Ode to Dropkicking n Eyes-Wide-Shut Meeting

In 2003, my alma mater incorrectly placed three students named Jason Williams tuition under my social security number. After numerous communications, letters, emails and phone calls, I have yet to get a response from them… that was fifteen years ago. I’m still getting calls from debt collectors about my credit rating.


In 2011, I had to leave an apartment after only one month when I was promised upon entering the lease agreement that the pipe repairs and cracks in the walls would be fixed before the end of the first week of my move-in. The manager literally said “We chose not to, and we can do what we want now that you’re on the lease.” I left for another place and even after paying the first and last month’s rent, they placed my name as an eviction.


In 2017, the very apartment I moved into after the previous was taken over by new management a few years later where the gentrification of the community had begun. Management suddenly stopped repairs for any tenant who was living there over the preceding three years and the city’s health inspector’s son was allowed to live there for free – a twenty-something year old who was a known drug dealer. All this to say that the rent of residents who dwelled there for the past five years and over suddenly increased beyond the 3% that was legally permitted under the code of that precinct. According to the management, if you could not pay, then you were evicted.


I for one am tired of having my credit rating held hostage by someone who is legally allowed to have my social security number, and run rampant with it.


It’s been a while since I’ve gone on here to rant. In the good old days, I used to go on this old antique window called “LiveJournal” where I  could write and connect and tell stories and whatnot. Nowadays, a story has to get beaten out of me with a crowbar made up of metals forged in racism, misogyny, corruption and capitalism. I’m forty-one years old – and I’m still overlooked, dismissed and pushed away after twenty-years of working, with no retirement, no benefits and no desire to go back to working for people who are so led by greed and selfishness to pay an adult with a degree enough to put food on the table. The saddest truth in all of this is I am one of many.


When did it become okay to take more than you need and the rest you can’t use, throw it away? When did it become okay to say boys will be boys as a way of dismissing sexual misconduct? When did it become okay to say kneeling before the American flag was disrespectful, but waving the Confederate Flag is? (For those who aren’t aware, the Confederate Flag was created in 1863 as a symbol of the secession of the Southern United States from the United States.)


Yeah, oh goodness me, he got political.


That’s been going around a lot nowadays. Especially when we’ve become a nation who would gladly take away the rights of women, calling ourselves Christian while spilling bile and hatred towards anyone of a different community. I can remember when Fox News blamed Blacks and Latinos for the recession due to “buying into home loans when they were outside of our financial means.” Do you know I’m still hesitant to write everything that’s been on my plate just because of certain members of my family who in all the yeas I’ve known them have never read any of my books but are more than willing to read anything they can find on me for gossip sake? And I love my family, don’t get me wrong – but we all have members who could use a good Three-Stooges-style smack in the face with a pie.


Corporations can hold us all hostage and have been doing this since the end of the recession. When the banks were rescued and the corporations were basically empowered and rewarded for railroading consumers, others followed suit. People weren’t people anymore.


If Thor or Shazam or any of those comic book or fantasy mythological beings were real – Smaug the dragon, the Jolly Green Giant, the Trix Rabbit, whatever… I’d wish they’d just lay absolute waste to those big buildings – Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon – any one who’s ever uttered the words, “our people will be there from between the hours of ten to four to install your cable” and never show up. It is my sincerest wish that any mythological being could come down, smite them and then lay excrement over the ruins… why? because you can’t sue, arrest or indict a thing that’s physically not supposed to be there.

Fortress of Spoilitude

It’s here.

We’ve waited for almost ten years for this moment – the second nick Fury stepped out in the first post-credits scene and told Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative. THEN in 2012 we all sat to the end of Avengers and watched as a big purple meanie turned his head to reveal the evil grin of Thanos. Now we as comic book geeks knew who he was and how powerful a menace he would be. But our friends and other audience members scratched their heads wondering why and what the Great Grape Ape or Barney the Dinosaur was doing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And here we are.

Less than one week, several records and $625 million dollars later, the culmination of ten years of nineteen movies has finally come with its biggest and possibly best movie to date – Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity Wars.

Many have seen it, and many have not. The problem: many who have would love to talk about it. But the have-nots don’t want it spoiled. So I have opened up a sanctuary for those who have – right here. Here fellow comic-book geeks, who over one weekend have become Professors of Modern-Day Mythology, fans of the MCU and anyone who has seen the Infinity Wars can come into the comments section and chat, ask questions, theorize, share memes and funny pics or just plan have a love-in. Here is your Fortress of Spoilitude, my children.

My only request – we are not here to spread hate or negativity – I’ve been on YouTube comments where the thread under a Tom and Jerry cartoon can go from chatting about a cartoon cat and mouse to the politics, Hate Groups and Illegal Immigration.

So with that said, I give you the key with these two words:



Cross the Rainbow-bridge of Asgard

It’s 10:12 Thursday morning.

I’m sitting at the front desk reading Yahoo!’s front page news.

LeBron beat the Pacer’s with a three point sinker.

Our president’s lawyer is to plead the fifth in a porn actress’ affair.

And I’ve just read that the movie I’ll be attending tonight, the movie that’s kept us in waiting for ten years, got its rating from Rotten Tomatoes. In nine hours, I’ll be in a movie theater surrounded by adults and kids alike seeing the biggest event that should make any comic book artist, writer and full on geek spurt Mountain Dew and Red Bull since the first trailer dropped – Avengers: Infinity War.

Granted I love superhero movies, I haven’t bought a comic since the day Mary Jane and Peter Parker were unofficially divorced by the devil back in 2008. I grew tired of how comic book writers would write what they thought was the greatest idea ever to sell comic books and only found they had painted themselves into a corner – and their only lifesaver was by hitting the restart button on whatever universe had been written since the 1960’s. I missed the act of verisimilitude.

In case you’re wondering, verisimilitude is not only the longest word I can type without misspelling it, but it also means the act of being truthful, authentic – which is not an easy feat in the world of fantasy and superheroes.

So far, I’ve seen both Batman AND Superman die and be reborn three times, Flash twice, Spider-man is on his third incarnation after he did a Freaky Friday with Dr. Octopus not counting the multiple universes of Miles Morales, and don’t even get me started on Spider-Gwen and Gwenpool.

Yeah, Gwenpool (basically for those of us who’s not a comic book geek like me, as far as I’ve learned, Gwenpool is a cross between Gwen Stacy – Peter Parker’s love interest who died an Emmy-winning dramatic death back in the 1960’s and every parent’s nightmare, Deadpool).

Anywho… this isn’t about me bashing modern-day comics, it’s me writing about why I still go to the movies.

Back in my childhood, we had movies like The Never-Ending Story, Return to Oz and The Dark Crystal – all of which could give kids nightmare to this day. Furthermore, neither of them had superheroes. Granted Atreyu wasn’t bad, but even he would admit, he could never hold a candle to the late great Christopher Reeve. The 70’s and 80’s Man of Steel’s last praiseworthy Superman movie was in 1981 with Superman 2 (there was a 3 and a 4, but even Reeve said the last one was garbage).

Then there was Tim Burton’s Gothic Valentine to the Dark Knight. Batman didn’t hit the screens until ’89, and by that time, I was coming on into middle school daydreaming about cars, D.J. Tanner, and Trapper-Keepers; so for the most part, my childhood was fading. By the ‘90’s, there weren’t as many live-action kids’ movies or fantasies. Thankfully we had classics like Hook, Jumanji, and Hocus Pocus; then there was The PageMaster and Richie Rich with Macaulay Culkin breaking his typecasting curse from Home Alone. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tore out of Saturday Morning cartoon status and onto the big screen with not one but three movies via puppeteering, since we hadn’t perfected CGI yet – and Free Willy had so many movies, even Shamu switched to watching Blackfish.

But as far as fantasy and Sci-fi, the cinematic world had gone pretty … well … bleak.

Movies grew dark and cynical.

Dark City, 12 Monkeys, Gattaca, The Matrix … now I’m not saying all of these are bad movies, but if we’re talking science fiction and fantasy, you wouldn’t want to chance your child seeing Keanu Reeves’s belly button worm. By that time, even Batman and Robin had nipples on their costumes… and there is nothing darker than sitting in a theater with grown adults watching your favorite superheroes run around with their own credit cards, getting drive-thru from McDonalds in the Batmobile… with nipples on their super suits.

Needless to say, my Junior-Mints went uneaten that night.

That all began to change however when we heard that our hero, our savior had returned from his sixteen-year directing hiatus.

George Lucas had announced that not only would there be Star Wars prequels, but he would direct them all himself!

— Okay, I’ll give you a quick sum up so you won’t be led down the same gut-wrenching path we were.

They came out from ’99 to 2005, we were disappointed.

Now then…

The point was this … color had come back to movies. Sci-Fi wasn’t so stark and gray and black or white. The first spaceship we saw in Episode One was red! Granted so were our faces by the end of the movie but STILL we had color back in movies. Sunlight, characters that wore more than black trench coats or suits. Then a few short years later, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-man swung out on the screen, the X-Men (I know they all wore black but they started in the 90’s too) were making movies, and THEN … Paramount Studios announces a partnership with Marvel Studios in 2008 to start the Marvel Cinematic Universe and make Iron Man starring Robert freakin’ Downey Jr.

We were STOOOOOKED. Then we saw the movie. And we were more STOOOOOKED!! Then Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury comes out at the end to say there were more coming, and we FLIPPED the flannel-cakes OUT.

Now here we are.

It’s 2018, ten years later, and fresh off the heels of Black Panther – a monumental movie that has both dominated at the box-office, reinforced the superhero genre and pushed forward the ever-important movement and need for diversity in film. For the first time since I can remember, there’s a movie with a black superhero, and a mainly black cast, and no one was a stereotype.

And here we are… hours away from seeing all our favorite characters gathered on one screen in what’s led up to be the most hyped and biggest crossover since Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue ’90.

And color’s back in theaters.

When I first started writing KnightWatchers, one of my main goals was to create a universe that was both warm and inviting but still had an edge. But most importantly, there was color.  There was diversity. there were people from all walks of life. There was a world where kids could laugh with grown-ups. Everyone could escape into a world away from the harsh words, news, politics and scary moments that made our world so cold. When I first began writing it out as a novel, I remembered an old documentary on the making of the first Superman movie. What stood out to me over the years was that director Richard Donner wanted the look of the movie to be set apart from the campy style so was popular in the 1960’s Batman, and have a realistic feel to it. So he posted several signs in the studio for the crew. It had a picture of the Man of Steel with one-word underneath: verisimilitude.

Minus the Black pimp stereotype, it worked.

superman 254354

And that word was posted on my computer as I wrote KnightWatchers every day.

So when you buy a ticket with your kids this weekend or next to see the superheroes clash – and you see grown adults who are wearing Spider-man shirts or Captain America shields or Hulk gloves or Black Panther necklaces, these are people who had the same childhood as you and me. These are the kids who grew up with Spider-man, Cap, Superman and Batman.

So when they cheer and woo for certain spots, it’s because they’re seeing Spider-man No More actually happen on the screen.



They’re seeing Cap and Iron Man duking it out, arc-lasers to shield.



We’re seeing Superman and the car like it was first imagined back eighty years ago.



Imagine being in the theater forty years ago in the summer of 1978, and Christopher Reeve taking off for the first time in a romanticized Oscar-winning cinematic spectacle.

this is it

He gave kids a reason to throw on a towel and pretend it was a cape. To paraphrase the tagline, “We all believed a man could fly.”

Red tights and all.

We could see color again.

See ya’ in the funny pages, kids.


For the Love of Pandora

There’s this kid who lives in the apartment underneath me – I say kid, but he’s maybe nineteen, early twenties, so I say kid in terms of maturity. He blasts his music at three in the morning. We’ve all gone to his door, knocked and politely asked him to turn down his music. He’d nod his head, say “sure thing.” Close the door, and then raise the volume level to an all time high.

We’d go through this every night, call the police. The police come, he lowers his music, they leave, he turns it up again.

We’ve gone to the management. Their response is, “Well he pays his rent on time.” Actually his dad pays his rent … and does his laundry … and shops for groceries for him and leaves the bags at the door because this kid wont open his home for anyone, not even family. He’s done and sold drugs from his window, pulled a knife out on neighbors and even maintenance men, destroyed property and no one does a thing. Even the police will say, “We don’t have a search warrant to legally open his door, so we cant do anything about it.”

No one should have to live like that, right?

Like having to hear music with cuss words blasted so loud you can hear them through the walls, even into your child’s bedroom. Like having someone yell and scream and throw obscenities, see a knife pulled out at you, or feel violated in anyway for going on about your daily life or livelihood.

Or like hearing “It’s our world now, Nigger,” and be dismissed and told I’m too sensitive.

Yeah … no one should have to live like that, right?

This is why.

It was never about Hillary losing the election.

It was never about Donald Trump winning. It was about a man who unapologetically bullied, said horrifying things against minorities, demeaned women, created an intolerance toward different religions – and opened a Pandora’s Box of hatred and prejudice that sends us back to the 1950’s.

In a world where bullying is shown on social media on a near daily basis, the bullies now feel entitled.

The bullies now feel they have a right to say whatever they want and do whatever they want without or with little repercussion.

I see people on Facebook say, “why are they protesting?”

I see people on Facebook saying, “We never protested when Obama got elected.”

No. They didn’t. But they did post photos that compared  the President to a shot chimpanzee.

They posted pictures of black kids and called them thugs.

They posted pictures of Ronald Reagan during his days filming “Bedtime for Bonzo” holding a baby chimpanzee and created memes that said, “Reagan babysat Obama.”

No… you didn’t protest at all. But to those who saw the pictures and didn’t click the like button or say anything at all … You see… you didn’t say anything.

You let it go.

Silence is acceptance.

And all that shows is that you didn’t have our back.

Back in the day, many, many moons ago in my first year of college, we traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah. Now I feel it’s important to note that in my entire group of a dozen or so people, I was the only African American. Now these were my friends – at the time, and during our trip, we decided to take a break from our “missionary” work (enter eye roll here) and take in a trip to the planetarium. Now the theater was already dark, so it was difficult finding a seat. I lead the line and upon entering an aisle, I accidentally stepped on the foot of one of the audience members. Not hard, but enough to make a small inconvenient impact. Now you know me, I quickly apologized saying, “I’m so sorry.” And the response I got from the guy was, “You sure are.”

… now that bothered me, of course.

But what bothered me even more, was that my friends – and I should place that in quotes – “friends” thought that was hysterical and laughed. See this is a moment where a friend would say, “Hey wait a minute, he apologized. That was rude.”

I didn’t get that… and when I confronted these friends about it, they said, “Oh Jason, you’re once again, being too sensitive.”

Maybe so. Maybe I was being too sensitive at six years old when I was pushed against a wall and had a knife to my throat while being called porch monkey and told I would be terminated.

Maybe I was being too sensitive when I was spit on from a balcony at the same southern college by a bunch of punks who waved a rebel flag outside their dorm room window.

Maybe I was too sensitive when I was called nigger twice on the day Obama got elected.

Maybe I was being too sensitive when I was almost put in handcuffs because I fit the description of someone breaking into cars – no Miranda rights, just cuff ‘em and put him in jail.

But let me ask you, if it was your son… your daughter. Your friend, your father, your mother, your anything who had been treated that way… would you call them too sensitive?

Would you call the classroom of Latino children too sensitive for sobbing, thinking they would get deported or separated from their families and placed in foster care all due to the rhetoric of a political campaign? The girl who was told “what are you still doing here, where’s your green card? You should be back in Mexico the day after the election. Or the boy who was told he should be picking cotton the day after an election. The young woman in New York who was accosted on the subway and had her hijab yanked off and had her life threatened, or the kids who had to hear “Build that Wall! screamed at them as they entered a lunchroom … the day after an election… or even my friend’s twelve year old daughter who called him from school with tears in her eyes, because a kid told her she should go back to Africa the day after an election.

On election night as the results were pouring in from all over the country, I’m not gonna lie, I was disappointed, but I slowly accepted that we would have Donald Trump as our president and thought, “Well it’s gonna be an interesting four years.” But I didn’t think I hated him or hated everything about it. I just thought, we lost, it is what is what it is. And then it happened. As I drove up to a local pub, there was a police SUV driving off with its lights blinking. I asked the servers what happened? They replied saying there was a fight. I rolled my eyes, “Over the election?” They nodded with sour faces and puckered grimaces.

As the night rolled on, I could hear people in the crowd still murmuring about what happened earlier, so I finally asked my friend the bartender, what exactly happened between these two guys? He said, “oh no, it was a guy and a girl.”

“And they all left in a police car?”


“Well what happened?”

“They argued about the election, he was on Trumps side, she was on Hillary’s. She kinda got in his face about it, and he being three times her size punched her in the face so hard that it sent her flying off of her feet several feet backwards. Then yelled, “This is Trump’s World now!” and leaped on top of her and began pummeling her with his bare fists.” At that point he elaborated that several guys jumped on the Trump supporter to separate him from the girl while the friends who were Trump supporters in turn leaped on them and it escalated out into the street.

This isn’t sour grapes anymore.

In truth, it never was.

Now I’ve unfriended people on Facebook waaay before this election and not for political things: I’ve unfriended people – even family members – for posting pictures of women that objectified them – posts that criminalized people of other races – black, white, Latino, etc. I’ve unfriended people for depicting members of the LGBTQ community as demonic and perverted. Why? Because I wanted them all to know that I had their back.

This is not a bunch of entitled kids crying or whining over who lost, because ladies and gentlemen its not about who lost… its about what we lost. What we ALL lost.

Years of progression – advancement in unity and coming together. Realizing and taking your heads out from the sand and admitting finally that people matter. That some people get treated horribly unfairly, having their lives taken away in front of their kids and recorded and humiliated … verbally emasculated in front of the world and told grow up and act like an adult while getting handcuffed in front of his own house, or shot in front of his children. Five Latino kids shot in an execution line… or a woman murdered in a jail cell and have the rest of the world manipulated to believe she killed herself and was suicidal. Women who have fought and strived to gain rights that were deserved of them to be paid equally and treated fairly, who were brutalized and raped – stripped of that. To watch a rapist be placed under a “boys will be boys” treaty and have his sentence of six months be reduced to three. It’s quite possible that we may need to be ready for more of that. For more horrible – and I repeat – HORRIBLE desecrations like graffiti saying “die whites die.” More swastikas. More flag burning. More effigies. More F— whitey. More Trump that B-tch.

Pandora’s Box was only acknowledged from time to time – now it’s blue light special on aisle seven and full on Black Friday half off flat screens and Xbox special.

No it wasn’t a perfect America these last eight years, but al least we knew where the line in the sand was because for once, we actually had the pencil and the power to draw it.

Because let’s face it… this has been not just in the last eight years, DECADES in the making. In the nineties, we had the riots that all started when the Justice system said not guilty to four police officers beating a man. Women who have had rape cases overturned to watch their attacker go free and in some cases even sue the victim later for infringing on his entitlement.

Yet a mass murderer can be treated to burger king after shooting his victims.

There is no funny meme from me today. No cartoon. No ad for my book. No insightful or clever YouTube link, no beignets, no mere kowtowing to it all like it can pass over by tomorrow because IT’S NOT!

This is not going away. Democrats didn’t create this. Liberals didn’t create this, Republicans did not create this. WE ALL DID.

YOU, ME… anyone who let it slide every time someone who could be protected and heard WASN’T.

So allow us to grieve what was lost to us.

All of us.

BUT … yes, there is a but.

But love harder.

Feel more.

Fight smarter.

Validate children.

Listen more.

Laugh extra.


Love unites us.

Fear separates us.

No one should have to live like that, right?


Love y’all.

That’s all.


Let me tell you a little story.

A short one.

One that has taken me ten years to get the courage to put on paper… or in this case a computer screen.

This is not a story with frills or poetic fluency. This is a ten-year-old story with ten years of resentment.

It was late 2005. I was here in California for a little over a year by that time working as an assistant Kindergarten teacher at a private school in the valley. It came through the grapevine that one of the major studios in Burbank (for confidentiality sake, I wont say which one) that they were holding an open house for local artists. Basically it worked like this: if you had a sound resume, experience in either graphics, animation or story-boarding, they could put you on the roster and you were as good as in. So needless to say I took the day off, got gussied up, shined my shoes, trimmed my beard, packed my best artwork in my portfolio and headed off down the 101 to the place where dreams come true.

I drove to the lot, with no trouble, met the security guard where he asked whom I was meeting with. I told him I was here for the open house for artists, and with a nod of approval and a smile, he pointed me to the specified lot, told me where to go and wished me luck. With no great effort, I found the building and walked in. There in the lobby, I only found one lone lady at a front desk. Her lips were pursed tighter than a fart in church. She wore makeup that caked her face that denied her natural features any youth, and thin glasses that sat at the rim of her nose when she looked up at me with tired, apathetic eyes.

“What do you need?” she said.

Not “May I help you?”
Not “Hi, welcome to _______, how can I help you?”
What do you need… and she didn’t even give the effort of separating it into syllables. She sighed it out like, “whadyaneed….”

I answered with a smile, “Good afternoon, I’m here for the open house for artists.”

She glared at me, the corner of her lips stretched to one sour sizing-me-up side of her face, puckering her cheek.

She then rotated her chair 180 degrees backward and grabbed a sheet of paper that sat on a stack, and then slow as a whale’s turn, spun back with a lackluster breath.

“These are all the jobs we have,” she said, pointing a Lee Press-on nail into the sheet.

They read, highlighted: janitorial, kitchen, and mail room.

I was floored.

How could this place post for all artists that on this day they would host an open house just for us, and then pull a bait and switch. I sat down with the paper, pulling at my chin in failure. A minute later, another young man walked in. He was dressed in the same fashion as I was, shined shoes, portfolio and all. But one notable exception.
He was white. I thought to tell him, “We were tricked!” But I waited, for whatever reason my gut told me sit and watch.

He went to the desk as I did a minute earlier.

“Hi there!” she said with a smile, “How can I help you?”
Ok, maybe she knew him. Maybe he worked there. I couldn’t just jump the gun.
“He replied, smiling, “I’m here for the open house.”
She looked over to me over her thin-rimmed glasses; I pretended to be immersed in the sheet posting the wonderful world of minimum wage for post college graduates.

She then beckoned him to lean in, where she whispered to him.
Now I’ve been a kindergarten teacher for a year by this time and a substitute teacher for three years, I can hear a whisper over a room of crowded yelling kids any day. So a silent lobby with three adults was a piece of cake and a scoop of ice cream.

“Wait here, I’ll call up and when they say so, I’ll buzz you in.”

She got on the phone, talked to the receptionist in the art department, nodded and hung up. With that, she nodded to the guy who scrunched his face, walked through the door she buzzed him into, and as the door closed, he looked over to me with an apologetic glance.

It was then and there when I got up, glaring back at the glasses that sat at the edge of her nose. She knew then I heard every word, and she knew it wasn’t the young man with whom I placed my anger. I walked up to the desk, my own glasses practically steamed over in disgust. All she could do was shrug her shoulders and say two words to me.

“Oh well.”

I took the paper, bawled it up tossed into the trash beside her, and walked out.

This is the type of gatekeeper BS we deal with.

Everyday in some way shape or form, we are blocked from something that we have every right to as much as anyone else. It could be a job, a home, a report, or even an item that was being sold in an ad.

While some can say our forefathers wrote this and fought for that, I as many must say my forefathers and foremothers laid on their backs on ships in feces, were whipped and beaten, had children stolen from them, were placed in prisons for wanting the right to vote or even the right to drive… but they all lived for the day we could all be treated as equals.

I moved out here because I had not the same treatment in the south, but worse. So imagine my surprise when it still happened on the west coast.

But imagine my rage when the gatekeeper of this particular episode was black.

It happens. Sometimes we judge even our own for the sake of keeping a spot on the sociological totem pole.

My shoes were as clean as his were.


So here we are.

After hundreds of Facebook memes indicting that today was the day Marty McFly arrived in the future (it wasn’t), at long last have we come to this day: Wednesday, October 21st, 2015.

Photo Oct 21, 2 18 50 PM

I have to say, it is bittersweet. No longer will we have the future to look forward to as accordance with Doc Brown’s adventures (not counting the BTTF Saturday morning animated series which so many have forgotten about).

Photo Oct 21, 2 44 04 PM

As a kid, I watched the movies almost every weekend taking inspiration cues from Bob Zemeckis’s time-travel trilogy. I have vivid memories of the days when the NBC Sunday Night movie would premiere the first movie in ’86 and recording it on VHS. I remember trying desperately to explain the plot to BTTF2 to my mother, minutes before part three premiered, and watching her face crumple… and realizing that it was literally easier to explain the theory of quantum physics than explaining the plot to Back to the Future 2 to someone who had never seen it.

Being a resident of the San Fernando Valley – which is where much of Hill Valley was filmed – I take a small honor in having moved here eleven years ago to the very place which inspired me to become a filmmaker and writer of fantasy fiction. If it weren’t for that movie, Flash would never travel through time, no dinosaur story for Episode 2, and a boy by the name of Caleb Clayton Brown would never exist – as he is in my subtle nod the great, great, great, great (add about eight more greats in there) grandson to a wild-eyed white-haired inventor.

So it is on this very day where I feel it necessary to defend certain claims on what Back to the Future got wrong, and why they do not exist.

(WARNING: For all non-geeks reading this, move on. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.)

Let’s start off with hoverboads.

Photo Oct 21, 2 12 52 PM1. In the last few years, we’ve seen spoofs advertising hoverboards even similar to those made by the Mattel company you see in the BTTF2. However, the only hoverboards that exist today are the two-wheeled mini-segues teenagers use in place of skateboards. But what if the real hoverboards that worked by anti-gravitational magnets as in the movie, did at one point exist? Perhaps in that particular timeline, Doc Brown, being an inventor AND foreseer of the future could predict where our future was headed. PERHAPS dear reader, he and the late great Steve Jobs were competitors… and the moment certain other technologies were invented (iPhones, Droids, etc) and that this generation bent on selfies, texting and Facebook became so self-obsessed, that the dangers of texting while driving would later prove that Generation Y just was not ready for a hover technology that would in time add on jet propulsion (i.e. Griff’s Pitbull) and Doctor Brown would later place himself on a board of directors where his vote stood out on the dangers of hover technology. THEREFORE… no hoverboards, and for damn sure no, flying cars. So if you want to thank anyone for flying cars not crash-landing in your living rooms while you watch your multi-screen TV, you can thank Doctor Emmett Brown.

2. Nike’s Power Laces.

We also saw the advent of the powerlace shoes Marty slipped on before taking on Biff’s grandson, Griff (the Tannen family clearly was not very creative with naming their offspring). Now let’s look at our generation for a moment or two. Around the late seventies/early eighties, we were introduced to Velcro shoes. Kids who had a difficult time tying their own shoes had the luxury of Velcro. Snatch on, snatch off. That took a turn after a while when kids who didn’t know how to tie their own shoes also got helicopter parents. Helicopter parents began doing the homework for their children, turning them in, getting amazing grades, even into high school. Suddenly college comes along. Kids, now adults, have no idea how to do anything, among these many skills are pulling out into the left turn lane enough to let the motorist behind them turn as well. Going into a fast food restaurant and ordering a meal should take thirty seconds and not ten minutes because they’re too busy talking on their cell phone. Bringing a carry on bag onto the plane that can actually fit inside of the overhead compartment and not hold up a line because they decided to bring along a bag the size of a King sized mattress. Again, thank you Doc Brown for telling the good people of Nike to hold off on that idea and only give these to the one man who deserved them – Michael J Fox.

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3. Telephone-Televisions.

Photo Oct 21, 2 12 44 PMWe’ve got that, we just miniaturized it and called it Skype and Facetime. We rarely use them however due to not wanting to be seen in our skimpies and sweats since the first thing we do when we walk through the door after a long days work is strip down to our undies and grab a glass of wine.

4. Fired by Fax. Well coulda woulda, if we hadn’t cut so many trees down. Now we just fire by text and email.

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5. Computers inside our Glasses. Remember Google Glass? Remember wanting to punch the first person you saw wearing those? No wonder Marty’s dorky son was the only one you saw wearing those in the movie.

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6. Hypercolor jackets. Oy vey, the year was 1991. A confusing time when Clarissa explained it all and Vanilla Ice scarred our little ears with a song called, “Ninja Rap.” Six years after Doc Brown pulled off with his steam powered time travel train to soar into a future that hadn’t been written yet, a twenty-three year old Marty McFly invested in the Generra Sportswear Company and luckily managed to pull out shortly before the company went bankrupt after discovering the mismanagement crisis and fading errors. With this realization, the time loop was thrown and we now can only find hypercolor clothing on eBay, Amazon and Dyemurex.

7. 3-D movies. Thanks, James Cameron! I still think Star Wars 7 might pull past Avatar (AKA 3D Ferngully – JK! … not really )

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8. JAWS 19. It’s out, they just renamed it Jurassic World.

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9. Rejuvenation Clinics. Drop into Beverly Hills sometime off Rodeo Drive. Little known fact – Kim Kardashian, she’s actually 93 years old. IKR?

10. Cubs Win World Series… have you been watching ESPN lately?

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As far as the fashion, well I’m wearing my pockets inside out. I don’t know what these other fools are doing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Back to the Future Marathon to attend. But I will leave you with these parting words from Doc Brown himself, Mr. Christopher Lloyd.

Volksmarch 2015

My gluts are killing me.

It’s Monday morning. While everyone else in the world is working and grumbling about going to work, I sit in front of a computer, goldfish crackers on the right of me and half a bag of beef jerky to my left, still sore from walking twenty miles last Saturday.

Two years ago, when I made my first walk, I did about twelve miles just for the sake of doing it. Initially I only wanted to go to Ventura Blvd from my apartment in Canoga Park, just to see if I could make it. Instead, I ended up in Sherman Oaks nearly on the edge of Studio City. I met people, took pictures and all in all had a great time and became much more self-aware. As one friend put it, it became a pilgrimage.

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Every year I made some discovery about myself. This year was different.

I left the house late for starters. With all good intentions to leave at eight in the morning I didn’t make my first steps until nine. As I walked listening to my iPhone music, rhythm in my step, I texted my friend Donella who’s son Miles made his first marathon. She remarked that I was on what is known as a Volksmarch (a term she picked up from a German neighbor from Biloxi). Volksmarch. I can do that.

And so, I dubbed thee, Volksmarch 2015.

The first encounter was this little old lady with curly red Lucy style hair (sorry it was 1980’s Life with Lucy, not classic I Love Lucy – I did mention she was older). The thing that was blog-worthy of this little old lady was her walk. She had more sass and soul in her step than the average seventy-something year old. Then she paused for a moment, looked to her right and stopped me and said, “I don’t have anyone else to tell, so I thought I’d share this with you.” She then pointed at this little wooden house with nothing but a “See that house over there?” I nodded and she went on to say, “That was the first house I ever smelled weed from.”

Okay, wow. I wasn’t expecting that.

She then told me this story about how when she was getting tutored for AP English in high school, the tutor lived at that house, and she as well as a few other girls came over and could smell marijuana coming from her teacher’s house. Right about that time I interjected saying, “I have to tell you, I saw you coming up on the sidewalk and thought, that lady has some serious swag in her walk.” That’s when she let me listen to her earphones.
It was, as she put it, ‘her girl, Aretha’ singing, “Think.”
Well that explained a lot, and I don’t think my iPhone playing the Steve Miller Band would have cut it to return the favor. That’s one of those moments you quickly hit the skip this button on your iPhone hoping to get some Motown.

But I laughed, thanked her, and walked away with her saying, “Yup, first time I ever smelled weed… and it wouldn’t’ be the last time.”

Yep. Pretty much.

So on I went, with my iPhone and earbuds and doubled-up insoles. I hit Ventura and Tampa by noon all the while keeping my promise to Ingrid to post where I was every half hour to the hour.
(That’s what you do when you’re now a couple – one person goes for a twenty mile trek while the other holds the fort on standby, in case the other who’s doing treks suddenly does collapse and gets eaten by a band of urban-ready coyotes sporting Starbucks gift cards and iPods nanos.)

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The first thing I saw was a kid’s party at a local park. I’m not one to crash kid’s parties; weddings, Good Luck at the new job, Frank’ parties, yes. Not eight year olds’ birthdays. I kept walking. So far, I had done a good eight miles and still had about five to go until I hit the 405 and Sherman Oaks. I figured it would take me a couple of hours give or take a break or two. I knew I needed to stop soon for lunch and the granola bars wouldn’t hold. It was about then I found a small restaurant. On the outside it looked like a modest, sidewalk restaurant that only a few people knew about, what with its “lunch special sandwich board outside. So dirty and sweaty old me wouldn’t stand out. The second I walked in, and I saw those folded cloth napkins and polished silverware, I quickly regretted my decision the moment the concierge saw me and asked can I help you. He rushed to the door with the smile the quickly faded the moment he saw my dusty shirt and backpack. No offense to his prejudice, he probably even mistook me for a vagrant. It was the one time I actually hoped he’d say no to my next question.

“Um, are you guys serving lunch right now?”
He gave me a quick glance over and swallowed hard before uttering a small winded, “No, sorry.” I knew he was lying but I also knew judging by the menus and tablecloths that this wasn’t a place I could stop in and expect to pay under ten bucks. Needless to say, I wasn’t anywhere near offended and nodded, “no worries, have a good one.”

I paused a minute, straddling my backpack and wondering if I should have been insulted by that. If anything, I was thinking, “Dude, it’s okay. I’m dirty, you’re not. I get it. I’d send the customers running like the beginning of a Pepe Le Pew cartoon.” All the while as I headed down the sidewalk, I thought to myself would I have done the same thing? Turned away a paying customer judging by his looks?

Not long after did I come across an Armenian deli, literally not long after. I mean like three seconds, they were next door to each other. Admittedly I never had a Basturma wrap but the second I saw the cooler in the back stocked with crème sodas and Earth Wind and Fire playing “September” on the radio, this was a place I could sit and have a pita, and I gotta say, I loved my basturma.


Once my phone was charged, I headed back out into a balmy eighty-five degree day with no clouds save for the fumes of gray soot emanating from the Cadillac Escalades and BMW parade that rolled down the Tarzana boulevard, blowing their horns at pedestrians and drivers that actually obeyed the street laws. It was about that time I noticed that just about every shop in the district had a similar theme, and I don’t mean animal or safari themes (though considering it’s Tarzana, that would have been appropriate – someone should look into that). No I’m talking about a theme of feed me, clothe me, pretty me. There were enough restaurants and salons that could make a Bravo TV Housewife fat and happy for days. What dismayed me was that there were so few studios, no art galleries, and forget finding a book store. I know they were there once upon a time, but by this day and age, it was sad to say I couldn’t spot one. Even the public library had no sign out front to announce its presence, except for the “Used Book Sale” poster on its window.

An hour or two later, I made it into mile twelve of my Volksmarch, had a homemade ice cream cone and watched as a little three year old in a pink dress danced to the Larry Williams Band playing Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” That actually made me feel a bit better and distracted me from the menagerie of merchandising and narcissism that went up and down the boulevard. (Too harsh? Probably)

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Now somehow, and I can’t say how I did it, but I made it to Sherman Oaks in record time, an hour earlier than I made it a year ago, and that’s AFTER starting out an hour later. With that little bit of inspiration, I walked harder, pushing myself to go on and go faster. By four o’clock I was on the edge of Studio City, sweating at Fatburger’s (a place I only heard of on Sanford and Son prior to my move to L.A. ten years ago), with a pink lemonade and searching for a spot to charge my cell.

Nary a Starbucks in sight.
My feet hurt, my back ached and I couldn’t feel my pinky toe. So I texted Ingrid to let her know I was thinking of calling it a day and heading home. But she replied, “It’s only a few more miles…”

Well damn, as if it were that easy.

But I hesitated, because right after she said that, she said this.

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Inspiration acquired.

I pushed on, not because I felt I should because I did the year before. Not because I was documenting everything on Facebook and I’d have to eat virtual crow the next day for not honoring my own request. But because there was a woman at home who had my back. I was her warrior. So I fought whatever temptation I had even down to the little elf that lived inside of my foot and attacked my ankles with a pickaxe, I pushed on.

It was only five-thirty by the time I found a Coffee Bean coffee house and stopped inside to charge the phone (nay, it was not a Starbucks of legend, but they had air conditioning and power outlets, so beggars can’t be choosers). Sitting there, watching the people come and go… well sitting was all I could do at that point, I finally got the strength to stand. The girl smiled, I said “hi how are you,” which for a brief moment took her by surprise when she could actually respond with a “I’m actually doing alright for a Saturday afternoon, how are you?” And I replied, “Not bad for a guy who walked from Chatsworth.”
She crinkled her eyes at me, “Walked?”
“…walked.” She echoed this as an answer, as if trying to make sense of it in her head.
“You do know there are cars now,” she chuckled.
I laughed, “It’s a yearly thing I do. I walk across San Fernando Valley.”
“Really? I bet you meet interesting people.”
“Every time, then I write their stories down, and when I’m done, I call my girlfriend and she drives me home.”
“That’s awesome! I bet you want something cold to drink then.”
I shrugged my shoulders, with no idea except, “Do you have sweet tea by any chance.”
She gave me a sweet tea with orange and I paid and took my seat. Not long after did a lady turn to me and she pointed with a smile, “Nice shirt.” I looked down forgetting I was wearing my old retro Star Wars shirt. “Thanks!”
“My husband has the exact same one,” she said, and it was just then when her little girl tugged at her blouse, “Mommy! Daddy has that same shirt!” The mom pointed down, and nodded as if to say, ‘See? I’m not BSing you.’

I left there with a better outlook. The day wasn’t wasted. I made three connections – not to mention the senior at Target who called me a gentleman for letting her through the entrance before me. So far, I had proven chivalry wasn’t dead, older ladies dig Aretha Franklin, sweet tea exists west of the Mississippi, and George Lucas or Disney owes me some residuals for carrying their logo across the SFV.

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It was six thirty. I was at mile marker eighteen (AKA Jinya Ramen Bar) and according to my map, I had only a mile or two to go. I was way ahead of schedule. That time last year, I had barely passed Art’s Deli in Studio City, now I was on the edge of Burbank. My feet weren’t as tired as before. My back didn’t hurt so much, I thought to myself, I could go further, maybe even into North Hollywood. But I looked up, saw the sun was starting to hang a little lower as it barely glinted off the Comcast Universal building… yeah. The Universal Building.


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I rounded the corner, apparently without even realizing it, I made my destination… with surprising ease. My Volksmarch was complete… and over much faster than I’d wanted.

Somewhat anticlimactic actually.

So I texted Ingrid to let her know I would take the bus and she could pick me up at the bus stop. As I rode down the same path I walked, I sat there feeling a little dismayed. I watched as the journey shrunk miles into minutes, episodes into moments. And I realized something.

Just about every single person I came into contact with smiled at me. They were friendly. They were polite, and I guess the reason for that was that I greeted them with a smile and a hello. From the senior I let enter the doorway before me, the Lucy haired marijuana memory, and even the Coffee Bean barista.

A smile. It’s what connects us. Joy is a very powerful weapon.

Everybody on that boulevard was in a pleasant spirit. They all greeted each other with a warm smile. I remembered the dad and two uncles taking a toddler still in the stroller, holding the entire carriage while making their way down a few steps. I remembered the mom run through sprinklers with her two-year-old son outside of temple. I remembered the one little girl on laying on her belly outside in a tire swing in the morning.

Chivalry still existed.

So did playtime, innocence and Saturday mornings.

The world didn’t get more cynical, I did.

I sat with that for a moment as we got closer to our stop. I wanted to gain some insight about myself and walk away with something good. Please tell me this wasn’t it.

But then I realized while thinking back on all of this, people still approached me with their stories without my asking for them. I could still see the good in people, the children’s birthday parties, the cake and ice cream among the graffiti and nail salons – the sun was still shining through the clouds. I couldn’t be that bad off.

The main thing I wanted was that burning bush moment at the end, to hear God say, “Here’s what I need you to do.” Instead what I got was, “You already have everything you need, you already know what you have to do, and you’re doing it.”

Perhaps what I needed to see was already there, I just needed confirmation.

Connection and confirmation.

Sometimes it takes a long walk through your own home to see what’s right in front of you. The forest through the trees, the whole sha-bang.

Inspiration: acquired.

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Father’s Day

I have a lot to say.

I just wish I could word it right, well, I take that back. It’s not the wording as much as it is typing on a new keyboard. Writing becomes apart of you, and when your hand is used to flowing over a certain set of keys like shaking the hand of a familiar relative, it becomes foreign. It feels strange.

It’s been over a year since I last wrote on here.

Since that time I’ve sung on stage, resigned and started my own business.
I’ve had a cousin pass away.
I’ve zip-lined over a forest.
I defended myself and did my best to not hurt a friend while in the process, lost one in spite of it all and found myself at odds with the very job I once called home and left with a broken heart.

I also began a romantic relationship where after years of spending time on my own, decided I needed a partner to share my adventures with – one that I deserved, and be the man that she deserved also.

I struggled in a new place where before I could even stretch my legs, I found myself unemployed once more due to lay offs before I was even hired, and suddenly was forced to forge my own business – using my own craft with my own skills.

My depression returned fast, and unyielding.

Gone was the 365.
Gone were the days of new adventures and wanting to try white water rafting and biking the coast. Were is the word of the day… or at least it was for the last six months. Being out and in a new element changed me. It was time to move on and into the job I was supposed to be doing all along. While I would still continue to teach and work with children, but in my own way, I needed to work in a place and in a skill I was worthy of.

For the last six months, I’ve worked on my art, my writing – spent time with my own kids as it were: my sons Alabam, Ace, Flash, BZ, my daughters Alayna and Beta. It had been a solid five years since I drew anything for them, wrote anything for them. It had been five years since I spent time with them, and in doing so, I lost track and forgot that I in the artistic sense, was a father. Most people might see that as crazy, nowhere near the real thing, and of course they would absolutely correct. Late night diaper changes cannot compare to writer’s block at two in the morning. Nor can a lost pacifier be placed in the same category as a computer that decides to wipe out your entire novel with a click of the “save” button. (Yes, it has happened to me NUMEROUS times. Thank God for memory sticks, hidden file hacking and emailing copies to myself.)

But no one can deny that if they dismiss some portion of themselves to work a job to pay the bills, some part of them gets lost in the mix of taking table scraps when you know you deserve the four course meal.

Last year, I did what was known as the 365 – a challenge I placed on myself to complete twenty actions of a bucket list of sorts at the ripe old age of thirty-six. By the time thirty-seven came along, about ten or twelve of those adventures were done. One being one of the biggest tasks of all.

It was a Thursday night in August. I was out feeling more lonesome than the usual and a midnight run to Jack in the Box wouldn’t curb my appetite. I found myself driving down familiar roads and came by a local nightclub. Outside were the usual fanfare of smokers, wingmen and that one guy who wears a chili stained retro icon shirt that’s two sizes too small rambling o about whether or not Greedo shot first.

(He didn’t, Han did. Everybody knows that.)

I sat down and found a small group, swigging back Coronas and Coors (a beer I thought was only native to the 1980’s and E.T. flashbacks). It was Mandy’s birthday – Mandy being the woman well into her something-ties and a fresh pack of menthols that went inhaled on the veranda outside. Happy Birthday from the Phillip Morris family.

There was a small band, and when I say small, I mean a guy and his computer with a karaoke system. A number of people got up there, some were actually pretty good. As another who was a little too buzzed off of his tequila sang his version of “Welcome to the Jungle,” I sat there, fedora on head at the bar wondering, my #4 on the 365. Is it time.

For well over an hour, I sat there replaying the “what if’s” and “why not’s” in my head. Without looking at a soul, I made my way over to the big book of songs and searched through the long list of music I knew.

Candyman? Unless they’re talking about the Sammy Davis Jr version, I’ll leave that with Christina Aguilera.

No Diggity? Sam Meyer would kill me for desecrating her favorite song.

Then, as I flipped through the back, I got to some of the oldies (Lord help me, I was apart of the oldies generation). I saw Harry Connick Jr, a New Orleans native, and some of the songs he’d done for soundtracks. I saw “It Had to be You.”

Now I knew that song inside and out. I could sing that practically backwards. It was only 12 years since I’d sung in front of an audience and the last one was in college where I sang “Moon River.” Ask me the lyrics now, and I’m lucky I don’t get it mixed up with the theme from “Good Times.”

Somehow “Two drifters off to see the world, just looking out of the window watchin’ the asphalt grow,” doesn’t just float off the tongue.

I went back to my seat at the bar. I looked at the guy who was singing his heart out and he wasn’t that great, but he knew it. He had the guts to get up there and do it. I thought to myself then, no one knows me here. I can make as big a fool out of myself and walk away with never a thing to gain or lose. My heart was racing. I told myself, “just go, just get up off the barstool, tell the guy.” So I got up, walked three steps over, and suddenly turned and went out the door.

“You have nothing to be ashamed of,” I told myself. “You’re just not ready yet.”
And then I thought, “Not ready to do what? Sing in front of strangers? I did that before! And I make a fool out of myself everyday in front of kids. Why not full grown adults?”

I walked back in, saw the crowd of grownups laughing and drinking, talking about their last dates, who did what at work, etc. I gathered up what little courage I had and went to the guy at the karaoke table. He looked up asked, “What song would you like, my brother?”

I was asked, the gauntlet was thrown, no turning back now.

I told him, “Do you have, ‘It Had to be You.” He pulled it up, and in maybe ten seconds, he nodded to me and made the announcement. My heart was now doing the 400-meter dash in my chest, and this little man in my brain who said, “You have nothing to be ashamed of,” was now crossing his arms and shaking his head.

The crowd applauded my entrance, I stood there with the brim of my fedora shading my eyes. “I don’t have to look at them,” I thought. “Just sing it and do it ad get it done.”

The music started.

My heart suddenly stopped its race. I took a breath, and there came my cue.

I opened my mouth, and the most unreal thing happened.

I heard the sound of my own voice, singing.

And it was good.

Oh my god, I thought. That’s me.
Suddenly my confidence grew enough to left my eyes to the audience, and I saw all eyes on me, some with mouths agape, most with eyebrows up and wide. I went on to the second verse, no cracking, no stuttering. I was doing it.

I hit the bridge of the song, and that’s when I heard them. The applause.
They were clapping for me, and not the “oh good, he’s done,” kinda clapping. But the “wow, he’s good,” kinda clap. Not only that but they were actually saying, “Wow, he’s good!”

Then came the part of the song I have to belt it out… it’s not too late, I can still screw this whole pooch and fall flat on my face. Hit the high long note, Jas’. You can do it. They like you. They’re in for you.

And so it came, and so I did.

I hit every note, every beat, and just like that – the song ended.
And the audience, birthday girls, Marlboro men, Greedo conspiracy theorists and all came inside and applauded. The guy at the machine, got up, struck me on the back hard and yelled out, “You nailed that $%#%!” People total strangers I never met prior to that night were coming to me, shaking my hand or patting my back with compliments out the wazzoo.

I did it.

I didn’t sing in front of a group of people that would compliment me whether I sucked or not. I sang and bore my big fear and was vulnerable before a group of people who had no reason to compliment me except for the fact that they thought I deserved it. That what I did was worthy of it. When you write a story, you don’t always get to see the immediate reaction. When you sing, it’s there, bare and naked and raw in front of everyone to lift up like a southern church on Sunday or tear apart like you’re butchering Luther Vandross as Showtime at the Apollo.

No Sandman required, though.

Afterward, so began my biggest year of vulnerability. Some fights I’ve won, some I’ve lost. But altogether, I grew stronger. I came out a better man. A man ready for a job of his skills, a man ready for a relationship, and a man ready to be a better son, and a better father.

And maybe given time, a real father.

Is there any doubt or wondering as to why I dedicated my first book to my own father, and published it on his birthday?

So the son becomes the father and the father … well, we’ve all watched Superman: the movie.

Tomorrow I continue this journey, even after a year long absence. I finish what I started by going on the trek I did last year in walking the valley. I may not come across the same answers or even the same route to get to my final destination, whatever it may be. I just know that I’m different for having done so in the first place, and I will be still as I’m growing to be the man I’m supposed to be.

The father.
The son.
The artist.
The human being.

Heart on his sleeve, and all.
Keepin’ my head above water, makin a wa–

Sorry, old habits die hard.