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One Nation Under a Groove
Please allow me to wear my "rose colored glasses" for just a while...
Like many other Americans, I have spent the entire weekend consumed by all things 9-11, during it's 10th Anniversary. Of course those of you who know me, know that the entire topic of 9-11 evokes strong emotions from me and it is a topic that we have covered (perhaps ad-nauseum to some of you, quite a bit here on Soul-Patrol?)
Of course it is quite personal to me, since both my brother Mike and I used to work there back in the 1990's. I was actually there at work during the first terrorist attack there in 1993. So that is probably no different than the other 49,999 people who went to work there every day. Many of the first concerts reviewed on the Soul-Patrol website (ex: Chilites, Tom Scott, etc) actually took place in the plaza, during my lunch hour between the two twin towers.
After September 11 2001, as some of yall will remember, Soul-Patrol.com partnered with the Mighty Dells "Open Up Your Heart Foundation," which raised money for the "victims" of 9-11," and we donated the proceeds from the very first Soul-Patrol Convention, to that excellent cause. In the course of planning the first Soul-Patrol Convention, I discovered that Lt. Leroy Homer (the co-pilot of flight 93, which ultimatly crashed in PA, lived about a stone's throw from me, in Medford, NJ. So we contacted his wife Melanie to lend our support to the Lt. Leroy Homer Foundation, which today provides funding & technical assistance to young Black men & women who want to become airline pilots.
As a native New Yorker the terrorist attack on 9-11 impacted me and this site from all of these angles and more. Possibly the most important was the fact that one of "mah boys" perrished on 9/11/2001 at the World Trade Center. Brian Jones was a good friend and "running buddy." We had gone to High School together, our parents had been friends with each other before we were both born and of course we hung out together. In fact Brian is present (if un named) in many of the essays, concert reviews, block parties, house parties & more that I have written about relative to events/situations that occured during the 1970's.
So when you take all of that and wrap it into a bow, 9-11 is pretty important to me and that importantce has certainly been reflected in the Soul-Patrol.com website over the years.
So quite naturally I watched as TV covered the 10th Anniversary this weekend.
Two things struck me...
--On TV, some group of NYC Fireman were complaining because they weren't invited to the ceremonies at the World Trade Center Memorial. They were told that there wasn't any room for them, so therefore they would attend their own memorial. My wife said; "isn't that terrible?" I said "no it isn't, the ceremony is supposed to be about the families of the victims, the fireman are trying to make themselves more important than the people who died. Everytime you see those fireman, it is the same group of irish catholic (oops I said it) fireman and their families who are trying to pretend that the NYC Fire Department is the same exclusive/all white club that it was back in the 1950's when people of color "need not apply."
--A few hours later, I got an email from someone who was saying that the Black victims of 9-11 were being hidden form the media. Huh???? Made no sense to me, that simply wasn't true.
Got up yesterday morning and "mrs. earthjuce," informed me that there was a feature article written by Mrs. Melanie Homer, in Parade Magazine about her husband and the Leroy Homer Foundation. Parade Magazine is distributed as an insert to thousands of Sunday newspapers accross the United States every sunday. So much for the lack of media coverage of Black 9-11 victims.
Then today I watched the ceremony on the CNBC cable TV network. It was one of the most beautiful and moving ceremonies I have ever seen. A big part of what made it so beautiful was the fact that there was absolutely no commentary. It consisted of the family members reading the names of the victims and each victims name was displayed on the screen, along with a picture and the name of that victim's hometown. So you had on display not only the victims, but their wives, children, brothers, sisters, parents, etc. And I gotta tell ya, what I saw on display looked exactly like what I used to see when I went to work there every day. It was something like a 25/25/25/25 split between Blacks/Whites/Latino/Asian.
Hell....in other words it looked like AMERICA, in fact it looked exactly like the way that this country is supposed to be.
It was the "rainbow colored people" that Tena Marie taled about.
It was the "new power generation" that Prince talked about.
It was the "land of the new rising sun" that Jimi Hendrix talked about.
It was the "one nation under a groove" that George Clinton talked about.
I realize that it was really and truly a damn funeral (which is why there was room ONLY for the families,) in fact those two waterfall/refelcting pools at the footprints of the twin towers containing the names of the victims, is really a tombstone for the victims. Especially for the 1,200 victims whose bodies were never recovered. The whole point is to bring some sense of closure to those families.
However it also brought a sense of closure for me as well. That's because it LOOKED LIKE AMERICA. And that made me smile and now I can't wait to pay a visit to the site, that I have been avaoiding for the past 10 years, because I want to catch some of that groove!!!!
Not like the "tea party america" of Sarah Palin and the "take back our country crowd."
It looked like the America of the 1972 Demoractic Convention, which looked like the America of the 2008 Democratic Convention.
Which is to say that "the answer my friends is blowin in the wind."
It looked like the America that I not only want to be a part of. But the America that I want my daughter to live in.
My hope is that the people who make the music we love, will realize that as well and they will also begin to start to play their role in all of this as well?
It's the same America that I write about in the next article. Originally written in 2002.
Check it out...
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com
Remembering What I Thought I Forgot...(2002)
Remembering What I Thought I Forgot...
Back in the 1970's I was an optimist...As I got older, I became more and more pessimistic.
And then, one day......I woke up and decided to start…"remembering the things that I thought I had forgotten".
I started thinking about what a great time I had as a teenager and as a young "twentysomething", back in the 1970's. I thought about all of the wonderful people that I knew at that time and how much of an influence on my life that those people had.
I wondered whatever became of those times and those people. There was indeed a "vibe" that I shared with those people at that time, which is often difficult to put into words. If you were a person who was there, you know what I am talking about.
There was a "universal groove", which often transcended things like race, geography, age and more.
The whole world seemed full of potential, and as a young man I was a believer in that potential. I thought it could really happen. I thought the "groove" would last forever.
. With one group of people I would wear my Eleganza suits, my nik nik shirts, platform shoes, applejack brim, wide bow ties...
. With another group of people I would wear my army fatigues, tie dye t-shirts, overalls, tie a bandana around my head....
Sometimes I would get confused and wear the "wrong clothing, with the wrong group".
Even when that happened, it didn't make any difference because I was also wearing my rose colored glasses.
It didn't matter to me. The joints still rolled up the same way and the "groove" was still positive. Back in those days, each experience was a learning experience. Later of course, I changed. I changed in concert with how the world around me changed.
The "groove" became less important.
(Although I didn't cut my afro, till 1985)
The ca$h was slowly becoming the overriding factor.
As the world changed even further, I changed right along with it.
. I found myself working in the very center of the corruption,
that back in the 1970's I would have been willing to destroy at the drop of a hat.
. My world during the 1980's became consumed with money, degrees,
titles, power, false prestige, gaining influence, making the climb towards goals which today seem quite hollow.
. I was keeping up with the times.
. I was the very image of that species known as...Black Urban Professional (ie; "buppie)
In fact, some people even thought of me as a role model and I was invited to talk with their children in schools and homes, with some hope of influencing them into a more positive direction. I realize today that I had very little impact, but at the time, it made me feel good because I had done it.
. And "feeling good", was what it had become all about.
. And I thought that all was cool, because that is what was expected of me.
. Of course I now realize that it is far more important to actually have some impact, than to just "feel good".
. I also began to wonder how it was possible for me to "feel good", in the face of all of the "human carnage" that was in front of me. People around me were drugged out, in debt, selfish, etc.
Interestingly enough, during this period of time, I lived in BOTH the north and the south. In retrospect, the cultural differences between the two had been largely erased. Of course it made little difference to me as I tooled around both Houston and New York/New Jersey in my sports car that could take sharp curves at 75 mph. and my "GQ" wardrobe.
Although, by material standards, I may have been considered to be "healthy", In fact I was sick. I can only see that now in retrospect, it was all superficial.
Even worse, I was also asleep.
I was consumed by a very deep coma. Then one day, in 1993 I started to wake up.
I was at work, sitting at my desk, about to leave to attend yet another "business lunch" where I would once again be the only person of color there, once again to be a "credit to my race" in a forum where it has little context.
It was exactly 12:22 pm, and I will never forget that moment.
The giant skyscraper I was in shook. I didn't know what was happening. I could "feel" the direction it was coming from. Like an idiot, I rushed towards the direction that I could "feel". I looked out of the window and saw that the even bigger skyscraper, located right across the street was on fire and that the smoke was pouring out of the parking lot inside of the building. I immediately rushed back to my desk and called my wife and said...
"Something just happened at the World Trade Center, I don't know what it is, but I'm sure it will be on the news, I'm getting the "F" outta here, cuz if I don't leave now, I'll be trapped here..."
I hung up the phone and started to haul azz...
I passed co-workers who asked me where I was going and I said... "Same place you should be going..." I passed my boss and told her the same thing.
When I got down to the street, there was complete pandemonium. People were running all over the place. The smoke which I had seen earlier now became a very real thing to me. The entrances to the subway stations were blocked off.
I ended up walking from lower Manhattan to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. When I got there I heard a news report that said...
"Someone tried to blow up the World Trade Center..."
12 people were killed, many more were injured...That was in 1993
And with that event, I began to..."remember the things that I thought I had forgotten"
And with those memories, I began to wake up from my "drunken slumber". The event was a catharsis for me. I can only see that now in retrospect. Vision is always "20/20" in retrospect.
It wasn't long after that event when I built the very first web page I ever built at: http://www.soul-patrol.com/funk/rbd.htm
That page is a reflection of where "my head" was at in 1993. I wanted to say something about the "polarities" and how the extremes and conflicts of those "polarities" had impacted me. It hasn't changed very much at all in the 9 years that it has been up on the internet, because "my head" is still in a similar place. The concept was inspired by someone named Charles Isabel. I have never met him. I have never talked with him. But I feel like I know him.
As the days and weeks passed, there were reports on the news that the people responsible for bombing the World Trade Center had been caught and would be brought to trial. Soon the names and faces would appear on my TV screen and I got angry.
It became clear to me that these people weren't just attacking a building.
They were attacking an entire way of life. As I thought about it further, it was a way of life that I also found some conflicts with. These people had the guts to try and destroy an entire way of life, much as I might have also been willing to destroy it back in the 1970's.
. They showed the "blind cleric" on TV.
. The interviewer asked the "blind cleric"...
. "Did you mastermind the explosion at the World Trade Center..."
. The "blind cleric" said...
. "What explosion, it NEVER HAPPENED..."
At that moment in time, all of my other concerns seemed trivial, because I began to emerge even further from my "1980's & 1990's COMA". Much has happened to me since 1993. The "fast lane" and "buppie" lifestyle afforded to me by my "Wall Street mentality" of the early 1990's seem to be a distant memory. My focus is far different now.
I write this because today is the Fourth of July. The Fourth of July was always my very favorite holiday of the year. When I was a teenager, it was a day of bbq's, block parties, and more. As an adult, I would always have a BIG BLOWOUT PARTY at my house each year. Each year the party would be bigger and bigger, with more and more "buppies", but also with many good friends and relatives. In retrospect, those parties were an exercise in "conspicuous consumption". "Clarity comes with time..."
This year as I sit here on the Fourth of July, I sit here in somber reflection over the events of the past year and think about how much my life has changed since 1993.
At the heart of that change has been a rediscovery for me. I have indeed... "remembered the things that I thought that I forgot"
And it is the details of those memories that shape the focus of my activities today. It has nothing to do with "nostalgia". It has everything to do with the future.
My future as an individual and my future as an American.
. I think that my own generation has been lost in the wilderness for many years.
. I think that other people are also "remembering things that they have forgotten"
. I also think that some of us are slowly but surely finding our way back.
I think that my own generation, the one which was supposed to change the world, is actually the cause of much of what is wrong with the world right now. I think that it is the responsibility of my generation, now approaching the age of 50, to fix the mess that we have created.
I think that we need to act quickly and decisively because time might just be running out on us.
Since 1991 I have been living in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
. A great place for me to be at this time in my life.
. Philadelphia is often called the "cradle of liberty".
. This was a concept that I didn't understand until recently.
. Visiting the historical places that I learned about as a student has been an eye opener for me, because it takes things out of the conceptual realm and into the realm of reality.
I now truly understand why the concept of "America" is something that we should all cherish. The concept of America, while sometimes being quite distant from the reality of "America" is what allows us all to sometimes do stupid things, and then later redeem ourselves.
In the 1970's this country tried to "redeem itself". That is something worth remembering.
In 2002 this country once again has an opportunity to "redeem itself".
. It's not going to happen as a "mass movement"
. It's going to happen on an individual basis.
. It has happened to me.
. I think that it has also happened to many people of my generation.
I think that they remember what America is supposed to be like. And I think that they have begun to remember that America can't be the way it's supposed to be unless we are all in it together. It's actually one heck of a concept.
However it's a concept that becomes meaningless unless each person is willing to commit on an individual basis.
Finding a way to commit is difficult for people who are still "asleep".
. It really is TIME TO WAKE UP.
. It really is time to understand the past, so that we have a direction for the future.
. It really is time to understand that direction and be proactive in implementing it.
In the 1970's we knew that we all had to be in it together.
In the 1980's and 1990's... (WE FORGOT THAT). In 2001... (WE REMEMBERED IT)
And I think that things will be different going forward...
I am once again, an optimist and today I will be wearing my..."rose colored sunglasses"
"what a long and strange trip it has been..."
--Bob Davis 7/4/2002
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com
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