Archive for November, 2019


I’ve made it a point to live in a few cities which were unkind to my black American slavery ancestors, partly due to my years as a radio disc jockey and lately, just because we can now. The latest was in Virginia, the state which, ironically, is the setting for the 2016 movie, “Loving”, which I recently rented from the public library after seeing the trailer prior to a different film.

Directed by Jeff Nichols, this isn’t just a romance story as its title might suggest. The Lovings and this “Commonwealth” state were the centerpiece for a landmark US Supreme Court case, Loving v Virginia and the 1967 decision which erased laws that made interracial marriages criminally illegal in the United States. I didn’t know this – or probably forgot the nuances of that high school American history lesson – until watching this movie revived those facts. This was going on while I was a young teen growing up in New York City where everybody went steady with anybody you liked! Wow. Scary.

“I’m pregnant” are the first words uttered by Mildred, played by Ruth Negga (interesting surname for this type of story, don’t you think?) to which Richard Loving, played by Joel Edgerton (famous for his role in “Black Mass”) replied, “Good. That’s real good.” The progress of the story tries your patience to get into, but is worth the wait. It could be categorized a docu-drama and used as a teaching tool!

All through the film, I kept asking, “who ratted them out?” Getting rousted out of bed in the middle of the night and offed to jail by the mean ole KKK-ish sheriff, played to the hilt by Marton Csokas (“Noah”, “The Equalizer”, “Aeon Flux”), cold southern drawl and all. “That’s no good here..” – pretty good for a New Zelander – just for being in love. They even threw Mildred in jail while pregnant and in her bath robe! One thing that hasn’t changed to this day is a woman getting pregnant out of wedlock, I noticed. Richard didn’t hesitate to ‘make an honest woman’ out of Ruth, however. You’ll see some slightly amusing “city-country-city” cultural moments among the uncomfortable heartbreak.

This is a reminder of many shameful episodes of America’s racial integration past, the vestiges of which some among us still struggle to eradicate. Watching it conjured emotions of anger, sadness and resolute hope deep inside. I couldn’t help wondering if this is why Virginia gives me a kind of weird vibe sometimes; like suppressed parsimony is in its soil.

During the end credits, they show photos of the original couple portrayed and I cheered the Casting Director, Francine Maisler.

I feel this film with four stars and can’t help wondering how the Supreme Court would have ruled if the man was a black American and the woman Caucasian; would it have even gotten the same attention and to the Chief Justices?

Pickhit: Thank you to WordPress for noticing that this is the date of my 10th anniversary here. Thank you, dear reader for reading my words!

Attention: This is my 300th blog post here since November, 2009 and this month I mark the milestone: ten-years of blogging!!

Always a kind of counter-culture kind of a guy walking and dancing to the beat of a different drum, working the overnight shift playing music on the radio came easy for me. It was also encouraged by my mentors as a way not to become stereotyped as ‘just another black radio jock’ and allowed me to play mainstream, Top 40 music. The catch was, the powers that be usually only let the ‘black guy’ pull the overnight shift. I was okay with it.

I’m one of the kids of the 1960s who listened to his first transistor AM radio – a Zenith – under the pillow in his room when I was supposed to be asleep, parents in their room, not too far away, with my dad trying to put me down by calling me “an owl” whenever they caught me. I like “owl”; he was giving me a compliment. Why do everything like everybody else? I grew to never wanting to be part of the “Rat Race” of drones on the same rush hour, every morning and the same rush hour in the evening, day after day. Nyet! Nope. Going to work at 11PM, though sometimes hard, back when I was addicted to television, was always more fun once I got there, and the morning payoff of going home to chill with a beverage, maybe a female fan from my show or just to sleep while the world was awakening again was just really chill!

Little did I know, that the graveyard shift was resetting my body clock forever.

Or maybe I was born with that overtime set to my circadian rhythm’s DNA and the fate of career choices visa v the compliments I received on how my voice sounded over the air, extracted that natural inclination?

I surely adapted to it easily and it was fun, except when the day-timers at the job scheduled staff meetings back at the station in the middle of what was my “night” – sometimes as early as 11 AM – those would take me literally a couple of days or nights to recover from, and became sources of contention when I asked for a little consideration from the diurnal management.
I was fully committed to the day-coffin, learning to use heavy curtains with linings that would turn my day room to night until my alarm clock awakened me to watch the hottest soap opera of that era, General Hospital” with Luke and Laura at 3pm.

Recently, I began reflecting upon the radio stations boards which I learned to jock during the third shift throughout my two score on the air, at a point when I learned about the sale or demise of the name brand that I saw all the time but took for-granted, Gates.

Not sure if this one from my first commercial station, WFLB AM, is a Gates. Maybe your keen, expert eye can spot the characteristics.

Most of them had the Gates insignia on them until I graduated to stations in the mid-1980s that had sliding faders instead of round knobs we called pots.

The next one my research recognizes is the one I bounced with on WBSS FM, “BOSS 97”, Atlantic City, New Jersey fifteen years after ‘FLB. It is the Gates Executive 2.

Meanwhile, I learned that there is a whole world of fellow graveyard shifters who shared my unique pain mixed with laughter. Its almost cult-like…I developed “honored groups of the nyte” to acknowledge and play requests for such as hospital worker, cooks, street sweepers, bakers, bartenders, toll collectors, night watchmen, security guards,law enforcement types, like the detective who used to call into my show and ultimately invited me for a couple of boilermakers at this basic bar, at the unheard of hour of six A.M.! He became like a bodyguard for me up there in Worcester.
Next is a board that reminds me of the one I worked at New York City’s 1600, WWRL AM:

My unofficial research gleans that working the midnight shift may have altered when my body naturally produces melatonin! “Peak levels of melatonin are produced before 3 a.m., when it sharply decreases before natural daylight returns. (Higher levels of melatonin have been measured in the fall and winter when the days are shorter, thus the reason you may be sleepier in the winter months.)”  Wow, that might explain why I still can stay up with the best of ’em!
Even as I write this post #300, most of them are edited during the wee hours of the early morning – after midnight (an Eric Clapton song, btw).

Pickhit: On this “Blog Post #300” and upon our 10 Year Anniversary with WordPress, I was pondering what I would post so momentously. Originally pitched as a source of income in 2009 by an acquaintance, nothing of the sort has materialized – milestone not achieved.
I guess I came to keep doing this as writing practice, an outlet for free expression and a way to display my contemporary music knowledge via the amazing YouTube video attachments which accentuate my opinions and reviews.

***Thank you dear reader, who have happened by to peek and read my public “diary”. The private one? I will save for you, who I shall leave behind in the physical realm, someday. This is a milestone.
Peace.

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