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Love means staying away from those you love

I love to play around with my family members and tell them how much they don’t love me.

My daughter, who is in California, was on the other line when my son handed me the phone. She’s decided to stay at Stanford University, despite the school shutting down for three weeks.

The school reported its first case of the Coronavirus and Celine suspects other students are infected but don’t know it. She could be one of those students, although she is showing no signs of the virus.

Celine thought of returning home because the original game plan was to shut the school down for the remainder of this semester and for the spring quarter also. That’s all changed now.

She is remaining in California and not returning home.

I gave her my sad face on Face Time and said: “I know why you don’t want to come home. Its because you don’t love me and want to stay as far away from me as possible.”

Celine then rolled her eyes.

“Hey goof,” she said. “I don’t want to come home because I do love you. I’d feel terrible if I got you sick.”

Smart move.

If she came home I’d vow to stay away. But I couldn’t resist giving her a hug or playing with her ears, cheeks and chin. If she had the virus I’d catch it too.

Although I feel stronger than I did a few months ago while recovering from a stroke, the family is very concerned because of my age (61) and past health issues.

Maybe everybody feels that way because they do love me.

 

 

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Corona virus hits close to home

corona virusMy daughter Celine is concerned. So am I.

Stanford University is shutting down because a health care worker tested positive for the Corona Virus. There are no more classes for the rest of the school year. Celine wants off campus and we want her off campus also.

What’s the point of staying? You can do online classes anywhere, including at home.

There is a risk, however. What if she has the disease? There are no signs, but often 20-year-olds don’t show outward signs. But if she has it and passes it along to me there could be complications because of my age.

It is a risk I am willing to take. I am confident she does not have Corona virus. Whether she has it or not we are going to quarantine her to the basement. I won’t be allowed down in my sanctuary and that’s ok.

The World Health Organization just called Corona virus a pandemic, which is a serious distinction. But I believe the subtle changes in my life will keep me and my family safe.

We already cancelled a trip to Florida for spring break.

I sometimes forget and still shake hands with friends. But I sprinkle that in with fist bumps, elbow taps and happy fingers in the air.

My wife Abs thinks about it every single moment of the day. I don’t.

I refuse to hoard hand sanitizer and toilet paper or wear a mask. And I am not giving up my daily trips to the gym.

I plan to show up for Tigers Opening Day. I am getting some corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day and I plan on attending sporting events.

This disease has spread all over the world and recently we received out first positive tests in Wayne and Oakland Counties. It is near, but I am confident of staying Corona Virus free.

I wash my hands with warm soap and water. I avoid people who cough or have snot running down their noses. And if I show any signs of fever or the flu I will let you know and stay in the house for at least two weeks.

Has there been overreaction in the media? Yes. But this is a necessary overreaction. We know the Boogie Man is coming and it is up to the government and the media to let us know something is lurking even if we can’t see it yet.

I want to hug my daughter when she comes home. But to be safe I will greet her with happy fingers in the air.

 

 

We must investigate why Art Van is closing

ArtVanLogoHow in the hell does Art Van close?

Everybody in the state of Michigan has several pieces of Art Van furniture in their home. And it was probably purchased during one of the company’s zany sales.

“Hey folks hurry on down to Art Van for our one day President’s Day sale. Everything must go”

“Hey Detroit. We are having a post day President’s Day sale. But it only last a short time. So you’d better hurry down to Art Van.”

“In case you missed our President’s Day sale or post President’s Day sale we are having a one day Feb. 1 sale. But hurry. It only last one day.”

“Hey lovers. It’s Valentine’s Day. Come to Art Van for our Valentine’s Day sale.”

“Hey Metro Detroit. We bought too much inventory. Come on down to Art Van for our over inventory sale. We must clear the ware house immediately.”

The sales kept on rolling. There was also the Fourth of July sale, Back to school sale, Labor Day sale, Memorial Day sale and the Let’s just have a sale for the heck of it sale.”

Art Van is a Detroit institution. The only thing I didn’t like about it was how sales people pounced on you when you walked in the store. Can’t you let me breathe a little bit?

I had another one-time issue with Art Van. When I was younger I wanted to upgrade the furniture in my two bedroom apartment. I went to the Art Van store on 14 mile and per usual a sales person pounced on me.

I told them I was looking for a bedroom set. They walked me past all this beautiful furniture into a back room where I swear the dressers were made of paper and cardboard.

I made a snide remark, saying that I lived in a two bedroom apartment, not on the streets where this furniture belonged. I walked out, went to Gardner-White and told the sales person he was about to make the easiest sale of his career.

Art Van was rolling so well that its owner once bought a house that was so big that it sunk into the ground. Then a private equity company buys it and sinks the business into the ground.

Something is fishy and my hope is that a team of reporters from The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press are launching an investigation into what really happened to Art Van.

Art Van has launched its final liquidation sale. I hope that sale is followed by the Just kidding knuckleheads. Did ya really think we were going out of business sale.

My son is Westward bound

wmuI am a proud graduate of Central Michigan University. The school provided the base for me to enjoy a long and productive career in journalism and communication.

People there rooted for my every step from novice reporter at The Detroit Free Press to veteran Pistons beat writer and columnist at The Detroit News. The school also provided me with the means to pursue a career in radio.

I am even in the CMU journalism Hall of Fame and take a peak at my plaque every time I visit the journalism department at the student newspaper CM Life.

Even when I retired folks in the journalism department wanted to make sure I was doing fine. I love CMU  because the school did right by me.

With that said my son Brandon will attend CMU’s biggest rival in athletics and academics — Western Michigan University. And he will do it with my blessings.

I wanted him to be a Chippewas, but I could not in good conscious fight for my school when I saw the joy in his eyes while walking the WMU campus. Brandon is not interested in journalism or communications. He wants to study business.

The Haworth College of Business at WMU is a beautiful new building equipped with the latest technology, study halls and facilities where the boy could spend the entire day there before retiring to the dorm

It is also more important for him to study and live on a campus with more diversity. And the final selling point for him was his stomach. He absolutely fell in love with Western’s new dining facility and all the food options available to him.

CMU fit me like a glove. I am hoping the same happens for my son at Western.

The irony of this is my pal Jennifer Hammond is a proud Bronco, but her son went to CMU because it was a better fit for him.

We are rivals, but we are not bitter rivals. Probably the drunkest a Western student became during their four years was in Mt. Pleasant during Western-Central weekend. And I know a number of Chippewas who got shit faced with Broncos in Kalamazoo.

We don’t cheer when Western is losing a football game unless it is against dear old CMU.

I visited WMU in full Central gear and was treated like a king for the weekend.

I know some of my CMU pals will be disappointed that my son has my blessing to go to Western. However, the most important thing for my son is to find the best fit for him.

Blood is thicker than water.

Drugs and crime claim another victim

crack headA few weeks ago a man stormed into my barber shop and threatened one of the barbers. He was a former basketball player who let drugs get the best of him. He also suffered from mental problems and had no business roaming the streets.

I wondered if he’d come storming back into the shop and shoot the place up. I won’t have to worry about that in the future because a few days after his outburst he was found dead from a bullet in his head a few blocks away.

The case remains unsolved although police questioned the barbers, wondering if they knew who might have killed this guy. The speculation is he yelled at the wrong person and was murdered.

Another person who badly needed mental help is dead. Nobody knows what his final days or hours were like. They simply know he needed to be in a mental institution. His family tried to get him help, but as soon as they admitted him in a facility he snuck out the back door back into the streets that claimed him.

It is a shame. Although I only witnessed the angry side of this man I felt for him.

A bullet killed him but drugs played as a big a role in his death. If drugs didn’t put him in an out of control state maybe he doesn’t piss off his killer. Maybe he is not roaming the streets in 30 degree weather. Maybe he is somewhere enjoying a home cooked meal.

There are too men and women roaming the streets of Detroit who need mental help and assistance to get off drugs. The streets will eventually claim them.

No one knows about them. Nobody cares about them.

Roger Maris hit 61 home runs. I just hit 61

Roger-MarisNew York Yankee right fielder Roger Maris hit 61 (home runs) in 1961.

I hit 61 today. My 61’s are not home runs. My 61’s are chapters in my life.

Most years I hid my birthdays from friends. There was no reason for it. It is just something I did. I did not want anybody fussing over me.

Today, I don’t mind telling the world because birthdays mean much more to me because every day I live from now on was not promised.

More than three years ago I suffered two strokes and two seizures that me feel weaker, more vulnerable and more emotional about life. After those serious bouts of poor health I changed the way I live.

I thought I was untouchable because I felt so good.

I was not a member of the untouchables. I discovered the path to better health centers around what you put in your mouth. I eat more grilled fish, chicken and vegetables.

I enjoy my cheat days. For instance I enjoyed my first Red Coat burger today in 10 years. I plan on visiting Union Woodshop in Clarkston before the weekend finishes. I drink a lot of water, but I still drink a little beer.

I did not exercise today, but on Thursday I will be back to my twice weekly classes of body pump at the West Bloomfield Power House gym. And later this week I will visit my pals at Planet Fitness for less structured workouts.

However, there is another baseball number I must remember.

3.

Doctors have told me that if I suffer a third stroke that I won’t be so lucky. That could be the end of me or I would probably live the rest of my life as a vegetable. I don’t plan on that happening.

That’s why I eat differently, work out, visit the doctor and take my medication.

I mentioned shortly after I became ill that a third stroke would likely kill me. I heard from a few dick heads who said they were hoping for one more stroke.  It really bothered me at the time because I was still in a fog from my illnesses.

I know I was a public figure. But why would someone say that? Why would someone wish the worst for me or anybody else? It hurt me and made me angry.

Today I have a new attitude. If that is what you wish then fuck you.

People often ask how I am feeling.

Not the same.

My balance is good. But not the same.

My speech is good. But not the same.

Sometimes my blood pressure spikes when I do too much and it scares me. However, doctors warn me about lounging around too much. It could lead to depression.

A stroke is an attack on the brain. Most of my issues are mental. For instance doctors want me to do things that make me happy. Volunteering for a communication class with the Detroit Police Athletic League makes me happy. So does dinner with my friends.

My family makes me happy. Writing this blog and doing podcasts makes me happy.

Going to the Detroit Tigers opening day makes me happy. Hope to see you there.

Physically I am doing well. Mentally it is a struggle many days not to fall into the trap of isolating myself from the world. One of my doctors said it is the worst thing I could do. I cannot give up on life.

I will not give up on life.

I’m certainly not giving up at 61.

 

 

Founders Tap Room is open. I can’t walk in just yet.

foundersFounders Taproom in Detroit is open again.

That used to be my spot. I enjoyed sitting at bar stools closets to the door laughing with my friends and meeting interesting strangers too. I enjoyed eating the food and sampling the beer.

I know I got on the bartenders’ nerves asking about new beers on the menu. They were patient and told me what I might like.

They hit about 80 percent of the time.

It was my jam.

But Founders closed for three months because of complications surrounding a racial discrimination law suit. A black employee believed he was watched more closely and disciplined differently because he was black.

That was not enough to cause my boycott. I knew this was not the spot for me when a manager told The Metro Times that they did not know whether Michal Jordan or Barack Obama were black because they had not met them.

That told me something was up.

I do not want to give my business to a company that mocks or discriminates against minorities. If you are openly prejudiced I want nothing to do with you. That also applies to companies that treat whites differently.

A white female friend told me about a place in Eastern Market that I absolutely loved. She said she went in there to eat and was treated poorly and called “white girl”. She felt uncomfortable being treated differently.

I have not been there since.

I will eventually forgive Founders and return. I just don’t know when.

I’ve been reading Brian Manzullo in the Free Press who writes columns about breweries and micro brews. He wrote a piece a few weeks ago about Detroit area tap rooms to visit. I am going through his list to see if anybody else sparks the passion I had for Founders.

A friend told me the other day that he hasfounders talked to the managers of Founders. He said the company has a new inclusive strategy and that Founders cleaned house and got rid of the previous offenders.

I also know that the company is giving its profits to Detroit area charities for the next three years. That has me inching toward the front doors again. But I just cannot walk in yet.

Birthday surprise from Detroit PAL and a bunch of other neat stuff

fresh nation4I should have known something was up. My wife Abs insisted on coming to the Detroit Police Athletic League communications class that I help lecture every Saturday morning.

This is my small way of giving back to the community as I hope to see some of these kids fill voids in the media or whatever else they decide to do.

Then my sister in law Big Pretty wanted to come.

It did not dawn on me that they wanted to be present for the first surprise birthday party of my life. I didn’t realize anything was brewing until one of the students appeared with a white sheet cake with red, blue, orange and yellow icing made to look like balloons.

The students sang happy birthday to me the traditional way and then broke into the Stevie Wonder version. Then people began saying nice things about me and the celebration was on.

It meant a lot for this old man who turns 61 this week. I was touched.

My mission and goal is to help produce future sports writers and broadcasters. I’ve been with the program about two years and some of my little chickens are beginning to hatch and get a glimpse of the outside world. Some are graduating high school this year and have been accepted in college.

I even wrote a letter of recommendation for one of the journalism students for a scholarship at Central Michigan University. I called him our Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental.

My goal is to teach them story telling, an art that is being lost by young writers. Too many writers craft stories like book reports that lack the human touch. They miss the blood, sweat and tears of life and human drama.

I want my kids to remember that sports are a people business no matter how big or small the names.

The art of communication is important even if the kids decide journalism is not for them. Police need to communicate better. Doctors need to communicate better. So do engineers, accountants and pilots.

I want my kids to have fun. The best part about Saturday was not the birthday cake. It was the spirited discussions we had that morning about hair, Kobe Bryant, gang fights, the NBA, the NFL and about each other.

It was loud but that’s OK. That is the way some news rooms work. People disagree and then wrap arms around each other as they leave morning meetings.

I often find that students write around a subject. They don’t attack an issue head on. When they do that I tell them to get Gangsta with it. In other words be strong and be direct.

Most of the students don’t know about my career in journalism and radio. Their parents filled them later. One young man, who is a sophomore in high school, did. He said he listened to me in the car when I co-hosted the Valenti and Foster Show on 97.1 FM. He said I became a hero and he wanted to meet me.

I was once again touched by Omari’s words. He even read some of my old stories in The Detroit News.

PAL Chief Executive Officer Robert Jamerson said a few words as did Youth Development Officer Marcus Norwood.

I am not the hero of this program. Those honors go to WWJ 950 AM news anchor Stephanie Davis who keeps things orderly. And a special shout out goes to Delvis Nixon, who heads our program..

People from Western Michigan University might remember him as Mixin’ Nixon during his days in Kalamazoo.

Thank you to former Oakland University soccer player Jenna Taylor who recruited me for this volunteer position

Saturday mornings are the best times of the week for me. After suffering a stroke three years ago and retiring, I felt useless and forgotten. This program is part of my rehab to better health. One of my doctors said I must continue to use my mind and I must do things that I like.

Well, this program is it.

I thought PAL was just about getting kids off the streets to play football, basketball and baseball. It is more than that. It is also about education and career development.

Most of our kids are from Detroit. But some are from Harper Woods, West Bloomfield, Walled Lake and Bellville. You can sign your children up at DetroitPAL.org. PAL also welcomes volunteer coaches and teachers.

Come join the fun.

 

 

Going down like the Godfather’s Moe Greene?

moe greenI broke one of the cardinal rules of the hood and survived.

Usually when somebody threatens somebody and leaves it means they are coming back to seek revenge with a hand gun. This too often happens on the playground during pickup games of basketball.

Today, it happened while I was in the barber chair getting my beard trimmed.

Let me set this up. One of the dudes that patrols the streets near Puritan and Livernois is a former basketball player who played at Mumford and the University of Hawaii. He played professionally in Australia and used much of his earnings on drugs.

Drugs ate him up and he is no shape mentally to be roaming the streets. But he is. This dude should be tucked away in a mental institution.

The barbers felt sorry for him and have bought him food, boots and socks. Now he feels as if they owe him more. He came in today begging for $5 but the barbers said no.

He went off on a tirade.

“You promised me that money,” he screamed. “You are always fucking me over. I’m going to fuck you up some day.”

That should have been my clue to exit the chair.

This guy once kicked in the front door of the shop and shattered the glass. He threatens them on occasion but has done no harm. I was assured that he was a guy who was out of his mind, but would not return to shoot up the place.

When one of the barbers put a hot towel over my face I thought about Moe Greene who was shot in the eye in the Godfather. Thankfully it did not happen to me.

The rest of my stay was peaceful. The guy even walked past the shop again but went about his business.

Thankfully.

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