Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Father to Son, a Lesson in Leaves
November 22, 2011

Dear Judah Mordecai,

Fall is my favorite season. The trees sway from side to side. The leaves are bright red, orange, and brown. The red stands out to me because the color red is Power. Its shade is the one element that binds mankind. That element is blood.

You are my blood, Judah Mordecai. 

As the Fall moves to Winter I want you to focus on what makes you a Cooper-Payne. You are a Dual Force that represents the name Cooper and Payne. You are the only one who’s charged with the responsibility to carry on what your mother and I created, Cooper-Payne. You are, Judah…you are the ONE and ONLY!

Only…elevates you to a singular position. You are at the top. It is your mission to represent. Floss…you have to rep da name. 

Do you remember one of the first names I encouraged you to memorize? Say? Speak? I would say, “Your dad’s name is BRIAN E. PAYNE!” And, you would repeat my name back to me. I did not do this in an effort to be arrogant. No…Judah. I did it because I wanted you to understand that your name is all you have. 

Do you remember when we were walking through the cemetery? I challenged you to find two headstones that read, Cooper and Payne. One with Cooper and one with Payne. Even with my assistance we could not find either. Why? We assumed no one was buried at that location of remembrance with those last names. 

I had an intense memory of you last week. I was working outside of my specialized background. Not within my educational and professional training. I was raking leaves so I could purchase a few meals for the week. Here is a picture of the heap I tirelessly piled-up:
Pretty big, right? 

I thought to myself, ‘Judah already knows the value of work he witnessed his mother work a full time job, go to law school full time, and care for a teenager and a preteen.’ 

So, with this letter to you it is only a reminder of how much I love you, how much I want you to bring the two C’s up to B’s…then A’s. You owe your name, Judah Mordecai that, your mother, and me that. I, too, worked full time and completed a Master’s degree at the same time. And, when I was unavailable to you, Judah, please know that your dad has always wanted the best for you even when I could not provide the best. 

I want you to feel what I felt at the end of my time working with those leaves…well, not the physical part…I am still sore from that day of yard WORK. I want you to feel that familiar feeling of accomplishment. You have experienced it before with a football season ending…the most recent football season proved that you are a STAR! Your improvement is outstanding! You also experienced success when you were one of two fourth graders out of at least 75 other fourth graders remaining in a mathematics competition, and the taste of accomplishment got sweeter when you won an award for a science fair project. 

The photograph below was my sense of accomplishment. It is a photo of bags filled with leaves…twenty-one bags. I finished the job, 
You do the same Judah Mordecai…finish the job like you did when you wanted to quit playing football that first season of play. I said to you, “You started this so finish it.” You looked at me with those intense eyes and said, “Okay…let’s go to practice. I will continue to play.” You cannot imagine how proud of you I was on that cold rainy evening. So proud! 

Judah Mordecai, always remember that when no one is looking your shadow is lurking behind you ready to help you make the RIGHT decision or your reflection is glowing and asking you to RETHINK your decision. 

While you are thinking…think about another name I encouraged you to repeat after me, Muhammad Ali. There he is…in the picture below with you and your reflection. He won, Judah Mordecai…You CONTINUE to do the same! You are a winner! 
Love your Dad,
The Touch

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sentimental Mood in the AM

The Toucher is in a sentimental mood this morning. Not a sad mood but a mood of prideful recollection...The accompanying picture solidified the moment. I was tying my favorite tie...attaching it to my Breast Cancer Month pink shirt...and positioning the tie inline with my cherished lapel pin (Peace Corps). I thought about one of my mentor's, Marc Goodman. He taught me how to tie a tie. Then I thought about big bruh, Richard Flippin. He made certain that I stood up straight! Memories of men stepping in when father WAS (no longer) occupied by a powerful force.  
We should pay Homage to those who help YOU pave the way!

Respect, Flip and Goodman!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Alpha Babies and Omega Babies

I see them the last week of every month. They slowly enter the building. Some needing assistance and others adamant not to accept any help. They are transported by a youthful black man who appears to enjoy his occupation. Once inside they are off! It is time to shop! Some head to the vegetable market and others dash to the frozen food section. That section is adjacent to the chips and beer isle. Only one of them travels down the spirit section. He usually grabs a 30 can pack of America’s pride of beers.

 *Vintage 1945*

He evidently does not care that Budweiser sold out and abandoned their American owned brand to foreigners. That in itself is a sign of the times and a disappointing indication that America’s Seniors are of little consequence when it comes to commerce e.g. Medicaid reductions, expensive health insurance, the constant threat of social security benefit termination, mental and physical abuse. Evidence of this is within the conversation I purposely overhear.

 “I hope those crooks in Washington get their crap together. I need my social security next month. What is all the fuss about anyway? –Unknown Elderly White Female

“All the fuss is about the president being black. That’ the only reason they hindering progress. May as well me back in the 50’s when I was a young'in at Brown University. –Unknown Elderly Black Woman

They may be of the privileged old - but their stories of a late life struggle is always the subject of conversation while they share one donut among four of them; and drink free sample cups of Starbucks' coffee - while reminiscing with 1960's compliments of Folgers coffee...

"There was a time when a cup of coffee was only ten cents. Those were the days. Folgers and Maxwell House are better anyway."

Their privilege is noted and acknowledged by their place of residency. These men and women of wisdom have the resemblance of a bordering school life in their old age. Dorm style rooms, small efficiencies, fancy cafeterias, and swank great rooms: 

However, the less financially stable have to travel down the hall to relieve themselves…that’s if they are not fitted with a Depends diaper. Of course, when the elder cannot control their bladder he qualifies for a nurse aide.

My mother (not pictured above) was forced into a premature retirement. Many of her friends found themselves thrown to the curb after working for Thomasville Furniture Industries which is another company that sold out to a corporation that eventually outsourced their labor to China. Wonder if we will ever outsource the caretaking of our Golden? Thankfully, Honeybee (mom) was able to recover. She went back to school, and now she is tending to the gems of wisdom, The Old.

There is a guarantee that we have to face, Death. We are going to die one day. The condition you are in when you die should be the way you came into this world, as a Baby. When you need assistance walking, talking, relieving oneself, eating, reading, writing, standing, sleeping, understanding, learning, breathing, seeing and hearing…you are back where you started, The Alpha.

In the beginning, God created us to live a full life. One filled with joy and happiness. Somewhere along the road we make mistake after mistake that hinders the clearing of a path. Leaving us to PathFinding. We search and search until we meet that one element that bonds us all, Love. In most circumstances the battle is to embrace our love within. When we accomplish what appears to be impossible…self love…we with hesitation seek to share it. Therefore, concluding our Temporary Existence. Hopefully, in old age. 

As the surplus of Certified Nurse Assistants provide care for the Baby Boomer Generation who are in need of dignified babysitting we –the recent generations- should remember that life actually begins on two occasions:

When we are Alpha Babies and Omega Babies

*Alpha in the Hands of the Omega*

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Word…When it needs to be Nude 

In times like this week and last week, the people need a Word. They don't need theology. They don't need analysis of the Word. The Word has to cross all boundaries. It has to come from a HUG filled with Love. It has to be connected to what we all can relate to when all understanding has been confused...Questioned...When it is ALL said and done ALL we have is what we Believe. What we hold dear to us. That belief does not have to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, or Agnostic. Belief is of Word – and it just has to be of upliftment. It has to be clear, and in many ways: Silent. Peace is still. It is the solitude that's demanded when we are facing the unknown and the complexities of Life. It is the purity that was with us when we made our arrival into this intricate universe, Naked. Unclothed. Cloak someone with The Word today. 

Let's continue to share The Story of the Word...No matter where it comes from. It is needed all over the world...but my ONLY concern today and for an undetermined number days is on: 

Be Still, Family…Be Still for a moment. Don’t move. Don’t MOVE. 

Thomasville Made Me

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tribute to Bobby Stevenson

We Knew Him as Bobby Stevenson

In my time of working under his guidance and becoming one of his sons, I never heard anyone refer to him as Bobby. It was always Bobby Stevenson. That in fact means something now that I have prepared my wandering mind to think nothing but of Bobby Stevenson today.

When one's name is said in the fullness of down-home southern vernacular, it is a true testament of the love the individual gave and in turn garnered. It regulates one to a status of honor.

Bobby Stevenson was more than special in life. Therefore in my humble opinion and I am certain in others, he has become in death a Legend. He was a giant for the city of Thomasville, North Carolina. Small in stature but big in memory!

Do you remember Wagner's Supermarket? Do you remember going not only every day, but every other hour in a day? I do! Usually, I was TOLD to go by Bobby Stevenson's friend, Frankie Payne. He had many friends, by the way! Grandma Frankie was forever sending Black Boy (me) to Wagner's for Goody's Powder. "This arthritis is painful!" She would yell. So, I had to help grandma with her discomfort.
It was not an issue for me to be her errand boy because I enjoyed going to Bobby Stevenson's. It was a short walk. From 312 Small Street to the street Smoky Cochran lived on (Davidson Street). Then to Jacob Street (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) to the avenue that will take you to the best BBQ in the world, Lexington, North Carolina - and if you go in the direction opposite of Lexington on Lexington Avenue you will eventually run into National Highway where the second best BBQ is made in the world, Tommie's Barbeque. By the time I got to the cash register, Bobby Stevenson would have the Goody's in hand. I would greet him and Richard Skeen, The Dad of the Thomasville's favorite Mom and Pop; and then I would take off running and skipping after I tried to convince Mr. Skeen that I was ready for employment by bagging a few groceries for Bobby Stevenson's favorite neighbor, Mrs. Gladys.

I never paid for the Goody's Powder or the other goods I was instructed to pick up thanks to Bobby Stevenson's generous credit line that was issued to almost everyone in the city. As long as the 3rd of the month came Bobby Stevenson would get his money from grandma because her social security check would be cashed at Wagner's Supermarket. "Frankie, you paying your bill today?" He would ask. And, Grandma Frankie would respond, "Yes- darn it! Don't I always pay my bill? And, add these orange slices to next month's bill." They sparred all the time. Even on God's day, Sunday.

There was no way really to get around settling-up your tab. Bobby Stevenson would talk about you to everybody if you tried. For everyone in the store to hear he would ask every customer in that deep voice, "Have you seen _________ he has a bill here and it is Friday. Didn't TFI get paid today?"

So getting the cash for his produce and beer was never too much of an issue. Speaking of cash…Bobby Stevenson has given his share away. He was the Bill Gates of Bulldog Country. The first step in his charity was to employ you. From that point, you worked and he gave: advice, comedy, stories, and ultimately financial assistance if you or your family needed it.

Inconsequently, the charity was not in the money. It was in just being in his presence. I will never forget how he consumed the entire store. In all ways, Bobby Stevenson was Wagner's Supermarket. And, he projected a mystic persona when he was up in his small office handling the business of the business which eventually became the responsibility of his sweet cousin, Lisa Wagner Shuler - who in turn delegated the cash register duties to Maxine, Carol, and Robin.

As I honor him, I am reminded of the last prideful compliment of himself that he shared with me:

"Brian E. Payne, I did well with you. Look at you. You first started with me by cleaning the meat room at 13. You and Chesnutt. Then you made your way to bag boy with Peaches right next to you. And, in the end you went off to college with my money for your text books. I am so proud of what I have done. You will always be my son."

I laughed and said,

"Bobby Stevenson, you can’t imagine what you have done for me outside of the job, my red Volkswagen Beetle, and the financial contributions for college. You helped me realize that you and others are HUMAN - and not just WHITE men/women. You have helped me understand selflessness and love without condition. You have motivated me to always cherish where I started, Thomasville. You help make me. I love you. Thank you."

At that moment two months ago, I knew it was my last time seeing him alive. He must have known too because he began to cry.

Praise Him, We Know Him as Bobby Stevenson!

I remember the soft rock playing in the background at Wagner's...I loved faithfully spending my weekends there:


Brian E. Payne

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chip's Nation
This one not only touched me, I was slapped by it. I was reminded that my life is ultra lovely. I have no problems. My life is one of privilege. I have no issues. But, Chip and others around the world have the toughest time.

Facing unemployment...so freaking what! I can walk. I can talk. I can see. I can hear. I am perfect..in comparison to the despair so many endure. Despair like this,


Chip's Nation, Chip's Life...is worthy of OUR respect. Our money. Our tears! Our time to watch!


Touch Chip:


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Righting Valentine's Day

'Right' is a whole lot better than this new phenomenon: living in the abstract - living on the fence - living in the subjective - living outside of self while regulating self to a vulnerable state - living while simultaneously presenting self as an insecure object ready to be used - living as if life exist to take people for granted or to be taken for granted.

We have to re-apply Right to the universe - not only on the day nationally identified for Lovers - but each and every day that we live in self and an outside of self…The mask that we wear! Makes you wonder who you are sleeping with?

If not, it -life and love- will be devoured by a reckless liberalized agenda that supports a 'do as you please mindset'.

We see the trinkets of this substandard living in marriage and other forms of commitment. Approved infidelity i.e. indirect swinger acceptance for the man. Communication avoidance i.e. break up emails and text messages. And, the conveniently played emotional abuse: Silence - are only a few vices of relationship.

Right is loud! Bold! Highlighted! Ultimately and rightfully, Right is a relic blissfulness waiting to be incorporated by the modern generations.

Right to me in many ways is reflective of a good down-home tradition - eating together as a Fam. Taking a Sunday drive w/ the Fam or with your valentine.

Being chivalrous for no reason, and not opening the car door to receive sex vouchers e.g.
The old-time tradition was Right. It was moral, decent, simple - it was worthy of a rose.

If I were to receive a rose today from a valentine, know that the giver represents my wants and desires. And, when I happen to not fall in but embrace love for the second time my sweet valentine will want:


Just like me...

Enjoy this day, and all the others.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Great Anticipation, Meeting Sister

Oprah did it again!

She cannot be touched. Her unquantifiable contribution to the world is unmatched. Her energetic drive to unselfishly give of herself is phenomenal. The unconditional love she shares and produces will never be reduced or eliminated.

Oprah Winfrey is a Legend.

She is doing what each of us can do:
We don't need her money to do it! All we have to do is keenly focus on how we want to be remembered, and live accordingly.

With great anticipation, the world waited for Monday's show. Then as the world watched the heroine did something that has made so many of us pause, reflect, and become village investigators. We began to investigate our family trees, or should I say we began to dissect our webbed families. We became intrigued with family. And, we became passionately tangled up with thoughts of what we will find in the near future or tangled up with what we have found in the past four days.
An atmosphere has been framed for people to compassionately think about family and what family really means despite the dynamic complexities: infidelity, molestation, incest, skin complexion division, choice of religion, substance abuse, money, and various other developments that may cause familial breakdown.

Surprisingly, many of my confidants have pledged not to use "half sister and half brother" any longer. That in itself is a rejuvenated beginning. The necessary beginning of mending hearts and removing pain. Oprah Winfrey has us rolling with a purpose, and with an expectation of irreplaceable:
We are familiar with this song. It is an unfortunate – but - accurate indictment on men from all walks of life that decided to lay up any and everywhere. Leaving his seed pleasingly planted in the wombs of God's Greatest Creation:

The Female
Therefore, resulting in Papa becoming daddy to girls and boys all over the world. Also, resulting in brothers and sisters never meeting. While I do not condone this reality, I do support that element that has been missing for such a very long time:

The Search for Brother and Sister

Some will stay focused on the Papa was a Rolling Stone paragraph with negativity, and with undeniable pain. The pain is understandable. I acknowledge that!

What I recognize and accept too is the possibility of reconciliation and restoration. We have to restore what has been broken. Torn-up and destroyed. We have an opportunity to reconnect or connect with the seeds that have become Flower Children. We have to forge a bond with the sister and brother we never knew. We have to honor the legendary moms that endured, pressed on when Papa rolled out.

Ultimately, we have to learn from this week's Great Anticipation.

Wasn't it worth it? Don't you feel good? Aren't you ready to be ONE with your sibling(s)?

Seek out, find, and love what was lost - and remember that you are Half of NOTHING.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Did Your Snow Days Bring Darkness?

I am so surprised by the number of people that have expressed how "tired they are of being stuck at home". The disclosure has been more than the usual cabin fever itches. I certainly understand the want and need to receive the daylight. The people that I have communicated with are actually uncomfortable with the solitude, the loneliness, and the quietness. That in itself speaks volumes about the shallow depth of human psyche. Sadly, it also indicates how much we have moved away from Aboriginal traditions. Meaningless Modernity (reality television) has conquered Spiritual Simplicity (meditation).

The mind can recklessly wonder when there is nothing to do. It can play tricks on you too - but the plus that should be gained during Snow Days is way more valuable than having something to do. Also, it has been noted for years that a whole lot of sexual intercourse is had during inclement weather. I remember while serving in the Eastern Caribbean how the population rose nine months after a hurricane. Go have sex!

Returned Peace Corps volunteers talk all the time about their service abroad...Sometimes too damn much! The common denominator in their story telling is their initial struggle with 'having nothing to do'. That Nothing has been known to early terminate the experience of living and serving overseas. However, in time while truly living in small villages in Botswana and other Peace Corps host countries the returned Peace Corps volunteers grew to appreciate The Nothing. It is during those very moments of Nothing that these men and women from all walks of life conducted an inventory reflection. For some that Nothing has literally made them better and/or saved their lives. For me, my life was finally put into context with the help of Buddhist Chant and Meditation.



When was the last time outside of two minutes after the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve that you 'took some stock'? Really examined the inventory within your life reservoir? This is always a challenge for me!

Like the Peace Corps volunteers serving all over this world - as I typed are doing and as you read - we (us bored Americans) should sit in the dark. Actually, some Peace Corps volunteers live without indoor plumbing and electricity for 27 months or more. They are living like the people:
Then you have those ‘pussy-foot’ volunteers who lived LARGE:
That would be me…

Sitting in Darkness is Doing Something. It is an opportunity for us to make every attempt to SEE ourselves in the Dark.

What did you see over the past three Snow Days? Or, did you avoid The Darkness? If you did, you may have just missed out on Doing Something.

Oh! You could have used your imagination too; I went for a swim.

Muata Nowe