Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ghostbusters 2016 – A Post Analysis Review

A film, an icon to many who've come to admire it and recite many of the lines from it's era, was remade into a load of shit. I thought I wouldn't be so crude but I have to when it came to the new Ghostbusters 2016. At first I felt I must approach this with a sound reason and argument about the merits of the film but as I got to that line, both figuratively and literally, there had to be no sugarcoating the film. With a running time of one hour and fifty six minutes, did I laugh one time? No! Did I register a smirk? No! I was expecting this film to warm up after the first fifteen minutes to get its sea legs and find its rhythm but that never happened. It just kept plodding along.

I went to the Internet bible to the film industry, IMDB, to see what the average person had to say about the film because I wanted to be sure first that I wasn't imagining things and my criticism wasn't being jaded. Well, there were many and the first page held a good sampling with what I had observed. IMDB have star ratings ranging from one to ten. Everyone one of those reviews had given Ghostbusters 2016 a rating of one star and that's the lowest it can go. So I find it amazing that overall the film scored a 5.6 review. Clearly some of those must be people who work for the studios salting the reviews.

Paul Feig and Katie Dippold wrote this malicious mess of a script and Paul Feig directed it. At some point, Columbia Pictures must have had some warnings about this film? The trailer for the film was released on YouTube and it received the highest negative comments of any film trailer that was ever released on YouTube, And then the comments came in and those comments were attributed to misogyny because the film was led by an all female cast. That's debatable because one of the arguments was that chicks aren't funny. They can be with the right material as some of this cast has experienced.

The film has problems, a lot of problems. One major problem is that it had big shoes to fill. This movie was a toddler's size 3 trying to fill in a man's size 11. And I would like to also stipulate that I don't fault the cast. It's the job you are given. You do the best you can with the material that you are given and that material was a big heaping steaming fly swarming load of crap. So you have four women, three who are scientist and white and one who is black and uneducated and a walking stereotype. She worked for the MTA as a booth operator. You may not see it this way but there was the flavor of racism with her part. The thing that stood out for me was her language or rather her use of the language compared to her fellow actresses. It stood out like a sore thumb that she used the word “ain't”. That bothered me because once again, the black person must speak like this all the time because it would be uncool to depict a black person with any level of education and that's why they must always speak with the ignorance that comes with have no education. And it's not about “speaking white” as some tends to fall to in this argument. The dialogue with the other cast is just as bad because the film is peppered with cliches and non-sequitur that don't make any sense. It did nothing to move the script along or add to the meaning of the scene.

Originally I thought did film was to pick up from what the original had done but after seeing cameos from the original cast, it was a blown opportunity to embrace the old with the new. Instead we get Bill Murray, I guess, getting killed and Ernie Hudson in the mortuary business. The music even sucked. At least create your own music instead of remaking the original into an ear splitting fiasco.

And while some talked about those who had their negative opinions and the implications of misogyny, let's talk about the misandry. Chris Hemsworth portrays the adequately stupid receptionist. He's even more than an imbecilic moron, he's the walking dumb with a six-pack. He's playing the Annie Potts character and if the same had been done to her when she took the role, the women advocacy groups would have shut the film down for depicting her as an airhead. Annie brought a sense of purpose to the role and defined it with honor. She was no buffoon at all but Chris is an embarrassment so why does his role gets accepted without a whisper of controversy? Some would say so what, but if we are to move forward in our society, we can't keep throwing back to old vestiges and stereotypes and expect them to be overlooked for the sake of some lame comedy.

Watching this film wasn't a fun watch. With the original, you had lines you could quote, “He slimmed me!”; “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together”; “Don't cross the streams.”; “That's gotta be some cockroach.” See, that was a fun film. There were no lines worth quoting with Ghostbusters 2016 because it wasn't fun to experience and there lies the crust with some films today, you jut don't have the fun experience anymore. I thought the Kate McKinnon character would be a fun watch but it was just the opposite. The lines she kept spewing out were too much of gibberish that she and Kristen Wiig kept describing when it came to the equipment and soon that became just white noise. At the end of the film I was hoping for some silly outtakes that Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy is known for but even that let me down. None of it was funny. How do you make a classic original comedy and turn it into a liquefied diarrhea filled slog fest of savage abdominal pain turning your hole raw in the process and expect people to be entertained. You don't.  

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio?

Someone once said
A loaf of bread cost a quarter
Each generation's music
will mark its time and slowly fade
Young pop stars and young actors
Becomes old pop stars and old actors
Wrinkled, gray, fading glory, lost curtain calls
Speak with fondness of the era that becomes bygone
Foresight is never bestowed on youth
Live in the moment with foolish pride
Learn that wisdom comes with age
Never fear the coming tide
Of uncertainty, of insecurity
Of misogyny, of predictability
Of infertility, of opportunity
Of gullibility, of masculinity
Of gravity, of culpability
Of domesticity, of eventuality
Of possibility, of equanimity
Of negativity, of celebrity
Of minority, of liability
Of immunity, of humanity
Of morality, of impartiality
Of heredity, of equality
Of fidelity, of eternity
Of banality, of audacity
Of atrocity, of vulgarity
Of stability, of viability
Of sexuality, of profanity
Of stupidity, of maternity
Of spirituality, of hostility
Of mendacity, of integrity
Of disparity, of authority
Of duplicity, of community
Of brutality, of absurdity
Of fraternity, of generosity
Of immaturity, of serendipity
Of immortality, of femininity
Of pity, of clarity
Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio
A generation consumed with that passage
Looking backwards to pause time
Never being able to reset the moment

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Day the Cops Stopped Me While Riding a Bicycle – Twice

There are moments when time and distance tends to let things escape our collective thoughts. We've long since have forgotten about them sometimes because it's a recurring thing and sometimes it's just so plain innocuous. But then there are times when those recurring and innocuous things get a memory jog from some of the recent events surrounding police officers and American black males. One of the headlines that I read was “Why do cops stop black drivers more than white?” As simple a question that may be, it is beset with more complicated issues involving race and trust and profiling. In my case, I began to recall a couple of incidents where I was pulled over by the police when I was on a bicycle. The first such incident occurred at night at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.

On this particular day, I was involved in the film community by being an extra in films that were being shot in the Houston area. I had a friend who was a casting director and she knew that I was a writer who pursuing a career in screenwriting. She had told me if I wanted to learn the business that I needed to know the business of film. With her help, I jumped into the arena of doing extra work and at the same time, studying the intricacies of film making. I wasn't interested in being in front of the camera and wanted to know more about what went on behind the camera. However, I had this face that was good in expressing itself and I was tall. So, on this particular day, I decided to ride my bike to the set. Now keep in mind that film shoots last easily to twelve hours. You go over take after take after take. And once a scene is done, you set up for the next shot. It is a business of patience. As day turned into night, that day of filming finally wrapped up. I decided to head to my mailbox to check the days mail. It was the early morning hours and there was no traffic. My travels was not hindered by any oncoming vehicles. As I went through Bellaire, Texas, my travels did become hindered.

As I rode along, there was no traffic on the road. I stopped at the intersection and then proceeded forth. As I crossed through the intersection, I noticed flashing lights behind me. I was being pulled over by not one cop, but by three cops. As I stopped, all three cops got out of their patrol car and approached me. One was clearly in charge and clearly loaded for a conflict. I don't recall what I had said but the officer said that I had ran a red light. Now I do know what I said when he said that, “ On a bike?” That had me stymied. Here I am on a bike, traveling x-amount of distance and there is no traffic at all on the road and I am suppose to wait 45 seconds for the light to turn green. I wasn't on a motorized vehicle, I was on a ten speed bike.

As I faced three Bellaire cops, I kept my calm. I was toting a satchel that contained my clothes that I wore on the set. In the film, I played a cop. Ironic, isn't it. They asked if they could search my satchel. Let's see, three cops and one of me on a bike. Sure. So they searched and as they did, they found all of these police baseball caps that I had brought to the set. There was a New York City police cap, a San Francisco police cap, a SWAT police cap and a plain police cap that was used on the set. They also found a slingshot that I had forgotten about. The aggressive cop freaked out and said that was a weapon. Now here, you're tempted to be a smart ass because you want to say that you never heard of anyone holding up a 7-11 store with a slingshot. But I don't see this guy having a sense of humor.

Now there are talking points of late about deescalating a situation. While this one officer was getting riled up, a second officer was figuring things out as the number of police caps that I had became a question. He pulled the other officer over and they started talking. The aggressive officer took a pause and returned my stuff and I was allowed to leave without a ticket. As I left, I figured that if I didn't allegedly ran that light, they would have found another cause to stop me.

The second episode occurred when I was in downtown Houston. At this time, it was during the daytime. I was heading through downtown and as I recall, I had stopped on the sidewalk after getting something from a Randall's grocery store. As I was waiting on the sidewalk, I noticed a HPD patrol car circling the block. Now if you're black in America, you already have that sense that you are about to be confronted by the cops for some unknown reason. Sure as shit, as the expression goes, the cops pull up to the corner where I was about travel. In this patrol car were two cops dressed in black T-shirts with the words 'Houston Police' written across it. One officer was black, the other Asian. The black one was the aggressor. When he pulled up, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Where did I get the bike from?” It wasn't stolen and I don;t think any calls came through about a stolen bike. This bike was unique. I used to produce a top morning radio program in Houston. WE did a lot of charitable bike runs for different causes. A local bike shop gave me one of their surplus bikes as a cross promotion that was normal. This particular bike had the word “police' stenciled on it. I rode that bike for months without a peep from anybody in law enforcement as I rode it in front of many officers in the past. This time it was different.

When the cop asked me where I got my bike, I knew he was looking for a justification for stopping me. The tricky things is that when you know some of the law, you're doomed for failure when you are put in the position of defending your rights. I knew that even with the word 'police' on the bike, it was not illegal because the word 'Houston' wasn't on there. The officer made the claim that the word 'police' was illegal to have on the bike. So as they ran my information, you felt even more violated because they are digging into your life. I had nothing against me. He had ordered me to scrap the word 'police' off of my bike. He was asking me to deface my own bike for something that was not illegal. And while he and the other officer stood over me, I took a small blade and proceeded to remove the word off my bike in four places. It didn't feel right whatsoever. It was becoming a bike that had no meaning to me. I don't know why but it just did. Somewhere along the line, I feel like my constitutional rights had been violated. Once I had done that, they left. It still bothers me to this day.

If there ever was a reason to understand why the community is at odds with the police force, it is situations like this, unnecessary harassment that lingers and festers lie a scab on an old wound. You want to voice your thoughts while you are under their thumb but they use the law in such a way that you, unless you have a law degree, are unarmed and defenseless to their authoritarian tactics. And as I was minding my own business, not violating any laws, I get harassed and more than likely, profiled in this situation. I know that all cops aren't like these that I experienced but it is these types of cops that sullies the image of the cops that are out there doing the honorable thing. It is a hard job but it shouldn't be made harder by the cops who already have their minds made up.   

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

CBS Network
51 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019-6188

RE: Ziva David/NCIS

Dear CBS and Les Moonves,

Bring back Ziva David. That is about as plain and simple as I can be but I shall expound. You have one of the better shows on network television, NCIS. It's been on for 13 seasons now and has been the number one show for just as long. For a show to run that long you couldn't ask for anything better. In this season 13 finale, it was watched by close to 18 million people as we tuned in to see the farewell to a most beloved character, Tony DiNozzo. We also were witness to the shocking revelation that another beloved character had been killed off, Ziva David. This begs the question of, why? What did Ziva David ever do to deserve such disdain to be killed off screen? This brings up so many questions with no answers to satisfy a legion of fans for Ziva David and a legion of fans for the relationship of Tony and Ziva.

NCIS has killed off many characters in the past and if it wasn't for the fact that they have dribbled it out over the course of the show, you would have to make the claim that the volume of beloved characters that NCIS have killed off was reminiscent to The Game of Thrones' Red Wedding minus the grog and crossbows. Let's go over the list shall we. There was the original member, Caitlin Todd, shot through the head; Jenny Shepherd, killed in a hail of gunfire; Jackie Vance, death by drive-by hail of gunfire; Tom Morrow, bullet to the back of the head; Diane Gibbs-Fornell, bullet to the head, Ned Dorneget, killed in a terrorist explosion; Eli David, death by drive-by hail of gunfire; and there have been other ancillary characters bumped off over time that you would at least acknowledge their contribution to a story line. But killing off Ziva David was just so unnecessary.

Tony was giving his swan song to the series and it was no surprise that him and Ziva had a “very fond farewell” that produced a child, at last not to me. In fact, it was perhaps the only true evolution of things with their character as their relationship had its ups and downs and emotional ending. So when the story played out that Ziva had perished in the farmhouse and Tali was introduced as Tony and Ziva's daughter, the viewers were displeased and pleased by the outcome.

We watched as Tony got to know his daughter and as we watched, we started to dissect every nuance and word of what was being done and what was being said. Any sentence structure was examined for content and meaning. When Tony said, “Ziva loves Paris.”, he said it in the presence tense and by that interpretation, Ziva was not dead. After all, nobody ever said they found a body in any of the finale, only that she was just dead as extolled by Gibbs. You are asking viewers who watch a procedural show to negate the facts as there was no discussion of a body and if there is a body, no dental records and if there was a body then why wasn't it examined because there should be one in a fire that would burn unevenly with a temperature around 1100 degrees Fahrenheit and not the 1800 degrees a body needs to be cremated for a period of time.

And then there is the fact that Tali was in a burning building and yet she comes out unscathed. What about smoke inhalation? If the farmhouse was truly engulfed by fire for even fifteen minutes of time and was in a remote area away from any fire apparatus, then the entire building would have burned down. So here is where the viewers, who are smart by the way, come to analyze this particular chain of events, the mortar hits the building and knocks Ziva out of bed. She is a mother. Her instincts is to save her child. She is also a former Mossad agent. Once a Mossad agent is always a Mossad agent. She rescues her child but realizes that she has old enemies as does her father. She needs to protect Tali and the only way to do so is to send her back to the States with her father.

And while Tony is dealing with being a new father, the other clues are spilling forth by way of Tali's go bag. This little bag has so many clues in it that if you watched this show over the years and have learned anything, it's the clues that are right in front of you that are nicely hidden. Who packed Tali's go bag? Tony said, “You mom sure knows how to pack a go bag.” But she is suppose to be dead, right? Tali wants her favorite stuffed toy and it's right there. How would anyone know this? And then Tony finds Ziva's scarf. Why would anyone pack that? Nobody wouldn't. Only a mother would pack these things, things that were perhaps a jumbled mess after a fire but grabbed up before then while escaping a fire. And then there was the framed photo of Tony and Ziva in Paris. Why was that in her bag? These are mementos that people would hold on to that have special meaning to them. Again, who would pack such articles, only a mother. Was the picture frame a clue as to where Ziva is?

Tony has this talent of finding Ziva after she leaves clues behind for him to find. The picture frame say that she will be in Paris. So, CBS, in order to qualm the outrage of so many Tony and Ziva shippers, when the fall season comes back, we have to have an answer to this story line. It needs to be wrapped up in a way that will satisfy the fandom. I'm sure you've heard the outrage over Ziva and it's a rightful outrage. With all that is going on in this real world, we wanted and deserved an ending that was worthy of the Tony and Ziva journey in this television world. Right now, there is no balance of the scales with this pairing. It means more to a lot of fans if balance was restored because people have been literally crying over her death and the sadness it evoked. If you watch any YouTube video of these two, it's downright depressing after the fact. 

 Why would you want to endanger the mental health of so many people? A lot of them are saying that they are done with NCIS after what happened to Ziva and I don't blame them. But you can correct this, just give us five minutes where Tony finds his true love. It can be with still pictures or a camera phone video or just a letter from Tony to McGee saying that he found her. If you can do that, you will make so many people happy and we can comfortably close that chapter with Tony and Ziva. They deserve that happiness as do we.


Bobbie L Washington

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Ziva David Theory: She's Alive

It has rolled around in my head a thousand times about filing a lawsuit against the television series, NCIS, because of the manner in which they left dangling the faith of Ziva David. Perhaps it may be a fantasy in doing so and the merit of the lawsuit is questionable, maybe just doing so would ease the mind of so many who cared about Ziva and Tony DiNozzo. On more than one occasion, I have watched the Season 13 finale in hopes of finding something to hang on to that would say that Ziva is alive and perhaps I did.

There is something in movies and TV that s called an Easter egg. What Easter eggs are is a hidden message or clue that a viewer must figure out in the course of watching the program. And in NCIS, there are a few. The obvious one is where Tony said that “Ziva loves Paris.” He said “loves” and not “loved”, the past tense word. A lot of viewers had picked up on that sentence structure and held on to the possibility that Ziva's death was premature and that our tough as nail Mossad agent had once again cheated death. After all, Tony deserves some happiness in his life for once with all that he has witnessed and experienced. He witnessed Cate's death, he was in love with a bad guy's daughter while undercover, he was close to getting married, so why not give him this bit of sunshine?

So, here are the other Easter eggs that you would have to ask yourself, “This has to be true.” In every case with the Easter Egg it involves Tony and Ziva's daughter, Tali. The first Easter egg is this, Who packed Tali's bags? If there was a fire at the farmhouse and Tali is the lone survivor, how did such personal items found their way in her bag? Her favorite stuffed animal happens to be pulled from a fire. Was this bad already packed with items to begin with? And why was a scarf scented with Ziva's smells also in this bag? When he picked it up and smelled it, it brought back memories of there last day together. So, why, if anything, should that scarf be a part of a kid's overnight bag?

The second Easter egg is the picture frame of Tony and Ziva. Why was that picture of the two of them in Paris stuffed in her bag as well. It seems like that picture would be more suited to being in Ziva's bedroom or someone in the living room. And if the farmhouse was heavily damaged as they claimed, it would be damaged by heat and water judging by the intensity of the fire. In all of the house fires I have experienced, the heavy presence of smoke damage permeates through everything so there is no way that the scarf, the stuffed dog and the picture frame would have sustained some sort of residue from the fire.

So, who really packed Tali's bags? There were too many things of a personal nature that only Ziva would have the foresight to pack. Was Oli in on the conspiracy? Tony would head back to Israel to find answers but Tony has instincts when it comes to Ziva. He found her when nobody else could. And if that mortar round did hit that farmhouse, you can't assume that Ziva is just going to lay there without rolling out of bed and having an escape plan already in her head. With Tali there, she is a fierce mother doing everything in her power to save and protect her child.

Tony asked Gibbs, “Are we sure.” in regards to Ziva's death and Gibbs responds, “Yeah, she's dead.” But there is no body to corroborate that statement. Unless this is an intense chemical fire, there should be bones left behind and nobody mentioned any bones. A typical house fire burns at 1100 degrees Fahrenheit while a body turns to ashes at 1800 degrees at a constant 90 minutes. Unless something is fueling a house fire, there would be fluctuating heat spots and pulling out a child would be extremely dangerous. So this would be Easter egg number three. And then you snap, “Oh shit, she's alive!”

Maybe Ziva had to send Tali to Tony in order to go underground because of some other nefarious plot Trent Kort had mastermind? She knows her Tony and she knows he will protect her with his life. And only a mother would pack the things that she did in Tali's bag. This child was rushed out of Israel real fast. Now think about it, what would you grab if you weren't her mother, not any of the items Tony found in her bag. Ziva is alive, waiting for Tony and Tali in Paris. We want this, we deserve this and Tony and Ziva deserves a happy ending.  Why was it so hard to give them that?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Waking Up To The Realization that We are At War

Hatred For America and It's Values

On September 11, 2001, the United States entered into a war. It was a war that started like other previous wars in the past, an invaders crosses the shores to the U.S. territory and inflict untold damages to the U.S. in the manner of loss of life and property is one method in suing for war. In the case of 9/11 when it was discovered who the perpetrators were and who led the attack, the resources of the U.S. Government were applied to compel these outside forces to submit or suffer the consequences to the might of U.S. Forces. They did not comply and as a result, new enemies of the state were born derived from some by the arrogance and hubris of some U.S. Cabinet members and from the creation of new forms of terrorism born out of new waves of religious fanaticism. Terror cells are the 21st century enemies and the lone wolf proprietor. And that brings us to the early morning hours of June 11, 2016 at the Pulse Club in Orlando, Florida.

One lone man, armed with an AR-15 assault weapon and a 9mm Glock pistol, entered the establishment and took the lives of 49 people and injured 53 others to date. The Pulse Club was a LGBT establishment and the reason as to why the lone gunman chose that location is still up for speculation as he was killed in a shootout with the police. We will never know his reasons why. But others will offer up more than their speculations as to why he chose that spot.

We've heard for the president, Barack Obama, and we've heard from the would be contenders to the office, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, on their assessment on this most recent U.S. tragedy and I for one would like for them to shut the hell up. Thank goodness for the TV mute button. Obama described this action as an act of terrorism and an act of hate. Well, it was and has been all about hate and it has nothing to do with the victims being LGBT when you examine it with a more discerning eye, it had more to do with them being U.S. citizens living a normal live that was diametrically opposite to someone's radical belief system who fell under the influences of an organized sect hell bent on wiping out Western centrist behavior.

There is the typical knee jerk response to this tragedy and that is understandable and comes with the territory. It's the overwhelming shock to a horrendous crime. An enclave to the LGBT lifestyle had come under attack. But let's take a moment and step back and look at this with more analytical eyes. When the events of 9/11 occurred, it was a cross section of Americans who were lost on planes and buildings, 2997, not including the hijackers. The number of nationalities was like the United Nations of victims. And they were mostly U.S. citizens. The attacks in Paris of the Bataclan theater left 130 dead. In Paris still, the attack on the Charlie Hebdo publication and the Jewish supermarket left 17 dead. In a Brussels, Belgium airport, 32 died in an explosion orchestrated by terrorist. In this country at the Boston Marathon, 3 people were killed and 264 were severely injured. And in all of these cases, the underlining root to this evil was hatred towards western ideology.

Osama bin Laden was the leader of Al-Qaeda and with the addition of the Taliban, became the leading terrorist organization in the Middle East. And then from ill conceived Iraqi invasion and the dethroning of Saddam Hussein, the Islamist State was born, an organization the Obama once described as the JV of terrorist organization, in other words, it shouldn't be taken as a serious threat but in a few short months it became a monster overpowering Al-Qaeda in its ruthlessness and its outreach. It had converts from all parts of the globe from the UK to the United States. Young people were leaving home to join up. And for those who couldn't come, there was the Internet, an effective tool used to convince those impressionable minds to turn away from those Western ways and to strike a blow against those ideals.

And yet we still are arguing over gun control. In the Orlando shooting, the terrorist purchased his weapons legally. He wasn't on anyone's watch list that prevented him from purchasing the weapons. There are some who are still clamoring for better gun control laws but here is something to think about. The Boston Marathon bombers used two pressure cookers to unleash their devastation. Timothy McVeigh used ammonia nitrate to create a bomb in the Oklahoma City bombing. Should there be a 10 day hold on people buying pressure cookers? It is illogical to think in a linear fashion with terrorist. If there is a way to create destruction, a madman home grown terrorist will find a way to do it.

Since Obama has taken office, he has given 16 speeches on events surrounding a suspect committing mass murder. We've had Sandy Hook and 28 victims, 20 of those were children. We've had the South Carolina church shooting that left 9 dead and we've had the San Bernardino office shooting that left 14 dead and 22 injured. The last two were hate inspired killings just like Orlando but should one tragedy rise to a more aggravated level than the other when in fact they are all the same and carry the same amount of weight and significant as the others?

These men and women who kill in the name of some ideal zealotry have made a justification for their actions. But this country must stop being naive when it comes to these atrocities. This nation was built on atrocities. We had slaves for centuries and treated them inhumanely and worse than some livestock. We've committed atrocities on the Native American indigenous First People and in some cases, wiped out entire villages by the U.S. Calvary because one man had a problem with Indians other than the fact that they were just Indians. We used to hang black men for either looking at or whistling at white women. During the Vietnam War we slaughtered villages because the men were ordered to. We dropped bombs on countries to end wars. When it comes to being bad, we give just as good as we take.

So, here we are again, looking ahead to funerals. The LGBT community is seeing this as an attack on their lifestyle but in truth, it was an attack on every bodies' lifestyle. It wasn't about being gay or straight or black or white or Latino or Asian or Jewish or Hindu, it was about being strictly an American and all that comes with that because the enemy saw this as an attack on America.

We are at war now. We've been at war but we don't want to admit it to ourselves. We have a different kind of enemy, one that works in the shadows, one that works along side of you, one that smiles in your face everyday but secretly detest everything that you stand for. We have been at this war for a long time but has failed to wake up to who this enemy is. Do we succumb to the inevitable that we must live in the same manner as Israel, forever vigilant to an unseen enemy who sits down to lunch with you? Do we accept this latest version of reality that from this day forward, we have become hostages to our own making or do we stand to see some of our liberties erode under some vague national security regulation to ensure our safety or do we just continue on and marshal through until the next tragedy occurs and once again we'll here from the same voices repeating the same refrains.

The Islamist State is a cancer. It infects the minds from any location. Maybe that presidential candidate has a point, drop a bomb on them to rid us from this scourge. Desperate measures for a desperate nation.    

Sunday, June 5, 2016

When The World Was in Black & White
Muhammad Ali, The Poet Laureate of The Sweet Science

There was a time, several generations ago, that this blue sky world was a black and white world with no gray in between. There was a right way and a wrong way. There was up and there was down. You towed what ever line you had to tow and you made no waves. But there was a change in the air. Things were starting to evolve and with that evolution came along a self described poet who would become a part of a revolution. He was introduced to the world as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. This poet came along during a time where America had marginalized the men of color as second class citizens who hadn't earned the right to be at the table or to speak the unspoken truth that had been muted for so long in our history.

Here was Cassius Clay, Jr. a brash, self promoting, in your face, bigger than life, large and in charge person who was always speaking and people were listening,. And for those Americans , those Americans who were in charge and controlled the the system, Cassius Clay, Jr. would come to represent a change that they were reluctant and arrogant to accept. When Cassius Clay stepped into the ring and fought Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title in February of 1964, he stepped out of the ring as Muhammad Ali, a man reborn of faith, conviction and purpose.

What happened in the ring in February of 1964 was a prophecy. It wasn't the fact that a title had been won, it was the fact that an icon had been created and a legend was in the making. What Muhammad Ali was as a man would be something of a revolution in the political world and with society as a whole. The press couldn't contain him. He refused their attempts to place him in their box of black athletes where they should accept the graciousness of the press and be humble with your talents because we can easily take that away from you. With the possible exception of Jack Johnson, many black fighters were humble and passive in their championship. They accepted their role and played the game without protest. Ali would not be a party to any of that. But there had to be a way to bring him back in line, to play the game without protest. And that way would be to draft him into the military. But that way turned out to be the detriment to Ali's career.

Ali would come up for the draft and in March of 1966, Ali made this statement, "My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape or kill my mother and father.... How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail."

And so it had begun. They went after Ali for not playing the game. He was stripped of his titles, his license to box was revoked, his only means to making a living was taken away from him. The American system had did something that no other agent could do, it turned Ali into a soldier of peace. Although he fought opponents inside a 23' X 23' ring, he would stand for a just cause of ending a war that would divide a nation and leave behind the scars and toll on life and treasure that took a few generations to heal.

Ali, by all standards, was an anomaly to the sports world. Here was a man who stood his ground on the Vietnam War. His peers in the sports community held a conference with Ali to convince him to honor his duty and serve in the military. But with his calm and resilient command of his presence, he had won over his peers that was unprecedented. This wasn't just about just a war any longer, it was a convergence of idealism, of ways of igniting thoughts, of not just rolling over and accepting your faith. This was who Ali was becoming, not just a boxer, but a symbol of hope, of strength, of character, of integrity.  Ali was the unofficial freedom fighter.    Every athlete today, regardless of color, owes Muhammad Ali a debt of gratitude for forging new terrain to their profession. They should also learn to accept a little humility as they stand on the shoulders of Ali when they accept those huge signing bonus and product endorsement contracts.

In time, The Supreme Court would rule in Ali's favor and overturn his conviction for evading the draft. It came at a cost to him as he was forced into a public exile during the duration of his appeal. Many would argue that he was in his prime and lost out to the boxing world as it moved on without him. But this was Ali, he was never the underdog. He picked himself up and went back to work in spectacular form. He became a champion once again in more ways than one.

And as the black and white world slowly dissolved to color, the twilight of Ali's life was met with challenges. The feet were not as swift any more, the hands were not as steady any longer. Ali's once poetic style had become silent. His body, his once shining temple of physical endurance, had begun to betray him. We saw him now, we remember him then, in this black and white images, of a man standing on top of the world that he had changed...for the better.