Does anybody else hold a fond spot in their memories for that point between 1999 and 2002 when the West Coast had a bit of a Dogg Pound based revival?

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One of the worst day-ruiners has to be a wet sock. Hands down, it’s awful. It stops you in your tracks. You know you’re going to have to air out your shoe. And in the worst case scenario you’re stuck sloshing around all day. It happened to me recently, and it couldn’t have been at a more sobering moment.

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This past March I spent two weeks abroad in France and Belgium (more details to follow). One of the most touching moments of the trip was walking on Omaha Beach, the stretch of the Normandy beaches where American troopers landed for one of the most infamous and bloody battles of WW2. The place rang with echoes of pain and torment. As I moved from the drier entrance to the beach, past the shard-like memorial, and onto the wet sand, I could see the footprints embedding themselves as young legs leapt off ducks, imprints of bodies downed by enemy fire, sprays of sand as bullets missed their targets, and the knee marks left by those who dropped down amongst the bedlam to be with a friend as he took his last breath, or try against that onslaught to heal a wounded brother.

Everyone – all 30 something students and teachers – was absolutely silent. There were no politics. No disagreements. No barriers. Just people blessed enough to walk onto that beach without a single fear of being hurt, of it being their last time on beach. What I saw was a student, previously disconnected from the potential joy of the trip, utterly lost in the moment. What I saw was a pair of students embracing, supporting each other although no one physically needed a hand. What I saw was a student staring off into the crashing tide, completely unfazed by the lack of a jacket and his decision to wear shorts on such an overcast and windy day. What I saw was a couple of kids who quietly and without question followed my directions for how to properly fold an American flag. What I saw was a group of students apparently reaching for shells or handfuls of sand to carry as mementos, when they might as well have been trying to bury themselves in the omnipresent memories of those who were carried home instead, shells of their former selves and too soon to be sand.

And I stared into the horizon, imagining the vessels carrying these terrified, brave men into an uncertain battle, sure of their purpose but wary from the travel. And as I sought that perfect mound of sand to stand on I was distracted by a bright purple shell. I reached down and shifted my footing to grab it.

And I stepped my right foot directly into the water.

Normally that would have triggered my anger, or made me feel self-conscious. But there was something visceral happening around me. History flooded my every sense. It was inescapable. I had submerged myself into an ocean of a moment, shared by so many, stretched across time, and yet utterly singular and personal. There is no way to disconnect and yet there are miles between. It’s a comforting dissonance. Much like my reaction to my lack of reaction. I just stopped. There was no revelation. There was no poetic bursting forth as I realized what my being angry meant in the face of the vastness and weight of this place. I just didn’t get mad.

Because years before me there were hundred of kids with wet socks, too scared to be mad about it, to determined to think about it -sloshing onto a beach, boots needing more that airing out.

And now as I look back at my pictures I realize that pictures don’t show wet shoes, but they hold more than we can ever hope to see in them.

 

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Admittedly last summer got off to a rocky start, and at the time I couldn’t see the joy of what was in front of me – Marcie, our new furry member of the family derailed my idea for how summer would be spent. In my mind, it would have been the summer that I got my first draft of Jamelechus’s tale finished, and other short stories written so that I could explore my writer’s voice. Things didn’t go according to plan. Puppies require constant attention, and my lack of experience meant a seemingly endless series of furstrations. But here we are, a year later and all the better for last summer’s time that was made available to me. We found a doggy daycare and took Marcie in on Fridays – my day off – thereby giving me guaranteed,  uninterrupted days of creativity. I was able to get 20-something pages into the narrative, and ended up using time at the lower desk station at CHPL to get a few ideas worked out.

This summer the possibilities are expanded in that we take her to daycare on a daily basis. I’ll now have additional afternoons available to me, as well as my expected day off. My list of personal goals has just shifted by a year: I still want to try my hand at guitar; I want to figure out how to play the keyboard; I want to work on drawing again; and most importantly I want to write. I need to write. And I expect that I’ll be able to pursue all of these things. Even if we decide against taking Marcie in on a daily basis, we now have a fenced in yard which means more space for her to roam without necessitating my constant attention. I’d be able to read and write outside, and maybe even pluck at the guitar a bit. She’s even better at taking naps, and listening when I tell her to go in her crate.

I think Marcie came into my life so that I could really understand the importance of time, of using the time we have available to pursue our passions, and to enrich ourselves. She has enriched my life in innumerable ways, and while I don’t regret anything, I do wish I could have seen just how much she’d expand the depths of my heart, and how her apparent interference in my plans meant a richer experience when I actually set out to fulfill them.

Anybody else feel like Schoolboy Q’s “Groovy Tony/ Eddie Kane” deserves its own holiday based on how dope it is? And that Jada verse is the unexpected highlight of 2016. Fire.

While we’re in the subject, lemme get that beat.

A new segment, in which I examine the good songs on bad albums, the bad songs on good albums, throwaway lines on bangers, memorable lines on terrible song choices, and reevaluations of once loved or reviled albums.

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Can-I-bus was such a let down. Remember first hearing one of his monster guest verses and thinking, “Man, this guy is about to destroy the whole game”? 

And then he let us down with those albums. At least he gave us one thing: an easy way to remember the day Biggie died – “The greatest rapper of all time died on March 9th” (from “Second Round KO”).

I hope you all rocked out to your favorite BIG jams. At the gym I banged Life After Death, and was reminded of why he’s considered one of the best to ever do it. The album reminds me of high school and of a particular trip to Boston. I’m still in awe at his verse on Notorius Thugs; but I’m not in awe at how easy it was for me to rap along (I mean, come on – how do you forget that verse). “Mo Money Mo Problems” will always remind me of some of my favorite moments of high school, while “Going Back to Cali” (along with Outkast’s entire ATLiens) specifically bring me right back to the passenger seat of Clark’s SUV. 

You’re still missed, BIG. 

I’ve posted about him many, many times, so I thought I’d put together a little music video primer. CyHi the Prynce is the most underutilized member of GOOD Music, and for years I’ve been scratching my head about why artists like Big Sean are getting more attention than he is. Recently he announced that his official debut album is about to drop, which makes me laugh because he’s got so many burners in his catalog already, including the Black Hystori Mixtapes that I’ve been banging for years. So here’s a little playlist of some of my personal favorites for you to enjoy.