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Sunday, January 03, 2013 
I CRIED...

(In memory of Gwendolyn McMurray,
daughter of the late Bishop Robert W. McMurray,
passed December 27, 2012
)

Category: Life

Today I cried for the loss of you
I cried and longed for the old days too
I cried for Bishop and Sis. McMurray
I cried for things and people I once knew

I cried for old tent revivals and cotton candy
And for those awesome Watch Nights of praise
I cried for banquets, our customary love feasts
And cold bus rides to New Year’s Rose Parades 

I cried for Sunday night broadcasts
And our ‘sister-church’ fellowships
I cried for pageants, recordings and musicals
For church picnics, even MagicMountain trips 

I cried for you, Linda, and Sandra
For sorrows now and those of past
I cried for healing and restoration
Which your soul now has at last 

I cried for your children and your grands
And for friends who loved you so
I cried for delicate memories and
The incessant tarrying of many days ago 

Gwennie, as I now reflect on your life
Your constant presence of great devotion
To preserve the memories that we all cherish
Rendered the truth of your heart’s emotions                    

I still cry for all of the scattered souls
Though we know to whom we belong
Today we mend our broken pieces
To form a bridge to bring you home

 

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012 
THE MOST PERFECT RHYME
(In memory of Evang. Maude “Doll” Spearman,
mother of Renee Spearman, passed June 22, 2012
)

Category: Life

We are but strangers here, they say
Yet, while still we pass along this way
We find a place to plant our feet
To make our days here ever sweet

We build our shelters from the rain,
Place oiled lanterns in window panes
Store many goods for famine days
While carving paths to keep our ways

Though strangers, we make friends
With careful thought in love we pen
The best story of our brief lives
And it seems to be the perfect rhyme
The perfect rhyme

And it is perfect for our earthly lives
We are only here but for a time
Constantly rehearsing cascading themes
That all we do is somewhat dream

We find that our fences do decay
And that all temporal things do fade away
But the soul, which once inhabited, remains
And shall soon find it’s way home again

For we are but strangers here, I say
And once we’ve passed along this way
There is a place indeed to plant our feet
Our days at home will be ever sweet

With our loving Father, a new life begins
With forethought and love He’d already penned
The best story of our lives
And without flaw, the most perfect rhyme
The most perfect rhyme

 

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009 
MATTERS OF THE HEART
Category: Life

“The procedure was unsuccessful.”  Given all the confusion and emotional roller coaster on which I had been these past few weeks, I was pretty much prepared for anything, but I was not prepared to hear the surgeon utter those words.

On Thursday night, I was in the studio working on some arrangements, but anxious to get to the hospital in time to be with my sister.  While there, I got a phone call with an update and recommendation that I not leave just yet.  I was given estimates and such, so I had a little more time before heading out.  I decided to chill with my aunt, who met me at the studio.  She got on the keyboards, and I put on my earphones and jumped on the drums (just got this new set – it’s slick :-D).  It reminded me so much of my mother – she on the organ and I on the drums as she instructed me where and how to break. (An aside: I still kick myself for forgetting (losing) her favorite guitar on the bus that day.  I had all my books and back pack, and don’t know how I got off without it.)

On Friday morning, at about 5:00AM, after breaking night in a long late session, I made a quick stop at home and ended up eating breakfast.  I packed a frozen Cran-Rasberry juice and several pieces of juicy Bazookas.  If there is anything about my traveling habits it’s that I won’t be caught without some sort of grub with me. :-D  At any rate, I knew I’d be at the hospital for several hours, so I’d make a day of it, and the only way to do that was to bring several snacking goodies, a warm jacket, books, laptop, earphones to listen to my drumming CD, and my PDA for texting, IMing, and twittering, if necessary.  Wow, what would I do without my PDA and electronic gadgets? I guess read and write more, but I would definitely miss my texting.

I then drove directly to the Ronald Reagan UCLA hospital to be with my sister. I had not been to UCLA in a number of years but the new hospital was absolutely stunning to me; state of the art.  I felt as if I was walking into an art deco museum with its vast ceiling.  I thought I might look up and see one of Michelangelo’s frescos.  I was directed to the waiting area—and it was so huge I thought, “oh, a public library.”  The patio areas looked like a national park… I may have even seen a deer run across the very manicured lawn. :-D

My sister checked into the hospital to undergo a heart surgery.  She was born with an irregular heartbeat that causes her to have frequent trachecardia episodes, which are rapid irregular heartbeats that may lead to a stroke or heart attack.  While she has always had these episodes, they have increasingly grown more severe and frequent over the years.  So as it was explained to me, this surgery was supposed to minimize, if not eliminate, these episodes.  Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned.  After about 5 to 6 hours of waiting with delirious tiredness, I learned that the surgery was unsuccessful.  I’m glad that they prefaced the news with “she’s awake and in recovery” because I would have just fallen face down had they come out and only said “procedure unsuccessful.”  But I was still confused. When I heard that, I thought, “unsuccessful – what does that mean?” because usually when we hear of an unsuccessful heart surgery we think, “O my, the patient didn’t make it... the patient died on the operating table…” But I was assured that she was fine in the recovery room.  They said it was unsuccessful because since they could not tell which part of the heart was being affected by these episodes, they did not want to continue burning tissues for fear of burning healthy heart tissues, and in effect doing more damage.  So in hopes to pinpoint the section of the heart that is being adversely affected, the next plan is to take her off of medications to purposefully induce the episodes then do the procedure.  Clearly the risks are heightened because the episodes may be even more severe and lead to a full attack.

While some have reservations about the risks associated with inducing episodes, I guess one could rationalize in favor of it by just doing a risk-reward trade-off analysis.  She can choose against it, and live with episodes growing increasingly severe and frequent until eventually one of those episodes claims her life.  On the other hand, she can choose for it, and stand a chance of eliminating the episodes all together, or inducing a fatal one sooner than later.  I guess this choice is based on how one looks at life. How do you want your trip to your final destination to be: on the “express and non-stop” or on “cruise control with lay-overs?”

Finally, I entered her recovery room and she gave me a faint smile.  I kissed her on the forehead and asked her how she was feeling?  She was in a bit of pain coming out of anesthesia and admitted to being a little disappointed.  Considering the very worse scenario that could have resulted, I was just relieved and thankful.

It seems like the heart takes us out one way or another.  Go figure: Who knew that the matters of theheart could be so risky?  Of course, I’m being tongue-in-cheek.  But seriously, we put ourselves through so many stressful situations and never think about it.  Our hearts can be so strong for certain things, yet so frail in ways that we least expect…still we take itsbeat for granted

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Monday, December 08, 2008
BE FREE
Category:
Life

For the past three weeks, my time has been completely consumed with studio work, writing new material and stuff, and I really haven't had a chance to blog as regularly as I had hoped.  However, I decided to take a break and share a thought or two.  A few days ago, I watched a documentary about the late Nina Simone.  As she played the keys of the piano, she leaned her head back and closed her eyes... a position I have taken many times when I play.  It was as if she transcended somewhere else and left the rest of us here to enjoy the beauty of the melodies that she was playing.  She was free.   Interestingly, in the documentary, she says that freedom is to have "no fear at all", and the closest we ever get to being 'free' is the state of a child.  Children follow the desires of their hearts and are completely uninhibited in doing so.  I guess that is freedom.

As we get older, we become more cautious and apprehensive about our approaches and pursuits of the desires of our hearts.  We think and over-think things to the point where we convince ourselves that there will be certain pitfalls and roadblocks ahead to preclude us from reaching our goals or being successful.    In effect, we condition ourselves to believe that we are not free to proceed and/or progress due to some supposed external condition beyond our control.  Notwithstanding the oppressive conditions to which Nina Simone was referring in the documentary, in many other instances we often hinder ourselves.  Of course, seldom do we admit to restricting our own progress because of our own uncertainties and timidity.  It's easier to succumb to the restrictions of our fears than it is to forge with the convictions of our courage.  That seems counter-intuitive, so why?  It's safer.  Fear averts potential danger from the unknown, while courage confronts it.  Clearly, there is an inverse relationship.  However, in the course of my life, I have found an interesting continuum between fear (oppression) and courage (freedom).  The more the "unknown" (i.e. danger, failure, loss, rejection, etc.) materialized in my life, the more my fears decreased and my courage increased.  So, the "unknown" got me closer to courage and freedom.  I once heard someone say, "There's relief in failure."  He probably did not mean it in the same context, but it certainly makes sense to me.

I don't know that we will ever revert to the state of freedom that exists in children.  They don't consider or analyze dangers within the scope of their wants and desires, so they don't yield to any warning signs.  For example, a four year old doesn't normally think to stop for oncoming traffic when he/she hears the ice cream truck.  A child doesn't perceive the danger of going with a stranger when his heart's content is to play with a puppy.  A state of total freedom can sometimes eradicate the line that separates safety from danger, good from bad, and right and wrong. 

Although I am pretty courageous, I am cautious in my pursuits and undertakings.    During moments of meditation, I think about things that I would like to pursue, and I parse out the ones that I have convinced myself may not be a good idea. :-)   This helps me understand me a little better.  It also helps me approach situations that I deem highly improbable or tenuous with courage and resolve, irrespective of obstacles.  I do consider the obstacles for the purpose of planning around them, but I don't allow them to overcome me.  That's my way of preserving some of that 'free' child in me. 

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Friday, November 07, 2008
HISTORICAL EVENT
Category:
News and Politics

On Tuesday November 4, 2008, the election for the 44th President of theUnited States of America was historical.  For the first time since the founding of this nation, a Black American candidate was elected to the presidency with a significant margin over his opponent.  While historically Blacks have overcome many legal and social obstacles, most never envisioned a Black American President, much less a Black American First-Lady, in the White House in their lifetime.  Overcome with emotion, I am thankful to have been able to witness such a special moment.  As President-Elect Barack Obama reflected about Ann Nixon Cooper, who is 106 years of age, she lived through a time when the events before us were not a possibility.  Given the effect that this moment has had on this generation, I can only imagine the confluence and intensity of emotions that she and others from her generation must have felt. 

If the reconciliatory tones in Senator McCain's concession speech and President-Elect Obama's victory speech are any indication, we can look forward to settling our disagreements with a modicum of civility and meeting our challenges with unity.  As President-Elect Obama quoted from President Lincoln's inaugural address, "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection," I saw many tearful eyes from individuals who have neither seen nor experienced what Ann Nixon Cooper has.  Yet, young and old of all races alike were equally moved.  I am grateful and humbled by the experience, and I pray that President Obama does an outstanding job for our sake.  God bless him as he leads us, and God bless America. 

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Friday, October 31, 2008
DISPLACED

Category: Life

Have you ever experienced a form of displacement?  You know like…If you approach a group and join in, you interrupt.  When you introduce yourself, you inappropriately interject.  If you stand on a line, it's the wrong one.  If you take a seat, it belongs to someone else.  If you wore jeans, you should've worn a gown.  If you wore sneakers, you should've worn stilettos.  If you cannot be labeled, you're nondescript.  If you're reserved, you're too secretive.  If you excuse yourself, you're timid, but if you don't, you're rude.  If you apologize, you're weak, and if you don't, you're heartless.  If you reach out to others, you're too forward, and if you don't, you're aloof.  If you went left, I should've gone right.  If you showed up, you should've stayed home.  Of course, if you stayed home, you should've been there.  If you're serious, you're too mean.  If you wave and smile, you're silly and foolish.  The list never ends, but you get the point.  Whatever you do, you're out of place; you lose.

We all experience feelings of displacement in the course of our lives.  I often find myself observing and identifying behavioral patterns, however subtle, of people when they are trying to adjust to environments and/or "fit in."  It's funny because whether it is riding in an elevator, looking for the designated gate at an airport, or asking the attendant at a parking kiosk for help, here's what I almost invariably see: individuals attempting to look comfortable and act natural in the most uncomfortable, if not outright humiliating, situations.  For example, I step into an elevator, and everyone tries to secure a corner or wall spot.  Those who don't can't quite figure out whether they want to face those along the wall or the door.  Then I notice how all eyes divert.  Some fidget with watches to avoid eye contact; some look up, down and others fix "death stares" at the panel indicating the floor numbers as they move.  Of course, there is always that one who tries to break the ice with a witty comment.  How about the guy who can't remember that he parked on Level A, so he roams around the entire parking structure passing the kiosk attendant several times looking for his car.  He puts his best face on to pretend he knows where he's going.  But were it not that we've all seen him circle the structure about three times in utter frustration and despair, he'd be pretty convincing.  And of course, there is that one individual who will further sear in the poor guy's sense of displacement with "You can't find your car?!" :-D

The point is that no one wants to be the focal point of unflattering spectacle or uncomfortable situations.  So in our efforts to avoid that, we sometimes engage in very funny behavior that further highlights our displacement.  When I was growing up, I always looked to find "my place."  As I got older, I came to the understanding that my place was ever evolving.  There, I found the Eklektikos, or Eclectic, which derives from various sources.  But more importantly, I learned to subject my fears to courage.  I embraced variability: the 'different', the 'old', the 'new', etc.  So I am drawn to individuals whose creativity, styles, thought process, and presentation extend beyond the standard with authenticity.  I am not necessarily interested in the "different" for the sake of difference.  I'm interested in the "authentically different" because their roads are paved in authenticity and everything that is real to them.  They are often the 'first of firsts' to do a thing, trailblazers, or pioneers.  They are inspiring.  While at first they may seem displaced in their respective industries, time often proves that they define those industries. :-)

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Monday, October 13, 2008 
“EVER CONSUMING TIDE"

Category: Writing and Poetry

Some of you have asked me whether I would post my poetry along with commentary.  So here is a short piece I wrote using Personification, one of my favorite literary techniques.  However, while I did consider posting it with commentary, I chose to not do so because often poetry carries entendres, both hidden and overt messages, which can mean different things to each reader.  Therefore, if I make a commentary, I will have restricted its meaning to all readers.  At any rate, I really appreciate and welcome your thoughts; what it means to you.  Hope you enjoy it.



Ever Consuming Tide
by Eartha

What satisfies time?  
The ever consuming tide

Placing a day within the grip of her vice
Calendars fall under the weight of her might
Imposing herself even on those who seek cover
She thirsts for another and yet another

She has engulfed centuries in her vacuous form
And like the grave that enlarges itself
Unyielding to the pleas of those that go before
For her subjects she longs more and more

With ages in her possession
Who may triumph in her affection?
How do I still her, convince her to stay
As she walks the route in her measured pace

She sits quietly then moves rapidly
Tarrying for none; yet for some
Her presence seems unending
And she takes no thought of befriending

What satisfies time?  
That ever consuming tide.

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Monday, October 06, 2008
SUNNY CALIFORNIA
Category:
Life

The recurring greeting I usually get from people out of state is "How are you doing in sunny California?"  To that I usually respond, almost without thought, "Fine!"  But given the weather conditions to which people have been subjected in other regions, I have deviated from the same monosyllabic response.  So the last time I was greeted, my response was "it's HOT like Summer on the first day of Fall, but I'm grateful that I'm not standing atop my roof watching my sofa float down the street."  The recent storms and hurricanes of some of our neighboring states reminded me that I have no reason to complain about the heat, from which I can easily find relief, however temporary, in an air conditioned building, by sitting under a fan, or even going to the beach. There are many options if you really think about it, in comparison to other places in the world.  The Sahara doesn't find me wandering aimlessly in her backyard, parched, thirsty and panting after mirages.  I'm not exposed to subterranean temperatures in Antarctica, where I'm certain those beautiful, white polar bears are adorable only from a great distance, like high definition television.  They reside in their natural habitat right where they belong, and are not being groomed and expected to conduct themselves as civilized human beings, which seems to be a difficult and impossible task for some humans.  Just try getting close enough to wrap a scarf around those necks and place the cutest mittens on his paws; the bears, I mean. That'll be the day.

We've seen phenomenal footage and photos of intrepidly daring photographers and cameramen, who probably awaken each morning anticipating their next dangerous, yet exciting encounter.  During the recent storms, even a few brave anchormen reported from their various on-the-scene locations, some attempting to maintain their balance as the fierce winds blew all around them, which is a metaphor for life.  I'm not sure how well I'd do with the hair blowing in the wind part. :-)

I did have a few concerns, not just because I know people in some of those areas, but because natural disasters are beyond our control.  We can only attempt to make certain precautions after being advised of impending dangers and not assuming too much.  There are those of great faith and hope, but it's not nice to tempt Mother Nature.  And I may be presumptuous in taking the liberty to say that I don't think the Lord bade anyone to literally walk on water this time.  I am aware that not all have the luxury of moving swiftly, but wisdom is a principle component to have in this life.  Tests are not on my list of invites.  I hope to minimize them as much as possible.

As for sunny California, well, the earth does quake every now and then, as we find ourselves dazed, like "what just happened?", even though we are most certain that we are not hallucinating.  However, once it's realized, you first ask yourself "dummy, why the heck did I freeze, as if the shaking would stop if I didn't move?"  Secondly, we immediately get on the phones with our loved ones and friends, asking, "Did you feel that?"  We are sometime more relieved that our china didn't fall out of the curio cabinet more so than the roof caving in our heads.  Some would even be disgusted if the sprinklers went off because we'd just gotten our hair done.  What vain creatures we are. As for me, I couldn't just run out into the street in my pajamas. I need to at least look decent.  I'd put my make up bag, along with an extra set of clothes, right by the door, with my keys, guitar, 2 favorite pairs of boots, maybe a black blazer, and oh lord, how could I forget my kick-butt CD case of favorite artists? Clearly you can see where I'll be... under the rubble! :-)

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Sunday, September 28, 2008
ARTISTIC AUTONOMY

Category: Writing and Poetry

Today I went to one of my favorite places.  It's somewhere facing the water.  I parked my car, took my sandals off, and stuck my feet out the window to feel the cool breeze between my toes. Then, I watched the sun set into a bright red horizon line.  From afar, the waters seemed to ready the waves to rush towards me and dash against the shoreline rocks, creating a violent splash right in front of me.  At other times, they were calm and peaceful, almost as if the hand of God had stilled them for my amazement.  The view was absolutely remarkable.  I like going there for inspiration.  My first thought was about absolute autonomy.  I was completely unrestricted and free to create either something as breathtaking as the view before me or not.  I figured I'd write anything that came to mind; there needn't be a point to any of it because, after all, it was supposed to be an autonomous experience.  Who cares whether or not I had run on sentences, colons instead of commas, 'but' instead of 'and', fragmented phrases, misspelled words, or even improper sentence structure?  Bad syntax?  Who cares?  I knew what I was feeling, and my writing was merely a reflection of my emotions.  So, I wrote.  After about two hours, I had used up my entire pad.  I was done, and I felt good about everything I had expressed on paper.  The point is to capture the thoughts and feelings at that moment without restrictions.

As a creative artist, I have autonomy over my thoughts, their composition, expression, and presentation.  Of course, that autonomy can often be compromised when there are elements that restrict and/or alter free expression, be it for business or other purposes.  For instance, it is quite rare to be lauded as a great literary writer when your body of work is riddled with incorrect grammar, lack of punctuation, poor syntax and word usage.  Likewise, it is almost impossible to produce flawed literary work, at least according to the grammatical rules of Standard English, and safely land in a comfortable spot on the New York Times Bestseller List.  While, a literary writer has the freedom to write about anything, he/she must do so within defined constructs of writing formats.  As musical writers, there is more freedom to write exactly what is on our minds without a care for word or punctuation usage.  For example, in Believe It Or Not, Nickelback sang "Believe it or not everyone have things that they hide." While the use of 'have' instead of 'has' is obvious, it worked.  When Aerosmith introduced Sweet Emotion, "My get-up-and-go must've got up and went," they couldn't have said it any better to drive the point home.  Erik B. & Rakim did just that in their song What's On Your Mind when they said, "Hello, good looking is this seat tooken" :-D  The flagrant use of a 'made up' word almost assaults your knowledge and understanding.  You find yourself asking, "what in the world!  Is that a word? !@$%^&*"  And who can overlook Sly and the Family Stone's song title "Thank U (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)"   Clearly, the play of words, pronunciation, and spelling lend for a very lighthearted and comical take of language, and that's the point.  As a creative people, we maintain artistic autonomy in order to effectively touch others musically, even if it means breaking away from convention.

The time was well spent.  By then, the sun had been completely consumed into the ocean, and I couldn't see the horizon anymore.  A clear night had come upon me, and it was time to head back home to get ready for tonight's event.  But it's ok.  I'll c
ome back; I always do.

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Monday, September 22, 2008
"HOW CAN YOU STAND IT?"

Category: Life

Recently someone asked me how I am able to maintain relations with people who are diametrically opposed in ideology and philosophy.  More accurately, the question posed to me was "How can you STAND it when you KNOW he's voting that way!?!?!?"  I thought about it for a while and realized that I had never entertained the implications of that question seriously because my relationships with people are not solely based on the philosophies and/or ideas upon which we agree, but on the understanding that on some (if not many) of them we may not agree.  So, I am able to engage people, hear their positions, and more importantly, understand their rationale for their choices.  I do realize that for some people it's a deal-breaker.  If you don't agree with them, they will dismiss you and even try to destroy you personally, but I believe that most people are sensible enough to accept personal differences and still have meaningful and functional relationships.

I reconcile the two opposing sides of my friends the same way I reconcile the working relationship that many individuals, who were Registered Democrats during the civil rights movement, had with a Martin Luther King Jr., who was a registered Republican.  Both sides were of opposing parties but I suppose they found enough common ground to overlook their differences.  Certainly, history holds that although Martin Luther King Jr. and Sr. were both registered Republicans, the latter of whom voted for President Richard Nixon, many of their social or moral positions were consistent with those in the Democratic Party.  Their political positions did not skew their sense of social consciousness and morality.  Hence, in that same vein, I trust that decent individuals, irrespective of party association, are able to make informed decisions that are best for this country and the common good of its people.

Another example that comes to mind is the fracturing division that exists among several religious groups.  I was raised in a Pentecostal home.  My biological mother was a COGIC (Church of God In Christ) woman and my foster mother was a strict Apostolic woman, both of whom believed in the infilling of the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues, dancing, and the playing of instruments (and if I may say so myself, I would kill a tambourine :-D).  However, some of my childhood friends were reared in Baptist, Lutheran or Catholic homes.  While they subscribe to the Christian faith, the expressions are certainly different.  Many of you know that the differences between these religious expressions are as old as dirt, and often the negative sentiments for each run deep.  Growing up, I heard Baptist disparage Pentecostals with "It don't take all that dancing and carrying on."  And in turn, the Pentecostals asserted self-righteousness with, "We dance in praise!"  I suspect that although some of you have heard it before, this is probably new to some of you.  Those are some of the more sheer differences, but the doctrinal disagreements among religious groups run deeper and broader.  Unfortunately, each side never missed an opportunity to pelt the other side with verbal zingers by invoking these insignificant differences, rather than affirming their most important commonality: Jesus Christ.  However, while we will always have some believers with very dogmatic approaches to religion, the fact that we are still here co-existing is a testament that most people are able reconcile their differences and find some common ground.

As it relates to this election, which will undoubtedly be contentious, I have some friends who want Obama to win and are voting for Obama; some want McCain to win and are voting for McCain; and some have no trust in government or either candidate to do what's good for the country or the people, so they are indifferent and are not voting.  But here's a kick in the head, some want Obama to win and are betting on McCain (or vice versa).  In short, this is how it breaks down among people I know.  The "socio-ecologically conscious" are for Obama.  The "moral-nationalistically conscious" are for McCain.  The "cynics" are for neither.  And then I know some "mathematicians/ statisticians" whose position is, "It doesn't matter who I want, this is who's gonna win!"  Their rationale is based on mathematical formulas and statistical models that they have constructed.  As you can gather, the varying takes are definitely interesting but what is most curious to me is the rationale that each offers.

Here's the way that my mathematician friends explained it to me.  Assuming that New York and California are the control groups that we are going to use to determine the probabilities of a typical voter, we would conclude that Obama would win because the data points gathered would show an insurmountable support for Obama, and against McCain.  However, while the probability of a voter in the coastal states such as New York and California reflects a demographic that favors an Obama presidency, the typical voter in those states is not an accurate representation of the average voter in the remaining states because the voter pools in New York and California do not show a normal distribution of the American voters.  Based on these pools, we would conclude that the average American voter is a "socio-ecological" voter, but statistically, the average American voter is a white conservative (irrespective of party), who's views are more consistent with that of the "moral-nationalistic" voter than with that of the "socio-ecological" voter.  So while our avant-garde, forward-thinking qualities are best reflected by the demographics of our coastal states, our socio-political direction is more accurately reflected by the heartland states.  Therefore, if we want to know what the latest fashion is, we should consider New York, but if we want to know who our next President is more likely to be, we need to also consider states like Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.  Then, to support their position, they showed me some "formulaic extrapolations" and "statistical regressioncalculations" penciled on paper that left me with a permanent stare and glaze of cluelessness than it did clarity. :-D   Of course, after every intricate discussion like this, they smile at me like parents would a 5-year old who doesn't understand why it's not a good idea to stick the family dog in the dryer along with the laundry.

The truth is that most people are fixed on their ways and/or belief systems, irrespective of facts, and the likelihood is that they will carry their philosophies for the rest of their lives.  It's not lost on me that some advocates on both sides will do absolutely anything to win at any cost.  They will do and say anything just to boast a "win" for their respective side or to be liked, even if it adversely affects the country in the process.  However, I believe that those are far few and in between.  Most people do care about the country and its people.  Clearly, some will never subscribe to the views of the opposing side, but if most of us commit to listening to the rationale of the opponent, it may at least allow us to understand how we got to this place, perhaps take corrective measures and reconcile our positions, if need be done so.  The point is that as long as we live on this earth, we will always differ and quarrel over politics, religion, music, cultural mores and tenets, etc… but if we really want to make it work, we better find more effective ways of engaging those with whom we may differ than outright dismissing them, and solely engaging those with whom we agree.  Just a thought.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008
9/11 ON MY MIND

Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" was the perfect depiction of one of my favorite places to visit.  It was just as I had envisioned; sky scrapers, city lights, crowded streets, taxi cabs, street vendors, Broadway theatres and everything.  My first visit in no wise betrayed me.  I felt at home.  My mom, rest her soul, would have had a caniption had she known I was out walking the streets of New York City looking for a deli and a slice of cheesecake at 12 midnight.  My friends, who are natives, seem to think I fit right in and that the only thing that possibly gave me away was my inability to fold "a slice" (pizza) in half and eat it the way a true New Yorker would have.  I was scoffed at.  I felt kind of greedy doing it that way since it seemed to me that the pizza would last longer if I ate it piece by piece without doubling it, but what the heck do I know... I'm from California. They acted as if this was a cardinal sin, and that I had no pizza eating etiquette whatsoever.  When in Rome do as the Romans.

The third week of February 2003 was an exciting one for me. By this time, I had been to the Big Apple several times, knew how to fold my pizza, how to walk fast in the streets, but had not yet mastered dodging between cars.  I had just concluded an interview at CBS, and was preparing to catch up with other artists before that evening's event, and I was feeling just great. My friends were laughing and kicking up dust when we began slowing the car down before coming to a red light.  From the front I hear, "There it is, Eartha."  Seemed like the world stop turning as I glanced over to my left to see a big empty space and a black tarp over an adjacent building; sort of the way darkness shadowed over aching hearts.  I innocently asked "The World Trade Center?" There was no answer.  By this time, we were all choked up and speechless.

How can one be in a moment of bliss and suddenly descend into nothingness within seconds?  Such is life.  I felt my heart accelerating and an unspeakable heaviness in my chest.  I could not constrain myself as an overwhelming sea of synthesized emotions stirred within.

It was unfathomable to think that I was just a few feet away from a location for which I have no true description.  It is sacred and silent, barren yet beautiful, for there are remnants of grace in tragedy.

I have not had the opportunity to visit any of the other memorial sites, but my humanity has taken me there many times over the years, and I make no haste to return (from them), as I believe it is essential to allow the recollection of these events to tarry before us a while, lest we permit them to fade (away).  And that would be an extraordinary offense.

Remembering that day, the hurt of one New Yorker was the hurt of us all, and the loss of one was all of our loss.  My heart was broken on September 11, 2001, when "Ground Zero" was formed.  America was wounded after a sudden crash darkened our New York skies several years past.  There was debris, burnt paper, broken glass, and a black cloud hovering over a fierce inferno.  Tearful eyes were searching for life: friends, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, and wives.  The intense sobbing of our brothers and sisters, who pleaded with everyone to help them find their loved ones, filled the streets of lower Manhattan.  Some wailed at the news that their family members didn't make it or had not been found.  Others courageously offered themselves as shields to cover the young.  To make matters worse, phones were disabled and communication lines were down.  There was no question we were together in this plight.  There was no difference among the young, old, Latino, Asian, Black, or White.  All faces looked the same, a shade of gray ash and pain.  Seven years have passed, and the grounds are prepared for new building structures and repairs.  I'd like to take this day to commemorate those who are no longer here.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008
MOMENT OF GLORY

I had only caught segments of this year's 2008 Olympics, but it ignited the same flame of determination and spirit of excellence, just as it does each time I view an event of exceptional athleticism and artistry.  I'm certainly grateful for the replays on cable, which allowed me to review each event of my choice as many times as necessary.  My heart was pounding.  I became so emotional, I was moved to tears.  I was elated about the victories, but not just for my team.  I marveled at the athletes' well-defined frames, feet of fire, and hearts of courage and good sportsmanship, or must I be politically correct by stating "sportspersonship?" :-)  You know we really get kind of ridiculous with all this stuff.  You're almost afraid to say anything for fear of offending somebody. Good grief!

At any rate, I am never short of being amazed at these Champions.  All are extraordinary athletes/professionals.  Although one has his picks going in, there always exists that element of surprise when some unexpected runner pulls up from behind the pack and stuns the world, and quite possibly himself, as he crosses the finish line to obtain the gold; a moment of glory. That's the moment for which we strive.  

I suppose that whether it is in sports, entertainment, academics, politics or whatever profession one may pursue, there is absolutely nothing like it.  It seems that you'd re-live all it took to get there, just for that once in a lifetime, unforgettable moment.  I'm sure every athlete recalls all his childhood play that sparked his interest in a particular sport.  I suspect they even have countless tales, which in retrospect would seem more comical than heroic in the context of the Olympics.  I'm sure everyone has at least one memory.

Most of my childhood summer days were spent riding skates, skateboards, playing baseball and football in the street.  We were restricted within a ten house (1 block) radius, yet we would often sneak around the corner to buy 10cent icicles (icees) of our favorite flavors: lemon, cherry and sour apple, being mine.  On one side of the street we antagonized Christie, the awesomely vicious 12" terrier, who would run off of her porch to chase us down the sidewalk, as if she were really going to laud some vicious attack.  However, we were afraid of her owner, who stood about 2 inches above Christie, and was an ill-tempered woman with a hooked arm like Captain Crook from Peter Pan.  She never smiled but often hurled profanities at us for no reason at all.  This odd couple lived further down the block and she detested our rambling through her bushes to retrieve our balls.  It took almost 3 double dares to go near her porch.  That little fierce poodle would alarm her by barking out of the window.  The next thing you heard was "Get the ~!@$%^&* out of my ~!@$%^&* yard before I ~!@$%^&*.  We were usually around the corner by that time.  It was forbidden territory, and we tried to make our way back before someone told on us. We had several concerned, but one really annoying nosey, neighbor (God rest her soul).  I can hear Mrs. M. stretching it out for my mom right now..."Yeah, honey, them kids was all the way down cross the main streets carryin' on. I seen 'em and tole 'em they betta stay their butts way from 'roun nat co-nah! (of course, pronounced "corner"). :-D

Some hot evenings we were still allowed out while the streetlights were on, as some adults were usually out watering lawn, conversing or just basking in our beautiful California breeze.  As kids we did a little of everything-- hop scotch, jump rope, tree climbing and racing on our bare feet on the asphalt.  I resigned from tackle football around 12 or 13 because I was becoming a lady and, although I was pretty strong, the guys were getting a little more difficult to handle for my puny little self.  I didn't want to have to hurt anyone afterward, so I'd wait for tag football.  Luckily for me, I wasn't the last one picked for any sport, but I was one of the first to bail whenever a baseball cracked a window.  We had been warned all too often about playing with the hard ball, but who listened? :-)

I remember running down a very long driveway to perfect my landing in the pole vault event. I could just hear the crowds cheering me on as I landed on an old mattress in the backyard, glancing up in the sky, as if to say, "I did it!"  The barrier stood only about 3 ft. high, and I was already 5'7" at 11 years of age.   I would imagine that shot putting would be similar to "chunking"? hmmm?  Although most of us don't become Olympians, that's my childhood recollection to which we can all probably relate.  

With my anecdote, I say "Live for your dreams."  When all is settled, the crowds will have gone home and maybe even forgotten the names of the athletes that "wowed" them.  Yet, those who participated in this year's Olympics will have the same reassurances of their undertakings.  They weren't lucky.  They deserved to be there and will always have a memory of an accomplishment that remains in their quietness that says, "I am of a Champion spirit."  Indeed, they are the Champions who i
nspire. :-)

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Monday, June 02, 2008
RANDOM THOUGHTS OF A SATIRIST, ACADEMICIAN
 

Even though it has grown silent
I hear the voices getting louder
And even though everything seems to still
I feel our hearts beating faster

Now that we discovered
What our hearts were saying when we stopped speaking
Silence takes the place
That the voices filled when our hearts were feeling

-A Satirist, Academician
April 31, 2009

 

I usually push away from the table
When things don’t make any sense
But sometimes I stick around to observe
Just how far they’ll go and to what extent

Sometimes you have to keep moles around as friends
Even though they monitor everything you do
Their intent is to keep you from getting to the end
As they slowly and methodically attempt to co-opt you
…but I see them ;-)

-A Satirist, Academician
March 27, 2009

 

Some things I get quite clearly
Some so complicated I just leave alone
Sometimes I think I understand
And I pretend when in fact I really don’t

-A Satirist, Academician
March 5, 2009

 

I know you used to look for me
And before long I’d show up
In your own way you used to talk to me
And hope others wouldn’t interrupt

I thought I’d fall back a little bit
To play it safe, give you elbow space
Cause I wondered if you’d be committed
When I turned around would I see your face?

-A Satirist, Academician
February 24, 2009

 

I quietly walk through the forest
Making sure not to kick the dry leaves
For fear that the wild may awaken
And suddenly start chasing after me

Similarly my heart recently whispered
Something I’ve not spoken within anyone’s earshot
But I know that you’ve already heard
Because everyday more than just our eyes seem to lock

-A Satirist, Academician
February 10, 2009

 

I happened upon something special
Unbridled beauty to display on a mantle
I call it my own newfound treasure
But I’m not sure the care I should use to handle

I heard one say to another
“That’s too hot for your bare hands
Because even if you carefully hold it
The likelihood is you’ll still get burned”

That cat is already feral
And it will never be as a pet tamed
That’s a grown feline with sharp fangs
Even though it’s showing another face

-A Satirist, Academician
December 22, 2008

 

I’ve heard rumors passed off as facts
From several sources around
I’ve even been taken aback
By the things that some dared pronounce

But I dismiss them as disparagement
Until I’ve first heard your side
Because I refuse to cast and see you
Through the prism of someone else’s eyes

-A Satirist, Academician
November 4, 2008

 

A fisherman usually accepts
Whatever comes attached to his line
But he is usually disappointed
When the bait comes back and the trout is left behind.

-A Satirist, Academician
November 1, 2008

 

I'm usually adept with words
Skilled at reading between the lines
But I must have misunderstood
Maybe the print was written too fine

I don't know what to think
I only draw a blank to answer my 'why?'
Blind-sided; wondering what I did
I must have misread the signs

-A Satirist, Academician
October 30, 2008

 

One moves at a rate not visible to the human eye
While the second is the vigorous exertion of power
Energy is the mass by the squared speed of light
As Einstein brilliantly equated one part to the other

Hint: The Equation of Relativity

-A Satirist, Academician
October 8, 2008

 

Since you have left me with only hopes of you in my life,
I look for you, sometimes in very strange places;
Trying to satisfy the unbearable longing inside,
At times I see you in the eyes of unfamiliar faces.

But I know that one day your soul will meet mine,
And my search for you will eventually come to an end
Reassuring that no matter the passage of time,
I cannot replace you with a stranger, acquaintance or even a friend.

-A Satirist, Academician
September 4, 2008

 

Should you strive to please all men,
You will eventually ignore and deny yourself.
For some you will never be worthy,
So whatever you give will never be enough.

Whether talented, attractive, funny or smart,
And you wear garments in the colors others choose
You can pick the red, green, blue or black,
It still won't satisfy those determined to discount you.

In short …do you.

-A Satirist, Academician
September 3, 2008

 

Some admirers gathered around an image;
Others were fixed with awe and adulation,
Speaking to the presence before them;
Still the identity offered little to no evidence.

..Then a wise old man tapped me on the shoulder
And feebly whispered a question in my ear,
"Since the identity behind the image is concealed,
how do you know that the representation is real?"

-A Satirist, Academician
September 1, 2008

 

It is always becoming to temper one's interest and curiosity
with discretion and prudence.

-A Satirist, Academician
August 28, 2008

 

I know the things that are real in my life,
Among the many things that are not;
Whether I meet hundreds, even thousands,
I've separated you from the lot.

So irrespective of ancillary benefits,
Your heart should be at ease
Because what isn't, isn't
And what is, will always be.

-A Satirist Academician
August 26, 2008

 

I know that if I show an attractive externality,
I will likely invite a showering of compliments;
But the extent to which I take myself seriously?
Solely depends on substance and intrinsic context.

In short, I'm not easily given to hype
…I do what's good and take it all in stride.

-A Satirist, Academician
August 12, 2008

 

I really wish you could see
the beauty of my newly tapered size,
one said to the blind.

That would be great, as long as I can still hear
the thoughts that run through your mind,
to the deaf he hurriedly replied.

-A Satirist, Academician
August 12, 2008

 

When all channels of communication are restricted,
Conversation defaults to its most likely form: Silence.

-A Satirist, Academician
August 7, 2008

 

Love finds many occasions to run and hide;
but when challenged to release,
it always proffers one good reason to stay alive.

-A Satirist, Academician
August 1, 2008

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