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December 6th 2015 11PM Kennedy Center


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Aretha Franklin, Performing in the Kennedy Center Opera House December 6, 2015

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The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a massive building on the Potomac River containing nine theaters.

By Gavin Edwards\ New York Times

 

In her final decade, Aretha Franklin’s two best-loved performances both took place in Washington. In 2009, she graced Barack Obama’s inauguration with a gorgeous “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” while wearing a hat so remarkable it ended up on display in the Smithsonian on Dec. 6, 2015, she sang an unforgettable rendition of her own anthem of rebirth, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” in tribute to the song’s co-writer, Carole King, who was receiving the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement alongside Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson and other luminaries.

The 1967 single is sensual and spiritual; after 48 years, Ms. Franklin felt it more deeply than ever. It was a showstopper at the Kennedy Center — and on internet browsers everywhere. Soon after, Elton John told The Times that he had been watching the “Natural Woman” clip over and over. “I will definitely, when I’m 75, be having a fur coat like that, and coming in with a clutch bag, too,” Mr. John promised. “And throwing my coat off. And in a fishtail dress.”

We spoke with performers, guests and others who were at the Kennedy Center that night about their memories of Ms. Franklin’s soaring performance. These are edited excerpts from the conversations.

 

RICKEY MINOR, musical director of the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony The producers were interested in Aretha — her doing “Natural Woman” was kind of a no-brainer — and I knew that she attended the Kennedy Center Honors every year, sitting in the audience to celebrate the honorees.

 

DEBORAH F. RUTTER, president of the Kennedy Center Aretha received her Kennedy Center Honor in 1994, at a time when most Honors recipients were at or nearing the end of their careers. That she continued performing and producing new work for the next two decades is a testament to a talent that transcends age and time.

GLENN WEISS, executive producer and director of the Honors ceremony There was a big back and forth before Aretha agreed to perform, but the song was such a huge iconic thing in her life. I think it was important for her to be there.

CHILINA KENNEDY, who has played Carole King in the Broadway musical “Beautiful” and appeared in the Kennedy Center Honors tribute I’d heard the story of how Carole and Gerry [Goffin] had written the song for Aretha: they were walking down Broadway and [producer] Jerry Wexler pulled up in his limo and rolled down the window and said, “Hey, I want you guys to write a song called ‘Natural Woman.’”

MINOR With Aretha, you need to be bendable and not breakable. It was going to be just her with the orchestra, but she made a call and said, “Hey, I have a way that I do this song with my background singers.” Everyone needs what they need to be comfortable.

WEISS She always walks onstage with her purse. When we were in rehearsals, she walks out and puts it on the piano. When she walks downstage, she picks it up and puts it on the floor. The show ends with everyone in the tribute downstage singing “I Feel the Earth Move.” In rehearsal, there’s a line of people in street clothes — her, James Taylor, Sara Bareilles, Janelle Monáe — and this one bag sitting in the middle of the stage. When we finished the song, James Taylor leaned over to pick up the bag and hand it to her, being a gentleman, and reflexively she almost pushed him away.

WEISS Traditionally the honorees go to the White House for a reception, and then they go back to the Kennedy Center, the president comes, and the show starts. Unfortunately, that weekend the San Bernardino shooting happened. We were told by the White House that the president is addressing the nation at 8 o’clock, and we’re scheduled to start at 7:30. The night was a bit of a roller coaster and maybe a little emotional, but the president came to us at intermission.

MINOR I always welcome everybody before the show and thank them for coming, because I probably won’t see them after the show. I knocked on Aretha’s door — she’ll make you wait, you won’t just walk in there. There were a lot of people in there — hair and makeup, she was getting ready — but she was in a great mood.

KENNEDY For the 11 o’clock number of the Carole King section, I introduced her, said, “Aretha Franklin!” and people freaked out.

MINOR The honorees don’t know who’s performing for them.

KENNEDY Carole was losing her mind, Obama was losing his mind, everyone was going wild. I was standing in the wings with James Taylor, who was just as excited to see what was going to happen.

JAMES TAYLOR To me, Aretha is the ultimate — not that it’s a competition. She didn’t open her mouth unless what came out was brilliant.

KENNEDY Out she walks with her fur coat and her purse; she whacks the purse on the piano and sits down. They cut this part out of the segment that went to air, but she did a few scales, taking her time getting ready, and then all of a sudden she hits that first note, “Looking out on the morning,” and it was the most unbelievable performance I had ever seen.

MINOR Carole just kept saying, “Oh my God, oh my God,” and holding her head. She had never seen Aretha play piano and sing her song. Lots of people don’t know that Aretha plays piano, but if you want to get her true sound, you need her playing. Vocally she knows where she’s going, so she can lead herself into that on piano. She’s got more movement in certain places than most pianists would. That teaches her rhythm section to get out of the way, to support her and not dictate how the song goes.

WEISS It’s a roomful of people who have seen a lot of artists over the years, but not a lot of people have seen Aretha sitting down at a piano.

KENNEDY I couldn’t believe what was coming out of her mouth. She got up from the piano, walked downstage, and dropped her fur coat in the middle of the stage.

RITA MORENO, Kennedy Center honoree: The moment she “casually” dropped her massive mink coat onto the stage was one for the ages.

MINOR I was playing bass right behind her. When she dropped that jacket, I almost dropped my bass. It was so in the moment — I don’t think she planned it.

 

ARETHA FRANKLIN (speaking with vogue.com in 2016) I wasn’t sure about the air factor onstage, and air can mess with the voice from time to time. And I didn’t want to have that problem that evening. It’s been a long time since I’ve done Kennedy Center, and I wanted to have a peerless performance. Once I determined that the air was all right while I was singing, I said, “Let’s get out of this coat! I’m feeling it. Let’s go!”

WEISS Of all the television I’ve done, and there’s been a lot, this was one of the most viral clips. I was in the TV truck, in the loading dock behind the stage, watching the monitors for the 14 cameras. Not only was I seeing what was going on, but I’m seeing reactions in the crowd, and I’m making choices of what’s going to go on the air. There was such electricity in the room — part of it might be because of how moved Carole King was. During that show, a lot of the audience will look to see how the honoree responds. When something like this happens, all your plans go out the window and you’re capturing the live moments: the audience gets up on their feet and the president is wiping a tear from his eye.

TAYLOR She was in excellent form and in excellent voice. She was also funny and wry and with it — I thought she would be with us another 10 years.

MORENO She brought a prodigious talent, musicality, and down stompin’ woman’s sass to all she does.

CICELY TYSON, Kennedy Center honoree She had the most beautiful face. You could see her emotions in her face as well as hear them in her voice. It was no surprise when the audience stood up — you can’t sit and listen to her and not be moved. After she finished, she came off the stage and she had a huge bouquet of flowers. She walked up the aisle and an audience member joked, “Are those for me?” She said, “I’m sorry, they’re for my lady,” and she brought them right to me and put them in my arms.

KENNEDY She was up in the stratosphere with those riffs, but every cell of her being seemed to be in the music. There was nothing else, just her and the song. That’s what we try to do as artists — we try to get to where she was that night.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page C4 of the New York edition with the headline: When ‘A Natural Woman’ Blew the Roof Off.
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Got a mint? Michelle O and George W “Reminds us how great we are”


 

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The image of George W handing Michelle B a piece of candy at John McCain’s funeral broke the net today.

The Obama’s and Bush’s have grown close over the years

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Especially Michelle and George W.

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John McCain reportedly planned his funeral.  President Obama said, he was surprised by his invitation to speak.   Who knew the passing of hard candy would warm America’s heart.

At the funeral , his daughter Meghan, said “America was always Great” .   Images like these remind us.

After your death, we are still learning for you.   Thank you. Senator McCain!

CityFella

Judy Reyher The Lovely Racist


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There is quite a bit of fake news out there.  Some of the news created by my fellow bloggers is fake. A portion of the story is based on fact and the other part is pure fiction.  Some of us cut and paste stories we think our followers might find interesting.  Not all of us fact check.    I’ve been guilty of pasteing a story that was untrue.    There was a story a few years back about Justin Bieber being pummeled by a baseball player.  It was the time when Bieber was a staple in the media for acting out.   One of my friends who has a very popular blog called me and said the story I posted was false. I removed it.

A few months ago I found a story about one of the housewives, it was from a fairly reliable tabloid blog, but the story was false.  A friend of one of the housewives called me and told me the story was complete fiction.  I didn’t remove it because it was a popular story.   Its all about the traffic and I need all the traffic I can get.   But it didn’t sit well with me.  Credibility.

Every now and then someone working for a national news source sees a story that seems credible and to beat the other networks they put the story on he air without checking all the dots.  This brings me to the Lovely Racists  , I’ve seen this story about a woman who hates blacks ,Democrats and Muslims on social media for a few days. After a bit of research she’snot fake news, she’s a real honest to goodness racist.

I will have to assume there was not enough space for her story on Cable news.  With The Donald, throwing shiny balls in the air to distract us from RUSSIA! and the hourly sexual harassment scandals and Ray ( if your 14 and you know it-sit with me!) Moore election saga, there was no room for the Lovely Racist.

The lovely woman in the picture is Judy Reyher she is the newest member in Congress representing Colorado’s 47th District.  She replaced Clarice Navarro who gave up her seat in Congress to work with the Trump Administration.

Reyher is from Swink, Colorado a town of 700 people near the southeast corner of the state.

The former Otero County GOP chair, won the appointment to Navarro’s seat on a 6-5 vote.   A few days later her opponent, Tamra Axworthy, challenged the results of the vacancy election, a Republican legislator told Reyher to expect a primary, a progressive organization was calling on her to step aside before being sworn in, she was apologizing for social media posts some found “offensive and racist,” the state GOP chairman called Reyher to express his “displeasure and disagreement” with her social media posts, and the state Democratic Party was urging Republicans to replace her on next year’s ballot.

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 The Word is Vet

(make a ding sound in your head)
(verb) 1.make a careful and critical examination of (something).
Ms Reyher has had (lets call them special views) for many years.  Not sure how the Republican Committee missed them. Ms Reyher isn’t a shrinking violet.

A blogger reviewed her controversial posts on her Facebook account .  Where are lovely racist called   African-Americans “hatred filled beings,”and one saying that Muslims came to America to “make certain we stop enjoying . pork, beer, dogs, bikinis, Jesus and freedom of speech.”   There were quite a few that questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the United States

Duh!  we didn’t know?

Jeff Hays, the chairman of the state Republican Party,  reportedly”called her and expressed his displeasure and disagreement in no uncertain terms,”

In a statement, however, Hays said he wouldn’t be the “arbiter of controversial statements, however ridiculous or offensive.

According to The Denver Post. Her posts were first criticized in 2016, and garnered new attention after her appointment last week.

Come on Judy, Tell us how you really feel! 

In an interview with The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul, Reyher said that “the black community and the Democrats are the most racist group of people that exist,” adding that blacks “hate white people with a passion.”

Regarding Muslims,  “If they hate everything we stand for, what the hell they doing here other than to destroy us as a country?”

Reyher says nothing she has said about Obama has had anything to do with race — “I hated the black half of Obama as much as I hated the white half” — and that she doesn’t have blanket beliefs about any group of people.

“I’m not going to be painted into what they consider their corner,” she told The Post. “Nothing that I have posted has been against Muslims. It’s been against the terrorists. Nothing that I have posted is anywhere near racist. That has become the game word of the Democrat community, to say anybody that gets in their way. I am in a seat that they are targeting.

“I just am not going to stand for this stuff being thrown at me because they don’t like me,” she said. “… We’re not mistreating anyone.”   Democrats are after her seat in

state legislature. “I am here today to inform all the hate-filled left wingers that I am not backing down and will serve the great people of my district with both distinction and fervor,” she said. “The far left is so desperate to win my seat that they have concocted a ridiculous narrative of racism and hate.”””

 

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After the first Denver Post interview ,there was a firestorm .

 “I would like to apologize for the comments or posts on Facebook that have been found offensive and racist. However, the fact of the matter is, I am not a racist. This country was founded by immigrants, and I embrace all Americans, no matter their walk of life. Diversity is what makes America, America.” She added, “These claims of racism by the Denver Post are absolutely deplorable, and I will not be distracted by them.

She voiced the same belief in a post about Michelle Obama that has since been deleted, writing that she is “evil personified with the power to brainwash our youth and feel good about it” as well as “one of the biggest racists ever to live.”

On her Facebook page, Reyher has reposted a meme questioning why Muslims come to the U.S. if they “hate pork, beer, bikinis, Jesus and freedom of speech.” Another that she shared said: “White Irish slaves were treated worse than any other race in the U.S. When was the last time you heard an Irishman (complaining) how the world owes them a living?”

The Post noted that it hadn’t labeled Reyher a racist.

The lovely Ms Reyher will run for her seat next year

 

CityFella

Somebody Slap Me News in Review: (2013 Week 3) The Obama’s-Beyonce-Girlfriend Hoax-Hillary Clinton-Kevin Johnson


Somebody Slap me……….

You may not know dudes name, couldn’t spell it on a bet and what College,High School did he attend?   But we know some chick pulled a hoax on the lummox online.   The story is growing larger everyday -dude is all over the place!     If he isn’t selected by the FL, I’m sure  Bravo- TLC or Lifetime are chomping at the bit to give him a reality show. In the mean time ….Go Away!!!!

Live or digital Who Cares?

Apparently a lot of people.  Did she or didn’t she has become a national debate.  only her hair weaver knows for sure….    All eyes will be on Beyonce’s  when she performs at the Superbowl. Ear plugs recommended She could get a little pitchy .

Somewhere in Washington……

While Beyonc’e was getting her hair curled A President and A Vice President were sworn in front of a lot of people in the cold.  Americas first couple looked good.   News Flash: in 2009 Etta James was very much alive and some one for some reason called on Beyonc’e to sing her signature song.   Fast Forward to 2013, Jennifer Hudson (who sang very well monday evening) sung the very alive Reverend Al Green’s signature song.

Don”t F-fin touch me and Wooh, you really could use a mint.

Hillary Clinton’s voice is a bit strained. Speaking on her behalf is Joan Crawford

Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson

For the second year in a row. Forbes magazine ranked Sacramento the 5th most miserable city in the US.   The city is Kryptonite to business. .  We been scrappin for years now.   Mayor Kevin Johnson is  beginning his  next term as  he ended his last term  devoting every single minute and every resource  to Keep the Kings  in Sacramento and building an Arena downtown.  Deficits,  be dammed.  Police and Fireman, who needs um!  Its about NBA basketball in Sacramento. For the mayor and the remaining fans, this town will be nothing without the KINGS. 

CityFella

Bus 6062 From Atlanta to New Orleans


The original plan was to drive from Atlanta to Austin Texas, until the Rent A Car Company told me they where going to give me a huge gas guzzling SUV, free was gonna cost me nearly $400 in gas.

So what’z a Sacramentian to do at 1045pm at the Atlanta airport?   Heck take the Bus.   My daughter raved about her experience on the MegaBus , so its the MegaBus for me… at least that was my plan.

The Bus was schedule to leave from the 400 block of Peachtree at midnight  and in 8 hours I would be in New Orleans.  The nice lady at the airport assured me MARTA would get me downtown in 20 minutes

With  smartphone in hand I called Megabus, after several attempts I realized I had to buy tickets in advance yikes…..  Okay Plan G,   Greyhound, yikes, Greyhound….. Marta stops at the Greyhound station and there was a bus leaving for New Orleans at 12.30  if I purchase my ticket online, I could save 40 bucks…  “that’s the ticket” however it was 11.20 and it was too late to buy a ticket for the 12:30.   The next bus was 530am.

The Atlanta Greyhound Station (there is a story here)

From coast to coast,  some Greyhound stations aren’t desirable neighbors.    Some stations are a magnet for crime activity.  It’s not unusual  in the big cities for people to arrive with no cash.  People are forced to leave home, others arrive with dream (Atlanta’s the Black Hollywood)   Some small communities use Greyhound as a tool to rid itself of undesirables, take the bus or jail.

I met an 18 year old on route to Montgomery,Alabama. When he was 15, his  step father kicked him out of the house and give him a one way ticket to Dallas and twenty dollars.   Three days later he  was arrested near the station after stealing a bag of chips. I was hungry and even though he had kinfolks in Dallas, he didn’t know them or  was given a telephone number.  It was get out!   His grandmother and cousin drove to Dallas and brought him back to Georgia , he finished high school and  now works for the city of Albany, Georgia and is engaged today.    When you get to a place you don’t know nobody, you just come back to the place you know, you hang around the station until they throw you out.   After the second day,  you get to know when the security people get off and then you go in undercover.  After a while they all know who you are.    Some people outside the station watch you, ask you want a cigarette or want a sandwich or something to drink.  The best thing to happen to me was getting picked up by the police.   They let me call my grandmother, if they didn’t take me to jail, I could have been anywhere or dead.  

In and around the Atlanta station is a flurry of activity on this Thursday night .   There were signs that indicated Greyhound had entered the century with Wi fi on the buses and new buses promising luxurious leg room.   There are electronic kiosks the allows those who have prepaid for their ticket to bypass the lines…. and at midnight there was an extremely long line.

Needing air, I stepped outside the station.   There were people everywhere, in the street, on the sidewalks, a long line of cars dropping and picking up passengers.   New and old cars expensive BMW SUV’s, Mercedes, people standing, looking for love ones. Higgs and kisses  amid  flashing blues lights from the Atlanta Police.

One man is walking around selling marijuana out of a box of Newport Cigarettes.  One young girl was chatting up an old man for a discrete encounter nearby for 20 bucks.   Various people asking for cigarettes.

One young man approached me with a well crafted speech( ‘ sir I have fallen on hard times…. I would like to sing you a song by Michael Jackson for a donation) his lower lip quivering. a song wasn’t required  and I  reached down and gave him all my coins  Prehaps he was intimidated by my presence,  because there was no quivering as he  asked other people for money, at one point he was high fiving it with a few random men walking in the street.

Across the street from the station was a liquor store, selling Georgia lotto tickets, and there was steady flow of business.     I thought to myself (The old Sacramento Station was a resort compared to this)

Profiling

Its past 2am in the Atlanta Greyhound Station.   Looking around and discreetly taking pictures with my smartphone, I noticed a wide range of passengers.   Professionals on route to smaller cities in Georgia. People down on their luck, sitting next to people who are simply afraid to fly.  International travelers from Europe wanting to be near other americans.   Bus travel isn’t inexpensive, when you factor in food traveling by bus in some instances is more expensive than air travel.

The truth is there are thousands of small towns that aren’t close to affordable airport.   One man who lives in Mississippi says there is a small airport near his home, he said a round trip ticket from Atlanta is over $3oo vs $36 dollar ticket. There are a surprising number of professionals who take Greyhound daily.

Late night Stories

The tale repeated itself many times in the night.  Someone from somewhere was supposed to pay for their ticket and they have no way of getting home and have no where to go…..

A gentleman in his late 40’s or early 50’s  with two large garbage bags told me his story.

He was on his way from Naples Florida to Clifton Georgia via Atlanta.  Traveling through Atlanta was cheaper than going directly to Clifton from Naples.  So it was his plan to purchase a ticket in Atlanta then going on to Clifton.   After getting off the bus in Atlanta, he stepped outside to get a smoke and was beaten and robbed outside the station.   He told me he received a black eye ( I couldn’t tell)   Feeling a bit hungry, I offered to buy him dinner.

I think people who live in big cities are more attuned to lurking danger.    I lived in New York and San Francisco before settling in Sacramento and my antenna is always on.

Our bacon burgers were ready and I found an empty table in the food area. ( The burger was the best I’ve had in some time.)     All of a sudden a man sits down at our table. No. may I join you or can I sit with you,  he just plops himself at our table, no food just there .   My unfortunate friend wanted catsup with his fries and was going to get up and leave his food there.     I’m watching are unannounced  table mate who I suspected was there for no good.  I’m feeling a snatch and run, I can just feel it and I am trying to get  my dinner partner to stay.    He wouldn’t get my signals if they where 10 feet high.   Out of desperation I said stay here. and then stared  at our uninvited guest, until he left… and I went after Gomer, saying dude, you need to be very aware of where you are.   That guy was waiting for an opportuntiy to steal your food and by way, where are you plastic bags?…scholding him!.   There over there., well if you want to keep your stuff   you better go get um    I from a small town, I don’t think like this….   Well I can only afford one dinner… so pay attention!

A lady asked if she could sit with us.     I think she overheard his story and possibly thought I was getting played.    This women knows the ins and outs of the station.    I know this place., you better believe it.    It was clear to me, she was all business.   She had two bags.. one filled with food an 8 piece container of chicken and assorted chips and cookies, waters, and napkins…

Where you going? LBC ( Long Beach,California) she said. you aint from here I can tell by your accent...    Yes, I’m from California I said, Sacramento, I knew you weren’t from here.    Why the bus to California?  I asked, oh I don’t fly, my husband is watching my kids and I will be back in time before he goes crazy.   I used to live in Southern California, but my husband is from here….

How do you like living  here in Atlanta I asked?  I don’t.   The people here are wanna bees, they think they are tough, but everybody here is trying to be somebody.    My kids thought they were bad ,but Long Beach turned them out.  and they don’t wanna go back, so I go by myself.  I had other questions but her focus seemed to be on Gomer.

She was a combination of Barbara Walters and police detective.   She wanted him to re-tell his story.  So what happened?  I was gonna buy a ticket, I’m from Florida and tickets are cheaper here in Atlanta, so I stepped outside for a cigarette and somebody asked me for a cigarette and I reached into my pocket and they beat and robbed me.    So I called my brother and he going to wire me a ticket.  hmm, she sorted.,and looked at me.  in rapid fire she said, why didn’t you buy your ticket before going outside.  This place is rough. a few weeks ago a women was robbed in line trying to buy her ticket, somebody put a snub nose in the womans back and robbed her inline!  I needed a cigarette! … huh she said.  again looking at me.   He went on with his story, and she found holes and he became defensive.  At one point I said to him, yeah that doesn’t make sense. …  She was on fire and he was perspiring…  I was enjoying it and saying to myself , I’m glad I’m not him!

Unfortunately, her bus was loading.   He was relieved.   Yall don’t believe me , but its true!

Things went downhill after she left.   He was telling me tales of an uncle who is a director in Los Angeles and of the cities he visited in California.  After a long story about working for a millionaire in Martha’s Vineyard and his meetings with Princess Diana, the Clinton’s  Bill Gates and other high profile people, my bull shit meter exploded and I told him he was full of shit.   I’m now Punching holes into his stories, he is boring me.  AT 3 am a security guard walked by as asked him why he was still there?      Well, I’m still waiting for my ticket. he said.    man you told me that last night, you’ve been in this station for almost two days, you’ve got to go.  Okay he said sheepishly.   Hmmm, the lady knew..

Cityfella Undercover

By  4am most of the patrons of the station was in some stages of sleep  Others at the phone charger station.    So I walked around discreetly  taking pictures with my smartphone

Bus 6062 to New Orleans

The Atlanta Greyhound Station is a series of portable trailers.   The station seems smaller than the old Sacramento Station and the location of the station  is temporary and has been for some time.

At 430, the small restaurant reopened, travelers in a zombie like state walk over for that jolt of coffee.   Passengers began to rise and make their way to gates.  In the background was a repeat of  Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on the big screen.

Standing in front of me was a well dressed tall older  lady with a neat grey afro who was struggling with two large brown suitcases going in different directions. can you help me  she asked?  Sure, I said,   Where ya headed, home, she said, I’ll be home in a couple hours…    I went to my high school reunion in New Jersey. New Jersey? yes,!

As the line started moving, it occurred to me, this was the first time I’d been on a Greyhound Bus in nearly 20 years, the last ride  was an Express Bus from Sacramento to Los Angeles and it was miserable and this ride was 13 hours, what have I done?    The sign said the new Greyhound had more leg room and Wi Fi and for a moment I was excited…this might be fun  Wi fi !    Then someone asked the bus driver did the bus have WiFi?  No, they only have it on the new buses.    Well that dream lasted  all of 45 seconds….  Plan B

Nothing changes from high school.  There were passengers with their feet and gear on the seats.    Plan B, meant the last row.next to the rest room, I my legs could hang out in the aisle.

One man thought he would lie down, discouraging anyone from sitting.    One look at my sizeable azz, he had two choices, move or die.   He chose the former .

I told them the bus was full, they always do this said the driver.   Dreams of sitting alone ended as the driver walked through the bus, one look from the driver made the toughest passengers  sit erect and place his items below the seat.

One Empty Seat

I just wanna sleep, wanna sleep is all I could think of..    The bus was packed , the one empty seat separated me from the reclining man .   The last seat was hard and unlike the other seats, the last row didnt recline, but sleep eventually came.   I woke up, hot.  I stood up and it was cool in the aisle ,ahh were sitting on the engine.    Great!    I looked about the bus and their where a few empty seats. I guess some people got off. My choice was cool vs leg room.   I stayed in the rear.   Sleep…..

6062 observations

We were in Columbus Georgia when I woke up.  An older white man sitting in seats 49/50 gets off to smoke.  When he returns he finds a Blackman sitting in seat 49.  Whitman looks at the black man who is looking out the window and then sits in seat 17 with another white man.

Mobile, Alabama was the first rest stop.  As in Atlanta, the choices was burgers and chicken fingers.  I settled for another burger.  In line, a bright smiling woman asked if I wanted chill and cheese on my fries and burger?  “You devil woman” I flirted, don’t do this to a big old overweight man.   She laughed. okay sir…     Looking around, the food department seemed much like the Atlanta , so the I watched my burger being constructed..   BUTTER!  of course, she slathered butter on the buns….   Oh, I said, butter on the buns?….. not missing a beat, the cook turned around and said, everything goes better with butter baby!    Yes ma’am!

The Mobile station was clean and quiet none of Atlanta chaos,  all the employees smiled and said good morning.  One older man had trouble navigating his walker through the maze of aluminum chairs and tables, slam, crash, refusing help.  The bus was completely full including the spot between myself and reclining man.    The new passenger said, its hott back here, how can you stand it?   I like it hot, reclining man grumbled.   

On this and the remaining legs of the trip, I became the official bathroom attended.     Yes, its occupied or No, you can go right in.

Reclining man said he couldn’t wait to get out for a cold drink.

The Biloxi  Mississippi station was new.  Thee old station was a victim of Katrina.    Very  modern and clean,.  There wasn’t a restaurant, just vending machines.   I bought a couple of sodas .    The Bus was half full at this point.  One large family get on..  A man  and older lady and four children ranging in age from 2 to 12,  the older woman quickly found a seat, but it was clear  she may have been the grandmother or an aunt but  he was on his own…          I looked over at Reclining man  and he looked tired, did you get something to drink I asked, no my money’s funny, I offered him one of mine,  thank you.  I really needed that.  

Remnants of Katrina is still evident in Biloxi .   Large Casinos sprout out of the grassy fields lining the shore line.  On this day after the Labor Day weekend the beaches are empty.

Its difficult to miss “Sharkhead’s  a tourist shop and restaurant  that just reopened this year after the old  location was destroyed by Katrina.

Making children sit is challenging, it doesn’t matter if its by bus or plane.    The man with the children had a huge bag of snacks, from burgers to Little Debbie snacks.   Two boys, two girls.  Even with all the snacks in the world, snacks can’t cure boredom.   Dad was tired and overwhelmed .   The older children a boy and girl about 11 and 12 were okay and made due, the trouble child (my favorite) was the younger girl about 9.   She  hauled off and slapped the older brother and started crying to her dad, one look at her, and you could tell she was devil in the family.    She pushed and tapped the boys.  I found it curious why she didn’t terrorize her older sister.    Until…………

The older sister was eating a burger and Doritos and quietly looking out of the window.   After a while, she got up and went to the bathroom, the evil sister took two quick bites out of the burger.   When the sister returned, she immediately knew who had taken a bite out the burger and dad or (who was getting hit too) could not protect  her from choking and slapping her younger sister.    Ah ha, I said to myself, big sis is the real deal, that why no one bothers her.

We were all releaved with the family got off  the bus in Gulfport.   However they had left their mark.   The floors  and  aisles were littered with uneaten burgers and other sandwiches, chips.   No one picked anything up, passengers simply walked through the garbage.   I was ready to be off 6062 my back hurt and it was hot!

Along the roadway, most of the billboards were blowing freely in the wind, remnants  of Issac.  As we crossed into Louisiana from Mississippi,Reclining  man started talking , we’re about 45 minutes from New Orleans.

  Reclining man

That’s my home lived there all my life, whole life.  Hold on a minute! he says,  he reaches for his cell phone, and tells someone to make sure to pick him up from the station and not to forget , his battery is almost gone, and turn to me and says yep , Nu Orléans is my home.

Where you there during Katrina?  yes, and I was there when  Rita  hit and I was a kid when  Betsy hit.   But Katrina was bad, it was quick and hard.   You see those apartments over there?  He points across the freeway. no body lives in them, and those are new.    You know Brad Pitt did a lot here, a lot of these people politicians and other people  talked, but Brad worked with the people and helped build a lot of  homes , he cares about people and the city .        What do you think about the city now?    its bad,  a lot of crime, its bad man.       Would you move from here?   naw, this is my home, people who live here have roots here.  I know a lot of people who have left here but never came back, moved to Houston, Baton Rouge,  but those who stayed, stayed because their heart was here.   This place is in my heart, all my people are here.

As we entered the downtown area, passing the Superdome, we see people sitting, sleeping underneath the freeway, one woman with part of her leg amputated is lying on the ground  inches away from her wheelchair.    I hate that! he said, seeing people like that, there is  a lot of people here homeless with no place to go, I hate that!     He stares into the window as 6062 pulls into the station., hey man, thanks for the drink.

NEW ORLEANS 

New Orleans has a reputation, so I expected the Greyhound station to be like Atlanta.   It was anything but.   The Greyhound station in Union Station and shares the building  Amtrak.   Union Station During  Katrina, the station served as jail for the city.  The station which was in its last phase of renovation is stunning and clean.   My smartphone wouldn’t  be able to capture the simple beauty of this art deco wonder, these images are from google.

The exterior

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The mural represents the history of New Orléans and the state of Louisiana

The Station was pristine, there were few people inside or out.   One of the reasons, this station close’s early and their isn’t the traffic of

Atlanta  he last bus departure was 945pm and the last train left at 7pm.      In fact there less than 10 people in the station at 715pm.

 One family was waiting for an Greyhound attendant to return, planned to buy tickets to Shreveport for their nephew.   After reading a sign limiting travel to those 15 an above, the uncle  said he was going to lie because his nephew was 14, his wife said she wasn’t going to lie and would drive her nephew if she had to.      The conversation was overheard by a Greyhound supervisor, who told them that 15-year-old provision was for night travel and would not apply to the nephew because the bus was at 630am,  he went on to say he  appreciated their honesty.

I told the supervisor how beautiful the station was..    He said it is, he said can you believe they put a drop ceiling here?  The dropped ceilings took way from this.   They tore that ceiling out and most of what you see has been restored…    Everything here is marble…. it took a long time but it is nice.   That mural is new, it tell the history or New Orléans and the State and their adding one more section.

I asked him why the station closes early, he said a lot of people don’t travel much at night.     New Orléans is bad.  The uncle said yeah its bad! You remember  a year or so ago a 4 year old was killed right outside the station.     Yeah, I remember .   I moved out of this city two years ago,  I live bout 60 miles from here in Mississippi.    Yeah New Orléans is bad, said the uncle,  my son will killed two years ago.  I told him to stay away from those gangs, I told him!     He was 19, he and two of his friends were killed.   I’m sorry, the supervisor said.. .. You know when they kill somebody, the just dont kill the son, they kill the whole family. (I suddenly found it difficult to breathe)

You know what gets me, half these people have kids, and the state would go after them for the child support they owe, they would be in jail !  The supervisor said in anger.   Why I asked? I’m from California and they are aggressive collecting child support and they will  put people in jail. .  I don’t know, but this city and the state  is bad……   The uncle started to get up from his seat -it was clear his family wanted to leave. ( his sons death and his statement about killing a family was on my chest-can’t imagine!)    I want to hold  him father to father.   We shake hands…. The family leaves.    I thank the supervisor and he leaves.     I go into the bathroom and quietly cry.

Cityfella 

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