My lemonade stand

Muhammad Ali died last week. The entire world grieved. But, there are some who still call him a “draft dodger” and the “Louisville Lipp” and even worse, Cassius Clay.

It’s the last one that shows an utter lack of respect.

Ali was a polarizing person, and for some, he never won anyone over.

I am not comparing myself with Ali in any way, but in many ways, of any public person, I can relate. You can struggle with public perception, or ignore it at great risk. Most people wouldn’t do some of the things I’ve done- choose to run for political office, not just once, but many times, even after repeatedly losing, being rejected. Wear a mask in a city commission meeting to protest a planned blackout of the media when the public came to speak, yell “fuck you” at a pompous minister holding a political rally in a church when he shuts your microphone off, go back to the next political rally and get herded off the property by three police officers (yet to be written about- it happened Monday).

And few people would step into a boxing ring, and onto a global stage, to be recognized for pummeling your opponent within inches of their life. With what we now know about CTE- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy we should all wonder why boxing is still a “sport.”

Ali reached beyond boxing. He made people think. He was unique, one of a kind, and charismatic.

We like our heroes that way. But, there is a limit on how many heroes there can be. And even our imaginary “super heroes” have struggles. It’s what makes them interesting. Peter Parker and his personal struggle to fit in, Superman attempting to be Clark Kent, Batman with his secrets. Ali had his flaws, took “wrong positions” on occasion, but still, by all measure, it will be a long time before the world forgets him.

There are those of you who read this blog religiously, a few, that comment a lot, some that hate it, hate me, and would have no problem hanging me like I hang basketball nets, to shut me up. There are few people in this community who can walk up to a microphone and be hissed at, booed, or chided before they even open their mouths. For the most part, we will allow fools to be elected who do insanely stupid things- and still give them respect. For me, maybe instead of Ali, many of you think I model Rodney Dangerfield – of “I can’t get no respect” fame. Last night at the orchestrated three ring circus for public display of Dayton Public Schools superintendents (post and video to follow) I was heckled for asking an DPS administrator who has been with the district for a year, to name all 28 principals and their schools for the audience and to acknowledge their presence. Later, someone told me they disagreed with me, thinking it was an unfair “test.” I wonder how someone can be paid close to six figures, sit on the administrative cabinet in an organization that he thinks he’s fit to lead from the brink of destruction back to glory, to show that he’s made the effort to learn and know the people that he’s leading now. Others thought the question was right on the mark- but as always, only say it quietly in passing, not with a public declaration- like applause for asking the tough questions.

It’s easy to be a quiet cheerleader. It’s hard to be the only one who is willing to point out that the guy has the least experience in the field by far, and that there are internal candidates who not only have a four times more experience, but could name all of the people, and who would be the best person to promote in each building if all 28 left tomorrow.

But I’m the bad guy. Going up to ask the last candidate a question, the rabble roused and it almost wasn’t worth asking the question that I believed those very same people needed to hear- to evaluate the third candidate, Mr. Lilly White cheerleader- “We’ve had problems with violence and fights at athletic events, our community has argued about police presence at these events, what alternatives, or out of the box thinking are you going to bring to this district?” His answers were almost tone deaf, a too drunk girl with an Oakwood swimmer deaf to use a horrible timely analogy, “more or different police.” The same people who were heckling, now knew that this candidate was probably not the one they wanted, but, lord, they wouldn’t have asked that question- only I would have, for them. But I still suck.

Sucking is what life hands you. There is the old expression, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Right now, for those of you who are friends on Facebook, you know I’ve been dealt a truckload of lemons. I’m an only child. My parents were old when they had me. Dad is 89, mom 88. Since January, my mother has been slipping into dementia. My father, from who this acorn hasn’t fallen far from the tree, has more medical conditions than Dayton has vacant houses. If you ever wonder why I’m so adamantly against smoking– it’s because I watched my father kill himself with Player’s unfiltered cigs,  three packs a day up until his first heart attack at 47- where he was given 5 years to live. He’s outlived the doctor who told him that by at least 30 years, despite him being a younger, healthy doc. And the “Carlton low tar” smokes that he switched to for the next 10 years before he finally quit. That we used to rate a cigarette as “best” for you back in the day, shows how stupid the masses can be- that we still sell them, despite being proven to have monumental health costs that are spread among all of us- is inconceivable to me, or anyone rational.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, we live in an irrational world.

I’m sure someone else famous has said that, but I’m not going to look it up. If I am to be remembered, that might be one of the statements I’d like to own.

Dad's recipe for lemonade, bad foods for a diabetic with COPDThat was a sidetrack, back to my parents. Mom has almost always managed dad’s food well, to deal with his diabetes, his COPD, and other ailments, carefully avoiding too much sodium, and managing sugar and carbs. However, with her diminished mental acuity, she started slipping- instead of sugar free chocolate pudding- Hershy’s full sugar pudding slipped onto the shelf of her pantry, instead of her low sodium stew- Dinty Moore, with half the daily sodium count was being served. His legs from the knees down became ulcerated, he started retaining water, returning the hydrocele from hell that we had “cured” last year with the potentially life ending risky hernia repair. A trip to the VA to stabilize came first- 5 days. On his return, Mom, although she’d been out to visit him daily in the hospital, and talking to him frequently on the phone, stood there and said “where have you been” as he got out of the borrowed car that I picked him up in.

Lemons hitting me like the firebombs of Dresden.

He was home for less than a week. Sunday night, she called while I was struggling with my weed wacker that was misbehaving, asking me to take him back to the hospital. I cleaned up and went across the street (knowing these days would come, long ago, I made sure my home, office and their future home were all on the same block).

He didn’t want to go to the hospital, even though he thinks the Dayton VA is better than the Cleveland Clinic. Instead, he was off to bed.

Hillary Clinton once had an ad about that call at 3am. It came at 4 am Monday, Dad had fallen, Mom called, and I rushed over. They both have the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” buttons, thanks to the Area Agency on Aging, but it’s been a struggle to get Mom to wear it- and even then, I’m not sure she’d know what it does- other than it’s a watch, that doesn’t tell time.

He was on his side, not moving, she was getting wet paper towels to put on his head, which was bleeding from what I determined was a very superficial cut. The walker was near him, this time. He’d fallen 3 times already this week, and once, the walker was at the other end of the house.

I thought about calling 911. The paramedics, the flashing lights and assessed both patients in this case. I still have vivid memories of myself at 9 years old, watching the gurney go down the stairs with my mother strapped in, unconscious from a sleeping pill overdose. She doesn’t remember if it was intentional, but, generally, when you take the whole bottle, conclusions are drawn. I didn’t want my mothers final memory of my once proud strong father being of him carried out on a stretcher. Pop got up, and slowly walkered out to the new to me car, a minivan, for the trip to the VA ER.

I never in the world thought I’d drive a minivan, but they are the ultimate old people movers.

At the VA, a nurse came out and chastised me for bringing a “trauma patient” to their ER, right in front of the said patient. He was seen immediately, CT within 20 minutes. He was their only patient that night. I later, upon returning from picking up his hearing aids (and forgetting his teeth- because, for me, those things aren’t something you think of – ears and teeth still come as part of your original equipment) I pulled her aside and asked if she’d been in nursing long? And then telling her that despite her 25+ years experience, she seems to have forgotten to not run up to a patient and say, “holy shit, your arms blown off” which was lesson one in my limited military medical training.

Dad will be in the hospital, or assisted living for at least a month, while he learns how to walk again on legs that don’t give him very good feedback on his body position. But, he too, is slipping into dementia, calling me on my cell to “come over to help him to the bathroom” or talking about watching Jeopardy, on the TiVo that’s in his imagination in the hospital hallway.

More lemons.

My parents have left the building. They are shells of their selves, one dimensional paintings of what used to be vibrant, engaging and bright souls. Much like Ali as he struggled with Parkinsons.

On top of this, I’m still managing the life of a 44 year old veteran, trying to align his care and his life into something manageable. There’s a story, with a video, about my visit to the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission waiting to be written, but on the back burner, because of my lemonade business. I haven’t hung a basketball net in 2 weeks either, which makes me sad.

This post, weighing in at 1831 words so far, is too long, and too much. “I would have written something shorter, but I didn’t have time” comes to mind.

If you read this far, thank you, would you like to buy some of my lemonade?

It’s all I seem to have right now. Thank you for your patience and support.

 

How to piss people off- a Pecha Kucha presentation by David Esrati

I love Pecha Kucha. 20 slides, 20 seconds each, to tell a story, make a point, entertain, make people think.

The format is to force people to distill their ideas to something manageable- concise, and worth your time. Not a long essay, not a tweet- but something that just works.

Back in March, at Dayton’s Vol 22, I was honored to be one of the speakers- the one just before the beer break. That’s right- driving people to drink.

My subject- “How to piss people off” – it really helps to do a PK about something you know inside and out.

And for those of you who didn’t make it to that epic event- here’s something to give you a good laugh or two before the weekend.

The video- note- a few off-color words are contained if you are at work.

The Whaley tax on rich people- campaign finance report

The pre-election campaign finance reports were due today. I’m happy to say I turned mine in on time. A mere 9 pages. Compare that to the 43-page book turned in by the Whaley campaign and you’ll start to understand.

Nan Whaley with Sherrod Brown in a FB ad

I’m losing respect for Sherrod Brown too. As if she is facing a real threat to democracy in AJ? C’mon.

I’m $200 away from reaching my goal of $10,000. She got more $10K checks from unions- and lots of $1.000.00+ checks from the, well, the people with the money- and the people who do business in the area. She also got money in big chunks from people who live far away from here. I’ve OCR’d her report- straightened the pages- and made it easy for you to review. I don’t even care to really comment. Nan Whaley PreGeneral 2013 report PDF

If you’d like to end my fundraising: donate: www.electesrati.com/donate

Williams, Mims- both raised more money than I did. They also spent more than I did. Somehow, buying food, wine, a lot of ads in programs, donating to other campaigns, donating to churches- is expensive. They didn’t hang any basketball nets, or clear any basketball courts. They didn’t hang three new rims at Princeton Rec- and really- they didn’t say a whole lot on the campaign trail.

If you want to see everyone’s campaign reports- they are here: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/CF_Reports/cf_reports.cfm

Here is mine: David Esrati PreGeneral Report 2013 PDF

My biggest individual donations were $500. My average donation was $66.22

I had 3 fundraisers. I spent almost all my money locally. I did my own design, a lot of my own web work, didn’t pay any staff. Didn’t buy anybody lunch. I knocked on a lot of doors myself. I videotaped all the events- and posted them online. I helped David Greer, Gary Leitzell, Hazel Rountree with campaign materials and with websites.

I started up the www.hoopsdayton.org site that I hope to grow into a place to run basketball leagues and coordinate tournaments in the future. For now- it’s working as a great website for a lot of independent Dayton Businesses- barber shops, who didn’t have websites- but, are now being found in Google. I had 2 DPS kids as interns this summer- and they made an amazing video about the hoops initiative. If I lose, I think our city still won. If I win- I know it’s because I did the right thing and never sold out.

Tonight I was at one of the most interesting and informative candidates’ events ever- run by Preservation Dayton. I’ll have video up on Saturday if all goes well.

I’m incredibly tired, and still need help with distributing literature and working the polls. I’d like to thank all those who donated- and those who’ve helped. But- the biggest thanks is to those who’ve hollered out of cars- “thanks for putting up nets, we’re voting for you” or to the kids who’ve thanked me on the courts. Your thanks meant the world to me. I’ve run a bunch of times over the last 20 years- and never have I been thanked so many times.

I’ve been asking friends, supporters and people who know me to do testimonials. Here’s one from UD Women’s basketball coach, Jim Jabir- it’s short. It’s not your normal endorsement- but, I think people stopped expecting normal from me long ago.

Cheers

UPDATE

I’ve taken the cover pages of all Whaley’s reports- 2012 annual to present. Despite having a huge war chest on hand- it shows she’s raised in cash $389,119 and spent $276,106.32 which if you subtract one from the other leaves $113,013 – That’s a lot to spend in 10 days. Here is the file: Whaley total pre gen PDF

Video for the people: Esrati and his camera at candidates forums

For the last 4 years- or 4 political races- if you’re counting, I’ve been videotaping candidates nights and posting them on YouTube. I believe more people should have access to these events, which are not widely publicized or well attended.

This week, we had two that had larger crowds- Monday night at the NAACP event, and Tuesday a lunch held by the Dayton chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Two very different experiences to say the least.

The NAACP event hurt itself by inviting way too many candidates. They had all the Dayton mayoral and commission candidates, three school board candidates plus the write in, Trotwood council, and Jefferson and Harrison township trustees. Long event, to hear very little from anyone. Note, these are never debates- these are forums- with candidates being timed and asked questions that are often not well constructed. I was chastised publicly at the beginning of the event by NAACP chief Derrick Foward for not having yet delivered a personal DVD to him of the Northern Hills candidates night. He questioned me at the end as well- as to when I would provide him with a DVD of this event. Of course, the Whaley campaign wasn’t asked for a personal DVD- yet they had a camera there. He made an issue of it again at the end- to which I responded that he should stop bullying me- and there is Nan’s camera- unfortunately, my camera didn’t catch the end of the meeting- either because someone turned it off- or there was a malfunction (I don’t bring an entourage to run my camera). The biggest issue of the evening was the discussion of traffic speed and red light cameras. Other than that- there wasn’t much real info to be had. Some of the candidates from other jurisdictions seemed unable to speak with a microphone- which made it even more difficult to sit through.

Tuesday, the mayoral and commission candidates were invited to speak to the AIA as well as the Home Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of Dayton. They had Dan Edwards from WDTN channel 2 as a moderator. The questions were written in advance and there was a set schedule. The questions had more meat- and required deeper responses. If you are going to watch any one of these candidates events- this would be the one.

I attended a mayoral forum at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church this morning- just to tape the mayoral candidates to make sure people had access. I didn’t attend the one run by the Dayton Black Journalists/Cox event- or tape it because I figured that “journalists” would manage to get their event online on their own. To date- I’ve not seen it.

Since all the commission candidates had shown up (Commissioner Williams had originally told me this was a full commission forum) they told us that the commission candidates would have time at the end to say something. That video won’t be up for another few days– but, when I started to get the crowd going– it was time for me to stop (as the people in the back were wildly gesturing the Time Out and your time is over). That’s what happens when you speak the truth in Dayton- you get shut down. Although the event was billed to start at 10 a.m.- they didn’t start serving food until 10:15 and it was 10:45 before the introduction of the mayoral candidates. There was more time given to prayer and thanking all of the people involved than what I was given with the microphone. But, you can watch that all for yourself when I get it online.

I really like the vibe I got at Macedonia. They seem to be an activist church working to heal their neighborhood. They have a non-profit housing rehab group, they have fitness classes, and a charismatic young new pastor from Texas. What I find funny is that it’s so important for politicians to be born here- but, that a pastor who was introduced as the “best pastor this side of Heaven” can be accepted so easily from Texas.

There are things that can be done to all candidates events to make them better- the most important one be to have a set schedule for each set of candidates- so that we don’t have to sit through everyone. The NAACP event should have been Dayton Commission from 7-8, school board from 8-8-30, etc. Another is to make sure your microphones work. That was an issue at Macedonia. And although wireless mics are nice, it’s a lot smarter to have a central podium with a wired mic- both from a standpoint of it working- and from the standpoint of videotaping an event- a camera only has to focus on one spot. If you are smart- have a banner or backdrop behind the speaker to promote your organization. And, please- start and stop on time. Not just for the candidates- but for the voters. We need more of them to be at these events. Usually I can count on at least 20% of any audience being “entourage” and the rest are die hard political operatives. These aren’t reaching the broad community the way they should.

And- if you really want to shake things up- why aren’t the candidates ever asked to ask questions of each other? What are we afraid of? I try to keep a list of upcoming events current on my campaign site: www.electesrati.com/events I hope to see you at one of the upcoming forums. Feel free to check any other candidates site to see if they do as much to keep you informed.

 

Sunday morning pancakes. 9am to 1pm

Buttermilk pancakes from scratch!

Buttermilk pancakes from scratch!

It’s pancake breakfast time! I still need to raise about $1900 to reach my goal of $10,000. So it’s time to put on the chefs hat and sell my pancakes. From scratch buttermilk pancakes- made with ingredients from the 2nd Street public market.

The eggs come from Jean at KJB Farms, the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda from the Spice Rack, as well as the sweet cream Amish butter.

100% pure Grade A maple syrup from Dohner’s Maple Camp- coffee from Ghostlight. I even got non-homogenized milk from Star Dancer creamery – and will try to pour off the cream from the top for the coffee drinkers.

I have also have OJ. Suggested minimum donation is $5 – and it’s all you can eat.

Come to my house, from 9am to 1pm at 113 Bonner Street Dayton 45410 on Sept 29th and help my campaign out and eat an amazing breakfast.

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Thanks!