Monthly Archives: July, 2020

‘Man of Steel and Velvet’

Unknown-32‘Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe, ‘Lewis wrote.  ‘In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the most excellent way.  Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.’    Rep Lewis wrote this shortly before his death and requested that it be posted by the New York Times after his death.


‘Lewis was one of the ‘Big Six’ leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington and he fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.  In 1965, Lewis led the first of three Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  In an incident which became known as Bloody Sunday State troopers and police then attacked the marchers, including Lewis.’    Wikipedia


‘In an interview with CNN during the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, Lewis recounted what he and the original Freedom Riders endured.  In Birmingham, the riders were beaten with baseball bats, chains, lead pipes, and stones.  They were arrested by police who led them across the border into Tennessee and let them go. They reorganized and rode to Montgomery where they were met with more violence, and Lewis was hit in the head with a wooden crate.  ‘It was very violent.  I thought I was going to die.  I was left lying at the Greyhound bus station in Montgomery unconscious,’ said Lewis remembering the incident.’    Wikipedia


‘Representative Lewis was admired throughout Congress and the United States and the world!  There was a book written many years ago entitled, Man of Steel and Velvet, and Mr. Lewis exemplified that title.  ‘The poet Carl Sandburg wrote, ‘Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet, who is as hard as a rock and soft as drifting fog, who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect.’  

We live in a time of racial strife that I have not witnessed…and I grew up in the 1960s   Never has there been a more herculean need for many to take up the cause of racial understanding the equal treatment of all races in our beloved country.  


Let us do a thought experiment.  If you are white…imagine that you are a black man or woman or boy or girl.  Consider that you began your life’s journey loving white people.  You wanted to be like the white movie and television actors that you saw on  the screen, whereas if you grew up in my time that was about all that you saw on the large or small screen.  When you began to attend school…members of the dominate race in America began to call you the ‘N’ Word…  You soon received the ‘Talk’ from your parents on the restrictive personal performance you must adhere to if a police officer pulls you over.  Your parents had fear in their eyes as they were telling you how you must behave…  When you apply for a job…you understand the qualifications for the position and you know that you far exceed the written guidelines…but you do to get the job…one of the bosses white friends receives it…who has little to no qualifications…  You seek to rent an apartment and the landlord tells you that there are no vacancies…while an hour after you have left a white person is welcomed with open arms…because there a lot of vacancies!

In Michigan the Statehouse was filled with white men wearing Nazi swastikas and carrying semiautomatic weapons.  Some of them called for the death of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer or her beheading…  United States Attorney General, William Barr, when responding to a question at a Congressional hearing this week, said that he did not know about the incident.  This was after he had explained that he had to keep order in Portland, Oregon and at the recent incident in Lafayette Park in Washington DC where upon the firing of pepper spray and subsequent injury of many protestors…president Trump had a photo op, holding a Bible, in front of St. Johns Church…

We must engage in Representative John Lewis life long battle of non-violence…and sit down together at a long table…and break bread and fellowship..and learn of our shared humanity…  We must become men and women of steel and velvet!

Let us get into some ‘Good Trouble!’


‘What You Crying About…Man?’ — The Jazz Man

The rain is falling…again. I accomplished my house cleaning chores this morning as the lady who does our cleaning has not been able to do so for 3 months. It is comforting how easy it is for me to slip into my one time career of Building Services. I spotted a deer family earlier. They appeared to be as pleased to see […]

via ‘What You Crying About…Man?’ — The Jazz Man

‘It is Darkest Just Before the Dawn’

It is Tuesday in Little Egypt and hope is on the horizon.  MJ told me that there was a left over pork chop for my lunch and my thoughts strayed to the Oscar wining movie, ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ of a few decades back.  The marvelous actor, Morgan Freeman, who played the character, Hoak, who was employed by, Jessica Tandy’s, character, Miss Daisy, as her chauffeur.  At one point in the movie Miss Daisy thought that Hoak had stolen a can of salmon from her and proclaimed as much to her son, Boolie, played by former Saturday Night Live alum, Dan Aykroyd.  When Boolie protested that his mother was mistaken…she would hear nothing of it until Hoak arrived and pulled from his coat pocket a can of salmon to replace the one that he had consumed for lunch the day before.  He noted that the chop that she had left for him was a ‘bit stiff.’  My chop will be fine…

I read where Dr. Anthony Fauci said that we may have a vaccine for the coronavirus by October…now this is good news!  That will not be the end of Covid-19…but it could be the beginning of the end.  

So often or present life circumstances seem overwhelming and insurmountable…when if we could see the rainbow that is just behind the clouds…we would take courage!  I have been in employment situations that seemed to restrictive and where my opinion was not only not valued but ridiculed.  It is a terrible feeling and throughly demoralizing.  I have also experienced these ‘valley experiences’ changing in a seeming moment… and I was on top of the mountain!  

Have you ever been Gaslighted?  The 1944 psychological thriller, ‘Gaslight is a film adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s play Gas Light [1938] about a woman whose husband slowly manipulates her into believing that she is going insane.’    Wikipedia.   The film is a compelling study of mental manipulation of one person upon another.  I have witnessed ‘Gaslighting’ in both politics and religion.  I have also have witnessed it and been the recipient of the Machiavellian maneuver …both in religion and  the work place.  One of the oldest manipulation techniques of ministers or managers is to cause a person to begin to believe that their stand for right and wrong is out of step with the group think and the reality of the organization.  Women have been experiencing ‘Gaslighting’ by abusive men for centuries.  


When you are placed in a position where you are disfellowshipped or ostracized until you pledge allegiance to the company line…you have been gaslit…  If all your fellow lemmings are following each other off of a steep cliff…and you decide to remain behind…  If someone in authority creates an untenable situation for you…and then convinces you that your state of affairs is your fault…you are being gaslit.  When you are set up for failure…and then you fail…and are subsequently chastised and castigated for your failure…you have been gaslit!

Many people in some type of authority see their mantel of leadership as a license to use people for their own agenda.  This agenda does not include those who disagree with them.  I regularly hear politicians utter the clarion call that they are going to bring religion back to the classroom…but  which religion are they talking about.  

This life afforded us so many opportunities.  There are many more chances that the proverbial second chance!  In fact each morning is the golden opportunity to create yourself anew!  We are only as place bound as we are willing to relinquish  and to accept.  We humans are a bit like the moulding clay of the sculptor.  With a creative push here and a pull there…and the smoothing out of our rough edges…we can be a masterpiece!  

Our Future is Bright…If We Want It To Be? — The Jazz Man

I wrote a dystopian fable yesterday…and it scared the author. I reread it 10 times or more and thought of deleting it…as it is not my genre. However, I believe the fiction that I wrote could be one of a thousands of scenarios if we do not take Covid-19 seriously! There is an old saying that you can dash your head […]

via Our Future is Bright…If We Want It To Be? — The Jazz Man

The First Year…..

Once again it was a dark morning at the Bump house.  Billy’s mom was busily preparing what appeared to be cross between grits and oatmeal…with a grayish color.  Billy greeted her with a hearty good morning to which she replied, ‘what’s good about it?’  Billy’s good humor could not be deterred as he and Chet were in the midst of working on a science project regarding climate change, and they were about to write their final paper on their study.  Billy’s dad, Junior, came in to the kitchen wearing his motorcycle hat and leather jacket…with his concealed carry Glock 9 in his front pocket.  Junior had been relegated to day-work for some time.  He recalled the halcyon days when he had a steady job in Chicago.  He had been a mechanic for the big semi trucks.  The money had been good and the lifestyle had been solid middle class in the suburbs.  He and Neva had enjoyed their upwardly mobile habits and believed that they would last forever…after all that is what they had been told…  When the recession that ultimately turned into a depression hit…it was a shock to them and all of their friends.  

Billy and Chet met in a chat room that was called, euphemistically the ‘Zoom-Room’ and began talking about their climate change project…that they had been working on for five years.  They discussed meeting in person and decided that this would not be a prudent idea as Bill had a gas mask but Chet did not.  

President Buttigieg was on television and speaking about the need for Americans to submit to being tested daily…before they leave their house.  He noted that the restrictions that the United Kingdom had placed on our visiting their country would not be lifted if we did not comply with their health and safety requirements.  Europe had made crystal clear that Americans were not welcome in any of their countries until we met their minimum standards.  Also, South Korea and Russia and China would except Americans within their sovereign borders.


Most of Broadway had been shuttered…although they had made the decision to reopen due to their fear of economic failure.  When patrons had died in the aisles and performers on stage…the allure of live theatre had lost its luster…  

Wall Street had attempted several reopenings and had been forced to permanently close when there was not humans left to  man the computers.  It had been remarkably resilient for years…doing relatively well while the unemployment ranks swelled to over 100 million  souls…and then there was either no one to tally the statistics…or they seemed to lack importance…as the virus raged onward!  

IMG_1655It had been a long time since the Bumps had attended a physical church service in their church building.  Many had suggested that the church reopen and that the pandemic was over and that perhaps it was little more than a political hoax…  But when 3 of the founding members of the church had passed away from the virus…the leadership thought better of attempting a reopening until…and if…the virus was brought under control…

Some were old enough to remember the political and social backlash…when the virus began.


First the movie houses shut down.  This was a pastime that Billy enjoyed immensely.  But there was Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime…until there was one to operate the sites…even though the yeoman work was accomplished by computers.  Direct TV and Dish were good at home entertainment…until few had the money to pay for the services and then the companies ceased to charge for their services…and soon there was no more service…

There had been a political and religious outcry to the governmental mandate of wearing face masks…but that seems so pedestrian now…

IMG_8514The Grim Reaper had such lovely garments on and he spoke in dulcet tones that assured the skeptical that the virus was a hoax and a scam and that they would not only be in excellent health but they should be emboldened in their righteous stand against government intervention into their God given rights of free speech and free action…  None of us knew that the virus would morph into an instant killer…

IMG_7668The epidemiologist that are left…are working on 100 varieties of the original virus.  The United States…long ago…ceased to bury their dead…they burn them in humongous pyres outside of our cities…


Statues were erected to Dr. Anthony Fauci…throughout America…

Few that are alive now… can remember how it all began…in the first year of our pandemic…2020…

Love and Fear on the Blue Dot Planet

Please enjoy an encouragement from Jonathon Brooks!


I was just now thinking about how love casts out fear. Our world can be a frightening place. The coronavirus is frightening. Humanity’s selfishness is frightening. Hatred of our fellow life traveler is frightening. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and a wrong doing as payment for a different wrong doing are all the frightening stuff that can be witnessed daily on our blue dot of a planet. Love overcomes these fears.

I made a dedicated decision to follow Christ out of myself and into the life Jesus had for me when I was 18 years young. Jesus has conquered many of my sins and vices and fears. Life is not intended to be lived and fueled by hatred and fear. Life runs infinitely better on love.

It is hard work to go to work on one’s soul. Change is difficult. Following Christ was not…

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Five Months Until Christmas! — The Jazz Man

As they say where has the year gone! We knew that we had enjoyed the first two decades of the 21st Century and that they had flown by. They had been composed of joy mixed with sorrow. But now 2020 was here and the door was open to the opportunities of our third decade in a time that we used to […]

via Five Months Until Christmas! — The Jazz Man

Good Times

Jonathon and I were in Plaza Records recently and we saw our friend, Matthew.  He is just an all around good guy!  Did you ever know someone that every time you spoke with them…you left the better for it?  That is Matt!  I met him for the first at a meeting of the civil service council.  At the time I  had been asked by the group to be their representative to the State University Annuitants Association, local chapter.  He was a new member of the Council. I had been a member of the elected representative body for civil service employee, for 15 years during my career.  During the 5 years that I was the chair of the group I discovered that chancellors and presidents of our beloved university were as human as I was!  They wanted good for our campus and they needed someone to work with them.  Being set apart by several layers of managerial and administrative bureaucracy…often it was difficult for them to hear the story of the staff that were directly affected by their policies.  One of the most affective answers for that break-down in communication was monthly, or more, meetings with the campus leader.  If the chancellor was on campus I usually could see them the same day that I requested a meeting.  The same could be said for president Glenn Poshard.  So many misunderstandings and knotty problems could be unravelled by the oil of collegial communication…


The dedication of the council was phenomenal!  The professionals that comprised the group already had herculean job duties and yet chose to shoulder the massive and vital task of representing their colleagues.  I watch as my friend Elizabeth works countless hours per day…and night…to represent the civil service community and fulfill her many job requirements!  Chancellors that welcome the advice of their civil service council…tend to succeed in all areas of their administration!


I was fond of telling chancellors that the housekeeping department knew what was going on across campus…  I would say the same for the civil service staff.  We are everywhere…and yet often unseen…in plain sight.  If you want to feel the pulse of the campus…talk to the people that are holding the patients wrist!  

man in black jacket holding black tablet computer

Photo by cottonbro on

Our precious students identify with the members of the campus community that they are around frequently.  Usually this is member of the civil service staff.  I have heard countless stories regarding a civil service worker ‘being SIUC’ to lonely or homesick student…when it seemed that no one else was interested.  Our students desire to become a member of the campus community and they are searching for someone who cares about them…before they tell them how much they know!  During times of stress and uncertainty it is essential that all people that we meet know that we value them and want to help them…and that we need their help!



Dreams of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale

I was enjoying my daily walk on the campus of SIUC today, as I reflected on the beginning of another academic year.  I remembered when my buddy, Steve and I would enjoy a breakfast before class, at the Woody Hall cafeteria in 1980.  Our good friend, Thelma, was the supervisor of the eatery and always brightened our day!  When I am low on inspiration…SIUC’s campus always fills me back up!  As I walk the campus I am returned to my youth.  I recall being so happy to be a part of the University Family.  I was a Building Custodian, which was a custodial crew leader, and I had the best job that I had ever had!  I was an active member of a school that I had admired from my youth in Eldorado, Illinois.  Steve and I were taking a course entitled Understanding Data Processing.  We studied the ENIAC-computer and data input by punch cards.  My first university professor told me that I had a significant aptitude for the subject matter and encouraged me to continue my university studies.  MJ and I had been able to sell our trailer and buy a little house in Elkville, Illinois and a new two door LTD car.  When I drove the new car to my mom and step-dad’s home I felt like I was driving a Lincoln Continental   I was so proud to be in the ‘game of adulthood’ with a new beautiful wife and the means to support her!  I had a beautiful pastoral scene painting for my mom that I had purchased at Down’s Furniture store in Elkville.  I thought that it was the most lovely painting that I had ever laid my eyes upon….


People took an interest in me at SIUC.  I felt valued and wanted and appreciated…and I wanted to give back what I was feeling!  I had friends that had already achieved success…and when I began at SIUC I discovered the I had found my home. A colleague told me that he had spoken to all of the Building Services  foreman and that they too a person spoke highly of me.  I had not heard anything like this in my life.  I was touched and inspired.  I wondered how I could return their confidence in my work.  I saw our new chancellor near the student center yesterday and he was in a suit on a 90 degree plus day.  He was speaking on his phone and had his umbrella at his side.   I thought that this man will return us to our former greatness!


I could not fathom that the assistant director of the Physical Plant and the superintendent of building services were offering me the position of assistant superintendent of building services.  I deemed that job…unattainable for me!  It was a bit like a dream that I was not prepared for.  I was 29 years old…but I thought that I was 50!  I was afraid…but I took the job for fear that once the door of opportunity was shut…it would not be reopened.  My supreme honor was to be cared for and supported by the Building Service Workers and Building Custodians, later called Sub-foreman, and the Building Services foreman…as well as being greeted all over town by our wonderful student staff!  


I think about chancellors a lot, because I was friends of several of them.  I understood, first hand, how hard their job was and how valuable a good leader was to our campus.  


I had the blessing of being able to help others during my career.  I was honored to be a part of diversifying the housekeeping department and increasing the levels of minorities and women in all levels of our organization.  A great thrill of mine was to offer jobs to both the physically and intellectually challenged.  You see the positions in Building Services were not just ‘make-do’ jobs…they were career opportunities!  To see the looks of pure excitement and joy at being hired into an organization that had a future for them…was the epitome of my time at SIUC!


I photographed the new Saluki statue on the Saluki Alumni Plaza, today.  It was inspiring!  We may have been knocked down…but we are back on our feet! 


Unknown — The Jazz Man

It is a hot and stormy day in Little Egypt. I am seeing more face masks in Carbondale. Southern Illinois had 100 new Covid-19 cases yesterday. There were 23 in my county of Jackson. As The Godfather said, ‘just when I think that I am out…they pull me back in!’ I wonder if 2020…will be the year that […]

via Unknown — The Jazz Man