Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1991

Oakland Firestorm!
One Sunday afternoon, I was at my uncle’s church helping out with the ushers. It was a particularly warm day as we had nearly every window in the church open to allow for some fresh, cool air. Unfortunately, it was only slightly breezy and not enough to cool things down inside the church. I happened to okland firestormbe standing up in the front of the church during service, when I glanced over toward one of the open windows where I had a view of the East Bay Hills in Berkeley. I saw what appeared to be a fog bank hugging the hills. Only this didn’t look very much like the grey to silver fog that normally enshrouded the hills on summer afternoons. Instead, this appeared more brownish and heavier. I immediately knew that it had to be smoke from a brush fire somewhere. As soon as church service was over, I stepped outside and to get a better vantage point of smoke. It was very apparent that this was a bigger brush fire than I first thought. One of my cousins who was exiting the church building also noticed the smoke but said, “wow, look at that fog!” I replied by saying, “that’s not fog, that’s a fire.” Knowing that it was something a little more unusual, I jumped into my pickup truck, grabbed by camcorder and drove to the scene. I flipped on the radio in the truck and tuned into one of the local stations that found itself now covering the breaking story. As I drove closer and arrived in El Cerrito, I noticed that the cloud’s shape was starting to change. At first, it had a more layered appearance which looked much like a bank of clouds but now it was looking more like a growing mushroom cloud. I decided to seek a higher vantage point to see if I could see more of the affected area. I drove to Albany Hill nearby. As I arrived at the parking lot on Albany Hill, I discovered that there were several other people oakland hills firewho were already there watching the unfolding disaster. I also noticed that it was quite windier up there on the Hill. The people were all gazing and marveling at what they were watching. A few of the peofirestormple had binoculars set up on tripods which were trained on the major fire and smoke. People were making all kinds of comments like, “oh my goodness, that one house is gone”. They also kept saying “it’s close to Clairmont Hotel… oh dear. “It’s right behind the Campanile.” As I filmed the area of the East Bay Hills and the growing the cloud, I asked a few of the others if I could also peek through their binoculars. They obliged. When I peered through the lenses, I was astonished at what I was seeing. I could easily see flames and just the frames of several houses that had already met the fury of the flames. Later that evening, I continued to watch the news coverage of the Oakland Hills Firestorm on television. It lasted 2-3 days, although the worst of it was over within 24 hours. 25 people were killed in this major conflagration. This is the audio from the evacuation from the firestorm.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Seymour, the cockatiel
This year, my father provided our family with a new pet. It was a Cockatiel. He was mostly yellow with gray patches on its wings and small pinkish orange blush on its cheeks. He was a gift from a connection made on my grandmother’s side of the family. And this is why we named him Seymour from the last name of my grandmother. Seymour was technically a Pied Cockatiel. He was great around people and enjoyed sitting on the couch on the living room or sitting on the top of the curtains in the dining room. We attempted to get his wings clipped but figured it would cause him too much distress. So, we allowed him to maintain his full flying ability. We soon discovered that it would behoove us to place a drip towel on the top of the couch to prevent Seymour’s blessiseymour our cockatielngs from landing on the couch fabric. Whenever he got excited it would fly about the house doing his loud erratic chirp. When he would land, he was so out of breath that his little chest would be rising and falling very quickly. When he was being social, he would come over to you and bow his head so that you would rub his neck. He loved having his neck rubbed (but don’t we all like getting our necks rubbed?). Seymour became very skilled at mimicking the beeps caused by our microwave. We also discovered that he would whistle if you happened to walk by his cage while not being clothed. Seymour spent several months with us until one day, the garage door was left open and Seymour flew away. We frantically ran out the house trying to call him back. He flew down to the next block which was Ash Court. He sat on the tip top of a house there, and then flew toward the back when I lost sight of him. I couldn’t think of anyone else to call but the Hercules Police. An officer showed up to help me search for Seymour. He and I peered over the backyard fence of the house until we suddenly heard the bark of what sounded like a large dog. Both us were startled and jumped off the fence. The officer told me that he used to raise Cockatiels and that they can fly very well when their wings are allowed to stay intact.

US at war!gulf war attack
This was also the year of the start of our first prime time and modern war of my era. The Desert Storm operation or "Gulf War" had started in the middle east with the U.S. ousting the Iraqi influence led by Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The news coverage for this war was on television for weeks and weeks, each time playing those moments when the reporters who were in Baghdad would be startled by the air raid sirens indicating the threat of Iraqi Scudd Missles. Gary Sheperd with ABC World News was on the air with Peter Jennings as the US and their allies launched their air to ground bombardment on Baghdad.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Solar Eclipse
During mid summer and while I was working at the summer camp program, the west coast was treated to a rare astronomical events - a solar eclipse. This eclipse was more special because the moon was going to block solar eclipse 1991out a significant amount of the sun and we would be able to see it here on the west coast.  Our skies were perfectly clear and I had a perfect view of the blue sky from my backyard. The scientists and TV news reporters were saying that as much as 63% of the sun would be hidden by the moon passing in front of it. This was going to take place before the lunch hour and while I was at home. I didn’t have to be at work until later in the afternoon and so I was stoked to be able to watch this unusual event take place from home. During this year, our summer camp program would walk the children to the newly opened swim center to spend a few hours and then return to the camp classrooms. From my backyard, I had a perfect view of the jogging trail that they camp group would use walk to and from the swim center. I also had a perfect view of the sun which was directly up overhead. I grabbed my telescope and my camcorder and aimed them at the sun. Since I had a special sun filtering lens for my telescope, I was able to use it for viewing the sun. I watched the sun as the eclipse started and progressed. I kept running back and forth from the TV waviewing the solar eclipsetching as the eclipse was starting to reach totality in places like Hawaii and the southwestern Pacific Islands. As I continued to watch through the telescope and the camcorder images, I suddenly noticed that the sky looked strange. It was noticeably dimmer and the shadows were not as distinct and clearly outlined as they were just 30 minutes earlier. The sky was darker. I checked the telescope to see that a huge section of the sun was blocked out by the moon. I heard a commotion coming from the jogging trail. I ran to my fence to look down the hillside toward the trail and saw the groups of students walking to the swim center. They were from my summer camp program. I called down to them and they looked up and waved. I wasn’t sure if they even knew that the solar eclipse was even happening. Later, after the eclipse had ended, I watched my recorded video and discovered that something had happened to the camcorder. The captured video was fine but there was a permanent red spot in the middle of the screen. Apparently, even a camcorder can be damaged by a solar eclipse.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Ray Charles Diet PepsiTelevision Time in '91
One of the really coolest commercials during this time was when the late Ray Charles tickled the ivories to a tune for Diet Pepsi. All I could remember was the main lyric, "you got the right one baby... uh huh!"

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

 
Previous Memoir Page Memoir Home Next Memoir Page
© 2009-2010 JujumediaZone.com, Kareem (Heyjoojoo) Go back to Homepage Jujumediazone Home Go back Next