Redhead Record Review – People’s Instinctive Travels

Our featured redhead is Malcolm X. Born Malcolm Little, in his early years he was known as “Detroit Red” because of the reddish hair he inherited from his maternal grandfather who was of Scottish descent.


Malcolm X was a controversial figure as the voice of the Nation Of Islam, its followers referred to as Black Muslims, and much of the provocative content of his speeches was by design. However, Malcolm’s greatest strength was the courage to question his core beliefs and continually adapt, evolve and reinvent himself.

It was Malcolm X’s inquisitive nature and laser-focused logic that led him to pilgrimage in Mecca and the revelation that true faith knows no color or nationality. His abandonment of the biased teachings of the Nation led to his founding of Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity which promoted Pan-Africanism. Threatened by Malcolm’s growing international influence, Nation Of Islam members assassinated him at gunpoint at the Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965 at the age of 39.

Malcolm X was a persuasive speaker and could easily disarm an opponent with his wit, humor and inescapable logic. His appeal to unity, integrity and justice was impossible to resist. Having listened to and heard his later speeches, I believe had he lived, it would have changed the overall landscape of Africa. He may have been a unifying leader in direct opposition to the divisive forces created by brutal self-serving lunatics like Maummar Gaddafi and Idi Amin.

Historians of the turbulent civil rights movement in America often contrast the violent separatist messages of the Nation Of Islam and the Black Panthers, with the non-violent protests led by Martin Luther King, but I believe that both Malcolm and MLK appealed to the conscience of White America. Those with a conscience felt shame, those without a conscience reacted with anger. Where King appealed to the heart, Malcolm X appealed to the intellect.

Pairing a representative album with such an iconic figure was difficult. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy is the easy choice, as it was paired with the Spike Lee biographical film, complete with the “X” capped talking heads at the end of the film proclaiming, “I am Malcolm X.” Mount Vernon, NY born Denzel Washington is magnificent in his portrayal of Malcolm X.

I thought about Gil Scott Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised which was first recited as a poem accompanied by congas and bongos on his 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, then a year later with a full band on Pieces of a Man. I will share a YouTube link to the full band version. Gil Scott Heron was doing Def Poetry Jam long before Russell Simmons gave it a name.

In the end, the music is the thing, the featured redhead just another “pretty” face lead-in to the featured artist. People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, the debut album from A Tribe Called Quest is my record of choice for no particular reason other than being a personal favorite. While People’s Instinctive Travels is categorized as hip-hop, it might alter your perception of the genre. If you hate rap, but are a fan of R&B and jazz, there is enough crossover appeal for you to find something you can use here.

People’s Instinctive Travels may not be the Tribe’s best or well-known album, but for Kamaal Fareed, born Jonathan Davis, and best known as Q-Tip or The Abstract, it is a coming out party, the first time his freshly acquired DJ and production skills, and artistic expression are on full display. Q-Tip was the only member of the group to contribute on every track. While Malik Taylor aka Phife Dawg flexes his muscles in equal measure with Q-Tip on subsequent albums, The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, he is represented on only two tracks here. People’s Instinctive Travels is the fruit of Q-Tip’s painstaking sampling, spontaneous lyrical creation, and hours of mixing and studio work. The end product is multi-layered and unique in its blending of diverse elements of jazz, R&B, and rock along with a sense of humor and light, laid-back mood.

Critics of rap like to say that the genre requires no musical talent. “Anybody can do that,” is the same lame, tired argument that has been used for rockers who can only hammer out three or four chords and play everything with distortion. My challenge to these doubters would be to play a background bass and drum track and see what they can spit out. But, I’m not presenting myself as an ambassador of hip-hop. Listen to the storytelling on “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”, the lustful pleading in “Bonita Applebum”, the echoes of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” on “Can I Kick It?”, and the historical connection of “Footprints”, and you will realize this is something new, the realization of hip-hop as art.

You will not find a better example of poly-rhythmic interplay anywhere than on “After Hours”. There is the voice of comedian Richard Pryor on the hook, hand clapping, record scratching, cymbal popping, tribal drumming, Phife scatting and even frogs croaking, all flawlessly woven together by Q-Tip, leading in and out of his own smoothly delivered lyrics that poke fun with numerous popular local references. This interplay of elements is Q-Tip’s greatest strength. His self-proclamation as The Abstract (Poet) is fitting.

You may find some amusement in identifying the sources of the numerous samples on this album. I have eclectic tastes in everything, especially all things musical, and my exposure to different genres and artists is pretty extensive, but even I was amazed by the breadth of Q-Tip’s musical pallet. The complete list of sample credits for the album is below.

Much like what Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On? did for R&B, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm elevates hip-hop as a vehicle for artistic expression and foretells the creativity to come from A Tribe Called Quest.
If you’re not too tired, my short-story Pops continues following the samples and tracks lists.
Samples Credits

Track List





“Push It Along”



“Luck of Lucien”



“After Hours”






“I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”



“Pubic Enemy”



“Bonita Applebum”



“Can I Kick It?”



“Youthful Expression”



“Rhythm (Devoted to the Art of Moving Butts)”



“Mr. Muhammad”



“Ham ‘n’ Eggs”



“Go Ahead in the Rain”



“Description of a Fool”


Total length:



I entered Monk’s bar, my heart pounding and my throat swollen, forcing me to gasp for air. I rushed past Monk who was leaning against the bar talking to an old man in a gray suit. He looked up and nodded as I continued past the jukebox, making my way back to the Pac-Man machine in the rear.

Setting myself in front of the screen, which promised instant gratification, I dropped a quarter into the slot to satisfy my addiction. A few bars of flat, electronic music sounded and my yellow, moon-faced Pac-Man appeared on the screen, ready to do battle against the unrelenting, brightly colored monsters. Holding the joystick firmly in my right hand, I controlled the movements of the Pac-Man who’s insatiable hunger for dots and fear of the pursuing monsters drove him forward. The multi-colored monsters, while tuned to Pac-Man’s every move, themselves traveled on fixed, programmed paths and only deviated from them in response to my own random maneuvers. I cut sharply through the maze’s many twists and turns and headed for one of the corners where the white, flashing power dot offered me the promise of power, power to devour the colored monsters.

I ate the glowing host and chased the now fleeing monsters, turned blue in awe of my sudden power. They were blue from top to bottom, dark and blue, blue to their bones. That Pac-Man really gave those monsters a mean dose of the blues. I pounced on two of them in quick succession and watched as their blues dissolved like a sad song in the air. I cornered a third, disposing of it as with the other two, its disembodied soul sent soaring back to the pen, the monster’s womb, to be born again.

In a matter of seconds, however, the tables were turned as my power evaporated and I was forced to again flee. I raced across the screen, a yellow streak of fear. Reversing quickly, I charged for the top of the screen, cutting sharply left through the endless maze to avoid a charging monster. Another power dot blinked enticingly up ahead, but two angry monsters blocked my path and I again reversed my field. Pulling down hard on the joystick, I ran directly into a third monster which had blocked my escape from behind. I quickly shriveled, impotent and useless, and disappeared with a pop.

I cursed under my breath and violently yanked on the joystick until another yellow warrior appeared on the screen and the game continued. After ten more minutes of frenzied running, chasing, and eating, the game ended, my last Pac-Man dissolving before my eyes. I walked away from the machine shaking my head and wondering if it was possible to find satisfaction in a task which ultimately ended in failure; no matter how hard I ran or how many obstacles I avoided, another always sprang up in its place.

The game had become very serious to me, despite my failure, and I wondered if some kind of meaning could be found between the dropping of my quarter and death. The game always ended in death; Pac-Man would eventually be cornered, be absorbed into the electronic machinery, the maze would disappear, and the music would stop.

Monk was at the register, his back to me, as I mumbled my goodbye and walked out to the gray, rain soaked street. The rain was much harder, so I dashed for the shelter of my truck. Jumping in quickly, I started the engine and headed down Lincoln Avenue. Halfway down the block, someone suddenly jumped in front of my truck, attempting to cross against the light. I slammed on the brakes, skidding and screeching to a halt just inches from the pedestrian. Panic had spread a black, inky film across my eyes. I breathed deeply, allowing my vision to clear and looked to see who I had almost run down.

It was Bobby, and he hadn’t even blinked. He paused to stare up at me as my panic turned to rage, then amazement. Bobby had known that I would stop. He had placed his life in my hands and I had responded by sparing him. I searched his face for a sign of defiance, but found only resignation. Bobby was young, had never lived in the South or been forced to jump Jim Crow, yet I knew that his actions were in no way based on trust. Bobby trusted no one, least of all a white milkman from the North side of town, but he had acted automatically, like one of those monsters in the Pac-Man maze. Bobby traveled on his predetermined path, within the boundaries set by the white man, his survival resting on the whim of the programmer. Bobby turned his face and continued slowly across the street. The truck lurched forward with a grinding of gears as I started for home.

Had My Phil – An Easter Story

Yeah, I know Easter was months ago…

He who took a bite out of the Big Apple, worshiped at the alter of a false god, the idol of Jordan, proclaimed “The Greatest of All Time,” he who conspired with the serpent, the Black Mamba, and the powerful giant Shaquille, hath been laid low. It was Thee who professed of the sanctity of an unholy trinity, praying  in the Egyptian house of worship, clinging to pyramids and triangles. Thy temple has been leveled by the army of Melo and Zingas! He who is unwilling to march in step with one’s troops is destined not to lead, but to serve.


“Zeke, my Zeke, why have you forsaken me?”

James cried out in agony. His desperate call was returned with silence, save for the sound of four and twenty million dollars slowly draining from his account. He had been betrayed by the gangly, multi-ringed Judas who had promised salvation, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” but instead delivered high round draft picks and talent to his enemies.

He exhaled; why was it so difficult to breath? It was more than he could bear after carrying the weight alone. He opened his belt and unbuttoned the top of his trousers.

“Sigh! That’s a little better. I shouldn’t have ordered the cheesecake after finishing the prime rib.” Jimmy shifted his weight and looked out his office window. The bread and Merlot weren’t sitting well with him either.  He had shared his table while delivering the difficult words to his disciples.

Anthony, who was called Melo, was one of the twelve. He had witnessed the broken covenant, first between himself and Philip, and now, the final betrayal of James by Philip. If only he had honored the wishes of his beloved SaLaLaome who had called for the head of Philip. Instead, he himself had succumbed to temptation, his pride leading to isolation, adultery and missed baseline jumpers.

One by one they were taken down, bodies limp, their spirit drained. Fisher, Rambis, Noah, even the Rose could not mask the putrid stench of failure. The garden, this Mecca, would bear no fruit. Iscariot, the traitor, bereft of basketball wisdom had laid waste a once powerful kingdom. James had been blinded by the gold of the multi-ringed false prophet.

He remembered the words, “Before the cock crows, thou shalt deny me thrice.” This prophecy was realized as a 3-year record of 80-166, including the catastrophic 17-65 season in 2014-2015 A.D.. It was more than James could bear. He lowered his head and wept.

His tears became rain, then thunder, until behold, there was a great earthquake. The massive boulder that had obstructed his garden was thrown aside. James raised his eyes and beheld an image of hope. His countenance was like lightning and his raiment was of many colors.


“Isiah, is that you?” James’ vision was blurred by tears.

“Nah Jimmy, it’s me Clyde.”

“Clyde? Am I dead?”

“No man, just your team’s playoff chances. But, I’m here to tell you something…”

“What is it?” James face was as open and innocent as a child’s.

“Go forth quickly and tell your disciples, He is risen.”

Once again, James called out to his savior, “Isiah…Isiah?”

“What’s wrong with you Jimmy. I’m talkin’ about the Man?” Clyde slowly unrolled  an ancient scroll. “These are the sacred words He hath passed through the chain of prophets. I will share them with thee now.”

Bounding and Astounding

Dancing and Prancing

Dishing and Swishing

Huffing and Stuffing

Hustling and Bustling

Movin’ and Grovin’

Out-muscling and Out-hustling

Posting and Toasting

Shaking and Baking

Slicing and Dicing

Spinning and Winning

Styling and Profiling

Swooping and Hooping

Wheeling and Dealing

“Follow and honor these tenets, and you will enter the kingdom.” Clyde rolled up the scroll. “Simple as that Jimmy. Spread the word. I’ll be watching you.”

James rose to his feet and wiped away years of tears, sand, and eye snot.

“Don’t worry Clyde, I won’t let them down this time.”

With that, hope was restored to the faithful. What would free agency bring? Did we dare dream of unseating the rule of the State of Gold?

If Summer league comes, can Fall be far behind?




I drew inspiration, and borrowed theme and structure, from one of my literary heroes. Part One is Langston Hughes’ famous poem, with its enduring image of a raisin in the sun. Part Two is poem for my mother.


What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


What of a dream
that is never dreamed at all?

This undreamed dream—
A son dreamed dream
Does she hunt
by the light of the moon?
Or rust and rot—
on her moorings?

Does it suffocate—
Depressed, compressed
under granite?

Or float softly,
like a sad song in the air?

Sunday Scribble Challenge

“Don’t give up! Keep digging! Just a few thousand miles to reach China!”

The challenge:

Someone has buried your character alive. After a few hours, the victim hears what sounds like digging in the dirt. Soon, he or she realizes the sound is coming from BENEATH them.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write the next line of dialogue, whether it comes from the victim or their guest.

SSC June 4-10th


Lunchtime Walk – Bethel, CT

What started as a pictorial of local sculpted metal street art, expanded into a walking tour of the sleepy little town where I work. What Bethel lacks in grandeur and sophistication it makes up for with its intimate and unique collection of little shops, restaurants and small scale architecture. This little enclave, with the biblical name, was the birthplace of P.T. Barnum of the famous traveling circus, and has a hippie vibe. You will find no chain stores here, but if you’re looking for a spiritual guide, a yoga or Gaelic dance studio, a coffee roaster to prepare your signature blend, independent bookstores, a music store with a collection of vinyl classics, an auto shop to restore your old ‘Vette, or great examples of modest Victorian homes, this is the place for you.

First, here’s the collection of sculptures on display on the grounds surrounding the Bethel Public Library and Town Hall. Most are familiar subjects and forms represented in metal with a 360-degree perspective.

All of these sights, and more, are within a few blocks of my workplace and create a peaceful and invigorating backdrop to my daily walk.

There is nothing I love move than an old wooden church. Bethel United Methodist recently had a face-lift and as you can see, she really shines.

Bethel United Methodist

This is the little flower garden alongside the library.

Library Garden

Molten Java lost a bit of its atmosphere when it moved down the road a few years ago, but I like to escape to the front porch for a few minutes on a warm day.

Molten Java
Molten Java porch sign

There are quite a few Victorian “painted ladies” within a few square blocks of the main street.


This stucco, columned home seems a little out of place, but I guess it represents the quirky, eclectic style of the town. The windows always look dark and I once heard loud opera music blaring from inside. Kind of creepy…


There are railroad crossings at many intersections and the train blasts its warning as it approaches the middle of town.

Tracks North
Tracks South

This is the historic old train station, which housed a bike shop for a few years, but is currently vacant.

Old Train Station

Another grand old house which is home to Putnam House Inn and Restaurant. One of my favorites.

Putnam House

Next to Putnam House is the old Opera House and Greenwood Tavern. There are no longer performances at the Opera House, but the Tavern has a warm atmosphere and decent pub fare. Hope you enjoyed sharing my walk through this little Connecticut town.

Greenwood’s / Opera House


What’s in a (user)name?

What’s in a name? Like me, I bet many of you are curious about the origins of some of the quirky and mysterious usernames created by our favorite blog heroes. Through correspondence and interaction on Word Press you may even know many of them by their birth names.

I have had many nicknames over the years, some of them not so flattering, some pretty obvious, while others have been enigmatic. A true nickname is bestowed upon you by others. Hopefully, the cruel ones don’t stick.

Some parents agonize over the naming of their children, and for good reason; their best intentions can lead to a lifetime of teasing and tormenting. “What were they thinking?” Not too many people enjoy being a punch-line.

My parents took what they thought was the logical route, naming me after my father. This guaranteed decades of confusion. “Do you want senior or junior?” “Big Larry or little larry?”

Larry! Shortened version of Lawrence which appears on my birth certificate. Usually associated with sleazy old school video game characters, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards,  your retired uncle in Florida, used car salesmen, or Larry David, who inspired the George Costanza character on Seinfeld.


In the sitcom, Save Your Enthusiasm, Larry David plays a character loosely based on himself. Cheryl Hines plays Larry’s wife on the series, and whenever she begins a sentence, “Lar-ry…” I know he did something wrong and is in trouble. Believe me, nothing good ever follows “Lar-ry.” From my personal experience it is, “Lar-ry, what did you do?” or, “Lar-ry, I told you…” or simply, “LARRY!” Substitute, “Lar-ry” with “thick-headed moron,” and you get the general idea.

Only my maternal grandfather and teachers have called me Lawrence and I would say it sounds a bit classier, like Sir Laurence (“u” substituted for “w”) Olivier, although I’ve heard through interviews with other actors that he would sometimes go by Larry backstage, usually when engaging in some kind of crass humor or just plain acting catty toward fellow actors.

Which brings me finally to nicknames and usernames; sometimes interchangeable, sometimes not. Often they are the creation of the writer, not the gift of a friend or family member. We all have our personal favorites and I’ve settled on a couple. L-Mo is concocted in the same fashion as J-Lo, J-Law or A-Rod, taking the first letter of my beloved Larry and hyphenating with the first two letters of my last name.  Many years ago, a co-worker caught me off guard blurting it out as it occurred to him. The smartass little red creature from Sesame Street immediately came to mind. “Why are you calling me Elmo?” He smirked and opened his eyes wide for effect, “You’re L-Mo.” I am sometimes a bit dense, but finally got it and laughed. I am more like the furry little guy than any of the aforementioned celebs.


As for my Word Press username, Poison21, I’ve already reveled its origin in an earlier post. I will tell you that it is not in tribute to the 80’s hair band, and can assure you that I have no plans to send you an anthrax-laced letter. It is something much more wholesome, and as American as apple pie.

So, where did your username come from? Is it a nickname, or a carefully crafted representation of your blog’s theme? How about your birth name? Do you think that a particular name predisposes a child to a certain personality or lifestyle? Poison needs to know.

Sunday Scribble Challenge

Sharing my contribution to a fun challenge, #SSC 12, May 28-June 3rd, write a six word story with a twist ending. Inspiration courtesy of the swing of death, and 1992 hip-hop classic Know the Ledge by Eric B. & Rakim.


Stepped over ledge,







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