Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019

This is not how I want to remember the end of this year.
Mom told me that a Jewish couple that babysat me used to put a bagel around my neck, which she told me was to signify a child of intelligence and I’ve read that it was also done to ward off evil spirits. I sang “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” and “Tzena, Tzena” along with my classmates. I remember certain days that we didn’t advance the curriculum. because certain holidays weren’t enough to close the school.  However, so many Jewish children were absent, it would’ve been unfair to do so.
My childhood is rife with memories of the A&N Television Repair Shop and any time I tried to speak, the owner took it, jokingly, as if I was trying to give him a hard time. I used ask my parents, “Are we going to see, Mr. AlrightAlready?” I remember our family celebrated many holidays and enjoyed the wonderful treats of Pakula’s Bakery. Among my friends were Maxine Brooks, David Kramer and Seth Tillman.
I'm not posting this to say I’m a great guy, but as a tribute to my parents, who taught me to be proud of who I was and treat EVERYONE with respect.
This horrible violence happened in the same city where I went to Elementary school, Monsey, and I stand with the Jewish community in New York who have seen an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks.
Life was not perfect there. Racism was not a huge factor in my life, but it was present. We were one of the earliest Black families to move to Rockland County and we weren’t universally welcomed. It was neither a diverse Utopia, nor unremitting racial horror. It did afford moments such as this: One of my teachers, Ms. Tobia, allowed me to pick out a movie about African-American History to show to the class (Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed). A rare and wonderful thing for a third-grader. Thank you Ms. Tobia.
The fact that Dad could become a Chemist and we were able to own a home in the suburbs was due in part to hard-fought victories from people like Representative John Lewis, who put his life on the line for Civil Rights.
I am honored to live in his state (Georgia) and my sincere thanks and heartfelt prayers go out to him and his family as he battles cancer.
I wish to live to see the day that we strive to find similarities, not differences. Similarities are more challenging to find and ultimately, more rewarding.
With Respect and Love, I remain a proud Christian, son of Orva and Dolores Phillips and a son of the Village of Spring Valley, Town of Ramapo. Pray for and/or do good.
Let this be our legacy. Let’s work to end fear and hatred. Let us take advantage of this unique, and heretofore unheard of, method of communication to share, laugh, comfort and love.
Let this be what we have in common.
Brian Douglas Phillips

115 West St (now Harriet Tubman Way), Spring Valley, NY, 1974.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Hazards

Gulbarg (Gogi) Singh Basi, Sucheta Kamath, Rabbi Jason Holtz, Kathy Hoffman, Kemal Korucu, Dorie Griggs and Rev. Sydney.
In Golf, one is advised to avoid the hazards. Hazards are obstacles that slow your play, such as water or dunes.

My friend, the Reverend Sydney Magill-Lindquist (that's her on the right) passed away to-day. The death was not unexpected, but she had been fighting cancer for years and, by and large, winning for so long, the end came rather quickly.

We knew each other, not because I attended her church (she was a Unity preacher and later a frequent guest Pastor at the One World Spiritual Center, but because of her husband, Scott. Scott Lindquist was an actor and director looking for people to help with his radio theater company, "The Philco Radio Players". I auditioned successfully and we became fast friends. With the occasional rehearsals held at his apartment, I met Rev. Sydney who was warm, intelligent and good-natured. Having been promoted ot artistic director of the company, I was over so often frequently, she'd come home and say hello to her "two husbands".

One of my favorite times with them was a night that Unity held their "Traveler's Christmas"service. It was a night of music, worship and interwoven with the service, radio theater. Scott wrote a pastiche "Lum and Abner" script that featured a young expectant couple looking for lodgings (get it?).  The night went well, but it also marked the first time I saw her preach live, which was a joy. It was inclusive, love-filled and instructive. It was not only blessed, but it was a night of laughs, too.

Another time had nothing to do with radio. I was at the house doing some computer work (oh, yes, I was the computer guy, too!) for them and as I left, snow didn't begin to fall so much as plummet. I made it to the end of the block and doubled back. I ended up working from home (theirs) for two days and as funny as it sounds, it was my first slumber party, in my fifties! We had a great time and the customers never knew the difference.

Scott's passing affected her deeply. She told me the story of how they met and they were truly meant to be together. This is perhaps why, at the time of her passing, I'm sad, to be sure, but I'm also happy that they will be together again, no longer in pain, enjoying each other's company. Rev. Sydney was not afraid to die; as a matter of fact, she came close to death once before and it would seem that God had other plans. They had started a podcast and when he died, she said with a smile that it was a posthumous assignment to continue it, which she did for a couple of years afterwards.

Scott gone? HAZARD. Cancer? HAZARD. However, instead of playing around them, she faced them head on and dug her way back out as best as she could and inspired many as she did it. She's not entirely gone. Take a look at one of her messages. While some talk of inclusiveness, look at the photo in this entry. She walked the walk.

I'll miss her erudition, her humor and her positive outlook.

Watch out for the hazards, though. Just don't despair over them.

Good night, Rev. Sydney.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dreaming from the Knee, Part 4

An ongoing journal about dreams that I have after taking my painkillers, while I recover from knee-replacement surgery.

THE PART THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: The Good Lady Wife and I watched the episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" which featured Margaret Cho.

THE SUBSEQUENT DREAM: I'm late for class. I was supposed to leave at 6:50, but it is now 7:16, so I'll have to drive in. Since I am in college [this IS a dream-Ed.], if I miss my first class, no big deal. I am making the best time I can in traffic, but my head gets turned by a show. On a Tuesday morning, a club is featuring a show. Paul Reiser, rather rudely walks past me  and I turn to him and say, "Moth******r, do you not see me?"["this had better be a dream!"-God], which he doesn't hear.

Talk into the coffee cup, ma'am...
I realize that I haven't bought a ticket, so I do. Reiser is the opening act, and a rather flamboyant stage revue featuring drag queens and other gaudily dressed folks dancing and singing. I sit near the front, with my special coffee cup. The show ends and I find that, full, half-full or empty, my cup is a recording device. I hit a button on the the side and it cuts miniature 45s for each recording. The performers love me and most are willing to talk. One of the people on the periphery declines ("Dignity and privacy, y'know", and I certainly understand).

As I am walking out of the club, one of the female performers is stopped by another performer. "Roof tape!", someone says, because this woman is walking out with something that the crew needs. "Don't forget your porn!", someone else shouts. They all laugh and someone makes a comment about cats and glycogen in some indistinct Asian accent and that's all I recall.

Dreaming From the Knee, Part 3

An ongoing journal about dreams that I have after taking my painkillers, while I recover from knee-replacement surgery:

I don't have a picture of my Nana staying with us, so...
Charlie Bucket's family, ladies and gentlemen!
We are in a house, perhaps the home, in which I was raised, but the Good Lady Wife and I own it and we have Nana (my Grandmother) staying over. Rhonda (the GLW) is upset about something and she is not forthcoming about it. It has something to do with hogging TV or radio time, but I suspect it is due to her having to caretake me and now Nana, who is visiting. She says, "I don't know how to say this...", which is infuriating me, because indirect statements bother me.

This is all I recall from this dream, but for those of you who have ever watched a sitcom, I finally empathized with characters that are upset with their loved ones due to something that was dreamt. I woke up, and I was peeved at the GLW for a hot second, until I realized that I had dreamed all of that.

We laughed about it and she even said she was "sorry", even though, of course, she and I knew that she didn't do anything wrong in real life. I would also like to add that she has been taking very good care of me.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dreaming From the Knee, Part 2

Image result for I'll see you in dreamlandThis is the second of a series of posts about the dreams I've been having since I've been taking painkillers.

I've been pretty firm about the intervals at which I take them and I also AM NOT DRIVING. I am cogent[as cogent as YOU'LL ever be-Ed.] and I am not seeing things during my waking hours, but it is giving me...interesting nights.

Before I went to sleep, my Niece asked me if I liked her new hairstyle. It was done back in braids, and I gave her a thumbs-up.

Here is the issue: while she did indeed go to the hairdresser, she did not ask me my opinion of her hair, which also is not braided, so that whole incident NEVER HAPPENED.

This isn't the first time this has happened. I've been a bit on the shall we say, vulnerable side, reality-wise, so this didn't stop her from having a bit of fun at my expense. Before she left the house, one day,  I asked that she clean up some empty water bottles. She agreed to this, but must have noticed something in my diction, because she then asked, "Do you want me to throw out the grandfather clock, too?", to which I groggily assented.

I don't remember saying that.  Darn that woman!

What I can recall of the dream I had this morning, I came home from work to the house we used to own in Stone Mountain and several people are having a cookout on my property. I don't know any of them and look at me as if it is their right to cook barbecue on my land, in the FRONT YARD. I politely ask them to stop and the fellow who seems to be the head griller actually breaks down in tears because of this.

That's all I can remember. If there is a part three, I'll post it here.

Dreaming From the Knee

I've done my knee replacement, which means that I am also taking painkillers. What this means, apparently, is that when I doze off, I have odd dreams.  Here is one of them.

I'm riding in a cab with another Black man. Some smooth Jazz finishes playing and the DJ says that the song we heard featured the saxophone of John Clarence [it's a dream, there is no such player, to my knowledge-Ed.]. The DJ then says something about lonely women on Saturday, which cracks up my cabmate and I laugh the communal laugh that shows that I am one of the guys, not necessarily that I thought that the joke was funny.

The traffic in New York City is horrible, so instead of waiting for traffic to let up, I decide to get out and ride my bicycle across the Triboro Bridge. I climb a long, green plastic ladder, with the bike on my back [hoo-BOY, is this a dream-Ed.], so I can then get on my bike and ride across the bridge. What I find is green plastic track, fit more for a toy train than a car and some sort of machine that looks like a one-armed bandit with pictures of the Kinks on it. The music coming from it is Dave Davies' "Death of a Clown" and to the tempo of the music another part of the bandit reads, "Death of a Clown", "Width of a Clown", "Weight of a Clown"...

I try to get onto the bridge, but what I to hold on to feels like empty luggage or empty typewriter cases. In any case, none of these objects are particularly stable. I grab onto one, start to fall backwards, I start to fall off the bridge and...

I woke up.

I didn't say it would make sense, I just said it was a dream I had.

Friday, October 26, 2018

"The Knee Plays" (without having to listen to Philip Glass)

Over twenty years ago, I damaged by ACL in my left knee. My overnight stay was pockmarked by OJ Simpson coverage so the choices I had during my first overnight stay in the hospital were breaking news and an old movie.

The movie was "War and Peace". YOU try coming in on the middle of that thing and try to make sense of it.

The doctor warned me that arthritis could be a real possibility in the future and has been affecting my gait, so this week, I've had a knee replacement. Since none of my so-called "friends" would not donate theirs, I decided to have an artificial one put in. The police are apparently happy that I no longer...I mean, NEVER..heh, heh, rob people's knees.

Flippancy aside, the surgery went well, the doctor and the hospital were top-notch and I am able to rest comfortably. Rehab is a bear, but I expected that after having to do similar work when I had ligament surgery.

Kudos (there is no such thing as a KUDO, dog-bite it!) to:

1. My family, in particular my Good Lady Wife Rhonda. If everyone had a partner like her, the world would be a happier place, although I seen't her first and y'all better...I mean, thank you, Sweetheart.

2. My workmates have been very supportive in allowing me time off to recover. Such consideration and caring is a top-down affair, so thanks to Jon VanderMeer for being a great and supportive boss.

Had it not been for him, I would not have met the amazing Kody Duhon. Years ago, I weighed 254 pounds and was on my way to diabetes. Duhon and the Jungle Fitness Atlanta crew took time to help me lose weight which afforded me a better experience for this knee replacement. I don't think, I KNOW that if I hadn't been under their care, things would not be as good as they are now, concerning rehab.

http://www.junglefitatlanta.com/ (there is a testimonial there from you-know-who and I can vouch for its accuracy).

3. The team at Piedmont Hospital. If anyone is contemplating this surgery in the Atlanta area, PM me and I will gladly share the names of the folks at Peachtree Orthopedics.

4. I don't give kudos to the Lord (Waytago, God-baby!), I THANK the Lord. I remember the pain of my first surgery and recovery and there is pain, but a great deal less than the first time.

5. I'm getting around with a cane, so I've got that Everett Sloane in "The Lady from Shanghai"-thang going on, but I'm getting better (Sloane's about two minutes in). It's a good movie all the way around, but this sequence is a classic.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuMqI5AI6hs

Thanks, everyone. Sorry to go on for so long.