A Sad State of Affairs by Butch Ford
By now, we’ve all been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. We are hearing about it on our televisions, reading about it on various media platforms, or experiencing a personal loss. Whatever the story…it has impacted our daily lives. And life as we know it may never be the same.
There are hundreds of rumors circulating about the virus. And conspiracy theorists are running amok with their countless, unsubstantiated theories of the scientific, logic-based, and political variety. When in actuality, nobody seems to know very much about what we’re facing with the coronavirus. Several states have implemented a stay-at-home order for businesses and employees that are considered non-essential. Citizens have also been instructed to utilize social distancing for safety and the containment of the virus.
Sadly, a specific demographic doesn’t appear to be following the safety guidelines that were put in place, prompting law enforcement to change the rules on the fly aggressively. Citations totaling upwards of $500 are being issued, and arrests are being made. I’ve seen several disturbing videos of African Americans congregating in large groups…drinking, partying, and not taking the crisis seriously. They can be overheard dismissing the pandemic altogether and cursing the rules and those attempting to enforce them.
There should be just one goal in mind…that’s survival and self-preservation. But why is it so hard for US to do the right thing? Why can’t WE simply stick together? It’s frustrating and often embarrassing to watch the younger generations self destruct. Where did we go wrong? What could we have done differently? Is it too late to turn things around? These are all valid questions. We’re losing so many people to this devastating virus. And nothing’s going to change if we don’t follow the blueprint for safety that’s been laid out. We need help. But it starts with ourselves.
Silver Lining by Butch Ford
It’s March 2020, and the world is amidst chaos and disorder dealing with the pandemic known as COVID-19 or the coronavirus. An outbreak that seemingly appeared overnight and has wreaked havoc and disrupted our daily lives as we know them.
Schools nationwide have closed their doors, companies have ceased operations, and bars and restaurants are open for take-out only with early closing hours. Everyone has been ordered to self-quarantine and stay home for a minimum of 14 days to decrease the chance of spreading and contracting the disease. Supplies such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bleach, and other disinfectants haven’t been available to consumers for over a week. And panic has set in. Everyone is in an uproar. Stores are price gouging, and consumers are hoarding items…whenever they can find them. The stress level of the general public is at an all-time high.
Let’s take a slightly different look at this. Children and parents are at home together. Society has an opportunity to reinvent family. It’s a time to recall past traditions and reacquaint ourselves with the true meaning of family. We can start by praying and eating meals together and communicating with each other. We can attempt to reform and rebuild all that has been damaged over the past several decades.
The new generation needs to have knowledge of the way life used to be before social media, video games, and lack of direction (as a people). COVID-19 is a horrible catastrophe that’s taken us all by storm. But there could be a silver lining, as well. Stay tuned.
COVID-19 by Butch Ford
The Coronavirus or COVID-19…what is it? Where did it originate? And what’s up wit it? We all would like to know. There are several different theories. But only selected individuals genuinely know the answers to our questions.
The definition of a pandemic is the outbreak of disease prevalent over a whole country or the world. Well, this is what we’re facing today. And it’s scary. But should we be? I’m not a conspiracy theorist; however, I have raised my antennas.
I honestly don’t know what to believe. Is this whole thing legit? Or is it a distraction? Are we being lied to or manipulated? It’s all very confusing to me. I saw a graph outlining proof wherein every election year, a new epidemic miraculously surfaces. Coincidence???
Sadly…I don’t put anything past “The Powers That Be.” I’ve lost trust in the system. Although alarmed, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was part of a bigger plan or a hidden agenda. I’ve heard mumblings that if the country is under the State of Emergency, the Commander in Chief reserves the right to postpone the election and retain office for an additional two years. I’ve also heard others mention that the current headlines take the attention off the stock market…which is quietly dropping.
Professional and collegiate athletics have suspended operations indefinitely, and international travel could potentially be in jeopardy. Universities have canceled all in-person campus classes and have plans in place to resume academics on-line. I ask that everyone keep your eyes and ears open. This could very well be an actual catastrophe of epic proportions, or it could be all smoke & mirrors. We don’t know yet. Everything is such a big secret. Only time will tell, but we need answers. Until we get them…stay safe and take care of one another.
It Starts Now by Butch Ford
Because it’s that time again…I’d like to discuss the upcoming 2020 Election. Now I’m not much of a political expert. Nor do I claim to be overly knowledgeable on the subject of politics. However…I know that I strongly dislike smear campaign tactics and negative election strategy. That’s when a candidate or candidates use negative information acquired about an opponent to slander his/her character. The objective…obviously being to gain political favor or to sway the opinion of the general public/voters.
I’m on record with my personal feelings regarding political affiliation and voters sticking close to familiar party lines. Again…that’s the individual’s preference. I ask that the voters do extensive research and familiarize themselves with all the facts before making a final decision on their candidate. Politics is a dirty game, people. Most involved aren’t very noble or upstanding, and EVERYONE seems to have an agenda!
I’m not judging anyone’s political views. It’s your right to vote whatever way you see fit. Whether you lean towards the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, or vote Independent…just make a sound decision based on the candidate’s morals, values, and character. Is your selection a decent human being? Does he or she have the best interest of the American citizens in mind? Will they represent our Nation in a dignified, classy, and presidential manner?
We deserve better! We’ve been lied to, insulted, and embarrassed for far too long. It’s time that we get back to respectability and begin repairing the relationships that have been damaged by the current administration. We are the laughing stock of the free world, and they view us as a joke or a side-show. We used to be a proud country. What happened to us? How did we get here? We can be that again, but we have to come together and work peacefully. And it starts with the upcoming election.
Stu Scott by Butch Ford
In 1993 the sports world was turned upside down when a brother from Chicago, Illinois, by the name of Stuart Orlando Scott, arrived in Bristol, Connecticut for the SportsCenter programming on the ESPN Network. The Vice president for talent, Al Jaffe, was summoned by his superiors to find new personalities who would appeal to a younger audience.
Scott, a graduate of The University of North Carolina, caught the eye of executives and viewers alike with his unique urban catchphrases and hip-hop style. It quickly caught on with the general population…and a star was born. Initially, the fear was that “the masses” would scoff at sports reported in this manner. Would it be perceived as “too urban?” Little did we know…Scott became a pioneer and trendsetter who changed the way sports are broadcast. He added swag and brought flavor to sports telecasts. And everyone followed in his footsteps.
Scott enjoyed a successful 22-year career with ESPN until he lost his lengthy battle with cancer in 2015. The entire sports world experienced a colossal loss with his passing. In addition to nightly SportsCenter programming, Scott was also commonly seen on NBA, NFL, MLB, and NCAA pre and post-game shows, as well. There’s an apparent void in the hearts of real sports fans that may not ever be filled.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I miss laughing at Stu’s wit and comical approach. He was engaging and commanded his audience. It always left you wanting more. You couldn’t wait to hear what he was going to say next. And he would never disappoint. It’s tough to watch SportsCenter these days, but if you listen close enough, you may hear a new school anchor give an ode to the legend known as Stuart Scott. We miss you, my brother.
“What Time Is It?” by Butch Ford
In 1981, Prince assembled an All-Star group of musicians…comprised of the baddest cats from the local Minneapolis music scene. Together they became arguably the funkiest band in the ’80s. But individually is where they made their historical mark as superstars of R&B. I’m talking about The Time.
Morris Day, was not only the lead man and zany persona but is also a world-class drummer (he played on all of The Time’s studio recordings). James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis are world-renowned super producers with countless platinum and gold records spanning nearly four decades. Jesse Johnson, the ultra-talented lead guitarist extraordinaire & producer who’s still dazzling audiences after 35 years, both home and abroad. Jerome Benton…funk/R&B’s most notable hype man, who’s the ying to Day’s yang and also the younger brother of Terry Lewis.
But the longest active members of the group who I refer to as the backbone are Garry “Jellybean” Johnson…drummer & Monte Moir…keyboards. Johnson has produced for Janet Jackson, New Edition, Nona Hendryx, and Alexander O’Neal. Plus has played lead guitar on some of Minneapolis’s funkiest tracks like, “Fishnet,” “Innocent,” “Criticize,” and “Black Cat.” Moir produced iconic R&B classics such as: “The Pleasure Principle” and “If You Were Here Tonight.” The talent speaks for itself.
Despite playing very few notes, if any at all on the group’s first three albums (other than Day), it’s “time” the fellas get their just due in the industry and R&B History. No other band has accomplished so much in separate incarnations as this super group we love and know as The Time. “Ain’t nobody bad…like them!”
“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford
The title of this entry was inspired by a 90’s hip hop classic from Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. The thought behind it are feelings of love, loss, gratitude and pride mixed with a little bit of selfishness and some sadness sprinkled in too. We’ve all lost loved ones at some point in our lives and admittedly…it hurts.
I remember watching my grandmother beam with pride and joy. She loved family; her mother, sisters, aunts & uncles, daughters and most assuredly her grandson(s). Holiday gatherings and family get-togethers meant everything to her. I would marvel at the outpouring of love displayed at these functions. It’s difficult to put it into words. It was just simply incredible. Boy…I really miss those days. And then…the unthinkable began to happen. We started losing our older relatives slowly but surely.
Now we’re the grandparents, the great aunts & uncles, the matriarchs & patriarchs of our families. But times have changed. Things are very different now. The world just ain’t the same anymore. Don’t get me wrong…we’re all blessed to still be among the living, but it’s sad watching the day to day occurrences in these dark and scary times we live in. We gotta stay prayed up and watch out for one another. Hopefully better days are ahead. As the song says, “A change gon come.” We need a change…BAD!!!
Thinking back on how my grandmother loved on all of us…that smile, those hugs and the loving, nurturing words of encouragement…makes me wonder if she missed her parents, grandparents, great aunts & uncles as much as I miss her? If she did, she didn’t show it. But gauging the void in my heart…how could she not? Her focus was obviously on everyone else’s happiness.
I still smile when I think of my grandmother’s strength and courage. The way she held everything together was nothing less than amazing. Her memory still lives on today. Mainly because my mother stepped up in her absence and filled those shoes remarkably. I’m just expressing myself, but I know there are others with similar stories, right? The message today is simple. It’s for our loved ones who have gone on to glory…to continue watching over us while we reminisce over you.
Two Headed Monsters by Butch Ford
As I sit here reminiscing about days long since passed (I’m just nostalgic that way). I began to hum a few classic oldies but goodies to myself, which brought about a debate I had with some friends a while ago. The conversation was about…who we believed the greatest “One-Two Punch” in R&B history was.
The 70’s and 80’s brought about some undeniable timeless pieces…delivered by some of the most gifted & phenomenal singers. And by “One-Two Punch” I mean a duo or tandem within a group or band that brought different flavors or elements to the music (within that unit) that we all grew to love. The three choices that were mentioned most were: The O’Jays, The Whispers and Earth Wind & Fire. Let’s settle this once and for all.
First was the O’Jays, with the sweet, smooth silkiness of Walter Williams, in direct contrast with the rugged, I didn’t come here to fuck around with y’all, begging & pleading delivery of Eddie Levert. Great choice. Next, was the identical twins Walter and Wallace (Scotty) Scott from The Whispers. It was magical…almost mystical how they seamlessly and effortlessly dazzled us by swapping lines and alternating powerful individual lead parts with flawless, deceptive unison. Can’t argue that choice either. Then there’s Earth Wind & Fire’s co-lead vocalists, the incomparable Maurice White (baritone) and the dynamic Philip Bailey (1st tenor) who provided another whirlwind “two headed monster” worthy of being crowned the greatest of all time, as well. EWF’s genius touched our spirits and souls on some other level. Didn’t it? To be honest, you can’t go wrong with either of these choices. BUT WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE TANDEM??? And why? Is it one of the groups mentioned above? Or are we sleeping on some folks?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Hutchinson sisters, Wanda and Sheila of The Emotions; Bobby Smith and Phillipe Wynne of The Spinners; Ron Banks and LJ Reynolds of The Dramatics & Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin of Chic…who were all spectacular in their own right. And if there’s anyone else I failed to mention, it’s probably because they had one primary lead vocalist during their run, which doesn’t qualify them as a tandem. So…no shade intended towards anyone whatsoever.
But I’d like to know everyone else’s thoughts. Who do you believe the greatest One-Two Punch in R&B History is? Let’s have some fun with this.
Mamba…Out! by Butch Ford
Sunday January 26, 2020…A day we’ll all remember; where we were, what we were doing and how we felt upon hearing the devastating news of the helicopter accident that claimed the lives of Los Angeles Lakers’ Great Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, her friend Alyssa, her parents John & Keri Altobelli and the pilot, in Calabasas, California.
I’d reserved my thoughts, feelings and comments until after I was able to process everything. But as my timeline began to flood, my phone began to ring and my messages began to mount. I took time to reflect on my numerous memories and the unbelievable career accomplishments of the man nicknamed, The Black Mamba. Kobe was an 18 time All-Star, a 5 time NBA Champion and the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player. He entered the NBA as a teenager from Lower Merion High School (Pennsylvania) in 1996 and dazzled us for 20 incredible seasons.
Widely regarded as an All-Time NBA Great, Bryant leaves his wife Vanessa, three daughters, his parents, The NBA Fraternity and an entire world of fans to mourn his untimely demise. The Altobelli’s were survived by a son and a daughter. This was truly a sad day. Let’s pray for healing, strength and courage for the families. And let’s take better care of each other. For none of us know the day, the hour or the time we’re gonna be called home. God Bless Us All.
R & B Church by Butch Ford
Does the name Howard Beverly ring a bell? Probably not. Well…he’s a multi-instrumentalist, singer, writer and producer from Philadelphia, PA. He started do-wapping (harmonizing) on the tough streets with friends and composing songs in the early 60’s.
Beverly later changed his name to Frankie after his favorite singer Frankie Lymon, formed a band called Raw Soul, moved to California with the hopes of making it big. After a few years of playing small bars around town, Marvin Gaye sat in on a set one evening. He saw potential in the band. He took them under his wing, talked the group into changing their name and the magic began.
The newly christened Maze led by Frankie Beverly started creating a buzz in the urban markets. We soon fell in love with the silky, soulful voice and hits such as, “Happy Feelings”, “Joy & Pain” and “Before I Let Go.” 1993 was the last year Maze released a studio album, but they continue to sell out everything from dinner clubs to 20,000 seat arenas.
If you’ve never had the honor or distinct pleasure to experience a live Maze concert…please do yourself a favor? Frankie comes on stage to thunderous applause and from the opening number, the audience is on their feet. Eyes are closed, arms are swaying left to right in unison and if you’re completely quiet and still for a few seconds it sounds like a mass choir. The feeling is overwhelming. It’s hard to put into words. I refer to it as R&B Church. It’s simply beautiful.