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

Still, life.

My writing habit has taken a backseat to my living habit. Three months ago I explained how I have to wait for inspiration. The fact is that I only have to wait for a time when there are no distractions. I have a friend who is going through the same struggles. With two young girls to raise on her own, her writing time has been choked off. Like me, she shares her real life adventures in pictures rather than words via Instagram.

Photography has always been my other love, even before writing came into the picture. Honestly, I should make Instagram my blog. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? If that’s the case, I have more than fulfilled my writing quota for the year, and here we are already in autumn.

Follow me on my Instagram account.

Book update: (The Real Struggle)

I’m here, trying to capture the healing energy of writing. I haven’t taken a chance to blog in a long time, but my journal has been working overtime. Blogs take too long to create, because I get caught up editing them trying to get all the tags and keywords right, in hopes of getting thousands of hits to my site. I’m not a big deal to most people so I chalk up my efforts to wishful viral thinking.

Writing a book is a lot harder than I thought too, especially a memoir. You’d think it would be easy to think of all the memories in your life and put them down on paper. It’s not. There were a lot steps to get from a summer journal, to a full on autobiographical sketch, to a first draft, to a thesis project, to a publication in progress; a lot of tears, a lot of decisions on additions and omissions, and a lot of unblocked memories attest to the effort it takes to accept one’s faults, fates and fears. I’m forcing myself to face down the things that led to this time in my life, and this blog gives my readers some insights on the concurrent circumstances of life I tangle with while dealing with my past in a poetic and literary way.

I can tell you that fatherhood has had a huge impact on my writing habits. Writing is a dream in progress, nebulous and free-flowing, coming to fruition when I least expect it, appreciating the moments when it happens. Fatherhood is a reality in progress, steadfast, uncompromising, something I can expect to face everyday and appreciating it always. I now know how parents can get so wrapped up in their kids’ lives and lose touch with themselves. I have witnessed the power of the attention shifting perils of parenthood!

So the book took a backseat for a while…and the blogging. It’s summertime and I’m feeling ripe to type up some more marvelous stuff, though. A corner is turning as one kid starts kindergarten and the other high school. What a spread, right? I’m going to be young forever! Now I have to bend a corner and get my writing flow on go again.

Send me some encouragement. I need feedback. Are you, or do you know someone who is a parent-writer? I’d love to hear the challenges you go through.

Hospitalized: Redo

IT HAPPENED AGAIN.

I love my work. I get to go places and see things most people don’t (until it’s broadcast), and get paid for the experience. But seriously, one of the best perks about the biz is the food!

My first year in the film industry I gained about twenty pounds, easy. Craft service was heaven laid out on three 6-foot long folding tables, free snacks and drinks to satisfy a hungry crew’s snack habits.

The first time I was ever hospitalized was because of craft service. I was producing a behind the scenes shoot for a Disney Channel show. It was a long day because the shoot schedule didn’t allow many opportunities for my team to interview the cast, so with all this wait time, I’m at crafty, munching on popcorn and cashews, calling myself being healthy. See, I gained those twenty in one year and it took me five to figure out how to lose it. I learned to stay away from the candies, sodas and the chips, and stick to the fruits, nuts, veggies and dips.

What happened that day is briefly documented in three previous blog posts, Hospitalized, Hospitalized – Do and Mended. Well, a few days ago, I had another ill food experience while working on a spot for the City of L.A. It was a run ‘n gun deal across the L.A. landscape, from the heart of downtown, to the Watts Towers to the beaches, we were catching some of the gem tourists spots of my sprawling town. On Day 2 of our shoot we stopped and ate at the Echo Park picnic tables with the locals. I made sure to hand sanitize but still, a little bacteria can creep up from just a thoughtless swipe on a bench or table and contaminate a meal in a minute.

Early the next morning, I was earling in the toilet, but I wasn’t going to let a little vomit keep me from making money, so I gathered myself and joined the crew for Day 3 of our adventure. By the time we got to action I was able and ready, but by midday, earl was calling again…

Needless, to say, I was sent home for the day. The situation was worse by the time I got home. I drove myself to urgent care down the street, and when she took my blood pressure, the nurse freaked. “220 over 180! You need to go to the hospital right now!” An ambulance was called, but my niece and her bae got there quicker. They rushed me to a Mid City emergency room and I was admitted immediately. The preliminary EKGs were abnormal… and they said I had the symptoms of a heart attack.

Oh shit.

I remained calm like an old Roots song, and let the doctors run their tests and scans. I was sad and glad to be there this time. I needed something to slow me down to think about what’s been going on. Lying there in that hospital bed, I thought about the past year and how much I’d done. The changes in my daily structure, like having to take two kids to school almost everyday, and dealing with a newly endowed teenager, are things for me now. I thought about the near death experience I had a few months ago: I was on my way to work one dark, early morning, barely a car on the road. I’m at the light, waiting to turn right on the green arrow. I get my light, and out of nowhere a Yukon came speeding through my turn lane, where I had to slam on the brakes to keep from getting smacked out of existence. After a pause to gather myself, I kept driving. The next song on my playlist was Deja Vu by Teena Marie. The words to that song took on a whole new meaning for me, and I cried my eyes out as I listened to it over and over again, until I decided that it was time for me to do something new. This is what set in motion a series of events leading up to the setting of the deadline for my memoir’s publication. Three days and many more thoughts later, I was released with a clean bill after all test results came out negative, no heart tissue damage, blood pressure hereditarily high, but controlled with medication and a better diet.

I’m at the dawn of my golden anniversary on earth. My health should be my primary concern from now on. My time with my loved ones is so important to me, and that’s why my approach to making the gold is taking a new turn. My vision is vast, and this last speed bump was a reminder to just pace myself. It’s all about to come to together. Thanks for participating in the vision, my readers. Every look counts.

Relativity

For anyone who’s worked 16 straight days in a row, 12 to 19 hours each day, you know how I’m feeling right about now. I’d say the majority of you who can relate to this kind of fatigue works in either the film industry or nursing. I can relate to both. My mom was a nurse for 40 years before she retired. She became the first black head nurse at California Hospital downtown in 1965. I think she might have been the inspiration behind the 1968 television series Julia, because a lot of Hollywood producers, directors, writers and movie stars were frequently under her care. I can remember her leaving in the day and coming home at night. I never knew how hard she worked, but anyone who dedicates more than half a day to their profession has got to be someone special.

She earned a place in Los Angeles’s Civil Rights history, but there was no Urban Intellectuals headlining her breakthrough promotion, nor did a #blacknursesmatter cause draw attention to the lack of diversity of management in her field. There wasn’t even a mention in LA’s perennial black dispatch The Sentinel at the time, heralding her pioneering role. She just did her thing, and three years later, I was born in that same hospital. At the time, I was the only colored baby in the nursery. I know this because my grandpa told me when he came to see me he couldn’t miss me! (Cuba Gooding, Jr. was born on the same day in the same hospital, but I have a darker complexion) After that, Grandpa flew out to see us from New Orleans every Christmas. I’ve seen photographs of him holding me. I remember at six years old, smoking on one of his cigars when he wasn’t looking, and the intoxicating and nauseous aftermath. I remember his last visit in ’92, the year I flew out to visit him for a change. The following year, he passed away.

I didn’t have a blog then, to exorcise the demon of despair that possessed me. He taught me lot about life in the three months that I stayed with him in the Big Easy. He is the reason I decided to write a memoir, but he knew nothing about this digital world that would one day become the overlay of the analog one he mastered in his ninety years of living. Now I find myself so busy living life by his tenets and instruction, that I don’t really think about taking the time to write about it on social media as much as the next person. I should be writing everyday regardless (see Morning habits). I even installed a digital journal on my phone to record my private thoughts on the go… much easier than taking a backpack with me full of physical journals and books.

Alas, it’s taken a few months, but I’m finding that my Circadian writing rhythm goes a little something like this:

  • Work
  • Kids
  • Sleep
  • Write

Where’s the fun, you ask? Trust me, it’s in every aspect of the above. I love being on a film crew, creating the next new thing; my sons are my joy and inspiration; what more can I say about the joy of sleep than what you don’t already know? And writing is my release and salvation, and that brings a sense of satisfaction and happiness and peace to my soul.

Between the phases of this cycle, I may make a jump onto the digital plane to see what everyone is up to, since we’re all connected on the Matrix. Facebook used to be my thing, but Instagram is now by far my social media app of choice. A picture really does say a thousand words, so why does it matter if I write a blog or not? Pictures can capture and express a moment, but writing captures and expresses a feeling. You can pick out the details in a picture, but words themselves are the details when you’re reading, the pixels in the paragraph. Words are a slowly developing Polaroid picture, compared to an instantly destructible Snapchat.

I have more ways and means to broadcast the events in my life than I can keep up with, a sharp contrast to what my mom and grandfather went through in their days. My mom told me that when she first heard a radio broadcast, she checked behind the massive floor model RCA for the people who were talking through the loudspeaker. As a Gen Xer, I crossed into a digital divide where the people behind a profile may not even really be people, yet I am bound, mind, body and soul, to the technology of the 21st century. I’ve formed for social media a love/hate relationship, much like the one I’ve formed with hip hop culture. It has its strengths, but going back to the old school basics just works better for me sometimes.

I wish I could share more. The digital me has been gone too long between posts I feel, and those who know me outside of this realm wish they could see more. It’s hard for the analog me, with all the new hobbies and adventures and life commitments drawing my attention, to give my online audience a sense of the satisfaction and elation I get from these experiences instantly, if not minutes after the fact.

I’m not one to give up and let the immediacy of social media deter me from mastering this realm, though. I’m just getting started. I’m reading all kinds of online writing books I found on Kindle. (Gotta love all the gratis libri in the Digital Age!) Last month I took a great online course called Cast Your Net: Web Presence and Social Media for Writers, taught by my good friend Brodie Hubbard. It helped me pay more attention to the presentation of my literary self to the online world. I want this blog to be a city within itself eventually, a place you can tour and visit and come away with some memories. I’m learning how to engage y’all and keep you coming back for more! I just wasn’t sure how to separate the personal from the professional, when my personal is such an integral part of my professional. It sounds to me like the life of a celebrity, but hey, when I was a kid, Flip Wilson had somewhat of an influence on my career choices.

Right now though, I’ll take the slow and easy road of observation and report what I see when that phase in my cycle comes around for its turn to play. I feel it’s my best work in the moment. Word by word, the pictures are developing, slowly, like a Polaroid.

YouTube Video courtesy of jayceemediaofficial

“Live for love.” – Prince