hours of some mornings, even as he possesses what he has wanted, the Prince of Wales probably feels the same way.  In effect, she made his life possible, even the lives of their sons.  That’s the kind of guilt no one can assuage.

In September 1997, Hasnat Khan quietly attended Diana’s funeral in Westminster Abbey, invited by Paul Burrell, Diana’s trusted butler and keeper of her secrets.  it was also Burrell who would hand-deliver to the surgeon Diana’s love notes at his home or at his  hospital office.

This film may not answer all questions regarding Diana and the love of her life, giving off more light than heat on the subjects.  It certainly promises to be interesting, nonetheless.

Saturday Night Music, August 10, 2013: Jesse Johnson Revue, Featuring Sly Stone, “Crazay,”

•August 10, 2013 • 1 Comment

I have been trying to find this video forever, but I found it by accident while doing some work on a portfolio blog that I set up earlier this week. Before then, I knew that the video starred Sly Stone back in the day, but without the Family Stone.  At the time I saw it while channel surfing one night during the mid-Eighties on MTV, I thought that it was a prelude to a comeback by the near-iconic singer-composer-songwriter.  It wasn’t but ohhhh, what might have been.  It might have been the second coming of funk, soul and rock.  The back-up singers are down, and so are the dance moves.  Even the Soul Train dancers got into the groove.

Seems as if Sly surfaced long enough to get a payday and then receded back into his shadowy existence.

And then again, Jesse Johnson sounded and looked like a ripoff of Prince, Morris Day and The Time, or any of that Minneapolis clique that Purple Rain tried to show that had surrounded Prince.  On closer investigation, Johnson wasn’t a ripoff.  He was an original—the original guitarist for The Time.  Johnson split off from The Time to form his own group and to put out his own records, one of which was Shockedelica in 1986.  “Crazay” is the second cut from this album.

Altogether, Johnson has released five albums over the years, including the most recent, Verbal Penetration, Parts I and II, in 2009, after a 14-year silence.  He still performs as a sideman for other groups, and as a session guitarist, and it is said that he participated as lead guitarist during the PBS‘ special, In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues. However, being a guitarist is no longer his day job.  HIs profession is always subject to changing tastes, and even more so now than it was two decades ago.  Even MTV does not exist any more in its previous form.  It seems to me that Johnson is much more successful as a single act, when he was allowed to show his stuff, rather than gathering a disparate group of musicians and dancers, and having to be responsible as a bandleader.  Jesse Johnson is 53.  His website is here.

Antoinette Davis Stands Trial for the Murder of Shaniya Davis October 14

•August 3, 2013 • 2 Comments

No, this case has not fallen off the edge because of other incidents and verdicts.  From the Fayetteville Observer:

The trial for the mother of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis is scheduled for Oct. 14 in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Antoinette Davis, 29, is accused of giving her child to Mario Andrette McNeill on Nov. 10, 2009, to settle a drug debt. McNeill was convicted of the girl’s murder in May and sentenced to death.

Six days after Shaniya disappeared, her body was found in woods in a rural area of Lee County off N.C. 87.

Davis is accused of first-degree murder, first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, child abuse, sexual servitude with a child, child abuse sexual act, human trafficking and indecent liberties with a child.

During an administrative meeting Friday, Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West told Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons that he anticipates that the trial will last four to six weeks.

Davis, who is being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center, did not make an appearance.

Her lawyer, D.W. Bray, asked Ammons for a second lawyer to assist him in her defense. The reason, he said, is the large amount of paperwork involved and “the extraordinary nature of this case.”

Ammons approved Bray’s request.

I have no doubt that the verdict will be life without possibility of parole for Antoinette Davis.  However, the question of who really passed off the little girl to her murderer has got to be cleared up.

I said this a few weeks ago regarding Brenda Davis’ possible complicity in the murder of her niece.  Brenda Davis became involved with the brother of Mario McNeill’s last girlfriend, April Autry, after Davis’ relationship with McNeill ended:

The authorities need to get to the bottom of this one piece of the puzzle.  It won’t help McNeill—thank goodness!—but it will certainly help to clarify matters as to who actually did what.  If Antoinette was trying to protect or cover up for her sister, especially on that 911 tape above, she may be convicted on a lesser charge.   However, if Brenda is the one who actually gave Shaniya to her murderer, without any culpable prompting from Antoinette, then it is Brenda who will do some extremely serious jail time for what occurred.

Who knows why Brenda Davis would want to sell her niece to O’Neill.  She had more to gain rather than Antoinette, who was dependent on her for shelter.  Did Brenda want to get back with him?  Did she want drugs out of the transaction?  There might be one less mouth to feed.  Remember, it was Brenda who had had the relationship with McNeill, and not Antoinette.

Continue reading ‘Antoinette Davis Stands Trial for the Murder of Shaniya Davis October 14’

World’s Biggest Afro? Aevin Dugas of Louisiana? You Be The Judge

•August 1, 2013 • 1 Comment

Aevin Dugas, 37, showing off her big Afro; she spent  14 years growing her tresses to the max (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

Guinness Book of Records holder Aevin Dugas, 37, showing off her big Afro; she spent 14 years growing her tresses to the max (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

I got this from Marsha Warfield on Facebook via the Daily Mail.  This may be old news to some, but it’s new news to me.

In the photo above, she’s like the black version of Miss Sara Bellum of the Powerpuff Girls, in which she’s all hair but we can barely see her face.  But Aevin Dugas definitely is all there, and she’s all brains putting up and taking care of this big hair.

Aevin, who has won fans from Brazil to Italy, has spent the last 14 years growing her hair.

Her jaw-dropping look brings her attention wherever she goes but it does have its drawbacks as she often gets it caught in trees, car doors and people’s earrings.

It can also take two days to wash and dry and is so big she struggles to see clearly out from beneath it – which means she cannot drive with her ‘hair up’.

To get her hair ready for a night out she shampoos it and then uses up to five conditioners.

She then puts her hair into two French braids and from then it takes about two days to dry.

But the positives far outweigh the negatives and she has become a hero in her hometown of Napoleonville, Louisiana.

Her biggest joy is inspiring young girls to stop using chemical straighteners, which can cause long-lasting damage to hair.

Aevin Dugas peeking out from her enormous Afro at a nearby hair salon in Reserve, LA (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

Aevin Dugas peeking out from her enormous Afro at a nearby hair salon in Reserve, LA (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

Best news yet is that her hair has entered the record book of all time, The Guinness Book of Records, at 4 feet and 4 inches, but she believes that it is even longer.

It’s been hard for me to keep up a Afro once it gets to Angela Davis proportions, and I can only imagine that while it is her wealth, crown and joy, it is a joy that nonetheless that requires constant upkeep and lots of responsibility.

Zimmerman Juror B29: You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me, Sister (w/Update)

•July 26, 2013 • 2 Comments

UPDATE (7/26/2013, 8:28 a.m.): This is the full interview below from Good Morning, America.  

Well, the other shoe dropped,  The sister of color on the Zimmerman jury, commonly known as Juror B29, not only commented on this infamous case, she showed her face, calling herself Maddy, during an interview with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts that will be shown tomorrow morning.

And I am saying what a lot of Trayvon supporters have said when this news was flashed this afternoon:  that Zimmerman not only got away with murder, but she—the sole person convinced that he should have been convicted of second degree murdershe let him get away with it by refusing to hang the jury.

Publicizing the account of her experience—and that she essentially left it all up to Jesus—reminds me of the late Audre Lorde‘s 1978 poem, “Power,” about a 10-year-old African American child who was murdered by a New York cop only because he was black “and there are tapes to prove it.”  That cop was acquitted by a jury that included only one black woman juror.  From the Poetry Foundation website:

Today that 37 year old white man
with 13 years of police forcing
was set free
by eleven white men who said they were satisfied
justice had been done
and one Black Woman who said
“They convinced me” meaning
they had dragged her 4’10” black Woman‘s frame
over the hot coals
of four centuries of white male approval
until she let go
the first real power she ever had
and lined her own womb with cement
to make a graveyard for our children.

This is exactly how I feel at this moment about this Puerto Rican mother of eight children, and who by her own account is losing sleep and cannot eat because she’s still wondering whether she did the right thing in allowing Zimmerman to skip.  She gave up her power to stand up not only for Trayvon, but for her own sons.  Not only critical thinking was missing from the deliberations but consciousness as well over the ramifications of her deed.

Oh, it’s easy to respond to detractors who believe that Zimmerman got away with murder with the pronouncement that  Jesus will ultimately judge him. However, no one’s going to be around for that court date. It seems to me that someone’s trying to evade responsibility in this travesty of justice, like this whole experience happened around her, and she was never a part of the decision-making, but was merely worn away from her beliefs and from adhering to her moral compass. If B29 has any sons at all in her brood, what she has done won’t keep them any safer from another Zimmerman or another cop wanting to play gunslinger in the future.  And the reason why she moved from Chicago to Sanford was because she was worried about crime affecting her kids?  Gangs are pernicious, but they are nothing compared to the powers-that-are that run our justice system.

Then she says that she felt that the trial itself was a publicity stunt, that the verdict was all preordained from the first.  What the hell?  Publicity for who? Is this a slap at Reverend Sharpton?  Trymaine Lee of Huffington Post, who was one of the first to air the 911 tapes? Are you kidding me, sister? They were happy to sweep the murder under the rug.  Zimmerman was never drug-tested; his hands were never bagged; he was hopped up on questionable prescriptions for depression and anxiety, and he was seeing a shrink. Some law enforcement observers question whether Zimmerman should have possessed a gun in the first place with his criminal record. He wasn’t even arrested until weeks after the murder and it was only when people both in and outside of Florida scared the powers-that-are into having a trial, albeit a show trial in which you participated.

In essence, the cops blew the case because they supported Zimmerman’s account of what happened. The guy flipping lied about the account of the fight, if there ever was a fight.  His story was made up out of old TV cop show scripts with outdated slang that did not ring true. Whoever calls someone “homie” any more?  How could Trayvon have uttered “you got me” when he was unconscious?  The prosecution threw the case for a number of reasons, that’s why we are leaning hard on Holder to bring the Feds in strong.  We also know that you weren’t all that sequestered either.  Did you fall asleep or something over your pedicure?  It wasn’t too long ago that cops bashed Puerto Ricans around for shooting up Congress like terrorists and for gang-banging in New York.  Don’t you know your own history?  History teaches you how not to make the same mistake over and over.

As a mother, Maddy said she has had trouble adjusting to life after the verdict, and has wrestled with whether she made the right decision.

“I felt like I let a lot of people down, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Did I go the right way? Did I go the wrong way?'” she said.

“As much as we were trying to find this man guilty…they give you a booklet that basically tells you the truth, and the truth is that there was nothing that we could do about it,” she said. “I feel the verdict was already told.”

Maddy said she has sympathy for Martin’s parents and believes she, too, would continue the crusade for justice if this had happened to her son.

She said she believes she owes Trayvon Martin’s parents an apology because she feels “like I let them down.”

“It’s hard for me to sleep, it’s hard for me to eat because I feel I was forcefully included in Trayvon Martin’s death. And as I carry him on my back, I’m hurting as much [as] Trayvon’s Martin’s mother because there’s no way that any mother should feel that pain,” she said.

No, you cannot hurt as much as Sybrina Fulton because her son is dead, and your sons are alive and walking around and are probably as dark-skinned as Trayvon.  How dare you? You wouldn’t want any of this to happen to your sons, and going along to get along will not protect them.  No, I have no pity for you, kiddo.  Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin may forgive you, but thousands of us won’t.  Live with it.  Live with your decision.   Live with it as long as you live.

Paula Deen’s Cook, Dora Charles, Finally Surfaces

•July 25, 2013 • 1 Comment

My grandmother was a domestic; variously,  she was a housekeeper, a cleaning woman who also had a side business with my grandfather as a laundress.  (He had learned a skill: to clean and press suits.)  She was also a domestic who may have also cooked for her employers.  I remember her Sunday dinners and her holiday dinners, and how she would bake pies from scratch and preserve pickles and figs, and boil crabs and shrimp straight from Canal Villerie, Schwegmann’s, or the French Market.  I only wish that she had lived to see me a bit older and ready to receive what she had learned in her lifetime about cooking beyond consulting The Creole Cookbook.  She was probably one of the last, on my mother’s side of the family, to live on the land rather than in the city.

Dora Charles, now 58, working with Southern chef Paula Deen in a  still from a You Tube video; Deen once said that she would have been  devastated if she had lost Charles.  I just wonder though, who really owns those recipes that Deen is famous for? (Courtesy: You Tube)

Dora Charles, now 58, at right, working with Southern chef Paula Deen in a still from a You Tube video; Deen once said that she would have been “devastated” if she had lost Charles. I just wonder though, who really owns those recipes that Deen is famous for? (Courtesy: You Tube)

This is not to say that all black women are great cooks.  A lot of black women only know how to nuke a meal.  Or just make macaroni and cheese.  They make meals out of boxes.  To me, you are really a cook when you take a recipe further than what is written down.  You add an ingredient or two, or take one away and replace it with another, and the results can be nothing less than a revelation.  Or, to me, you’re really a cook when you cook from memory and from your senses…especially how much of one ingredient to use.  No matter.  I can do both with certain recipes, and I was largely self-taught.  I learned my limits from friends and relatives, and hey, I am still learning.   I learned how to start a meal not with just boiling water, but with cutting up onions (of every and any taste), celery, garlic, sweet peppers, and parsley.  I know when everyone is digging the meal when there are seconds, thirds, and there are no leftovers.

Continue reading ‘Paula Deen’s Cook, Dora Charles, Finally Surfaces’

Some Saturday Love: “I Can’t Get Over You,” Frankie Beverly and Maze, 1989

•July 20, 2013 • Comments Off on Some Saturday Love: “I Can’t Get Over You,” Frankie Beverly and Maze, 1989

It’s been a rough week, at least for me.  More turn-downs for jobs, and then that verdict from Florida.

One must keep the faith that things will get better, no matter what.  However, our president helped yesterday with his extemporaneous talk about race and being a black man.  More about that later.

Here’s a piece of the Eighties from Frankie Beverly and Maze, who hail from the San Francisco Bay Area.  This is from their album, Silky Soul.    All the songs from that album were written by Beverly, who was also the group’s record producer, arranger, lead singer, keyboardist and guitarist.  The Quiet Storm format station, KBLX-FM, coming out of Oakland/Berkeley, used to spin a lot of Maze back in the day.  And no wonder.  Maze still has a following in the United Kingdom, and for a while, they have usually reunited to close out the Essence Jazz Fest in New Orleans.

Quiet Storm, for those of you who are not informed,  is mellow R&B, soul, and jazz music played as part of a format.  And it was romantic, lush, slow enough to dance to; you know, the kind of music you would listen to with your man or woman in those moments as well.  This music is where performers like Luther Vandross, Peabo Bryson, Joe Sample, or Anita Baker would find a permanent home.

Unfortunately, KBLX is no more.  A company, Entrecom, partly owned by Magic Johnson, took over the station and threw out the Quiet Storm format for one that was more urban, hip-hop and “cookie cutter.”  This takeover did not sit well with a lot of folks, and it’s still bummed them out.

These guys may be Old School but they are Cool School.   Enjoy.

LIVE STREAM: The Royal Baby Watch From St. Mary’s Hospital, Lindo Wing, West London

•July 20, 2013 • Comments Off on LIVE STREAM: The Royal Baby Watch From St. Mary’s Hospital, Lindo Wing, West London

UPDATE (7/23/2013, 12:57 p.m.): Link restored after outtage.

UPDATE (7/22/2013, 2:37 p.m.):  It is a boy, 8 lbs. and 6 oz.; it was born around 4:24 p.m. GMT, 11:24 a.m. Central Time.  No name yet, but we will find out soon enough.  As you can see, the attention below has shifted to Buck House and then back to the hospital, along with some interesting aerial shots.  I wish both Kate and Will—especially Kate—some much needed rest.  They’re going to be some hands-on parents, with some assistance from nannies, but it’s going to get really interesting as it always does. Now comes the hard part. Enjoy.

UPDATE (7/22/2013, 1:35 p.m.): HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is still in labor after some 13 hours.  It is now about 7 in London right now, near the close of the hottest day of the year for those awaiting the birth outside, either at Buckingham Palace or at St. Mary’s Hospital.  People are really getting sweaty and burned  (if they don’t have sunblock).  If the baby isn’t born within four hours, says a Tweet from the Royal Review, the announcement easel goes back behind Buckingham Palace walls until early tomorrow morning.  The Queen will not be awakened for the birth if it occurs overnight, and no 62-gun salutes will commence until the following day.  Which sounds just about right.

UPDATE (7/22/2013, 7:21 a.m.):  HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is at the hospital having started her labor.  She and Prince William did enter the Lindo Wing through the rear Mary Stanford entrance around 2:30 a.m. Central Time by car entourage.  The labor may last upwards to 12 hours.  Remember, the U.K. is on Greenwich Mean Time, therefore this blog is six hours behind on Central Time in the U.S.  It is already mid-afternoon there.  The link from You Tube is back on after several hours of being off-service.)

The car bearing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the hospital.  Yes, Kate is in labor (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

The car bearing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the hospital. Yes, Kate is in labor (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

Yes, it is a zoo out there in front of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital , and I think that is one reason why the live link failed; the press, literally, is too much (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

Yes, it is a zoo out there in front of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital , and I think that is one reason why the live link failed; the press, literally, is too much (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

This feed is from a site called BlowtorchVS, and is from You Tube.  As you can see, nothing is happening.   Sometimes there will be nothing but a black screen and then a message.  If you get a picture of  St. Mary’s Hospital’s Lindo Wing, the maternity ward where the baby is expected to be born, with some activity like people walking past, the sound has been muted.  Conserving energy, because all those hundreds of videocams require their own generators.

Why all the cameras trained on this entrance to St. Mary’s?  Because some 30-odd years ago, Prince Charles and Princess Diana went through these doors, and later brought out their newborn son Prince William to the world.  This scene was repeated for the spare heir, Prince Henry, known as Harry.

I tried a feed from Reuters, but it has moved on to some other topics.   The popular feed links are from Murdoch’s rag, The Sun, which seems to have jumped the gun,  from Gossip Cop, and from The Daily Telegraph, but their code is either nonexistent or is in script, which is incompatible with WordPress.com.  If this feed fails, I will try to find another, but there is no countdown. Rather, expectations have gone up and down and bets with the bookies have gone sour.  Don’t worry.  The feeds will spring into life once something happens.

All I can think of is this woman, and how happy she would have been at this moment, had she lived.

Diana, Princess of Wales, with her sons the Princes William and Harry, sharing a laugh; she loved her boys and no doubt, would have been in ecstacies over the birth of her grandchild (Courtesy: Prince Harry on FB)

Diana, Princess of Wales, with her sons the Princes William (R) and Harry (L) of Wales, sharing a laugh; she loved her boys and no doubt, would have been in ecstasies over the birth of her first grandchild at age 52 (Courtesy: Prince Harry on FB)

I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if they induce.  But I was a late first baby, too.  It may take a plate of Dooky Chase’s best to wake up this baby.

Even The Queen herself, who is scheduled to go on summer vacation at Balmoral Castle in Scotland this weekend, wants the birth to happen soon without having to wait several weeks to see her great-grandchild who will be heir/ess and third in line to the throne.  If this is a royal female, for the first time ever this princess will not lose her place in the succession with the appearance of a brother.

Last thing I heard, William and Catherine were at her parents’ house in Bucklebury; and then there was some kind of media flurry that perhaps she would have the baby in a countryside setting in a hospital close to the Middletons.  Nah, I don’t think so.  I think that she has been gently smuggled into the Hospital, away from the full view of the cameras here.  I doubt whether they are going to show Kate suffering through the last pangs of labor being rushed through that door.  Might give all other pregger commoners some reassurance that at least royal Kate is mortal and can feel everything that they will, too.  However, it’s an invasion of privacy.  It’s all kinds of wrong, if you ask me.

I think that it is going to be another boy.  Kate let that slip accidentally in the first months of her pregnancy while on tour, so I think that the secret is already out.  Nevertheless, I think that it is all wonderful.  Even in the Tarot cards, the ace means new beginnings, and in this case, a child.

 
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