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BLIND ITEM TIDBITS.......
1. Unsubstantiated rumors persist that a possibly silver haired..White comic/actor is secretly responsible for putting on an Black transgender through his numerous Hollywood connections.
2.Michael Jackson still has a lot of imitators of all races but this particular White MJ impersonator is a married DL "bottom, and a screamer." He's so noisy during his downlow encounters, that it irritates and annoys his anonymous lovers. He's also close friends with a rapper who introduced him to blunts and he's also been hooked on cocaine.
Allegedly, he's as dumb as a bag of rocks, a real mental lightweight.
3. This non-white action hero affiliated with a franchise has been recently banned from a male escort service (despite being married with kids) because he's beaten up a few male escorts during encounters.
RIP Irene Cara.
She fought for her publishing and in return, she was blackballed but her win guaranteed that she would live comfortably for the rest of her life; which she did in Florida.
During the "Fame," era, she introduced Gene Anthony Ray to her agent.
Allegedly, during the filming of "Sparkle," she had a massive crush on Philip Michael Thomas, but she was too young and nothing ever came of it.
Allegedly, Diddy wanted Tupac's role in "Juice," and he was originally considered for Jamie Foxx's role in "Any Given Sunday."
Frying chicken in an old raggedy washing machine, no words.
I hope this isn't true.
By: Todd Mayfield (Curtis Mayfield's son):
Atlantic City, 1969—My father stalks around his dressing room. The Impressions are ready to hit the stage for their second set, but first he wants his money. He’s hip to this game; he takes no mess. He turned sixteen onstage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, and since then he’s seen every type of crook run every type of con. He knows getting paid after the show often means not getting paid. These days, he demands a percentage up front and the rest between sets, sliding the money into his vest pocket, where you’d have to go through him to get it.
The promoter in Atlantic City is a wiseguy, though. He slithers into the dressing room clutching cash in one hand, steel in the other. He levels the gun at my father’s head. “How bad do you want this money?” he demands. Everyone freezes. “I want it bad enough to let you pull that trigger.” He says it coolly, his voice barely rising above the soft, measured sigh that has graced countless hit records. The promoter lowers the gun. My father gets his money. He strides on stage, the music kicks in, the crowd shouts in ecstasy, the Impressions finish with a flourish and walk straight out the front door of the auditorium to their cars, leaving the band playing inside. They gun their engines into the night toward the next show and the next promoter foolish enough to pull another stunt like that. Curtis Mayfield has seen scarier things than a gun in his face. His father deserted him when he was five years old. He witnessed his
mother abused and abandoned, powerless to help her. He spent long, hunger-wracked nights battling starvation in a squalid single-room apartment. He knows as much about pimps and prostitutes as he does about the Bible and Jesus. The first he learned from the rotten slums where he grew up a nothing child, destined to become another boyish, shiftless jigger. The second he learned from his grandmother’s church, where she practiced a cultish mixture of Christianity and the black arts called Spiritualism. These experiences gave him the courage to stare down the barrel of a gun in Atlantic City without flinching. They made him who he is—a contradictory, unpredictable, brilliant man who dropped out of high school and built a musical empire.
A man who spends much of his public life on stage and much of his private one locked in his bedroom. A man capable of legendary cool and flashes of temperamental violence. A man revered around the world but tormented by insecurity. A man gifted with tremendous powers of imagination but little ability to master the mundane day-to-day mechanics of life. A man who somehow manages to be both present and absent as a father. A man who sings of endless love but can’t remain faithful to any woman. A man hell-bent on control who sometimes relinquishes that control to the wrong people. In becoming that man, he’s plucked the sweet fruits of the American Dream—money, fame, women—and choked down the despair of the American nightmare—degradation, deprivation, and humiliation because his skin was the wrong color. And the hardest part of his journey hasn’t even begun. Like everyone, he can’t see the future. As he speeds away from Atlantic City, he doesn’t know the greatest tragedy awaits him in the place he least expects it. He can’t foresee this tragedy will lead to his greatest triumph of spirit and a slow, agonizing death.
He can scarcely imagine life will soon teach him the ultimate impossibility of control. A few would-be biographers have tried to tell my father’s story; none have done it well. They failed because they had no access to his inner life, to what drove him. They had no knowledge of his deep insecurity over his dark skin, big teeth, and small stature; of the humiliation he suffered at the hands of schoolmates because of his family’s desperate poverty; of his profound need for control over music, money, and relationships; of his deeply divided nature as a Gemini. Even astrology agnostics would have to agree, if such a thing as a true Gemini exists, my father was one. Everyone who knew him affirms that he changed his mind so often and with such ease, they never knew exactly what he felt, what he wanted, or what he’d do. Only with music was he constant. These writers also failed because they didn’t know where he came from. They didn’t spend time with the people who raised him, but those people are integral to his story.
You most likely didn’t pick up this book to read about Curtis’s grandmother, but without her, he might never have become a musician, and he couldn’t have written songs such as “Keep On Pushing” and “People Get Ready.” In interviews throughout his life, he always mentioned her as a main influence and inspiration. To understand him, then, you must understand her.
You most likely didn’t pick up this book to get a history lesson, either. But my father’s music was integral to the civil rights movement, which he lived through and helped mold even as it molded him. To understand him, you must understand his times. We’ll follow the movement as it flowers and flutters. Part of that movement concerns racial terminology and what it signified, so we’ll use the correct nomenclature of the times—from “Negro” in his childhood, to “black” by the late ’60s, to “African American” in the last two decades of his life. Another issue of terminology arose while writing this book. Growing up with a famous father, I saw many sides of him. I called him different names depending on the situation—he was “Dad” at home; he was “my father” in public, around people who might have wanted something from us; he was “Curtis” later in life when I helped him run the Curtom label. Since I knew him as all three during his life, I will use all three throughout the book. During his life, my father guarded his privacy jealously. After his death, we have done the same with his legacy. But the world deserves to know the real Curtis Mayfield. A wise man once said, “To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.”
Perhaps we don’t have to choose. Maybe it’s possible to show my father his due respect by the very act of telling the truth, just like he did in his songs. He told more truth than any musician of his era, capturing the hope, fury, despair, strength, and love of his people in a way no one else could. As Rolling Stone said of him, “More than Marvin Gaye, more than Stevie Wonder, maybe even more than James Brown, Curtis Mayfield captured the total black experience in America during the ’60s.” Of course, his music wasn’t just for black people—scores of fans from every race and ethnicity can attest to that—but it was from our perspective. As he said in his legendary concert at the Bitter End, he was always “believing very strongly in equality for all, but basically telling it like it is.” In presenting his story through my eyes, I have tried to tell it like it is and like it was, even when a crafted piece of public relations would have made him look better. After all, as the man himself once sang:
Pardon me, brother, while you stand in your glory, I know you won’t mind if I tell the whole story.
Mansfield, Louisiana, circa 1910—Slavery was dead, but its terror still hung in the hot air over the cotton fields near my great-grandmother’s house. The crack of the master’s whip echoed through the generations of her family up to her own grandparents, who as slaves were worth almost $800 on the trading block in their prime. After suffering in bondage so long, they couldn’t help but feel their current freedom was negotiable. Like much about my great-grandmother’s birth, a cloud surrounds her real name. She sometimes introduced herself as Gertrude, while others knew her as Annabelle, but most likely she went by Annie Bell. Such confusion about names occurred often in the land of slavery. Negroes could never know their true last names, and even first names could carry the indelible imprint of the plantation. For almost two centuries, they traded in nicknames and pseudonyms, perhaps as a way to assume control of their identity in a world that gave them none. Annie Bell’s father, Elmore Scott, toiled at a sawmill—a comparative luxury. He earned enough money to let his wife, Lula, stay home—another luxury, although she had to pick up jobs on the side with her old Singer sewing machine.
Their hometown of Mansfield was a tiny, stifling place occupying less than four square miles of land. Cotton took to the black, fecund topsoil there, and its downy tufts had formed the backbone of the economy since slavery times. By Annie Bell’s birth, most Mansfield Negroes had become sharecroppers—a kind of virtual slavery that kept them in perpetual debt, eking out an existence on the knife-edge of starvation. Still, Elmore and Lula hoped their daughter might have a better chance at life than they did, just as they once had a better chance than their parents. They also knew how nominal the definition of “better” could be. Lula kept her little house spotless, decorating the inside with a three-foot-tall porcelain collie. Out back, she tilled a garden, showering special adoration on her elephant leaves and four-o’clocks. Annie Bell loved exploring the enchanting garden in the afternoon when the four-o’clocks would open as if by some magic, right on time.
The house had running water but no bathroom, so Annie Bell, born severely nearsighted, trudged cautiously through the chicken yard rain or shine to reach the dilapidated outhouse. Sundays Lula took the family to a country church where the preacher sweated and moaned, conjuring the Spirit from thin air. The church provided the only true sanctuary for her family, as it did for Negroes across the South. Within its sacred walls, they had the freedom to drop their defenses and spill out their troubles like vessels filled to the brim. As Annie Bell grew, these gospel-drenched sounds became part of her flesh and blood and bone. While Elmore and Lula struggled to raise her the best they knew how, Jim Crow drew lines around them they couldn’t control. They couldn’t always see those lines, so Annie Bell had to learn to sense where they stood. If not, she could meet her demise at the hands of the lynch mob, the South’s most gruesome death sentence. During Annie Bell’s childhood, Louisiana citizens lynched a Negro once every four months, by a conservative estimate. It served as a grim warning of what happened when you didn’t know your place. Jim Crow laws in Louisiana reinforced that message at every turn.
Under those laws, Annie Bell couldn’t ride the same streetcars as whites, drink or buy alcohol from the same taverns as whites, or build a house in a white neighborhood. And it was illegal for her to marry a white man.
Annie Bell drank deeply from this mixture of African religion and American experience, and soon she claimed to have a spirit guide, a dead person she could talk to and see. At the same time, she found romance. In the early 1920s, she met Willie Cooper, and soon they married. In 1923, just barely a teenager herself, Annie Bell gave birth to a girl she named Mercedes. The next year, she had a boy named Curtis Lee, whom everyone called Mannish because he exhibited some of the less flattering aspects of manhood from an early age. Soon after Mannish’s birth, Annie Bell and Willie split.
Even if she managed to survive Jim Crow, she knew it would put a permanent lid on her children’s dreams. As great hordes of people fled north, sometimes returning to visit with the trappings of modest wealth, it seemed her best hope rested on a train chugging away from home. Sometime in 1928 she made up her mind. Annie Bell said good-bye to her family and the only world she’d ever known, bundled Mannish and Mercedes up tight, and plunged into the Great Migration.
After twenty-five jostling hours, the train steamed into Chicago’s Central Station, at Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue. Annie Bell collected her luggage and her children and stepped onto northern ground. The city she saw around her might as well have been a different planet. The station itself was jaw dropping compared to Mansfield’s ramshackle huts. Its brooding brick building towered nine stories above the tracks and connected to a thirteen-story clock tower topped with a Romanesque spire.
Chicago in the late ’20s was embroiled in an era of heavy tensions and epic capers. Prohibition had brought the scarred face of organized crime, as Al Capone’s notorious Chicago Outfit put the city in a choke-hold through a toxic mixture of bribery and murder. Frank Lloyd Wright had brought architecture with Prairie School designs, all horizontal lines and overhanging eaves, including his legendary light court in the Rookery building, commissioned in 1905. Steel had brought industry to construct those designs, providing work for thousands of men. When Annie Bell arrived, steelworkers plodded to work each morning in a city still reeling from the race riots that had exploded near the stockyards less than a decade before. In the summer of 1919, Eugene Williams, a Negro teenager swimming in Lake Michigan, crossed an informal line of segregation between the Twenty-Ninth Street Negro beach and the Twenty-Fifth Street white beach.
As a mob of white beachgoers pelted him with stones, he became disoriented and drowned. Their bloodlust awakened, whites and Irish immigrants unleashed a flood of aggression upon Negroes in Chicago. Violence ruled for thirteen agonizing days, as roving white gangs scoured the streets around the Black Belt looking for buildings to burn, possessions to loot, and Negroes to kill. It was the worst race riot in Chicago’s history, and it formed part of the infamous Red Summer. During that summer, some twenty-five riots busted through Washington, DC, Omaha, Knoxville, and several other cities. Most of the violence was white on black, although that would change in coming decades. One thing wouldn’t change, though, and it would exact a massive toll during my father’s life: summer always remained a good time for riots. Dazzling as it was, Annie Bell learned her new city imposed limitations almost as severe as the ones she had left in Louisiana.
Upon her arrival, almost all Chicago Negroes were crammed into the South Side, with some overflowing into parts of the West Side. In a sliver of land measuring seven miles long and one-and-a-half miles wide, a quarter-million people lived, breathed, worked, slept, ate, made love, fought, showered, shaved, bought groceries, cooked, cleaned, got drunk. People called it the Black Belt, also known as Bronzeville, also known as “North Mississippi.” As Great Migration historian Isabel Wilkerson wrote:
At some point during that first year, Annie Bell met a man named Walter Mayfield, or “Wal” to friends. She and Wal didn’t get married, but they moved into a small apartment together and lived with Mannish and Mercedes in a situation that would be known today as common law. Marriage certificate or not, Annie Bell changed her last name to Mayfield, and her children became Mayfields too. Grim job prospects confronted the Mayfields. In Chicago, three out of four Negro men toiled at unskilled, semiskilled, or servant jobs. These jobs locked them in constant poverty. To earn a full month’s salary as a Pullman porter, for instance, a Negro had to work four hundred hours or log eleven thousand miles—either way required more than ten hours of work, seven days a week. Annie Bell saw those porters as she left Louisiana on the Panama Limited, giving her a glimpse of what Negroes had to do to survive in the North. For many Negro women, the best they could hope for was to land a servant’s job with a wealthy white family. Worse still, the stock market shattered like sugar glass a year after Annie Bell’s arrival, making jobs a scarce commodity even for white people.
Yet, even in Chicago the invisible lines of race still bound my father. While most white children of his generation dreamed of soaring through the sky like Superman or swinging vine to vine like Tarzan, Curtis knew from an early age he’d never be quite like them. No hero looked like he looked or lived where he lived—he was black and poor in a world that wouldn’t let him forget it. If those prospects seemed glum, just across the ocean a maniac goose-stepped through Europe, hell-bent on conquering the Earth to assert the primacy of the white race. From an early age, Curtis helped with the small things—Marion remembered that by three years old, he could diaper Carolyn as well as she could. Still, she was the only adult and had to handle the big things. With government aid now her only possible source of income, she stared desperation dead in the eye. Hunger hounded the family, but my grandmother kept them alive any way she could, stretching every dollar until the eagle grinned. Most times they ate rice, or beans, or anything that cheaply filled a grumbling belly. Meat was a delicacy enjoyed maybe one weekend of every month, and it consisted of chicken necks, or backs, or any other part of the animal that people with money wouldn’t eat. “Mom had this great big pot and she would cook beans and neck bones,” Aunt Carolyn recalls. “She’d cook it on Monday, and we’d eat all the meat out on Monday, but it was always on the table until we ate up all the beans.
The family lived on the run, chased by creditors and landlords from one seedy flophouse to the next.
Being a poor Negro in Chicago meant you rarely got a sense of belonging anywhere.
At home, young Curtis watched his mother get beaten; at school, he took the beatings. With a cruelty special to children, his classmates roughed him up and zeroed in on his every imperfection. They mocked his poverty, although they were most likely poor too. They picked on him because of his short stature and big teeth. Perhaps most hurtful, they made fun of him because of his dark skin. He’d never forget the derogatory nickname they slung at him like a stone—Smut. They used the word in its original sense, meaning a dark stain or blot. This bred in him insecurities that would take decades to shake.
Of all the cheap digs, the White Eagle haunted my father’s memory most. He recalled it as a dark, dreary joint where hookers stalked the sidewalk day and night, and many more lived in the neighborhood nearby. He never saw a pimp at the time, though. “I guess pimps are a luxury of wealthier neighborhoods,” he said later. Outside, trash choked the sidewalk and broken windows made the building’s face leer like a jack-o-lantern’s smile. Inside, prostitutes, dope pushers, and drug fiends lived on one side, while poor families huddled on the other—mostly single mothers struggling to raise their children in the jaws of nighttime’s vices.
Their floor had eight units but only one communal bathroom, so young Curtis had to trudge out to the hall to use it, not unlike Annie Bell’s beaten path to the outhouse in Louisiana. The bathroom was a nightmare—putrid, cramped, filthy, full of exposed pipes and crumbling walls. Residents stuffed newspapers into crevices to stanch water leaks, while exposed light bulbs dangled from dangerous wires overhead.
Most nights, Curtis and family went to bed hungry and woke up itching from bedbug bites. As Aunt Carolyn remembers, “Many Christmases, we didn’t have anything. Mama would fix corn bread and a bowl of sugar to make syrup. We thought it was a treat, but that’s all she had.”
Under such duress, my dad had to grow up fast. He lived in a world that snuffed out innocence, a world that forbade the luxury of childhood. At age five, he became the man of the house through no choice of his own. The word “man” is instructive here—there’s no such thing as child of the house. When Marion wasn’t around, Curtis exerted control like an adult, and he got used to having others look to him for that control. As Aunt Carolyn says, “If anything went on, we looked to him if Mama wasn’t there.”
He was the oldest one around at that time.” It fit his natural tendencies as a Gemini, and for much of his life, if he couldn’t control something completely, he wouldn’t do it.
Excerpt By: Chris Seymour
On April 16, 2003: It was in the morning hours, Max Szadek raced to his boss’s apartment. Thoughts ran through his mind while he moved through the Manhattan streets. For ten years, Szadek had worked as personal assistant to R&B superstar Luther Vandross, and he was on his way to accompany the singer to the recording studio. It was a bright spring day, perfect for enjoying the eye-popping view from Luther’s new condo overlooking the lush greenery of Central Park.
But there was no time for that on this day.
There was too much to do—way too much.
Like most entertainers, Luther maintained a full schedule, but the upcoming weeks promised to be especially taxing. The singer, who would turn fifty-two in four days, needed to finish recording his new album to be called Dance with My Father, review tapes for a future live album, and oversee extensive renovations on his apartment. Then there were the gowns he promised to design for Aretha Franklin’s farewell tour, a stint as guest judge on the popular TV talent show American Idol, and preparation for a full slate of concert dates. His itinerary also included an appearance at the April opening of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, a four-night gig at the Westbury Music Fair in May, and a headlining spot at the Essence Music Festival in July.
More immediately, at the end of the week he had to leave for a lengthy promotional tour touting the new album. The commitments were stacking on top of each other like a house of cards, and Max was going to tell his boss that it had become too much for him, that things were getting out of hand. This was Max’s plan upon arriving at the apartment, but he soon discovered that nothing that day would go as expected. He tried entering the apartment, but the chain was locked from the inside. He knocked and yelled out to Luther. There was no response. At this point, Max began to worry.
He called Luther’s business manager, Carmen Romano, on his cell phone and described the situation. “What should I do?” Max asked. Carmen, who incidentally had just left Tiffany’s where he’d bought Luther a birthday present, told him to break down the door. When Max finally entered the apartment, he found Luther collapsed on the floor. He couldn’t move, but he was conscious and made two requests: one was for a glass of water, the other for someone to phone his mother. “Call my momma,” he said. “Get my momma.” An ambulance came and rushed him to the Weill Cornell Medical Center, which sits along the East River in Upper Manhattan. Upon arriving, Luther opened his eyes once. Then, just as suddenly, he closed them for what would be many weeks. Doctors examined Luther and determined that he had experienced a stroke, or what some clinicians call “a brain attack.” However, where most strokes occur because a blood vessel vessel becomes blocked, Luther suffered a more severe, less common kind in which a blood vessel ruptures, filling the brain with fluid, destroying tissue in its path. It’s as if the normal blood flow goes haywire, traveling to places it shouldn’t go and abandoning spots where it’s needed. If this didn’t make the situation dire enough, other factors deeply concerned Luther’s doctors. For one, he had lost consciousness, an extremely rare occurrence for stroke victims. This made it nearly impossible to check for neurological damage. Second, there was the unfortunate way Luther was found. Chances for recovery dramatically increase if stroke victims receive treatment within three hours, but Luther was alone on his apartment floor for at least seven hours before Max arrived, placing him in increased jeopardy.
Soon after Luther’s admittance to the hospital, word of his condition started to spread. Of course, this wasn’t the first time there had been grim news about Luther’s health. In 1986 there were false reports that Luther was near death with AIDS. In 2001 it was wrongly reported that he had died from the condition. Now, sadly, the bad news reports reports were true. His record company issued a tersely worded statement from his manager, Romano: “Luther Vandross suffered from a stroke on Wednesday, April 16th. He is under medical care and his family and friends are hopeful for a speedy recovery.” Other accounts were more graphic. A source in the New York Daily News called the stroke “a major bleed,” and added “he may never sing again.” A stroke is the worst kind of ailment for a vocalist, especially one with Luther’s precision and sensitivity. If the stroke damaged the left side of his brain, it could wipe out his ability to speak. If it affected the right side of the brain, it could impact the way he experiences and perceives emotions. In the days following the stroke, Luther showed few signs of what most would call life.
A machine did his breathing, and he was fed by a tube. His birthday came and went on April 20, but still no response. By April 23, a spokeswoman said he was “battling for his life.” Luther’s mother, Mary Ida Vandross, clocked many hours by her ailing son’s bedside. It was a sadly familiar scene for her, helplessly watching a loved one struggle for life. In her seventy-nine years, she had buried her mother, her husband, and all three of her other children: Charles in 1992, Patricia in 1993, and Ann in 1999. The first two died from diabetes, the third from asthma. Now she faced the possibility of losing Luther, her youngest, the baby. It was almost too much to bear. “He has to recover,” she said. “He’s all I have left. He’s my last surviving child.” As more people learned about Luther’s condition, many of his celebrity friends reached out to support him. “It’s upsetting to hear this news,” said rocker David Bowie, who gave Luther his first big break as a background singer in 1974. “Still, we know he’ll make it through this.” At the hospital, Luther’s family received calls and get-well wishes from a host of celebrities: Aretha Franklin, Halle Berry, Patti LaBelle, Burt Bacharach, Star Jones, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, and others. However, only relatives were allowed to see him.
“If he could have friends visit him in the hospital,” said a spokeswoman, “it would be a who’s who of show business.” Fans reached out as well. Cards and letters lined Luther’s hospital room from floor to ceiling, and more than 10,000 well-wishers sent messages to a specially created e-mail address.
This outpouring from fans spoke to the intense bond that Luther had formed with listeners throughout his more than two decade–long career. With his easy delivery and thoughtful phrasing, Luther singularly redefined R&B music. Before he hit the scene, male soul singing was rooted in the church. Think Teddy Pendergrass’ spirit-shaking growls or the heavenly croons of Marvin Gaye or Al Green.
Luther’s musical reference point, however, wasn’t gut-bucket gospel but the smooth harmonic sounds of the vocal groups of the fifties and sixties. When Luther sang, he swapped sanctified testifying for poignant reflection, raw heat for fireside warmth. This approach enabled him to sell over 20 million albums and fill up concert venues across the world; but more importantly, it helped him form an intimate connection with his followers, who incorporated his music into their everyday lives. Folks married to the exuberant “Here and Now,” nursed heartaches with the haunting “Any Love,” and sometimes reconciled through his yearning, nearly operatic take on Dionne Warwick’s “A House Is Not a Home”—a performance so moving that even Warwick considers Luther’s take to be the definitive version. Basketball legend Magic Johnson made sure that Luther was playing in the delivery room when his first child was born. People don’t just listen to Luther. They live Luther. On April 23, friends Aretha Franklin and Jesse Jackson tried to channel all of this love by calling for a national prayer vigil. They wanted people to stop whatever they were doing at noon and take a few moments to ask God to help Luther. What most of those praying didn’t know at the time was that Luther’s condition had worsened. He now battled meningitis, an infection of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, and pneumonia, which caused his lungs to fill with fluid, blocking the passage of air.
To treat these problems, doctors injected Luther with a steady stream of antibiotics, then performed a tracheotomy—where an incision is made in the trachea, or windpipe—to help drain the lungs. This was risky to perform on a world-class singer since the trachea is so close to the larynx, which holds the vocal chords, but the surgery was done in such a way that his voice wouldn’t be affected. Throughout this invasive procedure, Luther was completely sedated. Everyone hoped that once the heavy anesthesia wore off, he would also emerge from his coma. Hours passed by, then days.
Yet Luther’s eyes remained closed. An anonymous source told the press that doctors feared he might be brain-dead. On April 30, his record label spokeswoman released a rather sullen statement: “There was a real feeling that he would’ve regained consciousness by now. I think it’s a day-to-day analysis of the situation.
No one really knows what to expect.” What made things even more frustrating was that there had been so many signs that something was wrong with Luther before the stroke—something he chose to ignore.
One of the primary symptoms of an impending stroke is a persistent headache, and Luther had long been complaining that his head hurt. “He called me the very same day [he had the stroke] and said, ‘Momma, I’ve had a headache for six days,’” Mary Ida recalled. “He should have gone to the hospital the second or third day. Six days is too long to have a headache.”
Yet, uncharacteristically, Luther ignored his body’s warnings. “I think he was afraid to go to the doctor,” manager Romano explained, “because he had gained a lot of weight and he just didn’t want to get a lecture about it.”
Indeed, Luther’s weight had gone up and down more than fourteen times since he was a teenager, from a waistband-stretching high of 340 pounds to a designer jean–wearing low of 140 pounds. His weight fluctuated so much that it became fodder for comedians. Eddie Murphy used to bring down the house in the 1980s when he’d refer to Luther, essentially, as that big, fat Kentucky Fried Chicken eater.
Luther sometimes made light of his weight. One time, he even brought a bunch of Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets onstage with him. It was funny for some. Yet the situation was critical. The extra pounds and soul food–loving eating habits had made him diabetic, meaning that his body failed to produce enough of the chemical insulin, placing him at a dramatically increased risk for blindness, nerve damage, heart attacks, and strokes. The condition ran a tragic streak through his family history. His father, brother, and a sister all died from it. Luther wanted to live. His recent weight gain disturbed his mother so much that she confronted him about it the weekend before the stroke. When Luther visited her home in Philadelphia, he seemed to be eating uncontrollably. “Are you upset about something?” she asked him. “I don’t know,” he said. “But when you go to your momma’s house, you’re supposed to eat.” “Why do you do this to yourself again?” she pleaded in frustration.
“I don’t drink,” he argued. “I’ve never drank. I’ve never smoked. I’ve never done drugs. . . .” Then he stopped and simply said, “Momma, I just don’t know what to do anymore.” It all seemed so unfair: how it took such enormous effort to make himself smaller. Thinking back on the days preceding the stroke, as well as the tests and trials that came afterward, Mary Ida sometimes felt herself becoming overwhelmed.
The idea of losing Luther scared her to the core, and for a moment this committed evangelist even questioned her faith. “When you start losing your children, you look at your situation,” she said. “And you say, ‘What have I done in my life to deserve this?’” Yet these questioning moments didn’t last long. “I know my grace is sufficient,” she thought.
“He’s going to come through by the grace of God.”
For support, she turned to the Scriptures, believing that even in her darkest time “there’s nothing too hard for God.” She found comfort in these familiar words: “The Lord is my shepherd / I shall not want.”
Back at the hospital, efforts continued to revive Luther. Doctors suggested that the family play music for the singer, so the CD player in his room issued a steady stream of his own tunes and favorites from Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Shirelles, and Dionne Warwick. His longtime background vocalists came to sing for him. Friends tried hard to remain hopeful. Fellow singer Lionel Richie, who affectionately calls Luther “more of a diva than the divas” said: “As soon as he comes out of his coma and realizes his hair isn’t in the proper place, and [thinks], ‘How do you have me dressed’ and ‘Where is my Versace,’ he’ll be out of the hospital in five minutes.” Not all responses were kind, however. Popular New York City radio DJ Star speculated that Luther had the stroke because he was “stressed out” by a “special friend,” a reference to rumors about the singer’s sexual orientation that have followed him throughout his career. He had never been romantically linked with anyone, male or female, and when he spoke of relationships, he never mentioned the gender of the other person involved. Although Luther was that most conventional type of performer, a balladeer, these rumors gave him a certain mystique. Some identified with his need to guard personal wants and desires, others felt protective of him. When asked about his sexuality, Luther sometimes cracked jokes: “What do you want to know? Am I bicoastal?
Yeah, I have a house in Beverly Hills and New York.” Other times these questions seemed to anger him. “I’ve always paid my own mortgage,” he once said. “You know, there’s nobody that can come to me and feel they’re owed explanations to their suspicions about things.
I will neither deny nor confirm any such rumors about whether personal things like that are true or untrue.” Yet, guardedness took a toll.
“Does being so secretive make it hard to find a relationship?” he was once asked. “Yeah, it does,” he answered. “So, is it worth it?”
“I wonder,” he said. “You have come up with the question of recent days. I really wonder if it’s worth it.” The irony of Luther’s life was that he made a career out of singing love songs, yet he never truly knew love himself. “I’m still waiting,” he once said.
“The time that I have spent being in love has never been reciprocated. Those are just the circumstances.” In many ways, this lack of love, this strong yearning for it, infused his singing with a truth and sincerity that only made fans love him more. On May 19, thousands showed up at Detroit’s Little Rock Baptist Church. They gathered to participate in a prayer vigil organized by Aretha Franklin to show renewed support for Luther. Outside, those who couldn’t get in held candles that flickered against the night sky. Inside, the Queen of Soul went forth rousing the crowd. “We’re having church tonight,” she said. “Can I hear the church say, ‘Yeah’?”
“Yeah,” they roared back at her. She then led them through a number of gospel staples, the kind she grew up sing-singing in her daddy’s church. By the time she began “Amazing Grace,” the entire congregation had caught the spirit. People were swaying back and forth in the pews and stomping their feet so hard the whole church shook. It was a joyful noise and a purposeful one. “I felt [Luther] needed prayer,” Aretha said. “And he needed it now.” As days passed by at the hospital, there were small signs that Luther was improving. “The feeling that we’re all getting is a very hopeful one,” said a spokeswoman in May, “that he turned the corner in terms of being life or death.” Then one day Mary Ida entered the room and found his face turned to the window, his eyes closed. She called out to him like she always did, “Your momma’s here.” This time, he opened his eyes, smiled, and took a long look at her.
Then she noticed his lips. He was trying to form the word “momma.” Within days, his level of alertness soared. He still couldn’t speak because of the tracheotomy tube, but he began turning his head and nodding “yes” and “no.”
One way family and friends knew Luther was getting better was that he started exhibiting some of his trademark testiness. “He’s being ornery, like the old Luther,” said Patti LaBelle, who received daily updates on his recovery from Mary Ida. “His mother says that he’s being as bad as he used to be.” One day when Dionne Warwick visited, a nurse asked Luther, “Are you well?” He snapped, “Absolutely not.”
One of the mysteries of the mind is how stroke victims can often vividly recall things that happened long ago, but have little short-term memory. On bad days, a disoriented Luther sometimes thought he was backstage at a concert, and when Clive Davis, the president of his current label, J Records, came to visit, Luther remembered him only from their dealings many years ago.
For a time, according to one source, Luther could only seem to remember things that happened ten years ago. If this was indeed true, then his thoughts were stuck in 1993, a turbulent year that brought the death of his sister Patricia, a well-publicized feud with the opening act on his tour that year, En Vogue (the girl group famously dubbed him “Lucifer”), and the painful dissolution of a romantic relationship. As he told the Chicago Tribune that year, “I’ve just been through a devastating breakup.” The process of recovering from a stroke required Luther to hold onto these memories, however disturbing, less they slip away again. He had to slowly try to weave together the missing pieces of his life if he was ever to recapture or even come close to becoming the person he once was. It was a tediously slow process, for which he himself unconsciously determined the pace. It was as if a narrator in his head had to be awakened, called onstage to part the dusty velvet curtains, then announce with grandeur:
“Luther, this is your story. This is your life.”
1. Michael B. Jordan got directing tips from Bradley Cooper and Denzel Washington.
The 35-year-old actor makes his directorial debut in the latest 'Rocky' spin-off film, and he admits he was anxious about the job at hand but soon got into his own “groove” and came to enjoy the experience.
Speaking to Empire magazine, he said: “I was pretty anxious going into it, wondering what that would be like. ‘Who’s calling action and cut? Is that me?’
“Talking to Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper and others who have directed themselves, they told me you have to find your groove and your pace.
2. John Legend almost had his Porsche stolen, according to cops, who say a man hopped in the luxury sports car while the singer was inside a recording studio ... and then got arrested.
3. Will Smith missed "surprising" fans after testing positive for COVID-19.
The 54-year-old actor was looking forward to dropping in on an audience following a screening of his latest movie 'Emancipation' but he ended up meeting them via video link instead after finding out he had contracted the virus.
Pictured Above: Charles “𝐁𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐲” Guy with his mother 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐚.
Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx◦Baltimore, MD
Billy Guy hustled his way out of New York and into Maryland as the 1980s ended and the 1990s began. By the beginning of the 20th century’s final decade, Guy was traveling to and from Maryland on a regular basis, by using the Trump Shuttle airliner and/or driving by limousine.
Guy gathered about $30,000 a week in profit from drug sales. He frequently used trackies to the dismay of federal investigators, who reported him having about 15 different telephones. At one point during their investigation, the feds literally watched him toss a cellphone out of a moving vehicle while driving down the Baltimore Beltway back up to New York.
His narcotics operation stretched into an East Baltimore outpost—located in Barclay—which saw the movement of $4 million in a single year. Billy would orbit around the luxury hotels of Inner Harbor. His sales in cocaine and heroin were booming, the latter especially. Billy’s trademark “G-force” brand of heroin bags would go for $10 each, compared to the local price range of $30-60.
Billy was inevitably arrested in Baltimore in 1991 wearing over thirty grand in gold jewelry. He was the first person ever convicted under Maryland’s drug kingpin statute, which guaranteed at least 20 years without parole.
He just recently came home after years of incarceration.
Cristie Schoen Codd:
It wasn't IN Hollywood, but this stunt actress and her husband were viciously murdered.
Died March 12, 2015, age 38; she and her husband (a key grip in films) were killed in North Carolina, dismembered, and their remains burned in a wood stove by a handyman they had befriended
She was a chef best known for appearing as a contestant on the TV show "Food Network Star" and in "Terminator: Genisys," and in "Ender's Game," "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and "Geostorm."
She and her husband had been married for less than a year, and she was 5 months pregnant when she was killed.
Their killer pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty, and was sentenced to a minimum of 59 years in prison.
Agents from the U.S. Air Force and FBI recently raided homes in Clark and Lincoln counties in an investigation of a man who operates a website about the top-secret military base known as Area 51, a spokesman said Wednesday.
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations and FBI entered homes owned by Joerg Arnu in Las Vegas and the tiny town of Rachel on Nov. 3 and seized potential evidence for an undisclosed joint agency probe, according to Lt. Col. Bryon McGarry, spokesman for Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
“This is an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation between the Las Vegas FBI and Air Force OSI.”
I am Joerg Arnu, owner and webmaster of the Dreamland Resort web site.The subject of the web site is Area 51.
I have operated that web site since 1999.
Last week Thursday (11/3/22) in the early morning my homes in Rachel (just outside of Area 51) and in Las Vegas were searched by a joint force of FBI and AF OSI. This happened without any warning. The doors were broken open and I in Rachel and my girlfriend in our Las Vegas home were detained and treated in the most disrespectful way. My girlfriend was led out into the street barefoot and only in her underwear in full view of our neighbors; I was led outside, handcuffed and only in t-shirt and sweats in sub-freezing temperatures.
Each home was searched by 15-20 agents in full riot gear, causing further damage in both homes besides the broken front doors. Despite my repeated requests for an explanation, I was only told that the search was related to images posted on my Area 51 web site.
I was very surprised how forceful the search warrant was executed and how rough we, both unarmed senior citizens, were treated. I have to believe that someone gave them bad information about us. All my laptops, phones, backup drives, camera gear and my drone were seized. With the equipment I lost all my medical records, financial and tax records, passwords, email and phone contacts, photos etc. Even my phone was taken, leaving me in Rachel with two broken doors and no way to communicate or call for help.
Not counting my expected legal expenses my losses so far include over $20k in equipment taken and over $5k in damage.
There are 40 pages missing from the search warrant I received and the case records are sealed. So, I cannot look up the reason for the search and I do not want to speculate. I left several messages with the FBI agent in charge but he has not returned any of my calls. At this point I have no choice but to take legal action to try and get my equipment back and to seek reimbursement for the damage.
In an effort to defuse the situation I have removed some material from my Dreamland Resort web site although I believe that it was legally obtained and legal to publish. I am not sharing anything on my web site that cannot be found on dozens of other web sites and news outlet publications. Considering how this went down I have no intention of removing any more material unless ordered to do so by a federal judge.
I believe the search, executed with completely unnecessary force by overzealous government agents was meant as a message to silence the Area 51 research community. The question now is: How far will they go?
A conspiracy theorist says:
The pictures that they were looking for were rumored to have come from a drone that was flown through the airspace around the base, which is restricted. Any pictures posted from that would be considered classified. Hosting those pictures opened him up to legal consequences to have them taken down, and to determine if he knew who did it, and what, if any, involvement he had.
Jeanette Loff apparently ingested ammonia while on the beach, which gave her chemical burns in her esophagus and ultimately killed her. It was never clear whether or not she had intentionally ingested it, and her family believed she had been inadvertently dosed with it (i.e. murdered).
Killing yourself with ammonia does seem like a very peculiar (and horrifically painful) way to get the job done.