The Genius of John Candy

Since 1989 I’ve been a big fan of John Candy. The movie that came out that year was Uncle Buck. I was seven, about the same age as the character Miles, portrayed by Macaulay Culkin, and I often thought about some long lost uncle sweeping into town and making me gigantic pancakes for my birthday.

Since then I’ve grown to really love John Candy like an uncle. It’s not just his character of Uncle Buck, who still makes me laugh to this day with a congenial combination of slapstick, silly, and smart, but the way that he can do nothing and it’s hilarious. Just a simple line of “Sure” was somehow hysterical. I’ve not come across many actors that can say or do nothing on screen and still get a laugh.

I grew up with actors like Jim Carrey and Chris Farley being beamed into my home regularly. I watched both In Living Color and Saturday Night Live, their energy and slapstick style was something that I had never seen before. They made me laugh until I cried on plenty of occasions. Then the next school day, my friends and I would discuss the craziness of their portrayals and laugh all over again.

We never talked about John Candy. But even then he was still my go to. If I was home sick from school, I wanted John to be there, as Uncle Buck or Chet Ripley, or whatever other movies of his we could rent at the grocery store.

He was real. A real life person who could show up at your house and punch a clown in the face. He wasn’t over acting to get a laugh, he just was a guy who happened to be really funny and could put on a serious face when the role needed him to. It wasn’t magic or explosions or a hard bodied beauty, just a regular guy who chose to be an actor because he had something different about him, even if you could never actually pinpoint what that was.

Movies are much different today and to be honest I don’t watch them. I see one or two movies a year, and it’s usually the ones that won a ton of awards or enough people told me I should watch it that I eventually do. They are very rarely, if ever, comedies. They are rarely heartwarming. For the most part they are serious movies that are almost difficult to watch. I like art, but I also like to be cozy.

Most movies today don’t have the greatest acting, but are rather vehicles for beautiful people to do magical things. The plots are basic, the melodrama heavy. They are meant for a world wide audience. They are moving investments, the art stripped away to make something that won’t be difficult to understand with subtitles. The money is heaped high for special effects and the latest starlet with a curvy body. The John Candy’s are few and far inbetween.

“I think I may have become an actor to hide from myself.” – John Candy

A few years ago it was a slow day at work and a bunch of us were standing around before punching out shooting the breeze about movies. The topic of your favorite actor came up and it was my turn to say who it was. I said John Candy. Everyone laughed at the same time. They told me that I couldn’t pick him as my favorite actor. That I had to choose someone else. I protested immediately. I said “Here’s the thing. I said his name and you all laughed, right? That’s it. He’s still making you laugh.”

That is the genius of John Candy.

Kes: What Makes Him High, Trap Beats, and the Element of Surprise

Kes is not trying to placate the masses or swim in a pool of hundred dollar bills floating in expensive champagne. It’s not about music videos with rare cars or bikini clad platinum blondes happily twerking by a pool. Kes is simply after the best version of himself.

A version of himself that he’s been chasing since he was in high school and realized that he was a lyricist. His realization grew to an unending passion. He turned passion into poise and dedication and now his dreams are coming to fruition.

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

When the mic is in his hand and he’s performing he feels at ease. The sense of satisfaction of reciting his lyrics to a crowd is cathartic at worst and inspirational at best. Kes’s lyrics are not damning or insensitive; in fact they are just the opposite, even though when he wrote him he wasn’t feeling his personal best.

“It’s stuff I made by myself. Not feeling great about myself. I made it on my own time. It’s the best high.”

His lyrics sum the feeling up even better:

The sound of a crowd loud shouting out at once

Is the equivalent of the high of a 1,000 blunts

Kes has battled depression for most of his teenage and adult life. In his lyrics you will find hope, inspiration, and strength as if every time he puts pen to pad it’s an effort to drive away the depression and head him back on the right track.

Some of his favorite artists have done that for him. He brings up Joe Budden during our conversation, explaining that it’s OK to need help and to express your true emotion.

“I’m doing what other have done for me. But it’s reality. For better or worse.”

Kes and His Producer

Like so much that happens in Rochester, NY the relationship between Kes and his first producer started at Wegmans. Kes met Volatile there years back and their shared affinity towards the world of hip hop started a relationship.

Volatile already had his career started with his own productions that he had posted to Youtube. Kes looked him up and was impressed. Volatile produced Kes’s first official album “The Prelude” available wherever music can be found.

He is already working on a follow up that should be out sooner than later “Creature of Habit” although no official release date has been set yet.

The producers and rappers that Kes has worked with over the years had a profound effect on him. He has learned from them and taken their knowledge of industry and beats and turned it into his routine, it has made him a creature of habit, writing, recording, learning, and evolving.

The Element of Surprise

I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Kes and share some scotch with him. He’s extremely approachable, quite affable, and humble. His clean cut look and deftly quaffed red hair don’t scream hip hop. But he doesn’t mind that. It’s not about looks it’s about lyrics.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously. I love it. I walk in (to the studio) with my button up and slacks and people are looking at me like ‘You rap?’ and then they hear me and they go ‘Oh shit, you rap’.”

Kes puts a hard line in the sand with new pop rappers and what he’s trying to accomplish. Pop rappers are flashes in the pan, radio wave sycophants who want money and fame. Real MC’s are lyricists, their writers with a craft; it’s about poetry, not bitches.

“Trap beats are the music version of reality TV.”

Simple to make, little production, and the use of very little lyrics slings trap beats into our mainstream. It’s super simple, fun, and goofy; almost as if anyone can make it. And maybe that’s the idea of it and that’s why people gravitate towards it.

But Kes is not impressed. He’s impressed with art, beauty, and challenging yourself. The new pop rap is not made like this and for this reason. He believes that a well-rounded instrumental is much more difficult to make, takes more time, and should be considered just as important as the lyrics.

He goes back to the 1990’s for inspiration, to listen to interwoven samples, the complexity of good production. The music is just as inspiring as they lyrics. The element of surprise isn’t just in looks, it’s embedded in every aspect of his music.

You can follow Kes on:

Twitter @Kessteele

Instagram @Kessteele

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Kes585/

The Prelude is available wherever you usually get your music.

A Poem About Basil For My Wife

Poetry shouldn’t have to be so serious all the time.  Poems are a quick glimpse into a part of life that we have all lived, a moment in time that could be described to just about anyone from any culture or any language and they would understand.  Too often poetry is very serious tackling dire topics like death and love.  Sometimes poetry can be funny, goofy, lovable, or even slightly amusing.  It’s a pass at elevator conversation, a thirty second impression that can be pleasant and charming.

I wrote this one for my wife.   For ten years I’ve been writing little poems for her, then I leave them up on the computer or leave them on a piece of paper, or they get published somewhere and she happens on them.  And she knows they’re for her and she knows more about the poem than anyone else and it’s supposed to be amusing, fun, and charming.

 

About An Herb

Fresh basil after a rain tastes better.

Sure it does.

Have you ever been staring at your basil plant all day?

And it’s drooping and tired

And it looks sweaty

And you think,

‘Christ if we had some damn water and a breeze this thing’d be all right’

And then thick clouds roll up and the breeze kicks in and the trees start complaining all over the place

So you go inside, bemused.

But then you notice the damn basil kicked up.  And now it’s time for fucking pizza?

And there you are up against the wind, trimming away with kitchen shears at something you grew!

And it tastes so good.

Oh.

You just buy your basil at the grocery store?

Like, in that little plastic sheath?

Huh.  That’s cool, bro.

Never mind then.

 

(The photo was borrowed from: http://wahagarden.com/)

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.

Ruminating On a Mountain

Bekka Burton takes great pictures.  But it’s not just her eye for a great shot, or the color contrast, or the rule of thirds that makes it so special.  It’s that the spot in which she stands to take the picture is the same spot that nestles her into deep thought.  It’s the same reason she goes out on these hikes in the first place; to get away, to hear the silence, to get lost in the beauty that is the world.  Some of us prefer to get lost in binge watching Netflix or in the heat of your favorite team competing.  But not Bekka and sometimes, not me either.

Bekka Burton is my friend.  She and I used to work together and my goofiness and predictability to spin a long pointless yarn always entertained her.  We used to laugh and the dumbest things; like my dad drinking Mountain Dew, sometimes for weeks at a time.  But then I stopped working there, or she did, or we both left I can’t remember; we lost touch, only once in a while running into each other at a random farmers market.  Somehow she turned back up on my radar, living in Spain and teaching.  She is a true outdoorsman trapped inside a farmer, trapped inside a teacher, trapped inside a philosopher, trapped inside a photographer, trapped inside a writer.  Most of her future plans include wearing straw hats and owning bees.  But she truly has an Ansel Adams side and I mostly thought it was just for fun.

Turns out she uses the outdoors as her meditation and to reconnect herself to nature.  To Bekka, it’s like an art form to find a good hike and take a great picture.  I thought her photography spoke to me like art and I wanted to copy a project that Lawrence Ferlinghetti accomplished in 1990. “When I Look at Pictures” takes famous paintings and combines them with original poems about each one, all written by Ferlinghetti.  I love that book and I was mesmerized at the simplicity of the concept and the complexity of each individual poem.  It forever made me look at a few famous paintings differently.  I wanted to do that with Bekka’s photos.  I wanted to tell a little story about each one.

IMG_0463
Photo by Bekka Burton

I tried and tried.  But I just kept falling short of anything that I would want to publish and I didn’t want to use these photos for something that I didn’t truly believe in.  So I wrote Bekka and asked for her help.  I wanted to at least come up with a title so that maybe I could be spurred into action.  She used the word ‘ruminate’ and said “That’s what I do when I’m in nature. I could sit and watch a babbling brook for hours and never get bored”.  And suddenly I remembered something that I had completely forgotten about.  And it has to do with Milk.

My freshman year I made a friend named Mike Sood.  He was a naïve and goofy guy with a big heart and a lovable disposition.  He was a big, body building type, with square shoulders and a tiny round waist and he spoke like the stereotypical jock from a John Hughes movie.  But once you got past the outer shell, he was incredibly deep and intelligent and really liked to talk at length about humanity, religion, and emotion.  I liked Mike a great deal, even though the first couple of time we met we didn’t really care for each other.  One time we even got into a fight.  I lost.  His nickname was Milk and that’s what everyone called him.  At times I forgot his real name.

But one time we were out drinking and were talking about the nearby Shawangunk Mountains. We decided that in the morning we were going to drive up there and hike around.  It was still winter, but there wasn’t much snow on the ground.  Of course we failed to realize there would be waist deep snow on the mountain. The next morning we went up there, froze half to death, thought about coming back, decided to stay, and continued on our hike.  There wasn’t anybody else up on the mountain that day.  It felt like ours.  It felt natural to be up there, walking along in silence, the crunch of the snow underneath our boots the only music, the wind whispering through the trees the only traffic, the noises of nature became the silence of our minds.  We sat on a ledge and had a snack, barely talking, taking it all in, and ruminating on a mountain, completely at ease.

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Photo by Bekka Burton

For this post, I thought for sure I had my poems ready, one for each of the three pictures used in this post.  But I couldn’t write them.  I didn’t know where to start or where to end with each piece.  I was growing frustrated again.  That is not how these pictures made me feel the first time I saw them.  And then I realized I was missing the point.  I wasn’t staring at the babbling brook, I was trying to imitate it.  And you can’t.  You can’t imitate nature.  That’s why these pictures are so great; they are real.  And the thoughts that come out are real and shouldn’t be imitated.   And I sat right down and scrawled this out.

If anybody out there reads this and knows how to contact Mike Sood, send him this piece.  And thanks Bek for the inspiration.

Moun tan DEWWW.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.

 

Rochester Newspaper Sells Segregation

An article was recently released by Democrat and Chronicle that articulated the issues that Rochester is facing.   It defines exactly what’s wrong with this city in a simple and supposedly innocuous comment that probably shouldn’t have made the cut in the story.  It’s a line that does nothing for the story itself, yet was left in, as if on accident.  It was something I’m positive that most people read and passed over without a second thought, or simply accepted as a truth.  It is, in my opinion, the perfect quote to highlight why Rochester, NY has deeply rooted problems that will probably never go away.  These problems are not talked about, and are seldom brought up in public forums as far as I know.  If they are being talked about candidly and openly I would love for the residents of Rochester to write me and tell me I’m wrong.

The article was written by a group of staff writers at the Democrat and Chronicle; Victoria E. Freile, Patti Singer, and Todd Clausen.  Democrat and Chronicle’s Executive Editor and Vice President of News is Karen Magnusun.  The article is mostly concerned with the terrible tragedy of two burned bodies that were recently discovered.  The newest body was found near La Grange Park, which is nestled almost in the middle of a triangle with Ridgeway Ave, Mount Read Blvd, and Driving Park Ave.  The article was hard enough to get through due to the violent nature of the deaths, but a simple comment made by a local resident illuminates the odd segregation and tension that is simply accepted in this city.

The comment was made by Michael Bell.  It was the only comment in the article.  The entire quote read as follows:

“You don’t expect for activity like that to be around here.  It is normally pretty safe around here.  I am not saying this is like Mendon, Pittsford, or whatever, but it’s a secluded area here.  It’s quiet.  You don’t expect for activity like that to be around here.  God didn’t put us here to hurt and harm each other.  He put us here to love each other and we have to grasp that.  If there is something going on, there are people to talk to.   There is nothing that bad. “

What Mr. Bell said is direct and honest.  I especially like the part where he says we were not put here to harm each other.  I have always believed in tolerance, acceptance, peace, love, and understanding, but what bothers me about Mr. Bell’s comment was that he assumes Pittsford and Mendon are the safest areas.  That might actually be true.  The misconception that crime is only happening in certain parts of a city seems to be a common thread in news across the nation.  I don’t take umbrage with what Mr. Bell said, although the fact that he felt the need to say it at all made me cringe, but I am thoroughly disgusted that Democrat and Chronicle would print that part of the comment.  It is not part of the story.  It does not need to be part of the story, but it was left in as some sort of gauge, a bright orange cone that will remind the citizens of Mendon and Pittsford that they are somehow safer.

I wonder if the residents of Mendon and Pittsford read that line and somehow held their heads a little higher knowing that they don’t have to worry about such violence in their “part of town.”  I wonder if Karen Magnusun lives in Pittsford or Mendon, or if any of the staff writers do, and this was their strange way of making themselves feel a little safer, a little more at ease, subconsciously rationalizing their higher taxes.  I wonder if they still lock their doors at night, setting their security alarms and praying that the disgruntled riffraff that lives only a few miles away doesn’t figure out how to get in.  I wonder if they still fear the boogey man.

I moved to Rochester about a decade ago, chasing a girl and a dream of being a college graduate.  I stayed for this reason or that, getting wrapped up in jobs and life, but leaving has never left my mind.  I was only here for a month or so when I realized that this is a massively segregated city filled with elitists, extreme xenophobes, racists, and an overall unrelenting attitude that none of this is happening.  Rochester has some amazing people in it.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of them.  The food in this city is amazing.  There is an amazing blend of culture and people that live just under the radar on these streets, but there is an odd and noticeable wall that separates all things East and the rest of the God forsaken city.  It’s why the city is crumbling.  The hate is felt and is passed around so freely that it creates more hate.  The separatists are unapologetic and operate openly; so openly that a comment that was supposed to be innocuous splayed open the bubbling green bile of separation and hatred in a city that seems damned.

I’m embarrassed for Democrat and Chronicle.  They obviously don’t see the larger picture that Rochester and much of America are suffering from; poor brotherhood.  The comment was left in the article, a subconscious slip that tells a larger story, one that the news isn’t telling, but obviously selling.

Here’s the original article.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.