While I am responsible to the work required of me on my day job, I am also working double and triple overtime making my life happen, taking my quantum leap. For example, a few months ago I took a part-time job as a freelance writer for a local newspaper, the Philadelphia Tribune, so I could get my writing chops up, get published, and get paid all in one fell swoop. (This is how I wound up in Paris, France, covering the Richard Wright Centennial.)
This freelance venture has also allowed me to expand and expound on my own personal Cultural Collideoscope. Take these past few days, for example. On Thursday, July 31st, after I had clocked out from the day gig, a couple of hours before I was scheduled to fly to Miami, Florida for our family reunion, I get a call from the publicist for Grammy Award-winning bassist and beloved Philadelphia native son Stanley Clarke. She’s offering to arrange a phone interview to talk about his involvement with the extraordinary Return to Forever reunion world tour that arrives in Philly on Tuesday, August 5th.
Instead of asking why she took two weeks to return my call, whining about the short turnaround time and explaining how I was leaving for vacation, I said, “Sure. When is he available?” Then I contact my editor, Mike Bruton, get the story on the docket, and promise to have the article to him in time for his Friday deadline so that it can appear in the Sunday, August 3rd edition of the paper. I tell my sisters, Esther and Stephanie and my daughter, Shenneth, that I may be somewhat distracted on Friday, but that after my story is filed, I will engage in all of the family activities full out. (And, because everyone was so accommodating, that is exactly what I did.)
In the meantime, I catch my flight. I wake up nice and early in Miami on Friday morning (Aug. 1st), take a relaxing jog along the stretches of sand, work up a good healthy sweat, then totally immerse myself in the Atlantic Ocean, after which I return to my beach front hotel room in plenty of time to get the creative process started. I put on a full court press with the research, lined up my supporting interviews, and spoke with bass phenom Stanley Clarke on the phone while overlooking the cooling aquamarine and turquoise ocean waters. Then I get busy piecing my story together. Everything worked out in divine perfect order: Thanks to publicists Lynda Bramble and Melissa Kaupke. Thanks to Stanley Clarke for a most inspiring interview. And, many, many thanks to my homies: bassist Warren Oree, saxophonist Byard Lancaster, percussionist Omar Hill and WRTI-FM Radio Host of “The Bridge,” J. Michael Harrison. They all schooled me and informed me and put me in touch with all the right sources so I could get my story done with authority, accuracy and integrity.
Later that afternoon, after getting hugs from my Aunt Rhoda Dingle, I met my cousin Janice Dingle Hunter on the terrace by the pool for refreshments. I took my laptop with me. Taking the break proved to be beneficial, rejuvenating. The inspiration flowed. Because she is in the midst of working on her doctoral thesis, Janice understood my compulsory writing situation all too well; she graciously allowed me my space, and (Praise God), I was able to finish and file my story.
Image: Stanley Clark