By Chance, Cooke-ing in My Dreams
On Memorial Day 2016, I took a nap. The past couple months have been exhausting. Sometimes a good nap is warranted. Mentally? Check. Physically? Check. Psychologically, Socially, Spiritually? All check. Morally? As we head into a Presidential Election with two candidates despised by the Political Parties they represent, it comes as no surprise to check this one. It seems everybody is angry. And I, being the lifetime product of bad judgment, can only sit back and do nothing about it. Especially as I lie in bed constipated from over a month of failed contributions towards one of the few things in life that brings me happiness, this site. It’s all over fear. The fear of my own personal anger adding to the fire burning everywhere. Even the dreamer in me has lost the capacity to dream much less sleep lately.
A brief moment of exhaustion has never felt so good in my life. And this afternoon I find myself transported in mere seconds from my bed in Point Breeze to a corner on La Brea. A husky black man that looks like the bartender from the hipster spot near my house in Philly pulls up in a red pickup truck that has a used stainless steel Weber grill tied in the back caddy. He opens his window as if he has something to say to me. I walk up to the car. “You looking for a cab?” he shouts. “I didn’t call for one,” I respond looking at the ‘Uber’ placard on his windshield, wondering whether or not Uber has a pickup truck service and figuring this guy was looking for any reason to make a statistic out of me. ‘It’s slow out here today,” he says with a chuckle, “if you’re looking for a ride, I can take you wherever you need to go.” I look around me. It is pretty slow today. Everything seems dead. Must be the holiday. For some reason, stupid things come easy to people like me. When has the risk of getting hacked up by a psychopath into a million pieces ever stopped me from the lure of adventure. I’m a grown man now, I should know about facing the consequences of my actions. Without any further hesitation, I step towards the passenger door and get into his car.
We start driving down La Brea. My paranoia immediately sets in once the car starts to move. Here it is, my final bad decision in a short life built by them. I look to the floor hoping to see the crowbar that will bash my head in or the knife that will stab whatever is left of my fractured heart but was pretty surprised to see that his car was actually very clean. “Pardon me for not asking any sooner…but do you drive for Uber?” He chuckles, “what, the clean car and the placard didn’t give it away.” “It’s not that,” I gasped in relief, “it’s just I never knew Uber had pickup trucks.” He shakes his head, “you’re definitely a tourist…they do. It’s a new service, a moving service…nicknamed mUber. It’s for people that have pick-up trucks, to move things around. Much cheaper than renting one for the day.” It was a relief to hear this, there’s been many moments in my life that I’ve wanted to be dead but today is not one of them.
It was funny but despite being quite the talker, me and the driver did not talk much. I was too busy wondering what the hell I was doing in Southern California. I didn’t even know I was dreaming. It was that type of dream. “You wanna have the best burger in California, right here in this bar.” He stopped the car. “Go in there, ask for the Pitt Stop, Pitt as in Pittsburgh, not Tar Pit, but either works.” Not knowing where I was going in the first place, I got out of his car and walked down the steps into the dark bar that had windows adorned with neon lights, but remained nameless. I walked downstairs. The bar was dark and everybody sitting down was turned facing away from me. Nobody was around to welcome me. Everybody at the bar was looking at the menu. There was a bartender facing away counting money. There was no site of a kitchen. Or the smell of a burger. I kept hearing a song about Blessings on the speaker and I wanted to record it so i grabbed my phone, put it on video camera mode, pulled a chair, got up and held the phone towards a speaker nestled up in the corner.
Waking up, it took me a second to realize I had been dreaming and I tried googling a song about blessings and a song came up by Chance the Rapper. But for whatever reason it was, I really had the urge to play ‘You Send Me’ by Sam Cooke on my phone. Not feeling in the mood for hip hop, I listened to Sam Cooke while lying in bed, something everybody should do every once in a while. When I got into my car this morning, XPN gave me the opportunity to finally hear both…back-to-back. Lately, I’ve been very vocal about much of the music coming out these days. I even went on a tirade recently about how the youth, particularly black inner-city youth, need the music of Sam Cooke in their lives. The reality is, while Sam Cooke’s music is great, it’s message will have a hard time reaching anybody that is young and black in this country. Chance the Rapper succeeds where even a lot of his own peers fail. On a blog where I often overlook much of the hip-hop being released, I am proud to put the song: ‘Blessings’ on my list of best songs of 2016.
Here’s the song performed on the Tonight Show by Chance the Rapper
And a live performance of ‘You Send Me’ by Sam Cooke…a song that was originally recorded in Hollywood (of all places) on this date, June 1, 59 years ago.