Lessons Learned Through Childhood Memories

I don't know why I picked this picture either.

I don’t know why I picked this picture either.

I’m a big fan of the days when we talk about ourselves. While I enjoy the back and forth of deep discussions (yesterday’s about education actually was a good one) I do enjoy learning more about the folks who venture here and leave their footprints on VSB lore.

That was deep. #deep

With that being said, I’d like to tell you all a story. What we’re about to do right here is go back. For the most part, I grew up in Germany…Frankfurt to be exact. While in middle school I was apart of an organization called Club Beyond. It was a religious based organization where we basically did Bible study but also took trips and did these huge outings. It was a huge church group through the school run by two people who I will never ever forget. Well thru this organization I was able to travel to Italy, Belgium, and Holland. There was a trip to Spain that my sisters went on but I didn’t make for some odd reason.

Shucks, it was through this organization that I met a young lady in 8th grade that I’ve yet to forget. I still have the letters we exchanged back when folks wrote letters and sent them to one another. That was a big deal back in the day in Germany…meeting somebody in another city (she lived in Landstuhl where the huge hospital was) and exchanging letters. Point is, this organization was lots of fun and through it I learned a lot, saw a lot, and met a lot of people.

Let’s switch gears for a second. Back in the day (when I was young I’m not a kid anymore but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again) (do you know writing that made me venture to Spotify to beef up my “Straight West Coastin” playlist…if you’re on Spotify, follow a player) I was that dude when it came to early procurement of music. Growing up overseas we got everything mad late, if at all. We relied on folks who either went back to the States for vacation or got sent back home because they got in trouble to come back and bring tastes of what was happening. That’s how we kept up with the times. New folks would shuffle in and out and bring the latest styles of their hometown. Anyway, for two reasons I always managed to get music mad early: 1) my older sister had a friend whose boyfriend STAYED getting the newest stuff from the States and he’d always give her tapes which I’d steal and record then place back into her room. This is actually how I got into hip-hop. Classic cliche tale of jacking music and falling in love with the artform. Consequently, nearly all the music came from the West Coast. I guess homeboy was from Cali. 2) I had a homeboy who because he knew I liked music would always make me these tapes he’d get from his cousins back in Atlanta with all the newest music. We were fast friends. Years later, and without having had any contact in between times, in Atlanta I’d end up dating his ex-girlfriend who would end up cheating on me with him. Pretty sure I gave him a ride to Lenox right after he smashed my girl.

Yes, you read that right.

Anyway, like I said, many of these tapes had West Coast music. And thus brings our tale back to its starting point.

On one particular trip with Club Beyond we were heading to Amsterdam. I can’t for the life of me remember why. I’m sure we had a blast though. Anyway, on this trip, I’m listening to one of my tapes and it has AMG’s “B*tch Betta Have My Money” on it. I was listening to with one of my boys via a set of headphones where he had one earbud and I had the other. I’m sure everybody’s heard this song. It’s one of the most ridiculous songs ever. Not because of its content necessarily but because of just HOW profane it is. This song is also how I got into DJ Quik as a producer and he is still one of my favorite producers ever.

Well me and my friend (lightskinneded cat named Jermaine*)had the brilliant idea to figure out just HOW profane this song was. On a church trip. On a bus full of 12-and 13-year-olds. It seemed like a great idea at the time. I mean, for that age group listening to something like this was all taboo. Well, it spread like wildfire through the bus what we were doing. I don’t know why exactly, it wasn’t like we were the only people listening to music this questionable…but I also knew the words and was keeping track. I want to say we eclipsed the 150 mark before we got in trouble. As in, sh*t taken, parents alerted (which was a big deal back then seeing as everything was long distance). Now, we got in trouble because my boy was very proud of our endeavor and kept trying to be loud enough to be heard by other kids who were trying to find out what the two badarse kids were doing. And I wasn’t even remotely a badarse. I was an encylopedia reader.

I stopped hanging with that dude after we got back. Why? Because he’s a snitch. He sold me out.

What’s the point of this here story? Well I just used 900 words to tell you three things:

1. AMG’s “B*tch Betta Have My Money” is one of my favorite songs; and

2. Never trust lightskinneded ninjas on church buses with curse words and your earbuds; and

3. Always do your dirt by your lonely.

Aren’t you happy you read all this trying to figure out the point just to get to a point that I could have said at the very beginning? But didn’t you learn more about me? Of course you did. Happy Friday.

So since it’s Friday, why don’t we all share life lessons we learned during our youth! Some of you all have interesting stories. Break ‘em down. What’s an interesting or unique lesson you learned during your childhood?

Talk to me.


Break On Through: Understand Where I’m Coming From?

So I’m black.

(Don’t you love when I open up with that line? It’s like a precursor to some race based observation on something race-related. Like NASCAR. Thank you.)

I had the privilege of growing up in very different circumstances. For instance, during my early years, I was raised by my white mother (as my father, though around, was in another country preparing me for a new family), in a black populated area. Some might call them projects, I choose to call them very low-to-no income housing.

What transpired can only be called a social experiment in whether or not white people can truly raise black kids. While my other black peers were listening to Michael Jackson and Prince, I was listening to Michael Jackson and AC/DC. Or ZZ Top. Or Ratt. Or my personal favorite, Judas Priest.

And you couldn’t tell me nothing about Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. I was diehard.

At 5.

At age 6, my younger sister and I, heavy metal and motorcycle boots in tow, left my mother’s care in Michigan and moved in with my father in Germany. So you can imagine the culture clash that was little Panama and his new soon-to-be sisters and mother. Have a look see.

Panama’s New Sister-To-Be: I just got that new Janet Jackson!! Controoooooooool!

Porno for Pyro’s Panama: Umm…do you have any Judas Priest? I really like Judas Priest. Or maybe some Ratt.

Panama’s NSTB: What is Judas Priest?!?!!!! Mommy, this new boy that you all brought home just curseded!

(Actually, my sister couldn’t speak English very well at that point since she was going to German school. Little known Panama fact, I taught one of my sisters how to read in English. At age 7. )

PP Panama: *two fingers in the air in Satan/Texas Longhorn salute* Rock on!!!!!

Now this was all a social experiment because my mother’s musical tastes became mine. Kind of like how Kanye said he was very feminine and gay acting in high school because he was raised with his mother. Except not even remotely similar.

With my mother’s musical tastes, I often became the kid that folks didn’t understand. Buying toy bats (of the flying variety) and trying to bite their heads off a la Ozzy will do that to you. However, over time I gained my parents appreciation for “black” music. I started getting into Alexander O’Neal, Michael Jackson (even more), Prince, and of course all the old school soul music my parents had stored up in their record collection. Talk about confusion. It got even worse in middle school. I’d go from listening to Guns ‘N Roses to the Geto Boys in about 3 seconds flat. Skid Row?? Def Leppard?

Homey, pour some sugar on me.

So where is all of this going? Well its going here. My mother’s influence on my early musical tastes have helped me TREMENDOUSLY in life. It allowed me to be way more open-minded in my music than a lot of folks I knew growing up. I’d be rocking my Green Day albums while my friends in high school thought I was listening to that “white music” too much.

Dude, they had an album called Dookie. I was like 13. Who couldn’t get behind that?

And it’s amazing that at this point in my life the vast array of music I listen too. I’ll go from listening to the Blackbyrds to listening to the Doors (as I’m doing right now…I think the classic rock song “Light My Fire” might be one of my new favorite songs of all time). I have thousands of CD’s at this point (on last count) and you’ll find some of the strangest shit ever in that mix. Hell I still purchase music.

I have all of my old school music segregated since I like to consider those albums the gems of my collection. But mixed in with those are my Guns ‘N Roses Appetite for Destruction album, my Doors albums, my Rolling Stones and Beatles albums, though I seriously think the Beatles are WAY overrated.

Yeah I said it!! I’m a gangsta. And I hate Jim Jones.

I often wonder why we, as black folks, are so quick to dismiss rock music (or any other type of music not done by black folks), especially since about 90 percent of the early rock music is just blues music being sung by white boys. Granted, the music was taken and given life by the new white audiences who couldn’t care about the black originators, but alas, if it’s good it’s good. And how many people REALLY don’t listen to rock because of the racism behind it? Not very many. Most folks don’t because it’s “that white sh*t.” Hell, I used to hate on country music. HARD. That was until I started listening to Johnny Cash. Now I’m hooked. And if you don’t think Johnny is country, then I listen to Kris Kristofferson too. The Highwaymen rocked.

I don’t know how people listen to solely rap or R&B all day long. It would truly drive me nuts. Especially with all the great jazz out there. Speaking of jazz and obscure R&B, it wasn’t until college and I met one of my boys who probably introduced me to more jazz and 70′s era soul music than you can shake an old cat at, that I even got into jazz. This dude’s knowledge and catalog is extensive but I was open to learning. Now I’m like niggas with Independence Airline tickets…on a whole nother plane.

Get it? Cuz they shut down…


Aww go to hell.

Anyway, I know how I got to how I am; how’d you get to where you are?

Put a little love in your heart.