Celebrating This, A Story From Life Won’t Wait

I don’t usually do “celebrity” obituaries. Something caught —my eye in the papers the other day: The actor David Carradine passed away.

I grew up not liking him, or his acting. I was a fan of the Green Hornet TV show and loved—or rather, wanted–to be Bruce Lee. So, being a Bruce Lee fan, I was always a little pissed to find out that Carradine stole the concept for the show Kung Fu from Bruce Lee: Lee had proposed it but the studios were unsure if a show starring a Chinese actor would sell. So Lee went to China and did kick-ass movies, and Carradine later proposed Kung Fu as his show, and it sold.

If Lee had been successful in his Kung Fu proposal, it’s possible he might never have made Enter the Dragon—and that Lee might never have become a legend.

Years later, in 1987, CBS aired a sequel to the show, in the made-for-TV movie Kung Fu: The Next Generation. Lee’s son Brandon was cast as Carradine’s trainee. Too funny.

Fast forward to 2003 and Carradine is the star of Quentin Tarantino’s two-part tribute to all things martial arts, Kill Bill. When these flicks came out, I had no desire to see them. I thought Tarantino had already strayed from the initial (and successful) formula of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction with Jackie Brown (Four Rooms was okay though.)

Anyway, at the end of 2003, I took my two nephews to a comic book convention in Pasadena, where the Hell Boy and Kill Bill movies were being promoted. The creator of The Crow comic book was supposed to be there.

So, I wandered over to talk to the Crow guy (the movie starred Brandon Lee) but the guy standing at his table said he had walked off to lunch. I turned around to go, and I bumped into a table. Sitting at that table was David Carradine. He was looking at me out of the corners of his eyes, so I smiled and said “Hi.” He turned away from me and started a conversation with some guy sitting behind him. I thought maybe I should comment on Kill Bill, so I said, “Congratulations on the success.” Again, he looked at me out of the corners of his eyes, then looked back at his new friend, and rolled his eyes. I stood there for a minute, looked at one of my nephews, and said as quietly as I could, “Fuck you, you stupid old prick. If it wasn’t for people like us, you’d still be hawking your whack-ass tai chi DVDs on late night TV.”

#michaelessington #lifewontwait

 

Salvation

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Kevin, A Story From Life Won’t Wait

When you go to jail or start at a new school, there is always somebody who comes to you to “show you the ropes.” When I started high school in 1981 I had already been into punk for about a year or 18 months. There was a girl, I think her name was Susie, who was a senior, and she looked like a young version of Aunt Bea from Mayberry. Susie came up to me on my first day at Birmingham High School, grabbed me by the arm and took me on a tour of the entire campus, all the while giving me a running commentary of where the various punks hung out, where the “punk” lockers were, where the punks parked, which punks didn’t want to talk to people and which teachers and counselors were cool with the punks—in other words: Which adults would let you get away with the most shit.

Midway through our tour Susie stopped.

“I will introduce you to two black guys,” she said. “One is cool. The other one, Kevin, is a whacko.”

“Okay,” I said.

She introduced me to the first guy, Cliff. He was my age and looked like Pat Smear. Then she introduced me to Kevin, who asked if I wanted to read the detective magazines he had, which contained heavy-duty torture and murder photos in them.

“That’s cool,” I told him. “Maybe another time.”

He opened the magazines and showed us the photos, anyway. He said something about how “real punks love violence.”

Over the next year I avoided Kevin, occasionally he’d stop me in the hall to ask if I picked up the new Dead Kennedys single or album. I brushed him off with “No, I don’t like the DK’s,” and walked away. A month from the end of the year, while I was walking towards the lunch area, Kevin yelled for me. I looked over and he was grinning ear to ear and waving a small brown lunch bag over his head. I waved him off, as I was in line ordering my nutritional goodies (since this was before my diabetes, I ordered a half-dozen donuts and an orange juice). For the rest of the day, whenever I passed Kevin, he waved that damn bag in the air at me and grinned that stupid grin, but toward the tail-end of that lunch period, Susie had come up to me.

“You haven’t gone over to Kevin, have you?” She asked.

“No,” I said. “He’s been acting like a freak.”

“Good,” she said and laid out this story:

Kevin and some friends had gone skateboarding the day before and found an old ramp to skate on. They’d been skating for a few hours when they heard a noise coming from under the ramp. Kevin looked and saw that a cat had given birth and was laying there with her litter of kittens. A few of the guys agreed to they should let them be and so they all went and skated somewhere else. Kevin came back that later that night and killed all the cats, skinned them and brought the bones to school in the paper bag.

Just as she finished the story Kevin called out to Susie, again waving the bag over his head. The freak had finally lived out one of his twisted detective magazine stories and thought all the punks in the school would throw him some kind of ticker tape parade.

Susie waved him off and told him she was going to the counselor’s office, she thought he’d finally flipped his lid (you think?!).

I saw him come to school the next day, but I never saw him again. I heard that they summoned him to the office and he was either expelled or moved to a continuation school of some sort.

He is one of the few people that I never heard anything about after we left school. I’ve had ideas about where he ended up, but I never heard anything for sure.

#michaelessington #lifewontwait

 

Salvation

Rags, Bottles, Sacks, A Story From Last One To Die

In 1972 my world changed in a few ways. First, my dad moved out of our house. I was six, my brother two and my mom, a young twenty-four. I didn’t know what was going on. There were arguments behind closed doors. I would knock and give them the rundown on what they were missing on an episode of Super-Friends.

One night my dad pulled me into their room and told me he was moving. “From now on you will be the man of the house.” I was ecstatic about this promotion. I never felt my mom liked it, but I did.

Anyway, this transition affected me. I didn’t think it did at first, but after my dad moved, they put me into what my brother calls the “tard” class. My elementary school had a class for kids who were slow or just plain had behavior problems. I guess after my parents split my mind was somewhere else.

I wasn’t aware that this class was a bad thing. It was a small class of kids and I was smarter than most, so I became “king of the tards.”

It was about this time that my uncle Rick first introduced my brother and me to the Planet of The Apes. I loved the movies and a few years later we would be addicted to the Saturday Morning Cartoon and the Thursday Night show. My love of this show would lastly influence my “tard” class.

One day I came to class with a book I wanted the teacher to read to the class, in other classes this would be an easy task, but the teaching style used with us, “the den of tards” was to ignore any interruptions or noises. This didn’t fly with me. I, sometimes, had something to add to a story or a question.

To understand what I did next, let me explain a scene from one of my favorite Planet of The Apes movies. In Battle for The Planet of the Apes, there was a war between the different breeds of monkeys and apes. One side ran out of ammunition, so they all played dead until the enemy came. Then the ape general screams “now, fight like apes.” They leap up, overpower the enemy and won the war.

I played this scene out many times on the playground. My classmates were my ape army. So, when the teacher was reading my book she wasn’t showing the pictures. All teachers should stop and show the pictures. I suggested she pause and show the related picture, she ignored me. So I put my hand up and said excuse me a few times. She continued to ignore me. My ape army was getting restless. So, I tried one last time, the arm up and the excuse me. Nothing. The whole class was staring at me. I had no other choice, I stood up and yelled: “now, fight like apes!”

Every desk was overturned, chairs thrown. I sat back down and just took it all in. The teacher tried to continue, but finally yelled: “Make them stop!” My only reply was, “You could’ve shown us the pictures.”

This could have been the Genesis of the punk in me, or merely the inner asshole fighting to get out. Who knows?

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

Salvation

Jim Morrison, A Story From Last One To Die

I was driving through Northridge with my wife and son some time back and as I’m heading down Nordoff, I see two young guys on skateboards; they were about ten years old. Nothing out of the ordinary, but what got me was the second kid was wearing a Misfits shirt with their Crimson Ghost emblem on it. This got me thinking. Back when I got their Slash Records release of Walk Among Us in the early part of the 80s, I wouldn’t have been able to walk down the street with a Misfits shirt without people yelling stuff out the car at me, or throwing stuff at me. On one hand, I’m happy that this music has caught on. On the other, I relate to the people from the 60s, “Leave our icons alone.” When I hear about people enjoying a comment that Henry Rollins has said on his IFC show, it makes me want to say, “back-off.” Henry is my generation’s Jim Morrison, in a way.

In the mid-1960s my father met Jim Morrison at a party up in Topanga Canyon. My dad walks in, the host of the party comes up to him and says “Hey, Tom there’s someone I want you to meet.” My dad goes into the next room and lying on the floor, of this unfurnished room, with his head propped on the base of the wall is the Lizard King himself. Morrison reached out his hand and says “Hey Man, nice to meet you.” And that was it. I asked my father to repeat this story a few times over the years and it made me think; will my son ask me about Henry? Or better yet, will the kids on the skateboards want to know what it was like the first time my brother and I met Glenn Danzig or was it a cool shirt to buy?

Another trend that throws me is people wearing the Von Dutch logo on their clothing. Another great story my father told me was of him visiting Von up at his place in Topanga Canyon. Steve McQueen coming up and asking Von to paint his motorcycle. McQueen went into great detail about how he wanted it painted. All the while Von is nodding his head in agreement. My dad leaves, comes back a few days later, as McQueen is pulling up in a truck to pick up his motorcycle. They go into his garage and there is McQueen’s bike, painted, but nothing like McQueen requested. They all look back and forth at each other and McQueen shrugs his shoulders and pays Von. A few months later, my father goes back up into the canyon for a visit. There is a little get together going on, everybody’s drinking and in the middle of the party, all Von hears a helicopter flying by. He runs to the bedroom and comes running out with a shotgun. Most of the people scatter, but my father follows Von outside. Von starts shooting into the sky trying to down the helicopter. I guess this happened once too often because the local law asked him to leave the area. Von relocated to Compton. The point of this? Again, do you know what you’re wearing, or is it only a great design?

#michaelessington #lastonetoday

 

Salvation

Wild Bill, A Story From Last One To Die

In my eleventh grade year of high school, I’d already been into the “punk scene” for about, three years, a guy from one of my classes, Bill, got into punk and wanted to hang out with the “punk” guys from school. So, one Saturday afternoon I got dropped off at Bill’s house and he played some music and pulled out some Flipside magazines—talking about which bands he liked, on and on like that. I got a bit bored and was going to head out. Then Bill says “You wanna do some crazy punk stuff?” I admit I was curious, so I said: “what do you have in mind?” Bill said, “Follow me.” I followed him over two fences, up a tree or two and up the side of a building and onto a rooftop. Once there, I was like — now what? Bill then ran to the side of the building and came back with an arm full of oranges. Orange trees were growing alongside this building. So, I sat down on the edge of the building and waited for the show. Bill crawled on his belly, military-style, until he got to the edge of the building, once there he beamed oranges at any car that drove by. Now Bill came from an upscale neighborhood in Encino, so the cars he was nailing were BMW’s and Mercedes. Fifteen minutes of this — sirens came blaring. Which made Bill excited (he was ADD or ADHD, which is ADD in HD) and he tells me not to worry he has this planned out. He yelled to follow him and we went down a drainpipe, through a school gymnasium, over some other fence, and into his backyard.

Once we got into his house I asked him what was that all about? He said he was hoping to “hang out with somebody who down for some real punk rock stuff.” I shook my head and asked: “how was that punk rock?” And Bill says “Punk rock is about going ape-shit!” I told him “Bill, I’m not an authority, but tossing oranges at your neighbor’s cars isn’t punk rock.”

Bill was pretty bummed. We didn’t hang out again. About ten years later, my brother and I bumped into him; he was working at a Blockbuster Video on Ventura Blvd. in Encino. He was a funny enough guy.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

Salvation

Canada, A Story From Last One To Die

In the middle of 2005, I caught an excellent flick called Secondhand Lions, starring Robert Duvall and Michael Caine. In a word, it’s a story of a young boy who is dumped on the doorstep of his two eccentric uncles while his mom takes off to find herself a man.

On the way to the uncles’ house, the mom tells the boy rumors of the uncles’ hidden wealth and stories of them being bank robbers. She dropped her son off and he and the uncles are not wild about each other at first, but it all comes around. The script is predictable.

Later that week my dad stops by to see my son (who is about a year old at this point), I tell him about the movie, thought it would be something he would dig, as he always had a fondness for movies where the lead character was crotchety and unlikable. Cobb (starring Tommy Lee Jones) was his favorite film.

So I summarized the flick, two crazy hunter uncles, a young boy dropped in the middle of nowhere. My dad then looks at me and says, “That’s like my life.”

Now I’ve known this man most of his fifty-eight years and I thought I had heard damn near every story there was to hear, but this — was brand spanking new news.

So I had to ask, “What do you mean your life?”

So, he digs in and tells me that his father, my grandfather, didn’t care for him too much and every summer he sent him to stay in Canada with my grandmother’s two brothers, his uncles.

My dad’s uncles were huge Swedish men raised in Canada. They made their living as hunters, trappers and hunting guides.

Let me give you some background on my grandmother’s family; her father was in the Swedish army. During the morning inspection, a Swedish sergeant made a remark to my great-grandfather, he didn’t care for, so he shot the sergeant. The man lived, but they threw great-grandfather out of Sweden.

With his engineering background, he secured a job building the first railroad across Canada. As his children got older they all went in different directions. One son, Eric, moved to the Pacific Northwest and started Nordstrom’s department stores, my grandmother moved to California and worked as a cook for silent film star Clara Bow. And the other two sons became the hunters of Canada.

My grandparents met at a dance on the Santa Monica Pier in the 1930s. My grandfather, who was there with his friends, was taken by my grandmother and wanted to drive her home. She told him “no” several times, but he was persistent. Finally, she gave in, with one condition, “Tell your friends to find another way home, I’m not riding in a car with all of you. You I can beat up.” They married a short while later.

My dad’s uncles definitely lived by a different code, unlike men nowadays. My father was, basically, left to do as he pleased. The uncles would come home late from hunting, fling my dad the keys to the car and say drop us off at the pub, give him a watch and say be back to pick us up at this time.

After he would drop them off, my dad, who was ten years old in 1956, would have to stand up, while driving, to see over the dashboard and work the pedals, would go and explore the Canadian countryside.

In the countryside where my dad was staying those summers were so far from any city, that there were no traffic lights, farmland for as far as the eye could see. My dad, at least in his mind, had free rein of Canada.

It wasn’t until almost twenty years after these summer trips that it dawned on him why he got to stay with the uncles, while his sister, my aunt Deanne, stayed back in California. My grandfather wanted him out of the house. Deanne was his favorite kid.

I thought he had experienced an incredible adventure that I wished I could’ve lived; the reasoning behind it was kind of screwed. I’ve seen the movie twice since then and I can’t help, but to think of my dad driving these two huge Swedes home in the middle of the night. God love this crazy family of mine.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

Salvation

My Definition of Manhood, A Story From Last One To Die

Growing up in the shadow of such an imposing guy as my dad, I think my brother and I picked up a lot of his, for lack of a better word, boldness.

My dad didn’t back down from anything — ever. I remember hearing a story where an ex gave two black bikers, some money to “finish” my dad with tire irons.

My dad opened the door and invited them in. This spooked them and they talked shit and left. My dad more than likely had a shotgun just inside the door.

Anyway, I had developed my theory on being a man. I always knew how to fight and I was decent at it that together with my dad’s never-back-down attitude.

My theory was based on a guy’s actions after he was hit. Might sound strange, but being hit says a lot about a man. Watch somebody in a fight, after they are hit, do they tear up, retreat, or does the punch amp them up to win the said fight?

It may be strange, but that was my theory on manhood from the age of fifteen to about thirty-eight. Can you take a punch and what do you do after you take that punch?

Then something weird happened when my son was born. I don’t know if I softened or his three weeks in the Natal Intensive Care Unit or the very indifferent attitude certain family members took towards him and me during this time.

My whole mantra changed. It wasn’t attitude or toughness anymore. It was me lifting him past a few crappy people that failed to acknowledge him.

My new definition of manhood was making sure my family had a better life than me. I had created this weird little internal poem, which I used to pray with while my son was in the NICU. I would repeat, “For every person who fell out of love with me, may three love him. For every tear I cried, may there be three days of smiles for him.”

So, have I succeeded in my definition of manhood? Sometimes. Life is fucking hard. Sometimes I elevate the people around me and other times they rejuvenate me. But on the whole, I try to live up to my definition.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

Salvation

Poetry, A Story From Salvation

In 1994 or 1995, I went through a break-up which led to a search for new employment and new housing. Things went bad quick.

I slept on a friend’s floor for two days, and then I took the couch at my brother’s place. As I got my bearings and confidence, I put the feelers out to everybody and anybody that knew of housing and/or employment.

One day a girl I worked with in the 1980s at a record shop called and said her boyfriend was managing a Kinko’s and they needed somebody to run the computer department during the midnight shift. Perfect! As it was, I couldn’t sleep, anyway. Break-up, money, one-year-old daughter, on and on, the brain never turned off.

One morning I’m sitting behind the counter at the computer department working on a press release for Michael Jackson’s parents Katherine and Joe Jackson when a very dignified African-American walks up. He asks if he could have a cord to plug his laptop into the printer. I give it to him. He shoots off two pages. Comes back, pays for the prints and hands me the cord.

This went on for a few months, cord, prints, pays, and leaves. One day, curiosity gets the best of me, I walk over and ask what he’s working on. He tells me he’s a poet, and he’s putting together some pieces about his time in Vietnam.

I told him I had been writing poetry since the early 1980s and then asked if he could look it over sometime. He agreed.

My new poet friend came in a week later. He walked up and handed me a book he made of 5 or 6 of his poems. Each one a disparate style, modern, a traditional and a sonnet.

I took out a notebook I had of my writings, similar to what I write now, but too heavy on the metaphors. He looked everything over and made comments, like, “This one reads like a song,” and “This is good, but take out the “I,” tell the story without it being in the first person.” Cool perspectives. Then he said to go to the local bookshop, find the poetry section and buy the first author I recognized. The point was to find my voice. Don’t write poetry like I think it should be, don’t imitate Shakespeare.

I wandered over to Barnes & Noble. I looked and looked; I see a book by Jim Morrison called The Lords and The New Creatures: Poems. I bought it, read it and moments later declared it as the worst piece of shit I ever read.

I rewrote most of my poetry based on my friend’s suggestions. When he popped up a day later, I showed him my updated work and told him that Jim Morrison’s poetry was horrendous.

He read through my latest poetry, offered a few more pointers, and then he asked, “Have you read much Bukowski?” I said, “Not really. I saw Barfly in 1987.”

He nodded, and said, “OK, there’s a book you have to buy. I’d give you my copy, but I probably gave it away already. When you get off work, go to the store and buy Bukowski’s Love Is A Dog From Hell. That should point you in the right direction.”

That man was author Clyde Wray; he has always been an inspiration and a friend.

‪#‎michaelessington ‪#‎salvation

 

Salvation

AA, Sex & Coffee Shops, A Story From Last One To Die

Back in the ‘80’s, even though I wasn’t drinking, my mom said I should attend AA meetings. Both my grandfathers were alcoholics and my father was as well. My mom told me I was displaying the personality traits of an alcoholic. And that I should attend AA and/or Adult Children of Alcoholics.

I didn’t know my grandfather on my dad’s side was an alcoholic. I never saw him drink and I never saw him drunk. Turns out he was a binge drinker. He’d go a year without touching a drop, then slip into a 3-month binge.

I always knew of my mom’s dad’s problem. Every holiday we’d spend with him, he’d drink before we got there and by the time we’d get ready to leave he’d be slumped in his chair, almost asleep. My grandfather had a shitty upbringing from an alcoholic who beat him and told him he was unwanted. So, the alcoholic gene (if that exists) was passed on. And then later my uncle Rick battled substance abuse issues. Remember the old days when dad’s passed on the family business?

I told you all that to tell you this, I called one of my dad’s old work buddies who was now a counselor at an AA meeting and a “recovering” alcoholic. My dad’s friend, Ed, is a good guy. Of all my dad’s friends, he was the best. He was a trash collector in the ‘70’s and he would always bring us comic books or Mad Magazines he’d find on his route. Cool stuff.

So I call Ed and he invites me to come to a meeting. The meeting is located at a Korean Church in Northridge. I drive out on a Wednesday night. When I get there Ed pulls me aside and tells me that due to low attendance, they combined the AA meeting with the Adult Children of Alcoholics and the sex addiction meeting. That was a big WTF.

The meeting starts with everyone going around the room introducing themselves and stating their “problem.” It gets to be my turn and I say my name and say I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. And everyone sits there looking at me like I am in denial. I say I don’t drink. And at that point, I hadn’t so much as had a beer in a year. No one believed me. I guess everyone comes through and says I am here because someone else thinks I should be.

We moved on. The first person to talk was a woman that was about 25. She talked about fighting her nymphomania. She said the mailman came to deliver something the week before and how it took all of her willpower to keep her from pulling him into her house. Sad to say, she had my attention. She went on about looking him up and down and how it had been a week since she had sex. Hell yeah!! When she was done the head counselor stated again that dating or “relationships” in the group were grounds for being kicked out. I know he wasn’t, but it felt like he was looking at me.

The next person to speak was an older guy, late 50’s, with glasses. The kind of guy that looks like a computer tech. I remember looking at him, thinking he looks like a child molester. Then he starts talking about a court case that forbids him from seeing his daughter and hopefully she will forgive him one day. I remember looking at him and wanting to stomp the shit out of him. I can’t understand anyone messing with kids, especially their own flesh and blood.

So I stayed for the whole hour or so meeting and as it starts to wrap up one of the guys in the meeting calls me over to the side and says “a lot of the newcomers aren’t comfortable talking about their problems, so a bunch of us are going to meet at the coffee shop up the street for donuts and coffee. It will be easier to talk over there. Come on and join us.” I stared for a minute and then said: “Yeah, I’ll meet you there.” Then drove home.

I attended three or four more of these meetings, sat drinking coffee like Ed Norton in Fight Club. Then got tied up with different things and missed a month.

So, four or five weeks later I show up at the church. I walk in with a cup of coffee from Winchell’s. And everybody in the place freezes. Two Korean guys walk briskly towards me. I’m not nervous, because I know I didn’t do anything wrong, but their quick walking has me on alert.

One guy starts talking very quickly, “You go, this is for Koreans only. You go.” The other guy smiles and puts his hand on my elbow and starts guiding me to the door. Through all of this, I’m saying I’m here for the AA meeting. But the guy keeps saying, “You go, this is for Koreans only. You go.” To which I say, “AA, you know the crazy people?”

Next thing I know I’m back in my car, with my cup of Joe and the guy is walking away still babbling, “This is for Koreans only.” I drive back home and my mom says “what are you doing here?” I said the meeting isn’t there anymore. To which she replied, “You intentionally went on the wrong night so you didn’t have to go.”

WTF. After that, I didn’t go anymore. There were periods of time where I drank more than others, but my own personal paranoia about my alcoholic bloodline kept me from ever seriously taking the plunge.

But in all seriousness, if you have an issue with substance abuse or know someone who does (don’t we all), don’t wait until it’s too late. I’ve lost too many people this way and one is too many.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

Salvation

The Master Plan, A Story From Salvation

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a parent. I don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with my Daughter turning 22, and my Son is about a month away from turning 12.

It takes a long time before you can see if you’ve done a good job or not. I think that’s what concerns me the most.

I remember, years ago, I had an ex (she was Puerto Rican) that every time she was mad at me, she would say how she had the best Mom in the world, and how my family hated me. I was numb to this and didn’t say much, but one day I had had enough, and I said “How do you figure you have the best Mom in the world? Both your parents were addicted to heroin; all three kids dropped out of school, were on drugs, and did jail time before you were 18. How in the hell do you call that good parenting?” She gave me a nasty look, and said, “At least she loved us.” But I didn’t stop, I said: “Sure, she did that’s why she threw all of you out of the house before you hit 18, so she could have more alone time with her heroin and her many boyfriends.” That was the end between my ex, and me.

Back in 1998, I was living in Canoga Park, and I took a stroll down to the corner to get my hair cut. I got to talking to the Hispanic barber about kids (at this point I only had my four-year-old daughter), and he says he has a Son, and a Daughter and that Daughters are the best. I agree, what else am I going to say? Then he explains why, he says, “You have a Son, he grows up, gets strung out on drugs, joins a gang, and gets shot, and dies, but with a Daughter, she grows up, gets strung out on drugs, joins a gang, and gets knocked up, moves back home, gets off drugs, and raises her kid.” I sat there stunned, this is why Daughters are better because of their ability to get knocked up by gangbangers? I don’t think I let my four-year-old daughter out of my sight for the rest of the weekend.

About four years before this I was talking (and drinking) with a friend of mine named Jeff; Jeff is African American and has many anti-Black views. Jeff and I were throwing back two bottles of St. Ides (hey, it was in 1994, and Tupac said it was a good beer), and my Daughter was a few months away from being born, and in his drunken state Jeff was telling me I had to step up, and be a good Dad, and be pleased with every decision she makes, then he said raise her the opposite way that Black people raise their kids. I asked, “How is that?” He said, “Black people are like a bucket of crabs?” I said, “What?” He replied, “Yeah, watch crabs, sometimes, if one starts to get away, they all pull him back down. That’s Black people, man. As soon as one of us starts to do well, or leave the neighborhood, everybody pulls us back down. They suck man.”

OK, it’s OK to do heroin, and throw my kids out as long as I love them, no gangbanger activity for my kids, and keep them away from crabs, check.

There used to be an entertainment magazine called Icon (not the gay magazine), and for a short time in 1998, until early 1999, it was one of my favorite magazines. It covered music, comics, movies — you name it. One issue they had a small interview with Black porn (male) star Sean Michaels. Now, not a subject I would be interested in, but I read everything. If I was in a doctor’s office, and all they have is Good Housekeeping, well, I’ll read the whole thing cover to cover. Then offer great decorating tips afterward. Anyway, Sean Michaels starts talking about his twelve-year-old Son that he doesn’t see. Then he says, “I’m not the father I want to be because I’m not the man I want to be.”

What? This damn quote has been stuck in my head for about twelve years. I never thought that was a reasonable excuse. I can’t be a good Dad because I’m not rich enough, or I haven’t accomplished enough. WTF? There isn’t a parent in the world that makes enough or has accomplished enough.

Another interview I read about five years back was with Mike Ness. Mike explains how he didn’t meet his son until the boy was five years old. Now, in Mike’s case, he was in all kinds of legal trouble, and he was pretty addicted to drugs. Now me, I can’t imagine not being around my kids when they were born, or all those early years. Mike was smart to stay away until he cleaned up, and got on the straight and narrow. Nothing worse than subjecting your kids to your downfall.

So, how do you know if you did a good job or not? Every once in a while, they will plop down in your lap for no reason at all, and smile at you. And with hope, this won’t be followed by “You know what I’d like to get?”

#michaelessington #salvation

 

Salvation