Some Personal Thanksgiving Thoughts

Photo courtesy of people.howstuffworks.com

 

Just Being Honest Here:

While I like Thanksgiving as much as the next person, what with all the comfort food, the various parades and football games on TV, and being thankful for all the blessings that I have,

Which I am very thankful of and always will be, don’t get me wrong,

Thanksgiving Day – one of the three days out of 365, along with Christmas and Easter, that the homeless and others down on their luck are guaranteed a full meal, by the way – has never really given me the same exact type of warm, fuzzy feelings that Christmas Day has.

As much as anything else, it’s been a welcome four days off from the routines of school as a kid and work as an adult.

The fact that for the Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning, has influenced these opinions as while if not for Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit, and the rest of that Wampanoag tribe from New England, Thanksgiving Day would not exist, has contributed to my feelings about this holiday that Abraham Lincoln officially designated as such in 1863.

It was particularly Squanto who saved those Pilgrims from dying at Plymouth Rock by teaching them how to fish, plant corn and hunt turkey after half of that Plymouth colony died off in the winter of 1620-21.

And what did those Native Americans got for their kindness and generosity?

Let’s put it like this…

While plenty of folks can claim ancestry from the Mayflower, there are absolutely no descendants of Samoset and the rest of the Wampanoags.

In other words, that tribe was completely wiped out, the Pilgrims eventually showing that those Wampanoags were no friends of theirs.

 

Linus telling Charlie Brown and the rest of his friends about the significance of Thanksgiving. Image courtesy of disneyabcpress.com

 

 

As for personal memories,

My three main Thanksgiving memories as a kid were:

1. Watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”,

2. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and the CBS All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade, where they would broadcast different parades from across America; I especially remember them showing a parade from Hawaii that I thought was cool.

and…

3. Watching the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving morning as a high school and college kid, and a few years after that.

And I wasn’t , nor am I now, a Lions fan; it was just something to do for a young guy who liked football, I guess.

As far as watching the parades, I stopped watching Macy’s, or any other parades on TV, years ago; the only parade that holds any interest from me is the Tournament of Roses Parade from Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

In fact, I think the “Up With People”-like presentations that dominate the Macy’s telecasts are lame and unwatchable.

And in my view, you can only see giant Underdog balloons so many times before they get old.

 

And as for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving…

While it has its merits,

And while it was one of my favorite things to watch as a youngster, particularly during my elementary school years as it premiered in 1973 (I was in the first grade),

It doesn’t hold as much appeal to me as its Christmas counterpart does as a middle-aged guy. And I’ve felt that way for most of my adulthood.

I still watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving as Peanuts will always be the greatest comic strip of all time in my book, but I can’t help feeling that Charles Schultz sort of mailed it in compared to A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

I mean, Peppermint Patty was just being rude to just invite herself and her friends Marcie and Franklin to Charlie Brown’s house, not even caring that that round-headed kid and his family weren’t going to be home.

And it would have been all I could do to avoid smacking her, grabbing her by the scruff of the neck and throwing her out of the house when she complained about the spur of the moment meal of popcorn, pretzels, toast, and jelly beans that Charlie, Snoopy and Linus put out, as she expected them to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and the works.

I think you can see why I don’t get the nostalgic, “Greatest Animated Feature of All Time” feeling over A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” the way I do over “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

 

 

I can’t write a post about Thanksgiving without including a picture of people preparing dinner for the homeless, as these folks are doing in Boston. Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

 

 

Speaking of turkey…

Because of my gout condition and the fact that turkey has the purines, which turns to uric acid, which causes the extreme pain in my foot area,

I haven’t eaten that delicacy in nearly seven years, opting for roast chicken, which has fewer purines.

So I can’t even partake in the food that makes Thanksgiving the national holiday that it is.

But that’s OK; chicken is a good substitute.

And of course I eat plenty of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and the other dishes that are so part of this holiday.

As such, I’ll do some relaxing and vegetating tomorrow, like I pretty much have done on this day.

And oh, before I forget…

 

Photo courtesy of midlifecrisishawaii.com

 

 

 

 

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WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: Excerpts From Chapter Six

I can certainly relate to scenes like this, because it happened to me many times throughout my school days. Photo courtesy of wisegeekhealth.com

 

My experiences as a high school kid with Asperger’s were so many, I had to divide them into two chapters.

These two excerpts of my (hopefully) soon to be self-published book, WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, is from the chapter I call “ROUGH TIMES AT SAMOHI, PART TWO”:

 

It was like there were so many areas of my life where I was behind seemingly everybody else: kids were partying up a storm complete with the obligatory drunkenness and debauchery with me never being invited to any of those shindigs. Kids were getting driver’s licenses and cars and God, seemingly, was telling me no to doing that same thing.

Not to mention kids, particularly in that moment in time, pairing up and hooking up like crazy…

In my mind at least, people were leaving me out of things because they generally didn’t see me as cool, which I fully admit I wasn’t, and that hurt. Every time I found out about some kegger bash which I was obviously not invited to, like this one huge blowout that the band had in my junior year in the Santa Monica Mountains, I felt humiliated, degraded, and like my peers regarded me as nothing but a waste of space.

But getting back to the prom:

There I was, without a date and feeling more than ever like a dorky loser.

Mom, who was dead set on my attending this rite of passage, made a call to one of my cousins who was not only a teacher, but the coach of her drill team at her high school.

The next thing I knew, I had a date to the Samohi prom.

Just in case you’re going “Yay, that’s wonderful!” right about now…

Don’t even bother.

This date was the classic nerd-getting-fixed-up kind, complete with a girl who, looking back, I suspect was compensated by my cousin either with money or in some other way; I sensed the why-did-I-agree-to-go-with-this-goofy-mark vibe when I talked to her on the phone a couple of days beforehand, and again when the big night arrived.

She wasn’t very outgoing or friendly; it was as if she was working a shift at McDonald’s, particularly as we rode in the town car on the freeway back to her house. As I tried to tell her what a good time I had and to hug her goodbye, she kind of pulled away from me, her body language saying “Yeah, whatever, just let me out you goofy-ass mark!”

At least, though she may deny it, that’s what I’m convinced that she wanted to say to me.

After that big soiree, I told everyone that I had a fun time, essentially lying to myself as I quickly saw the light of my situation and faced the reality of it all, which was this:

I should NOT have gone to the 1985 Santa Monica High School Prom.

 

 

Except for the gender, skin color, and hair texture, this was me in high school. Photo courtesy of  yourlittleprofessor.com

 

 

EXCERPT #2 FROM CHAPTER SIX: One Last Rejection and Humiliation

It was a couple of weeks before school ended, a gorgeous late spring morning…

That previous evening, the phone rang. Mom answered it, and a few minutes later she was in my doorway telling me that I was going to be “kidnapped”, along with all of the other band seniors, at around 6:00 a.m. and taken to breakfast, which was an apparent tradition, Mom telling me, “be sure you’re ready for when they come.”

As I went to sleep later that night, I thought, “This will be fun!”

So when I woke up at around 5:30 the next morning I made it a point to shower, shave, and put on some sweats and a t-shirt to look like I was in bed as it was supposed to be a surprise “kidnapping”.

As it turned out, the surprise was on me as 6:00 came, then 6:30, and no kidnappers; by 7:00 it was clear that they weren’t coming as I got dressed and walked to school as usual, feeling mighty low as one can imagine, this being the latest humiliating rejection in a series of humiliating rejections, three years’ worth to be precise.

When I got to school, in fairness to the “kidnappers” I was told that there was no time to pick me up, which was why I was stood up, but I was told that in a matter-of-fact was like they felt that it was no big deal to do what they did. I don’t remember hearing an “I’m sorry”, and they definitely could have called me and told me to meet them at whatever restaurant they were at if they really wanted me to hang with them.

That was what hurt more than anything else.

It was like when they realized that there wouldn’t be time to pick up everyone, they saw me as the easy odd man out, a case of “Well, we don’t really like Derek anyway, so why should we do something for him or spend any more time with him than we have to?”

Not that I was the simple helpless victim as over the course of me and my band mates’ three years together, my aspieisms, verbal and otherwise, aggravated too many of them more than they would have liked and certainly turned too many of them off to me as far as friendship was concerned; I wanted to be fair in emphasizing that.

So to quite a few of my music mates, I was seemingly nothing but a geeky jerk that did and said inappropriate things, consequently not deserving to be given the time of day.

The worst part of it all was that thanks to my autistic tendencies, I often thought that people were being mean to me for no reason, just like at Will Rogers and John Adams, and just like it would be throughout college and beyond as whenever somebody reacted badly to something I did or said, my first reaction would almost always be,

“What did I do?”

I sometimes still react that way.

 

This was likewise me in high school; just change the color of the hair and the skin, add a few inches, and take away the glasses. Photo courtesy of mysaspergerschild.com

 

My Favorite Halloween Memory

Some forever images of Halloween. Photo courtesy of urbanmatter.com

 

LOOKING BACK AT A CERTAIN PERSONAL MEMORY OF ALL HALLOWS’ EVE

October 31st, 1981.

I was a 14-year old ninth grader at John Adams Junior High (now Middle) School in Santa Monica, CA.

The Dodgers had just won the World Series – being that they’re going for another championship now, I felt that it had to be mentioned – and my mother was pregnant with a boy who’s now in his mid-30s, who she would deliver two weeks before Christmas.

Being a 14-year old boy, like all adolescent boys one could imagine the hormones that were doing their thing.

Well, they were particularly doing their thing with me that Halloween day as the school was celebrating their annual “Hobo Day”.

Which ironically had nothing to do with hoboes as in the three years that I was a junior high school student, I don’t remember seeing one kid dressed like what we would now call a homeless person, complete with the bag tied at the end of a stick.

Indeed, as far as the girls were concerned, particularly the 8th and 9th grade girls,

Like what Lindsay Lohan narrated in the movie Mean Girls, Halloween was the chance for the girls to dress like, well…

I won’t call them sluts as that’s far too derogatory a term, but let’s just say that many of the female students were in costumes that were rather titillating.

I saw quite a few girls dressed as Playboy Bunnies, French Maids, and other various outfits that involved leotards, which I had a weakness for; showing much leg, a bit of bosom, and leading us guys to exclaim,

“Did you see what so-and-so is wearing today?!”

 

 

A scene from the Peanuts classic, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” Photo courtesy of chicagonow.com

 

 

They were wearing stuff that would definitely get them sent home today.

And would make any adolescent guy’s hormones go nuts.

As for me, there was one costume that, which not as provocative as the others, led me to get a huge crush on this one girl for the rest of that school year; I won’t mention her name, but let me describe what she was wearing…

She had on a superhero-type outfit, complete with a cape, tights, and a skirt that was short enough to show some upper thigh.

She was in my gifted English class, and I also had a history class with her, so I got to see her quite a bit.

She was my type anyway, as she had olive skin and a sort-of ethnic, non-WASPy look about her, with round features, not fat but not bony-level skinny, either.

Plus she was nice, definitely not a “Mean Girl”.

And I made a fool of myself trying to get her to go out with me the rest of that year, doing silly things that I reckon many adolescent boys with Asperger’s (I didn’t know I had it at that time) would do when they get a big crush on a girl, doing things ranging from picking her on my lunchtime intramural co-ed softball team to using some coupons from a nearby Burger King to ask her for a date.

No, the crush didn’t come to fruition as (of course) she turned me down for that Burger King outing; like every other girl I had a crush on during those formative years she definitely didn’t see me as attractive in any kind of romantic way.

But it’s a good Halloween memory all the same, because that crush started on that day.

Along with putting in my copy of the Peanuts classic, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”, and going to a couple of parties in subsequent years,

What happened on that All Hallows Eve in 1981 will always be a significant memory and part of that holiday’s experience for me.

 

 

John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, site of my significant Halloween experience in 1981. Photo courtesy of filmsantamonicaschools.com

WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: The Fifth Excerpt

A good illustration of what my times in high school was like…

 

UPDATING MY PROGRESS WITH MY BOOK, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”: 

I’m beginning to make the final edits and printouts of my descriptions of having Asperger’s in a non-Aspie world; I still hope to have it (self) published by the end of December.

For now, here’s another excerpt of “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, this one from Chapter 5, which is a pretty significant chapter as it focuses on my MANY social struggles in high school;

It’s called “Rough Times At Samohi, Part One”…

 

My alma mater is impressive in many ways and for a kid who is properly motivated and whose social skills are on the ball, Samohi (the first two letters of Santa, Monica, and High) is an excellent place to go to school offering everything that a student could want; strong in academics, sports, the arts, and a great place to launch yourself in whatever passion you choose to pursue.

Most unfortunately, as much as I’d like to say that the high school I graduated from in 1985 was great to me and I had the kind of wonderful time that you see on TV sitcoms, I simply can’t say that, largely because of what was – at least at that time – the root of Samohi’s academic and social philosophy and culture:

SWIM OR DROWN

Let me elaborate…

At Samo during the time I was there, sophomores – it was a three-year school in those days –  were expected to quickly catch on to the rigors and expectations of high school from Day One.

Being an Aspie (without knowing it), I had no knowledge of that as my mindset going in was that high school would be a simple continuation of my elementary and junior high years, where I was really successful – at least in the classroom.

I do NOT blame Samohi for the bad times I had there, the way I was such a misfit as I eventually understood why my alma mater’s environment was the way it was. Samo’s attitude was “Swim or Drown” because the powers that be wanted to teach us students what it took to succeed in the real world, how to thrive and survive after the high school days were done.

All right, now that I’ve gotten all that out-of-the-way, It’s high time for me to begin my detailed description of the hell that my high school was for me, socially and otherwise, from late August of 1982 to June 21, 1985 – the day I received my diploma.

My primary extracurricular activity during my three years at Samohi was the Santa Monica High School Viking Marching Band. Band camp (preseason band practice) started two weeks before school did, hence my stating that my high school hell not only began two weeks before I set foot inside of my first high school class, it began that very first warm, sunny morning of band camp on the multipurpose baseball/soccer/football field on campus that late August of 1982.

Any chances of being thought as “cool” by the rest of the 10th graders, by and large, were dealt a HUGE blow when during a break in band camp rehearsal one day, I was introduced to some fellow sophomores in the band by an ex-junior high band mate who had joined the band with me as someone whose “…brain was absent most of the time.”

Another unpleasant memory that stood out for me that first band camp was the senior that played baritone sax along with me, someone who was, for all intents and purposes, my designated mentor who from my way of thinking was supposed to be a good friend and have my back.

He will go by the name of Boyd*

Unfortunately, as much as I understand now that Boyd was trying to help me and as much as his intentions were good, it was the way he went about mentoring me that gave me such trauma. Combine that with my then-unknown aspieness, my need of nurturing and friendly support, and the way my mind subsequently worked in inappropriate ways due to my high-functioning autistic tendencies, and you had a match made in – I’ll go ahead and say it – hell.

One really warm afternoon on that North Field, when during a marching exercise I made a mistake on some maneuver, Boyd said to me – and I remember his exact words all these years later…

“You’re stupid, Derek.”

Real sympathetic and supportive, don’t you think?

I must emphasize that my struggles in that band were not all due to Boyd and others who were giving me such hell.

I completely recognize that there was crap on my end as I – because of my autism spectrum trait of not doing well with change – was lazy and for a long time felt that ability alone was the difference between success and failure in anything. Due to my particular aspie trait of digging in to what I believe and sticking to my guns no matter what, it took a long, long time to understand the notion of needing to work hard to achieve anything, and that made my name mud among a lot of people in that Samohi band…

One instance of this social ineptitude due to my autistic tendencies comes to mind;

One gray, overcast afternoon I was hanging out in the back room of the music building. There were two other kids in there with me, one of them a girl who played french horn and had, at least in my eyes, the total 80s look going on, complete with her hair cut in a sort of junior grade Flock of Seagulls way. It was her hair that I was looking at when I said, in a friendly way that was not intended as anything negative or insensitive whatsoever, “You sure look trendy.”

I’ll never forget the dirty “How dare you speak to me like that!” look that that girl gave me as she responded to what in my Asperger’s mind was a compliment with a solid and sturdy “Fuck you!”, as she walked out of the room in a very pissed off fashion.

Being the high-functioning autistic teen that I was, I was flabbergasted in a what-did-I-say-that-was-so-terrible kind of way. I asked the other kid there, “Why is she so mad?” as in my mind I wasn’t trying to insult her at all. That other kid told me:

“You just called her a poseur. Trendy means the same thing.”

Which I didn’t know.

Not even in the minute slightest as among us kids at that time, being called a poseur was akin to somebody Black being called the “N” word.

 

 

Change the gender and add a few years, and this largely describes me in high school, or at least the way it seemed…

 

 

THIS LAST EXCERPT DESCRIBES A TRAUMATIC VISIT TO DISNEYLAND WITH MY HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND DURING MY SOPHOMORE YEAR:

I believe it was safe to say that no one wanted me along with them to play in the Promised Land that Mr. Disney built that day as seemingly none of the different “band buddy” cliques wanted me to hang with them; the only thing that saved me from being at that theme park all by my lonesome was a decree from the band director: “No one goes around the park alone.” When I brought it to the director’s attention that I didn’t have a group to go with, he went to some band mates who clearly (at least to me) wanted no part of me and ordered them to “take Derek along.”

So there I was, trailing along, seemingly three or four steps behind as I recall. The one place which I particularly remember going with this group to was the iconic Haunted Mansion.

We entered that Old South style house and walked along the hallways with the other patrons, hearing all about how there were 999 ghosts and how there was room for 1,000.

Near the end of the ride we all got into these big circular comfy-type chairs, which would take us around the rest of the house.

As we were passing through a mirror, the one which showed ghosts riding in the chairs with us, sitting in a chair all by lonesome of course – who wanted to sit next to a big dork? – I saw a reflection of myself, with a ghost putting his arm around me.

Let’s just say that I hated what I saw as what was looking back in the mirror at me was the most pathetically lonely African-American teen that I has ever seen in my life; I had never seen a teenager look that lonely since, it was so bad.

So much so that if I had a gun or a knife on me that day I probably would have come out of that ride as a dead 15-year old boy due to the fact that my depression and feelings of rejection in that nobody-likes-me way would have compelled me to off myself in that seat, blood pouring out of either my head or my chest with the ambulance and paramedics waiting for me at that ride’s exit to rush me to the nearest hospital, sirens blaring and no one knowing whether or not I would see the next day.

That’s the numero uno memory I have of that day at Disneyland; suffice it to say I did not have any fun in the very place where everyone else who visits it cannot help but have the biggest kind of fun.

 

COMING NEXT MONTH: An excerpt of Chapter Six, “Rough Times At Samohi, Part Two” as my mostly bad experiences of that place was so many, I was forced to split them into two chapters.

* = not his real name

 

 

 

How I saw myself much of the time during much of my mid-teens…

 

HORRORS IN LAS VEGAS: Thoughts on the Largest Mass Murder in U.S. History

A nice shot of the Las Vegas Strip at night. Photo courtesy of topoftheworldlv.com

 

Nearly sixty people dead in a little over ten minutes.

More than 500 people injured.

 

I have been to “Sin City” multiple times, including on the occasion of my 40th birthday ten years ago.

And have enjoyed myself immensely each time as I consider Nevada’s largest city “Disneyland For Adults”, staying at places like the Rio, Circus Circus, and the Venetian.

I particularly like the buffets, which I consider the best on Earth – I especially recommend the buffets at the Rio and Red Rocks Casino/Hotel (wonderfully delicious!) – and enjoy playing video blackjack, video poker, and the slots; I once won $39 on a lucky video poker hand.

No, it’s not a lot, but still…

Being the baseball fan that I am, I even went to Cashman Field to check out a 51s, the local minor league team, game.

I was impressed at the $1 hot dogs and the other low prices, including the seat above the 51s dugout that I was able to get for around $7, when the same seat at Dodger Stadium would cost at least fifteen times that.

And yes, I’ve seen some shows, including the Pirates spectacular at Treasure Island and the show given in the Casino at the Rio, as well as that big fountain show outside the Bellagio.

So when I found out about those mass murders at that Route 91 country music festival on the Strip the other day, not only did it sadden me,

It led me to say a prayer of relief that my relatives and friends who live in Vegas were okay; thank God they weren’t near that concert when those horrors went down.

I won’t go on about how I’m tired of these shootings, which have been more and more frequent in this century; memories of that Sandy Hook tragedy where twenty first graders were gunned down, and that student at Virginia Tech killing those 32 Hokies are still fresh in my mind.

 

 

How could I possibly write an article on Las Vegas without including a picture of this sign? Unfortunately Mandalay Bay, where the shooter killed those people from one of its windows, is on the left. Photo courtesy of  urbanmilwaukee.com

 

 

Ditto with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killing 13 of their fellow Columbine High School students in April of 1999.

Nor will I go on about the need for gun control, as so many on both sides of the issue rave on about every time something like this happens.

The two questions going through my mind right now as I write this is,

 

“Are these killings ever going to end?”

“Is this evil ever going to stop?”

 

Of course I don’t even begin to have the answer to that, but I will say this…

If people stop going to Vegas,

Stop partying at the clubs, gambling at the casinos, eating at the yummy buffets, going to see big names like Elton John and Britney Spears at their shows,

Then Stephen Paddock (the man who was responsible for the evil carnage) will have won.

I, for one, plan to revisit that city when I get the chance, as soon as I’m financially able to enjoy myself there without going permanently broke as I’m not exactly Bill Gates – or even the average home-owner-in-the-suburbs-with-the-suit-and-tie-job guy.

It goes without saying that my prayers go out to the 58 people who are no longer with us, and their families who are grieving, due to Paddock.

I particularly pray that we NEVER have to experience what those folks experienced.

Or ever hear news like that again.

 

#PrayForVegas

#VegasStrong

 

 

 

A memorial to those killed in the mass murders at the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of chicagotribune.com

 

 

The Foods I MUST Have, No Matter How Broke I Am

Photo courtesy of caloriecounter.com

 

NO MATTER HOW LITTLE MONEY I HAVE, I MUST HAVE THESE THREE FOOD ITEMS

 

I’ll get right to the point, as there’s no reason not to do so…

Miracle Whip Light is on the top of my list in this category, as I use it on and in most of the foods I eat, light being my choice due to the fewer calories and fat.

I don’t eat canned tuna or chicken, or make any sandwiches that don’t include peanut butter, jelly, jam, or a combination of the three, without this condiment.

It can get costly, the average price being $3.50 to $4.00 at the grocery store I frequent.

But as I’ve said: I don’t care how broke I may be, I must have my Miracle Whip Light salad dressing, or else I feel deprived.

Salsa is another food type/condiment that I absolutely need regardless of lack of money, preferably the hot kind.

It’s been an essential staple of my diet for many years, and I’ve pretty much forsaken ketchup and barbecue sauce in favor of salsa in recent years because with tomatoes being the main ingredient, salsa is healthier for you; it has less sodium, sugar, and fat than ketchup, BBQ sauce, or any other condiment or sauce.

 

Another food I can’t do without. Photo courtesy of iheartnaptime.com

 

Which is good news for me considering my hypertension condition.

I usually buy my salsa in jars at the supermarket, but there are two places where the salsa is so delicious, I consider it a true treat when I obtain it…

Campos, a Mexican restaurant chain which has several branches in the Westside region of Los Angeles, CA (where I live) and whose food I grew up on in its original location in Santa Monica, has salsa that I can just eat all day, it’s so good.

So much so that I get at least four cups of the medium-hot salsa every time I go get food there.

The other place where I buy salsa is a place that I don’t get to go to as often as Campos, just a handful of times a year, but whose salsa matches Campos’ in it’s level of deliciousness;

The salsa at Burnt Tortilla, a Mexican chain in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.

 

The third of my main food staples. Photo courtesy of youtube.com

 

I go to the main branch of Burnt Tortilla in Gardena, where a friend of mine lives; every time I visit my friend and her family, I make it a point to go to Burnt Tortilla and get two large Styrofoam cups of their salsa, which lasts a few days.

Those large cups are not exactly cheap, costing $6.00 each, but it’s money well spent as far as I’m concerned.

Of course one can’t have salsa without tortilla chips, which is the third food I must have regardless of how little money I have available.

As tortilla chips generally have less sodium and fat than regular potato chips, it’s been one of my go-to things to eat as a snack, or even as a main meal when I don’t feel like spending any time cooking.

Eating chips and salsa, especially salsa from Campos and Burnt Tortilla, is something I can do all day if given a chance, and if it’s guaranteed I won’t get sick from eating too much.

Another thing I often do for nourishment is to mix light Miracle Whip into a combination of canned tuna and chicken, then get a bag of tortilla chips – Mission Tortilla Chips are my preference as their chips are sturdier – and go to town.

It makes for a simple and satisfying meal.

There isn’t much more to say about this, except for something I was wondering…

What are the foods that YOU absolutely MUST have, no matter how broke you may get?

 

My number one go-to food for snacks and (sometimes) meals. Photo courtesy of metrotimes.com

 

 

My Thoughts Regarding Athletes Protesting Before Games

Miami Dolphins kneeling before a game. Photo courtesy of si.com

 

MY ONE AND A HALF CENTS ON NFL PLAYERS AND OTHER ATHLETES TAKING A STAND AGAINST RACIAL INJUSTICES AND OTHER ISSUES BEFORE GAMES

 

It’s been another polarizing issue in a series of polarizing issues in this country as of late.

And it would be ignorant of me to not offer my views of Colin Kaepernick and other athletes, from the NFL and elsewhere, kneeling to protest police brutality and other racial issues while the national anthem is playing.

 

So here’s how I feel about it all…

I have family who fought and died for that starred and striped flag.

My great-grandfather fought in World War I

My uncle was killed in the Korean War; it’s been 67 years and his remains are still somewhere in North Korea instead of the Los Angeles National Cemetery where it belongs.

My father fought in the Vietnam War.

Which is why I personally choose to stand for “The Star Spangled Banner”, my attitude being “Might as well.”

 

However…

I am also an African-American male who has encountered racism, such as being profiled several times by the Santa Monica, CA police during the 1990s, including getting handcuffed in fromt of my house because I “fit the description” of a stalker.

I have been denied employment because of my being black, like when after a great phone interview for a job, I was told that it was being offered to someone else because “He asked first” upon laying eyes on me.

I was called the “N-word” on numerous occasions during my early childhood years by quite a few white kids in the then-rural community of Woodcrest outside of Riverside, CA, and hearing that word a few times in Santa Monica.

I have experienced various slights and microagressions that, looking back, I recognize that’s what I went through during my teenage and young adult years.

Of course it’s impossible to forget the many instances of African-American men being brutalized and murdered in the hands of the local authorities; incidents like the Rodney King beating and subsequent acquittal of those four Euro-Caucasian cops who did that dirty work – which triggered then L.A. Rebellion/Riots 25 years ago – and the murders of guys like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray come to mind.

 

Image #: 13530908 American athletes Tommie Smith (middle, gold medal) and John Carlos (right, bronze medal) at the Award Ceremony for the 200m race at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, October 16, 1968. The Olympics Black Power salute was a notable black power protest and one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games. DPA/LANDOV Photo courtesy of africascountry.com

 

So what does this have to do with NFL players kneeling before games – I know you’re asking that right about now…

In a nutshell, I support the athletes.

I know that many folks – mostly of the white and conservative persuasion, curiously enough – are foaming at the mouth over the kneeling, the arm-linking and the fist-raising, saying that while they have a right to protest, to do so on the job should be a crime punishable by virtual condemnation to hell.

What those folks don’t understand is that people like my uncle died so that Kaepernick and the rest of those guys in the National Football League,

And the National Basketball Association as I’m sure there will be quite a bit of kneeling at Staples Center and other arenas when that season opens in a few weeks – and every other sports league for that matter,

Can kneel, raise fists, or not come out of the locker room at all like the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks have been doing during the WNBA Finals.

To frown on that is not only a case of free speech,

But a case of denying human rights.

Of course this issue is nothing new, Tommie Smith and John Carlos getting expelled from the Olympic Games in 1968 after displaying their Black Power salutes on the medal stand.

As well as Muhammad Ali getting stripped of his heavyweight title the year before after refusing to be inducted into the army (and undoubtedly getting sent to Vietnam), losing three years of his boxing prime before the Supreme Court overturned his five-year prison sentence.

All of these incidents have one thing in common:

The protagonists’ color of their skin.

And as a black man, I feel I have no choice but to stand in solidarity to those taking a stand against racism, racist injustice, and the hypocrisy that American has exuded to those of its citizens who are not white, male, straight, wealthy, conservative, Christian, or any combination of those six attributes.

Though I wouldn’t kneel during the national anthem due to my family’s involvement in defending that American flag,

While there are many people, particularly African-Americans, who are boycotting NFL games due to this issue,

I would go if I had the opportunity to go to a Rams or Chargers (the two teams in my area) game.

But I would wear a #7 Kaepernick jersey in solidarity.

It would be very wrong to not give these athletes my support in this issue.

Not as long as there are millions of people in these United States – and other countries – that still see me as inferior and a “lesser” due to the color of my skin.

 

Two Los Angeles Rams making like Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Photo courtesy of sbnation.com