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Downtown Detroit might not be the same

detroit viewMy fear is downtown Detroit won’t come back when this pandemic goes away.

The place is not a ghost town, but it is far from being the robust and bustling place I enjoyed visiting alone or with my son. Some of my favorite bars and restaurants are still hemorrhaging although Big Gretch says it is OK to return.

I enjoyed an outdoor picnic lunch in Campus Martius last week and I was one of the few people enjoying a beautiful sunny Friday. Normally office workers young enough to be my children would be listening to music, skipping work for a quick drink or enjoying carry out during their lunch break.

I saw none of that.

I knew something was up when the street parking was free.

The majority of the 19,000 Quicken Loans employees are working from home. The company has encouraged those workers to walk about downtown when they return next month and buy lottery tickets, beverages and sandwiches from store front places that are struggling.

I spoke to a person in human resources at a downtown business who fears the worst.

She said: “You know what they say. When the country gets a cold Detroit gets pneumonia. That’s what I fear is going to happen.”

Even when these workers return, they are not likely to patronize restaurants as much. They’ve been hit in the pocket book too and it makes perfect sense to take a bagged lunch to work for a bit and eat at home after work until finances are replenished.

Near my house we’ve lost a Subway and a Chinese restaurant. Keep a running count of the places around your home that are not coming back. It could be worse downtown, a place I frequent and a place I root for.

When I poked my head into Avalon Bakery in midtown I noticed two places were closed for good. My fear is that list will grow as the pandemic continues.

My wife, who is the female Dr. Fauci, fears that we are returning too soon. She fears that people are careless and don’t take this virus serious enough. It hits home for her because she knows multiple people who’ve gotten the virus and died. So do I.

I’m not a good candidate to get the virus because of age and previous health issues. My family is convinced that if I get Covid-19 that I’m a goner. I want to hang around a little longer so you might not see much of me downtown or anywhere else for a while.

Let’s be careful out there. This thing is real and its real dangerous.

 

 

 

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My goal as a dad was to give my children a better shot

fathersdayI thought about being a dad before becoming a dad. Before becoming a husband. Before becoming a man.

I grew up in a dangerous neighborhood on Detroit’s west side. I grew up where you were discouraged from seeking an education. You were discouraged from seeking a way out.

But I knew I needed to escape. I knew I had to get an education. It was my only way of becoming a better father, even though I was not a father at the time. My primary goal was to give my unborn children a better path to success than I had.

I wanted them to feel safer. I wanted them to go to better schools. And I wanted them to enjoy a better financial situation growing up than I had.

The one thing I could not surpass was the love that my grandmother, aunt and mother showered upon me. I don’t know how anyone could.

My children never got chased from the corner store like I was a few times. My kids go to Kroger, a safe heaven for all.

Men who rolled dice and illegal cigarettes stood in front of the Vancouver party store. Sometimes I’d walk past these men on my way home. And sometimes one of them would follow me with the intent of robbing me. Then one day one of the local drug dealers put a stop to it, telling one of the would be robbers that I had a bright future.

He told them to leave me alone. I never got robbed again.

My children never had a neighbor climb through a window and rob them. I did.

A dude named William pushed his nephew Willby through our window and swiped a jar where I pitched quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. It was my life savings that had about $75 in it.

They denied the theft. But I made a surprise visit and my jar sat on the kitchen table with only a few coins remaining.

I attended the Detroit Public School system where I thought most of my teachers had my best interest at heart. I even learned to appreciate my ninth grade English teacher Mrs. Williams who refused to give me an A until I unlocked my full potential in her class.

I finally did and that A felt so good.

My classmates made fun of me for studying hard and “talking proper.” My daughter’s friends pushed for her to do better.

My DPS teachers wanted the best for me, but they lacked the resources of West Bloomfield Schools where my children attended school.

My daughter Celine finished up her junior year at Stanford and already has a six figure job offer either in Dallas or Chicago when she graduates.

My son will be a freshman at Michigan State University in the fall if Corona-19 cooperates.

 

Childish MLB does not care about the game

mlbI must admit that at the beginning this pandemic that I longed to see LeBron James swinging from the rim after a crowd pleasing ally opp dunk.

I wanted to see Mike Trout strolling to the plate with runners on second and third with two outs. Hell I even woke up some mornings, turned off Morning Joe, and turned on Korean baseball.

Three months later I’ve learned to live without sports, in part because of the ridiculous back and forth between Major League Baseball owners and the MLB Players Association. We should be buying tickets for night games at Comerica Park by now. Or we should be looking forward to that chill evening in the back yard listening to Dan Dickerson or Jim Price.

In what should have been a week-long round of negotiations at best, baseball has dragged its feet for this petty fight for weeks, which threatens the sport for this season. We are talking about hundreds of men who live comfortable lives squabbling about money while blue collar workers who support this mess are suffering.

I was excited when I heard baseball would give us a star spangled Fourth of July start. Now I am upset that it won’t happen.

If owners and players don’t care enough about the game, then why should I?

Baseball should have been the first sport in America to quench our thirst for athletic competition. Now it looks like it could be the last one. The NHL and NBA figured it out. The King Kong of sports, otherwise known as the NFL, figured it out.

Baseball went from fighting about prorated contracts to length of season. In essence they are fighting about 10 games.

Players want a 70-game season and the extra revenue it brings. Owner want a 60-game season. Instead they are giving us a zero game season.

Figure it out guys.

Sometimes you must take a hit for the betterment of society. If they play then struggling workers get paid. If they play then baseball starved fans get to see action on the field.

Owners and players don’t seem to care about any of that. Then why should we?

 

The show must go on in the NBA

LebronGive me Team LeBron.

He believes that the NBA season should resume as soon as possible. He does not believe resuming the 2019-2020 season in Orlando will stunt the equal rights movement that we are seeing across the country.

I agree.

Others do not. NBA Players Association vice president Kyrie Irving, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony are among NBA players who believe playing will put a halt to the important protest we are seeing across the country from people that want to see blacks get a fair shake in life and are tired of police brutality.

I agree with the sentiment but cancelling the remainder of the 2019-2020 season makes no sense. I doubt that many people will say I can’t go to tonight’s protest. It’s Lakers-Bulls on TNT.

The world does not stop because of the NBA. The show will go on.

If players want to make a difference play the games and go to one of the six billion studios that Disney has and cut a spot demanding social change. Your words would mean more.

A USA Today report said that if James wants to play then the season will go on. Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley agrees.

‘Hoopers say what y’all want,” Beverley said in a tweet. “If @KingJames said he’s hooping. We all hooping. Not personal only business.”

 

 

 

 

Demon in the house. And its hungry

GhostThere is a demon, ghost, poltergeist or spirit that lives in our house.

This thing loves to snack on cookies, chips and cake in the middle of the night. And it does not flush the toilet.

Last night I made a last check of the kitchen at around midnight. It was clean. This morning I woke up to cake crumbs scattered across the back counter and the middle island.

My daughter Celine swears she did not make the mess. She said my son Brandon sneaks down at night and frames her. Brandon said he did not get up last night. It’s like this most nights.

None of the children did it. Or at least they claim they didn’t. I know it was not wife Abs. Once her head hits the pillow that’s it for her until sun rise. It is not me. I gave up midnight snacking a long time ago.

The final conclusion is the house is haunted with post midnight snacker demons. These ghost do a great job of avoiding me. I try to sneak up on them, but I’ve never seen one.

I’m the worst person in the world when I make my grown ass kids clean up. They say it is unfair for me to make them clean up for something they did not do. I counter by saying it is unfair for me to wake up to a dirty kitchen after I clean it after dinner.

I’ve talked to other parents. They say those same ghosts hit their kitchen also,

Hey demons, if you are reading this can you do me one more favor? Flush the doggone toilet. You are nasty.

I need help. I just don’t know if I need a private detective or if I need to call Ghost Busters.

Rayshard Brooks should be alive But…..

Rayshard Brooks should be alive today celebrating his daughter’s eighth birthday.

Brooks, 27, was shot and killed in an Atlanta Wendy’s parking lot in the latest round of white police gunning down another black male. However, the conversation I plan on having with my son Brandon will only partially touch on the shooting.

We will mostly talk about the mistakes Brooks made leading up to getting shot in the back. My job as a dad is to put my son in the best position to survive a police confrontation. And that’s what I plan to do.

So far we are one for one. I want to continue batting a thousand.

Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shot, was fired. That was the right move. He mortally wounded a man who was running away and posed no threat after misfiring a taser at the officer. He should be fired for that.

I will talk to my son about that. However, we will mostly go over the police cam video that shows Brooks resisting arrest after officers attempted to handcuff him.

Here are the bullet points I plan to go over with my son.

** Don’t drink and drive. Brooks was drunk when he fell asleep in the Wendy’s drive thru.

** Don’t resist arrest. Sometimes we mess up and get caught.

Take your medicine and move on. The initial part of the arrest was text book. The officers played it right. Brooks played it right. Things began to unravel when police attempted to handcuff him.

So why arrest him? Brooks had been driving drunk. If the police call an Uber and tell him to go sleep it off there is a chance he returns to retrieve his car later still drunk. The police cannot have that hanging over their heads in case he harms somebody behind the wheel.

With that said I was once confronted by the Grosse Pointe Woods police. I was not driving at the time, but maybe had one or two too many to get back in the car and drive home. The police knew who I was allowed and told me to call a friend to pick me up.

I retrieved my car the next day.

Would that have worked with Brooks?

So why did he resist? I don’t know the answer because dead men don’t talk. I wondered if he thought about the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis and said these police are not choking me out.

Every black parent I know of has that talk with their kids about what to do and not to do when stopped by the police. Brooks either did not have that talk or forgot that talk when he was confronted.

My son and I have had that talk. We are going over it one more time.

 

White guy lectures me about dating his daughter

I sat inside the home office of John C, a white guy who lived in Dearborn.

I was a little bit nervous as a 14 year old kid. John C. knew I liked his middle daughter Karen and said he wanted to talk to me. As a kid we used to joke that white people believed “you have more rights, just don’t move in next door and don’t date my daughter.”

I thought I was about to get lectured about dating his daughter. If you thought people are ignorant today, they were really messed up in the 70s. The people who discouraged you from dating white girls never had a problem with it. They were simply looking out for you because of the ills of society.

Yeah right.

I cannot tell you how many times someone told me that if you marry a white girl that you’d have babies with stripes would come out the womb looking like a checker board. So I sat in front of John C waiting for something stupid to come out of his mouth.

After my father was murdered by a Detroit police officer my family feared that I would go off the deep end. I was pissed because I didn’t really get to know him. They feared that I wanted to lash out. Their solution was to ship me off for seventh and eighth grade to Nativity Lutheran on Detroit’s west side.

It was my first experience at a mostly white school. And I got a little religion in me too. That’s where I met Karen who I believed to be the prettiest girl in school. We went out a few times. We kissed and held hands.

Nothing too heavy. We kept in touch after graduation.

That’s what led me to a meeting in the home study of John C. He grilled chicken and burgers that night and after dinner he invited me into his study. John C. was a friendly man who talked in a calm measured voice. He had speckles of gray in an otherwise dark mop of hair and a thick mustache.

“I hear that you like my daughter Karen.”

Oh boy. Here it comes.

John C.’s voice remained measured. There was no hint of anger or angst.

“Then why are you not going out with her? I think you are perfect for Karen. She likes you. You are a good guy and smart. Why is this not happening?”

I was stunned. I could not believe I was sitting in front of a white guy in Dearborn of all places during these turbulent times between the races, and he’s not only giving me permission to date his daughter. But he insisted on it.

I did not go on any more dates with Karen because she was seeing a guy who drove a truck and smoked cigarettes. I did not think I could compete with that.

A heavy cleaning trouble maker

My first job at The Detroit Free Press was as a heavy cleaner at the newspaper’s printing presses on West Jefferson. And I got in hot water because I worked too hard and had a big mouth.

I was young and ambitious. Although my job was to mop ink off the floors of the building I took pride in the job and wanted to do the best I could.

I began my afternoon shift by scrubbing down offices and worked my way to the lunch room. After that we mopped down the floors of the printing presses before the press men came in. It was tough work swinging that mop filled with water and chemicals. I lost 15 pounds that summer.

But here is where I got in trouble. I worked too fast.

We had a crew of eight men and they worked at a certain pace. I’d always finish up my offices before everybody else and waited for them to begin on the cafeteria. My belief is they had to justify to management that their shift was worthy of eight hours of work and eight hours of pay.

It wasn’t.

So one day, David, the shift supervisor said the other workers wanted to have meeting with me. I meet with the crew and we walked past the printing presses into an out of the way corner hidden by giant reams of paper.

In back was a mattress with dirty magazines. I was told that I needed to come back here and chill for a half an hour midway through my shift. I never did because there were rats back there. But I got the message.

Slow down.

The other guys called the main Free Press building on W. Lafayette the Ivory Tower. Their goal was to work there for easier duty and more pay. I wanted to work there as a sports writer.

I also got in trouble for yelling at a pressman. We were always told to keep our heads down, work hard, and ignore the dirty glances and demeaning words from the pressmen.

I failed that challenge.

One day a pressman scolded our crew, saying we were stupid and that the only thing we could do in life was clean up after him. These were my boys now and I had to stand up for them and stand up for me. I got mad and I broke the cardinal rule of talking back.

“Look mother fucker,” I barked at the startled man. “You see this paper you are printing? I am going to be in it someday and you are going to want to know what I am writing. You are going to want to read what I have to say.”

The dude said I was ignorant and illiterate and would never find my way into a newspaper except as a cleaner or gopher.

I showed him.

 

The white people’s guide to getting along with this black man

Now that we have your attention I’d like to present the White People’s Guide to Getting along with This Black man.

I am actually easy to get along with. My demands and standards are not as strenuous as many. But there are certain things I wished white people would stop doing and saying to me.

Here we go.

STOP ASKING ME IF MY DAUGHTER CELINE GOT INTO STANFORD BECAUSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.

The girl gets on my nerves sometimes but she is an exceptional student. She had a 4.4 grade point average in high school, was student body president and gave the graduating class speech.

She is finishing up her junior year at Stanford and is carrying a 3.8 grade point average. She was her class president for her first three years and has decided not to run for a fourth term. She is vice president of Stanford Women in Business and is a busy body on campus that students know about.

She belongs.

PLEASE STOP SAYING I AM ONE OF THE GOOD ONES.

What you are saying is blacks are not good people, but I am an exception. That is not a compliment.

I’ve never told a white person they are one of the good ones, even though there are plenty of evil white people who are mean spirited. But there are millions of good white people, just as there are millions of good black people.

But when I hear that I am one of the good ones it is telling me that my race is no good. I don’t like that.

PLEASE STOP ASKING WHY YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO US THE N-WORD AROUND ME.

It is not your word. Why would you want to used it? The word used to be a positive word in society until the white race mucked it up and turned it into a slur.

Yes, younger blacks use that word. I rarely do.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago I hung around a group of Gay guys in Palm Springs. During the course of the weekend they called each other queers, queens and fags. Those were not my words. I could not engage them in the same way they engaged each other. And I did not want to.

Do you know what I called them?

Bill. Frank. Steve. Joe. Or whatever other name their parents gave them.

PLEASE STOP SAYING I DON’T SEE COLOR.

Of course you do. We all do.

When you say that it is like denying my difference I bring to the world. Blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics. We are all different. Instead of saying we don’t see color, let’s embrace our differences. Let all the colors and flavors we bring melt into a beautiful rainbow.

If we allow our differences to melt into the soul of our country, we will be a better land.

STOP ASKING IF A BLACK GUY IS QUALIFIED TO BE A HEAD COACH.

When I debate with my sports fans about possible coaching jobs, they almost always ask if a black coach is qualified for the job when I bring their name up. But they never ask if a white guy is qualified for the job. It’s just assumed that he is.

PLEASE STOP SAYING I DON’T SOUND BLACK

What does a black person sound like?

Does James Earl Jones sound black?

Do people from Africa with their cute British accents sound black?

Or do some people in the inner city who split their verbs sound black?

We have a diverse sound, as do most cultures.

SECURITY. STOP FOLLOWING ME IN STORES

I do not steal. My aunt, mother and grandmother taught me that at an early age. I understood following me when I was young. I am an old man now. I did not come into your store to swipe a pair of socks.

I can afford them.

There are other people in your store. Watch them also. You do not have to follow me around in the store. I’m one of the good ones.

Opps.

I’m a clown.