Monthly Archives: May 2024

The Irony of Justice: Donald Trump, the Central Park Five & Diddy Too

Decades ago, we witnessed the tragic saga of the Central Park Five—five young men of color paraded through the legal system, from their "perp walks" into the police station to their harrowing journey into the courtroom and ultimately, prison. The media frenzy and public outcry painted them as guilty long before the truth emerged. It took years to uncover that they were innocent, victims of a system marred by racial bias and a mob mentality that few could see past. Even within the Black community of New York, these young men were perceived as guilty, illustrating how deeply ingrained and pervasive the prejudices were.

Fast forward 30 years, and history unfolds with a twist of irony so profound it could be scripted. The very man who once demanded the harshest punishments for the Central Park Five, Donald Trump, now finds himself ensnared in a legal web. Convicted of 34 counts of fraud, Trump’s dramatic fall from the heights of power to a convicted felon underscores a karmic symmetry that’s hard to ignore.

The Central Park Five case was a glaring example of how success and influence can shape public perception and justice. These young men, stripped of their freedom and dignity, had their lives irreparably altered by a miscarriage of justice fueled by fear and racial animus. Meanwhile, Trump’s trajectory—from a brash real estate mogul to the President of the United States—showed how influence and power could shield one from accountability, at least for a time.

The media’s role in both cases is telling. In the 1980s, the media frenzy surrounding the Central Park Five fed a public hysteria that presumed guilt. Fast forward to today, and we see a similarly polarized media landscape. Trump’s legal battles have generated intense scrutiny, with opinions sharply divided along partisan lines. The rise of social media has only amplified these divides, creating echo chambers that reinforce existing biases.

Trump’s conviction serves as a potent reminder of the importance of accountability in leadership. The legal system’s ability to bring a former president to trial—and potentially to justice—speaks volumes about the resilience of American democracy. It underscores that no one, regardless of their stature, is above the law.

The broader implications of these events extend beyond the individuals involved. Both cases highlight the need for judicial reforms to prevent future miscarriages of justice and ensure fair treatment for all. On a global scale, these high-profile trials shape perceptions of American justice and governance. Trump's trial, in particular, demonstrates the legal system’s capacity to hold even the most powerful accountable, reinforcing the principles of democracy and rule of law.

Reflecting on these events, we see a stark juxtaposition between past and present, success and downfall, innocence and guilt. The story of the Central Park Five and the current trial of Donald Trump are intertwined in a narrative that speaks to the evolving landscape of justice, influence, and leadership. It’s a narrative that reminds us of the enduring need for vigilance, fairness, and accountability in our pursuit of justice.

Now, the Trump verdict doesn't make up for all the wrongdoing over the years, be it the assassinations of Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, George Floyd, or Breonna Taylor—all of which can be argued were incidents driven by entitlement, race and abuse of authority. And be clear, entitlement, race & abuse of authority fuels your world of supporters, from the ignorance broadcasted by Sean Hannity to the actions during your so-called “revolution” on January 6th. Thats a fact. But I do see the obvious responses that reflect emotion and passion, whether you are for or against Trump’s power and gumption. So many people, so many voices are passionate about the loss of life through the years, and there's literally no accountability at all. We just keep racking up the numbers and adding to the kill list. The last time I saw this kind of passion was the George Floyd verdict. Then there was the OJ verdict. And before that it was the Rodney king verdict. All the while I keep growing more insensitive to crimes against humanity. And this consciousness of mine removes the smoke and mirrors to where it hasn't been lost on me how outrageous the Trump clan is with their vile, ignorant, and obviously racially biased attacks on people of color. Don't get me wrong, even some people of color are part of the clan. In our family gatherings we call them “Uncle Toms.” Until today, after this latest verdict, it seemed there was no winning in all of this. But if there is a win to be recognized in this latest historic event, it is that the United States and the people who run it do want justice. The powers that be will swing the gavel at you whether you are white and powerful, just as they do if you’re poor and Black.

And finally, on a personal note to Sean Combs, a.k.a. Puff Daddy, a.k.a. Diddy, aka the woman-beater… I'm sure you're watching all of this, and I'm sure it's weighing on you heavily. Yes, you too must answer for your sins against man, bro. But your crimes are much worse than Donald Trump’s. I mean, if you only knew what they do to people like you in prison. Donald Trump would be treated like a God behind prison walls.  But you? Oh boy, they would Jeffrey Dalmer your ass. So Sean, my question to you is, are you going to play the cards you have up your sleeve, and maybe take your chances before a jury of our peers? Or are you going to instead choose the red or blue pill? Because honestly, either pill will be a quick exit and will likely make you infamous and a martyr. And if you do it before they bring you in for that “perp-walk,” then you are not guilty of anything, in any court record. It will just be public perception that will linger. But that too shall pass. And in theory, your money will still come in from the music being played—you know the music that you always attach your signature "take that-take that” to? So, Puff your family will be good.

Damn, I don't want to project that I am any kind of evil wizard or that I hate or wish the worst on any man. I’m so at peace and in love in my life. So lucky to have survived Diddy. But for me, if you put all the cards on the table? Bro, your crimes against women are WAY worse than Donald Trump’s. So, if I can help you here, knowing the coward you are, on behalf of us all, I just want to be the early bird and first mover when I say “bye-bye Diddy.” Early.

Principle with a Paddle

All thru my childhood, up until I left home for Parris Island and the USMC, I lived just a few miles from Traphagen Elementary School, nestled on the north side, a suburban area of Mt. Vernon, New York.

The school buzzed with a diverse fellowship of students. Many were bussed-in from the South side of town, and still each of us shoulders our own tapestry of stories, experiences and perspectives. My perspective, of course, is a fuckin movie. Grab your wife and kids.

From K thru twelfth grade, I  marched my lil skinny ass up Primrose and then down North Fulton to get to Lincoln school  each morning. I remember my mother taking me to school the first few days and thereafter I was on my own. Today I see parents dragging or carpooling their kids to school each day, to and from, (just as I have done for my own children). For me, however, that was about as Hardknock as life got.

That, and mom’s "switches,” that more or less kept us in check.

Lincoln School wasn’t only where my education began; it’s also where I first encountered racism. And just

being honest, I can say I was probably an inattentive little prick,

probably talked in class and while “higher learning” was supposed to be the goal, maybe my mind was elsewhere. To be fair, I wasn’t an instigator and I didn’t pick fights, but I’m sure I disrupted class in my own ways.

And it’s not so much I remember how I acted. I just know who I am today and how I’ve progressed as a human being. And buddy, I was a hot little mess. Daddy is always at work. No big brothers to break me in. It was just me, my GI Joe (with the kung fu grip) and my wild imagination.

Not obeying in class was likely the reason I was forged into those secondary measures with other troublemakers,  and even forced to play “pick up sticks” behind closed doors in front of a school psychologist once or twice a week.

Eventually, my parents moved me to another school to pick up where I was falling off. The tipping point was  when this larger, grotesque White kid named Kiva Lada claimed I hit his little younger sister. Just out of nowhere, never eve

n had a relationship or a conversation with his younger sister. But I do remember his word being accepted over my own, and some parent – teacher meetings as well as some meet-ups with some kind of juvenile supervisor there in the city of Mount Vernon. There were no further incidents, before or after that one. But in retrospect, I can now see that as a pivotal era in my life that could’ve gone all the way sour.

So yes, that was my first encounter with racism on a major level. Sure, there was that one time in sleepaway camp when a group of white boys chased me down and threw stones at me.  I was briefly hospitalized with a swollen eye and stitches. But that was supposedly exciting, adventurous, extracurricular activity.  Meanwhile, this nonsense with Kiva’s little sister hit close to home; just blocks away from where we lived on Vernon Place, and here I was facing Emmett Till-type allegations that threw me into partial juvenile supervision.

Eventually I escaped Lincoln school (yay parents) and moved to Traphagan, where it felt refreshing like progress was about to set in.

From 3rd grade until 6th grade, Traphagen was my next stop.  Maybe you’ve read me bragging on my social media about how Debbie Allen and her family lived just beyond the fence that separated her residence from the school yard. Or even how I had to walk past Stephanie Mills’ home to get to school each day.

But the bigger picture is that this was an intimate residential neighborhood where the worst that could happen was unlikely to occur. And if you are on top of world events, as I am considering the conflicts, the road rage and scandals, then you know damned good and well what the worst can be. But not here on the North side of Mount Vernon, with the trees and birds and peace of mind. Yes, this is a better quality of life.  Looks like. And by better quality, I mean we were separated by yards, not walls. Our passtime activities were visits to Glen Island beaches in neighboring New Rochelle, or taking an hour-long drive to visit the huge pool at Bear Mountain State Park. Oh for sure mom kept us safe and progressive.

But in grade school, you’re sort of on your own and once I got to school, it was about thrills not higher learning. I’d look forward to recess, flipping baseball cards, or playing dodgeball at lunchtime. I didn’t have friends who I clicked-up with because they lived near me, but I did find some common ground in Parnell and Danny. I did see the older kids tossing coins and I would watch that from afar, but I didn’t have money to gamble. There was our schools Italian bombshell, Mrs. Fraoli, with her long, flowing hair, and my big stage acting debut, starring in a role as “the White Rabbit” in the school play *Alice in Wonderland. Sure those things stand out for me. But what lingers most in my memory is the daily challenge of dodging the school principal, Mrs. Gertrude Maxim.

Apparently, a bizarre rumor circulated among the faculty at Traphagan. Supposedly, I lived in another city/that neighboring town, New Rochelle. The irony is that by the time I reached seventh grade, my parents did indeed negotiate whatever they had in their bag of resources so that I would not be confined to the wayward and troubling “zoo” that I imagined Mount Vernon’s middleschool system to be. Even if that is not exactly what it was, that was the picture drawn on the walls of my imagination. And considering I was already troubled, already a troublemaker, that environment was likely where I belonged. I would fit right in like gaseline poured over an already kindling fire. On a side note, my sisters Laura and Julie made out just fine in the Mount Vernon middle school system; after all, they were girls. Mount Vernon really didn’t foster girl gangs such as we’ve heard about  in other neighborhoods. But still, my parents were clearly strategists and had greater plans for me.

But before I even had opportunity to dive into Middle school, I first had to survive elementary school and my trauma with Traphagen Principal, Mrs Gertrude Maxim.

I remembered the faculty and office staff giving me strange looks, whispering that I was “from New Rochelle,” but the truth was from K thru 6 I lived on Vernon Place, just a couple of miles from the schoolyard. In fact, every morning, I walked to school with my tomboy neighbor, Jodi Smith.. My other friends in those days were Brent Tomlin who later tragically died on the football field, there was Georgie Pascquileto who lived across the street from Jodi on Clairemont Avenue; and of course my closest friends of the day were Mike Fields and Peter Tarter; both of whom also grew up and lived on Vernon Place. To this day, I have fond memories of  the Tartar family. Even if they saw me as a nuisance, I saw them as “best friends.” I was always over at their big home across the street, always and admire of Roger Nicky Diane and Peter. In fact, it was Peter who taught me to ride a bicycle at age 5. But everyone I connected to was older. None of them fellow students at Traphagan. Here’s some more irony for you; Peter is now an award-winning film editor, pretty big deal in the world. He once dated the Actress Erica Gimpel who was a superstar in our eyes-killin’ it on the hit TV show “Fame.” And of course Felicia and Debbie Allen living in Mount Vernon not far from Stephanie Mills across the way from superstar entertainers like Jeff Red, Heavy D, Eddie F… add to that, all of us are the sons and daughters of yet another global icon. Right, in case you didn’t know, Malcolm X and his family also come from Mount Vernon, living just off of South Fulton Avenue where their home was both the target and the blessing.  (It’s now a historic landmark). And while Malcolm made a global imprint, fueling change amongst the Black race and across the globe with his audacity and purpose, I’d be out of pocket if I didn’t mention the actor, our homeboy, Denzel Washington, another Mount Vernon spirit, gift, talent and icon who will surely affect thought, progress and emotion for as long as there is oxygen to breathe.

It is in this environment that Mom kept me busy with a medley of activities: music lessons on the drums, cello, violin, and saxophone; running track; and trying my hand at baseball. I sang in the church choir at First Methodist on the corner of Summit Avenue and Lincoln. Our family was deeply woven into the community fabric—YMCA and YMHA programs, day camps, and summer camps. Hartley Park’s free lunches of cheese sandwiches, bug juice, and apples were a staple of my summer days.

I was the kid who walked up 4th Avenue to buy the latest Jackson 5 album or even Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits. I followed Mom with my sisters as we forged our way into the local Memorial Day parade, wearing our oversized paper-mâché heads, dangerously riding on bicycles, simulating our version of the TV show “H.R. Pufnstuf.” The only other activities I remember were our frequent trips to Glen Island for beach days and kite flying.

Meanwhile, back home, my childhood was filled with my plastic G.I. Joe action figures, a treehouse in the backyard, and the repeat plays of Roberta Flack and a group called “The Pilgrims” I recall as one of those Black singing groups that mysteriously disappeared from the music scene. My dad’s vinyl record collection was my special sauce and unfair advantage in life.  Because other than the four inch thick Sears catalog, its challenger the almighty telephone book, and the three TV networks—ABC, NBC, and CBS—were the marketing giants of the time. This is where we got our information. What was trending, what was happening and how we fit in  seemed to be packaged in these devices. Eventually cable tv happened and HBO brought on my binge-watching sessions of *Godspell*.

My childhood memories also conjure daily routines included eating tuna casserole, looking forward to mom’s juicy apple dumplings, and if Mom wasn’t blowing her sports whistle to summons us back home, she was otherwise sneaking corn and ham into our pancakes (yuck!). And oh yeah, “time for your Caster Oil!” Holy shit, what children are dressed up in home-made clothes, lining  up for a tablespoon of caster oil everyday!? The Gilmore children, that’s who! And then there was our workout routine where my two sisters and I would sing after Mom:

“Bend and stretch, reach for the stars,

Here comes Jupiter, there goes Mars.

Bend and stretch, reach for the sky,

Stand on tippy toe, oh so high!”

I’m not sure if Mom got that from *Romper Room*, *Captain Kangaroo*, or *Mister Rogers*, but it was my life as an adolescent.

This painting I’m brushing for you is a diverse one; my colorful and detailed canvas of life from my younger years. Not necessarily an optimized or focused upbringing, but certainly a crisp, unpredictable and robust dive into the memories surfing thru my head.

So, how did I end up as a target, afraid of Mrs. Maxim, the school principal. Why the fuck was she bending me over the desk in her office, smacking my ass with her oversized wooden paddle as if this was Catholic school? Yes, I’m clear now that she had a fetish going on and probably satisfied herself in the moments that I left her office with my hand holding my sore cheeks. But did I deserve all that? Also, how many other little black boys did she do this to? I’m certain that old battleaxe bitch is dead now so we’re only left to imagine.  But then, since I already had such a flourishing and colorful environment of experiences and relationships, the randomness of it all, I’m feeling like it was a necessary, novel reality I lived and breathed. And with the outcomes that life has given me I wouldn’t eat it any other way.

Doing the assessment now, I can see the way society works. I can see how I might’ve been considered “slow” back in those days, especially considering my poor behavior. no, I wasn’t subjected to the little yellow bus, but then that wasn’t the only factor that makes you slow. Do I have any records of this? Maybe some old photos, maybe there is a report card somewhere. But I mean, who needs a scoreboard when you have memories of going to get the switch for mom to beat our asses or even the leather belt from dad? These were “highlights” of my adolescence. Tense but character-building moments that didn’t save me from the pen but saved me from much worse, I’m sure. This was my sense of “normal and routine” in the Gilmore household. Was it an excuse for having the school principal on my ass for no good reason? Other than to say, “I lived in Rochelle,” somehow breaking the school rules? You should see the sarcastic gleam in my eye right now. Sure.

And before you clown me, just know I couldn’t express myself then as I can today. I am god (with a razor sharp pen) today. Back then? I couldn’t explain my way out of a bowl of peanuts. I didn’t know how to debate either. In the whole scheme of things, I was in need of mentorship and on a path downhill, for sure.

But today, im thankful for life, for those early friends Mike, Peter, and my sister Julie—all of whom are still alive to experience these tech-curves. Yes, it’s still a wonderful life despite the rollercoaster ride I’ve taken.

I’m now an award-winning novelist. I have hundreds of businesses who have invested in my special skills and talents. Mom’s still kickin it and thriving into her 90’s, still talkin ‘bout “I really need to get my website goin” and as I pour myself a short glass of Crown Royal to celebrate this submission, I’ll certainly drift back in time to recall the next part of my story.

Yes, mom brought us to participate in the MtVernon Memorial Day Parade! We'd make paper-machete' heads like H.R. Pufnstuf and we'd wear thos big creations on our heads while riding our bikes!

The Man, the Myth, the Watchmaker

Pierre-Yves Müller, the notorious Swiss watch maker, is sitting in a minimalistic garden chair outside his house located in the heart of fairy tale Swiss Alps. FashionFreaks were lucky enough to get an interview with this mysterious precision watchmaker.

It strikes me the second I see him, this man is the real deal. Well groomed fingers with nails trimmed to perfection. These hands are his tools and they are taken care of in the same manner an auto repairman takes care of his tools.

Pierre-Yves greets us with a conservative smile, there is no room for small talk in this interview. But small talk is not necessary, we want to know everything about the man and his company, Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

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