Now Playing: (deafening silence)
Topic: the Christian walk
every Christian wants to be just like Jesus...
...until we actually have to. then most of us act as if we never met the brother...
i think it happened last wednesday. i was walking through union square park on my lunch break, thankful to enjoy some sunshine. i remember wearing a baseball cap and a pair of yellow-tinted sunglasses, and my facial hair had grown to a full beard by then. a brother walked past me and said...
"damn, fam, you almost look like Jayson Blair for a minute, son. word life..."
now, anybody that knows me knows how much i love to write. they also know that i take writing very seriously. so to be confused for an embellishment pimp whose name is known for leaving a permanent blemish on The New York Times and then had the nerve to write a book called Burning Down My Master's House...
well, let's just say it gave me the best reason i've had to shave in weeks. it all went the way of the clipper. facial hair, anyway. moustache, goatee, everything. when comments like that come your way, it's best to start over with a clean slate.
now that i think about it, there's a rant i wrote two years ago with a picture of me that's similar to how i looked on the day of mistaken identity - decide for yourself...
?Guide my feet?while I run this race
guide my feet?while I run this race
guide my feet?while I run this race
?cause I don?t want to run this race in vain.?
The guest preacher ended his sermon at our church on Tuesday night with that song and I?ve been singing it ever since. I need all the help I can get with this race that I have chosen (and been chosen) to run. Why lie?
I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior when I was 12 years old. I clearly had no idea what I was signing up for. I didn?t really know all that it would entail. All I knew was that I had a need to rely in something much greater than myself. So when I confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in my heart that God had raised Him from the dead, I meant it. But I think there?s this period of naivety that young Christians in the faith go through. We think that because we have Jesus, we don?t have to go through anything. We think that the problems stop, that hard times cease to be. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that the moment we accept Jesus into our lives, we?re put on satan?s hit list. The devil ain?t just out to make us have a bad day. He wants to straight up take us out. If he can?t take us out, he?ll make every dogged attempt to disqualify our lives from being a true witness for Christ. Faith is easy to come by when things are going well. The real test is believing He?s real when all hell is breaking loose in your life. Our existence is a series of tests. We all want the testimony without having to go through a test, but that?s not how it works. There?s no testimony without the test. And the higher you go in Christ Jesus, the more difficult the tests become. As my mother used to say, ?New level, new devil.?
Being a Christian in a fallen world means constantly having to ask yourself one question: is it possible to be in the world and not of the world? In other words, is it possible to live your life for God and not be swayed by the influence of worldly thinking? Will you choose God?s way over your own desires? I can?t lie: I have not always chosen God?s way. The struggle between spirit and flesh is quite real, and I have failed this test on countless occasions?even though I knew better.
We as Christians think we get it, but we don?t really get it. This life is a life of suffering. In order to be elevated, we have to get low. We have to deny our selves daily to follow Him. Not our will, but His be done. In a world where everyone wants to take care of themselves before others, is it any wonder why the Christian walk is a hard sell? It completely goes against the way the world operates. From what I hear, some preachers have taken the easy way out with messages of prosperity. I won?t be fooled. The blessings will come, but not without some bruising along the way. It?s going to cost me something. If Jesus was wounded for my trangressions, than I have to expect to catch a beatdown by the trials and tribulations of life. I?ve been through too much already to believe otherwise.
?Hold my hand?while I run this race
hold my hand?while I run this race
hold my hand?while I run this race
?cause I don?t want to run this race in vain.?
A band of women from various school districts all over the world descended upon Rosen Publishing in an attempt to shoot the messenger?namely customer service. We barricaded ourselves behind our cubicles and prepared to fight to the death, but it was no use. We launched textbooks with crudely made catapults, but they sideswiped our every strike and counterattacked with guns that shot poison-tipped bar codes. One by one we fell, casualties of a war we didn?t start and clearly couldn?t finish. They paraded through PTA meetings nationwide with our heads on sticks, terrifying the children in their classrooms enough to work harder. Nobody had to bribe the kids to do extra credit work anymore. Such a warning tends to bring the message home without any room for confusion. Never mind the No Child Left Behind Act?this was real incentive.
The entire network at my job was down all day yesterday. No database, no email, no web browser, no nothing. As a result, the customer service staff was severely crippled, but I gladly dealt with the circumstances. They were nothing compared to last week?s non-stop blitzkrieg of calls.
One of our staff members took a well-deserved vacation last week. It was as if his subconscious knew that the bottom was going to fall out. Every single thing that could go wrong with an order went wrong. The phones would not stop ringing. Not only that, but there were only two of us handling the calls. Issues began to backlog almost immediately. How I made it through that week without randomly killing people on the street amazes me. Truth be told, even if that vacationing member was here last week, we?d still be backlogged. That?s how much work we had.
The processing center that we work with didn?t help matters either. More often than not, books need to be sent to them for bar codes, spine labels, and other stuff that librarians need. Last week, a sorting error caused three different orders to get screwed up?a mess that is still in the process of being corrected. I?ve only been working here about six months, but I?ve never heard of orders being botched up this badly. Things were tough all over last week. Absolutely horrendous.
Thankfully, I?ve actually been clearing stuff off of my desk this week. Progress is a good thing. Of course, in the midst of making progress, the network went down. So you improvise and try to make things work, but there?s only so much you can do when your life source is a dead fish. Could be worse?this could?ve happened last week?
In between my responsibilities at work and church, I barely have time for my wife or myself. It?s a fact of life that can make me rather resentful if I dote on it too long. Oftentimes, all I want to do is immerse myself in music or a good book, kick back and watch a movie or rock the PlayStation for a while. But my travels on the subway from work and back take up at least 90 minutes of my day and I?m usually exhausted after work. I constantly fall asleep on the train ride both to and from work. Once the day is done, I usually don?t have time to do much other than a few quick chores and get ready for the next day.
This is ?rat race? living, and I?m not cut out for it. I?m not sure how many of us truly are. Life wasn?t meant to be lived like this, and I think you know that.
i love this cat. doesn't matter what name he's recording under, it's all good. sometimes it's acid-drenched tunes under his own name. other times he's Wagon Christ. he's done off-kilter drum and bass under the names Plug and Amen Andrews. just for the record, Luke Vibert is responsible for my favorite drum and bass album of all time: Drum and Bass for Papa by Plug. the junglists wanna hang me right now for saying so, but screw 'em. you know why? because in the midst of all the dark dubplates and overtly serious steppers, here comes Luke getting all whimsical and silly. he sucked the seriousness right out of the genre and reminded us to have fun again. on the first track of that album, "me and mr. jones," he starts off with a very telling sample from a comedian's act:
"give me my applause now, cause when i'm finished, you'll wish to hell i'd never been up here..."
and from there, it's on. brilliant.
last year was quite the prolific one for him. he released an album called YosepH on the Warp label, then turned around and revisited his Plug period through a string of singles under the name Amen Andrews for Rephlex. on top of all that, he flipped the script on us again...
he recently put out an album under the name
Kerrier District. it's all disco tracks. nobody's gonna believe it's him. i also think that Kerrier District is kind of a word play on Metro Area, since they have that retro soulful disco sound, too. only heard one track so far ("disclix"), but it's gorgeous. still in awe. definitely on my want list. he's a total prankster, at heart. he doesn't take himself so seriously that he can't have fun with his music. so yeah, Luke rocks. check his recordings for the Planet Mu label, too.
Big Sur is a quiet conundrum of a location. No, not the one in California, but the bar/restaurant/lounge/gallery that I spin at sometimes on the upper east side of Manhattan. It?s a place that should be downtown: Greenwich Village dwellers would love it. Instead, it?s located on the corner of East 80th Street and 3rd Avenue, which may as well be another state to people downtown.
Spinning is fantastic when I tag team with my man Enrique alias Soundscraper. We connect quite well in the mix. However, he didn?t show last night. I was not expecting that. I decided to save my back and bring only CDs down to the venue (besides, I didn?t feel like bringing all my records to a venue which isn?t even busy half the damn time). I just barely made four hours with the CDs that I had.
I can never get a good read on the owner, but he seemed to really enjoy what I played last night, mainly because it was all uptempo and energetic. Most of the set was, anyway. I think he has an allergic reaction to anything under 120 beats per minute. Anyway, he was even jumping around a bit behind the bar last night. Whatever he was drinking put him in a good mood, I guess. Some nights when I?m there, he completely ignores me. Any and all conversation is held for Enrique and who ever the owner?s hanging out with. Seeing as how I was the only one supplying the music, it?s not as if the silent treatment would work last night.
This set doesn?t entirely represent me in the mix. The set I did at Squeeshee ? that?s all me. Not only that, but it?s me having fun giving the younger heads some bangin? tunes while throwing in older joints and being diverse and making it all work. The set below is part me, part Big Sur sound. So there are some techno bordering on trance cuts that I wouldn?t play normally, but it?s stuff within my personal collection that I listen to from time to time that would work at this place. More importantly, I know they?ll keep the manager from saying, ?I don?t like this record, change it.? So you pull a mind game in the mix and meet people halfway. Also, I would let most of the songs play in their entirety before others in. Big Sur?s on the quiet side and the people need to hear themselves talk, so the music is strictly background fodder. Any other place where the vibe is more conducive to dancing, I?d be switching things up every 3-5 minutes.
Anyway, Enrique and I may move to a spot downtown in March. I really need to find out what happened to him last night?
SOUNDSCRAPER SANCTUARY @ BIG SUR
Playlist for Tuesday, February 24, 2004
*solo flight: a strictly CD set / 7pm-11pm*
ryuichi sakamoto*borom gal*virgin
ezekiel honig*i like sitting*anticipate recordings
stardust*music sounds better with you (bob sinclar remix)*virgin (france)
sextravaganza*hey you!*tribal america
antenna*going out*guidance recordings
soul II soul*holdin? on*virgin
matthew dear*but for you*spectral sound
phoenix*if i ever feel better*source/astralwerks
ski*ain?t gonna justify (short trip to space mix)*wall of sound (uk)
brothers and systems*opium dentine*nettwerk
dj vadim*london mindstate*ninja tune (uk)
daisy glow*theme from daisy glow*ffrr/london
towa tei*let me know (mighty bop remix)*elektra
opus III*it?s a fine day*eastwest
deee-lite*runaway (acapella ? beat)*elektra
m.j. cole*strung out*island
ultramarine*skyclad*rough trade (uk)
takuya*jaaz airport (charlie dark remix)*ism
underground resistance*jupiter jazz*tresor
various artists*transitions (tracks 6-8)*ism
3 phase*open your mind*tresor
sl2*dj?s take control (dj seduction remix)*xl
meat beat manifesto*it?s the music*nothing
playgroup*make it happen*astralwerks
daft punk*digital love*virgin
mindgear*don?t panic (the whole story mix)*tresor
m.j. cole*free my mind*island
various artists*transitions (tracks 3-5)*ism
kicks like a mule*the bouncer (housequake mix)*xl
kenneth graham*carrier wave*spectral sound
nuspirit helsinki*makoomba*guidance recordings
3mb feat. juan atkins*die kosmischen kuriere*tresor
hawke*3 nudes (having sex on acid)*ffrr/london
SOUNDSCRAPER SANCTUARY @ BIG SUR
Playlist for Tuesday, February 19, 2004
*while not in exact order, this is everything that I played
while tag teaming with Soundscraper that night?*
ezekiel honig*cape cod getaway*CD-R
hugh masekela*mama (metro area birthday dub)*verve
mm black feat. roy ayers*2000 black*2000 black (uk)
isolee*it?s about*freundinnen (germany)
brothers and systems*trace element*nettwerk
soul II soul*happiness (dub)*virgin
roy ayers*running away*polydor
the nick straker band*a little bit of jazz*prelude
johnny copeland orchestra*atmosphere strut*p&p
metro area*dance reaction*environ
tony allen vs. boozoo bajou*yoruba road*comet (france)
towa tei*let me know (mighty bop remix)*elektra
sarah vaughn*whatever lola wants (gotan project extended remix)*verve
innerzone orchestra*timing*planet e communications
claro intelecto*signifier*ai (uk)
aardvarck*b1*delsin (the netherlands)
delit-k*best before date see base*versatile (france)
massive attack*special cases (luomo?s casing)*virgin (uk)
the soft pink truth*promo funk*soundslike (uk)
milky boy*the ballad of terry ping*ill (uk)
matthew dear*but for you*spectral sound
ultramarine*lights in my brain (spooky remix)*dali
meitz*africa (restless soul remix)*guidance recordings
the rapture*sister saviour*dfa
ryuichi sakamoto*rap the world*virgin
lacarno & burns*mahayana*ism
the orb*cool harbour*shanachie
dj rels*diggin? in brownswood*stones throw/goya (uk)
recloose*can?t take it*planet e communications
matthew dear*dog days (pantytec interpretation)*spectral sound
deee-lite*party happening people*elektra
the avalanches*a different feeling (ernest st. laurent remix)*xl (uk)
the other people place*sunrays*warp (uk)
psychedelic research lab*tarenah (chill mix)*gyroscopic
jimmy edgar*re: city alley*warp (uk)
mr. oizo*flat beat*mute
geez ?n? gosh*oh, precious Lord (I?m thankful)*mille plateaux (germany)
akufen*skidoos*force inc. (germany)
i:cube*comme des espirits (maas mix)*versatile (france)
dj eric*we are love (eric?s muzik edit)*distinctive
I like to read, but I love to listen to music. So if reading is fundamental, listening is essential. If I ever get a chance to really get my read on this year, there are at least three books that I?ve started and need to finish:
Dude, Where?s My Country? ? Michael Moore
Native Son ? Richard Wright
Ruminations ? KRS-ONE
Also wanted to check out that Boondocks comic strip treasury A Right To Be Hostile (what a fantastic title) as well as Rip It Up: The Black Experience In Rock ?n? Roll. Rather excited about that last one. You always know when Black History Month starts around my way: I?ve got black rock CDs on crunk for the first two weeks.
I also have several albums teasing me in my apartment that I?d like to sit down with and listen to in their entirety. The list includes?
MATTHEW DEAR ? Leave Luck to Heaven [Spectral Sound] ? USA
LUNCHBOX ? Anyways [theAgriculture] - USA
EUGENE MCDANIELS ? Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse [Atlantic] - USA
PREFUSE 73 ? One Word Extinguisher [Warp] - UK
ARTHUR RUSSELL ? The World of Arthur Russell [Soul Jazz] - UK
Not enough hours in a day, man. Not enough left over to fully enjoy yourself. I can?t remember the last time I sat down with my books and just read.
Just exactly why am I in customer service again? Oh right, due to the fact that this was the only hook-up in sight after a 6.5 month period of unemployment. Thanks for reminding me. Either you?re out of work or you hate the job that you have, but should still be grateful. Is a contented medium really that much to ask for in this life?
This afternoon, I developed a habit of spurting a stream of obscenities toward the phone as it rang. Surely the Lord is not pleased. I suppose I ought not take things out on a customer even before I pick up the phone. I know I?m supposed to be a nice guy, but frankly, some days I get tired of being the nice guy. Today I wanna be the ?sever brain stem from spinal cord? guy. Somebody be a dear and wake me when it?s my turn.
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! Polaroid warns the public not to ?shake it.?
You can?t make this stuff up, folks.
?the window doesn?t open and the fan is broke and my face is turning blue
I haven?t been in a crowd like this since I went to see The Who
Well, I shoulda got off a coupla miles ago, but I couldn?t get to the door
There isn?t any room for me to breathe and now we?re gonna pick up more??
?Another One Rides The Bus,? ?Weird Al? Yankovic.
Brother Al?s parody of a popular song by the group Queen was all about a cramped bus ride, but those four bars above easily describe what many New Yorkers deal with on the subway. I subject myself to the morning madness five days a week like many others. I take a bus to the subway, then take that the rest of the way to work. Some might say, why not a faster route, like Metro-North? Real simple: ECONOMICS. It all comes down to the dollars, and they?re in short supply these days.
It costs me $70 for a 30-day unlimited MetroCard. That?s exactly what I used to pay for a monthly Metro-North off-peak ticket when I worked in Greenwich, CT. Since I was traveling in the other direction, I didn?t have to pay peak hour prices. I?m currently earning half of what I used to make at my last job. Consider the fact that Metro-North?s rates went up last year and it shouldn?t take you very long to dig the logic. Peak hour prices were astronomical before ? now they?re just insane. It shouldn?t cost someone $5.50 to travel for 30 minutes on a Metro-North train during off-peak hours. That?s the cost of a one-way trip from the Mount Vernon East station to Grand Central Terminal. A.M. and P.M. peak time ? you?re looking at $7.25 one-way.
My wife was paying at least $126 a month for a peak-hour ticket from Pelham to NYC. That price has gone up about 30 bones. Think about the heads that are traveling from places like Poughkeepsie or Brewster North. Think about the money the MTA?s making off of the State of Connecticut alone. Their prices skyrocketed last year. Everybody?s getting taken for a ride, but the ride that they paid for is lessening in quality by the day. Check this out: there are about 800 cars in Metro-North?s fleet. About 300 of them bad boys are being repaired. Less cars mean mad crowded trains. The brutal weather we?ve had this winter has taken its toll on a lot of those cars. And for some reason, the New Haven Line (which serves Connecticut) always gets the short end of the stick. I used to ride it daily, so I know from experience. Imagine how heated you?d be if you were paying $200, $250, $300 a month to ride a train that?s constantly late and when it does come, your ass can?t get a seat. I?d be heated, too.
You know what I just thought about? Sesame Street. They had this skit on the show called ?Subway? well over 15 years ago. They recreated a subway car and various muppets were riding the train singing about the subway. I only remember a few of the lyrics: ?If you?re in a hurry, take the express / It will go right by your local address.? But the line that sticks out the most in my mind is ?You could lose your purse (or you might lose something worse) on the subway.? The idea that they would be that honest and real with children still boggles my mind. You?d never know that judging from today?s Elmo?s World bits, but anyway?
The subway contains its own set of misadventures. Depending upon when I get out of the house, my ride is relatively headache-free (especially considering I?m likely to sleep most of the way through it). But sometimes I have to take the 8A.M. train, and if that happens, I know what I?m in for - a conductor who loves to hear themselves talk. Every ride with him starts off like this:
?The time is (enter time here) and thank you for riding the MTA New York City Transit. Have yourself a magnificent, safe, and a glorious day. Please enjoy it?and be careful.?
Now, there?s nothing wrong with those sentiments in and of themselves. In fact, it?s rather nice when you hear it after a stressful morning. Most subway train conductors aren?t that considerate. And supposedly, this brother was on a train near the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. Once you know that, his words carry even more weight than before.
If you hear it seven times in one 45-minute trip, it gets monotonous. Multiply that by five days a week and you?re ready to strangle this cat. Plus, right before the conductor says something, you hear a little bell sound. Imagine how many times I have to hear that damn bell during the work week if I don?t catch a train before 8A.M. And on that train, when I hear the bell, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The best is what he almost always says right before we pull into the 42nd Street-Grand Central Terminal stop:
?To all passengers exiting at 42nd Street: do not slow?the FLOW. Please use all available doors to exit this train. Help. One. Another.?
EVERY. FREAKING. WORKDAY. I will admit that his heart?s in the right place. I?m just warning you in advance: don?t be surprised if you pick up the newspaper one day and a headline reads, ?Crazed Black Man Gags Conductor on Subway Train.? Still, Mr. Magnificent-Safe-and-a-Glorious-Day pales in comparison to what I?ve had to deal with lately.
About a month ago, my wife and I were making the routine trek into the city when the train stops somewhere around 77th Street. An announcement is made that someone in a train at the 59th Street station got sick. EMS has to go and do their thing before our train can move. Mind you, we?re underground, so it?s not like we can just get off the train. I have more sympathy for the claustrophobic than ever before. Not a good scenario for asthmatics, either. Anyway, just as the incident at the 59th Street station is taken care of, another announcement is made. Someone in a train ahead of ours got sick. The next thing we know, our train?s heading back uptown to the 86th Street station. We?re told to get out there and walk upstairs to catch a local downtown train. Since it makes all stops, it was all kinds of crowded by the time it got to us and we piled on. In cases such as those, the concept of personal space becomes nonexistent. Those that choose the lifestyle of the malodorous give themselves away almost immediately. There is no other adventure for the nose quite like the subway. It would stand to reason that Tuscan Sam (the Froot Loops cereal mascot) would either be beside himself or dead from asphyxiation.
Then there?s my subway story from last week. My Monday morning was already off to a bad start. Somewhere between waking up and having my breakfast, I slept for almost two hours. I?ve rewound the video tape in my head about a dozen times and I still can?t figure out how this happened. All I remember is listening to *1010 Wins* and hearing the announcer say:
?WINS news time: 7:41.?
Seeing as how I usually leave the house by 7:15 at the latest, this was a problem. I?m sitting on the bed with a half-eaten bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats, still in my pajamas, wondering how time managed to escape from me. So I race through the hygiene ritual, throw on some clothes, and my wife drives me to the subway. I hop on the number five and I?m on my way, but my troubles have just begun. At the 149th Street-Grand Concouse stop, an announcement is made that the train is being rerouted. This would take me out of my way, so I run upstairs to catch the number four. After sitting in that train for about five minutes with no movement, they make an announcement that the train isn?t going anywhere due to debris on the tracks and to take the rerouted trains anyway.
At this point, I?m rather annoyed, but nothing compared to other riders who were straight up cursing conductors out. Soon, I?m surrounded by a mass of people all trying to board the next train heading downtown. It was literally hundreds of people all moving in this aggravated swarm down flights of stairs. I couldn?t get anywhere, so I just got out of the way and waited for things to blow over. After about five minutes of this, a brother in a denim outfit who had been communicating with others by C.B. radio says?
?Go back upstairs. Everything?s back to normal.?
If you?ve ever seen Do The Right Thing, one of the most memorable parts is when Buggin? Out confronts this white guy living in the neighborhood for stepping on his sneakers. Buggin? asks him, ?Why don?t you move back to Massachusetts?? The man (rocking a Celtics basketball jersey) replies, ?I was born in Brooklyn.? The crowd alongside Buggin? lets out an exasperated, ?AWWWWWW!!!? That?s exactly what the straphanger multitude did. As irritating as the whole incident was, that made for an amusing moment.
There?s a woman working in the school district of Kenosha, WI named Mary, and I hope the Lord God blesses her real good. Shortly after I got to work, her call was the first I received. She sounded like she was having a day similar to mine. We commiserated and shared a laugh. That was all I needed for my day to realign itself. So Mary, thank you. And I hope it?s all good today.