Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Excerpt from "My Life Sucked..." by A. Dacosta Brathway

...As a part of my socialization process, my mother introduced me to jazz music. This was significant because I was diggin' music that my peers could not even get to (which made me hipper than them!). My mother must have been in entertainment in another life because she was always singing and dancing around the house. She talked about her days when she hung out at a dance hall or the movies or a concert. Her album pile consisted of Dakota Staton, Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday... All smooth singers that hung out in Harlem back in the day. To be honest, I didn't really care about that style of jazz but it did motivate me to get into cats like Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Byrd, and Coltrane (when he went into his transendental spiritual meditation bag! There were others... Bobby Hutchinson, McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Greshen Moncur, Dizzy... I was so far gone at 15 years old, it wasn't even funny. I actually wanted to become a jazz musician but I didn't have the one main ingredient a musician needed to have... I couldn't play an instrument worth a shit! And gettin' high did not help my plight. But I had everything else a jazz musician had. I had the look, the voice (you know, low and raspy), the walk and the drugs. I wanted to be down so bad, I thought about joining the school jazz band and strapping a kazoo to a tenor sax just so I could be down! It probably worked out for the better though. If I had got down the way I wanted to, I wouldn't be writing this now. I'd be dead and, probably, would not have become world renowned the way my idols did. And, in retrospect, I would have gone overboard. I would have so cool, I would have been too cool for my peers and they would have shunned me anyway. But, now that I know what I know, I should have done it because my life is really fucked up now and I didn't have a blast getting to this point!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Excerpt from "My Life Sucked..." by A. Dacosta Brathway

Man, this whole drug thing is twisted. Young folks and some old folks) are killin' themselves with all kinds of weird drug concoctions and that puzzles all the hell out of me! Back in the day, I got into the drug thing. At first I started drinking beer. I lived over my aunt's store so I could go downstairs and sneak a bottle of malt liquor out of the fridge and have at it. It was cool, at first, but then I started getting drunk! That was some weird shit. I was dizzy and throwing up... I remember the room spinning around and no matter what I did to try to stop it, it kept spinning around and around and around...I got bored with that shit real fast. The only other way I was willing to get high was to smoke weed./ Now, out at the high school, thw white boys was doing all kinds of shit. It was the '60's and the hippie thing was in full effect. There was LSD that had cats straight trippin'... I was having no part of that. There was other things happening that did not interest me... But that weed... Oh man! I loved smokin' weed! The first time I did it at the high school, I was told, I pulled my pants off and ran the length of the football field, buck naked! I have no recollection of that but that's what I was told. However, I do remember craving potatoe chips and "Hostess Twinkies" and "Ring Dings" and "Devil Dogs" and lots and lots of soda! Back then a soda cost $.15 and any one of those cakes cost a dime. Potatoe chips cost 5 cents a bag. A bag of weed cost $5.00 and a lid was going for $20.00. Because I played ball, I knew all the dealers so scoring a bag for a discount was not a problem and my game was not even that tight. When I hung out with the "real" ballers the smoke was even better!/ I have to say that when I started smoking weed, I stopped giving a shit about school. I was too high to care. But, I did like the feeling. I guess when you are young, you don't want to care about anything. You just want to do what you want to do. I didn't have a whole lot to do so all I wanted to do was smoke. I think I started smoking weed because I was getting dumped on by chicks. When I was high, I didn't give a shit about chicks. I didn't even know when they were dumping on me after hitting a joint. I didn't care! What was cool about it was I liked being in an altered mental state. I had weird ideas when I got high. To hell if what I thought did not make sense to others. It only had to make sense to me! Obviously, I had to stop but, in my mind, I was real creative when I was altered. I thought differently about myself. I felt confident that whatever I did, I was cool with it. I wanted to be an artist and a musician. I couldn't play an instrument to save my life and the only thing I could paint was pictures by the numbers. It was like I was smoking confidence. When I came down, I felt like I couldn't do shit./ I eventually stopped getting high in college. The feeling got lost in translation. It was that and me getting thrown out of college after I got caught smoking a joint, in my room, during a surprise inspection during homecoming weekend when it seemed appropriate to smoke a joint in the first place!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Excerpt from "My Life Sucked..." by A. Dacosta Brathway

Who or what determines how or why you live? Is it GOD? Is it science? Is it dumb-ass luck? I don't know that answer but if anyone asked me that question, as it pertained to me, my answer would be that it is dumb-ass bad luck! Why I was born black, in a one parent situation, in the ghetto, and poor in America can't be anything else but bad luck. And in my teenage years, bad luck reigned supreme in my life./ After I got bussed out of my 'hood to what seemed like a foreign country to go to high school, I was experiencing things I never had to worry about before./ After several encounters with "almost" sexual intercourse, and "very close to" fucking a girl,(good) fate stepped in and lended me a hand. I went to the gym to play some pick up basketball and when I got there, there was this fine honey sitting on the stage, watching. (The gym was a Catholic Church/School that had a stage in the gym.) She was short, shapely, very cute and not the kind of girl that would be interested in me./ When my game came up, I just happened to look over at the stage and for some odd reason our eyes locked! She was staring at me and I guess I was staring at her because I wasn't looking at anything else, including the pile of gear on the floor that I just happened to trip over. Of course everyone laughed... But her! She looked genuinely concerned about my condition. Hobbled, I played my game, lost, and exited the gym. When I got outside, she was out there, smoking a cigarette, which was a no-no around the gym but a complete turn on to me. She was so sexy the way she blew out the smoke then looked at me to see if I caught her committing an ungodly act. When I looked her over, she had on a tight blouse, tight shorts... To be honest, I don't know what else she had on because I could not get past the shorts! When I got closer to her, she spoke to me and my life changed forever!/ Over time, we got to know each other...over the phone. It got to the point where she wanted to see more of me so we decided that one day we would meet and hangout... together./ At that time I was very secretative about my private life. I never talked to my mother about anything! School, sex, teenage anxiety, my failing grades, girlfriends, or the lack there of... So me meeting my mystery girl met the same criteria./ When we finally talked about getting together, she decided that she wanted to come to my house. My house! How in the hell was that going to happen? I lived in a house that was guarded by an aunt that stayed home all the time. Not only did she stay home, she ran a small grocery store and was always watching the block. There was no way I would be able to get my concubine in the house! Ahh, but (good) fate reared her head once again. The day we decided to hang out was the same day that my aunt had a doctor's appointment. All I had to do now was find an excuse to have to go home in the middle of the day, from school. I decided that I would, deliberately, rip the crotch in my pants. That would get me a pass to go home early. When I got to the bus stop (it was too early for the race riots!), my mystery girlfriend was there, waiting for me. For a solid hour, we rode on that bus, teasing each other and reaching a fever pitch!/ When I got her in the house, I thought, "Ive done it! She is in the house, no one is home and my secret is safe!"/ I hear women complain about how bad it was to lose their virginity. They talk about how it was nothing like what they thought it would be... Shit, when I lost mine that beautiful, sunny day, it was everything I imagined and more! I remember her moving past my premature ejaculation moment without a complaint... I remember her dispelling all of the myths about not being able to get it back up after I came. She had skills!/ When it was over, I was so loose, I could not think straight. Unthinking, I thought sex would be like what I saw on tv. You know, like on a soap opera when they had sex. After it was over, they would just get up, put on their clothes and act like nothing happened. It looked so sanitary. Yeah, right... My sheets were soaked and my room was as funky as a whore house on the weekend. I took my sheets off my bed and balled them up in a pile on the floor. I was home free... That is until my mother came home and saw them laying on the floor. When she picked them up she felt the dampness. The funk was not as profound, but it was still in the air because the GLADE had not lived up to it's own advertising./ I saw my mystery date one more time after that. She was with another guy, probably going to do the same thing she did with me on my special day. But I was a man about it. I had already done my crying... It was when (bad) fate stepped in and convinced my mother to whip my ass when she figured out what went on... On my dream date when she smelled the funk and saw my sheets on the floor...!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Excerpt from "My Life Sucked..." by A. Dacosta Brathway

Man, talk about history repeating itself... Back in the 60's, when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing and the rhetoric that was being spewed from both sides of the ledger seemed to make sense, the Vietnam War was in full effect. (Just like the Iraq War now) At that time, the government implimented a draft and young males were chosen (like a lottery pick for the NBA) and issued a "status rating." There was certain criteria set that you had to meet that would determine when you were drafted. There was a list of conditions that the military determined how you could be drafted or not be drafted and there was nothing you could do about it. I remember thinking that I would have to go to war and never become the "genius" I thought was my manifest destiny. I did not want to go to war because I knew I would have a problem navigating the terrain in Vietnam. I knew that because I was having a problem navigating the gang turf in my 'hood. There were two prominent gangs happening when I was a kid. There were the Bishops and the Chaplains and, believe me, these two groups had nothing to do with the church! (That is unless they were violating a rectory to rob the sisters out of their "vow of silence" allowance!)/ I lived in Bishop territory. A block away from me was the border between Bishop terrirory and Chaplain terrirory. On the surface that was not a problem for me, since I was neutral. But, it became a problem for me because of my mother every weekend. My mother had this thing about me going to the grocery store every Saturday to pick up the usual suspects... Breakfast cereal, milk, some kind of cheap meat, and her feminine hygiene product. The Chaplains thought that because I lived in Bishop territory, I was a Bishop. When I had to go to the store, I had to find a way to explain to them, when they stopped me, that I was not a Bishop and I was going to the store for my mother. For some reason, that was not enough of a passport to get me through the gauntlet they had set up. I should have chosen track as my sport because I got real fast!/ Needless to say, I did not always get through untouched. I remember once I tried to explain to them that I was not a Bishop or a Chaplain... Hell, I was in conformation classes in the Episcopal Church to try to become an alter boy and they wouldn't let me join their gang! It might have been easier to just take the gang initiation then going through those classes! Anyway, I took two ass whippings that day. After the Chaplains were done, I had to go home and explain all of this to my mother. Under normal circumstances, she would have understood but this particular Saturday was a heavy flow day and her maxi-pads were of vital importance. In retrospect, maybe I would have had an easier time in Vietnam!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Excerpt from "My Life Sucked..." by A. Dacosta Brathway

While I was in high school, I suffered through the normal adolescent trama that male teenagers go through. Only the difference between me and a normal male teenager is I'm willing to expose myself to the public, in my blog, while they crawled into the closet and built a cozy nest under their shirts and between their sneakers./ I started to take a liking to girls and there was one girl, in particular, that I was developing strong feelings for. Her name was Barbara (not really her name) and she was smoking hot! She was tall and had a shape that could break an hour glass. She was in a couple of my classes and my sense of humor was good enough to get her attention so I used it to my advantage. We would talk after class and it got to the point where we would walk to the bus stop together. (Later on I found out that she walked with me because I would shield her from the bottles that were thrown during the race riots!) We became close enough for her to ask me to visit her at her house. When I went there, I found out that Barbara was not some ordinary black chic from the 'hood. This chick's folks had some cash! I remember her father being very cool and quiet. He did not look down on me like I was invading his privacy. After he spoke to me, he disappeared to another room in the house and I never saw him again. Barbara's mother was another story. She gave me the once over all night long. Not that I thought that I would even get to first base with Barbara, her mother made sure I that I would never even get to the batter's box-that night. She pelted me with questions about me, my family, and my job status. When she determined that I did not make ENOUGH money to her liking, she told me that I had to step up my game if I wanted to even get a sniff of Barbara! Weeks turned to months before Barbara invited me back to her house. Only, this time, things had taken a turn for the better. Her parents went on a cruise! When I got there, Barbara was dressed in a slinky dress, heels, and a fur coat and matching hat. I was stunned. I remember wondering where she was going dressed like that and why she invited me over in the first place? She took me upstairs to a room where she had a pool table in it... Nothing else. She took off her coat and hat, laid across that pool table, spread her legs, then asked if I could put the black balls in the corner pocket? Hey, just call me "Minnesota Fats!" After some struggle, I got my pants down, pulled out my pool stick... And then it happened... I, prematurely, shot, and missed the pocket! Needless to say, I was never invited to shoot pool with Barbara again! Stay tuned...

Monday, January 14, 2008

CRAP/ My Journal by Al Brathway

January, '08, Monday/ Well it's a new year and that means new things. My plans are to go to new places and do new things. I plan to meet new people and participate in new dialogue. However, this means that I will have to get a new job and make new money. I will also have to have a new attitude! So, making new year's resolutions is not a new thing to me because I do it every year... And, nothing new seems to happen. What could be new to me is that I get to be in control of all of this newness and have a new found control over everything so that I can experience all that is new. Maybe I should start by saying some new prayers? Whatever is in store for me this year, I hope will be good. I'm ready... Happy New Year!/ CRAP! (But I mean that in a nice and new way!)

My Life Sucked Which, Psychologically, Affected Me To Aspire To Become a Vaccuum Cleaner Or a Writer!

January '08/ This is a part of the Prelude (The Wonder Years)to my new book. I will reveal snippets of my colorful life until I find something more interesting to write about during the course of '08.

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, during the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement was both a scary and rewarding experience. Prior to 1955, I never thought I had anything to worry about. Then all hell broke loose for me! Emmit Teale was murdered, there was a big march in the South, Black folks needed Federal marshals just to get around town and everybody hated everybody! Now, living in New York at that time, was a little different than living in the South because racism was deep under cover. I did not know I was hated until a big Irish cop ordered me and my friends to get off the street corner before he knocked the shit out of us. (Which may have helped me because I remember being constipated a lot?)

After I graduated from Junior High School, integration set in. The high school all the black guys went to was two blocks from my house. I could have slept late, walked the two blocks and never been late for school. But, somebody decided that blacks and whites needed to go to school together so I was shipped out to Flatbush, Brooklyn to go to an all white high school. What a joke that turned out to be. The blacks hated the whites and the whites hated the blacks and I was stuck right in the middle. I didn’t hate anybody, at that time. There were race riots every week! I didn’t like fighting, although I had my first racially inspired fight in high school. The guy I fought was an Italian kid with a funny accent. He talked like “Vinny Barbarino” from the sitcom “Welcome Back Carter.” (I wonder if that kid was John Travolta?) I had to find a way to get home without getting my ass kicked. Back in my ‘hood, I was running with a bunch of guys who fashioned themselves as young revolutionaries. We all had big afro hairdos and we wore African garb. We spoke in “pig Latin” because Swahili was too hard to learn and we talked about killing the enemy all the time when we smoked reefer.

The Vietnam War was in full effect and I knew that I did not want to go there. I felt like going to Vietnam was like going to Flatbush except that there was no bus or subway there that could bring me back home. To me, at that time, it was one thing to fight for your country and it was a whole ‘nother thing to fight for your life! I chose my life! (No, I did not defect to Canada… My mother would not let me go there- kill joy!) By my junior year in high school, I started rebelling. I did not want to go to school anymore but, since I had to go, I figured I would start failing all of my classes! (I got bored being an honor student!) The only one in the school who seemed to care whether I passed or failed was my young, Jewish English teacher, who had just gotten married and had a crush on me! I didn’t think anything of it until she asked me to take her home with me and I could not figure out a way to sneak her into my crib without my mother finding out about it. She had “jungle fever,” only it was more like Malaria now that I look back on it. She was good looking but way too motherly for me. I already had the “mother of all mothers!” Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mother but she was a motherf#@ker!