What kept me tossing & turning in sleepless wonder for many months after my sister was murdered was how sickeningly normal that day had started out. How horrifyingly clueless & unsuspecting I was that morning, Monday, Dec. 2nd, 2013, of events unfolding that would forever divide my life into two unspeakable, unimaginable, forever separate parts, known only as Before This and After That. I awoke that day to a gray, grimy, chilly Monday morning, fall in NY weather…nothing unusual in that. I got up at 6:30 to roust my two youngest sleepyheads outta bed and on to school (5 year old silly, happy, chatterbox Christian & 7 year old chatty, dramatic, singing princess Ciara). Both squabbled over tooth brushing and which snacks they would take to school…again, nothing out of order there. Spent the rest of the morning as many do: handling chores, laundry, appointments, cooking, worrying about bills and a silly argument I’d had w a close friend, all normal little details of Life…until it was time to pick up my tiny terror tots from school. Then it was up and in motion, checking the clock, grabbing my coat, phone, water bottle, keys, and out the door and on my way. Poor fool that I was…So sweetly clueless and blissfully unaware that this was the last hour of peace I would experience for a very, very long time. Now, looking back on that last hour of innocence, I savor those moments like the last slice of my favorite homemade pie. They were precious, those last few minutes before my world tipped, swerved, crashed & shattered into a thousand tiny, little pieces.

So there I stood with 2 or 3 hundred other tired, anxious, overworked parents…straining to hear over the roar of excited kids screaming & running around, eyes restlessly searching back n forth for my two brats…when my cell phone began humming & trilling over and over again, and a shiver & slight frown raced through my body as I noted the caller. It was my oldest child, then 17, who, together with my 15 year old son lived with my aunt Dee, the matriarch of our tiny, widespread, scattered family. At the time, my aunt and I were not on the best terms due to a family dispute, so the sight of 3 missed calls from my daughter and the phone continuing to ring off the hook told me instantly that something was not right. Though my oldest two and I loved each other dearly, phone calls never came in from them with such relentless dreaded repeat calls over & over…unless something terribly out of the ordinary had happened. As I stared at the phone, debating if I should call right back or take ten minutes to get the kids first, the phone lit up again as another call came in back to back,and without warning, I already dreaded picking up to answer and hearing whatever it was. My neck began to tighten with tension as I dragged my suddenly heavy finger to the SEND button to connect the call. Something deep inside my soul was already tightening up into a ball of unreasonable childishness, hollering out four words silently in my head over and over again…I Don’t Wanna KNOW! DO NOT Wanna Know!! NO! Don’t Wanna Know!! But that damn buzzing & chirping phone couldn’t be ignored anymore, so I answered with all the strength I could drag up in those last few precious moments, before being dragged down into the swirling pool of quicksand waiting on the other end of the line. I would have given anything to have been able to avoid the car crash I was quite suddenly yanked into. It was very much like being sideswiped on the freeway by a big rig, in a compact car with no airbags. Just because it wasn’t your fault, that didn’t mean that you weren’t going to pay in full, anyway. So I tapped the Answer button and reluctantly dragged up a worried sounding Hello?

“Something’s happened to Sheryl!” were the first words I heard. “She’s in the hospital and she’s had some kind of accident. They said you need to get there right away!” “What? What are you talking about? What the–? What happened?” was my response. An instant headache began pounding in the back of my head…and that ball of tension in my neck buried itself in deeper and settled in, like it knew it was going to be around for a long while. My first feeling was utter dread…followed by annoyance, confusion, then icy cold panic and fear. If they had called for me it had to be very, very Bad; as I had not seen my younger sister in six years, due to her freespirited, party hearty lifestyle. As her older, slightly more responsible sister, it galled me no end to bear silent witness to her careless attitude and happy go lucky, up today and down tomorrow and who cares either way lifestyle. Sheryl and I were a case study in contradictions. Like the sun and the moon, we were alike only in contrast. Sometimes it seemed that the only thing we shared in common was our mother’s bloodline. My only sister had reached awesome heights in her professional life that I could only marvel at and brag about (working for a huge investment firm with her own office and a personal secretary to screen her calls)…and yet sank into the depths of darkness and despair in her personal life (partying too much, picking men who often used or abused her, and eventually losing herself and losing custody of 3 beautiful children along the way). Though I was one of the few who knew that Sheryl laughed and joked and smiled away all the pain in her life as a defense mechanism, much like a happy go lucky puppy; and I could not and would not live like that. Thus we had gradually become different, distant, alienated, and then completely separated, following several arguments we had about how she was living and the effect it was having on her children. Party lifestyles and full time parenting don’t mix very well, much like oil and water. Now, years later after being cut out of her life here I was, being yanked back in to face another train wreck.

Maybe this latest mess will be the thing that motivates her to get her life back in order, I thought. Maybe we can finally become sisters again.  Just maybe she’ll be ready to get rid of whatever bum ass boyfriend she’s hanging out with and start fresh. I thought. Looking back now, something quite cold & harsh inside laughs at my hopefulness that day…because nothing on earth could have been further from the truth. I might as well have been whistling my way past the graveyard, trying to convince myself I wasn’t scared; because harsh reality was preparing to sucker punch me right in my face. It started when I called the number for the hospital emergency room my daughter gave me. She had no answers and no idea what had happened to Sheryl, so I figured I could get some info from the medical personnel. Wrong…wrong again. After identifying myself as my sisters next of kin, I spoke briefly with an obviously overloaded, overworked ER nurse, whose anxious tone sent butterflies leaping and twirling in my stomach. “YOU NEED TO COME HERE RIGHT AWAY, MISS! RIGHT AWAY! YOUR SISTER HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT! WE NEED YOU TO COME RIGHT AWAY! RIGHT AWAY!!” was all she would say, despite my repeated questions and verbal pressure. By the time I got the directions and hung up with her, I was frantic inside. Hurrying home with my 2 small kids in tow, my mind was a whirlwind of horrifying scenarios. Was it a car accident? Had she been beaten up? Shot? Stabbed? In a coma? What? What?? WHAT WAS IT? What Now? Then the phone rang again, my aunt calling this time, and the confusion began to clear up at her next words, while my world began to cave in. “Sheryl is dead, Crystal” she said, in a hushed tone of finality that left no room for denial. “Im sorry to tell you but she’s dead. I just got a call from the NY Organ Donors Association…Im sorry…but Sheryl’s dead.” For a long moment my throat closed up, and I could barely speak above a whisper. Again I asked what happened, and again received no reasonable answer. No one seemed to know what had happened…and I knew the only answers left were waiting for me at the Emergency Room. I phoned my dear neighbor and told him that I had to get to the hospital immediately because my sister was hurt bad and possibly dead, and I didn’t know what happened or why. Goodhearted as always, he volunteered to go along with me for support. So we dropped the kids off at my aunts house to avoid taking them along to the horror show, and took the long train ride out to the Queens hospital where my sister lay waiting.

Along the way my mind was swirling in agony. What had my sister gone to Queens and gotten herself into? Who had done this to her? Was she shot? Beaten to death? Tortured? By who? Why? What the hell kind of nightmare was I now about to face? Knowing nothing, I was terribly glad to have not made this horrible, final trip to face the unknown all alone. When my stop arrived, I shrank back and had to force myself to stand and exit the train. My legs were literally dragging, feet being forced by command to move forward, cuz I was dreading finding out the details and having to identify my sisters body. If I could have blinked myself into another part of the world, I Dream of Jeannie style, I would have. Already, the huge hole in the pit of my stomach told me this was going to be very, very bad. In a few short minutes we were inside the Emergency Room, talking to a couple of busy medical staff and ER nurses. The looks on their faces when I told them I was the next of kin made me feel no better. It was a look that said, Brace Yourself Cuz I Feel Sorry for You. All they would tell me was that she had been brought into the ER that morning, terribly beaten up, and died there shortly after. Inside I was alternately numb, frozen, frightened, angry and filled with dread. Finally they escorted us to the basement morgue. We were directed into a side room with a viewing window that made me cring inside. Suddenly I couldn’t quite breathe right, and wanted to scream and pull my hair out, cuz I knew what that terrible little viewing window was for. This was where I was going to see my sister after she had been beaten to death. Oh how I wanted to not have to do this…how I longed not to have to be the Responsible One and face my only sisters body in the finality of death. Anything…anywhere…anyhow, would have been better than this. But I knew better. No matter how much I dreaded it someone had to do it…and that someone horribly, terribly had to be Me. So when they finally wheeled a covered stretcher out and up to the window and unzipped that awful black body bag, I summoned all the strength inside me though I hated every minute of it, and forced myself to step up close to that death window and take a long look. Everything inside my mind was screaming NO NO NO Don’t Do It…but I knew I had to.

My first thoughts upon seeing my sisters face was: “THATS NOT MY SISTER! What the hell is going on here? Who the hell is that?!” The person lying on that stretcher couldn’t be MY Sister…Oh no, no no…they must have made a terrible mistake, this dead person was NOT, COULD NOT be my once vibrant, full of life lil sis. NO F—KING Way!!! “That’s Not MY Sister!!” I screamed at the medical staff hovering over the body, hating the awful look of pity in their eyes. “How do you know that’s her?! That CANT BE HER!! That’s not my Sister!!” Thinking they were making a terrible mistake, I began to argue with them. Suddenly I understood why they did this from behind locked doors and a tightly sealed window…cuz something inside me wanted to beat the hell outta anybody telling me that this lifeless log on that table was My Sister. Wanted to smash their fucking faces in till they stopped saying it and then beat a retraction and an apology out of them too. How dare you call that nightmare on that table my little sister. My mind refused to believe it. This bruised, hollow, broken shell of a body could not possibly be her. No, no, no. No way that this swollen, bloated, beaten, silent, bloody horror show could be my happy, laughing, smart, smiling,playful, life loving little sister. The person that I had known and loved was gone, gone, entirely gone, and nowhere to be seen. This could not be Sheryl. This had to be a terrible, terrible mistake, an error on someone’s part. Not one part of my mind or body could accept that this was my little sis. Someone was pulling a horrible, mind cracking, brain shattering and deadly joke on me. No, this could not be my little baby sister, whom I had babysat alone at age 7, when she was barely one years old. Who had cried for days when I moved out at 17 to live with my boyfriend and complete high school in peace away from our mothers self destructive domestic violence drama and drug addiction problems. Who had come to the birth of my first child and sneaked in a pastrami sandwich cuz I was so hungry prior to giving birth…then lovingly held a bucket under my head as I threw it up later on the birthing table. No this could not be my sister. Something inside my head cracked wide open and I realized that I was now standing on top of the table to get a closer look at the monstrosity these people kept saying was my sister, arguing with them to the point of insanity because I SIMPLY DID NOT BELIEVE IT. Could not believe it. There was nothing there that looked one bit like Sheryl at all. Not one bit.

My sister’s face was so swollen from the beating she had suffered that there was absolutely nothing there that resembled the vibrant, full of light person she had once been in life. In death she looked like a middle aged overweight Jamaican woman, nothing like herself at all. Her face was many shades darkened, almost blackened…filled with debris and dirt and blood and pain and suffering. Her mouth was shattered, lips bloody and swollen, cuts and bruises and savage marks of the beating she had suffered all over her once pretty, smiling face. She looked like something straight out of a horror movie. Like she was going to sit up on the table with that monster face and tell me “See, Crystal? See what happens to little sisters who don’t have their big, bad big sis around to protect them?  See? If only you had protected me from myself better…this never would have happened. YOU are to blame too, for not being there to stop this. Now u see what happens. Right? Right. Remember that it’s your fault too for not being there and never forget that for the rest of your life. Look at how badly you failed at protecting me. Now you pay the price. Look at what you let happen. Right? Right. Now you take a good look at how bad you let me down.  Remember that.” My mind was a whirlwind of desperation and panic and despair.  Feeling like I was breaking inside, I searched that terrible face for some sign that this was indeed my own sister. How could this be? Was somebody trying to drive me insane, playing a terrible trick designed to drive me right out of my mind? Everywhere my eyes searched I saw nothing that reminded me of my sister, not one thing. She was beaten down, battered and swollen, with horrible black and blue bruises covered in drying blood everywhere and huge lumps and bumps on her head.  And inside my own head I was screaming and screaming, wishing I could wake up from what had to be a horrible nightmare. Please, someone tell me that this is some kind of devilish prank…tell me anything. Cuz that horrible dead broken woman could not be my sister. No, it could not be true. Suddenly very angry, I began recycling the argument with the morgue staff, demanding they tell me how they knew for a fact this person was my sister. One said something about the Benefit card they found in her pocket, identifying her…and my heart sank. Sheryl was always known to keep her card on her pretty much at all times. When she was not working, it was her only financial lifeline. Still I did not want to believe it. Again I forced myself to search that nightmarish face, seeking something, anything that would tell me for sure that this was indeed Sheryl. Then I noticed that beneath the blood and dirt and savage remains of the terrible beating she had suffered, there was my sisters hairline. Though the hair was a little shorter than I remembered, and clotted with blood and dirt…it was indeed my sisters hairline. Something only a sister who loved you dearly would know and notice. Then I jumped off the table, screaming “Take It Away! Take It Away!”…and instantly felt filled with self loathing, hating myself inside for having called my sister an IT. Cuz I knew at that moment beyond a shadow of a doubt…yes, that horrible nightmare on that stretcher in that bodybag was her. It absolutely definitely was Sheryl. Something shattered and broke inside my head, leaving behind a horribly cold, numbing space. Suddenly it felt like the walls were closing in on me, and I could not get out of that terrible room of death quick enough. Yet my body and feet did not want to obey me, and I could only manage to move very slowly, with the broken gait of a very old person. I suddenly felt older than the hills, and like I wanted to do nothing more than lean against the puke green paint on the hospital walls and become a part of the wall. Anything was preferable to having to think or move or even live through that day. Eventually my friend gently led me down the hall and out into the cold, fresh air. Without his calm, steadying presence I might have passed out, so overwhelmed was I at what I had just bore witness to. Within a few minutes my despair began to turn into boiling hot anger. I needed answers, and I needed them now. This awful nightmare visited upon my sister could not go unpunished and unanswered. There was no room left for anything else except finding out what had happened to her…and why.

It didn’t take long to get some answers from friends and family. As with all bad news, the gossip and rumor mills immediately began working overtime…but this time there was plenty truths there to pick and choose from, and pretty much all of it was bad news. After calling Aunt D to give her an update (Yes, its Sheryl, for sure…and yes, its very bad…worse than u could ever imagine) I called Sheryl’s best friend, Nicole. If anyone on the planet would know more about what was going on with her at the time of her untimely death, it would be Nicole. They were close as two crossed fingers, always had been as long as I could remember, going back to teenage years. No one on the planet knew more about what was going on with my little sis than she did. They shared each others lives and held each others secrets. Whatever had happened to Sheryl, my gut told me that Nicole held the keys to finding out more…and in the end it only took two phone calls to find out the ugly truth of what had happened to her. Nicole was in deep mourning, as I knew she would be. She and Sheryl had been so tight that they were thought to be sisters, and in fact they were like sisters in every way possible. It never bothered me because anyone with two eyes could clearly see they loved each other like sisters and always would, no matter what. Now that closeness gave me instant access to who and what had been going on in my sisters life prior to her death. Between fighting back tears and sobs, Nicole told me the awful truth of what had happened the night before my sisters death, and who she had been involved with. Sheryl had been living out in Queens with some bum ass guy, though all she had ever mentioned to me years ago was that she had “a boyfriend who lived in Queens”. Now I was finding out that it was a whole lot more going on than that. Allegedly there had been a threesome type relationship going on between him, Sheryl and his live in lady during the so-called “good times”, and plenty physical and verbal abuse in between the bad times. As I listened to Nicole talk it finally became Crystalclear to me why I could never get the truth out of my sister about what was going on in her life, during our few brief phone calls over the years. Who in their right mind would want to admit to their older, disapproving sister that they were involved in a silly fantasy relationship with a man and his live-in woman? It was a ludicrous, alternate lifestyle choice that could only end in bitterness, anger, and problematics for one, two, or all three persons involved. Anyone with two eyes could have seen that coming…but how had it all ended in my sister’s death? Then Nicole dropped a bombshell or two or three on Me. “It was her boyfriend that did it!” she yelled down the line into my ear. “I know he did it! Cuz he called me last night, screaming and cursing about her! Told me to say goodbye to your sister, cuz Im gonna kill her!! And now the next day, Sheryl’s dead? He really did this to her, too…” and she broke down sobbing again.

My mind was a whirlwind of toxic knowledge I had never known about my sister and her relationship, now I had to know more. Despite her grief, I pressed Nicole for answers, and got more than I ever, ever wanted to know. Allegedly the abuse of my sister had been going on in the relationship for years, during much of those long years that she had stayed away from the family. That sounded exactly like Sheryl. Who would want to show up around their nosy and inquisitive family beat up and beat down, having to dodge questions about how it happened and who did it? Over the years her abusive boyfriends had blackened her eyes, wrenched her arm out of the socket, and slapped her around…but that abuse was taken to the lowest and highest heights possible when she became involved with Bish–. Apparently, though his woman did not agree with the arrangement, she reluctantly participated, secretly hating my sister all the while. When she complained, according to Nicole, he told her in front of my sister that “She could leave if she wanted to, but Sheryl was staying no matter how she felt about it.” Then my sister got a tattoo of his wifes pet name for this asshole to celebrate her birthday, Oct. 27th. Somehow that tattoo became the boiling point of the whole toxic relationship, incensing both Bish–and his nutty lady. “They kept shouting on the phone that ‘This is serious!’ Nicole recalled…”And he kept saying how she was out in the street disrespecting him with that tattoo on…and a whole lot of other nonsense and shouting and stuff. When I asked to speak to Sheryl he put the phone to her ear, but I couldn’t hear her at all or get any response when I spoke to her”. Now I finally had a clear picture of what had happened to my sister. The remaining details were equally appalling, which I got in the next few days from the police and further conversations with Nicole and the media. Allegedly, after hanging up the phone on Nicole, these two horrifying morons had taken turns beating Sheryl to death with their fists, a bottle, anda long metal paint roller, throughout the night. She was even burned with a cigarette on her body. They then went to sleep, leaving her unconscious and unresponsive. The next morning they decided to take her to the local hospital, and told the medical staff that they had found her in the street like that, a stupid story that instantly fell apart when detectives showed up and began questioning the woman, who had been left behind at the hospital like trash by her “man”. Upon going to the street where they claimed to have found her, dectectives realized that there was no sign of a struggle or a fight there…no blood, no broken glass, no nothing. So they took the woman into custody, pressed her for more details, and her story fell apart like wet tissue paper. Two weeks later they took him into custody too, catching him after he had fled to Pennsylvania. None of that made me feel any better…cuz no matter what, my sister is forever gone.

The next few days were like taking a weekend trip and making a wrong turn that landed me in the waiting room to Hell.  Suddenly I was dealing with all sorts of responsibilities I’d never dealt with before. Organ donation workers kept calling asking for permission to remove and use my sisters body parts and organs, family kept calling not to console me, but to insist upon their own personal beliefs regarding my sisters final placement, and then the worst of all, I had to go to the funeral parlor to handle paperwork and funeral service details. Thankfully a close friend of my sister took it upon herself to handle as many of the details as she could, and even brought me to the parlor in a car she rented, but the worst was yet to come. As we waited for the funeral parlor staff, I told her that I wanted to see the picture she had taken of my sister when her body had arrived at the parlor. Warily, she took out her phone and asked if I was ready. I said yes, steeled my nerves and looked at the picture of my sister in death…and immediately regretted it. The vicious, violent damage she had suffered was overwhelmingly clear to see, and worst of all the  swelling had gone down, and it was clear to see that this was my sister…horrifyingly clear. I could no longer hold it together…I lost it. Asking my sisters friend to call Nicole, I took the phone and  began screaming insanely down the line, demanding that she give me the address of that house of horrors so I could burn it to the ground. I was jumping up and down in the street in front of the funeral parlor, screaming at the top of my lungs at her, cursing, crying and alternately begging and demanding to know where it was located. At that moment I was almost psychotic. My sisters friend came out and grabbed and held me until I came back to myself….and when my mind cleared I realized to my horror that I had actually peed on myself in rage. In fact I was so angry, that one man crossing the street nearest to me  as I exploded stood completely still and then shrunk back with an expression on his face like he expected me to attack him at any moment. Remembering that photo, which I kept so that no one will ever forget what happened to my sister, still haunts me to this day. My hands still shake whenever I touch the file folder I keep my sisters keepsakes in from her funeral in….including that horrifying picture.

Now months later I look back on my sisters’ untimely death with a whirlwind of mixed emotions. Sometimes I’m boiling mad…angry, vengeful, disgusted, disappointed in her bad choices, and hurt too, because we will never ever have another chance to become closer than we were. Other times I feel numb and lost…adrift in a sea of disbelief, floating by in a cocoon of warm blankness that cushions me from the awful horror of my sisters death. I gave grave and serious thought to murdering the two clowns responsible for her death had they ever been given bail and released…but that never happened. Both were denied bail, and I never had to take that road, which could have lead me directly to a Life sentence. I thought the horrifying drama was on its way to being over but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I did almost have a breakdown exactly one week after my sisters death. The following Monday, Dec 9th, 2013, I was awakened by an emergency phone call from my best friend Sam (name changed). Still groggy, I almost fell out of bed when she hollered down the line that her boyfriend had just choked her out in a fit of rage and completely destroyed her apartment, after she told him she didn’t want to see him anymore. He then demanded that she give him money, and ripped her fanny pack off her waist when she refused. Scared for her life, Sam agreed to go with him to take money off her debit card, fooling him just long enough that he stepped out her front door, at which point she locked it. Then he began kicking her door in. Terrified, she called me while leaning against it on the other side, desperately trying to keep the door from caving in…and with my heart in my throat, I begged her to call the police, before he could break the door down. Unbelievably, I also had to call the police on her behalf, because it took more than 30 minutes before anyone arrived to help her. By the time they showed up, he had calmed down, and according to Sam, the two officers (who appeared to be from India, where women are abused and beaten regularly) took the whole situation very lightly, and laughingly advised her attacker to “go take a walk”, dismissing his brutal attack and making no attempt to arrest him. As soon as they left he returned to the front door, demanding to be let in. Sam called me again, we called the police again, and by the time they arrived he was gone…but in my gut I knew he wouldn’t stay gone for long. I directed Sam to take a cab directly to my home after the 2nd set of officers left, which may have saved her life. As soon as she arrived, we began discussing what she should do. Sam was reluctant to call her boyfriends parole officer and make a report, but I insisted that she do it. After all, with no report, how could she be safe if he ever tried to hurt her again? It would be a case of her word against his. Eventually she reluctantly agreed, and we made the call together. Thankfully, his parole officer took the situation seriously, and within a short while appeared to take an official report. During the interview the boyfriend kept calling her phone over and over, demanding that she meet up with him. As they spoke, Sam was horrified to realize that he had managed to break into her apartment and was now calling from her own home. She and the parole officers listened in as he claimed that he had gone back into her apartment to “clean up” the mess he had left that morning while destroying all her belongings. Following the parole officers instructions, Sam pretended that she was on the way back to her apartment, and the parole officers went instead. About a half hour later they called Sam, and I watched the color drain out of her face and she began shaking. “They caught him in my apartment…” she said, her voice dripping with horror and fear. “They found him hiding in my closet with a huge knife.” Worst part was, only an hour ago I’d had to convince Sam not to return to the apartment while she was waiting for the parole officers to arrive. She wanted to go back home and clean up the mess, which I was dead set against until he had been caught. Had she ignored my warnings, Sam probably would not have made it out of that apartment alive. Shaken to the core by the very real possibility that my best friend could have been killed by her boyfriend, just one week after my sister was murdered by her boyfriend in an abusive, self destructive relationship; I could take no more of being a part of other peoples wrong choices. After a couple of months of watching Sam dismiss the whole situation and floating along in denial, foolishly determined to hang on to the apartment where she was almost killed, though the owners wanted her out because (according to the parole officers) she had been inviting a child molesting predator into a building that was a safe haven for abused women, we ended our friendship of over 30 years. Sam was completely dismissive of the fact that she had almost lost her life and unknowingly put her mom and myself in danger by introducing us to the monster she was too foolish to see right in her own bed…but I could not go through another round of insanity and violence for her or anyone else. This was not the first time Sam had been in a dangerous, abusive relationship, and I could not stomach witnessing another one down the road. In years past, her mother had rescued her from a violent relationship, and her sister and her sisters best friend had rescued her from other abusive men as well. Now it was my turn to play Rescue Ranger, and one week after my own sister’s death I was in no shape to continue being a part of anyone else’s self destructive relationship patterns and life choices. When Sam began to act as though she was angry at me for being right all along about her choices in men (since I had told her after my first introduction to her guy, Hakim, that I saw “danger and craziness in his eyes” and that she needed to get rid of him immediately before something very bad happened), it became clear that our time together was pretty much over. Why she could not face the fact that she had brought yet another predator into her life, and risked not only her own life, but all of ours too, by introducing us to him, I don’t know…but the truth can sometimes be hard to face and I had definitely had enough of it all. Those who fail to listen and remember are doomed to repeat, but Sam was lucky. Sometimes foolish folks don’t get another chance…like my sister.

Now, neither my sister or my best friend in my life, and I have no other choice except to go on, looking towards a brighter day and trying to create something good out of a very bad, nightmarish situation. After all, there are my children, and my sister’s 3 children to keep moving forward for. Hoping to find a means to bring big smiles back onto these innocent children’s faces. They are the only ones left who count, now. One thing that all of us who knew my sister personally knew was how much Life Sheryl had within her. She was troubled, she had many personal problems, and didn’t always make good choices…but that wasn’t all there was to Sheryl. She was also a whiz at mathematics, a self taught speed reader, and an excellent cook. She was always lighthearted, fun and funny, and full of jokes and comic relief. Sheryl lit up a room when she walked into it…her smile was brilliant and silly and beautiful, and it will always be missed. No matter how bad things were in her life, she always tried to laugh it all away, and downplay her pain. What I miss most about my sister is seeing that bright eyed smile and hearing her joyful, silly laughter filling the room. Though we were as different as night and day, that was the one thing I always wished I had that my sister owned…the ability to enter a room, a space, any place…and light it up with her larger than life personality and 100 watt smile…and I will forever miss that. And her. Most important, remember her horrifying fate if you know anyone in an abusive relationship, and what happened to my best friend…and pass this word to the Wise on to them. You might be called a nosy know-it-all and told to mind your own business…or you just might be saving their life..

Exerpt from the upcoming true life saga “SLIDING DOWN SUGAR HILL”, by Crystal Outerbridge



I lived a thousand miles of Life in Almond Eyes & cinnamon Skin,

With an extra pair of Extra Careful Eyes hidden deep within…

Sometimes it guides or corrects me, instructs me &  Protects me…

from lame game the Predators play as they stalk their clueless prey.

They slip n slide right on by, with manipulations both slick & sly…

And talk shit & laugh loudly as clueless sheep pass right on by…

Never realizing how I Spy the wolfish nature hid within their eyes…

That I see the nosy, hawkish maneuvers they try so hard to hide…

The Who’s & Whats & When & Where & dont forget the Why’s.

The truth is so much Deeper than some sheep may realize…

I know exactly why these human wolves howl & & whine & cry…

Why they dance & spin & laugh & Grin & Tell Another Lie.

How easy they trap & Distract U from seeing the predator inside.

The crooked Looks they try to hide as clueless sheep pass right on by…

I know what happens to those sheep who dont know the company they keep…

For I, too own & utilize a sharp, wise pair of PredatorVision Eyes…

Hidden beneath a cool, calm, shy, easygoing cover in disguise.

As I observe corrupted Predators Stalking after their next Prey…

My direct style brings shame to their eyes & sometimes they Go Away…

But most dont care & stay & play, becuz they love to Catch & Chase.

Predators love our country…how sex addictions influence everything…

Homegrown through silence, sex violence, & Porn Philosophy…

Hey, you know its True…cuz it’s all over the place.

I see my people becoming corrupted, and want to shout & cry…

Cities filled with thugs poisoning children, like demons in disguise…

I see predators pretend to be very good friends, while children cringe inside…

Jerry Sandusky?  Thats not new…He’s Just One Who Knew Well How to Hide…

That hidden crime will never  Go Away until it’s chased, faced, dealt with & realized…

Predators, Net Porn, Alcohol, Drugs, Credit Cards & Gambling Highs…

Are taking this once great country on a crazy wild rollercoaster ride…

While Predators stalk prey & phonies grin & laugh & smile so wide…

But their phony baloney Lee Press-On Smiles never quite reach their eyes…

How can our children learn to thrive with such terrible corruption in disguise?

And dont just take my word for It…Look around with your own two Eyes…

Corruptions replaced Innocence, Goals replaced with games, sex & Lies…

Make sure its not your child devoured alive by grinning wolves in disguise…

Know the signs and teach your child to See predators with their own 2 Eyes.

Song of the Day…”Where I’m From….(Marcy Son)…by Jay Z

Sharp young wolves disguise their claws these days…

Behind cash and cars, clothes, and games they play.

Their targets are:  Our children, our trust, our credit and our cash.

Hiding behind electronics to chase a vic or new piece of azz.

Online they pretend to be giants, players, head honchos and C.E.O.’s

In real life they barely pay their own bills, that’s how it really goes.

Who are these cold, calculating young women & slick, predatory Men?

Who put such Negative values in place while training and raising them?

Do You know what I now Know?  Do You know what I now See?

Predators prowl while parents raise young wolves,

to chase & catch & use clueless young sheep.

Ever notice when the mess explodes & everything goes down,

The young wolf’s clueless parents are never, ever around?

They duck & they dodge, and throw up plenty excuses & lies,

To cover up the slime trail of their young wolf in disguise.

But here’s a crystal clear clue that one day may help you

To prevent your child from becoming a target too.

You can always recognize a new wolf in disguise…

No matter the fancy clothes, fancy cars or fancy lies.

They can’t hide the truth lurking deep within their Eyes.

Their eyes turn from normal to hard & cold, and appear so very deep.

Of course their eyes are deep…thats where you’ll find secrets & lies they keep.

Wolves stories are often told loud, with much laughter, and very grand.

They may try to diss you or impress you, or play nice & hold your hand.

They are full of big plans that their last few Exes “did not understand”.

When asked for specifics, young wolves talk vague to dumb young sheep.

And find a way to change the subject, so they’ll never face the heat.

They are full of endless compliments & big neon plastic smiles.

To gain your trust & lower your guard, they will go that extra mile.

Meantime, ask yourself this direct question, all of the while:

I wonder how many secrets are hiding behind that distracting smile…?

Then take whatever they have already told you & run it through your mind.

If you are not a clueless sheep, answers won’t be too hard to find.

Check out their online profiles & check criminal backgrounds, too.

Check credit reports, marriages, divorce (do they support kids, too?)

You think:  Why should I do that behind their back, if I really love my boo?

Cause if you’re not careful too, the predator’s next game might be On You.

Then after gathering all that info your sweetie would never share with you…

Cross check with everything they have said & do a quick review.

Hopefully you wont be too surprised, to find the truth behind a predator’s lies.

Some predators are born & some are made…They all have to go.  It’s not a test to grade.

Stop being passive, clueless sheep, while young wolves prey on more kids each week.

Remember each night that so many children will NEVER make it back HOME.

While predators smile & devour someone else’s child, like an ice cream cone.

Don’t take my word for it at all, if you really choose not to.

Just ask Jennifer Ann Crecente…if she were alive she would surely tell you.

The young wolf she loved blew her head off, thats what he decided to do.

Know this:  We can teach young wolves to fear, and to leave our kids alone…

Or don’t care & keep living clueless, while more sheep don’t make it back home.

Song of the Day…”Wolves in Sheep’s Clothes” by Fabolous

Is it just me, or are we now living in an age where almost everything is considered to be disposable property…including other people?  It seems our friends, families, co-workers, lovers, even whole life histories are capable of being reviewed, revised, distorted, and deleted.  In fact, some dispose of themselves, as well:  routinely creating online profiles, lives and personal histories that bear no resemblance to true life.  At first glance it sounds like it could almost be fun.  I mean, hey, who wouldn’t like to be able to snap their fingers and make a few people disappear from their lives at the speed of light?  Like that obnoxious ex who shows up at Your family’s functions to put on a slick, phony act or start some brand new drama?  The neighbor who keeps “borrowing” power tools, cash or other expensive items & then conveniently “forgets” to return them?  The family member with the endless sob stories that always end with You reaching for your wallet or checkbook, just to get rid of them?  Or that unbearable boss or co-worker or bully who makes your day harder just by showing up & zeroing in on You?  Sure, we’d all like to remove a few people like that from our lives.  Life is too short to put up with negative nonsense without any kind of improvement to the situation…still, I’m referring to an entirely different phenomenon.  The physical and psychological convenience we gain by living through so many high speed electronic devices is also sucking away our care & concern for how we interact and behave with others, making it easy to ignore the negative ripple effect our self centeredness can create in people’s lives.  “Looking Out for Number One” has taken on a whole new meaning in our high speed, self centered world.

Character building qualities like LOYALTY, HONESTY, SELF RESTRAINT, DISCIPLINE, HONORING COMMITMENTS, DEDICATION & CONCERN FOR OTHERS are now tossed aside and trampled by an overwhelming fascination with satisfying ourselves and our own interests.  Not everyone behaves this way, but far more people are focused completely on satisfying themselves than those who are not; thus tipping the scales towards the extra selfish reality that now defines American society.  Even our technology is equipped to put vast amounts of distance between ourselves and the damage that mindless,self centered actions can sometimes cause.

Case in point:  The American fascination with cyber sexuality, which is permanently transforming & impacting our communities and our lives; and not in a good way, either.  Truth is, it’s killing our children’s innocence & choking the life out of once thriving family units by creating extreme sexual fixations in young men & prostitute/porn star lifestyles in ignorant, gullible young women…while churning out new strains of STD’s, wicked sexual addictions & predatory, abusive behavior all candy coated and presented as “Fantasy” and “Adult Entertainment”.  It’s amazing how sick this so called “entertainment” has become.  The days of the occasional soft core fake sex scene on the Playboy channel are looooonnnng goneeee.  Now, High speed, instant access to any & everything via computers and the Net feed addictions to instant gratification and self centered, self gratifying behavior patterns, and has forever altered how we socialize, live our lives, interact with others and what actions and attitudes are being given top priority.  I know that these are tools of technology, and just like any other tool can not direct the actions of the user…still it seems we have provided ourselves with the most direct way to bring the predators closer to their prey.  Instant access and high speed connections have opened the door to all manner of predatory behaviors:   imes:  online bullying and stalking, chat line sex abuse, identity theft, banking and credit card scams, stock and mortgage fraud, con men and predatory online dating, extremely graphic porn and sex addictions, child sex abuse and sex trade, sales and fake charity scams, Facebook wars & Craigslists scams, and assorted schemes of all kinds.  The Internet is a virtual battlefield, and we are all capable of being sucked into one target zone or another, if not vigilant. “Enter at your own risk” now takes on a whole new meaning, when it comes to the virtual world…because online, almost anyone is capable of becoming a pirrhana.  It’s the anonymity of the Net that can bring out the worst secret behaviors and habits, and our communities and family units are beginning to clearly reflect the negative effects of this toxic poison.

We have now grown comfortable with a toxic combination of factors that is highly effective at dismissing, minimizing & depersonalizing significant relationships, friendships, business partnerships & our family units in the most casual, careless manner possible.  It’s shredding the niceness out of us all, and making it quite all right to dispose of people once considered vital, without a backwards glance.  This ongoing fascination with pleasing & satisfying ourselves at the speed of light is also removing some very necessary parts and pieces of our life connections and leaving drama, chaos & mess behind.  It’s family, community & relationship shredding at it’s worst, and we all probably have a few of these “disposable” elements at hand in our high speed lives.  It’s becoming the New American Way:  Creating disposable friends, families, relationships and business practices…and all at the click of a keyboard, mousepad, cell phone voicemail or e mail.  A quick & convenient way to use & abuse multiple persons in our lives, and all without getting our own hands dirty, either.  Our young people are not the only culprits…in some cases, they are victims of today’s disposable lifestyles & of adults who couldn’t care less, so long as they get what they want in the end.  Other times they are the perpetrators, being trained by our American culture and lifestyles to value nothing more than themselves; a self defeating practice that is creating some very ugly new realities in all our lives.  You don’t have to take my word for it…just look around at the chaos being left behind in the wake of family and community destructive behavior patterns taking place all around our country, such as:

Disposable relationships:  Currently known as “casual dating/playing the field/keeping my options open/single&ready to mingle, etc…”  These high speed, instant relationships are a favorite tool of Serial Daters & Repeat Offender Players, Love Em& Leave Em Artists, Sex or Porn Addicts, & Addled Wanna-Be Thugs/Pimps/Players/&Other Assorted Sleazy Predators, People Users, & Emotionally Closed & Unstable human trash.  These sexual zombies are dedicated to One Thing & One Thing Only:  It’s called “the Next One.”  I fully believe in praising our counrty as the “land of the free & the home of the brave”…but some where along the way we’ve also become a toxic breeding ground for sex predators hunting our children as sex prey.  They troll shopping malls & college campuses, Internet chat rooms & dating sites, fish for their prey via Facebook/My Space/Twitter and other social networking tools, hang out by schools and on streetcorners…always on the lookout for “Mr. or Miss Next One”.  They can be pushy and persistent, or charming and attentive while pursuing their prey, immediately attempting to create a facade of “instant intimacy”…and may insist upon being responded to more quickly and consistently than they will ever respond back to You.  If sex follows, demands may be made before/during/or afterwards that far exceed any true level of intimacy and closeness that could reasonably be achieved in such short periods of time.  This new breed of predator can be male or female, young or old, black or brown or white…but they all have one hallmark in common:  A need for you to jump all in at high speed, act now & ask questions later.  But later is usually too late…because by then it’s “Presto!”  “Change-O!” after the sexual attraction has cooled off…suddenly so does the constant attention and desire for the “instant” relationship.  Grand plans & preparations are usually “no longer possible” or dismissed altogether in pursuit of fresh, new targets & victims to scam. These disposable “love affairs” usually end poorly:  ignored phone calls, sudden disappearing acts & excuses, unpaid loans & unplanned pregancies left behind, and then, eventually it’s “On to the Next One”…leaving behind std’s & shameful abortions, or struggling single parent households & emotionally damaged, fatherless children; terribly confused as to why their parents now despise each other so much.  Not a good start for any child, and yet this is now a commonplace occurence in many American households.     

Disposable parenting:  Mothers and fathers abandoning their children to be raised by one overworked, overstressed, overextended, exhausted parent is now the new American Way, and our young people are growing up detached, distant, unhappy, unsupervised, unstable, emotionally unprepared, & within ready reach of a variety of mind numbing/life altering addictive substances, activities & a flood of sexually overloaded imagery, as a result of this all too common practice.  Being a parent for 18-21 years is now viewed as a casual choice, instead of a responsibility; as an option, instead of an obligation…and our children are growing up far less balanced and much more unstable, unprepared for adulthood and angry.  Many feel cheated out of a stable family life, unwanted, denied of love and devotion and protection, and develop a hard, sugar, alcohol, sex and drug candy-coated outer shell to deal with the disappointment.  School is now a place where babies are born in bathrooms & teachers pick out students to have sex with, or hadn’t you noticed?  Sadly, disposable parents usually don”t know much about who, what , when, where, why or how their disposable children are doing/or whom they are doing it with/to/or following the direction of. (Are you hearing Me, Cousin Barry?  If not, then read it twice cause you’re slow, I know…)  A child is going to follow someone’s guidance & advice along the way to adulthood…and if that advice is from anyone other than Mom & Dad, then Just Who Might That Be? Creating disposable children & abandoning family units is the All American Crime of the Century.

Then there is the brand new frontier of disposable friendships:  powered by the Net, maintained by Twitter & texts and terminated by status changes, de-friending & number blocking.  Is it just my point of view, or are people becoming comfortable with NOT facing each other anymore?  Comfortable with hiding behind machines and electronic devices and using them to do our dirty work at times to the point of utter dependency and complete emotional detatchment?  I mean, it’s always easier to diss/dismiss/use/abuse/impose upon/or dispose of people through the safety and comfort of a keyboard or a mousepad, than face to face and in person, isn’t it?  I once received several insulting emails from a friend of over thirty years, denouncing me as a being “not a real friend” and “friendless….because of the way you talk to people” and on and on just like that, for several more texts until I responded that I could easily come to see her face to face to resolve the issue, a circumstance that she wished to avoid at all costs.  And what was my crime of the century that my once best friend was condemning me for?  I had the nerve to expect the same care & concern for my life issues & daily grind that I showed for hers, and for this self centered Miss that was a problem.  Eventually I picked up on the fact that she only contacted me whenever she had an issue in her life to discuss, or wanted a favor or money from Me.  Food, clothes, roof over her head, a computer to play games and check her email on, gifts, loans, cash, shoulder to cry on or lean on or whatever, that was all I had become to her…just another resource to use and discard when done.  All that I was to her after a thirty year friendship…and yet she was quick to label me as a “bad” friend.  Really?  Well, then what kind of friend was I when I was doing all that stuff for her?  Yet I couldn’t get a return phone call from her for hours or days, if I called with a problem of my own.  Though she had her own place for 2 years now, Miss Thang has never invited me over for a home cooked meal, despite the fact that I’ve fed her hungry azz many times and took her in when her own man was unwilling to (and covered every expense while she paid for nothing).  Bad friend, huh…?  I tried to talk with her about the growing distance between us and how it seemed she had returned into my life after many years apart just to selfishly used me…but I could see she really wasn’t listening.  It was a lot easier to simply nod her head & pretend to agree, and then ignore me until the next time she needed something…and send a text or two in the meantime feigning interest, or dismissing my concerns.  When she began making vague references to being too busy to catch up, calling only to dump her problems on my ear, and communicating by careless texts, I had finally had enough.  Though we parted on cordial terms & promised to stay in touch, really it’s pretty much over.  I can’t accept being used and dismissed by a once close friend, and she cant accept that I won’t go along with her new operating system…friendship by text & phone, with favors handed out on demand.

I have learned something through this life lesson, though…personal relationships, friendships, healthy family units & successful communities cannot be held together or maintained via texts, and Twitter, nor by emails & voicemails, or occasional phone calls.  The glue & fabric of our society is being shredded, ripped, torn apart & disposed of so easily by our willingness to embrace these self absorbed, self centered, selfish behavior patterns.  Friends, families, communities, thriving businesses and intimate relationships of all kinds are being tossed aside & trivialized at the click of a mouse and a keypad.  To Delete or Not to Delete…that is the Question.  Is it really…?  To Friend or Unfriend.  To send to Voicemail or just Block Number altogether.  To text or Not to text.  To Twitter or to Facebook or to My Space or on to whatever is the next best way to distance us from facing one another.  To distance us from facing sometimes painful realities.  To help us maintain a pain-free, comfortable distance from the wreckage we sometimes leave behind in the lives of people who are or were close to us, physically or emotionally.  It’s so much easier to use or abuse that way, and then hit the Delete or Recycle button n dispose of our untidy messes, isn’t it?  Much easier to take advantage of, fool, con, or diss and dismiss unsuspecting folks minutes or miles away, without missing a beat in our own self absorbed lives.  Meaningful relationships with people you value require far more effort than this to continue on and to thrive.  When treated as if disposable, they can easily downturn & take a nosedive…

Song of the Day…”About Her” by Malcolm McClaren,    “Friends” by Whoudini

A destructive new attitude is taking over our once-great country and developing within our families and children, and just like cancer tumors or toxic mold, it’s tearing our family units apart from the inside, out.  This tool is not the new weapon of choice of terrorists, nor of any vengeful invaders.  It is not delivered by any assault weapon, toxic chemical, gun, bomb, or even a ninja sword.  This phenomenon is not  simple & brutal as a drunk driver, nor as complex as a Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme…yet it has the ability to bring the same levels of chaos and instability into our lives.  it’s overwheming our communities, undermining our families, and in some cases, very, very deadly. We are all facing it’s offerings, it’s actions, and it’s consequences in our daily lives.  In fact, it’s altering the social, professional and cultural fabric of American lives nationwide…and this hidden daily struggle is all taking place within the battlefields of our own minds.  It inspires a lack of Loyalty, of Respect, of Care & Concern…and breeds Greed, Violence, Sex Crimes, Mental Illness, Schemes, Scams, and personal & professional chaos of all kinds.  I call it the fruit of the “All About ME” tree…and it’s toxic branches and roots now run deep within our American “culture”.   In fact, our over whelming determination to “Find Myself” “Do Me” and “Go My Own Way” are now currently choking the life out of our communities, children, and families.  We have just about come full circle…our once beloved freedoms to seek our American Dreams by any means possible have been used, abused, altered, brainwashed and transformed into a vehicle with which we now have the power to run ourselves & each other over with…and we are doing so, laughing heartily and with much enthusiasm.

One of the most damaging elements is our economy’s dependency on (and psychological fixation with) fantasy images, entertainers, lifestyles and products.  It is almost criminal the amount of time that we are bombarded with these pressurized sales pitches, products, glossy, glazed “celebrities”, movies, and tv shows, magazines and billboards and radio shows marketing endlessly to struggling people everywhere…while promoting lifestyles, behaviors, products and businesses that support industries and people who are quite comfortable brainwashing, sexualizing, pressurizing and cannibalizing our children–as long as they earn plenty money, political favors, public adoration or gain instant gratification.  Living here in NYC, you can see very quickly that there is a huge difference between what we are being taught, trained, televised and brainwashed to believe in & reach for as children…and what truly lies in wait, as we step out our own front gate.  The gap between the sheer fantasy of the American Dream & the true reality of the American Nightmare is widening & picking up speed; sucking in all who fall prey to it’s bright and shiny “come & get it, you can have it all”  bulls–t philosophy.  And in many cases we are willing participants in sacrificing our own selves, families, children or friends…simply by not paying close enough attention to what is happening all around us, every single day.  I pay attention, though…because it’s my job to protect my  children from any and all who would cause them harm…even if it’s within my own community, culture or family.   We can all connect the dots to see the big picture dangling right front of our eyes…but with so many “bright & shiny”, “entertaining”, “distracting” people, places and products constantly being paraded in front of our faces it’s easy to distract us from facing what is fast becoming the new American way of life:  a toxic, extremely family un-friendly environment of sex obsessed, child cannibalizing, self destructive lifestye choices, bad habits and community destructive industries.  There are many factors contributing to the battlefields in our minds, usually beginning within our very own families or communities…but let’s start with a few of the most openly negative and influential participants.

Since when did Hollywood culture, fashion & lifestyles become an acceptable standard for our children or families to live & measure up to?  Am I the only one who notices that Hollyhood movies, advertising, and promotional tie-ins now churns out an increasingly sexualized, overpriced images of fashionwear, shoes, overpromoted products and events and movie and tv series and tie-in books and clothes and websites to encourage us to buy more stuff we dont always need & cant always afford?  Why is it okay for our entertainment & entertainers to encourage our children by their own habits or by product endorsements to drink/drug/bedhop & make std stops, while behaving like sleazy douchebags & Hunt’s Point strippers?  And speaking of the legalized sex trade:  Why is porn being mass marketed to American families, instead of being called exactly what it is:  Legalized prostitution of the last several generations of men & women.  We have given millions of Americans easy access to mind-numbingly ignorant, aggressive, graphic porn movies & hypersexualized fantasy imagery, filled with undereducated, oversexed young men & women performing every sex act imaginable.  Now we have reached the point where the young & the old, the underaged & oversexed, workaholics & the unemployed, the stable, competent and incompetent, poorly raised & untrained, smart , sharp, lazy, competitive, able or disabled, overpriviledged & overexposed, uneducated, unstable, emotionally unbalanced, psychopaths, criminals, and just plain folks, immigrants, transfer students, students of all kinds and Americans of all kinds are watching, participating in, and supporting an industry that cannibalizes our children & families.  It is a toxic industry that warps our sense of decency and of healthy relationships, and has spawned a whole wave of sexual abuse, pedophiles, child porn, child abuse & disrespect, sex slavery, pedophilia and sexual attacks against women.  Since when did that become the American Way?  When we are complacently allowing certain industries to exist and make money and promote the selling of our women and children as sexual playthings online, via tv, chatlines, magazines, etc…something is VERY WRONG with our country’s priorities, our politicians and our own ability to choose between our personal rights and protecting our children’s safety and stable mental health.  Why is pornography not recognized as legal prostitution?  Who decided this was a good, family-friendly, healthy and positive industry to introduce into our homes, libraries, stores and day to day lives?  Since when did providing access to sexually graphic, socially influential, psychologically distorting graphic sex images become the right thing to do, and so overwhelmingly available?  Parents are no longer in control of their children.  Half the time if you ask a parent where their teenager is and what they are doing…they don’t know.  Or have only the vaguest of ideas, but in truth have no damn clue what their child is up to half the time.  Parenting like this makes it easy for children to stray into trouble, make wrong choices or follow the wrong influences.  Who’s influencing and guiding your children when you are not available or paying close attention?  Who’s behind these crimes against our children’s minds…and why are we complacently allowing it to happen?

Why have we become a nation known for greed & excess, for drugs and sex, targeted by con men and scam games?  Known for sex slaves and child snatchings?  Known for gang warfare and international wargames?   How have we allowed our nation to sink to this level?  There is a huge gap between the way the American Dream is mass marketed to our communities and the family unfriendly, self centered, self destructive, parasitic realities being bred within our American communities…and the targets of this toxic version of the Dream are our children.  Few recognize that the American family unit, our children, and our stability as a nation/a family/and a society are under attack on the battlefields of the mind.  And the corruptive choices we are allowing into our communities are corrupting our childrens minds and shattering their irreplaceable innoncence…all in the name of “freedom”?  No, that’s a branch of the “All About Me”  Tree…and it’s roots run deep all across our country:

–When parents abandon responsibility for their children & leave them to half raise themselves, or be raised, guided and influenced by anyone who does not have their best interests in mind…that’s a part of the A.A.Me Tree

–When young people cut their futures off at the knee by pursuing sex, drugs, endless partying, alcohol, gambling, porn, early relationships, unplanned preg/std’s (all prior to grad. high school or college, or beginning a professional career & a Life Plan)…that’s the A.A.Me Tree

–When corporate heads and oversight boards use their power to squeeze as much profit out of the public as possible…and then steal from their own workers & the American public, bankrupt their own companies, and help send our economies into a tailspin, crushing even more hardworking American families…the A.A.Me Tree

What combination of factors has combined to produce such an appalling lack of positive priorities and direction in our communities & families?  Could it be too much access to negative pleaures & pressures?  Easy access to alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, and unrelenting pressures on all sides for our children to Grow Up Now…Speed the F–K UP!!  Catch Up…That Was So 27 seconds Ago!  Come On!!  You’re too Slowwww.  You Should Be Half Grown After HeadStart…and Full Grown By Sixth Grade!  Catch UP!!   Hmm…uh…Why?  Why not protect and enjoy our children’s innocence as much as possible, until they are old enough for age appropriate exposure to certain “adult” topics & situations.  Too many kids are jumping all in to the adult side of the pool without a life jacket, a thought, or a prayer of escaping unscathed. An unfortunate  combination of peer pressure, and stubborn ignorance, temptation, runaway emotions, and too much unsupervised time keeps them running over the cliffs like runaway sheep, in an effort to grow up super fast.  But just whom are they emulating?  It doesn’t seem like many adults are doing too well at being mature, happy, stable, satisfied grown ups these days at ALL.  Everytime you turn on the news, somebody’s always being busted for doing something else wrong to the next man (or woman or child).  Seems everybody’s got a chip on their shoulder, a bad attitude, no savings, no guidance, bad credit, chasing someone to fuck/dump/fight over/or argue with, little respect and no positive direction, No Life Planor even a 5 year Plan, and a silly ass Facebook/or My Space status to update.  Huh????   I’m all for being yourself, living free & enjoying technology…but what about bringing some much-needed BALANCE, FOCUS, SELF AWARENESS AND STABILITY into the picture…?  How many oversexed, under-educated, directionless, fatherless, hopeless, unprepared youth does this toxic brew of social factors have to produce before we face the fact that American youth are in many cases a disaster waiting to happen?  Before we face that they are being raised to reach for too much openly available Negativity…and Fail?

Too many negative adult pressures are cracking many of our children under the pressure…and the fact that many families are headed by one parent households only makes it easier for children to fail.  Two pairs of eyes and ears are better than one any day, unless abuse is involved or violence.  In that case, being able to seek the help of a mentor, community organization, church, sports, or other positive outlets and support systems for our children is key.  Pretending that these problems don’t exist or minimizing their ripple effects on our communities and families and youth is exactly how they grew into such a widespread problem in the first place.  We can create a much better environment for our children than this, one person, one child and one family at a time.  We all deserve better than this unrelenting sleazy, greasy, greedy thoughtlessness and selfishness.  We need some PORN AND DRUG AND PREDATOR FREE Communities to raise our children in…yes, I said it and I mean it!  Am I the only one who thinks like that?  Sex addictions, unplanned pregnancie, STD’s, unfinished educational goals, lack of job preparedness, bad credit, drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, fight videos and gang banging, club shootings, abusive, high-speed relationships and dysfunction and poor parenting skills:  this is what our schoolchildren are now majoring in.  These dead end rites of passage for our American youth must stop being cheered on and looked past and made excuses for by adults and parents who should definitely know better.  We are doing our youth, ourselves, our communities and our families a terrible disservice by continuing to stay silent on this toxic stew of offerings that have taken root in too many of our communities…and in too many of our children.  We do them a huge disservice by looking the other way and ignoring these negative pressures and influences on their impressionable young minds.

Song of the Day…(on YouTube)    Ghost Dog – The Way of the Samurai – Best Soundtrack

Damn near everyone in the free world knows by now that Whitney Houston died unexpectedly this year, so what more can I add to the tragic tale?  When a senseless, useless, disastrous mess like the death of Whitney Houston happens (singing legend, movie star, over-the-top diva and over-indulged, sometimes delusional drug addict) I realize that this is what happens when fantasy meets reality.  I am deeply saddened that someone so gifted, successful and blessed was unable to cope with real life without staying numb, and just couldn’t prevent hand delivering herself to her own doom…one day, one drug, and one bad decision at at a time.  Then I think of the intense pressures facing the far less fortunate:  parents, children and families trying to hold it together in our fast paced, highly pressurized, youth sacrificing/youth oriented society. How can any parent effectively teach coping skills to their children if, in fact, you have none or few to rely on yourself?  Some adults have been so negatively affected by their parents dysfunctional parenting, poor life choices or bad decision making skills (and their own messes) that the only coping skills they have left are toxic and self-defeating:  alcohol, drugs, denial, anger, violence, or bottled up, corrosive frustration.  Then there are the Lost Ones:  parents who are so clueless & unprepared emotionally, psychologically, educationally, and/or financially that they are ill-equipped to take care of anyone, and  is unclear why they ever imagined themselves to be capable of raising well balanced children in the first place.

Few parents in our fast paced, electronically overloaded, Internet and technologically dependent country are devoting enough time & energy into teach their children intensive coping skills necessary to successfully face (& overcome) society’s ever-increasing challenges, pressures, stumbling blocks,  temptations, faceless Net predators and homegrown violators of all kinds (some hiding in plain sight).  Far too many busy parents have become caught up in responsibilities, distractions, corruptions, temptations, secret violations, or fantasy dreams & expectations of their own making; to the point that they become caught up & ineffective, establishing a familiar circle within their own particular comfort zone and eventually losing the coping skills needed to succesfully navigate through life’s pitfalls & successfully train their offspring to deal with our society & the real world.  If you dont use it, you lose it…and we have so thoroughly cushioned ourselves with substances and devices and electronic toys and games and habits of comfort that we are losing the ability to deal with the real world without these cushions.  People have become alarmingly comfortable with and dependent upon gaming and computer & Internet and SmartPhone Devices and technology, and far less capable of successfully functioning without dependency on these tools and devices.  Why bother facing life’s real people, problems, challenges and events…when you can zone out with your own personal habit or addiction or device and imagine yourself to be a hero, a villian, a faceless nobody, or whomever the heck you choose & want to be or view or see…anywhere, anyway & anytime, in your mind or online?  As a direct result, there has been a noticeable shift towards self-centered, eog-inflating activities and character crippling, maturity stunting addictions within current American society and social trends.  Remember the eyebrow raising denial Whitney Houston displayed during her infamous interview with Diane Sawyer, blurting out that “crack is wack” nonsense while sidestepping and dodging reality, so completely out of touch with her own problems? Unfortunately, Miss Houston was not alone in her madness and self absorbed vanity.  Tuning out reality with self absorbed, self congratulatory fascination with ourselves, our devices, our desires and our habits is fast becoming the new American Way.

Many people are far less connected, far less interested and far less in touch; more rude and curt and dismissive, absorbed within their smartphones and laptops and NetFlix and Facebooks and twitter and gameboys and other devices; unable to let go of self and family damaging habits and behaviors, and unwilling (or just uninterested) to interacting with each other for more than a few nanoseconds at a time, and usually via a keyboard or phone text.  The socializing aspect of social bonding as friends, families and communities has gone bye bye, swirling away down FiberOptic tubes and Net links to NeverNeverLand…now people chat online on social networking sites instead of talking face to face.  Speed date online instead of leisurely getting to know one another in person.  We now have outrageous new addictions blooming from all these new factors:  gaming addictions, blackberry addictions, texting addicts, porn addicts and sex addicts…and almost all of it is connected to the Net, in one way or another.  Young people now connect in flash mobs, impulsively organizing bursts of random crimes, violence or drama to blow off steam from unspoken feelings of massive discontent, since it is no longer fashionable or culturally acceptable to talk about feelings except on web videos, or to acknowledge having them, except in the most meaningless, careless or destructive fashion.

Our people have grown soft, complacent, distracted, selfish, impulsive, uneducated, unprepared and incapable of facing confrontations, life’s challenges or personal interactions on any level without the use of alcohol, drugs, electronic devices and the Net, as crutches and distancing blocks.  You see, it’s much easier to engage in selfish, hostile, self-centered, habitual or predatory behaviors behind the anonymity and virtual safety of a little electronic screen and a keyboard than face to face and in person…very easy to drop the mask and be the selfish, or spoiled, or brutal or bratty or troublemaking or self absorbed person that people sometimes want to be.  It’s also easy to lose the ability to face life head on with out the cushioning softness of that electonic device’s ability to separate ourselves from other peoples attitudes, lives, needs or pain…there by slowly leaking away a crucial aspect of our humanity and negatively impacting our already thinning bond towards each other.  Coping skills, sensitivity, loyalty, interpersonal inertactions and our sense of community and of being connected to each other as human beings are being trampled in the dust of our brave new technologically advanced world.  Anyone notice just how sensitivc people are these days to being told anything less than How great/smart/fabulous/sexy/handsome or whatever else they choose to believe that they are?  Building and or living fake lives online has caused some people to dive firmly into fantasy land where they are the star of their own one man (or one woman) show, and everyone else is extras, camermen, fans or crazy/jealous/”haters”.  Ego tripping online and in real life has spiralled inasnely out of control.  Nowadays, you cant tell people the truth about themselves, thanks to poor coping skills, poor communication skills and easily bruised egos.  Why the hell are we so eager to believe and pump up and announce the best about ourselves, without having spent nearly any time working on the worst parts, and can no longer face hearing anything that is not rosy or complimentary about negative aspects of our character or behavior patterns?  Perhaps if Whitney had been able to face the truth about herself earlier in life and deal with it back then, she may have been in a better place today…or not.  Still, one thing is for certain sure…Nothing beats a failure but a TRY…and you can’t solve any problem that you choose to deny.  Unfortunately Miss Houston has run out of time and opportunities to work on her character flaws, to learn how to face life without leaning on chemical or technological crutches, or time to teach her child how to do so. I’m not downing her, the simple fact is that she lived most of her adult life in total denial about her chemical dependency problem…and now has no more time left to face it or fix it.

It is critical to teach our children how to lift their heads up from bright & shiny, absorbing phone & game & Net distractions & temptations & bad habits; how to toughen up and smarten up and become equally skilled at facing the challenges, obstacles, difficulties and reality checks awaiting us all, right here in the real world.  Children who are not adequately able to face reality & cope, pick up bad habits easily, like alcohol, violence, porn, sex & dope.  Just ask Whitney’s child (also an alleged drug user), grieving for her addicted mom and trying to cope with that terrible loss while her dad, Bobby Brown (another notorious drug addict), showed up to the funeral and then left after fifteen minutes or so, following a silly dispute with security over seating.  What a terribly sad, dysfunctional, tragic ending to Whitney’s blessed, talented, fairytale life & amazing voice.  Children of dysfunctional, distracted, self centered, self absorbed, inadequate, immature, unstable, delusional, unprepared or unfocused parents pay the highest price for their parents’ poor choices.  We may live in the land of the free and home of the brave, but our bad habits & dysfunctions are overtaking our best & brightest, from childhood to adulthood & then into the grave.  How many more will we lose and just how many more can be saved…?

Song Of The Day…”Set It Off” by Strafe

You know, they don’t make parents like they used to make ’em, back in the days.  Old school, take-no-mess, take no prisoners, stay-in-your-place & speak-only-when-spoken-to type of parents.  The kind that kept kids in line with a balance of love, discipline, respect, humor & holy terror.  Today’s parents (for the most part) are as soft as what’s lurking in juniors’ soggy diapers…or crazy extremists on the other end of the spectrum…abandoning, abusing, controlling and brainwashing their kids with their own outrageous, dysfuntional mess.  Neither option can ever hope to raise your child to his or her highest potential, because both methods lack balance and create chaos…and create some of the most backwards assed, scrambled brain children that have ever existed.  In the last fifty years we have seen an ever increasing upswing of damaged, dysfunctional children being produced out of many American households, and not all of them were born & raised in the ghetto.  It’s like a toxic virus sweeping through our lives silently and invisibly…and leaving ignorance, tragedy & self destruction behind.  Never in my life growing up back in the ’70’s and “80’s did I think that I would eventually bear witness to such heartbreaking phrases as:  Latchkey kids, abandoned children, babies having babies (born in secret to overexposed high schoolers & thrown in the trash to die), crackbabies, crackbusters, Columbine kids, child porn, gangbangers, kids killing their parents for money, or being killed or abused by their own loved ones; disappearing by the thousands as they are swallowed whole into the sex and drug industries to be used as foot soldiers and prostitutes, all for our country’s secret, shameful consumption.  Simply put, our worst adult habits & behaviors are now cannibalizing our children’s innocence, and infecting them with toxic belief systems, which are creating young predators and gullible sheep.  As a child I was nearly swallowed whole by my family’s habits, negative behavior patterns and dysfunctions…but the worst part is that now when I look back, I realize that as bad as my home life and family was, there are millions of children growing up right now who have it far, far worse than I ever did.  Children who are being pimped, prostituted, forced into stripping, into slavery and civil war, and into dead end gangbanging and drug dealing lifestyles that lead to nothing but flashy cash dreams, heavy prison sentences, death, and destruction.  My life was sad and hard, but these lives I’m talking about are brutal and deadly.  These are the kinds of kids I hope to bring a bit of light to, or justice and a better option to reach for…the type of kid that I fear I may one day have to lay the fuck out to protect my own life, or that of my children…because dirt dont hurt, but bullets do…and hurt kids dont care if they hurt you, too.

This is why I model some of my parenting styles and techniques after the women of old…the type of mothers that lived dead in the middle of the ghetto, and stood tall and strong and planted their flags in soil built of structure and discipline and dared you to step wrong on their turf.  By no means do I idolize or place these women on a pedestal of perfection…they had flaws and bad habits and imperfections like any other person or parent on the planet.  Still, these women were so awesomely regal, so solid and so steady that you couldn’t help but admire them…even as you busted your ass to get the hell out of their way, cause they were quite simply No Joke.  It was as simple as that…even monstrous grizzly bears back down when faced with a mother bear’s fanatical devotion & awesome rage while protecting her young.  It is an indisputable law of nature…and these women were clearly a force of nature.  They radiated an invisible energy of discipline, sharpness, intelligence, strength, and physical & psychological intimidation…women whose presence were so strong willed and overpowering that the hardest of hard core drug dealers scrambled to get out the way as they moved past, without thinking twice about it.  Even those brain dead thugs recognized a person in their midst who was Not To Be Fucked With, Under Any Circumstances.  The three most imposing women I ever met were all parents, all women of color who lived in the ghetto, and all walked through their lives like GIANTS, sometimes raining fire down on us poor villagers…but their walk was somehow right & righteous in its own way, and I can never forget them.  In fact, they still occupy my mind some times.  Perhaps this posting will put it to rest, but if not, oh well…cause these ladies truly were the best.  My top three unforgettable parents of all time were Mrs. Solid (my friend Sheila’s mom), her boyfriend Felix’s Mom (who I thought of as Mama X, mainly because she was so terrifying I never could remember her name), and most imposing of all, Ms. White, my best friends mom (and though I am 42, I still transform into a tongue tied 13 year old when in her presence…despite my  best efforts not to.  It’s thoroughly maddening at this age, and yet when she’s around I just can’t stop that shrinking feeling inside, time warping me back to my awkward teenaged years…but I’ve learned to live with it.)  These were women whom we should all consider ourselves lucky that they never decided to band together to take over the World…cause they would have won half the battle simply by sheer monstrous force of Will.  Here are a few of my choicest memories of these three Memorable Ladies:

Mrs. Solid (Sheila’s Mom) was just that…solid as they come and built solid like a Rock.  Or perhaps a Boulder would be a more accurate description, since she always appeared ready to crush you into space dust if you overstepped any unspoken boundaries.  I never did, though…I was certain from first sight that this was an eagle-eyed, sharp-clawwed old  lioness, and wisely gave her plenty of space.  We rarely crossed each others paths, since I spent my time hanging with her wayward daughter at the age of 18, 19, and most of my 20’s…and Mrs. Solid spent her time working as a Supervisor at a major NY phone company; rising at 5am to leave for work at 6am to arrive at 7.  When she left for work we would all clear the hallway before she came out, and god forbid if we heard that door lock open followed by her unmistakable footsteps coming downstairs and had misjudged the time.  We broke our necks to get the hell out the building before she came down there, her own daughter leading the way out…because no one wanted to be the unlucky soul raked over the coals by her Laser Beam Eyes, that Intimidating Stare and the ego shrinking words she so casually dished out.  Mrs. Solid rarely spoke to any of us at all, and when she did it was soft but slicing; it cut all the bravado and bad ass attitude right out of you, and made you feel small and stupid and just plain wrong for being there in the first place.  Suffice it to say, the woman was a serious buzzkill…and would usually plant a mental seed and leave you standing right there; embarrassed, uncomfortable, wondering where you had gone wrong in the first place, and questioning your own bad choices in life.  She never spoke much since her size and stature did that for her:  Mrs. Solid was almost 6 feet tall and as solid as her name, standing taller than most of the men in the neighborhood.  She walked slow and steady and was built like a huge fridge, yet always appeared ready to reach into that huge handbag and snatch something out to put a hurting on your ass, if you were so foolish as to ever speak ill or move wrong in her presence. I believed the woman had a handgun and possibly a blade or two in there, the way she carried herself.  It was really very funny, after you got over the inital fright…the baddest of badasses suddenly became very polite and respectful when Mrs. Solid walked by, and if they wanted to act up or get loud they always waited until she was long gone.  It was almost as if everyone on the block saw a bit of their own mother in her, and quite a bit more of something far more terrifying than their own that she might easily put on your ass, and we were all a bit intimidated by it.  I saw hard core drug dealers jumping, groveling and stumbling over themselves to clear the front stoop and carry her grocery bags up five flights of stairs, after Mrs. Solid caught them hanging out there.  They actually bickered amongst themselves as to which one would carry her bags, and then all three carried a few, so none would be left standing there to face her merciless stare.  They acted as if it were an honor to perform her manual labor like a pack mule, since no one wanted to be the unlucky recipient of that high pressure, Deadly Old Lady staredown she always handed out.  It made you squirm and feel like hiding.  Better to just disappear or move to the other side of the street before she arrived.  Even I would begin to offer my services and babble when caught like a deer in the headlights of her intimdating gaze.  That lady was scary in a “Don’t Ever Step Wrong With Me Or You’ll Meet Your Maker Before You Can Blink” kind of way.  She always seemed to have her eye right on you and already knew your number, like she could see clear through you…and I never saw a single person ever test her resolve or her wrath.  Mrs. Solid swept through the block like a great white shark that had just eaten recently…but still had plenty room for more, if you wanted to test the waters and were fool enough to put yourself in her way.  No one ever did, though…it was Crystal Clear to all who crossed her path that it was NOT a smart thing to do.

Sheila’s boyfriend Felix’s Mom “Mama X” because I could never remember her name…she was foreign born, from one of the Islands, short, stout, with a bulldog’s demeanor, and literally had the ability to frighten people half to death with nothing more than her booming voice.  I found that part out the hard way.  I used to wonder why Felix would never invited me inside of the apartment he shared with his mom…instead, we would chill out in the hallway.  I didnt really mind since Felix was just a neighbor, we had no sexual relationship of any kind, and he was well liked in his building, so no one ever bothered us…but I asked him one day why we never went in the house, even in cold weather, and Felix shook his head and frowned, murmuring about how that “Wouldnt be a good idea”.  Eventually I found out exactly what he meant, when I had the misfortune to be waiting for his slow, lanky ass half a flight below their second floor apartment while his mom was home.  Suddenly the door swung open, and a torrent of angry curse words began to flood the hallway directly above my head.  I looked up to see what I can only describe as a spitting angry wildcat vs. tasmanian devil hybrid; high yellow, short and built like a Keebler Elf on steroids, with a wild, violatile look in her eye.  There was Mama X, swearing like a sailor on shore leave just been pickpocketed for six months pay.  It is hard to describe how graphically talented his mom was at cursing people out and encouraging them to move far, far away from her doorstep.  I’ve never heard anyone curse worst..she cursed like she had just invented it and had a patent pending on it, too.  Grown men have turned red, fallen back and limped away under the fury of her verbal barrage; and it almost felt like verbal assault & battery when she went in on you.  Felix’s mom was well known for throwing bleach or ammonia out her apartment door, if you didn’t move away fast enough.  In fact, on a block once written up in the New York Times (or was it the Daily News?) as “the biggest drug block in NYC”, no one dared to sell anything in her building, because it would only be asking for trouble…and practically everyone coming in or out tiptoed past that floor, didn’t shout or made any noise, and bowed and kissed her stout, ample ass any time she appeared.  The woman was a ball buster who could clear the sidewalk twenty feet ahead; it was impossible to withstand the barrage of curses, threats, blood oaths and unintelligible angry shouting she unleashed when she had a target in sight.  No one could ever outshout or shut her up…it was like battling a tiny, ferocious King Kong.  Clearly the local dealers had decided to put up with her as much as possible because only death could ever shut that mouth, and no one had enough heart to ever lay a finger on her.  Mama X seemed to have ties to black magic or voodoo or something; the way she talked in mixed languages and some kind of patoi and cursed and hexed you with her words and devilish expressions…so everyone stayed the hell out of her way.  She was tiny, but appeared ready to fly at you and sink her fangs into your bare eyeball at any moment.  Nobody ever tried to take Mama X on; it felt like extremely bad luck to mess with that tiny fireball of a woman…her curses alone were enough to set your feet moving in the opposite direction.  No one ever wanted to find out what else she might be capable of.  I’ve seen drug dealers get all shook up after getting a verbal black eye from Mama X and start crossing the street to avoid crossing her path.  After one round with her, the expressions on their faces whenever she would appear resembled a “battle-scarred-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-syndrome” kind of thing.  Even the cops and hardest of hardcore gangsters and thugs gave her plenty of space.  It was in everyone’s best interests to do so.  Her voice was enough to deal with; if that woman was ever given a gun license she would have cleared the block.

Ms. White was my best friend’s mom, who I had been friends with since I was 12 years old, and she was in some ways the best of the best, and the worst of the worst.  I know I liked her from the first time I laid eyes on her when Pam brought me to her home in the Polo Grounds…but I could see straight off that she didnt like much of Me at all.  The best thing she ever said about me was that I had “a nice pair of legs”.  Other than that she thought I was a terrible influence on her daughter…but she never knew that she had it backwards, her daughter was actually the terrible influence on me, though I tried hard to be the brains of the operation.  Eventually we both tripped down the merry road towards getting into trouble (occasionally together, but mostly on our own), but back then I was still pretty much innocent, and we never did anything more than smoke a little weed and cut a lot of school together in junior high.  I always unconsciously straightened my shoulders and tried to stand a little taller and straighter when in her presence, while her mom looked me over like a stale piece of meat she was considering throwing out…but nothing I could ever do would pass Ms. White’s inspection.  One day she made us roll up our sleeves so she could see if we were using marijuana…which was hilariously funny; but I didn’t dare laugh, grin, giggle or even break into a smile in that woman’s unappeaseable presence.  She had a way of saying “Unnhhhh-huhhh” with her nostrils flared and her eyes boring holes into your forehead that made you want to check your watch and run for a pressing appointment.  I wasn’t usually frightened of her…but I was scared to death of being caught in the wrong by Ms. White.  Her southern drawl, strong work ethic and spiritual knowledge didn’t disguise the sharpness in her eyes or personality, not if you paid close attention.  If you were dull she would sharpen you up, one way or the other.  Sometimes I felt she might leap out of bed and press a bible and a crucifix to my forehead till she branded me with Christ, or baptised me across the back of my skull with her fist; and either one was just fine with her.  Still, Ms. White was no joke, no holy roller looking to save every soul with the good Book…she was just as likely to split your skull with it, if you stepped wrong.  Ms. White is rumored to have once shot her own grown daughter in the arm with a handy handgun, when Pam thought she was going to tell her mama what to do, had an attitude and got too far out of line.  Guess that bullet straightened her right out, though…and then, Mama White patched her up and tended to her daughters arm until it healed.  Gives new meaning to the words, “I brought you in this world and I’ll take you out of it, too”.  In our old neighborhood a few may laugh and call her “half crazy” behind her back…but no one dares to say it to her face, or ever get in that womans way.  She is just as likely to pray over you after she’s laid you the fuck out, as she is to baptize you before she buries you.  I love and respect her as always…and still can’t be in her presence with out feeling like a guilty teenager facing a nun with a ruler at catholic school, but it’s okay.  In some strange ways these women inspired fear and awe and admiration and respect, all at the same time, as they walked like giants throughout the hood.  We could use more mothers like these ladies nowadays.  We’d damn sure have less predators, drug dealers and shady characters breeding and bleeding our communities & preying upon our impressionable youth and children, thats for sure.

Song Of The Day…”About Her” by Malcolm McClaren

A diabolically destructive force, negative presence, and child corrupting philosophy is running rampant throughout our communities, out in the open in broad daylight and under cover of darkness in secret; leaving behind an ever increasing trail of slime & grime that is rapidly poisoning our children’s minds. Unchecked & unstopped,(but not unseen), this stagnating virus has begun to influence and affect all aspects of our American lifestyle, including:  Our government leaders & politicians, law enforcement & armed forces, houses of worship & religious institutions, colleges & professional workplaces, families, friends & co-workers life partners & business partners, marriages & family units, cultural trends & national image, fashions & entertainment choices, our habits & philosophies, priorities, standards & attitudes, social bonding skills & manners, language & communication, and most of all our public & private behavior patterns.  With so many aspects of our American way of life bending & buckling under the pressure & influence of this immeasurable force for the last fifty years or so, it is not hard to see that our children are also increasingly being influenced by this corrosive presence.  A hidden slime within our communities and our country has been allowed to take root & flourish via the unchecked growth and deliberate development of several powerfully negative behavior patterns, attitudes, self centered philosophies and selfish concepts within our communities throughout the last several generations…and the casualties of this invisible war are our children, their futures, and their irreplacable innocence.  I call it the Porno Effect, turning our children’s minds to unproductive mush…but porn is only part of the problem plaguing our country.

Several of the most corrosive, corruptive and toxic negative concepts poisoning our children’s minds are the concepts of:  OVERENTITLEMENT & OVERINDULGENCE, OVEREXPOSURE & OVERSTIMULATION, and most destructive of all, OVER SEXUALIZATION (via a virtually unlimited, poorly restricted, almost endless supply of increasingly violent, extremely graphic pornography); and it is affecting our kids, our families and our quality of life.  Just like porn, these philosophies are invisible cancers; poisonous belief systems & corrupt behavior patterns that have disrupted and damaged the foundations of our communities, homes, families, personal and professional relationships, and many peoples ability to sufficiently train healthy, stable children and maintain a complete family unit.  To expose the rot within our unstable democracy & the direction it is taking our increasingly fast paced society (and our impressionable kids), it is important to take a brief look back at key points where our “American way of life” started to slip & slide sideways, and our children began to get caught in the crossfires:

The Sixties…The Era of the AntiWar, Peace, Hugs &Drugs Movement.  Americans everywhere were tired of warfare, having made it through the Korean War, and into the horrors of Vietnam War.  Some young people protested against the war and civil & racial discrimination here at home, while others were being killed daily in the jungles of Vietnam and blown to shreds in far off rice paddies, and many decided to tune out and light up, shoot up, smoke or drink up whatever drugs were handy at the time, legally prescribed or not.  This was the Era when drug abuse started to become a serious problem in American communities, but was primarily considered to be an issue in the poorer, less educated, ghetto neighborhoods.  So long as the middle class suburbs and wealthy gated communities did not have an open problem, few people noticed or complained in the beginning, besides the occasional community leader or politician running for re-election.  Pornography was limited to mail order business and packed in unremarkable brown paper wrappings, and the few porn magazines on the newstands were kept well out of reach and eyesight from children and teens…in fact, few adults were brave enough to buy it at the local newstand, and those that did usually covered it up by purchasing a newspaper and slipping the magazine between the pages in an effort to remain discreet.  Then we entered the Epic Seventies (aka the Disco Era)…

The Seventies were a decade of epic hits & horrible misses.  The biggest hits of all were Disco music, the Peace Movement, and drugs of all kinds.  The biggest misses were the epic, ugly fashions, dirty politics and horrifying Vietnam War.  Few Americans were neutral about anything; in fact, the country was polarized to the extreme, as normally coolheaded people angrily took sides on issues of all kinds…and willingly tuned out on drugs of all kinds when not protesting, debating or fighting it all out.  The toll on our youth in that generation was devastating.  Families were split apart by the pressures of war, drugs, protests and Richard Nixon’s ugly politics.  Meantime average Americans of all backgrounds were turning away from standard social norms in disgust.  If chasing the “American Dream” ultimately paid off by being blown apart in a bad war thousands of miles from home, while greasy politicians played dirty tricks to get ahead and told us all to toe the line and behave ourselves…well, what was the point?  Might as well do their own thing…since truth, fairplay and innocence was now a thing of the past…and ‘do their own thing’ they most definitely did.  This social trend initiated a huge upswing in interest in all things once considered decadent and taboo, including extreme body art and piercings, pornography, the occult, satanism, alcohol and pill usage, and increased drug abuse.  It was a decade of turmoil and change, and led the country directly into the Greedy Eighties.

The Eighties were the beginning of the bad times, disguised as good times.  The economy seemed to be in good shape (wrong!), America enjoyed it’s position on the international stage as one of two remaining SuperPowers (though it was clear that the USSR’s time at the top was heading downhill fast), and Americans were looking to party-hearty.  A bit too much, as it turned out.  Before you could say “Is it snowing?” our country was awash in hundreds of thousands of kilo’s of cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, meth, and something called ice that may have been a cousin to meth or crack…and Americans of all socio-economic backgrounds were becoming numb, dumb, and always looking to get some.  This was the decade we first heard the term “crackbabies”, and “crackbusters” (a vigilante type term for young inner city youth who were disgusted by the crack epidemic flooding poor communities, and inclined to beat the hell out of random crackheads).  While Ronald Reagan was promoting “trickle down economics” and trying to define ketchup as a “vegetable” for poor kids school lunches to save a few pennies, our country was beginning to be financially raped by huge, fat cat financial institutions and corporate powerhouses.  Our children were being left behind by parents that were more concerned with hanging out, getting high, and doing their own thing…and in turn, our children were learning how to be equally self-centered and growing up far too fast, mainly because few parents were actually doing any real parenting.  Meantime, the more America dug it’s nose into other countries problems, the less well liked Americans became on the world stage, and the less attention the powers that be paid to our own bubbling domestic problems, leading directly into the Out of Control Nineties.

In the Nineties, everything seemed to crash, burn, spiral out of control and jump the tracks, all that the same time.  The 90’s were a decade of excess:  Everything seemed to be over the top.  Big business was bigger than ever (but there were signs that the bubble was about the pop), the Internet exploded, as Americans everywhere decided that the computer was now an integral part of the American Dream, and hard core crime also exploded.  Crime went off the charts.  Between Internet Crime, White Collar Crime, Inner City Crime, Insurance Scams, Fraud, Identity Theft Crimes and Drug Related Crimes, it seemed that Americans from all soci0-economic backgrounds had decided to say “The hell with the American Dream…I’m Getting Mine Anyway I Damn Well Can”.  International crimes also exploded, as any brainiac with computer hackcing skills decided that it was open season on American dollars, and on Americans.  It became quite common for warnings to be issued for Americans not to travel to different countries, or to do so “At Your Own Risk”.  Worst of all, our children were being squeezed and caught in the crossfire.  Suddenly it was quite common to see stories in the news about children being abducted for porn rings, prostituition, being killed, turned into drug addicts and dealers, forced into gangs, and all manner of sexual abuse.  By the time we reached the New Millenium, it was clear that our kids were now being seen as targets, to be used and abused in a variety of ways.  Worst of all, young people were now being used to draw other youth into the mix of this toxic, unstable stew.  As we went into 2001, it was literally open season on Americans…a twisted philosophy of extremism that would spark the biggest, most controversial, disputed terrorism event of all on Sept. 11, 2001…the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, right here on American soil.  And in the rush and crush to repair, rebuild, and retaliate our youngest generations were put on back burner and given a crash course in the ugly side of adulthood, in many cases adopting ghetto-thug-pimp-hoodrat-chickenhead-criminally self centered, egotistical, extremely negative street philosophies, habits, and behavior patterns…with disastrous results.  This toxic trend has spilled over directly into the first decade of the New Millenium, 2001-2010, or as I like to call it, the First Ten.

Thus we have finally reached, lived in, and passed over into history the First Ten…the first decade of the New Millenium.  And at the start of this exciting, wondrous, technologically advanced new century, just where do our once promising, shiny, fresh faced American youth now stand?  What are their priorities?  Habits?  Behavior patterns?  Entertainment sources?  Life philosophies?  Which activities do they flock to in record numbers…and which do they now shun, ridicule and avoid?  Has the breakneck speed of our WebFed lifestyles led to the enrichment of our childrens minds…or exposed them to factors, behaviors, beliefs and attitudes that can only lead them to self centeredness, failure and inevitable denial?  Well, let’s see…What are most american youth tuning into these days?  Let’s take a Look and See…(to be cont’d…)

Why are we so comfortable sacrificing children’s innocence,

To satisfy cheap, sleazy, diseas-ey sex thrills?

Dont turn away or pretend this doesn’t exist…

The thought of doing so sends deep chills…

Trickling down my spine like cold chips of ice.

Like a cobra’s dead gaze while eating baby mice.

Our girls, promoted & packaged as smartass, sexy sluts….

Plucked & fucked by corrupt old men without too much fuss.

Or by selfish young men raised on crude Net porn junk.

Brains stuck in sleazy ruts like wheels encased in mud & glue…

Now I warn & inform all of you who dont know this is true.

Each generation’s future potential is losing strength & ground

Endless unplanned pregnancy , std spreading sex is going around.

Who says teaching kids early On to fuck & to play & fight,

To take endless shortcuts & negative games making their way through Life,

Is the right way to guide their innocence to love & learn & grow?

The way these kids are jumping off the cliffs of Life, truly, I dont know.

Porn, violence, alcohol and drugs go together, hand in hand…

Are you truly getting my point?  Or not sharp enough to Understand?

I see short skirts, flipflops and clucking chickenheads in training everywhere…

Is this the best you can do with your young daughter in Life to prepare?

If so, then I pray for better for your kids, your family and also for You too.

I see young guys with pants eternally sagging…

Into their homes street germs & dog feces dragging…

As their jeans hang all nasty low, walking grimy city streets.

In NYC you never know what you might peep, my sheep.

A doctor, an artist, a thug, a murderer, rapist or a bum…

We cross paths with millions daily, and I watch everyone….

For tell tale signs of those inclined towards abuse & corruption…

I know the games slick predators play, know every trick & ruse.

Inform your children of more than games, personal gain & porn tools….

Our kids are in 15th place for college graduations worldwide…

Dont ignore the signs, turn and face the growing storm.

Is your child an exception…or does your kid also love Porn?

If you dont know for sure, then you better get Informed…

Dont raise a Columbine killer, woman beater or queen of Porn.

If you didnt know before, now you’ve surely been forewarned.

Before your kid is infected by this All American Porn Storm,

Where women are dumb dick-candy and STD’s are the norm…

Song of the Day…”Wolves in Sheep Clothes” by Fabolous

Now check this out for a minute.  Like Ricky Ricardo would say:  “But Lucy…It’s Just So Ridiculous!!  Lucyyyy…You have some es’plaining to Doooo…”  But seriously:  Have you ever been so thoroughly disregarded, disrespected, irritated, aggravated and character assassinated by a person that their actions were borderline Insane?  Well, if so, then welcome to my family tree:  Where the sane are a minority and the nutcases run free…while some hide behind helpful masks, so how sane can they really be?

Here is a dose of the insanity I have endured courtesy of my “helpful” Aunt D…(and by “helpful”, I mean helpful like a rock in your shoe…or helpful like a hungry shark hunting down it’s next meal…yeah, helpful like that).  She is one tough Auntie:  part intelligent, overachieving, street smart, gossipy, twelve-step snob; and part pushy, bellowing, hard-as-nails drill seargent.  Last time we spoke Aunt D was one broomstick away from getting crowned the Wicked (B)Witch of the Parkside…when not throwing huge cookouts & feeding half of Bradhurst Avenue (that’s when the “nice” half of her brain is running things).   Other times its a very different story…as she casually sharpens her daggers of meanspirited gossiping on the Parkside, using her history of “helpfulness” with various friends & family members as a cover up for her cruel side; the mean and vengeful side which Auntie is always sure to hide, the side she lets out behind closed doors, to those who are or have been on the inside.  Seriously, sometimes she’s like an old dragon sitting over her throne…aging, mean, and with plenty fire to burn u with in between.  Its like dealing with a split personality; one side helpful, responsible, smart, fun and generous…the other side demanding, rude, cruel, controlling, untruthful, pushy and just plain old mean.

At times I have been tempted to tape her pushy demands, rude outbursts and crazy, control freak antics to reveal just how difficult, contradictory and cruel Aunt D can be when none other than family is around to witness her true  personality.   After nearly 20 years of enduring withering verbal abuse and hidden viciousness, I have seen that she is a conniving, meanspirited two face; one who is not above holding back key information, lying or grossly exaggerating when trying to steamroller over, gossip about or character assassinate you.  Here are just a few of the most unbelievable tidbits of nonsense my auntie has thrown at Me (never mind the hours she spent bending my ears gossiping about everyone else in the family & on the Parkside.  I would need to write another book to cover all of that!).  Anyway, here comes Aunt D’s “best of the worst”.  Somebody get me an Advil, stat…I feel a headache coming on just thinking about it…

“If you Lie, you’ll steal too!  The Guilty Flee Where None Pursue!”  (the start of the Interrogation…oh good lord get on with it woman!  was what I would be thinking all the while, with that damn mystery music sound in the back of my head while she was blabbing on & on…duh, duh, duh, duhn-duhn…!)

“Listen up…when you call my number, leave a detailed message, dont just say ‘Call me back’!  I’m too busy for that!” (Ok auntie, no problem.  But months later, when I told her the same thing about my phone, Aunt D got upset that I was screening calls to avoid her aggravation and her nutty sister’s druggie madness.  She then decided that I was “being hostile”… Huh?  Really?  How about the fact that I’m grown & totally busy raising 2 small kids with no help from dad or any of my family, all of whom I have helped watch their kids?  Hell, I’ve been babysitting all alone since I was 7 years old, including feeding/burping/changing/and watching over Aunt D’s son B, when he was an infant living with his grandma on 146th street and Auntie D was running the streets blowing her brains out getting high, boosting and going back to jail over and over again, while grandma went food shopping.  So, yes…I’m too busy for You, too, hon.  Get Over Yourself) 

“Well, I think you’re just using that stuff as an Excuse…”  (Aunt D’s words after reading a letter I wrote detailing how eight different male family members sexually molested me as a child between the ages of five and fifteen, and why I experienced bouts of anger, rage, and depression afterwards that took years of therapy to overcome.  Her sister Aunt B, who smokes angel dust mixed with crack & weed, told me “Are you STILL talking about that!?)   You can really feel the Love in this family…!

“You know he never wanted to marry her, right?  I think she forced him down the aisle”  (The first words Aunt D said to a family member after I left her house upon changing out of my wedding gown, the day I married my  children’s father.  Funny thing is, she helped pay for half of our reception…and then began tearing me & our relationship down immediately after the ceremony.  Nice, huh?)

“What are you talking about…your welfare card?”  (Aunt D’  response when I shared the news that I had been approved for a credit card and was looking forward to buying some new household items.  Like no one else in the family can come up out of poverty except her, or those she approves of.  It seems to make her feel good to be the only one doing well, I’ve noticed that in her opinion everyone she doesnt like in the family is never worth much, or doing anything good or noteworthy.  Aunt D is always quick to share bad news, but rarely shares anything good about anyone except herself and those she likes.)

 “I didn’t feel like waiting…so I left!”   (As in:  Didnt feel like waiting for my grieving sister, her neice, to give her a ride to the hospital where our mother was dying of AIDS, and literally on her deathbed.  Aunt D pulled up in her care downstairs from my sisters house and called her & offered her a ride to the hospital, since she was headed there too.  Out of her mind with grief cuz the doctor said that this could be our mothers final day, my sis took a few more minutes than usual to get herself together & come downstairs.  When she did step out she found that Aunt D had just pulled off with out her.  Without even a call to say “Hey hurry up…lets go before its too late”…NOTHING.  Instead of waiting a few minutes for a young woman who was out of her mind with pain of losing her mom, she got impatient and cruelly drove off and left her to make it to the hospital on her own.  When my sister got there our mom had already passed away.  Doris never even apologized, she seemed to think it was just fine to do that to someone when their mother was dying).

“Ask your husband why!”  (Ducking the question when I confronted her for callling in a Fake Ass Acs case about my child that was eventually dismissed and closed.  She also called my former p.o. and try to get me remanded into jail at the same time.  When I told her I was completely cleared of all her accusations & the case had been completely dismissed, now was she going to call my p.o. and tell him that part too? Guess what? Miss Mouth said no, I dont have time for that! And hung up the phone on me.  Typical Aunt D:  Loud as can be with her overblown fake accusations…and quiet as a church mouse and “too busy to be bothered” when proven Wrong)

“I dont have time for that!”  (In response to my therapists request that we have a sit down meeting to resolve any of the thousands & thousands of issues & gripes Aunt D always seems to have stacked up and ready to throw at me like flaming torches)

“I dont want her sleeping there because I said so!”  (Her response to my request that I sleep alone in a single twin sized bed in her spare bedroom while visiting with my oldest kid at her place in Harlem.  Aunt D demanded that I share that tiny bed with my then 11 year old daughter, though it was clearly too small for us both, and despite my previous back injury, which required that I Not get kicked and elbowed in my back all night by my big, tossing&turning child.  Since I was going to be supervising my 2 plus a couple of neices and nephews while Aunt D went out early the next morning, I surely needed a good nights sleep, but Auntie refused to allow my daughter to sleep on the couch and I was too big to fit in it.  Instead, she demanded that we share a tiny spare bed, which I refused to do because…well, because it was pretty much INSANE.  Aunt D then told me that if I didnt like the sleeping arrangements then I should leave. Which I did, cuz the thought of sleeping with my almost teenaged child in a bed that tiny was creepy & crazy as hell…like pervert craziness…no thanks, not doing that! )

“You’re gonna watch him too…or you can just go home”  (Her response after dumping an extra “problem child” on Me while I was with my 2 oldest at her house and babysitting three other kids at the same time.  When I refused to watch that sneaky, lying, bullying brat, Aunt D twisted my arm by threatening to end my visit with my own children, if I didnt agree to babysit the problem child too.  She routinely forced and pressured me into babysitting kids other than mine many times, when I tried to get my kids for visitation)

“I think you’re holding resentments…so I’m cancelling this weekend’s visit”  (Aunt D’s response after I confided that I was considering changing my phone number to avoid her drunken crack/dusthead sister drunk-dialing Me all hours of the night and disturbing my sleep & waking my infant child.  Auntie then declared that if I changed my number like that it meant I was “holding resentments” against her sister, and snatched away the already scheduled weekend visitation the day before my son was supposed to visit.  It was a vicious tactic she used again & again whenever she felt like it, and still uses to this day.  She stopped our visitation for months because I owed her some money for a bunkbed, and again in Aug ’11 because I spoke out about her grown ass son’s abandonment of parental responsibilities to his child, whom I was forced by Aunt D to watch on many occasions.  I loved the child and often invited her over anyhow with no problem & never asked for money or anything in return…but forced babysitting??  Who wants to do that?)

 “Tell your mother I have to talk to her.”  (then, two minutes into the conversation, when I started asking questions she didnt want to answer)… “Well, I dont feel like talking to you right now, so…”  Click!  (WTF?)

“Ask your mother if she’s gonna be home later today, so you two can go visit for a couple hours…”  (A couple hours later, unable to reach the kids, I call Aunt D to ask what time I should expect the children to arrive.  Her response was in Dolby Stereo, like a Boombox)   “WHAT??!  DON’T CALL MY PHONE!  DON’T CALL ME ABOUT NOTHING!  I DONT WANT YOU CALLING MY PHONE, PERIOD!!”  Click!  Really? Not even to ask about the children u are sending up to me that very same day?  Truly ridiculous & childish…like, who does that? A simple…they will b there at 1, 2 pm…Click. Thats fine…we dont gotta chat no more than that.  But if something happened to them on the way Up I would Definitely Be Blamed Somehow for “Not being responsible”…of course! Makes perfect sense to no one except Auntie TwoFace…better make room at the nuthouse & give her two plates…

Hmmm…See what I mean?  It’s Looney Tunes time behind the scenes…and that kind of help I just dont need.  Auntie’s helpful like a Shark, indeed…

Song of the Day…”It’s Routine”  by Beatnuts