Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Kramer's Krack Up

Everybody seems to be up in arms over the recent tirade of comedian Michael Richards at a Los Angeles comedy club. Richards, who achieved mass popularity through his role of Cosmo Kramer on the long running sitcom "Seinfeld" was appearing at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood when he went off the deep end on a couple of audience members who apparently didn't find him very entertaining.

When this hit the headlines, I admit to finding the information eyebrow raising. But, I must be honest in saying that when it was all said and done, my ultimate reaction was "who cares?"

Stop the madness, please!!! Call me what you want for not finding this earth shattering but I really don't care that Richards went on his tirade and don't see why others, particularly prominent African American public figures and officials, think this is on the level of the Iraq War, or illegal immigration, or national health care, or any number of other far more important issues.

"Have you seen the tape?" you ask. Yes, I have. Watch it yourself at TMZ.com and tell me what you really see. I can tell you what I saw. Michael Richards-- who I wouldn't know unless told he was on Seinfeld because I didn't watch the show when it ran on NBC and still don't watch the show in syndication-- on stage using offensive language to express his anger over some customers who apparently decided to talk through his performance. You can hear one of the customers engaging Richards back then you see several people begin to walk out.

Somebody tell me why I should care.

If not for the home video-- complete with captions-- that popped up on TMZ.com, we wouldn't even know about this. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking whoever taped the tirade and got it to TMZ, but let's be real here. Richards is not an elected official. He's not a man of the cloth. He's not a high ranking Fortune 500 executive. Richards wields not one ounce of important influence on anybody's life. He's just a two-bit comedian who happened to reach fame through a television show that most African Americans don't watch. Yet, we have the likes of Rev. Jesse Jackson granting interviews calling Richards a racist who needs psychological help. Okay. Based on what we've all seen, tell us something we don't already know on the racist tip. As for Richards needing psychological help, that's debatable. There are a lot of well adjusted, successful and wealthy people in this country, who are as racist as they come and they don't need psychological help. And, they come in all colors and genders. Let's just be clear.

We have a guy who claims to be the person in the audience that Richards went off on apparently saying he might seek legal action because he's now had to explain to his four year old son why some white man was calling him the "N" word. Is that not ridiculous? How does the boy know the man was talking to his father? Was the boy sitting in the club, too? If so, that would be newsworthy. Hell, no! The boy only knows something is up because his father has decided to go public in hopes of hitting a jackpot in court. How do we know Richards was talking to you, brutha? Did somebody tape you shooting your retorts back at Richards during the show?
Or did Gloria Allred get to you and say, "I can make us both a lot of money if you just do as I tell you."

The only good thing that seems to be coming out of this is that Jesse Jackson is now publicly calling for something I've been telling friends for years. We (Black people) all need to stop using the "N" word in our personal conversations, in our music, in our movies and television shows. If you're going to be offended hearing the word come out of a white person's mouth, you better be equally offended to hear it come out of your mouth. ERADICATE THE WORD FROM YOUR VOCABULARY!

As for Michael Richards, consider these solutions:

  1. Stop talking about him. Stop making him a daily headline. His publicist is eating this up, probably telling him to milk this thing for everything he can. You know the saying, "bad publicity is better than no publicity." Don't feed the beast.
  2. Stop going to see him perform. When folks stop buying tickets to his shows, clubs will stop booking him. When Richards walks out on a stage to find an empty venue, and leaves without a pay check, he'll get the message.
  3. Stop watching "Seinfeld." Don't call television stations and ask them to take the show off the air. They won't do it. Just stop watching. Trust me. I work at a station which airs "Seinfeld" in syndication. We've received calls and emails asking that we remove the show from our lineup. But, it will stay right where it is until the ratings drop to a hash mark. Don't watch.

Of course, all of the above assume that you really care to begin with.

Oh, Good Evening!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Just Pathetic

For as long as I can remember, I've always watched the annual Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football game. The Lions started the tradition of hosting a game on turkey day back in 1934, 30 years before I was born. The Dallas Cowboys began their Thanksgiving Day tradition of hosting a game in 1966 and now, the NFL has created a third Thanksgiving Day game which will rotate among teams and be played as a night game. There truly is nothing like stuffing yourself full of turkey, dressing, and sweet potato pie while watching pro football virtually non-stop from 12:30 PM. The only downer for me is that lately, my team sucks!

Thursday's game started with such promise for the Lions. They drove down the field and scored a touchdown on the opening drive. That was a first for the season! We're in Week 12. Then, the defense holds the Dolphins, forcing a punt. That was big because the build up to this game centered around the return of former Lions quarterback Joey Harrington. Harrington is now starting for the Dolphins. The Lions got a 52-yard field goal from Jason Hanson on their second drive. Detroit was up 10-0 and it looked like we would roll to victory. NOT!!!

The Dolphins defense made some quick adjustments and shut down Roy Williams-- he burned Miami for 110 yards in the first quarter-- which pretty much shut down the Detroit offense. Without Kevin Jones in the backfield, Detroit managed just 21 yards of rushing. One dimensional teams rarely win and the Lions didn't on Thursday. After scoring 10 quick points in the first quarter, the Dolphins shut them out in the remaining three quarters while scoring 27 points on their way to victory and the dinner table. MIA 27 DET 10. Sweet revenge for Harrington who, before Thursday, never had much success on turkey day. With the Lions, he was 1-4 with no touchdown passes on Thanksgiving Day. With the Dolphins, he comes back and leads the team to victory on the strength of three touchdown passes!

Detroit is now 2-9 and guaranteed another losing season. Though, that was a foregone conclusion a couple of weeks ago.

Oh, Good Evening!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Destined to Suck

At the beginning of the season, when I looked at the Lions' schedule, I had them losing to the Atlanta Falcons, and beating the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. Turns out, they beat Atlanta and lost to San Francisco and Arizona.

When you beat the teams you're expected to lose to, that's a good thing. When you lose to the teams you're supposed to beat, that's bad. Detroit has lost two in a row to teams they should have defeated. Last week, the Lions lost to San Francisco at home. SF 19 DET 13. This week, they lost to Arizona on the road. DET 10 ARI 17. It's clear that we are destined to suck. Enough said.

Oh, Good Evening!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mother Knows Best

In response to my entry about the trip to Jackson for my best friend Bruce Weathersby's homegoing service, I received the following special note from my mom in Detroit:

Reading your comments about the difficult trip has left me in tears. I am truly sorry you've lost your best friend, Bruce. I do understand your grief.

All I have to say right now is that you must remember you have others in your life who are special friends. One person cannot be everything to us. Each one of our friends is a unique person and brings something special to our lives that not anyone else has the ability or nature to do. Think of each of the people in your circle of friends and what is special about their contribution to your everyday life. I think you'll see that you still have a number of "best friends." You named one of them at the end of your comments.

Just a few words with love from your mother.

Take care, my dear.

As is usually the case, my mother is correct and I knew that. My circle of friends is special. I feel closer to some than others, but I know many of my friends feel close enough to me to reach out in my times of need. I am grateful for each expression of love and concern I have received from my friends over the last few weeks. Many of them had never even met Bruce, yet they could tell how much he meant to me and they just wanted me to know they were praying for him and for me. That's special.

I told Mom that her note helped me realize that in a special-- though painful-- way, Bruce's passing has brought many other members of my circle closer together. We all talked about that over the weekend.

Mom's note helped boost me over an emotional hurdle concerning Bruce. I know there will be others to jump in the days, weeks, months and years to come. But just like the pain from a cut on a finger or a sprain in an ankle eventually goes away as the injury heals, the pain in my heart created by Bruce's passing will eventually go away as the injury heals. And, just like a couple of aspirin tablets can help relieve any minor pain that pops up, my closer relationships with my other "best friends" that Mom described will help keep any recurring pain in check.

Mother always knows best.

Oh, Good Evening.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Difficult Trip

I have just returned from one of the most difficult trips of my life. Losing loved ones is a part of life. Unlike other things that get easier to deal with the more they happen, saying goodbye to someone you cherish is always painful. Even when you know the person has lived a full life. I was devastated when Grandpa Woolfolk died in May 1991. I think he was 89 when he made his transition. Nana died eight months later in February 1992. She was 86. Then, there was Grannie's passing. I always used to introduce her as my grandmother only have her quickly correct me by telling the person, "this is my great-grandson." Grannie was actually my mother's grandmother. She was 92 when she passed on. Grandpa Hickey, my mother's father, was 88 when he died. While each of their deaths was individually and particularly painful for me, I was happy they had lived and led long, productive, loving lives.

I helped bury my best friend last Thursday. Like my relatives previously mentioned, Bruce lived and led a productive, loving life. He just didn't get very long to do it. I am truly grateful to have had his friendship, brotherhood, and unconditional love in my life for close to 15 years. I feel cheated that it won't be four times that long.

Bruce and I talked everyday. Sometimes we talked two, three, four, maybe five or more times a day. We just wanted to know that each other was OK. He's gone now and my heart is so heavy with grief because I can't pick up the phone and call just to ask, "what are you doing?" My phone doesn't ring at 1:30 AM anymore with Bruce on the other end asking, "what's up?" in that deep voice of his. I miss him so much.

I'm typing this through tears so I guess it's good therapy. But damn, it's so painful.

Seeing Bruce in his new navy blue suit, white dress shirt, and red bow-tie, laying in a casket less than six months after his 40th birthday was so upsetting. Seeing so many people packed into his mother's church, Stronger Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, was a blessing and provided great strength to his family and to me as we got through Bruce's services. But the finality of seeing his casket lowered into the ground at Henry Magee Cemetery in Magee, Mississippi was overwhelming. I broke down in the arms of one of Bruce's cousins and wept, "I have to leave him, now."

We were supposed to grow old together. Two best friends with so much in common just enjoying life and each other. I think Bruce knew that wouldn't happen. But rather than shatter my dreams, and those of his numerous other friends and relatives, he just put his all into each day and made sure we all knew how important we were to him.

He was always giving. He rarely took. He was fiercely independent. He carried himself with great dignity and pride. And, he was very loyal to his family and friends, even in times of disagreement.

His passing has left a lot of people in pain. Mr. and Mrs. Coleman, his mom and step dad; his sister Markita; his brothers, Chris and Nick; a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews; his many friends, including Gilbert, Karl, Rudy, Curtis, Hilda, Lawrence, Elroy, me and others. It was good having a huge circle of support to get us all through last week. Now comes the hard part-- getting through the rest of our lives without Bruce.

Mrs. Coleman asked me to serve as program guide at Bruce's funeral service. That was hard, but I got through it. Surprisingly, I received several compliments about how nice the service was and how much everyone appreciated the way I led it. Mom's tribute to Bruce was wonderful. She wrote a touching speech about her "baby" and delivered it in a clear, convicted voice. Gilbert and I stood with her for support. She was amazing. Three people sang selections at the service, none more powerful than the performance of Michael Barnes, Bruce's friend from Memphis. The spirit moved when he sang and it brought much needed peace to many in the sanctuary, including me. Friends and former co-workers offered personal tributes. Hilda spoke about knowing Bruce for 25 years. Rudy told everybody how he could call Bruce to ask his opinion about some music and a few days later, the CD Rudy inquired about would be in his mailbox. I shared how much I'll miss taking Bruce home with me to Detroit to attend the annual North American International Auto Show. Bruce loved cars more than I do. His cousin, Linda, from Colorado read an original poem. Then, there was the video tribute to Bruce. A collection of photographs from his childhood through adulthood. Many of them made us laugh. Finally, Rev. R. K. Moore delivered a moving eulogy which left me in tears, but greatly inspired.

Gilbert, Rudy and I all departed Jackson on Sunday. I dropped Rudy off at the airport at 6:30 AM and almost broke down when I hugged him goodbye. I climbed back into my truck and the loneliness hit me immediately. I cried all the way home. Gilbert and I wrapped up our initial work at the house then went to take Mom some important paperwork and the keys to Bruce's beloved Infiniti FX35 which is still in the garage. It was 8:15 AM. When Gilbert and I hugged goodbye, I almost broke down again. I knew I had a long, lonely drive back to Columbia, South Carolina ahead of me.

Thanks to Karl calling and getting Gilbert and Rudy on a four-way conference connection, we were able to spend a good bit of time talking which made the beginnings of the drive nice. Later, I had NFL games on satellite radio to occupy my mind. But when I approached the city of Atlanta, which Bruce and I often visited together, I started to feel a wave of emotion that I was finding difficult to control. I have a few very close friends in Atlanta and I started trying to find one of them who might be available to sit and talk. Condace agreed to meet me at the FOX Sports Grill at Atlantic Station. We sat, ate, and talked for a few hours. Condace knew Bruce, too. She had met him at the NABJ conventions in Orlando, Dallas, and Atlanta. I appreciate her friendship. Her willingness to drop whatever she doing when I called to come meet me was a true sign of love.

I was back on the road around 10:30 PM, made a rest stop about an hour later, then finished my drive arriving in Columbia around 2 AM. I had to text message Rudy that I made it home OK because I haven't found a new phone number for Bruce yet.

Oh, Good Evening.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Terrific Trio

I haven't even made it back to Jackson yet and I am such an emotional wreck over Bruce's death. For the better part of the last 15 years, the three guys pictured here have been about as tight as tight gets when it comes to friends. Karl Sykes (l), Bruce Weathersby (r), and me. This photo was taken at Karl's house during one of my visits home. I don't remember the date, but I think it was four or five years ago.

Back in the day, Karl brought us all together. Bruce kept us all together. I was lucky to be along for the ride. True friendship is a special thing. And we had it. Things changed a bit on Friday because Bruce moved on to a better life in Heaven. Karl and I will join Bruce's family and a ton of other friends for services on Thursday and it will be a most difficult time. But we will be there for each other. Bruce and I were more like brothers than friends, but it was the deep friendship that made the brotherhood possible. I know it's going to be so hard to say "farewell, for now." But I have faith that we'll be reunited someday.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Now, That's Lions Football!

On this true bummer of a weekend for me, I broke several of my personal Sunday "man laws" and the Detroit Lions broke, what was feeling like, their usual Sunday trend. I didn't rush home from church to see the kickoff. Normally, I get my praise on and make a beeline for the car to race home in time for the game. On Sunday, I walked in the door as the second quarter was starting. Normally, you won't catch me on the phone during the game. On Sunday, I made several calls-- and even accepted a few-- during the game. I was really only halfway paying attention to this battle between the Lions and the Atlanta Falcons fully expecting that Michael Vick and Crew would do what they did almost a year ago on Thanksgiving Day and dismantle my team.

Guess what? Even the worst of cooks can occasionally produce a culinary delight. The Lions won! The Lions won big. And, they looked pretty good doing it. ATL 14 - DET 30. Detroit's record improves to 2-6.

It seems that Detroit took full advantage of their bye week to come up with the perfect game plan for the Falcons' visit to Ford Field. More importantly, they executed that plan to near perfection.

Jon Kitna throws for 321 yards and a touchdown with only one interception. Kevin Jones racks up 110 yards on 26 carries and scores two touchdowns. Roy Williams has his eighth career 100+ yard performance pulling in 6 receptions for 138 including a 60-yard touchdown catch. Rookie linebacker Ernie Sims records his first career fumble recovery. And, Pro Bowl cornerback Dre' Bly finally gets an interception this season!

This was the bright spot in my otherwise depressing weekend. Now, if we could just find some consistency in racking up wins.

Oh, Good Evening!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bless His Soul

Bruce D. Weathersby

About an hour ago, I got a phone call that I prayed I would not receive. "He's gone," Rudy said through tears. The words hit me like a ton of bricks. I was hoping that his words were about someone else. But when Bruce's name came out of my mouth, Rudy said, "yes." I fell into a chair and started sobbing. He died this morning, though I don't know the exact time or circumstances. But it is connected to a series of strokes he suffered in the last few months.

I phoned my job in tears; I phoned my mother in more tears. This really hurts. While I've composed myself enough to write this post, I am still numb.

To my friends who also knew Bruce-- he and I were often attached at the hip-- through encounters at NABJ conventions, Bayou Classic weekends, or just around Jackson, Mississippi, Columbia, South Carolina, Detroit, Michigan, Atlanta, Georgia or elsewhere, please keep Bruce's family in your prayers. I have not spoken with her yet, but I know his mom is beyond devastated which is what I feel.