(Originally published on August 31, 2003, where were you and what were you thinking about?)
People came from as close as Southfield and as far as Seattle to see their favorite artists in action, and fans say they weren’t disappointed.
“God gave him something and he ran with it,” Tom (Tizzle) Jones, a producer from Trenton, N.J., said about rapper Eminem. Jones made the 10-hour drive in a rented car with his buddy D. Durb.
Parents and young people alike flooded the downtown streets of Brush, Adams and Madison; some dressed casually in standard hip-hop fare, others wore neatly tucked shirts and khaki pants.
Some fans came solo, others were with a large group of friends; younger teens, joined by parents.
“I’m a psychologist and I just advocate where he came from and what he is,” said Ruth Owens of rapper 50 Cent.
Owens brought her son, 13-year-old Cameron. “The kids — this is their culture now. I think that parents need to get involved,” she said. “Instead of censoring them, you may as well get involved.”
Detroit, MI (VV) – In case you hadn’t heard, Marshall Mathers chose Detroit as the only North American concert for Eminem, a.k.a, Slim Shady. And I’m laughing like hell about how suddenly corporate executives who previously wanted him censored are embracing his shows this weekend as a huge cultural event for Ford Field and Detroit.
I grew up two blocks away from 11 Mile and Woodward Ave. The latter is the boulevard that was US1 and originally ran from Detroit to Seattle. The part in Detroit is famous for spawning the street racing of Detroit’s muscle cars in the 50′s and 60′s (sorry Californian’s, American Graffiti is a mime of Woodward).
Back then, the counter-culture was “hippies” who smoked pot, were against war and tried to promote peace and love while protesting the establishment that tried to silence them. Today, those same people are trying to censor Eminem labelling his lyrics as dangerous to kids.
If you saw the movie 8 Mile and know about Eminem than you’ve already got a pretty good idea about the raw side of Detroit or any other urban area. And Marshall Mathers got it right when he sings about how it’s suddenly now such a tragedy that white middle class suburban kids are learning about the inner-city rap culture and how ridiculous it is that his songs are blamed for their behavior.
But good parenting is a whole other posting and since I am not one, I will never pretend to have an expert opinion.
I will profess to have a solid take on Detroit and 8 Mile and the culture here. And I can back it up, too. Growing up in the 60′s and 70′s here, my parents did everything they could to PREVENT their children from being isolated from black kids in a time when it was a (bogus) sign of “class” to do so.
They sent us to inner-city social programs that mixed large groups of black children and white children from the burbs together to play so sociologists could study the interaction and hope the foundations for better race relations grew. “What, an experiment with children?” you say. Hell yeah, it was, but the kids had the last laugh because we didn’t know any better except to grow fond of one another. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of tension, bullying and even fighting. But we were working it out on equal terms in an inner-city location rather than in some upscale environment where token black kids were hosted to make the patrons feel less guilty of the injustices of that time.
Later, I spent five years in mud and oil laboring at a huge scrap yard at 6 Mile and Conant along side men in a much harsher environment than the unionized auto factories portrayed in 8 Mile. Slim Shady’s lyrics have nothing on the common lingo spoken in those places, so nothing he says is new to my ears.
More to the point, Eminem was nothing five years ago, but all he sings about existed and was common. He’ll be gone as an artist one day, too and what are we doing in the meantime to understand where and help the kids he’s having such a negative impact on?
As Ruth Owens said, “Instead of censoring them, you may as well get involved.”
(c) Copyright Vincent J. Kern — 2003
All Rights reserved
Are there any real Bozos left?
The death of the best and brightest Bozo, Larry Harmon, at the age of 83 came as a surprise last night when the news broke and I was watching a ballgame. He was not the original, but he became the franchise.
A true entertainer of children and adults alike, Harmon trained hundreds of other Bozos (and made millions in trademarking the clown and its characture) in the fine art of clowning for kids who mostly believed there was only one Bozo. Each one was carefully selected by Harmon for energy, and a “gleam in their eye,” according to Harmon. They all portrayed Bozo within Harmon’s high standards of performance in their local Bozodoms.
I learned last night there was a 10-year waiting list for the Chicago live Bozo show in the 80′s (portrayed by Bob Bell) and in 1990 when they opened up the reservation list again it took only five hours to book the show for five more years.
I recalled and learned a lot about Harmon last night as I read about his mission. And this morning, while pondering life on a beatiful holiday morning on my deck with coffee I asked myself; “Why is it that there are no longer several significant human icons of quality entertainment and education for children?
It seems all the role-model characters for children these days are people hiding inside animal costumes (of weird colorful concoctions or are of some techno-gadget cartoon/video) with more adult qualities than an entertainer of children should have.
I have a theory on that.
My theory is that as parents became lazier and lazier they allowed televison and video games to supplant human follicking and sharing of the their own inner muse to pass the time. That’s not rocket science, but if you think further about what the children are missing by the type of direct human interaction from say a Bozo or Mr. Rodgers, or even Captain Kangaroo, it seems that we’re behaving as if it’s just not cool to frolic with your children. Give em the easy substitute and they’ll be fine.
Except that as generations pass, the inner muse of children and adults alike becomes muted and eventually goes away. And then it’s really not cool to frolick, you might be outcast or labelled as a pervert of sorts.
But all hope is not lost.
I know there are still people willing to let their inner-Bozo shine, I’ve met one personally in the form of Biffo-T-Clown. He (otherwise known as Steve Dolan) once embedded himself in the Ringling Circus as a reporter for the Daily Californian to write a story about a clowns.
Dolan loved making the children smile so much he made it an annual event for some time. One year, he even got me to serve as the Ringmaster for one night’s show. Later, I watched as a the master Ringling Bros. clown invited Biffo into his trailer to remove their makeup together. That’s the highest honor one clown can bestow upon antoher.
So let’s all remember that clowns are priceless at any age and still a requirement to spread the joy of the human spirit in our world today.
And the next time I call you “Bozo,” or someone refers to you as “a clown” take it as a compliment.
– 30 –
(c) Photo by Vincent J. Kern — 2008 — Copyright and All Rights reserved
Kindling collected from a neighbor’s May camp-cleaning and a “vintage” wicker fireside box-seat was found at our Squaw Beach getaway a month ago when we arrived to perform ours last month.
No one particular Vibe today, just a bunch of “Vibettes” from the week. It seems that after another long, intense and busy week at work the Vinman’s noggin is working in smaller snippets:
Man, folks out here in semi-rural Livingston County are trying to grow corn in places never before planted! It’s not even knee-high yet, but high enough to distinguish as a new cornfield in places I drive by routinely.
We’ve got lots of cornfields and land out here in Pinckney, MI just northwest of Ann Arbor but far fewer than 10 years ago when the land began to host housing developments in the real estate boom, now crashing. A number of spots that were just acres of raw land waiting to be sold are now turning into the golden crop of corn.
One new plot in particular, is just next to the Barnstormer, a local bar and grill located near and the intersection of M-36 and US23 and host to numerous weddings and banquet gatherings. Driving by, I thought about how smart a planting it was with the price surely to be inflated even more now with the flooding in Iowa.
We don’t get many floods destroying crops in these parts, but we have other dangers: In this case, I can just see a bunch of drunken best-men and bridesmaids frolicking in the cornfield next door when the crop is high enough to get lost in.
Field of Dreams? Who knows. But it brought back a recurring though someone put forward a couple of years ago to help the city of Detroit. Why not develop Urban Farming in Detroit’s unrecoverable housing wastelands that sprawl parts of the city? Some of the most fertile soil in is this part of the state and the theory has it that if the land is used for productive farming, folks will eventually return and rebuild the housing in a more relevant and useful manner. How long? Who knows? But I know it won’t happen in my lifetime.
MORE PROBLEMS FOR THE CITY
Sad thing is, even if someone put forth a no-brainer-miracle-idea in Detroit these days and even offered to fund it nothing would happen. We read today in the Free Press that the FBI is investigating the City Council (and may have possibly already pursued wire taping) in a sluge reclamation project. So far, just anonymous sources and no comments by anyone except one of the Council members who acknowledges talking to the FBI but says he is not a target.
Kwame and his cronies are not the only problem this city has. Nothing good or bad will move through the political machinery of this city for a long time. It’s paralyzed on more fronts than we could imagine.
COMMUTING REQUIRES BALANCE
I got lucky. A colleague who has also beceom a good friend who lives about halfway along my monster-mileage (57) one-way commute has been my commuting partner for almost a year now. And a couple of months ago, we invited a third person who lives just a few miles from me making a commute for each of us almost a full trip’s worth.
Yes, it saves money. By my calculations, just once a week saves me about $14.00. We’ve managed more than that and in fact got pretty regular for awhile.
But let me tell you, it isn’t as easy as one would think. There’s a whole new routine to be met. Arriving on time requires some easy precision timing. Leaving is dependant on who has to stay the latest and can everyone live with that. The tendancy is to say “sure, I can always find work to do.” But the reality is that sometimes after 5 p.m. and a long day you are just ready to go home. And if you’re fortunate (as I am) to somewhat dictate your own schedule, trying to “find” work to do can sometimes be tedious.
Then there’s the shopping/workout thing. For me, at my best, I can manage at least two and often three or more good early mornings in the gym. Up about 5:15, into the gym and working out (at my midway point of the commute) by about 6, done (including a decent sauna) and at work by 8 or 8:30 or so.
Balancing all of that is tough. I had to take a week off (thought I’d get to the gym, but didn’t) and all I managed to do was reclaim some of my personal time on the drive (which is amazingly important) and do some shopping for quality food to eat at work instead of the high-fat cafeteria stuff.
So, as with everything else, it becomes a matter of prioritization. With gas the way it is, the commute must remain in some form, but how often? We’ll see.
- 30 –
It’s just time for a Vibe.
Saturday, 10:16 a.m. and two cups of coffee down, the Sounds of the Season cable music channel is playing music that makes tapping a Vibe easy. Nothing special, nothing I know, but most everything I’ve heard at least once or twice before on the same channel as it rotates through it’s repertoire.
Soothing Saturday mornings are requisite to make weekends whole, but they’re not guaranteed. We’ve had a mix of bad weather, too much spring cleaning and some left over fall cleaning that was left unfinished to allow for a mellow, come-what-may-morning.
And man is it welcome.
One cat, our pure black Bombay (we call him Nick Bombay, private eye) has been outside and is now comfortably lounging in the cool confines of an open window frame while the music gets to a twiney blues guitar riff backed by electronic beats.
It’s getting hotter outside, but there’s a welcoming breeze.
And all of this is melting away one long-ass week of work that included the unfortunate corporate norm of stress induced by pension freezes and rumors of another round of involuntary severance offers that serve only to make thing more “interesting” operationally.
You’ll note that I don’t write about work on this blog. Don’t want to and don’t believe it’s ethical. I’m the kind who folks call naive, but I would rather rest in the blessings of this life and relegate my work to an important but not consuming level. And I direct a 24/7 intense operation that requires a lot of energy.
But in the end, just being here at home with my wife, our health, our music and some good weather for a change is enough to begin the transport into the weekend with some first-class environs.
Hence, this morning’s Vibe……..I’m already thinking ahead to a Crown Royal on the rocks later, but I’ll need some different music ’cause this stuff is getting too trippy.
- 30 -
No snow in the forcast for this Chistmas Eve, so today The Vinman harkens back to 2002 when we got a perfect white blanket overnight early Christmas day.
The Vibe: Christmas Morning
The gift from nature that makes Christmas complete arrived Christmas Eve, just as children everywhere hoped for, ready for opening at the time of one’s choice. Stay up late for a glimpse of Santa (and never catch him delivering gifts) and you might have seen it. But wake early and it was already there.
No unwrapping, no cost to sender, no safety warning labels and no assembly required. The white blanket has no size or color problems, and there will be no waiting in line to return this gift. Much as we’d like to take it back on other days, snow on Christmas Eve is always welcome and everyone wantes to keep it.
Hasn’t happened like this, with such perfect timing in years…can’t remember the last time.
It’s just light enough now to see the keys on my laptop. I’ve been watching the snowfall for almost two hours now, lounging on the futon in our converted porch-sunroom looking out on a lawn with 22 trees — each branch hosting a at least an inch of snow…..more if sturdier. The only tire tracks in the four-inches over the dirt are from the newspaper delivery guy who brought a paper I could care less about this morning. Having made it yesterday, it’s the last thing I am concerned with today.
Still the snow falls…….none on the ground yesterday — grey and colorless it was. Today, every bit of color around contrasts greatly with the overlay of bright clean perfect white everywhere. The red pickup truck across the street, the blue and red newspaper tubes and even the two for sale signs on the house down the street look like paintings on a wall of white…planned, centered and hung for maximum visual pleasure.
But the masterpiece of the view is now the colorful decorative lights adorning the houses and trees along the street. Just dark enough for the lights to be the dominant glow revealing colors like the Northern Lights and nebula in the sky. Only two birds have been seen awake so far……a circling hawk looking for early prey above the trees across the street and by the lake and a “Big Ass Crow” as Sheila and I call them — the bullies of the neighborhood and ready to go anywhere they damn well please.
And just now — as I type, I hear an odd call sounding like a squirrel. But turning, I see it is a big red-headed woodpecker just a few feet away stopping by my feeder with food especially for her. She calls to her mate, quickly shifting her head from side to side to catch a view of him arriving to let him know she’s there — over and over — but there appears to be no response. So she dashes down to the lower branch and then quickly to the feeder for a Christmas morning meal of suet made just for her. And in the time it took to write that graph, she’s done and gone.
But other birds must we waking now as it approaches exactly 9 a.m…….little finches are looking for sunflower seeds in the other feeder, but the 28 brown Sparrows that live in our Rose bushes along the driveway are still asleep, or planning their day deep within the center of the prickly castle, underneath the snowcovered tentacles of the buffalo-sized bird home.
My lovely wife sleeps on upstairs having shared equal amounts of an expensive bottle of champagne with me last night as we held our “homefield” Christmas Eve gift exchange. Home this year, Alaska or San Diego next…..it’s an alternating year kind of thing. But now she is awake talking to her cat and wondrous that there is snow outside.
The other cat is stoned from a stocking stuffer cat-nip toy and laying by the furnace. And now my wife is up, the phone has rang…Northwest Airlines has located our airshipment of Alaskan crab and shrimp caught fresh by my brother in-law Chris off his fishing boat.
Suddenly, a snow-mobiler blasts down the road in front of my house at 60 MPH. The quiet is gone, destroyed……….but the vibe is till there, just changing and different.
An so, it’ll be off to the airport in the snow…..I have the vehicle for it, and the time.
If you are in California, enjoy your weather and don’t take for granted that sunshine which you (and I) are so fond of. But know this, I wouldn’t trade this one day of fresh Christmas snow for a whole winter of 60 degree weather. If you haven’t experienced it I hope this little glimpse (it really does look like the pictures above) helps visualize what it’s about.
And if you have, get back to your own vibe now!!!!! Enjoy the snow, for it may soon be gone.
It had been a wonderful weekend in Cleveland that will now forever be marred by Don Imus, the Santa Claus killer.
Three days hanging out in one of the best hotels downtown in the rockin’ town hosting the women’s NCAA Final Four Championship as well as the WNBA draft. Sat at the bar next to Bill Laimbeer and his wife, and had hor’dourves with Tree Rollins and lots of other wonderful semi-famous folks. Lots of fun, a great conference and then a few days later IT happened.
Not only did Don Imus use his ignorance to insult the talented and wonderful group of basketball players in addition to a whole race, the nincompoop went and killed Santa Clause, too! And as much as I disdain racial ignorance, overblown political correctness by attaching stigma to unrelated semantical use is a societal cancer.
I knew it would happen soon after his comments made on the radio that cost him his job. In fact, I predicted it long before the New York Post ran a “Ho, Ho, Ho: Imus gets last laugh” headline about Imus settling his lawsuit with the company that fired him.
Does technology threaten or enhance reality?
Explanation: Inspired during a visit to Fort Davis, Texas, home of McDonald Observatoryand dark night skies, photographer Larry Landolfi created this tantalizing fantasy view. The composited image suggests the Milky Way is a heavenly extension of a deserted country road.
I use Netvibes to aggregate the content I need/desire on a daily basis and one of my favorite RSS feeds is a daily astronomy photo and explanation. Seeing the beauty and vast space we (really) live in opposed that which society would have us believe we inhabit opens my morning mind and reminds me how insignificant and fleeting things that bother or innundate us with negativity truly are.
It spurs my spirituality.
Usually, the photos are taken through the Hubble telescope, an observatory, or one of NASA’s roving spacecraft carousing our solar system. They are always fantastic renderings of space and time. But the photo above is a composite of two actual pictures (description above, too) made into one artistic rendering of what could very well be a realistic site.
Except, it’s not.
And that always gives me pause and reminds me of the first time in my journalism career that technology made it easy to do this on computers, unseen and undetected by readers and consumers. At the Daily Californian in El Cajon, California we went to an AP Wire-photo desk and tossed the little blue box that had been churning out black and white photos on film paper via a satellite up-link. On this day in 1992 we had been live with the new digital service (which was essentially a very slow PC-based system that allowed thumbnails to dynamically populate images for downloading. I recall that the average photo took about a minute to render on the screen when one called it up to look at.
I also well recall the day that a group of senior citizens were visiting the paper and I was demonstrating the new technology. They were fascinated, enthralled and stood awestruck as we watched a new photo image right on the screen from top to bottom as it came in. As the top portions filled in, it was obvious it was of a human as the hair and top of the head imaged in. To make a long story short, the photo wound up being a bikini-clad Victoria’s Secret model who had achieved some celebrity status for one thing or another.
The men were cheering each digital sweep placing more and more of the image on the screen, a few of the women laughed and realized that in the universal context of things it was actually pretty ironic. And, of course, a couple of folks were quiet as they’d ever been for whatever reason.
But, I digress.
Shortly after digital photos began to replace film and darkroom development of journalistic endeavors, there was a hubub about a newspaper that eliminated an overhead wire from an upward-looking photo. The wire landed right below the boxers’ crotch in the photo and ran downward through the photo. Even left in, it would not have presented an image that was open to interpretation, it plainly looked like just an overhead wire. But the photo editor airbrushed it from the photo and cloned in similar bytes so it appeared it was not there.
In the discussion of ethics that ensued, the AP showed (and we did our own experimenting about) how easy it would be to do things with digital editing like move a ball approaching a first baseman’s mitt on a close play nearer to (or further away from) and even into the fielder’s glove which would change the reality of the the actual event.
And that’s the rub. Any changing of reality could be perceived as questionable, but we learn through our lives to fudge the lines a bit — especially when art is involved.
So I wonder this morning — as I once again pause on a contrived photo — how will this affect our youth over time. And what standards will their children have for such things? Just in my short time on this spaceship Earth, our children are literally born with the aptitude and chance to use software to create anything. And in another post, I will try to link these thoughts to the future of journalism but it’s Sunday.
And today, I choose to accept this photo for what it is: accurately-presented as a mixture of two images to create one worth seeing, acknowledge its beauty and save it for the future. But tonight, when I enjoy my weekly sojourn into galactic music and relaxation time I will definitely not use the photo as a guidepost upon which to steer this planet. For we would wind up completely off course and drifting aimlessly out of control on our collaborative journey at about 17,000 MPH through space.