October 2007


Today was a bright, crisp, fall day in Detroit.

I got ready early this morning to attend the home-going service for Lynnette Lee Lawson, Alexus Shapphire Eppinger, and Terrence Safi Eppinger Jr. They were three of the four people killed last week in a house over on Clairmount street. I understand that the other victim, Jason Davis, will be laid to rest sometime next week.

It was a heartbreaking thing to see, those three coffins….

Little Terrence, so small, so young and full of promise, their mother Lynnette laid out in the middle, and sweet, little Alexus.

Family and friends and others who were just concerned all gathered together and mourning the great loss. So much grief, for what? What could possibly be so important that it could make four human lives worth taking? What on earth could be worth all this grief? Amazing how one person’s foolishness can affect so many and disrupt so many lives.

Tears, screams of grief, many a wet eye, and yes, even a few judgmental eyes. But, no matter what circumstances brought this about, those kids were innocent, beautiful, and full of promise. I sat with the grandmother of one of Lynnette Lawson’s nephews and heard the many tearful remarks that were given and it all seemed almost unreal. Teachers who had lost good students, relatives who had lost family, friends who had lost good friends.

I had to leave before the eulogy because I had to attend another home going service, but my heart goes out to all those grieving this great tragedy.

I’ve learned from this and other tragic events that there are many things we need to say to the ones we love while we yet can, and not wait until they are gone to try and say all that is in our hearts.

The second service I attended today was for the cousin of a good friend of mine, and the service was truly beautiful. The minister delivered an honest and straightforward eulogy. He didn’t know the deceased and didn’t pretend that he did, he just addressed the needs of those gathered to celebrate the life and mourn the passing. He encouraged us all to use the tears the Lord has given us – he explained that we express our grief in tears because we love. He said that our tears are the price we pay for love.

It’s a small price to pay….

See ya.

“What was I thinking?”, that’s got to be what was running through this guy’s head as he was led away in cuffs:

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It’s the first rule of criminal activity – Don’t Stand Out. This is one of a number of people who were arrested by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department yesterday for “snatching vehicles with tow trucks.” (from WXYZ). Yeah, if you see da police warn a brother not to look foolish on the 6 o’clock news….

By the way, if you want to get an e-mail letting you know when I post a new post just click on the link that says “Subscribe to Elegant Thoughts by Email” – it’s in the right hand sidebar just below the Sonific player, then you won’t have to check back to see if there’s something new here, you’ll get an e-mail to let you know. And don’t forget to let me know what you think of the music in the Sonific player….

I found this photo taken from one of NASA’s satellites, it pictures the California wildfires as they looked on the afternoon of October 22, 2007:

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(Click on the picture for a larger view)

At this time they say more than half a million people have had to be evacuated from their homes. Pray for them, and count your blessings.

See ya.

 

I hope I’m through with this story – at least until the murderer’s conviction.

The house where four people were shot to death, at 3030 Clairmount was set on fire early this morning (Sunday October 21, 2007).

I went past there after church today, and it’s a burnt out shell now. The “stuffed toy shrine” burned with the rest of the place….

I understand why it was done, but sweeping the sight of that place out of memory, while leaving the underlying cause, ain’t much help.

The problems that brought that crack house into existence are still here. The motivation for young men to build careers in the drug trade is still here. The women and children who become victims of an unprotecting, weak, male populace are still here.

We can sweep this stuff under the carpet, we can sweep and sweep until all our carpets are full – when you look around there will still be more. Every stroke of the broom just creates more tears up the road. What we hide, we forget – and what we forget, we repeat….

Lynette Lawson (28), Alexus Eppinger (9), and Terrance Eppinger (6) will be laid to rest Thursday October 25, 2007  at 10am at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 13651 Dequindre in Detroit Michigan. I don’t have information yet on the arrangements for the other victim, Jason Davis (34).

See ya.

After finding out about the tragic deaths of four people over on Clairmount yesterday my wife and I went by to pay our respects and to offer any assistance to the greiving families.

When we arrived (around 7pm) we had a chance to talk with a young lady who is the mother of one of the victims’ children. She has a eight year old daughter by Jason Davis, who was one of the adults killed in that senseless slaughter. Her daughter sat in a vehicle parked across from the house where her father was slain, playing with a couple of other children who were with her. How do you deal with all that at eight?

Across the street from the house about ten or twelve neighbors had gathered, someone had brought a T.V. out onto the porch, there were a few 40oz.’, and the smell of burning blunts was in the air. Several children were playing nearby….

The door to the house where the murders occurred was wide open, lights were on inside. No crime tape, no barricade, no officer standing guard. People had already begun building a “stuff toy shrine” on the ledge of the front window. Stuffed toys – in rememberance of the slain children (so many poor children without toys – why do we leave them for children who can no longer play with them?).

A young man who came up while we were talking said that he had gone through the house after the police had finished gathering evidence. He said it was the worse looking crack house he had seen (and he assured us that he had seen a few), he talked about broken water pipes and trash all over the house. He talked about the bloody bedrooms where the four had been killed. When we asked why the house was left open, a young lady who was standing with us told us that a policewoman had explained to her that since they had a suspect in custody and the evidence team had been there, the house was no longer considered a “crime scene” and that it was being left open so that the family and neighborhood could go through. She said the Mayor had been there and had instructed the officers to leave the house open.

I thought about the Steven Grant case. Steven Grant is a man who murdered his wife and tried to hide his crime by dismembering her body and hiding it. His crime was horrible, but I don’t think they left his house open for the public to go through…. anybody? Any child?

Naw, I don’t think they do it that way everywhere…..

There’s a prayer vigil scheduled for tonight at 7pm outside the house. Minister Malik Shabazz will be there to “speak out against the crime and against the violence and to increase the peace and love.”

The “Hood”, it’s enough to make you want to cry….

I’m praying now.

See ya.

After writing just yesterday about the conviction of two people in the slaying of two children (Orlando Herron -Age:13 and Darren Johnson – Age: 11) news comes this morning of the killing of two more children even younger.

The children whose names have not been released were only SIX and NINE years old!

Two adults in their thirties were also slain in the same incident (which took place in the 3000 block of Clairmount). It’s a developing story, so details are sketchy but it seems the killer was allowed into the house and waited for all four of the victims to fall asleep before viciously killing them.

“It shouldn’t be me, as chief of police, saying we have to put a blanket on our city and take it back,” the Free Press quoted Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings saying. The Chief also asked for the community to abandon it’s culture of not wanting to “snitch” on criminal suspects.

If you can know anything about who committed this horrible crime and keep it to yourself – God have mercy on you. I can understand fear keeping someone from coming forward, what I cannot understand is the warped concept that it’s always wrong to turn in the criminals who are abusing our community!

As a community we’ve been raped, robbed, drugged, prostituted, beaten, abandoned, and now slaughtered by our own….

When,

When,

When is enough……

ENOUGH?

(read the Free Press story HERE)

See ya.

That’s a great quote – “Hurt people, hurt people“. It means that people who have been hurt will often turn around and hurt other people. It was used by Bill Cosby on the Oprah Winfrey show today. I’m not an Oprah fan, but I am a Cosby fan and have been through the years.

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I respect him for what he has done with the blessings he’s received. A lot of folks talk about giving back, but Cos and his wife walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Cosby set off a firestorm back in 2004 when he addressed the NAACP‘s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education at Washington D.C.’s Constitution Hall. All kinds of folks got upset with him. Maybe you’ve heard some of the criticism that he received behind that speech.

If you’ve only heard the criticism – go over HERE and read the speech for yourself (you can hear some audio excerpts there too).

No matter what your opinion of his comments, tragically the results of our failure in the community continue to show:

Remember Emmett Till?

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Emmett was just 14 years old when he was brutally killed in Money, Mississippi back in 1955. His death caused anger and protest throughout the nation.

His murderers left his body in such a heinous state that his mother wanted all to see their despicable work and had his funeral with an open casket.

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It’s estimated that some 50,000 people viewed his body. We protested because he was so young, had been killed in such a brutal manner and because his murderers were white.

Well, today in Detroit two people were found guilty of the murder of two young black children. Orlando Herron (13) and Darren Johnston (11), were shot to death during a botched drug-related robbery back in February of this year, and no they weren’t drug dealers – they were just in the right place at the wrong time.

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I can’t remember any marches – no giant funeral with thousands viewing, no special community outrage…. can it be that we have become so used to losing our young that NOTHING moves us anymore? They were young, their murders were brutal, but their killers were black.

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One of the two convicted of killing these young boys was a 38 year old woman, old enough by far to have been either boy’s mother….

It’s time to begin healing our kids, ’cause when we let them grow up hurt we only perpetuate the truth of that quote:

“Hurt people, hurt people”

See ya.

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Motown (The company) is on the verge of it’s 50th anniversary, and they are planning a two year celebration beginning this weekend.

Hitsville U.S.A.

Though Motown is far from what it used to be both in talent and influence, it still has a legacy that is unmatched in the music world. The Detroit News has a good article about the company and the upcoming celebration HERE.

Seeing those old familiar names and faces made me think of some of the other famous labels from that era, do you remember any of these? (not the songs so much as the labels themselves)

Here’s some information about the labels in the above slideshow:

Invictus Records – was a record label created by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland (known collectively and informally as H-D-H). Until 1967 H-D-H were the top composer/ producer team for Motown Records, but for better control and greater rewards they launched Invictus along with Hot Wax Records in 1968. Their most successful acts were Freda Payne and Chairmen of the Board; they also released Parliament’s first album, Osmium. The label was distributed by Capitol Records from 1969 to 1972, and then by Columbia Records.

V.I.P. Records – Part of Motown Records – Established 1964, V.I.P. was a secondary R&B/soul subsidiary. Notable artists included Shorty Long, The Velvelettes, The Spinners, The Elgins and Chris Clark. The label was dissolved in 1974.

Atlantic Records – is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm & blues, rock and roll, and jazz. Long one of the most important American independent labels, Atlantic now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

Chisa Records – Motown released output for Chisa, a label owned by Hugh Masekela, from 1969 to 1972.

D-Town Records – Formed by Mike Harris in 1963. Interesting story HERE.

Golden World – was a record label owned by Ed Wingate and Joanne Bratton (nee Jackson, widow of boxing champion Johnny Bratton). The recording studio was located in Detroit, MI., first on 11801 12th Street (Rosa Parks), and then on 3246 West Davison, within the area of the present-day Davison Freeway. A business office on some of the labels reads 4039 Buena Vista. The studio’s national hits included “Cool Jerk” by the Capitols from Detroit and “Oh How Happy” by Livonia, Michigan’s Shades of Blue. The early, pre-Motown songs by Edwin Starr (War! What is it Good For?) such as “Double-O Soul” were recorded in the Golden World studio.
Golden World operated from 1962 to 1968.

Gordy – Established 1961, Gordy was also a primary subsidiary for mainstream R&B/soul music. Originally known as Miracle Records (slogan: “If It’s a Hit, It’s a Miracle”), the name was changed in 1962 to avoid confusion with the Miracles singing group. The label’s numbering system was combined with those of Motown and Tamla in 1982, and the label was merged with Motown in 1988. Notable Gordy artists included The Temptations, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Rick James, and DeBarge. Gordy Records slogan: “It’s What’s in the Grooves that Counts”

Hot Wax Records – was a Detroit, Michigan-based record label, created by Eddie Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland in 1968 when they left Motown Records. Hot Wax Records recorded female vocal groups such as The Honey Cone and The Flaming Ember, as well as soul singers like rhythm and blues artist, Freda Payne. Their records were distributed by Buddah Records.

Motown Records – The grandfather of them all.

Since Berry Gordy himself is supposed to be in town Friday, I just might do what I used to do when I was a kid – go stand on the steps of Hitsville….

See ya.

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