Astronauts getting high in space. An NBA referee betting on games he officiated. Who knew? It’s said that sports are a metaphor for life.
I can truthfully say with an open heart: There is nothing that I know about Cal Ripken Jr. that I don’t like. Which is not to say that there isn’t anything about him I don’t like. Only to say, there is nothing that I do know about Junior that I don’t like.
I don’t dislike his team’s name. In fact, there is an oft-recorded Jazz song called “Baltimore Oriole,” and I am very fond of that really “hep” song. I learned about the Tangipahoa River listening to that song, a river where many true believers were baptized, a river that even figures into America’s Slave Narratives.
I liked his father and namesake, who doubtless worked with my John Muir Junior High schoolmate Paul Blair from Los Angeles. Paul’s name is not in Cooperstown, but he is a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.
I liked that when he officially became baseball’s “Iron Man,” shattering the decades-old consecutive games record, the first person Junior saluted was Eddie Murray, a Black player, his role model when he joined the team. His critics say that he was honored just for coming to work every day…every day for 19 years! He is my ideal of an epic American sports hero, definitely not Black, but not White either. A lucky guy with some great baseball genes, who lived every day for the game and its Glory. It’s still 90 feet from home plate to first base. Continue reading →
I am very happy to know that I possess the Petey Greene, Jerry Washington, Gaston Neal, Nap Turner, Jamal Muhammad, James Brown, Chuck Brown-Gene.
My foot is genetically pre-disposed to pat whenever James Brown music is played. Whether I pat it or not. I’ve got the James Brown Gene.
The same for Chuck Brown who is still in our midst. He is the Grandfather-Godfather of Go-Go. One year on my birthday, I went to see Chuck Brown at the now defunct Club Ibex on Georgia Ave. For some reason, I was grateful they had a metal detector at the door. I’ve bought three or four of his CDs. I’ve got the Chuck Brown-Gene, and I’m proud of it.
It’s a Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, John Brown, Marcus Garvey, George Jackson-kind-of-feeling expressed in haunting melody, hypnotic rhythm. It’s the James Brown-Gene.
Petey Greene was that kind of a guy. They recently made a movie about him, the icon, the live and kicking D.C. Will Rogers. The movie: One Flew Over. Dewey’s Big Break! Ma, he was a M-F contender. Write that down. Original Rapper. With the schoolyard ‘Yo Mama’ training. Continue reading →
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Photojournalist Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a radio and television commentator. He is News Director at Pacifica Radio’s WPFW-FM in Washington and host of “Tuesday Morning Jazz” since 1979 on WPFW; Senior Correspondent for The Final Call; he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer; he has been an occasional commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered;” and BET.com. He is Editor of National Scene News Bureau, a freelance news agency serving broadcasting, editorial and photographic clients.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Askia Muhammad is a personal friend and a superb political analyst,” wrote Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). “He knows both the players and the issues.” Continue reading →