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Don Cornelius.

Angelo Dundee.

Goody Petronelli.

…….and Mr. Brown.

These are a few names of people that have passed on from this life.

Angelo Dundee was the hall of fame boxing trainer who trained Muhammad Ali then Cassius Clay to his 1964 Heavyweight Championship victory over the sullen and menacing Sonny Liston in what many thought was the upset of the century. Little did they know.

He also trained Olympic and professional great Sugar Ray Leonard and will always be known as that guy who screamed at Leonard between rounds in the Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns fight back in 1981 to motivate him to be more aggressive by repeatedly saying “You’re Blowing It Son!”

Goody Petronelli was a construction company owner who saw with his brother the potential in future great and middleweight boxing champion Marvolous Marvin Hagler and sponsored his rise into the history books. He too, recently passed.

Mr. Brown is someone who I know personally and got the bad news of his passing early this morning after a painful health battle that he is now free from and hopefully in the bosom of God in a better place. I will miss hearing his aggressive bits of wisdom shared when i think of the few times that I have visited him and in hindsight have taken those nuggets of truth that he shared for granted. Thank you for the memories Mr. Brown, you will be in my prayers all day today.

Death can creep up on you unexpectedly like the unwanted guest of an insect that crawls up the wall silently and brazenly behind your dinner guests in a manner that actually dares you to get up an smash it while you stand transfixed at how powerless you are as you execute your host-like Colgate smile.

Yes, when death comes there ain’t nothing you can do about it baby. Nothing. All you can do is know that it is your turn to spring into action before the shock sets in and paralyzes you into inactivity and despair.

…….and I don’t care WHO you are or how much faith you claim to have, that initial hit that we ALL will take on the chin is one of the most painful things to experience as it seems to catch us at our most vulnerable even WHEN we sometimes can brace ourselves for it when our loved one is dealing with a potentially life threatening health issue.

But some of those who leave us have left an even more compelling legacy in our lives and have actually intertwined their existence with ours through their creative offerings without even having to know us personally.

Don Cornelius was one of those entities. If he showed up at your front door when he was alive you would NOT greet him as though he were a stranger! You would let him in with no second thoughts!

But for the most part, that beloved first name on the aforementioned list of persons passed on is a name that you will most likely know as the man who brought us the legendary music television program “Soul Train.”

I don’t know about you, but back in my day growing up as a teenager in the seventies, Soul Train was watched by everyone and was an integral part of our Saturday mornings the same way that church was the ONLY thing that mattered around my household and neighborhood on those cherished Sunday mornings.

While those who may have awakened earlier in the morning to do their various Saturday morning cleaning chores around the house, lunchtime or even a late breakfast was enjoyed while watching the iconic and legendary offerings that brother Don Cornelious dropped right into our living rooms for absolutely free! Looking back, those of us who have lived through this golden period can truthfully say that there will never be anything like it again!

Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, RUN DMC, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle…….

Don Cornelius

The list goes on and on and I would be a rank fool to try and sit here and list out every notable person that passed through our subconscious minds by the portal that has been our beloved Soul Train!

Nothing has ever created such a sustained excitement as hearing that high pitched call “The SOULLLLLLLL TRAINNNNNN!”

There was the Soul Train line, a practice which has permeated every household who ever thought about having a house party where your party didn’t count unless you all got down in a Soul Train line. Which I might add to me always reminded me of a classic African ritual of collective celebration. You can’t tell me that the Soul Train line was first executed by Black people here on american soil because there was something so tribal and spirit filled about it as we danced under the scope of all who enjoyed our different dance moves while our ancestors watched in approval at the love that we all had for one another.

Love?

Sounds like a distant time indeed even though the period for which I am mentioning was only a little under forty years ago.

Oh how time flies! Our youth today will probably NEVER know what it is like to enjoy and experience what we knew as a staple in our neighborhoods growing up.

The slow jams. The red light bulbs and the hand written invitations were all part of a culture that our brother Don Cornelious set off just right earlier on a Saturday as the grown folks washed and waxed their cars while the kids raced their popsicle sticks as imaginary boats on that same soapy water flowing down the street at curbside that washed off those same cars up the block.

Getting older and going up to Jamaica Avenue (In Southside Queens New York) in order to pick a new outfit for the party that night. Watching and feeling the collective excitement of all those who came up to shop in a peaceful manner so unlike the climate of the world today.

What a beautiful time of togetherness that will glow from within my heart until the day that God calls me home.

Literally heaven on earth.

Those who have lived through this will know, those who haven’t…….well, you missed out BIG TIME!

Brother Don Cornelius have left us recently, seemingly in an apparent suicide that hasn’t been confirmed at the time of this writing. But regardless as to the torment that he may have felt in his heart he MUST have known the joy that he has brought to countless millions of people and will still furnish them with this joy via YouTube and all of the cyber means of creative preservation.

It’s a shame and somewhat of a disgrace that someone who has made so many people happy left out on such a low note when he should have been revered over and above with a Pope-like status as the larger than life icon that he was.

But you know, even our stations in this life can’t shield us from this thing called depression and the numbing effects that it could have on our minds when we step away from the accolades and limelight.

But shouldn’t this be a lesson to us all? Shouldn’t we take heed to those who have garnered fame and fortune the good old fashion way by building a solid legacy that even possessing a world wide notoriety in your chosen field of endeavor and expertise doesn’t bring one that ever elusive deep sense of happiness?

WOW!

While maybe a few may take heed to the divine lesson learned here, most will trudge on in their empty lives in search of the joy that material goods and fame can never furnish.

These days one can propel their image all over the world through their smartphone with a few simple clicks of a button, yet the bottomless abyss of loneliness seems to be an ever growing problem with our youth especially from the ever increasing and documented cases of suicide.

What’s going on people?

When was the last time that YOU received a hand written invitation to that house party that you knew wouldn’t have a shootout before it was over?

When was the last time that YOU were invited unexpectedly to the cookout that was happening down the block after your neighbor knocked on your door, telling you to come down for a little while because they had a plate already waiting for you?

When was the last time that you actually KNEW ALL of the neighbors on your block and actually had the keys to their homes as they had yours just in case an emergency came up unexpectedly?

Soul Train Line

When was the last time that you felt at home when approaching your home from the two mile mark as opposed to when you actually closed your physical door behind you when you really GOT home?

Hell! When was the last time you felt at home WHEN HOME because of the inner domestic disputes and generational curses of dysfunction that plaque our homes in epidemic proportions. On that note how CAN we really get along in the outside world when our private lives are in a state of disarray?

Where IS the joy?

We need to get away from this technological sludge that appears on first sight to be a great thing but in retrospect is messing up the little bit of life that we have left and leaving it unpalatable for anyone who has any good intentions and love left in their heart to share.

We need to have some quality time together around the dinner table so that we can all be held accountable for our daily activities in order to catch an issue in our lives before it gets out of hand!

Put the smartphones down in order to stop being so dumb!

Let’s talk to each other the way it was meant to be, face to face with eye contact and maybe we would feel a real connection to one another once again and know that we are truly loved and not take our own God given lives because we will know how valuable we are to each other.

I know I was loved, every time I got that handwritten invitation to Saturday’s party I knew that I had something to live for!

Every time I went to Sunday school and everyone knew my name I knew that I was loved and cherished!

Every time I was late to get to the bus that was chartered to take the whole congregation to Great Adventure’s theme park and they actually refused to leave until I got there I knew that I was loved!

Let us extend ourselves to each other everyday in love, hand to hand, hug to hug and face to face because I don’t care HOW MANY bells and whistles your new phone may have, there AIN’T NOTHING like the life giving and life sustaining experience called human contact!

Maybe if we gave back to those like Don Cornelius who has given us so much, he might probably still be here.

Not only should we say R.I.P. to Don Cornelius, Angelo Dundee, Goody Petronelli and Mr. Brown, but we just might have to say it for that good old fashion love and joy that we extended to each other as a community in an unconditional manner.

Why?

…….because I haven’t seen it around in so long and I think that it has died.

Please let me know if you see it around because I am starting to get real sad and real scared.

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