The EMP Part Uno: The Guitar Room

Before I start shout out to Amber Ray, she is the director of the EMP gift stores and she gave me a ticket for the exhibit.

So we begin with the amazing collection of guitars only a technology billionaire could afford, just like Paul Allen, who owns the EMP.

Part one showcases all the guitars I’ve coveted since I was a kid. Including the Fender Broadcaster, Gibson “Les Paul” and an early Fender P-Bass.

Without further Hesitation….

Jimi Hendrix’ personal Martin acoustic guitar

From left: unnamed bass, Steinberger Bass, Rickenbacker Bass

1952 Fender P-Bass, 1937 Gibson Electric Upright Bass

1984 Kramer Customized Fender Copy

Gibson “Les Paul” or better known as the SG

1952 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

Left: 1953 Fender Telecaster. Right: (the holy grail of Fender Guitars) 1950 Fender Broadcaster

1959 Fender Jazzmaster

1955 Gretsch 6120

1957 Gibson Flying V Prototype

1954 Fender Stratocaster

1940’s Martin Acoustic Owner by Woody Guthrie

1968 Fender Stratocaster Played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock

“Brownie”1956 Fender Stratocaster player by Eric Clapton

1959 Gibson Les Paul played by Duane Allman

The original Electric Lady Land studios mixing board

Jimi Hendrix getup

Happy Veterans Day to my friend Holden

Today we observe the Armistice of 1918 by celebrating all of the men and women who have served in our military. The 11th of November is known as “Veterans Day” here in the U.S. Elsewhere, it is called “Remembrance Day” or “Armistice Day”.

This day commemorates the ceasefire that ended hostilities between the Allied and German forces on the Western Front in the First World War.

Known as the Great War, WWI was supposed to be the “war to end all wars”. It was not and almost a full century later we honor our brave men and women in uniform who have served our country both past and present.

I’d like to dedicate this Veterans Day to one of my best friends from childhood and U.S. armed forces veteran: Holden Lindblom.  Holden and I met in 6th grade when he moved from North Carolina to Massachusetts. I was 11 years old and I had only moved up from New York just two years before. We were both new kids from elsewhere. We lived just a few blocks away from each other and took the same bus home from school.

One day I was reading a historical fiction book titled, “Flames of the Tiger”. There was a big German Tiger tank engulfed in flames on the cover. Holden was sitting behind me on the bus and kept popping up over the back of my seat. This fucking kid kept reading over my shoulder. And he wasn’t quiet about it.

“Stop it!” I had a short fuse as a kid. And I couldn’t really read so I needed to concentrate like crazy. NO DISTRACTIONS.

“What?” This kid instantly sassed me.

“Stop reading over my shoulder!” I was not a friendly kid either. No pleasantries were exchanged whatsoever. I must have had a bad day of middle skool.

“Why?”

I’m sure that I said something incredibly rude to Holden. I didn’t even know his name yet but knowing what kind of rotten little bastard I was back then I am very sure that I called him a “fagit” or something. And knowing Holden, I think that he just laughed at my fuckery and introduced himself because he was always a good kid deep down.

I was lucky that this funny, overly friendly kid behind me was persistent and made friends with me in spite of my outwardly unfriendly disposition. I never thought about it until now, but I think that Holden becoming friends with me made me less mean. He was a good guy.

Holden introduced himself after I gave up and put my book away. We had a short conversation and we learned that both of us weren’t from here. He told me about how he’d just moved up from North Carolina. I told him about moving up from New York just two years earlier.

Riding the bus together to and from our middle school made us fast friends. Before Holden, I had never had a friend who lived in the same neighborhood as I had. He was my first true buddy. And best of all, he fit into my already established friends group. I never realized until college how fucking hard it is to bring a new friend into a previously established friends group. It fucking sucks, man. It is hard as balls. I feel like very few people understand that when they are introduced into a new friends group that they have an obligation to be friendly and not standoffish or weird. Holden was weird, but we were all weird kids. So he fit in in no time at all and soon all of us in the neighborhood were hanging out.

I moved away after middle school and Holden and I had a hard time staying in touch. In 2011 when we both graduated, Holden joined the Army and I was headed to film school. I drank myself nearly to death. Holden survived a full 9-month tour of active duty in Afghanistan. The funny part is that it was my college essay that got me into film school. I wrote about the first movie I’d ever made, which was with Holden back in middle school. That was almost ten years ago now when we were both 13 years old. This was one of the most important friendships of my life.

That’s what’s been on my mind this Veterans Day. It’s too easy to forget about the people who matter to most to you. Today, I didn’t just think about my friend but I looked up to him. I’m just thankful that guys like my friend Holden get a day dedicated to them. Holden was honorably discharged back in April and he’s finally back home where we grew up. I need to get back in touch with him and I hope I can soon. We’ve got a lot to catch up on. I hope that everybody got a moment today to reflect on their own Holden Lindblom. Our veterans are never going to know how much they mean to us. We’re all lucky. The least we can do today is to think on how lucky we are.

We’re lucky and we’re all thankful for our friends and loved ones and family members who served our countries (to everyone all over the world today). But I feel luckiest of all because I can still remember the first time I met my friend Holden.

Let’s Celebrate Veterans, Not War.

My cousins. My grandfathers. My great-uncles. My childhood friends. There are many people I know who served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. My grandfather, my father’s father, proudly served in the Army in Korea and was buried in a military graveyard in Indiana. My mother’s father also served in Korea; I’ve seen photos of him, muscular arms around the local women, with a sly grin.

I love the sacrifice and it’s admirable. But, I’ve never believed it was necessary because I loathe the concept of war. People say all the time that it’s necessary to preserve whatever and blah blah, but most of us know it’s to serve self-interests and prove ourselves a powerful opponent. We wage war to make money and intimidate other countries. But, I digress.

We don’t take care of our veterans, unfortunately. So, today, thank a veteran in some way. Call your grandfather, or uncle, or an older, male or female family member and let them know that their sacrifice was appreciated. They did not have a choice like we do now. Let’s make sure their efforts were not in vain.

Peace.

How I Dealt With My Grandmother’s Death

I’m sitting in a modest, split-level office. A kindly Indian woman took my name and shakes her hair before she answers the phone. I filled out the new patient forms and let her scan my insurance card. Then, I wait. 

The past 24 hours have been pretty intense. I’m a person who tries to avoid tense, awkward situations. That’s why I avoided talking to my father for the past 5 years. Yes, 5 years. But, my grandmother, his mother, died (see: I’m Bad at Life). And, I needed to deal with that.

When I found out, I didn’t. I didn’t call, I didn’t text back, I just…didn’t. Dealing with a death is something no one wants to do. Compounded with reconnecting with one’s estranged father…WOOF. 

I drove with my other grandma about 200 miles south to the funeral at 8:30 am. My new car is a dream. The Civ glided through the picturesque roads while Grandma quipped every 90 seconds if I went more than two miles per hour over the 70mph speed limit. “We’re okay, lady!” I responded, slowing down to 72. 

There are landmarks I look for when I go to that place; a giant Jesus figure on the side of the highway for one. “The giant Jesus!” I shouted, excitedly. A stone monstrosity, arms outstretched, almost 30 feet high. It let me know I’m about an hour away. 

I was racked with guilt and anxiety. More than you can understand. And suddenly, when I walked into the church, it was like I was punched in the fucking heart. I saw my grandmother, laying in a casket, looking frail like a baby bird. I lost my shit. I cried harder and fell into my father’s arms. There was a line of people behind me but I didn’t care. I couldn’t handle seeing her, so small, so…dead. 

The service itself was uneventful but respectful. My grandmother was a very religious woman so the service was basic and pious. My father read the remarks and sang (which was a bit odd, but whatever…). I felt I couldn’t react or smile. I shook a bit and tried to engage but I thought multiple times about bolting from the seat. Good thing I wasn’t on an aisle seat! 

I kind of want to block out the events but I can’t and I shouldn’t. I don’t want to feel traumatized but I can’t really get the feeling of guilt and sadness out of my mind. But, it’s the grieving process. It doesn’t go away in a day. I haven’t cried today; I cried enough yesterday for the remainder of 2015! 

  The Young Alcoholic and Miles Lark sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers (which I’m looking at) and I “made up” with my father. 

  I think things will go well. I’m going to start a new antidepressant tonight after meeting and consulting with a new psychiatrist. I’m having a positive attitude toward things. I have good people in my corner. I’m hanging in there, guys! 

Wait this dude had a problem…

Yeah who would have ever guessed that the guy in the joker/Bowie make-up years after the fact would have a drinking problem. Shocker.

But all joking aside, I couldn’t be prouder of the man to whom I call my brother. 

Ted has had a hard few years, but his life is on the up and up. Today starts a new chapter for him.

Like I’ve said before here, he’s my partner in crime, creativity and lyphe.

  
Here’s to a new life, new beginnings and dreams becoming goals. You can do anything you put your mind too. This man is proof. 

Peace and love to everyone. 

Christmas…it’s really something….

I’m not religious at all, and I never have been. That’s not saying I look down at anybody who is. If religion works for you, kudos to you. I mean that with all sincerity.

That being said, I do have one issue with a major holiday. My issue is simply this: why does Christmas have to last 2 months?

Seriously. It’s November 9th and I’m already seeing Christmas decorations. Halloween was last week weekend and Thanksgiving is still weeks away.

Come on. Give Christmas a few weeks, that’s being generous.

Also stop calling it “Christmas time”. There are many many Americans who are like me and don’t celebrate Christmas.

That also doesn’t mean that I hate Christmas or Christians or anything like that. I like seeing people happy, and people are usually happy around Christmas.

One last thing, Pastor Joshua Feuerstein (sounds Jewish to me) said this about Starbucks because their newly released holiday cups don’t have Christmas designs on them:

“Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus … SO I PRANKED THEM … and they HATE IT!!!! #shareUse #MERRYCHRISTMASSTARBUCKS”

Even a nonreligious person knows that the holidays are about love and family, not frivolous stuff.

How long until Greg Hardy starts rockin’ an eye-black Swastika?

Yesterday, in America, it was FOOTBAW SUNDAY! Just last month, the most despicable character in the league (Greg Hardy) was reinstated by the National Football League. The league suspended Hardy for four games because of the domestic violence  and assault and battery charges brought against him last fall.

Greg “The Kraken” Hardy is human garbage. He was found guilty last year of severely beating and abusing his then girlfriend. Deadspin has just released photos of his ex-girlfriend’s injuries but we already knew what happened last fall.

Long story short, Greg Hardy not sorry. He’s stated that he’s just pleased as piss to get a second chance to play professional football. Hardy’s comeback tour has been…disgusting. No really — he’s not sorry. And he wants you to know it. He loves being the monster. He loves being THE KRAKEN. And what sucks is that “The Kraken” is a fucking awesome nickname. So I offer the American public a new nickname to give Hardy: “Hitler”. Last night on Sunday Night Football he rocked this look:

SNF some medium gold hoops and war paint

I really wish I could have found more photos from last night’s game because The Toilet Warrior knew he was going to be on TV and dressed accordingly. Notice in the photo above that this man wore medium-sized gold hoop earrings along with his eye black Tony the Tiger stripes. He’s been dropped from every one of his endorsements except for Frosted Flakes and Claire’s. LET IT BE KNOWN: Greg “Adolf Hitler” Hardy is not completely without loyalty or honor. Just ask Jerry Jones! #earnyerstripes

Wildman here knew that he was going to be featured prominently on TV. Since his return from serving his suspension, he has embraced the role of villain. And if he wants to be out loud and proud about being a scumbag? Fine. That’s his employer’s problem and the NFL should do something about him because he’s declared total war on human decency and basic societal values. This guy makes a point to never say his “pleases” or “thank you’s”! Fucker! So, long story short, fuck Greg Hardy. He should be in jail forever. But as long as he’s still allowed to continue to troll our asses every Sunday, he’s gonna keep doing this shit. My only question is how long until The Kraken starts rockin’ some eye-black Swastikas? He’s obviously got a talent for face painting! The season’s halfway over and he may never play again. If Greg Hardy wasn’t a sociopath, he’d be sweating because he’d know that every game could be his last. Whether or not he loses his job now or a season or two from now, the next stop for this dude is prison. Mark my words. The Kraken is headed to jail with Aaron Hernandez. They’re going to get along just great!

The season’s far from over and we can expect more of Hardy’s horseshit. As long as he’s going to be playing with the eye black, I wanna see some Swastikas from this shithead. C’mon, I dare ya! If Greg Hardy REALLY wants to up his villain-game, he’ll break out some sweet eye-black Swastikas. And if he doesn’t? I’ll be disappointed. If we’re going to be subjected to this dickhead every Sunday, the LEAST he could do is go all in. He WANTS to be the most hated man in America. So why not throw some Swastikas on there? Really, what does he have to lose at this point? C’mon, man! GIVE US SOME EYE BLACK SWASTIKAS!

But for real, he’s pretty close to going all in on the eye black Swastikas:

Greg Hardy: THE KRAKEN

This one looks like some fucked up SS Nazi mythical bullshit:

imrs

Ah yes…Klassic Kraken….

greghardyinactive

MORE WAR PAINT!     1445910879-NS_26hardyLD01

This one looks like he started to draw a Swastika and then forgot how:

hardy

Now THIS one is reeeeeeeaally close…This one’s kinda alarming. What the fuck is that? That one definitely looks like he wanted to go with a Swastika. This is fuck up…whatever the fuck that is:

greg-hardy-cowboys-michael-bennett

Then he went and did this half-assed Swastika again…He’s close, people….Be patient…he’s gonna do it…

635824197838809191-USP-NFL-Seattle-Seahawks-at-Dallas-Cowboys

Fuck Greg Hardy. This guy sucks.

I Keep Having Odd Dreams

“Odd” in the sense that they are pretty fucking weird. I know that dreams are, in general, the way your brain attempts to make sense of things happening in real life. But, I keep having pregnancy dreams. And they really need to stop.

I remember the first was not too long ago. I was heavily in my second or third trimester, belly swollen beyond belief. I can’t remember who my dream baby’s daddy was or if my dream self even knew. My mother was with me; she kept dragging me around places like the grocery store. I was preggo, y’all. I’m not implying pregnant women can’t run errands or drive or do simple daily tasks, but my dream self wasn’t having it. 

Contrary to popular belief about the young black woman, I’ve never been pregnant. I’ve never gotten pregnant either. It’s a rather large concern of mine so I take all necessary precautions before engaging in sexual activity. It’s not to say I haven’t thrown caution to the wind once or twice and rawdogged it; but I have no shame in admitting that I waltzed into a CVS pharmacy and shelled out upwards of $50 for Plan B, an emergency contraceptive in the United States. $50. Ugh. American values… Either way, if I had even an inkling, I didn’t wait around to see. I nipped that shit in the bud within 72 hours. 

So, after last night, and having my second pregnant dream, I’m getting a bit concerned that my dream self is trying to tell me something. I don’t think it’s “have a child” but perhaps something is growing inside me. I just must figure out what these metaphors are! 

I had a terrible night of tossing and turning. I dreamt that I was back in Italy in the lovely building that I stayed at in Rome (photos to come!). Except, it was sinister. There was, in real life, this narrow elevator that was classic and old. It had a gate and a see-through door that you had to close tightly before the elevator would operate. Sometimes, we wouldn’t close the gate correctly so folks on the bottom entry floor would buzz us on the 6th floor and intercom, asking us to close the elevator so it could be used. No big deal, right? My scumbag brain decides to make me have a dream where I let serial killers inside the building. It was night and I had on pajamas and for somet reason I rode the elevator down to let the folks in (in real life, you didn’t have to do that). 

Sigh. Why can’t I have nice, pleasant dreams? Why can’t my dreams be sweet like an Annie Lennox song? Boo. 

I Think My Grandparents May Be Hoarders…

*Above image just a representation (real images below) ^

I love my grandparents very much. They have been there for me more than any other people in the world. Now that they are climbing into their respective eighties (my grandma) and nineties (grandad), it is time for me to step up to the plate and help them out a bit more. After all, they did wipe my ass. So, when my grandma offered me a few bucks to help her clean out their basement pantry, I lept at the opportunity. Their basement, remodeled by my own mother, has three sections: a living space, a laundry space leading to a back bathroom, and a pantry area. I hadn’t been in the pantry area in a long time, so upon entry I was a bit taken aback.

IMG_1581First of all, my grandparents have a bit of a problem when it comes to throwing stuff away. My grandma served as “approval captain” during this little project. As I started pulling out box after box after BOX of Kleenex tissues, I had to ask her, “Grandma, why the hell do you have so many brand new boxes of Kleenex?” Her response: “Your grandaddy buys them!” Folks, when I say there are at least 100 boxes of Kleenex squirreled away in that pantry, I am not kidding you. It’s semi-appalling. I know it sounds a bit harsh but I told her, “You will not live long enough to use all of these. Do not buy more!” Some had been down there so long that they were stuck to the floor! Including Kleenex, there were dozens of canned goods, salad dressings, Costco-sized IMG_1579boxes of Splenda packets, instant coffee, Crisco cans, oils, outdated magazines, and cookbooks. Don’t believe me? Here you go.

Frightening? You don’t know the half of it. There are layers as deep as igneous rock formations of shit in there. It begs the question, are my grandparents engaged in hoarding behaviors? They have enough goods stored to honestly survive any apocalyptic event. Are they being responsible and conscientious or is there something more sinister occurring?

I could, in theory, excuse this as “ol’ coot” type behavior. But my dear grandmother had the nerve to actually fight me when I suggested she throw some things away. Like, really? I wasn’t suggesting she dispose of canned food or anything. More like dozens of boxes of plasticware and AAA Tour Guide booklets from the 1990s. I was born in 1993; you don’t need maps from 25 years ago, ’twas my argument. She literally tried to make excuses to justify why they could be kept. And, that was what was unnerving me a bit. The resistance to dispose of useless items. My grandparents are old; they are not taking trips out of state anymore unless a loved one has passed. In the era of Google Maps, there is no need for a traditional map anymore, unfortunately due to the fact that any long distance journey they embark on will be captained by me, my mother, or their godson. All of which have iPhones with up-to-date, turn-by-turn directions.

IMG_1580I have, in the past, watched the A&E docu-series Hoarding: Buried Alive (on Netflix Instant Stream, if you dare). For those of you who aren’t familiar, it is an American short-form documentary series that chronicles the lives of two people who compulsively buy and collect things or animals, and store them in their homes. Usually, these people believe that their collectibles will eventually have value or that they’ll fix them up and resell them to make money. Generally, that never ends up happening.

Hoarding, according to Wikipedia, is “…the loss of desire to throw away unneeded items because of a feeling of attachment to these items”. It is notable to add that these items are “usually mundane”.  I.E. Paper towels and Kleenex.

IMG_1582Now, I don’t believe my grandparents are in danger of harming themselves to the point I need to call the producers of that show. Those folks’ “hoard” usually have gotten to the point where they are living in abject filth and are in danger of losing their homes because of fire code violations. In the United States, if you have so many things to the point where you are a danger to yourself or there are animal/rodent infestations, your local government could “condemn” your home. If your house is condemned, you cannot legally live there. That’s not the case with my family, fortunately. But, I don’t want it to get to that point and then say “I wish I could have done something to help them!” No. I don’t want to ever get to that point.

I’m going to have to have a long, deep conversation with them. My grandmother is more receptive to her behavior so it’s my grandfather who is really going to have to make a lifestyle change. He is the one buying all of the items. I truly believe it is a result of being a child of the American Great Depression. During the early 20th century, people struggled to survive more than we as millennials could ever truly realize. I personally don’t ever want to know what it is like to not have enough food to eat. So, the urge to always be prepared for the worst situation is ingrained in the older generations. I completely understand the fear. I can be sympathetic. But, at the same time, there is a limit to how much space they feasibly have. And, unfortunately, they are keeping items that do not have any value, such as binoculars, golf paraphernalia, and things with dirt, dust, and other allergens that could be possibly harmful.

So, I ask you, dear reader. How do I start a constructive dialogue with my family about their problem before it spirals out of control? Should I sit them down and make them watch an episode of Hoarders with me? Is that too accusatory? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Peace and love,

Your Token Black Friend, Aja.