What’s Up Now?!?

Happy Friday, All!

Are these Fridays coming faster or what?!?  So … T.G.I.F., y’all.  Life continues to roll, unfold … and some of it “ain’t pretty”!  My birthday was successful … no drama and no problems as I try to rid my life of those “unnecessary evils” nowadays.  So much love and kindness and well wishes came my way yesterday … a few are still dribbling in today, too.  Thank each of you who wished me well, my Creator at the top of the list!

I had a meeting with an investigator at Internal Affairs of the FLPD this week, as I had filed a formal complaint against the officer who sought to “punish” me for speaking up and supposedly “fail to use the sidewalk” when disembarking from a bus.  I was grateful that they followed up so quickly as I made it clear that I would be going out of town for a while in the next few days.  I wanted to do my part to emphasize the need of people involved in law enforcement to be civil to the citizens that they are supposed to “protect and serve”.  In my most recent situation on the 4th of July, I felt profiled and harassed and wanted to make it known and not run away and hide like a coward but instead do my part to effect a badly needed social change.  The two gentleman who took a sworn recorded statement were very professional though I had to make a few things clear, in particular the details of the statute that I was ticketed for: “Fail Use Sidewalk”.  I appreciate it when people give me an opportunity to express myself, which I do a fairly decent job of, and “hear me out”!  These folks who want to “talk over me” and try to use any angle they can to “put me down” have no place in my life today!

You really get a chance to see who your friends are when things are tough, as some disappear into the background … which I prefer.  No need for “fake friends” who think that they are “holier than thou” for some strange reason.  We ALL have “skeletons in our closets” ’cause ain’t nobody I have ever met an angel.  I must admit that my mother, Marietta Dolores, is the only human I know who comes close to being angelic!  I thank her for that excellent role model, who alongside my father, Isaac Henry Cook, who struggled with life’s journey for 80 years, raised me as best as they could!  Mom passed at 88 … so they both were around for quite some time to guide me on my journey!

As I look to the horizon of next week, I am passionately preparing for my trip.  Many of you have wished me well and, since we know that tomorrow ain’t promised to no one, I keep a humble posture and faith that my Creator will make this all possible.  I am doing my part.  I visited the orthopedic surgeon’s office yesterday to get some information to give to my health insurance provider regarding possible hip replacements when I return in a few months, God willing.  The urologist and I have decided to “take a break” from the worry associated with my prostate health and I continue to read and practice healthy mental recovery as well as beginning to adopt a healthier diet and a holistic approach to healing and living in general.

Glad to be here another year, as one friend from the Winbrook Projects where we grew up wished me yesterday, and a “happy new year”!  Now, “that’s what’s up”!  Have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

 

“Keep On Pushin'”

 

It’s Hump Day, Y’all!

“We’ve got to get ova da hump!”  That’s ’cause tomorrow, July 13th, is my birthday!!  Some of y’all might remember that my birthday present to myself is a trip to Barcelona scheduled for next week, July 19th as I am planning to fly standby with Delta Airlines.  Now, many of you, whether you have gotten mad at me or not for not being able to “repay” you in a timely fashion have actually helped me get to this point.  Trust me … I thank you.  Nowadays, folks call trips like this something on their “bucket list”.  It is just something nice that I’d like to do … for myself.  Some of you have helped me and Educational Excellence with a contribution or donation back in the days when I was trying to get my 501(3)c status in order to establish EE as a “sole proprietorship”/LLC status where I could receive donations from corporations or individuals who would be able to use those donations as a “tax write-off” so to speak, as I had planned to develop a full fledged “motivational speaker” component of Educational Excellence.  You know, I have learned to roll with the punches, yet always be grateful for anything that anyone ever did for me or gave to me … as well as anything that ever “came my way”.  In essence, this is why I continue to send out my e-mails to each of you and convert them into blog posts.  Now, one more thing … feel free to let me know that you would like to be removed from what I call “my e-mail family”!  So be it … I keep on truckin’!  It reminds me of a group called “The Impressions” when I was growing up that included a balladeer named “Curtis Mayfield”.  One of his top hits was “Keep On Pushin'” ….

Some of you may remember my “4th of July Event” on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale where an FLPD motorcycle cop  saw fit to issue me a ticket for “Fail Use Sidewalk”, FL State Statute 310.130-3, which reads: “(3) Where sidewalks are provided, no pedestrian shall, unless required by other circumstances, walk along and upon the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic.”  Now, unless “you” choose to be an ostrich with “your” head stuck deep in the sand, you will understand the relationship between “other circumstances” and “metal barriers” placed along the entire A-1-A by the Department of Transportation of the City of Ft. Lauderdale, especially on holidays like Memorial Day, The Air and Sea Show and the 4th of July.  The choice is yours.  I took my decision to file a “formal complaint” against the officer who not only issued the “bogus” ticket, but sought to harass, threaten and profile me as he took a minuscule situation and tried to turn it into a “crime”.  I will be meeting with an “Internal Affairs” representative later today to discuss this “situation”.  My associate, Alexandre Schmid, who witnessed the entire fiasco and was NOT issued a ticket, was also invited to join me to make a statement.  A special thanks to college chum, Adonis Hoffman, Esq., who helped me firm up my defense in this situation. Do what you will, but I will “Keep On Pushin'”!  I’ll keep you all posted …

Back in the day, shucks … maybe a few years ago, I used to celebrate my birthday the entire month of July!  Well, I am kind of starting today, perhaps, by being in a most festive mood, which for me, is based in gratitude.  So, once again, I’d like to thank you all for reading, and, try to keep some of my episodes and stories as anecdotes for your self as well as others who might find themselves in similar situations.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

What Do We Have Here?!?

 

Happy Friday, All!

I’m going to say it again, and I will say it every chance I get … T.G.I.F!

Well, as it turns out, I had my urologist read my CT scan as well as my bone scan yesterday.  Good news!!!  No spread of cancer apparent in either scan!!  Wow, was I happy!! The scan also showed that both hips have the degenerative osteoarthritis … as the orthopedic surgeon’s x-rays showed.  Yes, yes, yes … my body is aging.  I think back just a few years ago when I played basketball with the young bucks at LA Fitness where I still work out and how I was able to turn easily with no pain, even jump relatively high!!  NOT NOW!  I remember my first year at SPS circa 1969 … I played three sports … football, basketball and track.  Did I have that much “wear and tear” on my body since those years?!?  Well, once again, I arrive at my level of gratitude, happy that I was able to play there at St. Paul’s, then freshman basketball at Princeton, even coached at White Plains High School for 5 years.  And now, I deal with the reality that I have lost that agility and strength as I work with my degenerative osteoarthritis in both hips as well as traces of cancer in my prostate.

The urologist and I had a heart to heart discussion after I told his physician assistant that I did not want to have the cystoscopy done.  He explained the options of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, none of which I am terribly interested in as I have begun to research holistic approaches to healing my prostate …  We talked about an injection to slow the production of testosterone which according to him is the first step in slowing the possible growth of cancerous cells in my prostate.  Once again, I appreciate any feedback that you may have.  I have been reaching out to a good friend in New York as well as gotten some great information from a holistic doctor here in Ft. Lauderdale.  I explained to the urologist that I wanted to take my trip to Europe before making any decisions.  The doctor confirmed that I have time to make a decision as the cancer is not aggressive, though present.  I did have the feeling, however, that he is strongly pushing me towards robotic surgery at some point in the near future though he said that I comfortably have six months to decide.  Feedback is welcomed from those in “the know”.

What think you about the mayhem in Germany surrounding the most powerful nations on the globe at the “G-20 Summit” in Hamburg?  What do you think the protesters are trying to tell the “world leaders”, so to speak?  What do you think about Kim Jong Un and his amplification of the production of nuclear missiles?  Drama on both national and international flights with erratic behavior being displayed by some passengers, staff and the planes themselves are catching fire in the air while full of passengers?  What think you about the execution style murder of an NYPD officer by a well known “cop hater”?  Sometimes … I remember my Dad’s infatuation with Louis “Satchamo” Armstrong’s song … “What A Wonderful World” … and I remember our relationship and his “love” for me and our family as I am grateful to be able to see on the horizon my 63rd birthday next week, July 13th … My Creator willing.

As you contemplate, perhaps, the state of “the world” as we know it, have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

The “Double Standard”

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Here’s to hoping your 4th of July celebrations were without incident, and that you, your friends and family experienced a fun filled day!  I stayed in most of the day for a variety of reasons.  I had a little “side work” to complete on my computer, and I just wanted to “hunker down” and meditate on memories of my father, Isaac H. Cook … He was my hero though we didn’t always agree.  He wanted me to play baseball and I didn’t like it so much.  My dad had played baseball in the “Dirty South”, and like many youngsters then, had aspirations of playing in “The Negro League”.  He never achieved that dream and had his own heroes like “Satchel” Paige, and, while he never told me to “just play sports”, there was no question that baseball was the sport he liked most.  For me, it was basketball and track … even football for a while, though I did play little league baseball for several years in the City of White Plains Recreation Department’s “youth league”.

He literally died in my arms as bone marrow cancer claimed his last few breaths …  I used to walk with him around the “block” at the Grant House where he and my mother moved after living in the Winbrook Housing Project on South Lexington Avenue in White Plains for most of the children in our family’s youth.  While at the Grant House, still on South Lexington Ave. just one hundred numbers up, my parents even helped to raise my oldest sister’s two children until they were able to get on “their own feet”!  They were the BEST with me, putting up with ALL of our “not so good” behaviors.  He is the reason that I take my recent health challenge of prostate cancer so seriously …  It was his birthday yesterday, so I wanted to spend some time alone just meditating …

I have been staying in a local hostel near the airport in Ft. Lauderdale until my flight to Barcelona, Spain in two weeks.  There is a French guy named Alexandre Schmid from France who is also staying there, and we have become associates.  We decided to go to the beach together to enjoy the last few hours of daylight from 4pm or so until the Fireworks Celebration on A-1-A Beach and Las Olas Blvd.  “Alex” and I took the bus down the 17th Street Causeway to A-1-A to Las Olas and I signaled the bus to stop near Beach Place.  There were barriers made of metal on both sides of the street for the safety of pedestrians as there was bumper to bumper traffic being directed by Ft. Lauderdale Police Department Officers as well as Public Safety Aides.  It was hot!  The bus stopped to let us off on the “ocean side” of A-1-A and we had to walk along the barriers, which were connected up and down both sides of the street.  My friend “Alex” started to disconnect the barriers so we could get onto the sidewalk.  But, since we had maybe 15 – 20 yards before arriving at the intersection, I suggested that Alex NOT touch the barriers as I did not think that the “police” would want us to.  Within seconds, a motorcycle police officer drove past us yelling, “Get out of the street!”  He had gone past us as I said, “Where do you want us to go?”  I was asking a genuine question. By this time, we were maybe 10 steps from the intersection where there were no barriers.  The motorcycle officer stopped his motorcycle and came directly to me and stated yelling, “Sit down on the curb and show me your identification!!”  I looked at him in surprise that this was what he wanted me to do and started to take my wallet out and gave him my driver’s license.  He again yelled, with all of the “bumper to bumper” traffic, hotter than hot out there, “Sit down on the curb!”  I once again looked into his face which showed a hatred and anger that I had seen before … and I told him in a stern voice, “What are you stopping me for?!”  He then said, “If I have to tell you again to sit down on the curb again …” I looked him squarely in the face and replied, “I have arthritis in both of my hips …”  He then walked to the barrier, lifted it up so I could walk through, ordered my friend Alex to keep going, and told me to sit on the wall of the sidewalk separating the sand on the beach from the sidewalk where hundreds of people were enjoying themselves and casually walking by.  He stated, “You shouldn’t be walking in the street!”  I replied, “That is where the bus dropped us off at!” He replied, “I don’t care!”  Alex took four more steps and stopped to observe what would happen next.  The officer again yelled, “Now sit down!”  I looked at him as if he were a patient in a psychiatric hospital, allowing a few people who were walking by to have the “right of way” as his anger grew due to the fact that I was moving slowly and respecting pedestrians who were walking by on the crowded street on the “beach side” of A-1-A.  The officer’s anger grew as he was clearly losing control.  I asked him, “What are you stopping me for?  I have a master’s degree and am intelligent enough to know that you have to tell me why you are detaining me!”  He said, “If you have a master’s degree, why didn’t you remove the barrier?!  You will see why I am detaining you when I come back with your ticket!”, and began to walk away as if he were triumphant.

The motorcycle cop then ordered a female officer to stand close to me and make sure  that I didn’t move …  I was in the shade, my friend Alex was leaning on the barrier waiting to see what would happen next and the female officer glared at me as if she were part of a big “sting”.  I turned my back to her, took out my cell phone and took a couple of photographs.  I then dialed a friend and began to explain to her in Spanish what was going down.  She suggested I stay calm, which I was, and that the whole incident was ridiculous.  I agreed and told her that I would call back when all was over.  The motorcycle officer was joined by a second motorcycle officer and together they scoured my “history” for nearly 20 minutes.  I sat patiently and began to enjoy the music pumping from a tent of Caribbean folks on the beach and began to move to the rhythm as I waited for my license.  I knew what the officers were doing … it is common … looking for some “open warrant”, probation or anything that they could use to detain me further and possibly arrest me.  I haven’t been in that position for over ten years so I knew that they weren’t going to find anything and continued to focus on the ocean, the celebration and the happy people.  Finally, Sgt. G. Schoen walked over to my turned back, handed me my license and … a ticket for “Fail Use Sidewalk” … says to me, “Have a nice day, sir”, and walked away.  My friend Alex was NOT given any warning nor ticket and we were doing EXACTLY the same thing … I had just answered the motorcycle cop back when he yelled “get out of the street” … and … I was “walking while black”.  Even Alex said, “What a fuckin racist!”

If you look closely … or distantly … you will see the double standard.  And of course, if you have been brainwashed like many folks to believe that I … or any other African American male needs to be quiet … you won’t see any double standard!

Have a great day … I sure am … and will plead not guilty as there is no court appearance required for this “nonsensical ticket”.  I will file a complaint against officer Sgt. Schoen.  I know it won’t go far … but I will ALWAYS answer anyone back.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Happy 4th of July Weekend/Happy Birthday “Big Ike” (RIP)

 

Happy Friday, All!

It is in order indeed that I give a hearty “T.G.I.F.”!

So much going on as I sit here listening to Kelly Anne Conway defending the president’s comments of the two journalists that he tweeted with several  horribly derogatory remarks.  I really can’t believe that this is actually happening … it is like a plot to humiliate the United States of America …

Well, I am going to keep this message short and sweet!  As I sit watching the news and the warnings of being careful and avoiding “road rage” this 4th of July Weekend, I am wondering what Western civilization has come to!  The 4th of July is also my father’s birthday, RIP, and I want to wish him the Happiest of Birthdays … in Heaven!  I also want to take a moment to wish my college chum’s mother a Happy Birthday.  Happy Birthday Mrs. Fusilier … and may you have many many more!

Enjoy your 4th of July!  Celebrate safely!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Do You Really Need Your Health Insurance?!?

It’s Hump Day again, y’all!

I hope all is going well for you … (Hint, hint, hint …)  I hope your health is good, ’cause if it ain’t … and this “health care bill” gets passed before you die (Trumpcare) … you stand a better chance of dying than getting healthy … unless you are very very wealthy!

Now, I just said it straight out … This is what “we” are faced with now that this guy is in office.  In other words, one of the most savvy and corrupt businessmen in this country just “baited and switched” on your arses!  That is of course, if you voted for him!  Is this how you “Make America great Again”?  We had an honorable president … the first of its kind … in office before this character … for two terms.  We the people … (some of us, at least) criticized him and his family, took every opportunity to attempt to defame him while the Republicans “blocked” every legislation that they could to make his presidency as difficult as possible … for TWO terms!!!  Why was that?  Was (is) he really as bad as “people” say?!?  Our current president, who has up until now, denied that Russia did any “meddling” in our election in 2016, is now blaming Obama for not having done enough to “punish” the Russian president (though he doesn’t know what Obama did!) after denying over and over that Russia had any involvement in cyber attacks on the parties’s data bases so he could scream like a baby that “the Dems just lost the election … the cyber attacks didn’t change the outcome of the election”!  Okay, given that “he” did NOT win the popular vote and he “won” the electoral college votes, after screaming over and over that the system was “rigged” because even HE thought that Hillary would win … wtf are you going to do NOW?!?  How about “sell” our health care system to the highest bidder!!?

Now, we have another very serious controversy where hundreds of millions of “needy” Americans stand to lose their health care under this character’s current proposal.  Now that he got “your” vote, he’s trying to make sure that you and your family suffer while not being able to afford the speculated costs of health insurance under his bill.  Now we get to see the “people” who voted for him squirm like the rest of us who had some idea that he was “up to no good”, as my parents used to say, as they BETTER hope and pray that their health insurance is not taken away if this horrible plan (Trumpcare) is put into effect.  I mean, this plan was put together in “secret sessions” and even some of the Republicans that previously supported Scrump can now see that their constituents will loose their health insurance, suffer … and die!!  Do you still believe that this how we “Make America Great Again”?!?  Get a grip on reality, please.

As we awaken each day to more and more of this character’s drama, I am hoping that some people wake up from their state of denial and realize that he is in it for the money …. his own money, which he has made more of through his resorts, restaurants and golf courses since becoming president … and his billionaire friends, one of which I heard was invited to one of the meetings yesterday after deciding to delay the vote.  Maybe … just maybe … there is a “God” … who is testing us to see if we realize … I use that term “we” loosely … that “we” have been “baited and switched” upon!!

Let’s “get over da hump” … together!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Home Grown Terrorist – The Police

Yeah … It’s Monday … and I know how most people feel about Mondays … So do I!  But … we’ve got work to do!

Last Friday, I didn’t submit an e-mail/blog post because I went for a CT scan and bone scan … It took all day, yet … I got ‘er done!  I became a bit emotional because I remembered that my Dad, “Big Ike”, had refused any treatment for cancer when he had it … I wondered why … So many appointments, so much money … But I decided that I am worth ALL that … and some!!  When I first got to the office, a young lady … black woman named “Sheena” … started telling me a few things as she led up to how much I must pay.  I didn’t reply.  Finally she said, “I don’t know if they told you but your part of these two exams is going to be … let me see … $950.00.  How much of that can you pay now?”  I looked at her and smiled, “Well I guess I will see y’all later ’cause I can’t pay anything right now!”  I had just filled out the “new patient” information pages and was handing her the clipboard back.  “I guess we’ll have to do this another time!” I headed straight for the door.  Quickly, she chimed in, “Well let me speak with the manager to see if we can still see you today.  We already have all of the medicine ordered and here, so …”  I said, “Go ahead and check and let me know.  Otherwise … I’ll see y’all later.”

I sat down and looked up at the sky (ceiling) and said, “I wonder why nobody told me how much this visit was going to be?”  … The office worker heard me and said, “It’s your insurance.”  I said, “Okay …”  Little did she know that I was fortunate enough to have ANY insurance at the ripe old age of 62 … And it is “Obamacare” as the haters call it!  If I didn’t have “Obamacare”, I wouldn’t know any of this stuff …. especially since I can’t afford a monthly premium of $620, which is what I was quoted unless I earned less than $16,000.00 per year.  I stopped working and am collecting only my social security pension and a small bit from New York State United Teachers.  It is not worth me working for one of these “hokie” poorly run call centers with “children” for managers who repeatedly tried to lower my self esteem because they didn’t go to or graduate from college …. and it damn sure wasn’t Princeton, Baby.  Damn right I am proud … Should I be ashamed?  No need to answer, I got the right one!  Finally Sheena said, “Okay, we are going to accept you today and give you the tests.  We will bill you for the amount owed.”  I did a double take … thought of “Big Ike” … took a seat and waited to be called.

After hearing that yet another law enforcement officer after Jeronimo Yanez who murdered Philando Castille last year was found not guilty by a jury … of … I don’t know what, I was once again disappointed … and reminded of the history of “some” law enforcement organizations.  When I wrote my first book, I did some research on the early corruption in police departments in major cities like Philadelphia and New York … even Boston!  There was segregation in the departments and the areas where merchant “pay offs” were highest for local police (yep, there were payoffs to local cops … just like today!) were “given” to white cops!  You don’t have to believe me … educate yourself and read it with your own two eyes, like I did!  America has entered a harsh “level” of denial of the inherent institutional racism and the growth of white supremacy as well as continued dismissal of charges against law enforcement officers who have killed multiple African American men … and women … many of them unarmed.  The latest was a dismissal of charges/mistrial for the armed security guard at the University of Cincinnati who shot an unarmed African American man, Mr. DuBose, in the HEAD after failing to take his keys from the ignition of DuBose’s car as he attempted to drive away from the overbearing officer who was wearing a t-shirt with the Confederate flag underneath his uniform that same day!!!  Wtf!!!  Tensing was an officer who had reportedly had “more” stops than any other officer working in the same capacity.  In other words, he was LOOKING for reasons to do … exactly what he did that day …. shoot a black man in the head … and kill him!  Our current president does NOT address ANY of these cases …. as President Obama did!

One observation … Driving While Black is extremely dangerous.  My Dad used to tell me stories of the police stopping the cars of black people in the racist “dirty south” and actually break their tail lights once the vehicle stopped!!!  The vehicles become traps and the officers become “armed terrorists” who feel that they have unlimited power to abuse whomever is in the vehicle that they stop!!!  Like I mentioned in a previous e-mail where I tried to elucidate the challenges in using the n-word, you really have to take it from me … a man who has lived in an African American body … for more than 60 years.  I’ve seen and heard it all.  Now that I am NOT driving “while black”, I feel more safe … though I know that they … these homegrown terrorists … are looking for excuses to detain me.  I try to give them NONE!

Have a great day, and a wonderful week.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

 

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