Monday, July 20, 2009

Catch Up, Katsup.

Hey, you. It's been awhile. How YOU doin'? LOL - I admire Wendy Williams.

It's about 4:45am here @ Ree-Ree's and I'm awake watching Koyaanisqatsi (I love this movie, I should watch it waaaaay more) on YouTube this Monday morning.

Ahhh. Monday morning. I draw in a big whiff of the fresh air knowing that I will gladly be inserting my foot in someone's rectum if I am not paid tomorrow or given a plausable explanation as to why my last two checks were "direct deposited" without my acknowledgement or consent.

Oh yeah, BTW - I got a JOB if you didn't notice. Another goal scratched off of the "goals" list.

I now work at an alcohol warehouse called Empire Merchants based in Brooklyn. It's a bit of a trek and being that I'm a Night Loader, I work during the late night hours. There are days when I punch in at 6:30pm and don't leave until 9:30 the next morning. The work is REAL labor (lifting boxes, carrying wooden palletes, etc) but it's quite rewarding. The people I work with are real cool, manly folks who would rather encourage you to stick it out (pause) and finish your job out completely rather than throwing in the towel, but that doesn't mean that this job isn't competitive in nature.

The workers that are lazy and slow and that complain usually don't last long, and being that the company operates on an "as they need you" basis, you're not always guaranteed to work. You have a quota of cases to finish by the end of your shift and if your co-workers in your lane choose to leave early, you are then stuck doing the bulk of the work. However, this is one of the BEST jobs I've EVER been fortunate to have and it's helping my progression in a lot of areas in my life. It can be physically straining at times, but that physical strain has only helped me realize how much I've been physically stagnant over the years and how now is the perfect time in my life to start training my body to be healthier, stronger and overall better.

Thank you Kesed, for putting me on to such a DOPE opportunity, as well as opening my eyes about alot of life's lessons - mainly on accepting responsiblity and living your life working to achieve comfortablity within your own excellence. That dude Kesed is a WISE dude - kind of the diamond in the rough that just kinda floated right by me at first, but with a second glance I've realized how complex and intuitive he really is. Thank you for seeing the talent in me and not putting me in the "mindless money-hungry nigga" box.

*sigh* What else...what else...well, I'm 24 years old now, and while I have damn near another quarter of a century left before I'm "over the hill", I will say that the hill is in eye range. It's crazy but until now, I didn't really feel old. I ran away from responsiblity and maturity for so much of my adolescent and early-adult years that my fading youth kinda just snuck up on me. All the "DAMN! You gettin' OLD!" and "Ohh lawd! Josh isn't our little baby anymore..." remarks don't really help, either. I can't jump around obstacles and hop over ledges and fences like I used to and when I do something strenuous or physically out of my range, I feel it ALL-OVER. Even skating (which I'm back into heavily now that I've got myself a NEW SKATEBOARD - my first Element deck, baby - whoooooo!) It might be the job that's wearing on my body, but it's also buiding me up alot - lookin' all buff and stuff helps my confidence as well as my self-esteem.

Didn't do too much for the birthday this year, just had some fun out on the town with Ree and the boys (Frank and Z). My mom is up here visiting until August, so we've been hanging out alot together. I'm glad my mother sees me as the child she raised so well morally as well as the adult with the ability to live my life prosperously on my own. My grandmother will ALWAYS have this preconcieved notion that I am still her prepubescent grandson who she must shield from any harm, but I know this is only because she loves me so much. Love you too, gramma.

What else, what else...OH YEAHHH!! WE GOT A KITTY!! *jumps* Yes, yes, yes...after a good three weeks trying to secure the kitten with us (the owner didn't want to let her go - I don't blame him, the kitten is ADORABLE) the owner finally turned her over to us so we could welcome her into our home. She is an IRRESITABLE orange tabby named Blanket (in honor of MJ - I know I haven't talked about his passing yet, but I will) and she has taken to us and her new home VERY well. It will be almost a week since she's been here, but she already knows her way around the house, knows where her litter box is and uses it and is just overall a really smart and intuitive cat (wow - guess that's my word for the night...INTUITIVE...). 

MJ. Michael Jackson. The King of Pop. Whatever you want to call him, Michael Jackson was an anomaly which we will never completely have the innocence and purity to understand. This is not to say that Michael was completely pure and angelic, no. Yet, it was his perfect balance and equalities and inequalites, perfections and imperfections that made him such an unmatchable force. When I heard the news of his passing, I thought a co-worker was playing a cruel joke. Before I had left the house that afternoon I was listening to the radio, and Wendy Williams was referring to someone (i couldn't hear the name) in cardiac arrest and possibly in a coma, and I just left the house saying to myself "Damn, these celebs are dropping FAST. I hope whoever it is they'll be okay..." and I left the house without even a thought that it could be Michael Jackson or that Michael had possibly been on his way out of this plane of existence.

After the idiot joker at my job (he says "I heard your cousin died and you cried." referring to MJ - SMH @ lame Italian humor) says this, again - I shake it off like, "Nah. This is just rumors. There's always some new bullshit out there. Maybe they got it confused with Farrah Fawcett." I was already sad that Farrah was gone, but (sad to say) it was only a matter of time with her. We knew she was in a battle with cancer, and that's a battle that most don't win. It was just holding on to a fleeting hope and a dream of a beautiful exit at that point. I'm sorry she and her guyfriend didn't get married like they had hoped to, but I guess it wasn't supposed to work that way.

I got to work that night and as the night went on, nothing but Michael was played on each station. It was then where it started to sink in for me. Michael is...dead...? Damn. This ain't real...that's all I kept telling myself...this ain't real, this ain't real...

My shift ended and Kesed and I walked to the L train, but stopped in a store on the way there to pick up the paper and get their coverage of the story. I still was skeptical inside, almost like I wanted it to be a bad dream and me not seeing him on the cover would be like me waking up from it. Then I read headline of the Daily News only to see the words "KING OF POP DEAD" in bold, white letters - placed upon a background of a glitter-gloved Michael reaching up towards the sky while singing his heart out. It was at that moment where I finally accepted that he was truly gone.

I spent the next few days immersed in the media coverage as well as sinking in the disbelief that he was dead. My mind had quickly gone to tribute mode, because that was a form of healing for me. While sleeping, I had come up with the idea of making an MJ stencil where I would paint his image all over town, specifically this blue wooden wall adjacent to The Apollo. I wanted to fill the whole wall with replicates of the stencil, but hadn't even come up with the design yet. I was up and at work early for some reason (I had gotten to work on the stencil as soon as I woke up), and had first had the idea of making a stencil with Michael's face as a child. However, the more I looked at it , the more the idea didn't stick with me. I scoured the net looking for MJ images and came across one with him in his "Smooth Criminal" get-up, caught in mid-lean as done in the infamous video for "Smooth Criminal". I studied it a few times, played with it in Photoshop until I got it monochrome and then stepped away from it. Yup. This is it. This is the one. I had said that out loud and my mom (who was sitting nearby watching the news) agreed. " THAT'S the one, Josh..."

Focused and dead-set on making this happen, I called Ree and Z to ask for their assistance in the project. I printed the image at Ree's house, cut the first stencil there, then after purchasing one can of flat white Touch & Tone spray paint, traveled to the blue wall near the Apollo to start my work. I was supposed to be on my way back to the house to meet up with my mom the see our cousin Pat, but this project was calling out to me. I felt the unresistable urge to start and complete this project, so I just went with it. My mom wasn't too happy at first that I was ditching our original plans, but I couldn't deal with that then. I was focused and determined to get started and that I did, setting the stencil up against the board and starting to paint.

Now, there was already a decent gathering of people outside of the Apollo at this time, but I didn't want to make much of a scene by doing this because I wasn't sure what the cops would say. Well, I didn't need to make a scene, because the scene came to me...I'd say after the 2nd stencil was on the wall, about 3 different photographers rushed me and started taking pictures of me painting the stencil on the wall. I felt so happy seeing them there because I knew my heart was in the right place with this one. More people started to gather and I could hear them behind me saying "WOW - now THAT's dope..." and "Is that Michael Jackson? WOW - what a GREAT work of art...". By the 8 or 9th stencil the stencil had become damp and useless (it was only on one sheet of paper - printer paper no less), and I had ran to get started on another one to finish my work.

It started POURING (and when I say pouring, I mean the sky had about a trillion Super Soakers aimed at the earth) so we rushed inside a nearby Manna's where they were playing "Thriller" and watched the storm come down. It was an eerily fitting soundtrack to the storm which just seemed to grow ever more fierce (I think I saw some HAIL? hmmm). By the time the storm calmed, we used that break to run back to the house and get started on the next stencil.

While at home working on the next stencil to use, I was listening to radio play Michael's hits as well as interviews with fans at various locations paying homage to Michael and his legacy. The radio show host had them play an interview with a fan at the Apollo who said some really touching words about Michael and who had begun to weep while she was speaking, and it was at that very moment when it TRULY hit me. I hadn't cried the whole day and a half after hearing Michael had passed away, but just hearing the sound of her voice explan how much Michael meant to her as she cried was enough to break down that inner-wall I had created, telling myself I couldn't or wouldn't cry anymore - and I started to sob uncontrollably.

All of the emotions of how I felt when listening to his music or watching him perform, seeing him deal with all of the media's disgusting accusations and portrayal of his character and how he didn't give in to any of it just rushed over me in that moment. It was then that I realized that the world had not just lost another celebrity; we had lost on of the most wonderful humanitarians and performers to ever grace the world with his prescence. I cried and cried, partially sad for the loss, but more happy that he was now where he belonged and thankful for all that he did and acomplished while he was here with us. I hadn't cried in what seemed like years, so for his death to invoke such emotion from me was a release I had needed for a long time. I had felt as if I just lost someone close to me and someone I knew well. I didn't feel as if some celebrity had just died, or that "it was just his time", because to me, it wasn't.

I wasn't ready for him to leave us, just like most of the world wasn't. We looked at Michael Jackson as something MORE than human, a being that was untouchable by death and unscathable by slander. However, Michael was just as human as any of us and it took his death for us to understand that he wasn't a god or an angel so to speak, he just was himself so well and so purely that we built him up to be more than what he was. Which is also why the media was so quick to tear him down, because they couldn't fathom the notion that he could be "human" and be so perfect with his imperfections. I cried so much because Michael was one of the few people left that I admired for just living thier life selflessly for others as well as himself. He used his powers for good and never sold out for a paycheck. His music not only brought people together, but it laid the groundwork for people to want to achieve more. The first multi-platinum selling record, the first fully-choreographed video, his life-changing messages in his music - all these are his staples of pushing the envelope and being real behind everything he did.

It's getting late (early? LOL) and I'm beginning to get tired, so I'll end this entry on that note. Michael Jackson was the BEST to EVER do what he's done and there will NEVER be another like him. I'll catch up with you kittens in the later hours...