Family Time!!

                                        HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!!!

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For a guy a bit too deeply affected and easily – entranced by comic-book related stuff, my father has always been my personal hero. His approval is something that has mattered to me forever and even when I disappoint him, NO ONE is more disappointed than me. As someone who could have really used some super-powered help this summer, I guess it’s times like this that I have to acknowledge the irony of having that just a few feet away on a regular basis.

This has been an good month for family stuff. If I’m not mistaken, it started off with my favorite (yes, I have those) niece becoming a certified cosmetologist. Usually, this month means nothing more to me than unbearable heat and the return of the school year. This year’s August has been particularly trying (see 3 posts ago). Who would think that one fat baby could help change the tide and usher in newness? I mean…Isn’t that what babies do?? The birth of my brother’s daughter this week saved my life in a way. I was immediately humbled at the utter innocence captured by this picture text of my new niece. It made me think about how life is indeed rhythmic, and has ways of quieting you, or as Alanis Morisette famously put it, “Life has a funny way of…Helping you out”. Then there is the flip side of that quote in the song where she says “life has a funny way…Of tripping you up when you think everything’s ok” and it made me scared for a second for both her and for my brother. I thought about the world that she’s being welcomed to. I thought about how ugly things can be and how ugly PEOPLE can be, more importantly. It’s a beautiful paradox, this life, because it’s moments like seeing babies photographed on their first day of breathing that make it all make sense. I look forward to holding her and watching her push my quote-unquote biological clock (do men have those?) with my fingers crossed for the best possible future…

This all makes my brother the same age that my father was when he had me, which is pretty late in the game – not unlike one Jay-Z who’s in a similar place with the birth of Blue Ivy. Not bad company for my brother to be among at all. Yet it does put one in a place that I know my father found himself in, wondering what the Hell they could be doing embarking on such a responsibility during their midlife? The prospect of dealing with a teenager during the encroachment of senior-citizenship? That’s jarring for anyone. Safe to say, all of their hands are and were quite full. But when my niece is of a certain age, she’s gonna wonder what her pops was like in his heyday. She’s not gonna get to know the young, cool version of him that I know. She’s gonna wonder about the man, the motivations, the habits, the entrepreneur. In all reality, He’s just a reflection of my dad, who I wondered about as I came of age. I wondered if he made the same mistakes I made with women, if he cared about the things I cared about, if he failed as many times as I did and got back up. This didn’t ring truer until I asked him why this summer has been so crazy for me. No matter how human and how less “super” our heroes become as we get older, hopefully, they never stop being our heroes. I know my dad was a “G” in his heyday, so if he’s telling me that things go a certain way, I know he’s basing it off of experience. Thinking of Dad-as-man-before-the-existence-of-Malik got me thinking of this particular scene in the most iconic blaxploitation film ever: SHAFT. In a poignant montage of Harlem, brilliantly shot by Mr. Gordon Parks, the essence of 1970’s Harlem was captured as John Shaft perused the uptown blocks on a quest for answers, strolling past every landmark and notable staple of the neighborhood and pausing just breifly enough to highlight each one as his backdrop. And there, smack dab at the climax of this montage, as Isaac Hayes provided the soundscape, John Shaft stood – a hero in his own right, in front of the corner property of another hero that became a household name in Harlem. Shabazz Steak & Take, the most memorable of my father’s many chains of “Steak & Take” restaurants uptown, stands as proudly as Richard Roundtree in the scene that I decided to pause upon and freeze to share it. I thought it summed up so many things about the time my father was in his heights. I wonder how it must’ve felt to not know that you would end up in such a different place a few years later…That you would become a dad again and have a whole new cross to bear. I wonder, was he gassed to see his restaurant in a smash movie that is now legend? Or does he take in the gravity the fact that his restaurant is now a legend itself? I know he does. He has an ego. Most heroes do. Most Virgos do for that matter. But on a day like this, I feel this picture is perfect to capture what I think of when I think of my dad. It says “g”, legacy, icon, Man, Black, Harlem, Prime and represents a time before me, but a time that set the stage for me. More than that, it says, Hero, in front of a store that serves heroes, owned by a hero. Nuff said. And with that said, Happy Birthday Melvin, and Welcome to this place we call life Ariana Kaitlyn…

And just to bring “Family Day” full circle,

this month actually really started off with my Cousin Todd‘s birthday. He’s been pretty cozy with Ms. Kandi for the last year and change, so since it seems  they’ve become quite open about it and a bunch of Black websites have no problem putting their not-so-private lives on blast, I guess it’s cool now if I send a happy belated shoutout to my Cuzo and close out with a pic of the happy couple via one of such sites. Word is, they’ll be highly visible in more reality show madness to ensue this upcoming season. Watch what happens…

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Hope this post made you want to hug a family member tighter, call one up or just send a message to let them know you’re thinking about them. I write this as I wish my mom good luck on her next test. Til next time…

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