If I Had A Son (or Daughter), Would I Let Him/Her Play Football?

The NFL’s  Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers getting it on. Photo courtesy of profootballweekly.com

 

I’ve seen it on ESPN and Fox Sports reports and documentaries.

I can vividly recall my heart breaking when I saw former Chicago Bears quarterback and basic sunglasses-wearing bad-ass Jim McMahon struggling to remember where his home was on outings.

Not to mention big names such as McMahon’s Bears teammate Dave Duerson and former San Diego/just moved to Los Angeles Chargers and USC  linebacker legend Junior Seau kill themselves.

And I’ll never forget the sad condition of Mike Webster, the Pittsburgh Steelers center from the Super Bowl glory days of the 1970s, who was the same age as I am now (fifty) when he passed away of a heart attack.

All because of Cardio Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, which is essentially brain damage caused by way too many concussions.

Which these guys – and many more football players (and hockey players, too; can’t forget them) I may add – have suffered from for so long as recent research found that out of 111 brains of former football players studied, all but one showed signs of CTE.

It’s at the point where for the past couple of years, whenever I watch a football game one of my first thoughts is this…

“I hope his head’s OK.”

I think that’s a main reason behind me, despite liking the pigskin game as much as the next guy, preferring baseball.

A thought came to me very recently regarding all of this on a personal level:

 

CELEBRATING UNDER THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Hart High School’s football team, from Newhall, CA, after winning a CIF championship. Photo courtesy of archive.signalscv.com

 

 

IF I HAD A CHILD – WHETHER IT WAS A SON OR EVEN A DAUGHTER (Plenty of girls have liked the sport enough to have played it and want to play it) – WOULD I LET HIM/HER PLAY FOOTBALL?

I won’t waste any more time on answering this:

If it was flag football in a Parks and Recreation league, sure!

That brand of the game is obviously much safer, with no tackling.

Now the big question; if it was a Pop Warner tackle league or a high school team…

My Answer: YES – if my kid really wanted to do it.

There would be one condition I would put upon my youngster before I signed the form, paid the entrance fees, signed up for the booster club, etc…

The first concussion my child suffered on the gridiron, he/she would be immediately pulled from the field by me – or I would order the coach to – and would be done for the season.

Like any other sane parent, I would take no chances with my loved one’s health.

He or she would be gone, then have a complete brain scan at the beginning of pre-season practice – and pass with flying colors – the next year before I would let them take the field.

I can’t make it clearer than that.

For all those parents and loved ones whose children are doing battle on that 100-yard space, whether he’s a eight-year old in Pee-Wees, a 16-year old under the Friday Night Lights, or a five-star recruit at one of the country’s collegiate football kingdoms,

I pray that your kid gets through this season concussion-free.

 

Action from a Pop Warner game. Photo courtesy of readingpopwarner.com

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WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: Excerpt #3

One of my coping mechanisms for when I get stressed out due to my Asperger’s tendencies: Looking at nature scenery like this…

 

Just like I did for the first two chapters of the book I’ve been working on, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, Which I still plan on (self) publishing by the end of this year, here’s an excerpt from Chapter Three, called “The Bullied Life: We Were Just Playing”:

 

I will always recall – not at all fondly – the moment when Marlon (not his real name – if you grew up with me in Santa Monica, CA you can probably figure out who he is) first started to torment me. It’s a cliché of course, but it was as if it was yesterday instead of forty years ago…

I was in the fourth grade and had just started Will Rogers Elementary School, being among a most ethically diverse group of kids, rainbow-like in that all colors were represented after having exactly one black classmate (she was in my first grade class) during the previous four years that I went to school in Riverside combined.

It was around mid-morning when it happened:

My class, room 404, was outside on he playground with another fourth grade class, milling about on the blackish-gray asphalt in the cool, gray overcast weather that Santa Monica is famous for, waiting for P.E. class to start.

I was just standing there in line with the other nine-year olds when all of a sudden I felt this hard, sharp punch on my arm. I turned around to see who had hit me and here he was, this cocky kid with a big, toothy, arrogant-looking grin, posing like Joe Frazier with his fists up saying “Come on!”, looking like a wolf who had just spotted his prey and was getting ready for a possible meal.

It’s obvious from the perspective of a middle-aged guy that Marlon, in the grand tradition of inner city African-American youth, was “testing” me to see how tough I was, a requirement for social survival among that crowd.

Unfortunately to a nine-year old aspie, it was not so obvious to me what was going on – at all.

I had absolutely no clue whatsoever about how one needs to have a certain toughness or “hard” factor to be respected in the “hood”; I was a weirdo on the Autism Spectrum Disorder from the country, what the hell did I know about needing to fight (among other things) in order to be seen by the other black kids as “cool” as up until that time, about 99.99% of the youngsters of African descent that I knew were cousins, and even there I felt there was a culture clash as I was a rural kid with cows and feral cats as pets, playing in open spaces and hearing roosters crow in the morning, while pretty much all of my cousins were city kids from L.A.

When you put all of those factors together, I suppose it was inevitable that I would be a target to Marlon.

That little punch that Marlon gave me that morning would greatly pale in comparison to what would happen two years later in the sixth grade, the reason being that great Satan and I would be in the same class, room 502, and his unadulterated evilness would result in grade six being the worst year of  my pre-teen life as to say it was nine and a half months of hell would be an understatement.

To be fair, Marlon wasn’t the only kid in that class putting me through such nastiness that year; I’d estimate that roughly a quarter of the class, maybe a little more than that, including many of the boys, either did something or said something to me that made me feel bad in some way. One boy –  not black (to show that it wasn’t just an African-American thing) – who was harassing me said, when I asked him what I did to make him be so mean, forcefully answered, “You came to this school!”, as well as warning me to not go to John Adams, the junior high school across the street, near the end of the year.

Actually, I should have known that my social life at Will Rogers wouldn’t be great the first month I was there…

It was yet another cool and overcast morning: I was walking to the playground and was just about to step onto the wide open part of the asphalt when about eight boys bum-rushed me and , in my mind, were bugging the hell out of me, tugging at me and pulling on my shirt sleeves as it felt like I was being attacked by an invading army.

It was all a blur; as far as I was concerned I was being attacked by strangers for no reason when I just wanted to be left alone…which was why I threw a mini-temper tantrum, commencing to push one or two of those kids away and taking off running afterwards, those kids yelling “get him!” as they intended to jump me and try to beat me up. I ran to a teacher and ended up hiding in a classroom until recess was over.

I specifically recall one time when the teacher had me, Marlon, and another boy in the hallway outside the classroom door because of some shitty thing that he and that other boy did to me in class. When confronted, I’ll never forget what Marlon told her:

“We were just playing.”

This is a commonly used phrase for bullies when taken to task for their evil deeds, the teacher then telling Marlon and the other boy to leave me alone.

Needless to say, it didn’t work.

 

COMING NEXT MONTH:

Excerpts from chapter four of “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, called “The Black Alienation”, which describes my struggles with being accepted by my fellow African-Americans, particularly in the low to lower-middle income neighborhood I spent much of my childhood in, and my trouble with completely adapting to black social youth culture after spending my early childhood years almost exclusively among whites.

 

This reminds me of what I went through during my preteen years, especially in the sixth grade – only I wasn’t a red-headed kid with glasses. Photo courtesy of aceofgeeks.net

 

 

 

NOTE TO DEMOCRATS: How To Win Back The White House In 2020 (and Congress in 2018)

No explanation necessary as to what this place is. Photo courtesy of nbcwashington.com

 

THE STRATEGIES I WOULD TAKE IF I WERE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, THE SENATE, OR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

I have recently realized that I haven’t written about politics on this blog for a while.

After observing what our President-who-will-continue-to-not-be-named and his people have been up to these past eight months, with his approval ratings remaining at the lowest of any commander-in-chief,

It surprises me that no one from the Democrats has talked about strategies regarding how to take Capitol Hill and the White House back in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

I don’t pretend to be an absolute expert in politics, and I’m aware that it would be a bit more complicated, but here is what I would do if I were running for the Senate or the House in next year’s midterm elections;

Or more importantly, the presidency in three years, where the way things are going, it would mark a GOLDEN opportunity to tell President You-Know-Who two words that he has told many people on that reality show of his…

“YOU’RE FIRED!”

 

ONE OF THE ULTIMATE GOALS: To see a lot less of this…

 

1. HIT THE MIDWESTERN/RUST BELT STATES AND HIT THEM HARD.

The reason why our President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is sitting in the Oval Office?

The states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Having been blue (going for Democrats) for over thirty years, it was their voters switching to You-Know-Who and turning their states red that was the difference last November.

Which I will always say was completely Hillary Clinton’s fault, as she completely took those states for granted; former President Barack Obama (I’m quite proud to mention his name!) said that while he took twelve trips to Michigan to campaign for the former First Lady and Secretary of State, she didn’t make one appearance.

This is why I’ve said that You-Know-Who did not win the 2016 election; Hillary lost it.

I would not make that same mistake!

To say that I would have a constant presence in those three states – plus Ohio, as that’s always been and will always be a crucial swing state – would be an understatement as I would have campaign office in as many cities as possible and hold rallies and town hall meetings in cities such as Pittsburgh, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Columbus so often that people would get tired of me.

I would also sent folks such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to those states, particularly hitting the smaller towns (as would I).

Those folks need to know that the Democrats are for them, which they didn’t feel in 2016.

Which is why they went for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

 

2. BORROW A CAMPAIGN PHRASE THAT WORKED FOR A ICONIC CONSERVATIVE IN 1980

I remember Ronald Reagan, during his campaign for President in 1980 amongst crises like inflation, the gas shortage, and those 44 hostages being held in Iran, saying something like this during a commercial,

“Are you better off now than you were four years ago (or two years ago if I was running for Congress)?”

“Do you have a secure job with benefits?”

Do you have solid healthcare?”

“If so, then feel free to vote for my worthy candidate. “

“If not…”
(I’ll let you figure out the rest)

With tensions between the U.S. and North Korea at its highest in 65 years, You-Know-Who and Kim Jong Un threatening to nuke each other’s countries,

And with the homeless issue now at a crisis, tensions between the different races and ethnic groups at an all-time low, and employment not greatly improving among other things,

It’s safe to say that for the working class folks in particular who supported our President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in droves,

Things are not any better for them personally then they were when he took the Oath of Office last January.

Which is why I would state the phrase “Are you better off now than…” every chance I got; every campaign rally, every town hall meeting, every debate.

 

3. VOW TO CUT TAXES FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS – AND PROVIDE JOBS

This is for all those who tend to vote Republican because they hate being taxed.

Cutting taxes for people and families making (just throwing numbers out there; it’s obviously something that would have to be worked out) between $50,000 – $200,000 would rebuild a middle class that has been all but eliminated.

It would do wonders for the economy as such folks would have more money to spend.

And yes, taxes on those who can easily afford it – millionaires and billionaires – would be raised, with a list on what those funds would be spent on: Infrastructure, education, programs to “teach a man how to fish” rather than “give a man a fish”, to coin a Chinese saying.

As for providing jobs, which was a huge issue in the last campaign…

I haven’t seen any news saying that loads of people have gained employment since You-Know-Who took office.

I would hammer home that unlike him, I would fulfill that promise by providing programs to re-educate the working class, so rather than depending on steel mills and coal mines to provide them a living, they could do other things.

Plus I would fight to keep auto factories – and other factories – from moving overseas.

 

 

The skyline of Detroit, Michigan, a KEY state which the Democrats MUST take back. Photo courtesy of detroitunderground.com

 

Yes, these strategies seem simple.

But I still say that any Democrat with aspirations for the White House or Capitol Hill,

Who uses these tactics,

Would have a good chance of winning in 2018 or 2020.

 

An anti You-Know-Who protest after last November’s elections…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: The Three Things I Like Best About That City

My favorite image of the town I grew up in and lived for 22 years….

 

Everybody has a hometown.

Technically, I have two…

Riverside, CA, fifty miles east of Los Angeles, where I was born, spent the first nine years of my life, and have idyllic memories of as I lived with loving grandparents in a rural community outside of that city.

The other place I consider my hometown?

Santa Monica, CA, fifteen miles west of downtown Los Angeles, a town famous for its beach and pier.

It’s in Santa Monica where I lived for 22 and a half years, eighteen in one house.

It’s in Santa Monica where I spent my pubescence, adolescence, and young adulthood.

And it’s in Santa Monica where I did the milestone/rites of passage; play little league,  get my first  (unrequited) crushes on girls,  graduate high school, work at my first jobs, things like that.

Though it’s approaching twenty years since I lived there, moving to Culver City at the end of 1998, there are three things about that seaside town that provide fond memories.

I won’t waste any time with listing those three things:

 

1.  THE AFTERNOON SEA BREEZES

Being that it borders the Pacific Ocean (or technically, Santa Monica Bay), Santa Monicans have been blessed with what I call God’s air conditioning, as starting at roughly 3:00 p.m. winds from the ocean cool that city – and neighboring ones like Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Marina Del Rey – and make it very desirable while starting at between five to ten miles inland the temperature significantly rises.

On hot days, that means that while people in Santa Monica and other beach cities are reveling in those cool breezes, folks living inland are suffering.

Why else does the beach in Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, and other places get crowded with wall-to-wall people during heat waves?

 

 

A VERY nice view of the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, and Point Dume at sunset. Photo courtesy of shuttlestock.com

 

2. THE VIEW OF MALIBU AND THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS ON A CLEAR DAY

On a clear day, particularly after it rains, I always loved looking north and viewing the Santa Monica Mountains and various places like Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Point Dume.

The views of those area is especially spectacular from the Santa Monica Pier, which I took some time to do on Christmas morning in 1998, just a few days before I moved away as I wanted to set my eyes on that incredible view one last time.

I unfortunately haven’t been able to see that sight due to the pier being crowded with tourists and life’s obligations in general, but rest assured that view is something about Santa Monica that I’ve always appreciated.

 

 

My all-time favorite place to eat – sorry that the picture is so small! Photo courtesy of camposfamousburritos.com

 

3. CAMPOS FAMOUS BURRITOS, ON 20TH STREET AND PICO BOULEVARD

There has been no other place where I’ve preferred to eat in my lifetime.

Since age eight, I have been enjoying the tacos, nachos, and burritos from what was originally called Las Palmas until it was renamed Campos around the late 1970s.

Having lived two blocks from Campos for 18 years, I have had a long history with that place…

I remember taking field trips with my junior high school Spanish class to that Mexican eatery for lunch, taking dares to drink the hot green salsa.

Though I was a bit too much of a goody-goody to do so, many of my friends have ditched school to enjoy Campos food.

I can recall taking dates there during my early 20’s.

And my latest enjoyable memory of Campos?

Going there on my 50th birthday to buy avocado burritos, which incredibly enough I had never tried as I always preferred ground beef tacos in my youth and chicken tacos and burritos in later years.

I don’t have to tell you the waves of nostalgia that passed through me that day.

In fact, if someone asked me what my number one memory of living in Santa Monica is, Campos would be it.

I thank God that there’s a branch about a block and a half from where I live in Culver City; their tacos was the first meal I had upon moving there.

I’m quite proud and blessed that I’ve been eating and enjoying Campos food for over forty years, and will continue to.

 

So there they are – my three fondest memories of my twenty-two and a half years in Santa Monica.

Hopefully these descriptions make anyone from that town who may be reading this smile.

 

 

The inside of the Original Campos on 20th & Pico in Santa Monica, which is so successful there are several branches all over Los Angeles’ Westside. Photo courtesy of tripadvasor.com