Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ode to Unc: A Tim “Chief”Bell Tribute

I’d been meaning to blog for a couple of weeks, since I received the news about the retired Tim Bell passing away, but, I also think that today being All Hallow’s Eve, and tomorrow being All Saint’s Day, that this is actually befitting that I am writing this now. His obituary from the Racine Journal times, HERE. The funeral service was very nice, and while I was sad that there will be no more conversations or concerts involving him, here, it was a celebration of life, and what it means to be a part of his greater legacy. As long as the rest of us are here, playing, listening, promoting, or teaching music to others, Unc’s music lives on. Keep paying it forward. That is what is cool, it’s like being able to celebrate life anyway, any day. I thank his lovely wife, Gerry, whom I had the pleasure of working with at the Women’s Resource Center, for being such a classy and elegant woman, who went with the flow of sharing the joys of all the people who also loves Tim. I think the world of her, too.

Jammin' on his sax

For those who may not know him, Tim was the Jazz Studies professor at UW-Parkside, who taught classes such as Jazz Band, Jazz Appreciation, Jazz/Blues Improv, and other Jazz related academics. He was also the lessons instructor for clarinet and saxophone. Of course his talents expanded out from Jazz. He also played classical, dixieland, and probably just about everything else. It wouldn’t surprise me if Unc’s blood cells looked like music notes under a microscope. Here is a glimpse into who, exactly Tim Bell is, in this clip from WGTD.

Posing with his clarinet, while chilling outside

Growing up, I’d never had the opportunity to take any clarinet lessons, though I’d always wanted to. Being meek, I was a bit tentative about approaching a college professor to ask for lessons, since I was an International Relations major. I’ve always considered myself a student of Music. One day, at the end of Wind Ensemble (under the direction of Mark Eichner) to speak to a music student to set up and schedule her lessons. I’m still not sure what came over me, but I spoke up and wondered if there was room for me in his schedule to take lessons as well. He was surprised, but, I think he was also glad to have other students to share his talents with. The two other gals who sat on the other side of me also signed up for lessons as well. I remember listening closely to Jazz in high school, and while I didn’t understand it, the music and the improve kind of intrigued me, and piqued my interest, as well. (I’ll get back to this later).

Gifting his love of music in one of MANY gigs

That decision to speak up was a well worthwhile decision. Not just because I always wanted the lessons, but, his gusto for life was infectious. To him, life is all about people. And, of course, music. While all of the arts combined make up culture, music is the heartbeat that keeps it all going. Tim saw what ever talent, and knew it was going to be a challenge to bring it out, because I was this meek person, who usually tended to shy away from playing solo/alone in front of anybody... From the jokes, to the love of music, and especially because life is all about people, and music = life, I unofficially adopted him as my uncle, to which the nickname “Unc” came about. I had my rough patches back then. Each time I went in for my lesson, the rough time disappeared. Even during the weeks that I wasn’t the best student (from not practicing as much as I ought to have), I think I still had improvements in my playing. Not that it is 100% accredited to Unc, though he definitely was a part of the combination of it all. There are so many more, who also shares in the legacy, as you can read here.

Showing his pride/love of his talents in music.

It was a happy surprise for me, when one semester, Unc needed a tenor sax player to be in Jazz Band. He brings me into the practice room, and let’s me check out the Selmer tenor for me to borrow. Wow. Me. Tenor sax. Jazz. I played for at least 2 semesters, and while it wasn’t long enough to become proficient, much less really good, but damn. I. Was. Doing. It. Nothing can take away that experience, and, I am forever grateful for that experience. So, to me, it was also befitting that Unc not only played a concert, but soloed also, the night before he passed. I bet he is jamming right now. The only thing I was kind of bummed about, was that I picked up the tradition of giving something to the person who passed away, and for me, it is something of significance, and because he had already gone to the cemetery, I was unable to do so. Fortunately, at the service, I was able to meet up with Unc’s son, Steve. at the funeral. He is taking the tenor sax reed I wanted to place with the Chief, to put on the headstone. I am forever fortunate and for this gesture. I was also able to meet Tim’s daughter (Steve’s sister), whom are kind of like my adopted cousins. Our shared legacy is now stronger for this.

His ever famous smile

Out of all of the pictures available, this is my favorite. That smile, with that twinkle in both eyes, where you’re not sure if a song or a joke was going to fall out of him... He had this comb over that when he flipped it, looked exactly like a bird wing, and he’d always do a double peace sign, and say, “Chief”. I’m still not sure if he was called chief because of this, or if getting the nickname helped him come up with this funny. Everyone would laugh, and I remember thinking that he is missing one wing. When I was able to sit with Unc at the same table with Mark, Esther, Gerry, and Barb for Eichner’s retirement party, I enjoyed a nice conversation with this character. As I was leaving, I realized that all those years, I was wrong about him missing a wing. No. He was not missing anything. Each and every one of us, individually and in various collectives, are his other wing... As long as we carry the love of music and performance with us, Unc will continue to fly. Keep flying, Chief. Keep jamming. The Saints are your new audience, and we will play together again, in due time.

I dedicate this - Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing, with the Christopher Columbus introduction: https://youtu.be/6_YG9XBX04Y

Until next time...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

ArtRoot Mixer: It was cool!

There is this place at 1501 Washington Avenue called The Branch. They’re open for regular business from 8am-2pm M-F, and open for event rentals in the evenings and on weekends. Tonight, it was for this ArtRoot mixer. ArtRoot is an organization that celebrates the arts in Racine, from visual art, music, graphic art, other performing arts, including Open Mics and so much more. I really can’t do the organization justice in an introduction, so this will have to do. The building is wheelchair accessible.

The owner and tender of The Branch

Being that Chad is a budding comedian who occasionally performs at the Family Power Open Mic events, I figured this would be an interesting outlet to attend, since they also served Pakistani food, for FREE, and my son is also a foodie who will be working at Sebastian’s Restaurant, soon, as a Chef’s Assistant/Intern.

Nick, Dick, and Nick

Pictured is Nick Demske, founder of Bonk! along with who knows what else. In the middle, my son Chad, aka Dick Cheese the comedian. To the right, Nick Ramsey, founder of Family Power Music, Origin’s of HipHop, and organizer for a million things, that has to do with artistic expression.

Anyways, trying to harbor my son’s culinary interests, I thought this was a unique experience with Pakistani food. I remember having some when my friends, Saddaf, Farah, and Furyal Z. Mehar cooked some of that deliciousness, back when I was a young college student. The meal tonight featured these:

Pakistani rice pilaf

Spinach and Potato mild curry

Potato Cauliflower curry

It was a really nice spread. Everything was delicious. It’s different than what you get at your Chinese restaurants, but equally good. The Kabab and Grill restaurant is also in the Uptown area. Try it sometime, and see for yourself.

So, of course, here is me, with MY plate, and a River Root beer. Doesn’t it look good?

We had a nice introduction to everyone there, and, I made some new contacts. Pretty cool event. Who knew that Racine hosts these neat things?

The young guy way in the back, dressed so spiffy is my young friend, Trevor Jung, who will be graduating college at the end of December. (I’m invited to your party, right?)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Racial Inequity in USA: Need for Movement

In this day and age, you’d think that racism, bigotry, and other issues would be the hatchet that as buried, a long time ago, but, that isn’t the case. It seems as if tensions are still high, and the ugliness of discrimination still exists, and seems to some as if it at an all time high. Sure, we have things such as affirmative action, but, that even can be skirted around, so it isn’t a sure all that people will get hired fairly, especially in this poor economy. There are different aspects to this access, not only from an employment angle, but other angles, as well.

Police brutality seems to be the hot topic of late, for longer than what all of us are comfortable with. We hear it on the television, hear it on the radio, read it in the newspapers, and shows up in social media. Sometimes, it seems so blown out of proportion, or is this issue in that desperate need of awareness, to tackle it, head on? I’d love to get discussions rolling on this, aside from just saying that it is a huge problem, or to say it isn’t there. Real discussion that looks at the issues, and why (or why not) it is an issue. I will include links to my research, to make my points. I’d love to see yours, as well, whether it agrees or not with my stance, and explain your viewpoint, so we can understand where you are coming from. Thanks.

According to the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s article called The Color of Justice, there are numerous issues with our legal system. A statistic from Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis states that per capita, the likelihood of black people or Hispanics will face a higher incarceration rate than white people, despite the fact that people of color are minorities. Even taking into consideration of economics, minorities, especially black people, still are lagging in being able to find household sustaining jobs. But, please pay particular attention to the 2nd paragraph under the Arrest section. The positive note is that when we have a diverse group of people on a jury, the group as a whole seems to be able to get things done, which shows that a mutual respected situation can always make the situation better. It’s too bad we don’t necessarily apply this outside of the legal system.

An article from the Huffington Post talks about 18 Examples of Racism in the Criminal Legal System. Please keep in mind the statistics in each category, such as the fact that whites and blacks use drugs at similar rates, yet black people are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated, according to the FBI. The scariest stat, to me, is that “Over 65 percent of prisoners serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses are black”, and are 3 times higher to lose voting privileges. In a Republic/Democracy, where we like to brag that we live in a free country, it seems the definition of free country changes, depending on your demographics, that have more to do with your skin color, as opposed to economics or anything else.

Here are more articles that relate to this same issue of disparity. From US News, No, Justice is Not Colorblind. All of the statistics point to the fact that the darker your skin color, the more likely you are to be arrested, and please pay extra attention to the Gun Homicides by Strangers, and how they were seamed justifiable. I will leave you with this link from the National Institute of Corrections, with all of that information about Racial Disparities & Dynamics in the Criminal Justice System.

But, the disparity does not stop with the criminal justice system. It is saturated in society, in so many ways. The injustice includes victimology, healthcare access, and even during day to day living. Yet, so many seem to think that bringing up this information is only adding to the problem, when, if we are to proudly say we are a diverse set of American people of this country, we must address the racism issue, or, we are not a proud people.

Even for victims, support seems to be stacked against people of color, as well. About a year ago, I had a conversation on Twitter with a woman who had given various stats and education materials online, about how black women seem to be taken less seriously when they are a crime victim of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, and how even in support groups, they are not heard or understood as much as white counterparts. I had those saved, but lost the info when my computer crashed. Of course, if anyone is a part of the LGBTQ community, the situation could be compounded further, especially if there are ethnic issues on top of it.

Here is a research post published about Racial and Ethnic Disparity of Access to Health Insurance and Health Care, by The Kaiser Group. It talks about how minorities don’t have the means to get the quality health care they need. Another publication by Forbes talks about Why Health Care Is Different If You’re Black, Hispanic, Or Poor. Even more about the topic by the Prevention Research of the University of Michigan in the article African American History and Health Disparities. All of these articles talk about the fact that our dark skinned brothers and sisters on this planet cannot get the care they need for the health issues they experience, like white and Asians do. I read another article with a study on the situation by another big university that black people and often, Hispanic people, get less than useful healthcare, even when they access to it. So while an MRI can find different things, it won’t test for things like Sickle Cell Anemia or thyroid issues, yet, this is what they get, which is makes it low value.

This isn’t about white guilt, nor is this about “thinking” the system is somehow unfair. This is what I’ve read, plus more, and this is why I support the Black Lives Matter movement, because these disparities should never exist. At least, not in my mind. If these are incorrect, please enlighten me as to how it really is, because I honestly don’t know. I just know that this big pink elephant in the room needed to be addressed a long time ago. I leave you with these videos, on how this racial divide is permeated in our society, and it needs to stop.

Diane Sawyer: 1991 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Xp...

Changing the way we see racism? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrh...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Washington Park Class of 87 Reunion: 09/15-17/2017

It was a fun weekend, this whole weekend with the #park30reunion. Being part of the planning committee was also pretty fun, and I won’t speak for anyone else, but, I love planning parties, and feeding people, too.

Friday Night, was an awesome ice breaker at Blue Rock, owned and operated by one of our own, Mark Thomas. It was nice, hanging out up on the 2nd floor, and Mark made 3 pizzas. They’re really good pizzas. Eleazar brought his homemade pico de gallo with chips, and if you didn’t have any, you missed out, big time! And, being that I wanted to give people their money’s worth for the reunion, I’d made a ton of food... It was delicious, and I was a little disappointed that more of it didn’t get eaten up, but, I did get to give some out to one of the mayoral candidate’s volunteer staff, so that was a good save. Here are pictures of what I made, with the help of my hubby, Mike, and he was very helpful, because my back really was aching making all of it. But, for those who ate, I hope it was suffice.

Mini Indian Tacos

Here is a little history on Indian tacos... When the Native Americans were first put onto their respected reservations, one of the few things that were given for cooking purposes was those old fashioned deep fryers in a thing similar to Olla pots, and large amounts of government cooking oil, that no one else seemed to want. Bread dough ended up being deep fried, and here was the birth of “fry bread”, and is used in place of the tortillas, therefore, Indian tacos.

Spinach Balls & Vegetarian Indian Tacos

Here are vegetarian Indian tacos, on the right.

On the left, is a pan of Spinach Balls. I know it seems weird, I thought so, too, but, when I tried it, it was pretty good. So, I figured I’d test it out on my classmates, though I don’t think they went over well, since anything like spinach balls sounds, well. I don’t know... It’s spinach, stuffing croutons, Parmesana eggs, onion, and seasoning. It’s actually pretty good.

3 different types of my sushi rolls

With sushi being a big craze, it was fun making these different rolls. I wanted to go with meatless options, and I also wanted to do something different. Here they are, courtesy of, me. lol

1) Spanish-Italian Rolls: Mix of mostly sushi grade white rice with quinoa, another whole grain, seasoned with traditional sushi rice seasonings, as well as garlic and basil (that’s the Italian part). In the middle, were Spanish bell pepper and green onion. Unique, and it came out really well.

2) Under the Forest Rolls: Traditional sushi rice, with seasoned shiitake mushrooms, which grows in forested areas, green onions/chives, which seem to like to grow in somewhat wooded areas, and takuan, a pickled Japanese radish called daikon. This is my favorite vegetable based roll, and I don’t recall seeing this in any restaurants. So, my maiden name, Morishita, means under the forest, so that is what I call it.

3) Root River rolls: Made with water from the Root River. Okay, just kidding. It’s not. I used balsamic vinegar in place of the usual, and because it is dark, it “murks” the color of the rice, similar to how the Root River water is murky. The flavor is a pleasant change from the usual, but not super distinct. I used bell pepper and green onion, though you can be creative as to what you roll in the middle. It’s the balsamic vinegar that makes it “root river”, after our pride and joy, feeding into our Great Lake Michigan.

Japanese style sesame chicken

This sesame chicken has the distinct sesame flavor, but there is no thick breading, and does not have a sauce covering it. The sesame is in the marinade. Equally good as the Chinese restaurant counterpart, but also unique in its own way.

It was fun, and then, of course, Saturday was over at Dewey’s. With the set up, it was nice, because all of the food was catered. It was a nice spread, with cheese, crackers, soft pretzels w/ cheese, pita chips with hummus, shrimp cocktail, fresh veggie tray, sliders, and fresh fruit! The fresh fruit on a stick was my favorite. Oh, and there were cupcakes, too. It was super good.

The best part of Saturday was Duo Sonic, and everybody shaking their stuff. We had a really good crowd, and I think even the bar tender had fun, too. The band even played a little bit extra for us. It was cool. My personal contribution for Saturday’s event was the class/memorial video, to commemorate those from our class that we lost, as well as to celebrate the rest of us, all wrapped up in one. Music on the video is me, on harmonica w/ the Park fight song, Forever Young by Alphaville, and Never Say Goodbye by Bon Jovi, our class song. Thank you for watching, and your kind/encouraging words about the video.

Sunday afternoon, we had a cookout at OTL (short for On The Level), and we had a more relaxed pace to the fun. Another one of our own, Darrick Pittman, owns OTL. A big shout out goes to Sabina’s BF, for being the grill master for this event. Perfect burgers, hot dogs, and brats. Thank you. Again, I made a couple of things.

Potato Salad

There is a ton of veggies in this recipe, because it calls for a bell pepper, celery sticks, 3 bunches of green onion, and some radishes, all minced. Then, just put enough salad dressing (Miracle Whip) to make it damp. I let people add their own salt and pepper on their plates. It has good flavor w/o adding more, to be able to taste the different things in there. I think this went over pretty well.

Baked Beans

People who know me well, know that I do not have a kitchen in my house. It’s actually a dysfunctional kitchen... But it’s a science lab, that produces things good to eat. I like to use dry pinto beans or black beans, for extra flavor. Recipes are often just a suggestion, or a guide. This batch of baked beans also had a hint of Lazer, because I used some of his pico de gallo to add even more flavor into the mix. The rest, is my mad scientist secret.

Anyways, I’d like to give huge kudos to Krissy, Sabi, Lazer, and Vikki for all of their hard work and dedication to make this weekend a rocking party weekend. I figure I kind of had the easy part, stalking all of you for your current addresses, and then doing what I do, which is cook. Thank you for being awesome teammates in planning this event. I think we got to bond and get to know each other better, in ways that we weren’t able to back in high school.

I also want to thank every person who came, especially those who ate my food. Satisfaction is watching people enjoy what is served. We had a blast, the whole weekend. My back and knees will be talking to me for a while, from the stair climbing on both Friday and Saturday nights, and dancing on Saturday, but it will be worth the connections.

A recurring thought between Serena, Michael, Connie, myself, and a few others are that we should not wait until the next reunion, nor should we wait for a funeral to get back together. Life is short, and life is precious. We need to stay in touch better, more often, and have no regrets. Thanks to everyone who came, for helping to make the events totally fun. Let’s stay in touch, and not be strangers.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why? Because We Ought To!

When good people fail to see how gross and disgusting this is, because "children are resilient" or that it isn't so bad because one isn't dead or permanently disabled so it can't be considered heinous... You are siding with the abuser(s) and contributing to the continuing abuses that happen everywhere...
This is why I do what I do. Why I started Youth Voice Initiative. Why I must educate people. Why I must talk to my legislators. Why I get on my soap box and rant, blog, or update my status. Why it is important for me to ask people to help out.
Sometimes I think it is lame that victims and survivors of sex or any other types of abuse only have me, to speak up to our leaders about this issue. There are no other 501c4's out there that I am aware of, whose sole purpose is to tighten up to protect these children, to reduce the number of us who have to recover from our childhoods... When I pursue other activities such as a job, or hobby, or what have you... I keep getting pointed right back to this. To be in the jungle of those who need their voices heard, but too broken to have it heard... I stand here. I've asked why me. But the answer was why not me. So here I go.
I am one person. But one person can make a big difference. Back in 2011, I got April's Law Wisconsin to be drafted, introduced to the Assembly, and heard by the Committee for Criminal Justice and Corrections up in Madison. It never made it past this point. But. I got this up here, with thanks to former Senator John Lehman for drafting it. For Representative Cory Mason for introducing it to the assembly. And to Representative Robin Vos for supporting it... If I, just me, got this up this far... Think what can be done, if more people would add their talents, whether it's to write a letter, or pass around a petition, or what ever it may be... I have full faith that we could put it through, all the way, and all the way up to the top... I will never give up. Never quit. As long as I have breath in my lungs, and a voice in my mouth, I will carry on.
This is why I am asking you to support #LikasLaw4Wisconsin by signing this petition: Lika's Law 4 Wisconsin

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Are "Virtuous Pedophiles" Real?

A friend shared this with me. And, this is why society needs an organization like Youth Voice Initiative, to protect our children from all forms of abuse, especially sex abuse.
So, a self identified "virtuous pedophile" wants to normalize "virtuous pedophilia". But, under the constitution, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, so, him claiming his virtuosity may only be because he has not been caught yet. I have no sympathy for these people who think they shouldn't be ostracized. 
Please view the entire video to capture the magnitude of what he is saying.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Places To Go, People To See, Things to Do!

In a place like Racine, WI - where it would seem as if there wouldn't be much, it's surprising to out of towners people around here are so festive.  But, we are in Wisconsin.  And we're located cozy between Milwaukee & Chicago.  And no.  We don't need to go to the bigger cities to find a place to hang out with friends, and whether you want to shoot a game of pool, darts, listen to the jukebox, or munch on a few things while enjoying your favorite beverage, whether that's a soft drink or imbibe on what ever it is you like.

I'm big on supporting local business, and if I'm remembering correctly, each person spent $20/year at local businesses, it circulates over $1 million within the community.  Basically, something like 86% of every dollar spent at a local business stays in the local economy.  That is pretty cool.  What is even COOLER?  When you know the owner, who you spent a portion of your time growing up with...  I have 3 classmates who I know of, that have their own business.

The first, is Blue Rock Lounge, located in the heart of Racine’s Downtown. It is owned by classmate Mark Thomas. It has a nice front, with nice rod iron tables outside, to make it fun to be outside when weather permits, to enjoy your drinks and such. They do sell food, including pizza, and if the owner is there, you will notice he brings up a pizza crust, a container of pizza sauce, package of cheese, and what ever other ingredients you ask for on your pizza, and he assembles it and cooks it up. I think that’s really cool! Another thing for your FYI, is if you want to book an event, there is a 2nd floor banquet/party area, with a lot of neat spaces. There is a room to shoot a game of billiards, a dart room, and even a multipurpose area, to put a picture booth, or what ever you’d like. Check it out, it will be fun!

Next, is OTL, which stands for On The Level, which is located on the same block as Wells Brothers, at the corner of 22nd St. & Racine St. It is owned by classmate Darrick Pittman, whose serving up a lot of good drinks, snack bags, and has a cozy yet open patio out side. Our class reunion will be using that area for a cookout. I can’t wait, because this is going to be extra fun, and extra delicious! And, of course, because everyone loves Wells Brothers (on 22nd & Mead St.), if you’re waiting to get a spot, and it’s going to be a while, go next door to OTL and have a couple of drinks while you wait! It will be worth your while.

Finally, there is Beaute On the Square, owned by classmate Krissy Beaugrand. I think it’s good for people to pamper themselves on occasion, and why not at Beaute Hair & Nail Spa? It is pronounced beauty, with that modern flair. So go ahead, ladies, go visit Krissy and get beautiful, and walk out ready to start turning heads. Hint, hint for you wonderful men out there, who love your girlfriends, wives, sisters, mothers, aunts, etc... do that special someone something nice by picking up a gift certificate!