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

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