No Differences Between Bernie and The Donald?

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By Ernie McCray

I’ve read comments somewhere out there in social media land that try to put Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the same bag as the perception that there isn’t much difference between democrats and republicans.

Well, I could take both sides of part of that argument but there’s a galaxy of separation between Bernie and The Donald. I mean one’s a progressive minded human being and the other is a narcissistic buffoon.

As to the clown, according to The Atlantic millions of people feel he is the best choice to lead America. Millions more “are motivated by giddyness at the chaotic spectacle of his success” which should involve, it seems to me, adding giddyness to the list of mental illnesses.   [Read more…]

The Day Nancy and I Got Together

Nancy and Me

By Ernie McCray

I’ve been thinking about my dearly departed Nancy with August 23rd a day away as I write. It was on that day, in 1975, forty years ago, that I moved in with her, in her little apartment on 24th and Russ, next to Golden Hill Park.

So I find myself celebrating that day, in my thoughts, remembering with a little quiver, what I had to do to start a life with her: break another woman’s heart, my wife, a woman I loved. If I regret anything in life it’s causing her such misery and pain.

But, especially when I look back on it, I was following my destiny, the dictates of my soul, wherein I knew as instinctively as I breathed, that I had no choice, in the cosmos, but to be with Nancy, that the two of us were soul-mates, destined to be together as the stars are meant to be aligned in the sky.   [Read more…]

A Nice Little Trip up Highway 1

At Sierra Mar

By Ernie McCray

Maria and I just got back from San Francisco, my favorite city on the globe, and as far as road trips go, this one was as pleasant as it gets.

The weather was like a gift from Mother Nature herself, an absolute delight, so warm and embracing, featuring cool breezes in the late afternoons and at night.

The trip got underway on the 805, at Governor Drive, then came the merge with I-5, just an hour or so away from the 405, which drops down to the 101 which takes you to Highway 1 for the real fun: a drive alongside the ocean and on cliffs high above it, privy to jaw-dropping views that exhilarate your very soul, your spirituality.   [Read more…]

Thankful That I Have No Regrets Such as These

Living a True Life

By Ernie McCray

The other day I saw a graphic on Facebook titled the “Top Five Regrets of the Dying” and they are:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Oh, how sad to be burdened in one’s last days with regrets such as these. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers such disappointments. I can see how one might regret that he or she didn’t travel more or go for a doctorate degree or blew some opportunity to hit it rich or the like.   [Read more…]

Pride and a Whole Lot of Rain

Pride in the Rain

By Ernie McCray

I will forever remember “The San Diego Pride Parade of 2015,” not just because of it’s history, but for the rain. And I’m talking some serious rain. I mean Mother Nature just flat out let it all hang out.

And there I was, along with hundreds of other waterlogged folks in every kind of colorful regalia known to man, standing and walking and practically treading in that downfall for a good three hours or so. Soaked to the skin and bones!

When my group got the go ahead to march in the puddles and streams and through a “mini-lake” just around the corner, a man said over a microphone “It’s raining on our parade and we’re loving it.”   [Read more…]

Easing Into UC

University City

By Ernie McCray

I’ve lived in Golden Hill/South Park for 40 years. It’s got to be one of the great neighborhoods in the world.

But one of my daughters needed more time away from her work to give her two young ones the kind of start in life she and her husband want for them. So they moved in with me – and I gradually moved in with my sweetheart in University City who came into my life after my wife passed away six years ago.

I love it that those two little precious beings are living in a house where Nancy and I raised their mother and her sister and brother.   [Read more…]

Remembering a Track Star’s Granddad

Thomas, Carl & Me

By Ernie McCray

I’ve been thinking about an old departed friend. My best friend. Thomas Ross. Loved the dude although we were dissimilar in some ways. He was stocky and bear-like strong and prone to growl every now and then and I was sinewy and laid back, trying to live life with a grin.

Anyway, he’s been on my mind because his son, Ron, keeps me posted on his grandson, Tavian, who’s got college track coaches salivating to beat the band because the dude recently ran the 400 in forty-seven-point-six seconds (47.60).

Thomas would say to that: “The dude can step, Jack!” He  would be so proud of his progeny. Especially since he’s doing his thing for Tucson High, our old high school.  And, we were pretty decent jocks too. Football. Basketball. All-State and all. Living the life, strutting down the hall, wearing the big red “T.” “Badgers” to the bone!   [Read more…]

Poetry at a Budget Meeting

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By Ernie McCray

I had the honor of spending a day with a room full of progressive School Board Members from around San Diego County.

I wasn’t so sure, at first, as the subject was: Budgets. Whenever I got my budget sheets at my schools, it might as well have been expressed in hieroglyphics – I just can’t relate to language like “Total Available Funds minus Total Outgo.” Gives me vertigo.

I was there, though, to kick things off. And in doing that I shared three poems and one went like this:

Our schools now,
at this stage
of a rapidly aging New Century,
are about to introduce
our kids
to the realm of Ethnic Studies…   [Read more…]

Chipping Away at “The Black Problem”

Angela Y

By Ernie McCray

The madness in Charleston, to me, is so much deja vu because blacks being shot or bombed where they worship and pray is not something that’s new here in the USA.

In no way. These atrocities started, practically, when they shoved us off the ships to pick cotton, way, way back in the day.

And where’s a good place to find a lot of us to slay? Church. Makes sense to a hateful evil-minded KKK kind of person who all of a sudden, out of his madness, just can’t stand to see a Negro alive.   [Read more…]

Don’t We All Have the Right to be Left Alone?

Respect-Human-Rights(r) for excerpt

By Ernie McCray

Someone on Facebook posted, regarding the recent “pool party” event in McKinney, Texas: “If you don’t like the interaction you’re having with the police, just trying obeying the law.” A comment was made saying that what happened could have been avoided if the girls had just acted responsibly and obeyed the laws.

I couldn’t help but think “There are pool party laws?” But, as to “obeying the laws,” I’m down with that. I’m just opposed to somebody, who is hired to uphold the law, slamming those who don’t obey the law to the ground or kicking them in the face or choking them or executing them in the streets.

And it was mentioned that if we, the public, had seen what happened before the officer went ballistic, we might change our minds about what we did see.   [Read more…]

“The Way” Won’t Cut It

The Old and the New Way

By Ernie McCray

I ran across a graphic on Facebook the other day that broke down “32-take-away-12=20” in two different ways: the “old fashion” way and the “new” way.

The “new” way was seen as “Satanic” and, with a click onto a website, I read that Louis C.K., one of my favorite comedians, was ticked off that his daughters had gone from loving math to crying about it.

I thought, as I looked at the math visual before me and contemplated whatever it was that was going on with an incredibly funny man’s daughters at school, that both the “old fashion” way and the “new” way got to the correct answer rather nicely. They’re simply ways. And all the ways work. For somebody.   [Read more…]

Sweet Memories of Perry Elementary

Perry Elementary

By Ernie McCray

There’s a school that means the world to me: Oliver Hazard Perry Elementary. It’s the first school to which I was assigned after earning a teaching degree.

It was a place of colorful personalities: a teacher who sang opera beautifully and wore a hairpiece that could be identified as a wig immediately; a school nurse with a drawl as southern as any character’s on Hee Haw; a lovely and entertaining secretary who made the school office as funny and lively as The Carol Burnett Show…

It was a place of uncommon camaraderie where we: put potlucks together practically every other week; dined together monthly at fine places to eat; played volleyball after school; partied wildly at the drop of a hat, with lampshades on the head and stuff like that…   [Read more…]

The Planet Earth Is In Your Care (A Letter to the University of Arizona’s Class of 2015)

Earth in Your Care

Dear University of Arizona Class of 2015:

The Alumni Association of our beloved U of A asked past graduates to share words of wisdom with you.

My first thought is to give forth with some lofty advice like “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Now that’s definitely something for you to consider but, due to the troubles in the world facing your generation, you’ve got some serious work to do.   [Read more…]

Being Grateful and Happy and All

By Ernie McCray

Maria recently asked her family and me (a relatively new member of the clan) to look over some questions and maybe talk about them later over a meal.

I took a peek and, regarding the first question, I’m grateful for having reached 77 years of age which, to me, signifies, that I am of the old and the wise, fit, still with it, busting moves everyday. These are “The Good Old Days!”

I’m so grateful to have friends and family to love and to know that they love me back. I’m grateful for my mother and grandfather who, long time ago, got me on the right track.   [Read more…]

Still Groovin’ After all These Years

By Ernie McCray

A few days before my 77th birthday – “Hip-Hip! Hooray!” – I stepped into the Big Kitchen Cafe and the Rascal’s were “Groovin'” on the stereo and I couldn’t help but go back into time to when that song played in the background of my life.

I was, in this moment in time, slowly getting out of an unhealthy situation and found myself truly “Groovin'” on many a “Sunday afternoon,” kicking it with a beautiful high spirited funny-as-hell woman who, it seemed to me, was looking for what I was looking for at that stage of my life: fun, with no strings attached. Turned out later, I was the only one looking for that. She was more in tune with “Life would be ecstasy, you and me endlessly…” We parted amiably.

And the music just keeps on playing, a constant in our lives, something to grab and hold on to. And I’ve basked in a whole lot of it in my 77 years.   [Read more…]

“100 Things” on My Mind

By Ernie McCray

I just finished a very pleasant read, “100 Things Arizona Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die,” a book written by two of the best sports writers around, Steve Rivera and Anthony Gimino.

They write a lot about Arizona Basketball History and having played a role in that history, and having been around it all my life, the book couldn’t help but resonate with me in special ways.

In a chapter about University of Arizona traditions I found the words to a fight song that’s flowed through my veins and bones ever since I first heard it as a 14 year old, back in 1952:

Bear Down, Arizona
Bear Down, Red and Blue
Bear Down, Arizona
Hit ’em hard, let ’em know who’s who
Bear Down, Arizona
Bear Down, Red and Blue
Go, go Wildcats, go
Arizona Bear Down

  [Read more…]

Conversations at the Catfish Club: The Answer is Love

By Ernie McCray

I sat at a Catfish Club luncheon the other day listening to Leon Williams and Reverend George Walker Smith converse about days of yore and their thoughts about today’s world.

Leon was the first black to hold a seat with the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

He spoke of the moments in time when he was into making our city and county governments more inclusive and more service oriented and more respectful of citizens. He touched on the area’s redevelopment movement when neglected communities started getting the attention they deserved and needed and had gone without forever.   [Read more…]

Ending Racial Profiling (Or Not) at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club Forum

By Ernie McCray

A couple of weeks or so ago I dined with a number of friendly folks at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club forum that asked, concerning Community-Police Relations, “Can we build a safer San Diego together?”

The answer seemed to be “Yeah, we can,” as panelists, in a room where smiles drifted in the air like tissues in a breeze, talked of everyone chipping in to find good cops and of how we all need to shed our various biases, as “Trust is fragile.” And it was good to know that the wearing of “body worn cameras” is going kind of nice.

I drove home convinced that there are some people truly dedicated to making relations better between the police and people they’ve harassed for centuries.

But the Tyrannosaurus Rex sitting smack dab in the middle of the discussion, “racial profiling,” was glossed over as though it was just a slight hiccup in the way of sound relationships between “Mr. Do Right” and angry black folks, rather than it being “The Problem!!!!!!!!!!”   [Read more…]

What the World Needs Now is Empathy

By Ernie McCray

(This poem was written to kickoff the 1st Annual Social Justice and Education Conference at San Diego City College, March 26-27, 2015)

I look around me,
breathing in deeply
as I reflect on the totality
of what I see.
Before me, a man lays sleeping
on a downtown street
that jumps with a crisp
four/four time Hip-Hop beat,
bouncing from an upbeat retreat,
where folks hang out,
chillaxed to the max
as it’s the “Thank God it’s Friday,”
day of the week.   [Read more…]

Watching Dreams of ‘Home’ Come True

By Ernie McCray

I’ve attended many a wedding in my life, even conducting a few in rhythm and rhyme that got people to say “Hey, that was pretty nice.”

But I have never witnessed a marriage that was as special as the one I showed up for on the last day of this past February.

It was beyond nice. It was magical. Sweet. Soulful. Teary. Poignant. Smiley. Earthy. Inspiring. Cosmic. Fun. Invigorating. Both lighthearted and sincere. A journey “home,” proceeded over by the groom’s brother-in-law.   [Read more…]

Helping Young People Discover the ‘Truths’ In Life

By Ernie McCray

I love my life, especially my moments with kids. Recently I had the pleasure, along with a teenage Latina friend of mine, of talking to an assembly of young people, most of them Latino, in Chula Vista, about something they’re confronted with regularly: whether to join or not join the military.

We were doing so because we hate to see our children being sucked into the war machine by Uncle Sam who loves to play with their innocence.   [Read more…]

Joining Spirit with the Billions of Us Human Beings

By Ernie McCray

I was driving and turned my radio to 89.5, KPBS, and there was a conversation going on about “7 Billion Others,” an exhibit that’s opening in the U.S. for the first time – at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA): February 21 to September 13.

I liked what I was hearing and googled around and found, on the MOPA website, 45 questions written for visitors to the exhibit to answer so that they can find in themselves that spark that resides in us all and connects us to the journey of human beings featured in the video project.

My answer to the first question was: Ernest Charles McCray; age 76; retired school principal; widower; American as in United States of America.

Here are my replies to the other questions, based on what first came to my mind:   [Read more…]