Straight Outta Savannah

One thing about being on this Harlem Globetrotters tour, it toughens you up. Maybe that’s why when my phone and other items got stolen at my announcers table I did what I did. Heck, the local police department looked at the “Find My iPhone” location of my stolen phone and told me as much.

After our game in Savannah, Georgia I was helping a fan with our post-game autograph session and I noticed two young boys probably twelve and thirteen years old hovering the announcers table but didn’t think much of it. When I returned, I noticed my backpack was open and my phone was unplugged and missing. I asked Ruben, our A/V technician and he recalled the boys suspicious behavior. I didn’t want to be “that guy” and accuse two young black kids of stealing something but I agreed that based on our entire tour, their behavior was unusual and were the only ones near our personal things. 

I approached the first kid, the youngest of the two. I asked him if he saw anyone going thru my backpack and take a phone. He looked down at the ground and shook his head, “No”. I asked if his friend  picked it up. He look off to the side and said, “No. You can search me.” and put his arms out. I could feel my anxiety make my chest tighten. I saw the older kid, so I approached him and asked him the same questions. He also said I could search him and spread out his arms. He never made eye contact with me. I felt so bad, that maybe this was common for them but I was also frustrated that maybe this was something they did often. I had no proof and we had to pack up an leave.

I asked a fan to let me borrow their phone only to find out my phone was turned off. Stolen. I put it into “Lost Mode” and we left for our hotel. When we arrived I called the police to make a report. During that report, the officer told me stories of kids who return home with stolen phones and expensive laptop computers, yet in his experience many parents never question where it came from. I located my phone via the “Find My Phone” app. It was in an empty lot next to a church and a duplex ten minutes away. The officer suggested someone tossed it out a window. I suggested if it was the kids, they took it outside to play with it, or risk getting seen with it. The officer said it would very difficult to retrieve it but they would follow up most likely the next day. I filed a report but I couldn’t wait.

It was 11:00 p.m. and I decided to hire an Ubër driver to take me to the duplex. I figured if I wore my Globetrotter shirt and badge, I would be taken seriously when I explained my situation should there be any trouble. 

The Ubër driver was wearing a flannel shirt, mullet haircut with a confederate flag on it, reeked of cigarettes, and missing all of his front teeth. When he saw what area of town we were headed too, he warned me it was high crime neighborhood and I said, “I know. Somebody took my phone and were going to go get it.”

You see the reason I was so determined to get my phone (despite still owing $600 on my AT&T Next plan) was that I’ve made video blogs this entire tour (AVAILABLE ON MY WEBSITE) and all my footage would of been lost. I knew everything would be ok if I handled it without aggression or anger.

When we arrived I had a choice as to which duplex door to knock on. Left or Right. The exterior was poorly maintained, I could see bedsheets loosely hung as curtains, the yard was littered  with trash and the only dim light came from the church across the street. I knocked on the door on the right and immdiately my mind raced with thoughts like “What if it’s a drug dealers house?” I just watched Straight Outta Compton! I imagined someone with a shotgun just inside with their back to the door. It was too late…the yellow porch light flipped on. I could hear the deadbolts and door chain. My heart sank to my stomach. The door opened…

I could not see his face very well through the filthy screen door. Then I immdiately recognized the gold and black jacket. A calmness washed over me and I slightly grinned.

 “Your the kid from the Globetrotter game. Where is your Mom? I need to talk to her.” 

He turned around and went inside. The younger boy came outside, his head looking down the whole time. He put his hands in his pockets and said, “I didn’t take it sir.” The other kid came back and said his Mom was in the shower. So I said, 

“If you go get my phone right now, I won’t tell you mom. I’ll leave. The police know where you live because we saw on the GPS when you went out back to turn it on. I’ll tell the police not to come over here if you just give me the phone.”

He turned around and returned with the phone. I explained to them the next time they steal a phone they will go to jail because of GPS apps. I found them on my own and I was the announcer.

As I walked away a young guy maybe twenty-two or twenty-four years came outside yelling, his left arm behind his back is if he were holding a gun in the back of his jeans . “WHATS UP?! WHATS UP?!”  I knew better than to say too much so I said, “These two fellas found my phone and were returning it to me. Thanks guys.” I walked away. I immediately suspected that the older brother uses the two boys to steal. They bring him the stolen items and that’s why they offer to let people search them. I felt so bad for them.

The Ubër driver had been waiting for me the entire time. I had given him an extra $10 and told him to wait with the car running. When I got into the car I told him I got my phone back. He was very happy. Then he said, in a thick, backwoods, southern accent…

“Hey man. I’m glad you got yer phone back. I had yer back if anythin’ got rough.”

 Then he proceeded to reach under his seat and show me his .357 MAGNUM AND A TASER. The taser was sparking and crackling as it illuminated the entire car. I looked at him and his face was lit up in flickers of blue and white. His eyes were excited and and looked at me with a crazy deep chuckle. “It’s non-lethal” he said as he stared at me with his toothless grin.

I said nervously but pleasantly to take me back to the hotel. The police officer was still in his car, asleep. I tapped on his window and waved the phone at him. I told him the story and he could not believe I went over there.”That’s a rough area!” he said. Then he proceeded cancel the report on his walkie-talkie. When he was asked by the dispatcher how I got my phone back the dispatcher exclaimed, “THATS A ROUGH AREA!”

Thanks for reading this blog I typed from my recovered phone. According to my coworker Ron “The Terminator” Mathias I’m a straight up “Gangsta” knocking on doors in the hood AND actually got my phone back. I’m just glad my Ubër driver wasn’t a serial killer.

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What Do We Do Now?

As the disbelief and the shock subsides, we look to fill a void left by twelve people who were ripped from us. Strangers to most, and loved now by millions. I have read about the other eleven victims and my eyes drip tears for them, and for their friends and family.

Thinking about Jessica and what I got from our friendship will last me the rest of my life. We had a blast in Denver. We trash talked each other during the Vancouver Canucks/Los Angeles Kings playoff series. We talked about her applying for a CHL in-arena host position and how she was working to get sports equipment donated for people who lost theirs in the Colorado fires.

A few weeks ago, she texted me asking what it was like to be in the presence of the Stanley Cup. She had seen the replica at the Hall of Fame but this was the real deal. I said I would take a picture and send it, maybe even write her name on paper and hold it in front. She asked if I could put a red wig on it. So…standing there I pulled up her Facebook page and enlarged her picture. The mascot “Bailey” stopped the line so I could take the pic and I said it was for a true hockey fan. I posted it to her wall and waited. All I said was, “Your new profile pic.” She texted me in all caps 30 minutes later that relayed her giddiness, joy and gratefulness.

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So. What do we do now? We have grieving, mourning and trying to get a better understanding, “Why?”.  For the families a lifetime void that will never be filled. So what do we do? Well, Jessica left us instructions…

“I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.”

We live our lives better. We treat strangers better. We find gratitude for what we have so we can move forward and continue to be blessed. The relationships we have in our lives are what truly matters because at any moment you could get a call that someone you share a bond with is….gone. Or maybe they may get that call about you.

I miss my friend not being somewhere in the world right now. I am sad that when I see Jessie’s mom today, her eyes may never look the same, with the sadness she has to endure. The world was a better place with Jessica and her eleven other fallen heroes. I call them heroes because even though they lost their lives they taught us about how quickly life can be taken away and reminded us to enjoy the moments. Like Alex Sullivan tweeted, “oh man one hour till the movie and its going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever.” He tweeted his moment to share with the world. You never know.

We learned that the person in the car next to you, the person at the grocery store, or the person sitting next to you at a movie theater…is a beautiful, special soul who is, in their own way making this world a better place.

Rest in peace in all of our hearts. All twelve of you.

Thank you Jessica for the instructions on what we need to do.

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Thank you for reading.

S.A to L.A.

Road trip. Driving in a car for two days doesn’t sound enticing to anyone. Especially to my friend Amanda. She has made the drive about 5 times, but nonetheless, having an experienced veteran in the car was great for all the good places to take a break, eat, get gas, or sometimes just get out to stretch.

First stop was at Starbucks in Leon Springs and then a few stops for gas until we got to El Paso. Tradition now calls Rudy’s BBQ when leaving or entering Texas by the way. I’m already liking this journey.

We had good conversation, lots of laughs, music, and what I like to call..appropriate silence. Sometimes Amanda would take a detour through “Snoozeville”, but I was really enjoying driving. (My Bose Soundlink was the best purchase I have made, I highly recommend one.) We stayed in Tuscon with a friend of my Dad’s. It was a chance we took and was the perfect end to a loooong drive. His hospitality and 10,000 acres of dude ranch seclusion was like another world, and a reminder that good friends will ALWAYS be there for you with open arms and love. I gave him my LA Kings hat as a thank you and we dodged scorpions and rattlesnakes driving out.

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Breakfast in Phoenix was…interesting. We stumbled into Denny’s for pancakes and french toast. I am normally not an eavesdropper but the woman behind me was having a conversation that consisted of…”I just got checked into a diabetes clinic..” “Rehab is going to be expensive…” “I filed a sexual harassment complaint…” and the finale…”..they got him on child molestation.”…I only heard bits and pieces but I could only shake my head and laugh that a conversation could include all these topics. I hope she gets it all straightened out…good luck with that.

Also, I just have to say the Radio Shack in Phoenix was a very frustrating but funny experience. When an asian woman brings her bathroom scale for troubleshooting and you are in line behind her, try not to lose your mind. Also a shout out to the guy with the Pisces neck tattoo…nice Under Armor tattoo. Way to commit to a brand. Might be new market for human billboards.

Now everything seemed perky until we got to the desert, this is where my recent air conditioner repair really came into play. 112-114 degrees with nothing but, flat, sandy, hazy, brown things to look at. Even the mighty cacti that stood 15 feet tall looked thirsty and hot. This was a rough patch for Amanda who would occasionally look at the odometer as if to say, “Hey Grandpa, this car has more cylinders right?” We were towing my trailer, and if you could of seen the shredded tires scattered over the road…I tried to keep visions of jacks, lug nuts, and circles of vultures over our heads should we have to change a tire. But we made it, I took a break from driving. Amanda was quiet for awhile and it seemed the drive had already taken its toll on her. Let’s just say that the brownness of the hazy desert is not good for motivation. We laughed it off though. I am so grateful that we made the trip together. We are old friends and get along great.

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We made it past the state line in Califiornia and played music roulette with my DJ library. Quite a mix. Once the temperature read 75 degrees we opened the windows. We stopped at Tim and Mel’s, unhooked the trailer and drove to Venice to take Amanda home. I saw the Pacific before the sunset. After dinner, I drove back to Glendale where Tim and some friends had a small welcoming. The friends I have made here are absolutely amazing, supportive and I am so grateful for them.

Gonna get settled today. Lots of things to do.

The bottom line…Tis the Season!

For many this year, christmas and holiday parties will be budgeted tightly or non-existent. BE CAREFUL if you call it a “Christmas Party” or HR will be up your ass worried you might offend someone who still will show up for the free food and drink ticket anyway… Also, what ever happened to the Christmas bonus? For those that don’t know what a christmas bonus is, it’s extra money at end of the year in your paycheck, mostly a “thank you” for helping make the company you work for successful. Of course, its hard to expect anything extra from any company that decides the best way to increase the bottom line is to just fire people, save the salary, and spread the responsibilities on other people without increasing their wages.

This past weekend I got a glimpse of hope as I got to MC and entertain a holiday party in Laredo, TX. No expense was sparred with food, drinks, decorations, entertainment, and more. 1700 team members arrived and were shown the appreciation for all their hard work throughout the year. Since a majority of the team members were Hispanic and huge fans of tejano music, Ramon Ayala and his band were the headliners of huge stage under the massive tent. Everyone seemed excited as kids on Christmas Eve. After the close encounter with a music legend, they danced until the last song was played. During this time, the president of the company took the microphone and announced that the company would not be a success if was not for every single person doing their job to the best of their ability. Then he announced that christmas bonuses would be paid yet again this year. The eruption of cheers, tears, and applause warmed my heart. It was inspiring to know that there are still companies who realize that with happy positive employees come happy positive results.

How fortunate a company can be headed into a new year with the pride and support of their workforce. The best result…a sucessful year. Again.

One year later. What’s a good gift?

Summary: Jennifer Dodd, her friends at the Express News newspaper, her tv news station and coworkers, with two police officers (one of whom she had another affair with) orchestrated a public conviction in retaliation for my exposing her extra marital affair on social media. Once I had substantial proof in photos and direct communications by her, the case mysteriously went away. Below is the long, original version of what happened…

True Story.

I never know what gift to get people for a new home or a new baby. I like practical gifts, things people can appreciate owning. So maybe that’s why I have decided to finally be practical about what happened about a year ago. I have tried to let go as much as I can. I have come to grips and coped with the loss of my jobs and the media stories that aired about me wearing that ridiculous orange outfit (which I still say was a Phoenix Suns “It’s R Turn” leftover playoff shirt).
Sure. It all ended up ok. No evidence of wrongdoing and what the assistant D.A. said in the paper, “at some point you just get into free speech.” So why did this happen….I’ll sum up.

Mike Taylor and Jennifer Dodd made no effort to conceal the that they were having an extra-marital relationship. Live radio on-air references, Facebook, Twitter, it was anything but discrete. Like most, I had a problem with it. I listened to his show because I like sports talk radio, but had to listen to him talk about her. “Ariel” and all the innuendo comments, even asking his co-host if he smelled how good she smelled. I was there when she attended his remote broadcasts. What I didn’t like, was wondering if his wife and kids were listening too, I’ve met them and they are lovely.

Jennifer and Mike are public figures in our community, open to criticism and ridicule just like everyone else including myself. There were many open criticisms about my performances at Spurs and Rampage games, I just don’t ever publicly discuss my personal life. Extramarital affair’s are upsetting….I’m sure to many, Tony Parker and Eva Longoria’s divorce was a huge disappointment to the city. What was meant to be some heckling of Mike and Jennifer’s public indiscretions turned into a nightmare. Why? Here it is.

Turns out Jennifer had another special extramarital relationship with the SAPD detective who investigated the case, but forgot to disclose it…oh well…enter Jesse Salame (The guy who almost screwed up the Baby Gabriel investigation with accusations of violating the mom’s civil rights). He showed up at my door as the the “investigator” with his partner Tim O’Connell.. Never mentioned his relationship with Jennifer. So how can a cop investigating a case of false accusations…arrest someone…when he himself (with firsthand knowledge) knows that it’s a lie? Salame’s partner Tim O’Connell made it appear he handled the whole case, I only met him once as he let Salame do all the talking. I filed a complaint with Internal Affairs. Detective Salame has been officially reprimanded for his improper investigation and participation. Internal Affairs case number LC2010-165.

You ready for some one horse town politics? I was taken to DIRECTLY TO JAIL. NEVER READ MY RIGHTS. NEVER TOLD WHY I WAS IN JAIL OR CHARGED WITH. “ACCIDENTALLY” DENIED BAIL (not by a judge either). I NEVER WENT BEFORE A JUDGE. I WAS IDENTIFIED AS A BLACK MALE. It was like I was arrested in Russia. See where I am going with this?? Amazing what connections can do for you and how dangerous to get law enforcement to abuse their authority.

“KSAT-12 The People You Can Trust” was ready to go monday night with a 2 minute “ready to go story” exposé by Katrina Webber, BUT forgot to mention it was their own employee who generated the police report. I have filed a complaint with SAPD that she filed a false police report. No one seems to have any interest at the police station, but the case number is #11294324. It reeks of protection and cover up down there.

Also, where was the investigative journalism? I questioned Katrina Webber over the phone to verify statements made by Jennifer, when Jennifer called me repeatedly begging to work together to not let details get out. Once Katrina Webber realized I was documenting our call, she began to retract, act confused and tell me she she shouldn’t be talking about this. Really? The reporter didn’t want to answer questions on the record? Katrina Webber knew about the arrest BEFORE it happened and was waiting for my processing to come through because she and others I have given me written statements from that were told by Jennifer before anything happened, “Jesse is going to arrest Mike”. KSAT Katrina Webber has a history of expose stories that are questionable in their slanted portrayal of accused people. She also made an insulting, joking reference in a mention to me on social media, and then quickly deleted it. Unprofessional and unhappy I have exposed a dangerous connection and conspiracy with media and local law enforcement.

If a reporter like Jennifer can get her former married cop detective boyfriend (married lover #2) to arrest somebody and then have her news station report the arrest, that’s pretty much a 1-2 punch. Nicely done.

The Express-News very young “crimebeat” reporter Eva Ruth Moravec ran her one sided front page story that reeked of helping out her very good friend, withholding Jennifer’s name to “protect” her. I called her at her office and got some interesting answers. She said she called Jennifer RIGHT AFTER the KSAT story broke…but they never mentioned Jennifer’s name in the story. She just “remembered” at that exact moment she was watching the broadcast and directly called Jennifer that night because she just….knew.  She did however, start to get confused when I asked her to confirm information provided to me directly by Jennifer Dodd to exactly what happened with how she got such detailed information so quickly, and quotes from their close political friends for quotes in the story.  She began to forget facts and then finally told tell me she she should not be discussing details. She was shocked to learn I was taking notes of our call and immediately hung up. My favorite part of her story was that she withheld the name of the reporter in the story..but made sure to say Jennifer wanted a public apology.  In getting ahead of herself, Jennifer called and texted me repeatedly the day AFTER I got out of JAIL to keep me quiet in exchange for dropping charges, and said she told Eva the same. So either Jenniifer could get an apology or a public conviction.  This was a blatant manipulation if the media by someone who how to work the system. Shortly afterward when I made mention of publishing online the details of what really happened, Eva sent me a Facebook friend request, I accepted it to prove I had nothing to hide. I deleted her not long after.

Jennifer asked me to lie in the public apology and say I made it all up. She said “it wasn’t supposed to go this way”. How was it supposed to go? In a desperate plea to stop my uncovering of the truth, she sent a PHOTO of Detective Salame and his two children pleading to me to stay quiet saying I would ruin the children’s lives.

Jennifer was never directly emailed, texted or called. It would be no different than standing on a street corner holding up a sign. So it was NOT harassment..It was embarrassment. I was thrown in jail without bail (without seeing a judge) by her former cop lover for embarrassing her. Anyone scared by that??

I could tell you about the conversations I had with Internal Affairs, but they didn’t seem interested and made it sound like it was all a common mistake that gets made, They finally said spoke with Detective Salame’s supervisor who would reprimand him. When I spoke to his supervisor a couple of months later, he had not “gotten around to it.” He seemed to take interest when I said Jennifer texted me a picture of Detective Salame with his children outside of a home. I still don’t know if he followed through, it’s not a viewable public document.

Are you starting to see how the system works now?

I believe that my city’s police force work hard, and that despite the small percentage that make bad decisions and mistakes, I can still count on them to do the right thing.

I have learned a lot about myself this year. I realize I did not set a good example for my kids. For me it’s been a long introspective journey and I am a better person because of it. What I can’t live with is that our system is corrupted. I have all the proof I need to expose a dangerous relationship between the media and police force working together improperly for the intention of a public conviction. Hopefully, people will not be thrown in jail for making comments again in this city again and maybe there will be more people who come forward who were a victim of what seems to be a longtime police intimidation tactic from what tenured San Antonio attorney’s have told me.

I’m not afraid anymore. I will not be intimidated. It’s been a year and now I am able to think rationally, talk about it openly, and take the steps I need to take to live with it. Just ask yourself one question. What is a day of your life worth to spend in jail, tightly shackled at your feet, sitting next to murderers, thieves, rapists, and you have to sleep on the jailhouse floor that gives you a full body bacteria rash from filth and feces? Is that worth fighting against those that put you there illegally? There isn’t anything I can’t prove and IRONICALLY, its all from direct communications from the distraught, desperate Jennifer Dodd.

So what do think would be a good gift? I’ll browse the registry..

* http://www.amazingregistry.com/baby-registry/Jennifer-Dodd/Mike-Taylor/Registry.ashx?a=70279469#s=showRegistry

*this registry has since been deleted. Screen shots on file.

Total Surrender

Life. Trying to control it, grasp it, wrestle with it…only seems to make it worse. I had a friend tell me that in order to get back on track with happiness and the flow of life in the universe…you have to have total surrender. It can be especially hard for many people who live their life with instant gratification. Shopping, food, sex, alcohol and all the other vices that people hold onto to keep them happy…for now.

It is a pretty safe assumption that we are going to wake up tomorrow. We don’t usually think about death. Why think it about it…right? But if it wasn’t for death, we wouldn’t be trying to find some love, joy, and happiness in this world. Right?

Ok. So total surrender. For some it may tie into your spiritualness as well and that is a good thing. For what ever you feel is overwhelming, you must let yourself go to the universe and the faith that you have. What is it you can’t figure out? Love? Money? Health? Work? Whatever problems you have that you can not control…let them go elsewhere…into the universe. They will come back to you with some solution. Think positively, think with love in your heart for the best outcome to for your problem. Don’t worry about how it will come to pass, just believe you will continue to move forward in life through the good times and the dark times. Totally surrender yourself with the faith people have in you and the love they have for you.