Posts Tagged ‘Kansas’

Let me preface this by just saying it… I’m pissed off.

At what point, exactly, did this generation of parents turn into total incompetent morons? For a demographic who is constantly in need to be in the top tier of knowledge when it comes to technology (don’t even get me started on Apple fanboys/fangirls), there is ZERO knowledge when it comes to common sense.

This topic has been festering in my mind for a while, but the event that proved to be the catalyst for this blog was a completely preventable and unnecessary crime that took place within walking distance (by my standards) from my residence. A car, parked and unlocked with the engine running, with a 5 month old child in the car. Both parents were outside of the car, although within eyesight of the car.

What happened next, you can probably figure out on your own. THIS IS NOT OKAY. Thankfully, the vehicle was parked and abandoned a short time later across the state line in Waldo. The parents are LUCKY that their child was able to be returned to them safe and unharmed.

Luck is for losers.

From my in-car dashcam: the scene of the auto theft is 200 yards down, and occurred less than 3 minutes later

From my in-car dashcam: the scene of the auto theft is 200 yards down, and occurred less than 3 minutes later

I understand that, at times, it’s a flat-out inconvenience to have to lug your kid(s) around and deal with the concept of taking them into places with you, when leaving them in the car for a minute might be much easier. But here’s the thing – making sure you have your kids with you is called accountability. Nay, it’s called RESPONSIBLE PARENTING. If you’re not capable of this, perhaps you shouldn’t be a parent.

I can’t count the number of occasions where I’d label the situation as an inconvenience when it comes to being out and about with my daughter, and needing to stop someplace to run an errand and need to take her in with me. Especially if inclement weather happens to be involved. Here’s the thing, though. I’m more than willing to deal with that inconvenience if it assures me the ability to be back home with her and playing together later.

There are two things that I do not do. I don’t leave my car unattended with the keys in it, and I don’t leave my car unattended with my daughter in it. I can’t prevent someone from breaking into my car – if they want to break a window and enter the vehicle, they’re going to do it. What I can prevent, however, is their ability to get away with the car and the ability to have access to anything more than material possessions that can be replaced. Rest assured that if your home windows are rattling because of the police/news helicopters overhead, it won’t be because of me.

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With 2013 coming to a (very quick, to me) end, it’s time to sit back and reflect on what the last 365 days have brought me. Some good, some bad, some elation, some heartbreak. Lots of lessons learned, and lots of new friends and acquaintances made. Here are a handful of the year’s highlights…

I don’t go out to concerts nearly as much these days as I did during my single/non-family days, but I did get the opportunity to catch two shows this year that were both monumental to me. In April Amy and I took in a performance by the living legend of St. Louis, Chuck Berry, at the legendary Blueberry Hill. Even at age 86 (87 now), the man still handles his business, and sounds as good as ever. That was a bucket list item for me. The opener for that show was the Andy Timmons Band (Timmons, formerly of Danger Danger, has done a multitude of studio sessions with great musicians, and his solo work is stellar).

The other concert for me this year was, also at Blueberry Hill, the 25th anniversary tour of the “Vivid” album from Living Colour. I’ve been a fan for years, and that album in particular is one that I hold in high regard within the category of “No-skips”.  I can let it play from the opening second of track 1 to the closing seconds of track 11, and not feel the need to skip over anything inbetween. An added plus was the opening act, the Steve Ewing Band (side project of the lead singer from The Urge).

I further submerged myself in the mix of St. Louis radio this year, in due part to several gentlemen. After a station/format rebrand, I (re) familarized myself with the group of Brian McKenna, Jeff Burton (formerly of 105.7 The Point), and John Edwards as Midday Mayhem on 590 The Man. Meanwhile, over on the internet radio broadcast side of things, a 3-man operation consisting of Ron Godier, Wade Trent, and Joe Cochran on TalkSTL.com created general shenanigans on their (scheduled) daily broadcast of WTF. In late June, they took their show on the road, for two days of broadcasts in Topeka KS at the Equality House (directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church). After joining them for both days, I left with a greater understanding and appreciation for everything the Equality House & Planting Peace Peace do, along with having made a number of new friends and contacts. Wade is out of radio now, having had his work as a musician really take off in the past few months, and Godier & Cochran are now on nights on 920AM along with the incomparable Brad Mulholland as The Daily Wrap.

My passion for mixed martial arts (MMA) grew by leaps and bounds this year, largely in part to the long-awaited and much-deserved UFC debut of Kansas City’s own “The” James Krause. He parlayed his success in the octagon this year into success with his business ventures, and bought into co-ownership of his gym, GrindHouse MMA, in Lee’s Summit (Jennah and I went out to visit the gym early last month; their setup is simplistic, yet phenomenal). I’ve also been able to familiarize myself with a number of other local/regional fighters, both professional and amateur.

The year brought a fair amount of success for various sports teams I follow.

– The St. Louis Blues returned to the playoffs for the 2012/2013 season, although they made a quiet and relatively uneventful exit. Prior to today’s game vs Minnesota, the Blues already have accumulated 26 wins on the 2013/2014 season – the first time in franchise history that they’d have more than 25 wins at the end of the calendar year.

– The Kansas City Chiefs rebounded from a forgettable 2012 season (both in terms of schedule/standings, and the stigma of a player murder/suicide) with a successful 2013, earning themselves a solid wild card slot, and travel to Indianapolis for playoffs this weekend.

– The New Orleans Saints will also return to the playoffs, clinching a wild card position this past weekend, and will visit Philadelphia to face the Eagles.

– The St. Louis Rams… well, they ALMOST finished with an 8-8 record.

– The St. Louis Cardinals returned to the World Series, and were two games away from being 12-time champions.

– The Kansas City Royals finished 5 games over .500 (their best season finish since 1989), and look to be in reasonably good shape going into the 2014 season.

– The Florida State Seminoles (my dad’s alma mater) returns to the national championship picture, undefeated, slated to go against Auburn next week.

The best of the best in my sports world, for 2013, was Sporting Kansas City. If you haven’t known me for a long time, this statement won’t ring as true to you as it will with those who have known me for years or grew up with me, but my passion for Sporting parallels that for the Cardinals (I can probably go three weeks without repeating a single Cardinals shirt or jersey – I’m quickly catching up with SKC gear). As the Kansas City Wizards, they came a long way from a team that nearly moved out of Kansas City a decade ago, to a team in 2010 who pulled off a huge upset victory in a friendly against EPL powerhouse Manchester United. 2011 marked the debut of the franchise rebrand, now known as Sporting Kansas City, along with their new stadium. They’ve made playoffs in all three seasons since then, culminating 2013 with winning their second MLS Cup.

2013 was not without its personal losses.  March brought the passing of my aunt Gail, who finally was overwhelmed in her battle with cancer. Although anticipated, especially with her final weeks being spent in home hospice, her death still hit me hard. I’m beyond appreciative of my daughter, for she was my rock during a very difficult time. She embraced and carried around the stuffed sheep my parents bought her to keep her occupied during the visitation, and she gave much-needed hugs and cuddles. She held my hand at the graveside service, only being momentarily distracted upon hearing a train passing by a little less than a mile away.

At the end of November, my parents faced the difficult (but correct) decision of putting one of their two cats down after he suffered multiple seizures, the later of which Phenobarbital was unable to control. Of the two (Simon and Garfunkel), Garf was the shy one, but would love you unconditionally once he got to know you. The first time I visited back home after their adoption, I didn’t see Garf for the better part of the first two days. Over time, and future visits, he warmed up to me and would remember me each time I came back home to visit, and was a total softy. I/we don’t have any scheduled trips back home to St. Louis anytime soon, but I face the fact that sometime between now and that next trip, I need to find a way to somehow explain to Jennah that her play buddy won’t be around anymore.

On a lighter, but still hard-hitting note, my car died earlier in the year. Coming home from work and daycare in early February, and the engine blew while on the highway. We were fortunate enough to be on a downhill portion of the highway at the time, and not only coasted down the offramp that was about a half-mile ahead, but lucked out with no traffic at the bottom of the ramp, allowing me to coast the car onto the street and into the parking lot of a gas station/truck stop uninterrupted, bringing the car to a stop in their lot. The process of getting the ol’ Punker back up and going again was long, stressful, and not cheap, but did get a smile out of knowing that the replacement engine that is in there now came to me from a shop along Route 66 in Illinois.

It would seem fitting that the end of the year would end up being the brightest to me, personally. Jennah is now 3 years old (3 and a half in February), and while she wasn’t quite at the age to really understand everything with Christmas last year, she was all about it this year. Helping out with decorations. Making sure the tree was on every day after daycare. Looking around for Christmas lights along the drives. No help needed from momma or daddy, she handled the unwrapping of presents all on her own this year. And I know that for as much as she enjoyed it this year (and subsequently made ME enjoy Christmas that much more), it’ll only get better next year.

I now await the conclusion of this year in its final few hours, and look forward to what 2014 brings. Here’s hoping that you (yes, you) will be a part of it.

Oh, and my New Year’s resolution? 1280 x 1024. Now you know.

Cheers.

WTF’s “Straight To Equality” 2013 tour banner for the Thurs (6/27) and Fri (6/28) broadcasts on TalkSTL.com

A quick look back at the two days spent at Equality House in Topeka KS during TalkSTL‘s “Straight To Equality” 2013 tour, these are a few of the things I took away from the experience.

– I cannot say enough positive things about the individuals within Equality House. I spoke the most with Davis Hammet and Aaron Jackson, but everyone there is so pleasant and easy to talk to. The amount of information that they shared with us about their various missions was mind-blowing, and it opens your eyes to the fact that while the house itself is painted in the PRIDE colors, there is so much more that they work with than just LGBTQ issues.

– Until you’re actually there, you really have no idea exactly how close the Equality House and the Westboro Baptist Church really are to each other. Only a narrow street separates the two, and the church extends almost all the way out to the sidewalk.

– Sitting on the lawn with everyone and listening to the audio of the interview with WBC spokesman Steve Drain was pretty intense at times. Based on the few clips of video from the interview, it should be a very interesting watch when everything is said and done.

– In the time that we were there, it was impressive to see the number of people who stopped by to visit the Equality House, take pictures, and speak with Davis and Aaron. Some came from across town, some from across the country, and there was a family in from South America who made a point of seeing the house.

– In addition to those who parked and came onto the property to visit, the sheer number of people who honked and waved as they passed by along 12th Street was amazing.

– Prior to the broadcasts, I/we wondered to what degree, if any, Westboro Baptist Church would make their presence known. Sadly, the most extreme interaction we had with them was seeing Shirley Phelps-Roper and one of the kids fire up the lawn mowers and mow the same two stretches of grass over and over to try and make enough noise to interfere with the radio broadcast.

– Say what you will about WBC, but their property is pretty sweet. They have their own pool (although not visible at all from the street), and their own tennis and basketball court setups. For having that on-property, you’d think the kids would be pretty good at their basketball skills. Based on their time on the court Thursday afternoon, I assure you they have plenty of room to grow. If I had my own court, you’d have to carry me off of it daily. I’m just saying.

– Talk is already underway between TalkSTL and Equality House for a return project in the autumn (yes, the guys from WTF were invited for a return trip). Godier joked with me about me being the show and station’s Kansas City intern, as my dedication to them and the use of social media to help spread the word of STE2013 didn’t go unnoticed. He, along with everyone else with the show, know that I’ll do everything I can to help them out when/how I can.

– The WTF crew have enough footage from the Topeka trip, including the 52 minute interview with Steve Drain, to where they’re in the process of putting together a mini-documentary. The trailer went up on TalkSTL’s Facebook page earlier this afternoon. I’ll have a follow-up on here when all is said and done.

In closing, thank you to Ron Godier, Wade Trent, Joe “Massive” Cochran, and Tony “Mule” Mueller for allowing me to be a part of their time in what they’ve described as the most fulfilling thing they’ve done with the show so far. Thank you to Aaron, Davis, and everyone with Equality House for being such incredible hosts for everyone. It was a pleasure and an honor to visit. And, in a weird way, thank you to WBC – without your closed-minded bigotry, none of this unity would have happened the way that it has.

With Aaron Jackson (left) and Davis Hammet (right), our backs turned to the hatred and closed-minded mentality that sits yards away across the street at Westboro Baptist Church

Earlier this morning, SCOTUS made a massive change in the structure of equality with the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This isn’t the end-all-be-all of equality, as the status of gay marriage is still state-by-state, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. (for more information, see CNN’s lead article). I have a handful of friends who this impacts directly, and I’m extremely happy for what this means for them.

With that said, we’re now less than 48 hours away from the WTF on TalkSTL.com broadcasts taking place outside the Equality House in Topeka KS. What better place to be to discuss the impact of DOMA’s takedown? WTF show hosts Ron Godier and Wade Trent are on-air as I write this, and will be hitting the road immediately upon conclusion of today’s broadcast at 3pm. They’ll get into Topeka this evening and get set up for their campout on the Equality House lawn.

If you have the means, please come out and join in on the experience. The shows are live from noon-3pm on Thursday and Friday, and the guys will be around both before and after with plenty going on. Godier will be off-site for a bit after the Thursday show to conduct a one-on-one interview with Westboro Baptist Church media spokesperson Steve Drain, which will air during Friday’s broadcast. Throughout their two days in Topeka, WTF will also be joining Equality House in fundraising for their parent program, Project Peace, to further anti-bullying initiatives in schools.

If you’re not able to attend either day’s events, you can still help. Tune in on TalkSTL.com. Spread the word. If you’re connected to me on Facebook, I’ve posted plenty in recent weeks with the links to the pages of Godier, Wade, the radio network, as well as Equality House.  I connected earlier today with Equality House’s director of operations, Davis Hammet, and am looking forward to meeting him.

We’re at the end of LGBT Pride Month, coming up on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and now working with the outcome of the DOMA overturn. In a world filled with too much hate and ugliness, let’s bring some extra love, positivity, and hope.

PMA all day, every day.

The Beatles said it best, and who am I to deny the fab four?

Back in early February, I penned a blog about two of the younger members of the Phelps family who chose to walk away from the Westboro Baptist Church, which can be read here. Who’d have thought that 4 months later, I’d be touching on WBC again but in a different light, and in a venture that will be firsthand?

Allow me to paint the picture.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that across the street from WBC’s location (I’m half-tempted to call it a compound, but that’s neither here nor there) is a house that was bought and re-identified as the Equality House by members of Planting Peace. Lots of volunteer work was put in to paint the outside of the house the colors of the pride flag. They seek to raise funds which are to be used for anti-bullying campaigns and programs.

A few years ago, I befriended a guy by the name of Ron Godier, who is in radio out in St. Louis. Since then, he’s switched through a few different radio networks and is now a part of STLradio.com co-hosting the “WTF” show along with Wade Trent. On June 27th and 28th, they’re taking their show on the road to Topeka KS and will be broadcasting live(12pm-3pm) from the Equality House. Call it a goodwill mission, call it what you will. This will, without doubt, help raise further awareness of the Equality House and their purpose. Ron and Wade also have a verbal agreement with a representative of WBC for an interview while they’re out in Topeka. They’re looking forward to the interview, and will be approaching it in a peaceful manner (as should be done for the highest possible chance of communication).

I will be making the trek west to Topeka to join them for one of the two days, and am really looking forward not only to what the WTF radio crew brings, but also getting to talk with the EH crew and share their positivity and their ambition.

If anyone has anything they’d like me to hand-deliver to the Planting Peace crew at Equality House (letters, cards, etc), items can be sent to me via my PO Box. I’ll stop by the post office on my way out of KC to Topeka and bring all items with me on the road (no, I’m not making deliveries to any of the WBC).

Planting Peace/Equality House
c/o Jeremy Brooks
P.O. Box 12362
Kansas City, MO 64116
 

Information on the “WTF” show with Ron and Trent, as well as information about Equality House, can be found by clicking on the images below.

(edits/additions will likely be added onto this blog as the event gets closer, with more information and details of what will be taking place)

Back on November 28th of last year, I penned this little ditty regarding the changes at KJCK-FM, 105.1 Jack FM here in Kansas City. Imagine my surprise when, about three weeks ago, a morning show was resurrected on Jack FM. Welcome to the era of “Jenn and the Tall Guy”. I tuned in for all of about two minutes of their segment time, and it’s two minutes of my life I can’t get back. The “Tall Guy” (real name, Dan Persieghl) sounds like he works too hard to sound like an overproduced Ryan Seacrest, and his personality is completely overpowered by his co-host, Jenn Ryan. In terms of the show’s power balance, she clearly has his balls in a jar on her side of the studio. They sit there, subjected to mundane Hollywood gossip talk and the like. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they discuss more than this, but I couldn’t tune out quickly enough.

Truta – I’m sorry you’re gone, but I’m glad you’re not a part of this trainwreck to the ears.

Let’s rewind back to the end of November, after the changeup at Jack. For lack of a better term, I was a radio station orphan. Having walked away from the only station I regularly tuned in to for years, I was a free agent. I seeked to find a new home. Ultimately, I found my home and my new on-air family with alt-rock station KRBZ, 96.5 The Buzz.

I’d been a fan of the station for a while, back when The Church of Lazlo was originally on air locally (he uprooted to Seattle for a two-year stint, along with his wife Afentra – we’ll get to her in just a moment). At this time, that was the only regular show on The Buzz I caught, as I worked evenings. During the Seattle years, their morning show was hosted by a guy named Dick Dale, who did nothing for me as a listener. I couldn’t get into it.

Bring it back to current day. Their morning show, “Afentra’s Big Fat Morning Buzz”, is my Monday-Friday ritual from 6am to 10am. Afentra is a sarcastic hardass Greek, yet a sweetheart, and a Red Wings hockey fan, which makes for some fun banter between the two of us. Her partner-in-crime, Danny Boi, is the suburban hip-hop white kid with a knack for writing and recording parodies. Their producer, Mark, is the quiet unsuspecting one of the bunch, although gets his weekly highlight hosting “Fifty Shades of Mark”.

Middays are hosted by Jeriney, who has two very strong suits – her ties and connections to local music, and being very in-touch with the music that defines her daily “90s At Noon” segment. For those reasons, especially the latter, she’s in my wheelhouse.

The afternoon is cemented with The Church of Lazlo, hosted by Lazlo. Sarcastic. Jaded. Detroit native. Pulls no punches. Tells it like it is. Four out of those five put him and I in related company. His co-host, Slimfast, is a gamer and internet/tech aficionado. Their producer, Meredith, is that dirty little hippie girl that you always wondered about. Collectively, they’re the on-air material that I can’t ever get enough of, but cannot have on the radio while my daughter is in the car. Can’t win ’em all, I suppose.

These personalities have welcomed me with open arms, and I interact with them regularly through both twitter and the station’s text line. Uniting worlds, a twitter conversation with Afentra and Lazlo last night ended up dragging Truta into the mix (he was happy to join). The crew from The Buzz are a blast to listen to and talk with, and with them come a great group of listeners – a number of whom I also talk with regularly on twitter. This is my on-air radio family, as dysfunctional as it is.

I’ll try to avoid getting too wordy, but this particular topic is one that I feel more strongly about than I thought I would, and it’s more than what twitter can contain. I’ll spare most of the overall backstory regarding the Westboro Baptist Church – that’s what Wikipedia is for. The topic in hand is the recent departures of both Megan Phelps and Grace Phelps from the church.

As mentioned by Jeff Chu in his article “Damsel, Arise: A Westboro Scion Leaves Her Church“, Megan stepped away from Westboro Baptist Church back in November 2012. Only within the past few days has the word really come out and the public eye has been made privy to this event. Megan’s twitter account had been silent since October 30th, 2012. She broke her silence yesterday with a tweet simply stating “Hi.” and a link to her latest blog, discussing her decision to leave WBC.

Still young at only 27 years old, Megan Phelps played a major part in the presence and communication of WBC, arguably being the most social media savvy of the congregation. The Kansas City star had gone so far as to call Megan “the future leader” of the church. How her departure will ultimately affect WBC is anyone’s guess – their (attempted) presence was still known regarding their attempts at picketing the Sandy Hook Elementary School funerals.

Let’s stop and think about this for a moment. Picture yourself having a completely provided life. Everything you could want and need, readily available for you. A free ride, essentially. All you’d have to do is abide by the beliefs and demands of your family. For nearly 27 years, this is what Megan had, along with 19 year old Grace.

They’ve now walked away from that. Now excommunicated by their family for “turning their backs” on them, these two are starting anew. From scratch. I can only imagine the nervousness, anxiety, and even fear of doing such a thing. Bravery is an understatement to describe their choice. They need lots of love, support, and understanding. I said it yesterday on twitter, and I’ll say it again here. All I really want to do is to give both Megan and Grace a big hug, and buy them a coffee or something. Let them know that they’re appreciated, and have a newfound respect by many that was likely not there under the umbrella of WBC.

The only time it’s too late to repent is after you’re already dead and in the grave. Megan and Grace are both alive and well, have closed a long chapter in a series of longer chapters in their young lives, and are just now beginning to write newer and brighter chapters. As the top song from the Aladdin soundtrack noted, they have “A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view.”.