The Evil Force that Hides Amongst Us Has a Name
The only thing necessary for the triumph
of evil is for good men to do nothing.
– Edmund Burke
Spotlight by Jennifer Hudson
The Curse of Red Kryptonite
by Kendall F. Person
In 1939, a leading scientist on Planet Krypton predicted the end of days. Jor-El, his name, could only convince his beautiful wife, Lara, their world was doomed and there was nothing anyone could do. Lara had just recently given Jor-El a son, Kal-El, whom the pair, though stoic, was broken-hearted knowing that they would be unable to watch him grow. Although Kryptonians were superior to Earthlings in both strength and knowledge, even possessing the ability to fly, they were not gods, and the gods must have been angry. Rather than mourn the eminent loss of life, Jor-El and Lara would use their last days in existence to assure their son would have a chance to live. Only seconds before Krypton exploded, killing all that remained, the parents said goodbye, before securing their only child in a space transportation device, strong enough to protect him from the elements and fast enough to burst through the barrier of sound.
Kal-El was too young to understand he would forever stand alone. But as fortune would have it, his tiny, little space ship, crashed into mother earth, landing in Smallville, Kansas, USA, with his unsuspecting new family await. The Kents were decent folk and raised Clark, son of Jor-El no more, to be decent too. A superman among men, he used his strength and powers for good.
Then came Red Kryptonite, and all bets were off. He was vile, and vicious. He stole and was always up to no good. We could have put up with all that, but when he threw his father across the room, we hated Clark Kent and we hated Kal-El too.
Until she took the stage opposite Hollywood’s heavyweights, Jennifer Hudson had long since been forgotten. Under a cloud of controversy, she was unceremoniously dumped from Season 3 of American Idol, back when Idol concentrated on its talent, rather than its feuding judges. Fantasia, thankfully, would go on to take the crown, dousing the appearance of racism and absence of fair, albeit diminishing Jennifer Hudson’s only claim to fame.
Years later, however, Ms. Hudson would have the last laugh. Sharing the same stage with Anika Noni Rose, Jamie Foxx and Beyonce, the American Idol reject would wage a spirited battle, and take down them all. When the war reached its crescendo and Jennifer’s voice the heavens, a star was born right before our very eyes. She swept the award season, winning an Oscar on her first try. Movie offers, record deals and a new suitor all added to the happiness of her life. We were all happy for Ms. Hudson too. She had proven through hard word and perseverance, that fairy tales do come true. But as she celebrated and honored her now wonderful life, red kryptonite, by way of William Balfour, would hijack her world and do all that it could, to try and destroy her life.
Whether the product of radioactive pieces of an exploded planet, the work of the devil or infused directly into the bloodstream at birth, red kryptonite has proven its mettle as a powerful curse. It commandeers the bad in all of us, then pounces on the good. But once we regain our senses, we understand the good is everywhere, in all of us, and will stand victorious if we show no fear. Good is stronger and faster, and will be here till the end. Less our minds lose focus, and forget once again, that the bad hides amongst us, and pretends to be our friend.
On August 3, 2012 at the London Games of the Summer Olympiad, Oscar Pistorius exploded into the world’s conscious. In less than 46 seconds, the South African with the dazzling smile and propulsion-like speed, accomplished what no other disabled person, man or woman, mentally or physically, had ever done before: soared with the wind, and ran world class, able-bodied athletes off the track. Born with no fibula in either leg, Oscar Pistorius became a double amputee at just eleven months old. He would grow up with the mentality that life owed him nothing, and he was no different than anyone else. He competed amongst amateurs, then in 2004, his introduction to carbon-fiber blades would change his life and elevate him from obscure rugby player to international paralympic track star. He would win eight medals, six of them gold, becoming a real life hero for the disabled worldwide. But his star was still on the rise, and after a series of court battles and sports arbitrations, Oscar Pistorius got his shot in the big leagues. On that beautiful night in London, when he rounded the final bend, Oscar Pistorius became a global icon, and a superman among men.
On February 14, 2012 in a star-studded community, outside of Pretoria, South Africa, a young model named Reeva Steenkamp was found dead in a pool of her own blood. Four bullets blasted through a closed door, penetrating her body, and the Steenkamps’ would be without their dear Reeva…forever more.
Slumped beside her body, was the modern day man of steel, screaming the truth or lies about burglars and not knowing it was her.
Guilt or innocence is up in the air, but one thing we know for sure is true, the red kryptonite has taken a hold of Oscar Pistorius’ life too.
-this is… The Neighborhood
Updates: Jennifer recovered, Oscar was convicted and Superman lives on.
“Where there is desire There is gonna be a flame Where there is a flame Someone’s bound to get burned But just because it burns Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die You’ve gotta get up and try try try Gotta get up and try try try” – Pink
Defined by the legendary Grant High School Football Team, Del Paso Heights, in the eyes of the outlying community, has always been a one-trick-pony. Even if it were true, that one trick brought the epicenter of California’s expansive valley, sprawling from Bakersfield in the south to Redding in the north – a 439 mile drive, through a gauntlet of communities – its first, highly-coveted State Football Crown.
The region’s most respected daily, The Sacramento Bee, has been a stalwart of support, but refuses to abandon its half-century old practice of covering a positive story within DPH, only to interject enough unnecessary, venomous words, as if to subliminally remind outliers, regardless of the subject matter, it is just a ‘gritty’ neighborhood. Even when the story being covered is about a visit from the President of the University of California – speaking on campus of DPH’s only high school – to brilliant, promising students, or about a grassroots coalition, transformed into a political army, assuring DPH a voice within the city’s leadership circle, and input about the future of Sacramento, the valley’s award-winning, blue-state leaning, only Sacramento daily, is always there to provide fair and unbiased coverage, but does so with ever so slight, subliminal but damaging spin. For the insiders, words like ‘gritty’ is all we remember and all the outliers hear.
Big names have been born here. Unknowns have died here. Hit hard, but survived the eruption of black-on-black violence, detonated by the crack epidemic of the mid eighties, that gutted communities in Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.; overwhelmed but not demolished by the great floods of ’86, Del Paso Heights has survived it all, with our dignity and self-esteem intact.
With so much talent, love and support, one question deserves consideration: Why have we been unable to hit a home run? The relocation of the Urban League, into a world-class architectural structure, was suppose to turn the tables, becoming a gateway to a bustling district of commerce, jobs and entertainment. Yet years later, two abandoned lots make a mockery of that plan. Why the absence of Olympians or ring-holders when, through the years, DPH has given flight to the strongest, fastest, greatest athletes in a region. Why no honored intellects advising the President, music producers on Pepsi commercials or authors on the New York Times bestsellers list when our talent matches – or surpasses – those who have, deservedly, achieved?
A continual flow of top-recruits that have emerged from DPH, in sports, music, arts, business and academia has produced mid-level results, but nothing to match the expectations of a community deserving to have them filled.
Some return broken, suffocated by the complexity of life outside a familiar neighborhood. Some have returned armed with more knowledge, wealth and experience. Some never left, finding their successes or distractions here. One has emerged as a citywide leader in business and politics. Some permanently departed, with unfulfilled missions, leaving memories and tears, shed only here. All return to a place, that has remained structurally unchanged, but more demographically diverse. With thankfully few exceptions, all are welcomed back into the embrace of a community that loves them and we love back.
Over the next year, we will offer a closer view of where we are, who we are, and why – win or lose – we are proud to be from a community, where even when we get burned, we get up and try try try. And some day, one of those tries, by one of us, will succeed in making sure…the world knows our name.
Much love, respect and expectations from –
Kendall F. Person, 4Life
Sometimes stupid is good. Remember Dumb and Dumber? A major motion picture, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, that certainly lived up to its title. It was simple, silly, and unmemorable in every way, except one: that it was so damn funny. Every feature film does not have to be in contention for an Academy Award nor its director vying for induction into the movie making hall of fame. Every now and again, it is perfectly okay to take an ‘imbecile’s vacation’. Shut down, kick back and allow the movie, or play or show to do all of the work. No tension placing your stomach in a knot. Void of any real plot line, relieving a person of the strain of keeping up. Just entertainment, that tries to be and do nothing more. Every now and then, dumb is good.
Bloggers are Weird is a podcast by DJ Paris, broadcasted via Thoughts From Paris. It is an out-of-the-gate silly, obnoxious and immature blog/website, yet it entertains the part of the brain, which normally lies dormant, yet still requires a few IQ points of attention. My Poop Pants at 26 is a podcast, tweeted throughout the blogosphere, of Paris deadpanning a step-by-step, verbal reenactment of the Cause, the Incident and the Aftermath of the second time he pooped his pants as an adult. Sounds gross? Well, it is. Sound dumb? Then I have made the entire point of this review. But as an audio, it requires no attention, zero. It played at mid-level volume in the background, while I continued to work on the computer. But by the podcast’s end, the volume was up a few more decibels, and even a friend, that dropped in for a visit, tuned in and enjoyed the show. The story is funny, and while his delivery is Benny Hill-dry, somehow you cannot stop laughing. What I enjoyed the most, is DJ Paris does not take himself nor his listeners too seriously. While the atmosphere appears relaxed and even unprofessional, I have an idea this is all part of the act (not only was there a dog barking in the background, but Paris literally focuses his full attention on the barking dog, trying to silence it, and offers no apology to his listeners). Scripted performance or accidental humor, a laugh is a laugh. But wait, there’s more. The header, on the home page, of the actual website refers to visitors as fools if they mistakenly, but understandably believe Paris (in Thoughts from Paris) refers to the city. On another podcast, he basically tells his followers to get a life, if they are listening to any one of his podcast more than once.
There are some downers. His guest blogger, Ceccily Kellog – Uppercase Woman, was the total opposite of the atmosphere DJ Paris creates. Within seconds of her introduction, the happy-go-lucky-buzz evaporates, and it becomes a totally different kind of show. Not that she was bad, but she was serious. And if I had wanted serious, I would not have just listened to a ten minute diatribe on a grown man pooping his pants (and of course, DJ Paris brilliantly points this out with another slam at his audience, which at the time, would have been me). The site is plain jane and less than a breeze to navigate, but that may actually be by design. DJ Paris takes so many blatant shots at his listeners, we may actually be the butt of the entire joke itself.
Kendall F. Person – thepublicblogger
Contemporary thinking is that legends are born, not made. There is logic in this assertion. Our genetic make up is crucial in both determining physical and mental capabilities. It may dictate rather we are natural visionaries or ticking-time bomb sociopaths. There are many examples, however, of people overcoming adversities of genetics, to triumph, gaining legendary status, no one had believed possible.
Wilma Rudolph was born premature and contracted infantile paralysis (caused by the polio virus) at age four. The 20th of 22 children, few could have surmounted a convincing argument at time of birth, she was destined for greatness. But in 1960, at the Rome Games, a legend emerged This once paralyzed child, who walked with braces until age 12, blew the fastest women on earth off the track, becoming the first woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympiad.
Ray Charles was born without the ability to see, yet became a pioneer in the music industry and one of the wealthiest performers of his generations. But it was his mother’s determined spirit, that he would not accept his blindness as a disability. In direct contradiction to contemporary thinking, Ray Charles’ legendary status, in effect – was made – through the sure will power of his mother.
I am a huge fan of Beyonce. Her music (excluding 4, more on that later) has been undeniably some of the greatest of any recording artist since and including her emergence as lead singer of Destiny’s Child. While her film career has yet to reach the same defining heights, she has achieved a diverse portfolio of performances (Golden Globes Award Nominee, Best Actress, Dreamgirls) and behind the scenes savvy (executive producer, Obsessed). The empire her and her husband have built is not just admirable, but a testament to the changed dialogue from African-Americans being dependent upon society, to becoming creators of wealth, commerce and American stability. And unlike so many other young celebrities, she has rarely, if ever, squandered her talents, money or goodwill of the fans who follow her or the millions of people, who see her as a role model.
The controversy of her lip-syncing the National Anthem is just. Being requested to perform the nation’s song at the inauguration of the President of the United States, denotes one’s importance to and recognition within a country. It is an opportunity only a chosen few will ever get. Unless there were technical issues we are not aware of, lip-syncing has the air of narcissism and self-importance. The nation knows and loves Beyonce. We have listened to her music for years, and hundreds of thousands have seen her perform live. This was not suppose to be the Beyonce show. It was about the President, the country and our ability to transfer, or, in this case, maintain power peacefully. Her over-the-top, lip-syncing performance – much like her album 4 – was an unnecessary demonstration of her skills as a performer, and on-stage persona. It was as if she thought she had something more to prove, and for a brief – but important moment – Beyonce was overwhelmed by an event. Yet all she needed to do was sing.
Four years ago, Aretha Franklin stood at the same podium, singing the same song. She belted out a beautiful, calming rendition, lifting her voice high above the crowd. When she finished, a commentator, I cannot quite remember, said these words “Aretha Franklin, her voice is an American treasure”. No on-stage dramatics, and no controversies to follow. Ms. Franklin’s many accomplishments and her longevity defined it, but it was her awareness of the occasion, and graceful acceptance and honor of the small role she played, that cemented her legendary status.
Beyonce is only 31 years old. Easy to forget with all that she has achieved. She has worked hard at her career, and no lasting baggage should follow. But I imagine, that if she received the same request in a few years time, she would deliver a much different type of performance.
written by Kendall F. Person as the publicblogger