You will find few bigger fans of the late rapper Christopher Wallace AKA Notorious B.I.G.
My old friend and former colleague Vikki Ortiz, a Chicago Tribune reporter, used to make fun of me on social outings 'cause when one of his songs began to play over the speakers, in my own bass drawl I'd keep up word for word...and dance badly while at it.
Cover your ears for a moment, ages 50 & up: Biggie Smalls was the illest!
Sorry, I had to flash back for a moment to my days of tall box hair cuts and Cross Colours jeans.
And yet, as big a fan as I was of Wallace's music I was also frustrated with it 'cause I saw raw emotion in performances and heard raw emotion in his words. And I used to wonder what life might turn into for Wallace if there wasn't always the spectre of death or violence hovering over his shoulder like the Grim Reaper.
So Wallace lived by sometimes violent words. And at the age of 24, in 1997, he was gunned down, fatally shot following an awards show in Los Angeles.
Fast-forward to this week. The film Notorious, which chronicles the story of Wallace's life, has just hit theaters all over the country. And already one man was stabbed at a screening of the film in New York, and another man was shot twice at a showing in North Carolina.
It's MLK Day. It's supposed to be a day of reflection about sacrifices. Do I have to say it? Seriously. Do I?
OK, I'll say it. MLK did not talk sacrifice and freedom and freedom of speech, so damned fools could go to movie theaters and shoot and stab people who look at 'em the wrong way.
These are the same kinds of dudes who will insist to their graves that they were just "keepin it real," in an effort to make sure everyone around them knew how tough and fearsome and not to be trifled with they were.
When MLK told black folks to be strong, he did not mean to unnecessarily flex muscle in the form of dumb violence.
When he told folks of all races that the future involved people learning to get along...or not, based on similarities and differences of character, not skin color, he did not envision dummies who 40-something years after his death would be willing to throw their lives away 'cause they got their feelings hurt at a stupid movie theater.
The shooter and the stabber in this case? Disgraces, both of 'em. It's 2009. We have cures for diseases. We can can get warring nations to talk to each other...sort of. We're about to plan a trip back to the moon. The economy is teetering between painfully slow recovery and destruction. There's so much big stuff going on, but there are still people out there who will attempt to kill another person over a slight at a movie.
That type of "freedom" is not what MLK had in mind. Not even Wallace would have condoned that kind of criminal stupidity. He died by it.