Daddy Loup

I still remember the fear I was struck with whenever I knew I was going to get an ass whipping; I remember the smell of bitter tears welling in my nostrils as I held them back from my eyes. The anticipation of feeling the sting from a hardened leather belt, at least 42 inches in length, doubled over so that it wouldn’t flail and lose its power as it came hurtling towards my young, tender brown skin, over and over again seemed an eternity. The unleashing of the punishment seemed to last longer.

“STOP! STOP! I WON’T DO IT AGAIN DADDY! I PROMISE! I PROMISE! PLEASE STOP!!” My cries overlapped with the rhythm of the strap, as daddy punctuated each blow with a staccato warning to never ever do it again, and didn’t I tell you not to do that I’m tired of you doing this shit are you going to do it again, huh, huh, huh?

That shit seems funny in retrospect to a lot of people in my age bracket. Many a Black comedian brings back memories of these vicious attacks in their routines because it’s something a lot of us can relate to; it’s a memory that just doesn’t go away for most of us. For some of us, the memories got buried in a time capsule, someplace deep inside wherever lost memories dwell. The feelings of anger and helplessness unconsciously spill into our lives, our relationships. For others, it served as the conditioning for the model of how to deal with their children’s misbehaviors, as well as an outlet for the pain that was inflicted upon them.

It’s hard to believe a lot of the facts floating around during these days of sequestration, but believe this: there are a lot of ass whippings happening in the world today. Some would argue that it’s the thing to do to keep the kids in line, as both parent and child struggle with how to deal with their upended lives. It’s stressful for everybody, and all those ass whippings are creating a generation of abuse victims who will be living in a post-pandemic world that has socially distanced itself to complacency. And be aware that there are other types of abuse going on that I won’t even mention, but the psychologically scarred index is definitely on the uptick for the AlphaGens.

In a worse-case scenario, I see a future painted by conspiracy theories with Orwellian accuracy, as a low self-esteemed, mollified society moves about under the watchful eye of an angry god, ready to inflict pain upon a mostly damaged and diminished population, the masters themselves victims of what they perpetrate. The rosy alternative is that awareness about the oncoming purge of pain will lead to a surge in resources to help such a civilization to deal with the after effects of quarantine.

Consider these things while you watch death tolls rise and gas prices fall. There will be a lot of ups and downs on this journey. Consider how you respond to your upbringing. Is it a reflection of joy or pain? If it’s joy, you are one of the lucky ones. If it is pain, consider the alternative if you can. If you have kids or you are a kid, don’t take take your pain out on the other person. Seek help. Now’s a good time to call a friend because you know they’re at home, plus there are all kinds of online resources for mental health counseling. One of the good things about being stuck at home is that everyone is trying to reach out on the giving and receiving ends.

This is just daddy Loup talking. I have two sons and I don’t whip their asses, because I remember how it felt. There are other ways to drill respect into your kids’ persona without tearing down their will. Kids are going to do unthinkable things, sometimes to figure out how something in life works, sometimes for the thrill. Let the punishment fit the alleged transgression. I think each generation gets bolder because restraints never made much of a difference to young people in any generation so they will always test the limits. I just don’t allow the reactions that hurt me in the past hurt my children now; and I hope one day, the ass whipping curve will flatten too.

R.I.P, K & G

There are few celebrity deaths that hit home with me. They hit me deep because I shared a special, personal bond with these great people of talent. The first that comes to mind is Biggie. He was an east coast brotha who died on the streets of LA, in front of the building where I went shopping for school clothes with my mom when I was a kid. Then Tupac, only four short years after we bumped fists in Hollywood when I was a fledging journalist on the hustle. And speaking of hustle, Nipsey bit to the core too, when he got gone. I never met the brotha, but I knew his tags in the hood. They were EVERYWHERE. I would see them and be like, that nigga Nipsey is putting in work!

Today, is a heartbreaker. For all Angelenos who bleed purple and gold, the man named Kobe Bryant was more than a Laker star. He was our favorite son who never left the house. He stayed and played to the pinnacles of his athletic performance so that he and we could enjoy the fruits of his labor: 5 NBA Championships!

I remember when he joined the team in 1996. Me and my roommate Ernest would each buy a BK Double Meal with a Sprite from Burger King, and a pint of Vanilla Fudge Häagen-Dazs on game nights and go home to watch our team go to work. We’d be so pissed if we were down in the third quarter against a team, we knew we should’ve been whooping the whole night. When the fourth quarter would come around, we watched Kobe do his thing: his graceful stride, his arrogant dribble, his powerfully artful finish from any spot on the court, but especially above the rim. No one could match him consistently.

I met Kobe on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. I was on a documentary crew filming Kobe at his office in Newport Beach, CA. After setting up, I went over to Starbucks across the street on a coffee run. I got in line, and who was standing in front of me but Kobe and Gianna? They stepped to the counter and placed their order. None of the employees were fazed by his presence, which told me he frequented that Starbucks often. I placed my order, and as he was about to leave, I got his attention and introduced myself. “I’m Lawrence with the crew that’s shooting you today at your office. Dang dog, I didn’t know you had so much going on!” Kobe had an office with MANY rooms, and in each room, there was a different project going on in some phase of development. “Well you’re going to learn a lot today, but you can’t tell anybody!” He reared his head back slowly and gave me that knowing look coupled with that famous grin. “Let’s go, G,” and he and his daughter walked out the door. Later on after the interview, I wanted to get a picture with him, but since I am always the professional at work, I didn’t press him when he said he had to leave. Now that I think about it, I should’ve hit him up at Starbucks in fan mode, so all I ended up getting were two shots from the balcony of his offices to show for my visit… and a call sheet.

The weather was ugly in LA today for a reason. It was ugly before I got the news about Kobe from a Facebook friend on Messenger. I then told my son and AirDropped the TMZ report from my phone to him. A slow unease gripped me for the rest of day. My sister was hysterical. I didn’t even talk to my mom today. Instead, I carried through with my plan to give my older son his first driving lesson and celebrate with pizza afterwards. I was supposed to watch the Grammys tonight with my girl, but the pizza got the best of me (To get an idea of my relationship with food the past few years, check out the blog posts Hospitalized, Hospitalized – Do, and Hospitalized – Redo) so I stayed home.

And this is what I wrote. Rest in power, KB.

View from Kobe Bryant’s office in Newport Beach, CA

NatGeo’s The Race Issue

I came across this article as I was beginning my home workout regimen from my iPad. It was enough to prompt a much needed blog post.

There’s No Scientific Basis For Race-It’s A Made-Up Label

It’s been used to define and separate people for millennia. But the concept of race is not grounded in genetics.

Around 2000, I did some independent research that led me down a linguistic rabbit hole. I was publishing a book based on the words peace, please and thank you. It was a children’s book, and the writer wanted to translate those words into every language in the world.

After exhausting my 7-language dictionary, we turned to a nascent internet as an additional resource to our faithful trips to the local library. Our research uncovered a map that traced the roots of the first languages, and their transmission throughout the world, from the womb of Africa, to the vast stretches of the Pacific islands. Words have propagated and mutated, like a strand of DNA, adapting to and defining the environment in which they survive.

The article reminded me of that adventure. I learned that language is a tool that can be divisive and unifying, just as a concept like race. When you break words down to their roots, break down the strands and look at their genetics, you see they come from the same source. The same with people, and like DNA strands, each is a little tweaked here and there, but still coming from a common place, no matter how we choose to define ourselves.