In-Abel-ed

June 10, 2012

“Murder of Cain by Abel,” Ghent Altarpiece painting (1432), Jan van Eyck, January 6, 2007. (Paunaro via Wikipedia). In public domain.

I’ve written about the infamous Estelle Abel in my blog on this date (or at least, this time of year) for each of the previous five years (see “My Last Day,” “The Last Class,” “AP Exam Blues,” “Honors Coronation,” and “Twenty Years in a Week” for the full scoop). She was the chair of Mount Vernon High School’s Science Department while I was a student there, and remain so for years afterward.

As anyone should be able to tell from my previous posts on Abel, I have a bit of an ax to grind. More like a samurai sword, actually. The woman and her ten or fifteen minutes of berating me as both a student and as an un-Black young adult Black male ruined my last day of high school. Forgive me, then, for not being completely objective when it comes to the subject of Estelle Abel and her methods of teaching, motivation, and guidance on issues of academic achievement and race.

Though I’ve also forgiven her, I’m not God, and with my memory, I can hardly forget. But if there had been any chance at forgetting, I lost that opportunity in a conversation I had with my late AP US History teacher Harold Meltzer back in the ’89-’90 school year. Estelle Abel came up as a topic because of something that had occurred with one of his AP students. Apparently, this particular student, a female basketball player, had made the decision to apply to some predominantly White institutions, and had left HBCUs off her application plate. And apparently, Abel had gone after this student for doing so, all but calling her a traitor to her race by taking the route that a majority of traditional African American students have been taking since the ’70s.

Two Oreo Cookies, February 7, 2011. (Evan-Amos via Wikipedia). In public domain.

In all, it took Meltzer about twenty minutes to tell what would’ve been a five or seven-minute-story for the long-winded. That’s how much he could meander in the forests of his stories sometimes. Then I told Meltzer my Estelle Abel story from my last day of school. It sparked a conversation that I wasn’t quite prepared to have. One not only about Estelle Abel, but about the African American faculty at Mount Vernon High School in general.

For most of the rest of the conversation, Meltzer was in full gossip mode, telling me things about individual teachers that I shouldn’t have known, and mostly have forgotten, thankfully. But I did say to him early on in this part of the conversation that I really didn’t know much about the Black teachers at MVHS. The reason was simple. I didn’t have a single Black teacher as my teacher in four years of high school. Humanities classes — particularly the Level 0 and Level 1 classes — had few, if any, Black teachers, much less any teachers of color.

I didn’t say that exactly, but it was the essence of what I said and thought about while Meltzer yammered on about the disunity among MVHS teachers. To think that from Ms. Simmons’ math class in seventh grade at A.B. Davis Middle School until my history and Black Studies classes my junior year at Pitt, I’d gone without a single African American teacher or professor. I knew that some of the blame fell squarely on the shoulders of my guidance counselor Sylvia Fasulo, Humanities coordinators, MVHS’ leadership and the Italian Civic Association.

But how much of this was my fault, being so myopically focused on grades, college and getting away from 616 and Mount Vernon, I didn’t know. After all, I learned in the middle of my senior year that Dr. Spruill taught a Black history class, that there had been efforts to bring in more Black teachers and other teachers of color at Mount Vernon High School dating back at least four years.

Uncle Ruckus screenshot, from Aaron McGruder’s animated TV series The Boondocks, July 4, 2011. (Grapesoda22 via Wikipedia). Qualifies as fair use under US Copyright laws because of picture’s low resolution.

Still, none of that really mattered to me that year. I had already and unsuccessfully attempted to thread the needle between a cushy senior year and a year that prepared me for the rigors of college. Anything else, whether it was Black history, a trip to West Africa or a visit to some HBCU campuses, was hardly on my radar.

Whatever my lack of focus could be construed as in ’86-’87, it wasn’t because I wasn’t Black enough, or ashamed of being Black, as folks like Estelle Abel implied or accused me of in their thoughts and words, and with their eyeballs that year. Sure, I was weird, and readily admit to being weird, aloof, and emotionless in my MVHS days. But given the hell that I lived with at home and in that community in my last years in Mount Vernon, weirdness and a focus on getting out through college should’ve been applauded, or at least tolerated, without teachers like Abel staring at me as if I was demon-possessed.

That it wasn’t tolerated was the real shame. It took me years to get over it, that uncomfortability of being judged by other Blacks as too smart, too weird, too un-Black in their eyes for my own good.


Chronicle of Higher Education – Shame On You!

May 3, 2012

Naomi Schaefer Riley, Chronicle of Higher Education blogger, September 25, 2011. (http://c-span.org). In public domain.

On April 30, Naomi Schaefer Riley, a blogger for The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Brainstorm digital platform, wrote the disrespectful and snarky/offensive post “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.

It was disrespectful, snarky and offensive because Riley used the post to go after Northwestern University graduate students who had literally just finished their doctoral theses. Not to mention the fact that Riley hadn’t actually read the dissertations she discussed in her post. For example, Riley called Ruth Hayes and her dissertation “‘So I Could Be Easeful’: Black Women’s Authoritative Knowledge on Childbirth” on the carpet. All because Hayes wrote that she “noticed that nonwhite women’s experiences were largely absent from natural-birth literature, which led me to look into historical black midwifery” in her abstract. “How could we overlook the nonwhite experience in ‘natural birth literature,’ whatever the heck that is?,” was Riley’s disrespectful and idiotic response. Riley based her response on a title and one sentence from a dissertation.

Riley wrote about two other dissertations, one about the origins of the subprime lending crisis for Blacks — going back to policies enacted by the federal government in the 1960s — the other about the history of Black Republicanism. She not only concluded based solely on the titles and a couple of statements that this was “a  collection of left-wing victimization claptrap.” Riley also decided the fate of Black Studies as a discipline, saying that these three doctoral thesis made the “case for eliminating the discipline,” at least in her snarky and offended mind.

If this was Riley’s one and only post, I’d simply accuse her of being an ill-informed ex-Wall Street Journal journalist who obviously has a limited understanding of the history of research in the humanities and social sciences fields of academia. One of marginalization and exclusion of the experiences of all Americans who aren’t White, male, rich and powerful. One in which remains the automatic assumption in many circles that any research done by Blacks on race, women on sexism, and gays and lesbians on homophobia is less valuable or unscholarly. I’ve known more than my share of colleagues who have experienced disdain, even occasional ostracism, because of their work, in the so-called liberal environment that is academia.

Riley, however, has posted multiple times about Blacks in academia blaming all of their ills on the “white man,” as she would put it. She’s complained about the validity of women’s studies and about the usefulness of so-called liberal research in her posts as well. It proves that Riley has as much understanding about research and academia as I do about embroidery. And I’ve at least had a couple of embroidery classes.

But Riley, for all of her snarky arrogance and willful ignorance — the very thing that defines her posts — isn’t the most significant culprit on this. The Chronicle of Higher Education is ultimately to blame. After years of writing the same turgid stories over and over again about the “two-body problem,” faculty compensation and university endowments, The Chronicle in the past year or so has attempted a turn toward the provocative. Instead of real attempts to reach out to educators, education reformers and other practitioners who aren’t tenured/tenure-track faculty and graduate students aspiring to such, they have settled on bringing in a group of bloggers whose sole job is to stir the pot.

There are big issues in higher education begging for coverage. The issue of the effectiveness of online higher education. The corruption that runs rampant at for-profit institutions and the public institutions that adopt for-profit practices. The over-reliance on data sets to determine higher education (as well as K-12) policies. The dominance of private foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in determining how twenty-first century education reform will look — to the detriment of perhaps millions of children and college students.

No, these articles and discussions are rare in the world of The Chronicle. Instead, they had the wonderful idea of letting tenured faculty and inane journalists blog on issues that could possibly cause controversy, stir up discussions, even lead to an uptick in viewers of the Chronicle.com website. But The Chronicle isn’t Charlie Sheen or Kim Kardashian, where any publicity is good publicity. Especially when a journalist in the case of Riley didn’t do their due diligence before foaming at the mouth.

The most offensive thing about all of this is that The Chronicle, as the arrogant institution they are, will continue to allow the likes of Riley a platform, under the cloak of journalistic freedom. That is a shame, and a pitiful one at that.


Milk-N-Things

April 21, 2012

Major fire Sunday evening at F&Y Store (formerly Milk-n-Things), Grand Cleaners, Pelham, New York, March 9, 2008. (PelhamWeekly.com). Qualifies as fair use because of low resolution of picture and subject of this blog post.

As most folks who aren’t Black males have learned in the past couple of months, part of our collective coming-of-age story involves this sordid and cruel rite of passage to manhood. One in which people we’ve known since childhood suddenly start to treat us as if we’ve committed a crime or an unpardonable sin. No matter how smart, how tall or short, how athletic or waif-like, this ritual has continued unabated in American culture for as long as there have been free Black males living their lives.

My whole year between my seventeenth and eighteenth birthday in ’87 was like that. Between a crossing guard I’d know since third grade, some of my classmates, my idiot Mount Vernon High School principal, the late Richard Capozzola (see post “Capo, Mi Capo” from September ’09) and Tower Records (see my post “Why Black Men Carry A Public Anger” from March ’12). I was constantly shown through their eyes how my man-sized Black body was a threat to them.

One of the bigger kickers that year was an incident at the former Pelham, New York mini-mart Milk-n-Things. It was in a strip mall across the street from a Mobil gas station, off a Hutchinson River Parkway exit, just across the bridge on East Lincoln connecting Mount Vernon to Pelham. The store was two doors down from the laundromat in which we washed our clothes every week (or just about) between ’78 and ’87, and next to Hutchinson Elementary School and Pelham Library.

I’d been shopping there on my own since ’77, before I’d started third grade. Over the years, I’d gotten used to the smell of cheap cologne, the noise of broken Italian and Brooklyn-ese as spoken by the Hair Club for Couples, the people who owned Milk-n-Things. Not to mention their love of all things from the ’50s, especially with a gigantic picture of Frank Sinatra on the wall that greeted customers upon entrance. By the time I was fourteen, it dawned on me that these folks may have been mobbed up, but what did that matter to me?

Then one day in April ’87, the Italian folks who owned Milk-n-Things reacted to me as if they’d never seen me before. As usual, I went there to buy a few groceries late in the evening, somewhere around 9 pm, when C-Town had already closed. Milk, eggs and butter were among the things I planned to buy. When I got to the counter, the old Italian lady said, “I got you on camera.”

“On camera doing what?,” I asked without thinking.

“You know whatcha been up to. I got you stealing, thief,” she said as if she had another word in mind.

“There’s no way you could have me on camera. You might have someone else on camera, but I know I haven’t stolen a thing,” I said, as I felt both hurt and rage coming out of me.

“Get out of my store now before I call the cops!,” the woman yelled.

I left the groceries and took back my money, feeling persecuted. This was a store I’d been shopping at for ten years. Now this Frank Sinatra-worshiping bitch has the nerve to accuse me of stealing right out of the blue? “Fine,” I thought. “You’re not getting another dime of my money.” That was the last time I shopped there.

I actually didn’t step foot into the space again until ’06, during a Thanksgiving visit with family. By that time, it was no longer Milk-n-Things, and the Italians who owned the place had long since moved away. I went in, realized they had nothing I wanted, and left. No one walked up to me to check my pockets as I walked out. I was mildly surprised.


The Value of An American (Black) Life

April 4, 2012

Flag and flag pole from US Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, VA, March 31, 2006. (Christopher Hollis via Wikipedia). In public domain via Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

I learned years ago that many in this great country in which I’m a citizen didn’t value my life relative to other citizens. It wasn’t just my right to live that has occasionally come into question. It was my right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” including in K-12 education, higher education, the world of work, where I should live, how I should speak, what I should wear, and whether I should have any success or joy in my life. To have to fight for the most basic and assumed of rights in the richest and most powerful nation on Earth is exhausting, disheartening and maddening.

But enough about my own experience at forty-two years and three months. Recent events involving Whitney Houston, Trayvon Martin and Rick Santorum also illustrate the lack of value some Americans place on other Americans’ lives. We know now after the release of Houston’s final autopsy and toxicology report that in her final days cocaine, alcohol and over-the-counter medications fueled her bloodstream, and years of heart disease combined to an overdose, accidental drowning and death in February. We all know how sad and tragic Whitney’s end was, and the outpouring of support and condolences from all over the world for her and her family.

At the same time, this shows the lack of value Whitney placed on her own life, at least in her final days and moments. More importantly, the death of this once great diva also showed how little the folks around Houston valued her life, and how she lived her life, over her final years and days. I’m not just talking about Whitney’s drug use, alcohol abuse or even taking care of her body and heart. Really, it’s about being a true friend, a person willing to sacrifice a friendship in order to save a friend, to help a friend find herself (or himself, as the case may be). The fact that Whitney is dead is evidence that there weren’t many folks looking out for her best interests in her life, including her.

The Trayvon Martin case is more evidence that some American lives are worth more than others. After more than three weeks of media coverage, we’ve confirmed that, if nothing else. First in line is the great George Zimmerman, the man of the people — at least some of them. He cared another about the life that he took to call Martin among the “assholes [who] always get away” and a “fucking coon.” Second was the Sanford PD, who closed their investigation within hours of beginning it, and took three days to notify Martin’s parents that their seventeen-year-old son was dead. This despite the fact the parents had filed a missing persons report with this same police department. Third in line is the city of Sanford itself, as well as Florida justice in general. It’s been five weeks, and Zimmerman still has yet to be arrested, much less charged or indicted, much less a trial. I guess, in the end, that Zimmerman’s life is worth more than Martin’s to some Americans.

Then there are the words of Rick “Sanitarium” Santorum, a GOP presidential candidate caught frothing out of his butthole for a mouth last Friday. During a speech in Wisconsin, Santorum said “nig-,” then stopped himself, stumbled and started again with “America…” in making a completely different point. Santorum rarely, if ever, describes President Barack Obama as “President Barack Obama.” Him and his opponents have all but allowed constituents to attend their rallies with guns and a bulls-eye with the President’s picture on it. Yet, these pro-lifers supposedly value life. It’s just that they care only for some Americans’ lives, and not others.

The only time we as Americans seem to value the lives of “other” Americans is usually when those others are in uniform, overseas in a theater of action projecting American power. Only then, American lives are far more valuable than the lives of Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and myriad other humans we’ve slaughtered in the hundreds of thousands over the past sixty-two years. But, at least one American life is more valuable than a hundred non-American humans, right?

Today marks forty-four years since James Earl Ray cold-bloodedly murdered Martin Luther King, Jr. while he stood on a balcony of a Memphis motel. He thought that the lives of poor, misguided and racist White Americans was far more valuable than the life of one of the greatest Americans there ever was or will be. Despite forty-four years of using King’s words as fuel for rhetoric and action on civil rights and human justice, we still haven’t solved the problem of the relative value of an American life, especially when it’s a Black one.


Breakdown: The Messiah Complex At Work, Part II

January 7, 2012

Cosmo, from Nicktoons' Fairly Odd Parents, a reminder of Ken, January 5, 2012. (http://fairlyoddparents.wikia.com).

The saying goes that a lawyer who represents him or herself at trial has a fool as counsel. This is also true of a supervisor who believes that the only ideas worth pursuing are his own, unadulterated ones. Especially one in the midst of a nervous breakdown, who who’d know since the late-1980s that he had bipolar disorder. This was the case of my last days at New Voices in January ’04, as I prepared to move on, and as Ken prepared to flip out (see my “The Messiah Complex At Work, Part I” from November ’11).

The seven weeks between the weird November meeting with Ken and others and his breakdown were tension filled. I worked out a schedule that allowed me to take until the middle of February — three months — to find another position at the Academy for Educational Development or elsewhere. Beyond that, I did my job, and found Ken constantly snooping in my office, monitoring my telephone calls, and double-checking my times in and out of the office in the meantime. It was as bad as it was during my first weeks working for him in December ’00 and January ’01.

I’d long suspected that Ken had some mental illness, either bipolar disorder or paranoid schizophrenia (as I noted in my “Working At AED: Alternate Sources of Fear” post in June ’11). And in the year prior to January ’04, I’d made some of my suspicions known, to superiors like “Driving Miss Daisy” Sandra, my former Center Director Yvonne. I’d even taken two New Voices colleagues out to lunch that summer — a month before the birth of my son — to warn them about the signs I’d seen of Ken become more maniac and paranoid than usual.

But I didn’t realize that Ken’s condition knew no bounds. So it was that on the morning of Wednesday, January 7, that Driving Miss Daisy had called us into an impromptu meeting with Ken. We went into the seventh floor conference room, not knowing why we were meeting. Ken came in last, after I’d spent about five minutes updating Driving Miss Daisy about the preparation status for the New Voices gathering at the World Social Forum in Mumbai.

His face was flush, the color of freshly caught and gutted salmon, and sweat ran through his hair like he’d just run his five-foot-two frame a couple of miles in a sprint. He came in, sat down as I continued the update, then started to cry. Ken said, “Sandra, I’ve got to go,” and then left in a rush. By the time we had adjourned, Ken had left the building.

I wouldn’t see the man again for another five weeks. In the meantime, several AED higher-ups brought me up to speed on what had occurred between the time I changed my son’s diapers and disembarked from the Metro at Du Pont Circle that morning. Ken and Driving Miss Daisy had met with AED’s president and CEO that morning about the status of the project. During that meeting, Ken had gone off on the head honcho, accusing him of sabotaging the project, of sabotaging him as the project leader, of being a corrupt, money-grubbing president. Of course, I found a letter in a printer two days before which summarized some of these

Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC December 16, 2008. (http://flickr.com).

ideas, but I’d no idea that Ken had printed it or planned to use it.

The next revelation dropped that Saturday, although I wouldn’t learn of it until I came back to work that Monday, January 12. Ken had left me a message Saturday morning, around 8 am, apologizing for the hell that he had put me through the previous couple of months. Then, as his voice started to crack, Ken said, “I love you, Donald!” I heard a sniffle, and then a click on the message. Within that week, I learned from one colleague in human resources that Ken had checked into the psychiatric ward at Georgetown University Hospital, and from another person that it was Driving Miss Daisy who’d driven him there.

There are any number of lessons that I or anyone can draw from this experience. For me, of all of the jobs I’ve held, this one was the most bittersweet experience, and in retrospect, I probably should’ve said no to it when it was offered to me in November ’00. That everyone with some authority who worked with me or Ken should’ve but didn’t notice the signs of his manic-depressive behavior.

That no matter my integrity or proper professional behavior under the circumstances, that I’d end up the bad guy. After all, my staff went to Mumbai without me — Driving Miss Daisy’s decision — while I went on to hold down the fort and found another position at AED. And don’t tell me race wasn’t involved. A tall mentally stable and heterosexual Black male versus a short, bipolar and semi-in-the-closet White male? Only in this world does the latter keep his position another six years after this and several other breakdowns.

That said, one thing stands out above all else. It’s a sad but important lesson about the difference being true to yourself and lying to yourself, about finding the right balance between life and career.


Down The Rabbit Hole

January 3, 2012

Alice In Wonderland, surrounded by the characters of Wonderland, illustration, by Jessie Wilcox Smith, 1923. In public domain.

Once again, it’s time for the leap year silly season, between the presidential election cycle and the Summer Olympics. Only with a twist. Between the reactionary GOP/TPers, the state of the world in general and over-hyped Mayan predictions, 2012 promises to be a year full of surprises, for better and for worse. Only, as far as I can read a calendar, this year runs on the same day and date lines as 1984. Minus George Orwell’s post-apocalyptic impressions or Van Halen’s first big album (That reminds me — I should download “Panama” from iTunes).

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks about entitlements during a campaign rally at the Hotel Pattee, Perry, Iowa, January 2, 2012. (Scott Olson/Getty Images).

What has been predictable so far includes Rick “Sanitarium” Santorum’s race-baiting via entitlements, calling on Blacks to not take “other people’s money” yesterday on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. What a dumb, racist ass! Especially since the overwhelming number of Americans on welfare are White. Especially because most poor Blacks still feel the lingering effects of a society built on racial preferences that denied them and previous generations the wealth that helped make America the richest country in the history of the world. Especially since Santorum has tried these tactics before, in Pennsylvania, where he showed how crazy he was six and eighteen years ago (Please Pitt, stop using him in your promotional ads!)

Yes, America’s all Alice in Wonderland again, sliding down the rabbit hole into an election cycle that’s more about style than substance, where the spin cycle’s constantly on and character is only defined in the most sanctimonious of terms. Between San”scrotum,” Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman and their idiotic campaigns, I’d take an ancient Roman approach. Cut each of them on their right butt cheeks, throw them all in a bag with a wild leopard, and drop them in a river full of hippos. Whoever survives should then get to run against President Obama. That would be fairer than the system we have now.


Musical ‘Mates and Matters

December 24, 2011

The "A" Note, February 5, 2008. (Pearson Scott Foresman, via Wikipedia). In public domain.

If someone asked me what was the one thing that me and my classmates had in common during my middle school and high school years in Mount Vernon, New York, it would be a love of and for music. I wouldn’t have been able to draw this rather obvious conclusion five years ago. But, in the course of interviewing folks and writing and rewriting my Boy @ The Window manuscript since ’06, music seems to be the one common denominator that connected us all.

Take the fact that so many of my Class of ’87 classmates found their way into the underground or mainstream music scene over the past twenty-four years. At least one was a producer, a bunch rapped, played, sang, and danced their way into the industry, even if they’re not household names. Others did studio work, and at least two are doing music/sound work for the small and big screen.

These folks are Black, White, Afro-Caribbean and Latino, so, no, race doesn’t seem to be a factor. Was it something that was in the water or in Mount Vernon’s lead water pipes? Not likely. It really couldn’t have been instilled in us by Humanities, or going to Davis, Nichols or Mount Vernon High School, right? The official doctrine of the powers that were would’ve made our favorite music somewhere between Sinatra and Tchaikovsky.

It could be as simple and as complicated as the times we grew up in, the fellow travelers to which we were

Culture Club "Club Sandwich Tour" poster, September 27, 2011. (Wikipedia). Qualifies as fair use under US Copyright laws because of low resolution and subject of blog post.

exposed, the constant noise that was Mount Vernon public schools in the 1970s and 1980s. Living in a city in the early stages of decline, within shouting distance of Manhattan and a short walk to the Bronx. Having the level of Black and Brown diversity that we had, with a decent sized White minority in the school system, may be all that was needed to create the conditions for music to be our one common language.

It wasn’t just in my class, as the classes of ’85 and ’86 turned out the late Heavy D and Al B. Sure. Nor was it just in Mount Vernon’s public schools. There was something about Mount Vernon itself, a painful place for some, a cool and pleasureful one for others, that made music both a code for coolness and an escape from reality.

For my specific groups of Humanities nerds, renaissance folks and generally sharp classmates, though, the tastes ranged and even mingled. For the guidos and guidettes whom I labeled “The Italian Club,” the music was decidedly “White.” From “A” serenading 7S with The Police’s “Roxanne” ala Eddie Murphy, to the frequent blaring of Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen and Foreigner from turbo-charged Camaros and Mustangs.

The Time promotional poster, circa 1990, July 6, 2006. (Mista Tee, via Wikipedia). Qualifies as fair use under US Copyright laws because of low resolution and subject matter for blog post.

Then the was the obviously cool Black and Afro-Caribbean, with a clique for every occasion, whose music was also obviously “Black.” Teena Marie, pre-“Material Girl” Madonna, Phyllis Hyman, Prince, Luther Vandross, Doug E. Fresh, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Run-DMC, if it was Black and cool, they listened to it, and knew the exact date the new album would hit the stores. They drove around in their Nissan Maximas, Audis and old Cadillacs with this mesh of R&B, early rap and hip-hop, and crossover pop pumping out of their tinted windows.

Of course, that left the rest of us, the few who seemed to like a bit of everything. Crush #1 and Depeche Mode. Brandie Weston and her clique’s love of Boy George and Culture Club. V’s commitment to Billy Joel, at least a decade and a half too young to understand the full meaning of what we’d now call adult contemporary. Not to mention The Police, Sting, The Who, Rolling Stones, Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, ABC, Tears for Fears, a-ha, and so many others. But it didn’t stop there. For we, too, liked Luther, and Billy Idol, and John Coltrane, and Lisa Lisa, and Run.

I don’t know if my musical tastes were the most eclectic of all, or if mine remain so. But I can say this. I ran 4.75 miles yesterday, listening to Genesis’ “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” (album version), Sounds of Blackness’ “Optimistic,” U2’s “Beautiful Day,” Grover Washington Jr’s “Summer Chill,” Stevie Wonder’s “As,” Sting’s “A Thousand Years,” and Enigma’s “Silence Must Be Heard” along the way. It seems that I’ve always had a song in my head and theme music in my heart for every situation and every period of my life. For better and for worse, I have to give Mount Vernon credit for that, if for nothing else.


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