YOU HAVE ARRIVED AS A TEACHER WHEN…

Photo courtesy of atlantablackstar.com

 

(HAVING WORKED WITH KIDS IN SOME CAPACITY FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS, AND COMING FROM A FAMILY OF EDUCATORS, I THINK I’M QUALIFIED TO WRITE A PIECE LIKE THIS)

 

You enter the profession thinking you’re going to get three months off in the summer  just like when you were a kid, but you don’t because you’re teaching summer school because of little things like needing to pay bills and the rent.

You buy paper, pencils and other supplies with your own money because your students can’t afford them.

You find yourself keeping a stash of food in a classroom closet because every so often at least one of your students fails to eat breakfast due to their parents’ lack of money.

You’re praying that no one has run off every time you count heads on field trips.

Students give you every excuse in the book as to why they didn’t do their homework, when in fact they were too lazy to do it.

You find yourself quite annoyed on pupil free days due to the kids getting the day off, while you are forced to waste your time at in-service sessions with people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

You find yourself on the phone with parents every night because their kids are failing math or have disrespectful mouths.

Kids curse you out, flip you off, call you vile names, or a combination of the three when you tell them to get back on task.

You’re breaking up brawls in the classroom.

You’re calling the school police because a student threatens you with bodily harm.

A student throws a chair at you and gets off scott-free because his mom tearfully begs for mercy at his expulsion hearing; a former colleague of mine has had this actually happen to her.

You send a student to the principal’s office for the first time.

You catch a kid copying off someone’s paper during a test.

The parents of your worst students – the thugs, the gang-bangers and the stoners who show no interest in learning – live in an Egyptian river (the Nile) and blame you for their failures.

You get sent disciplinary memos for not wearing hard sole shoes and a button down shirt and tie.

After twenty years of award-winning service, your school fires you after one bad evaluation; I was told of that actually happening.

A straight-F student you’ve been working with all years improves by leaps and bounds and gets A’s and B’s; a golden example of hard work paying off.

You get cards, candies, and presents every Valentine’s Day, the day before Winter Break, and the last day of school.

Former students of yours come back to visit years later, and you marvel at how much they have grown.

You’re teaching the children of students you once had, which freaks you out.

A student gets a crush on you.

You get “Teacher’s Pets” who always help you out – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

You’re told by your class, or by individual kids, that you’re their favorite teacher.

You celebrate with your students when they get their college acceptance emails, especially – come on, be honest – when that college is your alma mater (UCLA in my case).

Your students wear that cap and gown at graduation, and you feel pride knowing that you’re one of the reasons they’re getting that diploma.

You realize that despite all the problems – badly behaving kids, low pay, no job security – it’s all worth it because you’re helping to make a difference in young people’s lives.

 

 

Coaches are just as much teachers as those in the classroom. Photo courtesy of changingthegameproject.com

 

 

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THE FOURTH EXCERPT OF “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS” – Being Rejected By People Who Looked Like Me

While I can’t draw anything like this guy and am higher functioning, I can certainly relate to him. Photo courtesy of intersecteddisability.blogspot.com

 

THIS EXCERPT FROM MY UPCOMING BOOK – “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS” – FOCUSES ON MY FEELING ALIENATED AND REJECTED BY SEEMINGLY TOO MANY PEOPLE IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY, SPECIFICALLY IN THE INNER CITY AS MY FELLOW BLACK KIDS, QUITE SADLY, BULLIED ME MORE THAN ANY OTHER GROUP AS A CHILD, SEEING ME AS A “GOOFY MARK” BECAUSE OF MY ASPERGER’S TRAITS.

HERE IS PART OF CHAPTER FOUR: “The Black Alienation”…

 

Mom and I went to celebrate the…festivities at a (place) which was located in a pretty much all-black (at that time) mid-to-lower income neighborhood full of people whom the only thing I had in common with – quite honestly and regretfully – was the color of our skin.

To a nine-year old boy on the Autism Spectrum who had interacted almost exclusively with white kids up to that point, I’m being brutally honest when I say that the folks in that neighborhood seemed loud, aggressive, crass, and just not very nice.

I won’t lie; it intimidated me.

During that late afternoon, I was sitting on a front porch when I was asked something about knowing how to fight.

I fully understand today that (the guy asking) was trying to toughen me up, to teach me how to defend myself and to not be so vulnerable, but he may as well have been speaking Sanskrit as I had absolutely no clue whatsoever of what he was getting at.

The next thing I knew, all these fists were landing on various parts of my body, mostly my arms and shoulders, but it seemed like a lot more body parts than that.

My attempts at fighting back at the seemingly dozens of people who by now had joined in were quite pathetic and futile as it culminated with some big thuggish-looking girl, who looked about 17 and had a big cast on her arm, clocking me with that cast, leading to some hysterical crying from me and much unhappiness as I went home that night, that traumatic memory ingrained into my gray matter for all time.

Being a sheltered Asperger’s boy, in my mind I was being bullied and abused by people who looked like me for no reason.

In retrospect, that beat down was symbolic of my alienation, ostracization, and rejection from African-American inner city culture, though in fairness I have to emphasize that nobody knew anything about me having Asperger’s Syndrome – I wouldn’t know for another twenty years – and I don’t blame anybody for any conflicts that might have stemmed from our background and socialization due to the fact that they were so different from me…

Getting back to that incident:

That episode set the tone for many of my future experiences in (Santa Monica’s) Pico Neighborhood.

Because of where I came from, I had absolutely no knowledge of what was considered “cool” as I was now living in an area where there were four liquor stores in a ten-block radius, seemingly large apartment buildings, five times the number of children running around, and alleyways with strange-looking writings on them; what the hell did I know about gang-banging and tagging?

I had no clue that among many, if not all, black youth in the lower-income hoods, being academically intelligent and getting good grades was considered a nerdy “white” thing, nor did I know about having a good part of being “cool” depending on how tough and “hard” you were; your brawling ability and how many kids you could beat up.

I was likewise ignorant of needing to have good gross motor skills, needing to be able to catch, throw, dribble, shoot, and hit a ball to be accepted, and woe be to those who didn’t wear the “fresh” fashions as to not dress like the dancers on that TV show “Soul Train”, seemingly, was a crime punishable by social death.

In those areas of “Blackness”, I failed miserably and fell way, WAY short of the mark as with my autistic tendencies, it was sort of inevitable that I would.

…when my toughness or “hard” factor was tested by the other black kids in school (Marlon* mostly, but there were others) and elsewhere by being punched all of a sudden, I either ran to a teacher or I cried like a little so-called “bitch”.

(* = not his real name)

One can imagine how that went down, my reacting the way I did instantly relegated me to being “scary” and an easy “mark”, and being made fun of accordingly. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just leave me alone or accept me as a young brother in the name of that Black Unity concept that was still all the rage in the 1970s.

 

This sort of says it all. Image courtesy of ollibean.com

 

This “mind-blindness” aspect of the Autism Spectrum Disorder rendered me as more or less incapable of knowing how to do what was necessary to be accepted and liked among too many of my fellow black kids in Santa Monica’s inner city community.

Another prominent word that too many of my young black peers in the Pico called me on a regular basis was the same name as one of Walt Disney’s iconic characters, a certain tall, skinny long-eared black dog going by the name of…

“Goofy”

That two-syllable epithet was something I heard from various kids – some of them white and Latino as well as many of the black kids – for years as “Big Goofy” “Goofy-Ass Mark”, and (pardon the expression) “Goofy Faggot” were just some of the taunts directed to me at school, on the playground, in the street, and pretty much everywhere else in that part of town. Being that I fell well short of the Pico’s coolness standard, I suppose it was inevitable that I was treated the way I was.

I imagine that some people may read this and think that I’m blanketing all African-American youth, over generalizing and saying that every black I encountered treated me like shit, bullying me and calling me all those bad names.

That, I need to emphasize, was NOT the case as I want to make crystal clear that there WERE some African-American children in the Pico who treated me well and became my friends, three of them living upstairs from me and Mom.

A prominent root of this general black social rejection and alienation (as a youth), besides having Autism Spectrum Disorder, was that being from a rural community where I was the only black kid in the immediate area that I knew of, having exactly one African-American classmate in the four years I attended school there, I was essentially an “Oreo”.

This was exacerbated by the fact that because I acted so “white” upon moving in with my mom, the white kids, by and large, were the ones that were friendly and accepting to me, and it pretty much stayed that way all through junior high and high school.

The social rejection and alienation was something I felt even as an adult as for example, during my mid-20s there was this young dude who lived next door and taunted me by shouting “Like a virgin!” (you know, that Madonna song from the 80s) every time I walked by him When I called him on it after enduring months of his ignorance he very tellingly said, “You act white!”

Along with everything else, this showed how much it hurt to have people who looked like you socially reject you.

It actually hurt a lot, to the point where I don’t feel like I’m a real part of the black community nearly enough of the time, as I feel that Black American inner city culture in particular doesn’t want me, a so-called “Goofy Mark”, around.

The pain that was put upon me during my childhood and over the years was deep, lasting, and though I know it shouldn’t has stuck with me as an adult, which is why – most unfortunately I must emphasize – don’t feel as naturally comfortable in the inner city African-American community (I feel more comfortable among the black middle class and elderly, probably because I didn’t suffer any bullying and “Goofy Mark” taunting among them) as much as I could and should, sad to say, because among my fellow blacks in the ‘hood I was shown too many times that in too many of their eyes, I was “Goofy”.

A “Mark”

A “Faggot” (sorry for the term).

An “Oreo”.

“Scary”.

“Retarded”.

 

COMING NEXT MONTH:  Excerpts from Chapter Five, detailing my rough times in high school.

 

No, I did NOT dress like this, and I was not nearly as clumsy or had his high nasal squeak, but I reckon that more than enough of my African-American peers during my childhood saw me as similar to Steve Urkel here. Photo courtesy of chron.com

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE SEES NO COLOR: My View On Interracial Relationships

My feelings exactly. Image courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

 

I reckon that the title of this post has given away my feelings on people of different races and cultures dating and having romantic relationships.

A few years ago on the website HubPages.com I wrote about seeing a young teenage couple at a bus stop one day, doing the typical teenage couple thing; kissing, cuddling, etc.

The thing that appealed to me about that twosome was that she was Latina and he was an African-American, giving me a good feeling that relationships in which the people involved are a different race/ethnic group/culture are more accepted in the present day then when that Loving vs Virginia case was going down in 1967.

Unfortunately – and especially in the current cultural atmosphere triggered by the election of this country’s President-Who-I-Refuse-To-Name – there are plenty of folks who are completely against Miscegenation; folks who have the view that different races and ethnicities should never mix romantically, which includes Asians, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and Jewish people as well as blacks and whites.

I remember back in high school having a crush on a Persian girl; to make a long story short, when I tried to call her, her mother angrily rebuffed me, me not knowing that a big part of Persian culture is for them and their children to only be “with their own”.

Of course I saw – and still see – that as plain old bigotry.

 

Florida, USA — Young interracial bride and groom on wedding day — Image by © Kai Chiang/Golden Pixels LLC/Corbis I love this wedding pic – that groom is SO lucky to be marrying such a beautiful bride! Photo courtesy of imgarcade.com

 

In fact, I’ll be perfectly honest…

While as a black man, I want to emphasize that this is no way whatsoever implying that I have anything against African-American females as I have a list of black women and girls that I had a crush on over the years, including Clueless’ Stacey Dash (her politics notwithstanding), The Facts of Life‘s Kim Fields, and especially Michelle Thomas, who played Urkel’s obsessive girlfriend on the TV show Family Matters and who tragically didn’t make it to the age of 30, dying of cancer before reaching that age,

I have always been attracted to females of all races and ethnic groups as their personality and integrity has far more importance in my book than the color of their skin and how they worship God.

Basing my romantic interest choices by initial physical attraction (unfortunately, that’s a natural reality) and  – more importantly – “the content of their character”, to quote Martin Luther King, is something that I have always emphasized.

In fact, I’ve always felt that to limit my dating/relationship options to strictly “my own kind”, as too many people, particularly social conservatives and right-wing types, would prefer to do, would not only be akin submitting myself to a voluntary Jim Crow-segregation,

I would feel straitjacketed, limited, and bored.

BOTTOM LINE:

When it comes to love, a mate should be chosen based on one’s heart and soul rather than skin pigmentation and cultural/ethnic sameness.

They say that “The heart wants what the heart wants” , and I’ll always strongly believe that anything between two individuals that is loving and affectionate should be appreciated and celebrated.

Which was why it gives me a feeling of gladness whenever I see interracial couples out there; it’s real good to see that race, ethnicity and culture in dating is far less of an issue for millennials than for previous generations.

My suggestion to all those couples out there who are given dirty looks or nasty comments because their skin color or ethnicity is different:

Just say this to those folks:

“Love sees no color, because there is only one race – the human race.”

Or tell them,

“You have a right to feel that way, but you know what? It’s SO none of your business!”

Which it isn’t!

Or better yet,  just ignore them.

 

Now this is a great picture of a truly gorgeous family. Photo courtesy of triadmomsonmain.com