More For You Than Anyone Else?

Hello Mary, et. al.

“He [Trump] did more to help everyone plus blacks that anyone has done in a long time.“ This is the quote that I’m going to be responding to and attempting to address from the statement you made earlier on in this thread., Mary. I want to make sure that I’m being very specific about the subject so that my response will be put in proper context. This will be a long walk, but we will get there eventually.

When I said that I was going to answer as one of “The Blacks”, I did so with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek. I, and anyone else, can only truly speak for myself. But that term, and the sentiment that is most frequently behind it is so central to the way that so many Black people that I personally know, and the way that I can infer from data, that most black people feel they are viewed by non-black people: a monolith, not as individuals or fully capable for thinking independently and for themselves...therefore, not fully part of the actual human experience or even capable of doing so. Historically throughout this country, that is how large swaths of the majority population have literally viewed us, and even codified those thoughts in laws up to and including the constitution of the country.

This premise is wrong.

If you accept that we are actually human beings with all of the potential for greatness and foibles as any other group of people that you could put together randomly, then you should accept that we are actually individuals and tend to act as one as frequently as any other group of people when something appears that may be either in the best interest of all of us, in the good direction, or because there is something acting in a negative direction that would affect all of us. That’s what human beings tend to do.

It can be very difficult to get an enormous percentage of human beings together on most endeavors and have them agree on something unanimously. Human beings that come from the American Experiment tend to do this much more frequently than people from other countries. It’s part of the culture of this country, and most Black people in this country are very much AmericanIt can be very difficult to gets in that way too. Mary, I have no idea of how many Black Americans you have encountered throughout your life and in what capacity you have done so. Having been born Black and grown up around Black people and people of other backgrounds, I will speak to my experience and say what I have said above with great confidence.

Here are two examples. I assure you that the first example works among any randomly selected group of people, let alone a “racial group” of people. Let’s take six people who work in an office and they are trying to order one pizza. The chances that those six people would say that they wanted exactly the same kind of pizza on the first try is just about zero. somebody’s going to not like one of the ingredients selected at first. Somebody else might be allergic to something else. Somebody else doesn’t eat a certain kind of food for personal or religious preferences. And somebody just wants a Subway sandwich instead of pizza. That’s how it goes. You got a group of people together as small as even six people, and it’s going to be difficult to come up with a gigantic consensus right from the start. There’s a chance that you might be able to get there very easily, but there’s also a chance that somebody just going to settle so that they can all eventually eat. That is normal.

My second example is me. This is the only example I can speak with 100% authority. It is about 9 o’clock at night right now and I have been awake for about 14 hours. I can say with a great deal of confidence that I don’t think that I have a greed with about 25% of what I have done throughout my day. I think I probably could’ve spent much of my time better. And I had total control over what I did. I can’t think of any day that I have ever had where I did better than about 95%, and I am a population of one person. It is beyond difficult to get  100% concurrence on what I do, let alone doing that with somebody else, or multiple other people on something as simple as ordering a pizza. That is normal.

But if you took either the group of six people, or myself individually, and they were somehow stranded without cellphones or cell coverage in a very nice car, in the middle of January, in -25°F weather, in the middle of a field , in the middle of the night, without any heat, and without any food, there’s a pretty good bet that way more than 90% of the people (or myself individually) will make a very quick decision about trying to get the heck out of that situation that they are in. There’s a very real threat to their very existence going on right then, and it makes it quite clear, because humans don’t like existing under those conditions, that even though the interior of the car that broke down is very nice, maybe nicer than a car they’ve ever been in, they still need to get the heck out of where they are right now so that they can survive.

If once the group got to a populated area 20 miles away and away from the very dangerous conditions that they found themselves in, and somebody at the out-of-the-way restaurant that they were able to find asked them, “Why did you leave the inside of that very nice car? That’s a beautiful car! If I had a car like that I would never leave! Why would you do that to yourselves?”, every single person in the group would look at the person asking that question like they were crazy. These people’s lives were at risk, and this person is worried about the interior of a broken down car. How could this person not see that there was an existential threat for each and every one of those individuals? They would be wondering how could that person not see that they all decided to chance at all and hope they could make it somewhere else and not stay there and surely succumb to what awaited them where the car laid at rest? How could that person not see all of the conditions that existed that was the threat to them if they stayed where they were?

This clunky metaphor is clearly meant to be a parallel to what most Black Americans feel toward not only Donald Trump, but the GOP in general. With all things being equal and under normal circumstances, the group of people, and myself as an individual, might make all sorts of choices and vary more frequently. but most frequently since the early 1970s in the United States, all things are not equal. And all things are definitely not equal now with this current president. This current president and the entire suite of things that he offers and attitudes that he projects and enables, is an existential threat to, apparently, 92% of the Black American population. This president only has 8% support among Black Americans. The numbers have not been that much better for the GOP in the last several presidential elections. You can look up the data.

So instead of questioning the motives of the people that are being affected by the policies of one party or President and making it seem like those people are not thinking correctly for reacting in a giant group like they are all the time, doesn’t it seem to make more sense to look at the reason why they would almost totally act as one, something that is uncommon for large groups of human beings? Shouldn’t one question what it is that keeps driving one group of human beings into a very abnormally large unanimous consensus against what it is that you were doing if you honestly want to try to come to your way of thinking or set of actions that you wish to an act? If you actually believed that those are fully functional human beings with the ability to think on their own and are not acting out of some knee-jerk, inhuman instinct, then the answer to that question should be yes! (That is assuming that one honestly answers that question.)

But, Mary, a lot of people on one side of the aisle do not seem to be able to think from that perspective…and that is the fundamental problem. For Black people in this country, even when we present all of the evidence and all of the issues that need to be addressed, they are not addressed in any serious form or fashion. It seems as though people in charge on one side in particular either do not care, cannot figure out a legitimate solution, think that we are making up the issues, and generally don’t believe that there were actual problems. They think we should be happy to stay in the nice, broken down car. They seem to think that and we are unable to speak and think for ourselves…in other words they repeatedly and constantly seem to think that our lives don’t matter. And given that, how on Earth are we to be expected to go with the choice that makes things even worse, in the main, than the bad conditions we already face? We shouldn’t be and we aren’t.

But if somebody actually asked and listened to what was being said by the people in the car all along and not just guessed that everything should be OK where they were and that they should be happy that nice car they have, then maybe something could get solved. But never seems to happen.

I’ve tortured all of these metaphors enough, and it’s the first time I’ve written them down on digital paper. That means it may not of come out as perfectly as I would have liked, but I think I got close enough that I hope that you and anybody else reading this will understand. This is not meant to be anything comprehensive, but I hope some of this opens up your mind along with the link to an essay that I wrote about three weeks ago upon the passing of my uncle, and a panel discussion that I was part of last week. I hope that you and everybody else takes a look at both of the links. The essay that I wrote is much more concise and much shorter than this. And the video is quite long, but it might be a conversation of the type that you have never seen before and might prove more useful than I can even hope. I hope you take this enormous number of words as an extension of my hand to try to help you understand a perspective that you might not have taken to account before.

Peace.

Fin

It’s Mourning In/Of America

I was at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in south St. Louis county this morning to observe the burial of my uncle, Bethel Smith. It’s the second trip in about 2.5 months to a military cemetery that I’ve had to make to bury one of my father’s younger siblings; we lost my aunt, Carolyn Mitchell, in February in Chicago right as the pandemic was making its appearance outside of the west coast. Aunt Carolyn rests across the Mississippi River in Illinois about 200 miles north at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, and Uncle Bethel joins his wife, my aunt Delores at the second largest military burial ground in the country here in Missouri.

It was a pretty day outside. You can see in the picture how blue the sky was. I saw some deer slowly roaming through the headstones. You could see the sparkling edge of south leg of the Gateway Arch up the river. It was a peaceful scene. It wasn’t a normal day. But it was pretty.

We were surrounded by about 200,000 Americans, but we couldn’t have been much more socially distant. My uncle couldn’t get the gun salute that he earned because of COVID; staffing was cut. We had to stand outside of our cars about 50 yards away from the shared plot with masks on as they lowered his casket so as to keep those of us still on this side of the grass healthy. My cousins had to wait for an hour so that the workers could cover everything up before they could approach the spot where their parents rested to say a final goodbye. They went to see their other relatives that were buried there to pass the time.

My dad had had enough though, and rightfully so. He’d done what he could for his best friend. I’d one-day, round-tripped a drive for us to the other side of the state to Kansas City four days ago for the funeral 250 miles away. There was a personal and funny eulogy by their mutual friend, a pastor, that flew up from Texas just for the day. Dad did his tribute to his childhood bedmate and knocked it out of the park, as expected, but somehow even better than expected. But it was getting warmer outside. He’d more than represented already. He’d more than done his duty. It was time for me to do mine.

I drove him, my sister, and brother-in-law the 30 minutes or so back to U. City so they could carry on with their day. I dropped them off at the houses and stayed in the car since I needed to make a rare fill-up for the car. I took off for the gas station. It was still a pretty day, but getting warmer.

I’d been basically incapable of leaving the house much in the past couple of weeks because I’d been suffering from a particularly bad flair-up from my home country’s congenital birth defect. This breakout was a bad one, but predictable. I’d been on a really big roller coaster ride this time.

At times I was feverish…beyond angry and seeing red, which made me pace around. I felt the blues…as depressingly similar spoonfuls of pablum and bile were both swallowed and spewed, seemingly all around me, if tried to read anything. But this time I kept trying to avoid seeing an orange mass that kept trying to pop into my line of sight if I tried to look at a screen; but it kept showing up and getting in the way of my vision like a pesky floater in your eye that you have no control over.

But my nature wills out and I’m a traveler by nature. Roaming is as congenital in me as what forever ills this land. I will literally get sicker if I’m not traveling and exploring and doing something novel, regularly. Today was a great driving day. I’d already psyched myself up the night before to go out to the cemetery to do what I had to do. And after I’d arrived at Jefferson Barracks the first time, I’d already felt better about having to go. I was more chill. I was OK. So I sanitized the 87 octane pump handle, filled up, took off my mask, and rolled out. It was almost hot now, but it was still pretty.

My mom, Jamae Milam, died 3 years ago on Thursday. She was out at the cemetery too. I hadn’t been to see her yet. My uncle, Clyde Turner, who’s house was around the corner from ours, died about 2.5 months before mom did. I hadn’t been out to see him yet either. My mom’s younger and only brother, James Scott, Jr., was out there as well, and I’d never seen his plot; I had attended the funeral at the time in 2011, but not been back for a look. And my great aunt, Irma Milam French, aka “Auntie”, was out there. My first time ever out at JB was for her funeral in 1997. I don’t think I’d seen her headstone though.

I was fine with not having made this tour before. I didn’t feel guilty, but it was time. I was ready. I wanted to say “hi” to my people. I needed to be around some people that knew me and that I knew. I wanted to be around some folks that had been through worse than I’ve been through, been called worse things more frequently than I’ve been, and been called un-American and not worthy by so many in this country (and even at that cemetery) because of their existence and resistance then, let alone what they what they would think about what was going on right now.

I wanted to be around some soldiers in my family there where they lay today. Because, while I do not like and cannot stand the jingoistic and nationalistic crap that so many “real Americans” hide behind and wrap themselves up in, I know that, on some level, some of those people will be able to find some sort of humanity in Black people if only because they put on a uniform and their “Americaness” is etched in stone…never to be erased or denied. Somehow, they’ve existed here and they didn’t know that Black military families was a thing, but they might know now. I don’t need their stamp of approval to exist. And I don’t claim valor from my deceased family members’ service (hello Uncle Tilmon) and those of their spouses (hello also Aunt Hazel) either. That’s theirs alone. But I point this fact out in this picture because it’s a possible point of contact for actual communication for some people; it’s an extra credit point that shouldn’t be needed but is part and parcel of all the extra that “we” always have to do to get half as far.

Always having to do that extra just to exist and to be recognized and to matter in this life is nonsense and flat out burdensome. That fact for some of “us” is truly part of why “we” are so pissed off AGAIN this time. One shouldn’t need to have been in the military or have been from a military family to be given respect. One shouldn’t need to change their voice and hope that their names are not too Black sounding so that can try to get the loan they want or the apartment they need. One shouldn’t need to have gone to Harvard and “only” be a bird watcher to be considered not dangerous. And one shouldn’t need three camera angles, good audio, and 8 minutes and 46 seconds of footage to be believed when they say that they get harassed and killed by the police all the time no matter what they do or how much they comply.

But while some people will never understand how much extra we always have to do just to get through the day and think that’s OK, I will never think that. I’ll always think that extra is wrong. Because while all of my relatives here are recognized as humans and Americans because of this military pedigree, they were also literal sharecroppers, cotton pickers, janitors, health care workers, scholars, educators, cartographers, engineers, government intelligence, screw ups, and geniuses…you know…HUMANS. And that should be enough for ANY ONE, not just my family.

This extra shit is unfair and unjust, period, and that’s an understatement. But we’ve done it because we’ve had to, and we do it because WE’RE. NOT. GOING. ANYWHERE. “We’ve” been here since our ancestors were brought here against their will and are entirely integral to the existence of this place whether some people want to acknowledge it or not. We are here. Canada doesn’t want any more Americans, and we’re not going there. It’s too cold up there. And it wasn’t a normal day down here today south of the border, but it was warm and it was pretty.

So I said “hi” to all of my people and I felt much better after the trip. I wasn’t that sad. I was a little, but really not that much at all. I wanted to tell them that we’d all been locked up in our houses for the last 3 months, that more than 100,000 people had died, that there were cities burning all over the country, and that things were still super bad since unemployment was so high, and that 3 inch hornets were coming, and that an orange man was in the White House and he was very bad. But that would have given them the chance to say, “Whew….I’m glad I’m not up there,” and I didn’t want them to laugh at me for being up here…so I withheld that information. (They might know already anyway…) I made it back home and thought about how I could try to start to talk and not yell at 300 decibels about what’s going on; so, I made this barely thought out note.

And with as many words as this was, I really haven’t said anything yet. This isn’t even a preamble to what needs to be said and heard. And things will certainly not only be said and heard by me in the near future.

You see, as much as I’m a congenital traveler, I’m a congenital communicator. I can’t help it. I talk too much and want to hear others and show others even more. But more than that I want all things to be understood by all people. It’s naive, I know, but I don’t care. It’s what allows me to get out of bed every morning to try again another day. And if you don’t have hope, you have almost no reason to try to go on. But I will go on.

In the past, I tried to set up my entire life around these two congenital conditions of mine. Other things got in the way before I could fully complete what I wanted to do in the way I wanted to do it, and life happened; but life happens to everyone. I’m not special, but I do count. And since I know that my life and all other Black lives matter, I’ll carry on. I’ll keep on keepin’ on like my family and people always have. I’ll go on and and continue to try to learn and teach and to be better, because for me that’s what makes up a normal day. And for me, that’s pretty good.

Forever A U. City Kid And A New Yorker

An atypically reflective post subject and a tl;dr alert. You’ve been warned…

 

I’m not even close to the only person that has called The Big Apple home to say this, but this time of year is usually not a particularly good one for me…at least not since 2001. And given things that have gone on in my personal and the US’s bubble in the past few days and months, I’m feeling it a bit more than I have in most other years. It’s not all bad…but I’m certainly not 5-by-5.
For most Americans, and certainly pre-September 10th New Yorkers, any drama surrounding this period of late summer/early fall started on September 11th of that year. For me (and the rest of my family), it started two days before that .
September 9, 2001 was the day that I got the call from The States (I was teaching English and being a freelance journalist in Japan) informing me that my mom was gravely ill after a severe stroke. I needed to make my way back home to St. Louis.
I would have caught a flight the next day on September 10th, but Typhoon Danas decided to pay a visit to the Tokyo area that morning; so kicking off an international flight with all of that strum und drang directly overhead was certainly not going to happen. I didn’t think that anything else was going to take place to keep me from getting back to Missouri.
Little did I know what was coming up about 18 hours later…
After finally being able to place a call to the US two days later and wrapping up some affairs, a couple of weeks later I headed back to the Midwest to check on and to be with the family.
So thinking of this time of year for me involves a bit more up close and personal hurt than it may for some others.
Fast forward to a few months after that, and past a cancelled contract to finish my year and a half in Tokyo and then head to Paris for a radio gig, I decided to move to New York City so that I wouldn’t be on the other side of the planet from my folks while I trying to do whatever it was that I was going to do next in my life.
Now most people were not moving TO New York right after 9/11 and the debilitating aftermath, but I’m rarely accused of being someone that does something because most people do it. On top of that, I’d just spent a deliberately educational year in the Land of the Rising Sun. That country has a well-earned reputation for not being a place that you can ever fully become an integral part of by spending a certain amount of time there and doing all the typical things that a life-long resident would.  外人だ! (There’s a foreigner!) is a phrase that any non-East Asian appearing person would become accustomed to hearing constantly after almost no time at all. You could ride the Yamanote Line every day for decades and function as a Tokyoite, but never truly be one.
So going from Kanagawa to Queens…from speaking .20 of the language used daily everywhere to 2.0 of the languages used daily everywhere…and from knowing absolutely no one at first to being around some of my oldest friends from University City the instant I rolled over the George Washington Bridge made the prospect of setting up shop in a place with an actual bombed out crater in its heart not the worst thing that I could come up with. I wanted to give it a go.
And I gave it a went.
I went on to earn my NYer stripes through being in blackouts, transit strikes, heat waves, blizzards, hurricanes, nor’easters, and random parties in random places. I kept on earning by being stuck in the subway, stuck with crazy neighbors in my building, and stuck on bad dates in fancy places (and being a bad date myself).
I worked in a loud telephone survey call center and on a loud Wall Street trading floor. I waited on line for Summer Fest for fun and I waited on line for cronuts for work.  I whiplashed my brain by being an assistant for a philosophy professor at Columbia University during the day and being a transcriber of video for a reality TV show at night.
I even learned how to tolerate karaoke, properly eat a slice, successfully hail a cab while Black, and not hate riding a city bus.
But most importantly I met the people…my neighbors…my friends…my friends-as-family. They were New Yorkers all, whether they were natives or transplants like myself. And it was good.
They lived in all five boroughs and came from five other continents.  They were older, younger, and even exactly the same age as me.  They had skills and talents and strengths that were not to be believed.  And they walked too fast and cursed like sailors because, fuhgeddaboudit, that’s what’s fuckin’ done by everyone.
We danced. We drank. We went out. We hung out. We performed. We learned from and supported each other. And we talked. And we talked. And we talked. I told them my stories, and they told me theirs. We did what friends are supposed to do and did it well.
And even though I was literally on the other side of Earth on that clear, blue Tuesday when many of their worlds changed forever and that day became an unshakeable part of their story, they called me one of their own. I was still a New Yorker too.
My original tenure in The City was at an odd “shoulder” time for New York and myself. We were both in between eras…in rebuilding periods.  I was already in Astoria the first September when the two ghostly shafts of light shot up into the night from next to The Pile downtown.  Less than 13 months before that in Yokohama, I could not have contemplated that I would have moved to town only six months after the twin towers fell any more than I could have imagined that I’d be leaving town just over a dozen years later…about six months before the “replacement” One World Trade Center tower would be completed.
The trauma that rocked the tri-state area because of two airplanes was being addressed at the same time that I was trying to address the familial trauma that strokes and age and time had imposed on my world.  There’s no way that I would have known that I’d get another call back home 12 years later to attend to another stroke dealt to my mother and end up on a 1,100 mile, 54 hour snowbound Amtrak rail/bus adventure instead of an 18 hour trans-Pacific flight.  But that happened…and I unexpectedly changed course again. I found myself back in University City once more, but this time it was for a long haul.
So now, 16 Septembers later, with an inconceivably crazier political landscape than 2001, an even bigger and more frequent set of hurricanes, and with the very recent death of my mother, I find myself a bit more reflective than usual.  To be de rigueur, let’s just say I’ve been “triggered” to be a bit more reflective than usual.
Since I was finally able to get some of my belongings out of storage in Queens only a few months ago, The City has been on my mind more and more. I’d had to put New York out of my mind. I had more pressing and acute family related issues to worry about and no time to think about my stuff in boxes in Woodside near LaGuardia. After all, they’re just things, most of which could eventually be replaced.
But most of the people that were in my so-called-New York-life were harder to put out of my mind. In most cases, it wasn’t possible at all to put them out of my mind. It would be equally impossible for me to deny my birthright as a kid from U. City as it would be to not think of some of my New York friends. (That is not possible.)
And in the couple of trips back for more of my stuff that I’ve made this spring and summer, I’ve gotten to connect and reconnect with more people and see what I’ve missed in my three plus year absence.  There have been some tremendous ups and tragic downs with folks. There are people who have left The City who I never thought would go and some that have stayed in spite of every indication that they would have been outta there.  There have been those extremes and all sorts of things in between.  There has been Life there.  That is in order and to be expected.
Facebook and other social media has, of course, provided a window for me into some of what they’ve been through. The main consensus items from everyone seem to be that the MTA is infinitely worse, plus the Rent Is Too Damn HIGHER, and this and other things have made the town even more unlivable (and not in the way that every NYer constantly says that either…it’s actually being made unlivable).
So my “reappearance” has made many people ask, “What are you going to do now? Are you moving back?” The answer is I don’t know what the future will bring or where it will take me. I’m open to any number of possibilities and things I haven’t even thought about.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully acknowledge the Greatness of New York City; but, I was never one of those New Yorkers who thought that The City was the only place in the world to live.  New York is uniquely amazing and a place that I loved living in.  Period. End of story. That can’t be denied.  I could see myself being there again at some point. If I had unlimited funds (bahahahaha) I’d love to always have a place to call home there. But I don’t see Sodom-on-the-Hudson as the alpha and omega of life. I don’t know that anywhere is for me, personally.  So I can’t answer that one set of questions that I keep getting asked.
But I do know that my brain seems to have shaken itself from its four and a half year stint in Neutral and has remembered how to go into Drive…slowly. And I know that that’s a good thing and that I’ll try to figure something out in short order.
I do know myself a bit better, and I do know who my friends are a bit better, because of who’s been there for me and who hasn’t…and that’s as important to me as any sort of location and job that I need to find myself in.
That said, today there is only one place and one set of people on my mind. That’s just the way it is. It has to be that way. I spent as much of my adult life in New York City as I did anywhere else. There’s no way that I can’t have it and all of the inhabitants during my time there in my thoughts.
So I’m with you today, New York. I’m with you today, New Yorkers. I always will be.
Singned,
Just Another U. City Kid

Watch & Listen to The Show w/ Rod Milam from Saturday, October 10, 2015

This week on “The Show with Milam” here’s the music that I spun for you. You can watch and listen to the “action” until about 11am CDT on Sunday, October 11, 2015 by clicking here and following us on Periscope at http://periscope.tv/ucitykid88

Time Artist Song Album
10:05:00 Prince Raspberry Beret Around The World In A Day
10:08:00 Lenny Kravitz Are you gonna go my way Are You Gonna Go My Way
10:17:00 Living Colour Desperate People Vivid
10:19:00 Lenny Kravitz Is There Any Love In Your Heart Are You Gonna Go My Way
10:24:00 The Paragons The Tide is High On the Beach With the Paragons
10:27:00 Blondie The Tide is High The Best of Blondie
10:34:00 Talking Heads Once In a Lifetime (Remastered) (Live) Sand in the Vaseline
10:36:00 Elvis Costello Pump it up Pump It Up
10:42:00 Elvis Costello and the Roots Refuse To Be Saved Wise Up Ghost
10:15:00 Fiona Apple Criminal Tidal
10:53:00 Peter Martin Broadmoor What Lies Ahead
10:58:00 Jon Batiste and Stay Human Express Yourself (Say Yes) Social Music

In the coming weeks we’ll have interviews with some musicians and artists to add to the mix of music we do for you each Saturday morning from 9:00a to 11:00a (Central Daylight Time USA).

Remember to follow us on Periscope so that you can watch and comment as things happen with the rest of the world. Also, please “Like” us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ucitykid88 and “Follow” us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ucitykid88 so that you can put in your requests, questions, and comments.

St. Louis TV News Asleep At The Switch During State Of Emergency Call? (COMMENTARY)

Six pictures of media outlets in St. Louis, Missouri hours after a State of Emergency was called by the St. Louis County Executive, Steve Stenger. The top 5 are local terrestrial TV stations showing regular programming, and the bottom picture is a screen capture from Huffingtonpost.com reposting a tweet from the largest local public radio station commenting on the declaration of the SOE.

Six pictures of media outlets in St. Louis, Missouri on the afternoon of Monday, August 10, 2015, hours after a State of Emergency was called by the St. Louis County Executive, Steve Stenger. The top 5 are local terrestrial TV stations showing regular programming (Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil, Ellen Degeneres [a re-run], Family Feud, and Hot Bench), and the bottom picture is a screen capture from Huffingtonpost.com reposting a tweet from the largest local public radio station commenting on the declaration of the SOE. ©Rod Milam 2015

For a little over three years now I’ve been cable TV free…a cord cutter. After a 12 month weaning period, I paid for tons of programming that I didn’t need for years for the last time and immediately wondered why it took me so long to do so.  I did this while I was in New York City and had long since abandoned looking at local TV news (save NY1) in favor of online outlets and social media contacts for more relevant, up-to-date, and in-depth information.

When I returned to St. Louis after being gone for a bit over 14 years, I continued my relatively new rules regarding TV consumption:

  1. Only turn on TV for severe weather threats
  2. Only turn on TV for acute terrorist/civil unrest threats/transit events
  3. Only turn on TV for Cardinals playoff and World Series games
  4. Don’t bother with TV for almost anything else at all

I was in NYC around eight months after the September 11th attacks, I went through area closing blizzards and hurricanes, and I made it through multiple MTA shutdowns, blackouts, and World Series appearances during my Big Apple tenure, and I was able to pretty much follow these four rules even before I formalized them toward the end of my Astoria adventures.

Back in the St. Louis area after less than two years I’ve been through big ice storms, a record hail storm, a tornado touching down less than a quarter of a mile from home, near Biblical rainfall this past spring, all of the initial Ferguson activity less than eight miles away last year, and another playoff appearance by the Cards.  I still followed the rules.  I found out what I needed from TV news when it was urgent, but still got the bulk of my info elsewhere.

Now one year and one day after the killing of unarmed Mike Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and a half a day after overnight gun play between police and someone proximate to demonstrations from the day before in Ferguson, the St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger made a midday announcement that many of the one million plus residents of his county were under a State of Emergency because of the shooting incident from the night before and the protests and arrests of many people in Downtown St. Louis.

How did I find out about this SoE and the arrest and protest activity initially?  Facebook.  Where did I initially follow up to find out more information? Twitter.  What did I feel the need to do next?  Invoke Rule #2…turn on the local TV news.  What did I find on local TV channels hours after the announcement by the County Executive?  Non-sense.  As Public Enemy’s frontman, Chuck D., put it way back in the late 1980s, I found “Channel Zero”.

As of the 3 o’clock PM hour, more than two hours after the announcement and more hours than that after the protest arrests, ALL of the local TV stations with big news rooms must have felt that these events weren’t pressing or important enough to preempt the showing of their regularly scheduled programming. I turned on the 1920×1080 box and was greeted by the likes of old TV hot messes like “Jerry Springer” and “Dr. Phil”, some new-to-me hot mess called “Hot Bench”, and general innocuous fluff in the form of “Family Feud” and “The Ellen Degeneres Show” [a rerun].  I just caught the end of “Days of Our Lives” before the top of the hour and was stunned that it was both on during this time of unrest and on television STILL at all.

I had to take a picture of the screens to prove to myself and others that the big local TV newsrooms along with their parent stations combined their thought processes and wound up concluding that it was best to continue to “sell soap” instead of informing a total of nearly three million citizens that a huge swath of residents that their lives had been fundamentally changed by a government official in response to renewed civil unrest.

This isn’t to say that all local media ignored the story as it was happening. I snapped a screen shot of the largest local public radio station’s, KWMU, Twitter post that I saw, and I also saw a retweeted link from the St. Louis American, the largest weekly newspaper in the state which also focuses on the Black community.

Eventually the TV stations posted items on their websites on social media feeds, but that’s hardly the point. They’re huge local TV stations with the widest local reach.  Locals should be able to find out huge things like this from them on their largest platforms.  There should be no reason why I should see and hear about all of this first on large national cable news outlets and my friends in 5 different states on Facebook before that. These stations are chartered by the federal government to serve the public interest…so I can hardly think of many things more in the public interest than a State of Emergency declaration versus the possible 3,891st episode of the freakin’ Jerry Springer Show.

How seriously is anyone in the area supposed to take TV news channels seriously when they say that they want to convey and do what’s best for their viewers when they are quick to show “visually-attractive” fires during protests but pass off more “cerebral” announcements by officials of state-of-emergencies as something that can wait until the audience finds out which family knew that 54 out of 100 men found boxers the most comfortable form of underwear?  I would say here, but I don’t know if that’s against the rules of the State of Emergency because I’m still waiting to see when they’re going to talk about it on-the-air.

Musician John Bolduan In-Studio Guest from Bilbao, Spain Today!

We’re very happy to announce that we’re scheduled to have native U. City musician John Bolduan as a guest, in-studio, today for the next episode of “The Show with Rod Milam“.

Musician John Bolduan as he performed at The Focal Point in March of 2014. (Photo by © Rod Milam and seen as part of The University City Musician Documentary Project)

Musician John Bolduan as he performed at The Focal Point in March of 2014. (Photo by © Rod Milam and seen as part of The University City Musician Documentary Project)

John is a singer, guitarist, and song writer that currently lives in Bilbao, Spain and is back in his home town for a couple of weeks to visit family and to perform.  Click here to tune into the program today from 12:00 noon to 2:00pm on The U (UMSL Radio) for our chat with John and for a performance or two: http://streamer2.umsl.edu

Playlist for Episode 1, Volume 2 of “The Show with Rod Milam” – Original Broadcast: Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yesterday, was the official kickoff for Volume 2 of “The Show with Rod Milam”, and the debut on “The U“, student run radio on campus of the University of Missouri – St. Louis.  It was great to have this show back on-the-air after more than a 17 year absence.

A lot of fun was had and I just plain loved it!  and I reprised several of the segments of the program that were mainstays back in the 1990s: “A Prince, The Police, and A Posse”, “Make/Remake’, and “Free Samples”.  I also introduced a new segment that features musicians that are subjects of The University City Musician Documentary Project, of which there are more than 250 people identified in more than 15 different countries.  This week was music by “callers” (featuring Sara Lucas, UCHS c/o 1998) and “Kevin Batchelor and Grand Councourse” (featuring Kevin Batchelor, UCHS c/o 1979). I’ll be keeping this feature around for sure and expanding on it with some live phone or in-studio interviews playing on the weekly program.  Plus there was a huge mix of other music from as far back as 1975 to songs released in the last year.

Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to replay the entire show online at this time. So you’ll have to catch the program when it airs live.  I’ll work on doing a rebroadcast of the program at a different time on “The U”, but for now, just check below to see the playlist and the picture including album covers and pictures of the featured artists from U. City!

Musicians from University City, Missouri featured in Episode 1 of The Show: Sara Lucas (and her group "callers) and Kevin Batchelor (and his group "Kevin Batchelor and Grand Concourse).

Musicians from University City, Missouri featured in Episode 1 of The Show: Sara Lucas (and her group “callers) and Kevin Batchelor (and his group “Kevin Batchelor and Grand Concourse).

Playlist for Episode 1, Volume 2 of “The Show with Rod Milam” Broadcast on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 12:00pm-2pm CDT

Artist Song Disk
Prince Hot Thing Sign O’ The Times
The Police Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic Ghost In The Machine
A Tribe Called Quest Can I Kick It? Peoples’ Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm
Callers Howard 2 Hands Reviver
Callers Heroes Reviver
Elvis Costello Pump It Up Pump It Up
Elvis Costello and the Roots Refuse To Be Saved Wise Up Ghost
The White Stripes Icky Thump 10
Lenny Kravitz Is There Any Love In Your Heart Are You Gonna Go My Way
The Heavy How You Like Me Now How You Like Me Now – EP
Daft Punk Harder Better Faster Stronger Discovery
Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories Taffy Tails
Daft Punk Lose Yourself to Dance Lose Yourself to Dance – Single
Dwende Someone You Don’t Know Collective
Aerosmith Walk This Way Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits
Run DMC Walk This Way Raising Hell
The Winstons Amen Brother Amen Brother
LCD Soundsystem Dance Yrself Clean Dance Yrself Clean
Robert Randolph & The Family Band Squeeze UnClassified
Kevin Batchelor Leave It Alone Kevin Batchelor’s Grand Concourse
Kevin Batchelor Five Minutes Kevin Batchelor’s Grand Concourse
Joshua Redman Riverwide Momentum

 

TODAY: Final Test Run for “The Show with Rod Milam” from Noon to 2pm CDT (-5 GMT) (Music from the 1980s)!

http://streamer2.umsl.edu

Hey everyone! Rod here. Everyone around the world has heard a lot about St. Louis in the news over the past week and a half because of the issues going on in #Ferguson, just north and west of this picture of the city’s Gateway Arch (the US’ largest national monument).

Well, we won’t be talking about that this week (but who knows when we kick off “The Show” officially next Wednesday…), but I will be going on the air this week from 12:00 noon through 2:00pm CDT (that’s 1:00-3:00pm EDT and -5 GMT) and I’d love to have you along. Just click on this link and you’ll be able to hear everything from a browser, iTunes, mobile device, or Windows Media Player: http://streamer2.umsl.edu

I plan on bringing you the first “A Prince, The Police and a Posse” feature, “A Make/Remake”, and “Free Samples” in the mix of music that I do.  That and some other sounds from the 1980s should be enough to fill up our now confirmed weekly 2 hour slot in the middle of the week.

So I hope you join us today and spread the word to all of your friends about the program.  Follow us on all social media outlets too:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/ucitykid88
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ucitykid88
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Main Website: http://ucitykid88.com

Thanks and can’t wait to keep the tests running up to the official start!

A view of the Gateway Arch from the Metrolink going over the historic Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri.

A view of the Gateway Arch from the Metrolink going over the historic Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri.

How Citizens & Police In St. Louis Peacefully Handled A Large Protest In 1999 (audio)

In the last five days, Ferguson, Missouri, USA has played host to many scenes of violence involving citizens of the greater St. Louis region and the police from the city of Ferguson and those from the St. Louis County Police Department.  The initial incident that sparked subsequent protests and clashes with police was the Saturday shooting of an unarmed, Black teenager by an officer from the Ferguson police department.

Since that shooting, there have been peaceful protesters that have taken to the streets of the St. Louis County suburb that demanded answers to many questions from the police about the shooting.  Simultaneously, there have also been other individuals that have come to the town and caused large scale property damage and burglary during a vacuum in police presence.

Subsequently, there has been a consistent ratcheting up of tension between protesters/reporters on the scene of daily demonstrations and police as the local and county departments have increased both the number of officers in the area and the tonnage and strength of materiel.  As of the writing of this post, there is no reported movement by the police to stop the escalation of weaponry that they display or decrease it even while there has been no direct violence shown by protesters nor continued property damage by people from outside of the city.

I report the above as undisputed facts in what has been occurring without commentary.  The clashes between police and protesters has gone from peaceful daytime marches to tear gas being deployed to disperse residents of the area.  I will not introduce opinion (at this time) into how this has gotten this far down this road and what the outcome may be.

However, I was a reporter at CBS’ largest owned and operated radio station, KMOX, back in 1999 during the time of another protest that caused, arguably, a larger disruption to the entire St. Louis area that involved issues of race and received national attention.  During a summer protest 15 years ago that involved Reverend Al Sharpton, people walked onto one of the area’s main arterial highways during morning rush hour to demand more minority participation in construction projects.  This protest shutdown the highway for hours and caused major backups on all of the area roads.

But, in that demonstration, the interaction between the City of St. Louis Police Department, the Governor of the state, and the citizen protesters was totally peaceful, even while more than 100 arrests were made since the protesters were actually breaking the law by walking on and blocking the highway.  (The protesters in the past week have not been breaking any laws during their protests, but the looters clearly were.)

The message of disapproval was heard by the state from the citizen groups and changes were subsequently made.  Here are two reports (one live on the highway and one after the fact) that I made on the scene on the highway and back in downtown St. Louis.  First the beginning of the arrests, starting with Al Sharpton:

This clip is a post event report to the CBS network with finalized numbers and statistics surrounding the highway shutdown:

While these two protest scenarios are not totally analogous, they do share a good deal of overlap.  It also shows that it is possible inside of the entire St. Louis Metropolitan area to have large scale protests take place without the perpetration of violence by the police toward peaceful citizens or the committing of crimes by criminals that take advantage of decreased police attention.

I MAY come back to this blog with a much, MUCH longer and broader set of posts to contextualize some of the drama that is occurring now in St. Louis (because SO much is needed now), but I have not 100% decided to do so.  I want to make sure to separate my  opinion, as much as possible, from facts on the ground when talking about this very sensitive subject while providing as much information as possible to the people I know are reading and listening around the world to these events.

Feel free to spread this link, if you choose.

(h/t to KMOX and CBS)

How To Listen to “The Show with Rod Milam” Around The World (Wednesdays from Noon to 2:00pm CDT (GMT -5))

http://streamer2.umsl.edu
Hey all! Rod here…

I’m still in the “pre-season” section of getting the reboot of “The Show with Rod Milam” up and going online from the studios of “The U – at the University of Missouri-St. Louis”. That means for the next couple of Wednesday afternoons, I’ll be on the air with the program doing some sample versions of the program.

I’ll see how these new studios work and try out some segments that I may or may not use during the regular broadcast which is scheduled to “officially” start on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at Noon Central Daylight Time (USA) (GMT -5) and go for either 2 or 3 hours. I’ll have the exact number of hours that the program will last and some formatting worked out by the time we get fully up and running, but this is a great time to test things and get all of you fans on board and spreading the word.

You can help out and listen to the program before the official launch via any random web browser, iTunes, or Google Play and other devices by just putting in this link: http://streamer2.umsl.edu

If you give it a try now and you should be able to hear the program stream for the station. Please let me know if you’re able to hear the station in general, and the show in particular.

You can also help greatly this way…Follow/Fan/Like/Subscribe to “The Show with Rod Milam” everywhere and spread the word! Just remember “UCITYKID88”:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/ucitykid88
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ucitykid88
YouTube: http://youtube.com/ucitykid88
Instagram: http://instagram.com/ucitykid88
Tumblr: http://ucitykid88.tumblr.com
Main Website: http://ucitykid88.com

Thanks and can’t wait to keep the tests running up to the official start!