Ike Turner, R.I.P.

Ike Turner died last week from so far, unexplained circumstances. The first thought that popped into my mind was drug overdose, or some illness related to a life of drug over indulgence. Like most people. I don’t really know. Like most people, I only knew Ike through his ex wife’s book and movie and his music.

His music came first for me. When I was a kid listening to radio, I discovered Ike and Tina Turner. Their music was alive. It was electric. It made you want to get up and move, and I did whenever I heard it. And this was before the Proud Mary cover.

Tina’s voice was unmistakably in the front. But Ike was the foundation. That bass line, his deep voice laying down the tempo, keeping everyone on pace, while she soared on high. You felt rather than heard Ike and that was the way it should have been. It was a visceral feeling that evoked movement deep within the listener. Ike worked his rhythmic magic from the inside out.

Historically, he was a legend in the music industry. Ike is credited with recording the very first rock and roll record, before Bill Hailey’s ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK, or anything Elvis did. But being a black man he didn’t get the money or credit due him as a founder of a music genre.

He even discovered Tina. Built his game around her. Gave her, her name. She gives him all credit for that. Yet to most people, he is still only her husband, the man in the background. It’s a shame that all most folks will remember him for is his abuse of Tina.

I’m not justifying what he did to her. If even half of what was said in her book and movie is true then he was an ugly human being. No one should abuse another person, especially their spouse, for any reason.

But it is sad, because he was a talented and very creative person who was a man of his time, but at the same time, ahead of his time musically. He visualized where rhythm and blues could go, by surfing on the back of an electric guitar. His musical distortions ultimately gave birth to Jimi Hendrix, Ernie Isley, Slash, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Pete Townsend, and Sheryl Crow, to name just a few.

As recently as last year, he won a grammy and was nominated again this year. He is already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But that is not what people will remember. They will remember that scene in the movie when Tina fought back and they both ended up bloodied. I cheered when she finally fought back. I hollered when she kicked him with her high heels. He was finally getting what he deserved. People will remember that Tina exited that limo a new person while Ike left it a surprised and beaten bully. She has gone on to superstardom, he to a drug fueled oblivion, if the stories are true.

He never recovered from that moment. Judging from his subsequent statements afterward, he never, even understood what happened to him. He thought of himself as the victim and on so many levels he was. A musical genius, and a member of the rock and roll hall of fame who despite the accolades from his peers, spent the last half of his life as a footnote in his ex wife’s bio.


Living with a Broken Heart

I suffer from congestive heart failure. I was diagnosed five years ago after becoming concerned about swollen ankles. I thought the swelling was due to my age and the fact that I was standing nearly eight hours a day doing my job. Except for the swelling, I felt fine. But I wasn’t, apparently.

My family doctor checked my chest and said it sounded as if I had a heart murmur and then sent me to a specialist for further testing. The tests showed that my heart was not functioning well. In fact, it was only functioning at 25 percent of its capacity. I had to have a doctor’s permission to leave the hospital and was told not to do anything at all, work, pick up my young nephew, housework, play with, or walk my dogs, anything that might stress my bad situation.

I was given medicine and materials to read up on heart valve replacements. I was given the option of having a pig valve or a plastic valve implanted in my chest once I was stabilized by the new medication. I was inundated with information about the types of medications that I would have to begin now and to take to sustain my life, for the rest of my life.

Being the info junky that I am, I read somewhere that CHF sufferers rarely live five years past diagnosis. So as I write this, I guess I’ve reached a mile stone in this unexpected journey. I’m still alive with no end in sight.

But five years in, I’m still tremendously angry. Once I got over crying and being fearful that my life was soon to end. I got mad, and I’ve pretty much stayed mad.

I have always believed that if you did things right, the universe will be right with you. Another way to say it is “what goes around, comes around.” Karma. I truly believe that karma rules all. I believe that we reap what we sow.

I was an athlete. I watched the food that I ate. I never smoked. I experimented with alcohol, finding out that I really don’t like the taste, so my drinking is of a social nature. Beyond taking aspirin or nsaids for the pain that accompanies athleticism, I never did drugs. I have inhaled though, around my college friends and at a Richie Havens concert once. But that was it.

I went to school, stayed employed from the time I was sixteen. I have been self supporting since I was eighteen. To my mind I should not have been saddled with a chronic probably fatal disease. But it happened despite all of my self identified “goodness” and good living.

Five years in and I still haven’t had the valve replacement. The hole in the wall of my heart has closed up as mysteriously as it opened. My function is nearly 80 percent as I write this. My cardiologist says I’m a textbook recovery. He has no explanation for the reversal, nor why it happened in the first place.

I must take 16 pills per day to control my heart beat, blood pressure, and fluid levels in my body. One of the side effects of the medication is weight gain, so I’m living heavier than I have ever been and that is hard. My joints ache. I have to rest much more often than I used to.

I can exercise now with the restriction of not elevating my heart beat above 150. That means no running, my last exercise of choice. I can walk. I can lift weights, now in the fifth year. I can do yoga and tai chi and I can play golf. Exercise is much more difficult with the extra pounds and the fear that I might hurt myself or worse, die from exertion is sometimes incapacitating.

I have had to face the fact that I was afraid of dying. I have had to admit that I didn’t want to lose the material wealth that I had accumulated. I have had to admit that I wasn’t ready to let go of my family and friends, just yet.

I still deal with these things daily. As I get farther away from diagnosis, it’s been easy to forget that although I’m alive, I have to be vigilant about my health. I have to work daily for my physical existence. I have to get busy living because dying in my case is extremely easy.


God and Guns....Guns and Politics....

I guess I’ve become numb to the killings by people, failed young men, making themselves infamous by killing innocents. So the Sunday news of the attacks on the two religious facilities in Colorado did not bother me too much. I listened dispassionately to the news conference on CNN and then went about my own business.

What did bother me was the fact that one of the gunmen was shot dead in the parking lot of the mega church founded by Ted Haggard by an armed security guard. Armed, plain clothed security guards at a house of worship?

I guess God now needs help in protecting his flock? What happened to trust in the Lord? I don’t remember Jesus or any of his posse carrying side arms.


And then there is Mitt,”don’t hate me because I’m Mormon,” Romney. Last week he gave what was termed a major speech to explain his beliefs to the GOP evangelicals who think Mormonism is a cult. It was supposed to be a JFK flashback to make Mitt more acceptable to the American people, much like Kennedy did to turn the tide on the popular thought at the time about Catholicism.

Rather than a profile in courage, Romney’s turn can only be described as a portrait of pandering. He only used the term Mormon a couple of times. He seemed intent on trying to convince evangelicals that he is as radical and fanatic as they are.

As I’ve said before....I will not vote for a man whose religion silences women, doesn’t consider Blacks equal and has an all white, all male unassailable leadership situation.

Hmmmm...kind of sounds like a description of our government since its formation. Mitt may be comfortable in an all white ,all male situation, but the rest of us need some relief.


O and O.....Obama and Oprah.....woo wee!....the merger of politics, news and entertainment is now complete. I can hear the tonight show theme song playing in the background..(.think Johnny Carson entrance music).

I can’t speak for anyone else....but Oprah doesn’t’ choose the books I read, nor will she choose the candidate I will support for president...


They’ve gone all the way crazy in Britain. Seems there is a movement afoot to make Santa Claus in the malls a physically fit, iron pumping, healthy man, so that kids won’t get the idea that it is good to be fat.....


What’s next...make snow white monogamous? C’mon!


Question.....if all of the states are moving up their primaries in order to be “king maker” in the next election...why not move up the conventions and the election itself ?

As it stands now, we’ve got another year of this silliness and I would just rather vote and get on with it.

Think of all the money and hassle saved if the election were held in February, since all of the primaries have been moved to January..


Vick, Jones and Bonds....no wonder kid sports is so screwed up. Maybe we need to focus on kids getting fit and having fun...playing a game... rather than treating kid sports as the beginning of a big league professional career...

Do we really need ESPN televising little league baseball games or focusing on a non English speaking pitching phenom from the islands who’s too old to play ball in the states?

Sports used to build character, team work and comradery...it wasn’t thought of as a way to get famous and super rich.

It was thought of as a way to get out of the ghetto since so many other avenues were closed...but people, times have changed...other avenues do exist...

Sports isn’t the be all/end all that is portrayed...


Question number two...........do you allow your kids to play with your Christmas lights? Seems there is lead in the cords.....But is it enough to harm a child or is this another over blown non news story....lead in toys is one thing....but Christmas lights.....

In my lifetime.....most adults that I know put the lights on the tree and let the kids put the ornaments on....after all the problem with lights as I see it...is that the lights are electrical posing more danger than lead...common sense should prevail...