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Bus Driver by occupation,pro photographer, businessman in the making, wannabe musician, amateur designer/artist/writer/poet, a native of Detroit now living in Suburbia. Here is where I pretty much unwind whatever's on the brain.

Monochrome #89

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Subject:  Nickels Arcade

Location:  Ann Arbor, MI

Camera:  iPhone 7 Plus

Filters:  Light Adjustment and Mono

R.I.P., Soulman!😢

Image copyright Associated Press (no copyright infringement intended).

Wade Douglas Bowles (better known to all as Rocky Johnson) had died last of a massive heart attack. One of Canada’s first Black wrestlers (if not the first in The Maple Leaf), his career has spanned well over five decades in the wrestling business. Originally starting off as a sparring partner to Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, he transitioned from boxing to pro wrestling. He had teamed with (as well as squared off against) The Wild Samoans, Ric Flair, Jesse Ventura, Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, just to name a few.

And also like many wrestlers in the 1970s, he, too, was no stranger to flaunting flamboyant robes. And like his contemporaries in the pro wrestling world, he could cut some sharp promos prior to his matches!

Sidebar: Google Search, look it up on YouTube, or if you’re subscribed to the WWE Network, feel free to see his stuff. Either way you slice it, there is a plethora of his matches that are (up until now) unending.

My memories of RJ was that he and Tony Atlas has became the first African-American tag team in the WWF to win the tag team championship. Their reign lasted six months, during that time, they were known as the “Soul Patrol”. The short reign notwithstanding, it eventually opened up more doors for wrestlers of colour to leave a mark on the business. Men such as Ron Simmons, Butch Reed, Booker T, Stevie Ray, 2 Cold Scorpio, D-Von Dudley, Mark Henry, the list is way too long for names of wrestlers of colour-past and present-but I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention his youngest child, Dwayne Johnson AKA “The Rock”!

Johnson was married into the popular Anoa’i Family. He was the son-in-law of High Chief Peter Maivia (who was the villain in “You Only Love Twice”), had two older children from a previous marriage from the 60s. One thing that made Johnson stand out was his flashing speed, and his trademark split-second dropkicks! Again, folks, look it up (don’t take my word for it). His athleticism was impeccably unmatched. And being both black and from Canada was both an asset and a liability, but you cannot take away what this man has accomplished. His boxing roots he was able to fuse into wrestling, he was one of the few wrestlers who possessed a chiseled physique and had contrasting speed to complement it! A rare thing even today in wrestling. He was basically a foreshadowing of MMA before it became the phenomenon that it became (that’s way too extreme for my taste)!

Another rabbit hole for another time.

It’s no secret that this man was ahead of his time. Most of the stuff that we see wrestlers do in the squared circle today, RJ was doing it fifty years ago! That’s impact in every way imaginable!

His name was a portmanteau (if you wanna call it as such) of two of his childhood heroes Rocky Marciano and Jack Johnson (both boxers-Johnson being the first Black World Boxing Champion), and evening though boxing was his first love, wrestling provided greener pastures for him and his family.

In recent years, he’d written a memoir, but due to a falling out with his co-author, the book was canceled before it could make its way into the hands of the public! Some online manuscripts might be available. Hopefully it’ll be released, albeit posthumously, sadly.

I say the same thing about Soulman that Lenny Kravitz said in a Hendrix documentary: “being a black kid growing up, you didn’t have much reference…”

Thankfully, Rocky “Soulman” Johnson was a reference for children to use to learn the business of sports, and entertainment! He was one of the few to fuse the two together.

Rest In Peace, Soulman!

Monochrome #88

Subject: Cello and Bow

Location: St Clair Shores, MI

Camera: iPhone 7 Plus

Filters: Light Adjustment and Mono

Best Album EVER Produced (I.M.O.)!

Hard to believe it’s been 50 years since this iconic album has hit the shelves. Now granted, I wasn’t born yet when it was released, but the music of my parents era, my grandparents era, had always intrigued me. That said, I’m in my mid-40s. There’s people half my age digging this kinda music!

Sidebar: most of today’s music sucks (and that’s not my soon-to-be-45 self talking, young people, your music is horrendous)!

But I digress. And I am listening to this album while writing this, I might add. While time will not allow me to talk at length about it, I would like to take a few moments to say these things about this album on its Golden Anniversary.

The picture above is the 40th Anniversary album which features material-both original and unreleased-on Sony/Legacy Records. Recorded August 1969, released March 1970, a then-43 year-old Miles Davis has said goodbye to his traditional jazz roots, and despite the backlash he received, he had reached new commercial heights in the music world, a feat he’d continue until his death in late 1991.

A huge majority of his contemporaries had distanced themselves from him, but the musicians who worked with him shared his vision(s) of music as well as the future, and as a result of this, a new groups of individuals (some of whom came from Miles’ second great quintet), some of whom had formed groups of their own (more on that shortly).

Allow me to extrapolate at least the first LP tracks (first two track on CD); 1) Pharoah’s Dance by Josef Zawinul, and 2) Bitches Brew by Sir Miles himself: I was expecting some kind string orchestrations with titles like that, or I was partially right. The first track had a nice tempo to it, it kinda called to mind some events that’d taken place in the Bible with a slight twist of the musical culture from Northeastern Africa and the Middle East. The second track, well, from what Miles put it, each member of the band was referred to the “bitches” who “brewed” their own style, panache, and flavour resulting in a plethora of a fusing of jazz, blues, world, rock, and even hip-hop (albeit decades later).

Back to the lineup:

Miles Davis – trumpet

Wayne Shorter- saxophone

John McLaughlin – electric guitar

Bennie Maupin – bass clarinet

Chick Corea – electric piano (right)

Joe Zawinul – electric piano (left)

Billy Cobham – drums

Lenny White – drums (left)

Jack DeJohnette – drums (right)

Harvey Brooks – bass guitar

Dave Holland – bass guitar, double bass

Don Alias – congas

Juma Santos- congas, percussions

Airto Moreira- percussions, quica

And from this lineup the following year, three well-known fusion groups had sprouted from this collaboration: Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter co-founded Weather Report, Chick Corea formed Return to Forever (with Lenny White), John McLaughlin formed Mahavishnu Orchestra (with Billy Cobham).

And that is just the tip of the iceberg right there!

Now whether or not Sony will issue a 50th Anniversary of this album, I really do not know, but should it happen, yours truly will buy it, period! Cash or credit, either way, I’m getting it!

As stated earlier, Miles received a ton of backlash because of his transition: But he saw a bigger picture, having had success of keeping up with the status quo, Miles had basically “flipped the script”, which is something we must do to survive in the modern world. In one interview he even claimed that he didn’t like being pigeonholed into just one category of music. He wanted to expand, he wanted to explore new things in music.

Jimi Hendrix (whom Miles deeply admired) had expressed similar views.

Some call Miles a sellout, I don’t. I call him a visionary, even a musical prophet. Decades later, young people are thirsting for music like this! Heck, when I was growing up in the early 1990s, I first heard this album (sadly, it was after he died), I didn’t take to it straightaway, but about a decade later, I couldn’t get enough of it!

Even some of the teachers I had in school said this was one of their favourite albums.

I may touch on this album later on this year (especially if Sony released a 50th Anniversary recording)!

Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix, AZ!

One of our first trips after we were settled in “The Valley of The Sun”, my wife and I was hungry and was in need of some good grub. Lo and behold, we stumbled across Little Miss BBQ not too far from our hotel, and long story short, we was not disappointed!

As much as I want to add pics into this blog, most of them speak for themselves whereas the following image speaks extremely loud volumes:

One big sweet roll, smoked turkey, smoked brisket, sliced pickles, spiced potato salad, and jalapeño cheddar grits! My only complaint was I thought they were being stingy with the grits, IJS, but in all fairness, they were slap-yo-mama-up-and-down-and-sideways delicious! My wife had her favourite, RIBS!

And with the exact same sides.

And now… Some pics of where the magic happens..

And BTW, some spices for one’s tastes (I tried all of ’em, and they were good, too)!

And one bonus feature: for years I was wondering what the purpose of that hole in the tab of a pop can was for, thanks to social media I was able to find out…

And some water to slate your thirst in that nice and hot Arizona sun…

And you have the option to either dine indoors…

…or out!

And one other thing, you can expect to see some classic Americana as you approach this very popular diner. Case it point:

And seeing that we’d gotten here early, it wasn’t until after we left that the lines were forming on the outside. I’m surprised this place hasn’t been on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives yet!

But it could happen (and it should, too)!

Travel Often… Your World WILL Change!

Something that I’ve done when I was younger, fell off the radar for a bit, and within the past five years began doing it more often, and I love it!

I try to tell the younger people (thankfully only a few listened), don’t be so quick to wanna court somebody. Get to know yourself as an individual first, get yourself in line with the real world first, get yourself together physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, and for those who believe in a higher power, spiritually!

Travel, see the country, get a passport, visit other countries, observe new things, get to know other people.

I’ve traveled more times in a year than I have in a decade. I don’t plan on stoppin’ anytime soon!

The beauty of travel-expense notwithstanding-is that despite how taxing and on occasion, even daunting, is that when you finally come home, your view of things changes!

I didn’t realise that until I’ve gotten a little older because I’ve only traveled within the Midwest region, but when I’ve expanded my travels to the Deep South, that all changed. When I traveled to the Mid South/Mid Atlantic region, that all changed, when I’ve obtained my passport in 2016, and made my first international travel to Panama a year later, it was go time then!

I think you get the gist of this by now.

And twice this past year my wife and I vacationed on the West Coast/Southwest (Vegas, L.A., San Diego, Bakersfield, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Grand Canyon,Tusayan, Verde River, The Four Corners Monument, the list continues for quite some time).

Again, I speak to the young people as well as the old, travel now, travel often. Your view of things will change!

Money shouldn’t be too much of an issue of you have some connections, if you know some people who can get you lodging for little or nothing, jump on it!

Only a complete idiot would turn down free legitimate lodging (I know a few, unfortunately).

One last note for those who wish to travel but lack the means to do so: If you want bad enough, you’ll make a way for it, if not, you’ll make excuses! I can say that because I’ve been there and done that.

I’ll take the former over the latter any day of the week!

Monochrome #87 (Pano Shot)

Camera: iPhone 7 Plus

Subject: Joe Louis Arena (deconstructed as we speak)

Filter: iOS Light Adjustment w/ Mono

Location: Detroit, MI

Monochrome #86

Subject: Chevy Malibu

Camera: iPhone 7 Plus

Filters: Light adjustment and Mono

Location: St Clair Shores, MI

Monochrome #85 (Bonjour, De’toit)

Subject: Detroit Skyline

Location: Windsor, ONT, CA

Camera: iPhone 7 Plus

Filter: iOS Mono filter edit w/ light adjustment

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