I was born in Louisville. I grew up in Louisville. I graduated high school in Louisville. I just assumed that what I experienced here was experienced all around the world. That is, until I went to college in North Carolina. See, I had assumed that Derby Friday was a national holiday. I never, never, never went to school on Derby Friday (Oaks Day) and just assumed that day had the same value nationwide as Labor Day or MLK Day.
I remember being at UNC my freshman year and learning that I’d be having a final on the 1st Friday of May. It was shocking to me that people did any type of work on that day, and more harmful that I wouldn’t be making it home in time to start celebrating Derby. I remember asking my other friends on campus if they were excited about the Derby. Most looked at me as if I were speaking in another language. They either didn’t know what the Derby was or said they could have cared less about a stupid 2 minute horse race.
But I know better! The Derby in Louisville is much more than the best two minutes in sports history. It’s a fabulous two week celebration bringing people from all over the world to celebrate friendships, fireworks, great entertainment and tremendous food. You never know what famous person you may meet or which long lost friend will cross your path. There are events catered for every demographic. You can start your day with a fundraising brunch, spend an afternoon at Churchill Downs, swing by someone’s BBQ, head early evening to the Chow Wagon or a concert at Waterfront Park and then dance the night away at a party.
This is Derby, y’all!
M.Y. May 2009
The Main Event
I so wanted it to happen! I purchased my plane ticket. I called my uncle in Michigan and had a place to stay. I didn’t plan any meetings for two days. I was ready. Louisville and UNC were supposed to play each other in the Championship game for NCAA men’s basketball. I won’t say who, but one of the teams let me down a little earlier than expected.
It was interesting to read people’s Facebook updates throughout the entire game. Even people who were at the game were taking out their frustrations online. Some of comments posted included:
“had fun in Indi until Sun…now depressed “, “is not really feeling this thing called “work” today…I am still a little down from the Elite 8 loss…”, “is wondering if the Cardinals left all the enthusiasm on The court Friday night” and “woke up this morning feeling like I’ve been cheated on!! Why couldn’t yesterday have been a dream? Can we have a do over? UUUUUGGGGHHH!! What a way to start spring break!!”
So while I didn’t get to experience that championship game main event, there was another one here in Louisville. For an hour last Sunday I kicked it with three cool men. Yes, me and three men (could be a fantasy to some ladies!) Haven Harington, Rob Bell and Carlo Kellam have their own sports radio show on 1350 WLOU AM radio entitled “The Main Event Sports Show”. They talk about any and every sport event imaginable. Of course we talked about UL sports and the demise of Billy G at UK. Karlo, also known as “Mr. Marvelous” is a trash talking UK fan and he had his share of callers that called in to give him an earful. He took it all in great stride, though, and although he was respectful, he stood a proud Cats fan (I can now say, though, that he was incorrect on Izzo being the new coach).
Then there was Haven who seemed like the ring leader of the group. He kept the pace of the program going. He was fortunate enough to go to Indy on Friday night and shared his behind the scene footage. He played a clip from Rick Pitino and also led a discussion about the NFL football player in TX who was pulled over at an emergency room as his mother -in-law died in the hospital.
Rounding out the crew was Rob Bell. He disagrees with me, but I told him he seemed like the laid back one in the crew. He’s the stats guy that stayed on the internet to keep folks updated on games scores and recent headlines. He also seemed like the most unbiased (as far as favorite teams go) and offered a great perspective on everything. So, if you haven’t checked these guys out – they are on the radio (and online) every Saturday from 6-7pm. I appreciate them letting a Tar Heel like me in the studio!
M.Y. April 2009
“In memory of Static”
Earlier this week, Static Major (Steve Garrett) passed away. I last saw Steve in December at the Goodtimers party (click on link to view photo album). He was a blessing to the music world, although most of his claim to fame was behind the scenes. I was always proud of his group Playa because they represented Louisville. I was especially proud of Steve because he represented my high school – Waggener High School.
I remember when I was a senior in college in North Carolina. It was a random day and I was listening to the radio. The DJ talked about this new group that was in the area that would be opening for Dru Hill. The group was Playa. I instantly dialed into the station and asked her if I could speak to them. The DJ seemed pretty shocked that I even knew who they were. I told her I went to middle and high school with two of them. She asked the name of the high school and put me on hold.
A couple of minutes later she’s airing live and asks Playa what they know about Waggener High School. Since they were on a North Carolina radio station, they seemed caught off guard by the question. She then puts me into the conversation and we sit and talk live for a lengthy time on the radio about Louisville, them sneaking backstage at the Jodeci concert to be noticed and all of their success. After we got off the air, they invited my friends and I to their concert that night. We met them at the hotel, hung out with them for awhile, and then received the royal treatment at the concert.
Who would have imagined that Steve would also go on to write so many famous lyrics? Ginuwine’s “Pony” and “So Anxious”, Aaliyah’s “Try Again” and “More Than a Woman”, Destiny Child’s “Say My Name”, Truth Hurt’s “Addictive”, Brandy’s “Come As You Are”, Diddy’s “Tell Me” and Pretty Ricky’s “On the Hotline” and other songs never would have existed without the mastermind of Louisville’s own Steve (Static Major) Garrett. I listened to B96.5 on the radio on Tuesday and they did an awesome tribute to him and played a great deal of his songs. I was supposed to leave work at 5:00 that, but stayed almost an hour over to keep listening because his hits kept playing. We all want to leave our mark on this world and Steve did his thang!!
“My First Love”
My senior year of high school I went to UNC to visit. This guy took a group of us to observe a college class. He sent me a note asking which schools I had been accepted. I thought nothing else about him. Advance forward to my first week on campus my freshman year. The two large dorms, Morrison and Hinton James, had a party for the freshman. Same random guy was there as a counselor. After the party he volunteered to walk my friend and I back to the dorm. Sure, whatever.
Two days later I see him in the cafeteria, we lock eyes, and within hours become a couple. (Remember this is before I even started classes my freshman year.) Anthony and I stayed together for three years until he graduated. People often called us “The Happy Couple” because we were always together and also constantly smiling. He walked me to my classes and we always made sure our dorm rooms were placed next to each other. He became my best friend at UNC and I shared all of my hopes, dreams, experiences and fears with him. I was truly in love. But that love scared me at the age of 20. I thought about how college is the time you get to know various people, and he was the only man I ever met. I still had another year at Carolina so we broke up in 1997 and I decided to see what else was out there.
Anthony will tell you that I was the person he envisioned himself marrying. However while he was always ready to settle down, it wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I was honestly ready to consider marrying someone. By then he had moved on with his life and now has a wife and two kids. Recently we met for lunch in North Carolina. Although we’ve talked on the phone, this was our first time together alone since we broke up. I was nervous at first, but we had a blast. We spent three hours reliving the college days and both apologized for things done wrong. When I asked the waitress to take our picture, she said “You all are such a great couple!” (lol) I drove away with flashback memories of the strongest relationship I have been a part of. I realized that he loved me for the person I was and will always be there to protect me. He helped me remember the genuine qualities I need to look for in my next potential mate/relationship and that all people come into your life for a reason.
Who would have known that while I was sitting in the back of a UNC classroom, planning what I’d wear to prom, that a guy would be put into my life that would show me what true love really is?! I say this because you never know when the next “he/she” will be placed into your life.
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M.Y. January 2008
“My American Idol”
My freshman year at UNC I was a cheerleader. One of the teams I cheered for was women’s basketball. The team was just returning off their 1994 NCAA Championship. Although I’d never been a fan of women’s sports, I immediately became mesmerized by the talent of the women. Tracey Reid, Marion Jones and senior Charlotte Smith (see left pic) led the team in a stellar season. Carmichael Auditorium would be packed with fans and I would be anxious and excited to flip down the entire basketball court to pump up the crowd.
One of my favorite memories was on December 4, 1994. The Tar Heels were playing NC A&T. It wasn’t expected to be a close game, but the athleticism of our girls was still supreme. And then I saw it happen. I was really there sitting in the front on the sideline. I watched Ms. Charlotte dunk a basketball in a game! This is the day that she became my ‘idol’. I watched her throughout the season with style and grace. Not only was she a talented athlete, but she was beautiful. She showed me that being dark skinned is a sexy, soulful thing. I watched gleefully as she accepted Player of the Year and then went on to play overseas and WNBA.
Being just a miniscule freshman I was often too scared to talk to her. Last week I traveled back to Chapel Hill to watch a UNC women’s basketball game. My cousin, senior Latoya Pringle (see right pic), currently is a 6’3 center for the team (obviously I didn’t get the height). And guess who is one of the assistant coaches? Charlotte! I became that young giddy kid again who was nervous to even see her see me looking at her. It brought back those memories for cheering for her over 13 years ago. But would she take a picture with me?
I waited like a groupie until after the game with my family. My cousin brought Charlotte out and said, “This is my cousin. She cheer–” Charlotte interrupted her and said, “I REMEMBER HER!” Hip hip hooray!! Fireworks went off in my head. We took our picture (she ducked down so I wouldn’t feel midget status) and life was good.
M.Y. January 2008
This newsletter is dedicated to my college alma mater’s mascot. The guy that played the ram was killed in a car accident over the weekend while at the NCAA tournament. I love my Tar Heels!!! (Although are men are no longer in the race, my women still have a chance). These photos are from back in the day during my college years. Notice the Louisville t-shirt (I’ll always support the Ville).
M.Y. March 2007