Streetfight Study: Using the environment as a weapon


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Your immediate environment can be the best and most effective weapon you can ever use in a self-defense situation. I’ll bet Al Gore never taught you that!

But before I start waxing poetic, let’s watch this video:

Okay… there are so many different directions this post could take based upon this 1:46 second video. It was brought to my attention from a friend who shared the video on Facebook and used it as a platform to discuss the efficacy of headbutts in a self-defense situation. While that proved to be an enlightening discussion, I’m going to take a different direction… namely, that most environments that people fight in can be the most devastating weapons, and they’re all available for you to use.

Before I start, let’s get one thing straight: I’m not talking about “weapons of opportunity.” A weapon of opportunity is something you can grab – a beer bottle, pool cue, stick, etc. – in the heat of the battle and use as a tool to defeat your opponent. What I’m talking about is using the actual environment itself as a weapon to disrupt and disable your opponent.

Case in point, this video. The crazy long-haired guy effectively used the pane-glass window – part of the environment inside the Subway restaurant – to his advantage by quite literally pushing his opponent the length of the floor and through the window, itself. The shattered glass did more damage to his opponent than the push/shove did, as was evidenced by the profusely-bleeding lacerations all over his opponent’s face.

Needless to say, shoving the young man through the window will likely result in felony charges for the long-haired wildman, but that, too, is a separate post.

Using the environment as a weapon can be easy if you’re mindful of it. For example, if you’re going to push someone, push them into a wall or through a window. If you’re going to slam someone, you can always slam them into a table and/or chairs just as soon as you can the floor, though the floor works, too. Pushing someone down a flight of stairs is also a good example of using the environment as a weapon, though a a high chance for fatality or serious injury usually follows this choice. (Just like pushing someone through a window.)

Quick trip down memory lane: After a few years at a private junior high school, I transferred back to public school in the eighth grade. A fellow student decided to test meddle in drama class, of all places, on the stage in the auditorium. It happened to be set up for a play and there was a large “bar counter” made of wood paneling placed upon the stage.

Long story short, the student climbed the steps to the stage and confronted me before swinging a wide, looping right that caught me in the ear, making my head ring. Much like the long-haired wildman in the above video, I somehow grabbed the young man’s wrist, spun him around, and sent him crashing through the wood paneling, which broke like glass and raked the back of his neck, causing bleeding lacerations. He also hit his head on the hard, two-by-four frames, giving him a slight concussion. As I was running in to pull him out and finish him off, my fellow students restrained me, thus ending the fight.

This is a true story, and it was a rather shocking revelation to my eighth-grade mind regarding the effectiveness of using the environment as a weapon. Feel free to share your stories when you’ve either used your immediate environment as a weapon or have witnessed someone do the same…

The Republican debate doesn’t mean shit to me…


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debate   The recent Republican debates and who might have shined in them doesn’t mean a thing. Why? Because we’re once again deluding ourselves into believing that ONE person is going to lead us into some new golden age of the American dream.

It hasn’t worked that way for a long time.

What I believe needs to change is the relationship that we the people have with governance. For too long, wealthy and powerful corporations with unprecedented access to our elected leaders have been influencing that laws that government. We can’t change that because the practice is Constitutionally protected. (First Amendment, free speech, etc.)

Now, these corporations are actually drafting and writing the laws that our elected leaders rubber stamp their names upon and push forward to be ratified. And in case there’s any question about what kinds of laws these corporations are creating, they’re only those that will further their interests, increase their profit motives, and solidify their hegemony. And this is almost always in adverse opposition to we the people’s best interests.

Money corrupts everything. This isn’t exactly a newsflash, but it’s something that needs to be thought through to it most logical and inevitable conclusion. To wit,  our need to provide for ourselves makes all of us complicit in this sick little game. We’ve all sold out… we did it a long time ago, and we did it for chump change. How? By turning a blind eye to the corrupting influences the power structure places upon us in our jobs. Sure, we’ll say things such as, “I know it’s not fair, but I gotta pay my bills.” I guess that’s meant to make us feel better about sacrificing our cherished ideals on a near-daily basis.

This isn’t anything I haven’t done and the knowledge of my complicity shames me to no end. As a professional writer, I’ve allowed job security to trump the truth, writing articles that I KNEW were false on behalf of our infallible advertisers and the power of their almighty dollar. Disturbingly, I’ve heard similar stories from doctors, teachers, police officers and nearly every other profession. (Scared yet? You should be!)

Since so many of us have long ago compromised our ideals, perhaps this is why we put so much faith in elected officials, particularly our POTUS. Every four years, we magically believe that the person we’re voting for will somehow be above the corrupting influences of money. Further, by finding something(s) to identify whom we’re casting our vote, we magically believe that, if elected, this person will become our personal savior.

Newsflash: Practically every president we’ve ever had has sold out, too. What makes this dangerous is that they often sell away OUR rights and freedoms in the process. And once the new relationship euphoria with our president wears off, we the people go back to our time-honored tradition of rationalization by saying such things as, “Well, everyone in politics is a little corrupt,” or, “Well, they have to do a little dirt to get things done.” Disillusionment sets in and we go back to our daily lives, waiting for the “game-changing” election. (If you’ve been paying attention, you should see a pattern here.)

So that brings us to today and the dawning of yet another election. With the recent Republican debates, many of us allow ourselves to once again be swept up into the hype and hope of finding our next savior… that ONE person who will save us from the forces of evil… but it’s not going to happen.

Whoever becomes our next POTUS is either already corrupted by the existing system, or he/she will be in short order. Consider our current POTUS, a man whom many Americans truly believed would be the savior of this country. While he may have helped do a few good things, depending upon whom you’re talking to, a whole lot of bad shit went down on his watch. And he’s not come close or even tried to put a halt to Big Money’s continued corrupting influence upon our country.

So what’s the answer?How do we undo the lies, greed, and corruption that have hijacked our government and way of life?

Truthfully, I don’t know. I’m only certain of two things: 1.) Going along to get along has gotten us to where we are, and 2.) The notion of electing a “savior” never works. We now need to change our relationship with governance, starting with us being less accepting of the many ways they infringe upon our rights. If anyone has a solution, I’d be willing to listen… but I don’t think the answer exists with anyone featured in the debates. And I’m also fairly certain that our salvation also can’t be summed up with some witty catchphrase and corresponding hashtag.

Why fighting for your friends can be a BAD idea…


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People who fight for their friends are idiots, most of the time. Yeah, I said it. What you gonna do about it, bitch?

Oh. Sorry. Got a little sidetracked there. As I was saying, it’s not always a good idea to jump into the fray on behalf of your friends because you don’t always know what you’re jumping into. Consider this video:

A quick break down: A rhino comes into the feeding ground of a group of Cape Buffalo. The alpha buffalo, in his role as protector of the herd, challenges the rhino. During their head-butting contest, other Cape Buffalo can be seen joining the fight… but not on the side of their buffalo leader. Instead, their taking shots at their leader in hopes of killing him so they can become the alpha.

Some friends, huh?

In the end, it appears as though the alpha buffalo dies as a result of the wounds he received from the rhino’s horn. His last moments on earth are spent surrounded by the very pack members he fought so valiantly to defend, and the same ones that turned on him during the fight.

Growing up in Flint, I’ve had plenty of experiences where someone – or a group of someones – would attack a single person on behalf of his/their friends. In more than one case, I’ve seen one guy in a group – usually the smallest – go around and purposefully instigate fights with strangers, supremely confident in the fact that his “boyz” would get his back. In more than one instance, I was the guy that “Mr. Congeniality” chose as his target.

Like our friend the Cape Buffalo in the video, a whole host of bad shit can happen if you decide to take up for friends who don’t care that much about you:

1. You can get your ass kicked. Seems pretty simple, right? Unfortunately , few men are able to admit that there are people out there who can beat them in a fight. In this scenario, there are two options:

A) You get a costly stretcher ride to the hospital and a fat bill for the treatment of injuries that will haunt you for the rest of your life,

B) A free ride to the grave.

2. You get arrested on simple assault charges. Yeah… while taking up for your boyz gives you instant street cred in your suburban-hood-fantasy life, powerful folks in the real world have built their careers around arresting and prosecuting idiots like you who like solving problems with your fists. And this comes with plenty of problems:

A) Court costs and fines. You think your boyz are gonna help you pay these? Think again!

B) Jail and/or prison time. You read that right! It’s actually pretty much illegal to beat people up, especially if you hurt them badly. If you like fighting so much, maybe this is the place for you, since plenty of “squabs” go down behind bars.

C) Limited job opportunity. Even if you get out of this mess with probation and some community service, your newly-acquired criminal record will come back to haunt you each time a prospective employer conducts a background check. Those same friends who wouldn’t help you pay for a lawyer aren’t gonna let you live in their basement rent-free for the rest of your life, either.

3. You’re being used. Some people like to stir up shit and let others clean up their mess. If you have a friend that always seems to be getting into fights – fights that you end up finishing – chances are, he/she knows exactly what they’re doing. Why else do they do it so much? That they’re so willing to allow you to accept all the risks and responsibility for their actions suggests that you don’t make good choices when it comes to friends.

4. Your friends turn on you. Believe it or not, the same people that you’re so willing to risk your life to defend will be the first ones to turn around and call you a “hot-head” or a “violent rage-a-holic” once the dust settles. This usually happens as people age out of their “crazy 20s” and start getting married, having kids and settling down. They and their spouses are trying to distance themselves from their “wild side,” and you are a living, breathing reminder of those days. Don’t be surprised if these so-called loyal friends start turning their backs on you. Remember that gratitude is preservative-free, so it’s shelf-life is exceedingly short!

5. You’re being set up. Admittedly, this is a worst-case scenario but it’s not unheard of. If someone wants something that you have, perhaps the best way to get you out of the picture is by playing upon your misguided sense of loyalty and getting you into a fight that they know will end up in your arrest and prosecution. Hey! Stranger things have happened!

These are the reasons I won’t fight for my friends. Well, most of them, anyway. I would fight and die for my wife and children in a New York minute, but the number of friends I’d actually be willing to throw hands for could be counted on one hand… with more than a couple fingers left over.

Well, that about covers it, though I’m eager to hear YOUR experiences with this phenomenon.

What I Don’t Like About Internet Social Justice Warriors…


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baby  “So what really is your problem with Internet Social Justice Warriors?” A Facebook friend and avowed ISJW recently asked me this. Here’s my reply:

At the risk of repeating what practically every conservative has already said, ISJWs have easily become as or even more intolerant as they claim every Christian/Republicans/Tea Baggers/conservatives they’re fighting against. (#TheRealInconvenientTruth) Every ISJW in the struggle has heard this, of course, yet like any other fact that conflicts with their “enlightened” worldview, they choose to ignore it.

They have absolutely no problem taking a heavy-handed, ham-fisted approach to their social issues and a blind fury with which they exercise this right. They do this by starting from the firmly-held conviction that they already have the moral high ground, and thus proceed to run roughshod over those who don’t think exactly like they do, or dares question their position. This can be evidenced in their very memes, which boldly declare: “If you don’t believe in (insert their cause du jour) then you’re part of the problem.” ISJW

I also take issue with ISJWs rather simplistic view of the world and America in particular. In short, they hate that part of America that has anything to do with Western white male involvement. As such, we’re burdened with their ongoing narrative of “systemic racism and white supremacy,” which is not only rather simplistic, it’s also getting old. By focusing on this sliver of history, they completely ignore the fact that other people/cultures engaged in much the same behavior as their hit list of dead white men, which would lead any rational person to conclude that acting out of extreme self interest seems to be the problem with the historical narrative worldwide.

ISJWs also ingore what we know about the human mind, particularly cognitive biases and other mental pitfalls that we humans, all succumb to. Instead they view the world in “Star Wars terms” the pit the absolute good against the absolute evil, and we all know what side they believe they’re on. I tend to think the truth is MUCH more nuanced and not simply defined nor solved; but in the current ISJW narrative, that makes me “part of the problem.”

Given that the majority of ISJWs whom I know are middle-aged white men, I wonder how much of their vitriol is psychological projection. This deep hatred of all things Western white male is so strong a force, and I can’t help but wonder if it gets triggered each time they look into the mirror. Something so strong can’t remain bottled up forever, so these mental midgets project their self-loathing and deep-seated feelings of insecurity outward onto other white males who aren’t sipping the ISJW Kool-Aid. Note: try suggesting this to an ISJW that this theory of psychological projection might be worthy of consideration and you guess it… you’re “part of the problem.”

Lastly, if ISJWs are going to keep telling me HOW to live and HOW wrong I am by not doing so, I want to know what kind of qualifications they have. I’m talking degrees, certifications, awards… anything that might acknowledge why I should swear blind allegiance to their desperate ideologies. From where I’m sitting, all I see is a bunch of white, whiny, washed-up, 90s has-beens yammering on and on about how THEY believe the world should be. If that’s the case, I might as well listen to myself.

Long story short, a few old adages easily apply to this ISJW craze, including but not limited to: “Practice what you preach,” and “It’s not WHAT you say, it HOW you say it.”

Don’t try telling me what a “great person” you are…


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scary.2   I’m a good person who would never do anything to hurt someone else. And if you don’t think so, then you don’t really know me at all.

In this capitalist, commercially-driven society, we’re bombarded with marketing messages from thousands of companies branding their message and image into the public consciousness. Unfortunately, we’re emulating these companies whenever we try to build our own, personal brand. Everyone is issuing “press releases” about what a great person they are, and the rise of social media has only made these messages more prolific… and annoying.

Scroll through your Facebook news-feed and read between the lines of your friends’ posts. From the ranting and raving of your Internet Social Justice Warrior (We all have at least one.) to the post from the hipster, housewife, blue-collar badass, etc. Read between the lines. What are they really saying?

I’m more evolved than you.

I’m more loving than you.

I have a better sense of taste than you.

I work harder than you.

It goes on and on, and as a writer, I’ve become somewhat adept at reading between the lines. When it comes to declarative self statements, however, no special skills are needed. There are plenty of people out there who are more than willing to put it bluntly so that there’s no mistaking their message. These are the folks that will come right out and tell you, “I’m a good/loving/compassionate/etc. person.” They put it out there point blank so there’s no mistaking what they want you to believe about themselves… their favorite subject.

The thing about declarative self-statements is that they’re NOT factual, no matter how forcefully it’s stated. Yet this doesn’t stop the person from saying it… and expecting – no, demanding – that you believe them. Maybe they’re the type that thinks the louder you say something, the more inclined people will be to believe it. Or perhaps they’re so used to their social media fan club (We all have one.) coming in to like and comment on these types of posts.

“I agree! You’re the most wonderful son/daughter/father/mother/brother/sister/friend/neighbor a person could ever ask for!”

Perhaps I’m getting cynical in my old age, but I wouldn’t dare attempt such a post… or statement. Case in point, take the statement that kicked off this post – “I’m a good person who would never do anything to hurt someone else. And if you don’t think so, then you don’t really know me at all.” Many of my FB friends – those who know me in real life – would likely sit back and say, “Who the fuck is he fooling?”

Truth be told, I would be a fool to actually think – let alone say – that I’ve “never” hurt someone. From little “jokes” to pointed “observations” of people’s behavior, I’m fairly certain that I’ve said things that have hurt the feelings of at least a few of my friends… things that I likely, at the time, tried to write off as “jokes” or “observations.” (I’m just trying to help, etc.)

Even some of my erstwhile bullies might say that they only picked on me because I said or did something that was “deserving” of their special brand of attention. Some of them might not have appreciated my carefree, sarcastic outlook on the high school social caste system, as such an irreverent attitude might have undermined their emotional investment in it. Others could’ve simply perceived me as “walking around, thinking I’m better than everyone.” Thus, they might believe their actions as justified. (As declarative self-statements go, “I wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they did something to deserve it” is a fairly popular one.)

And what about the times I’ve physically hurt people? I’ve admitted to enough of this right here on Facebook, and no matter how justified I think my actions, I’m sure the other person has a different take on what went down.

Here’s the simple truth: none of us are as good as we think we are. A cursory look through history – personal or otherwise – easily proves this. We’re nothing more than monsters in ill-fitting human skins, ruthlessly driven by our self-interest. It’s only our gift of language and ability to deceive ourselves (and others) that makes these pursuits appear better than what they – and we – truly are.

But I’ve rambled on long enough. You were saying something about being a good person…

*Artwork generously donated by Steven Michael Pace of Flint, MI.

“Thug” is the new n-word, you racist, piece of shit, cracka mutharfuckuh!


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beast  While this meme works when referring to tough-talking suburban soccer moms and any other pussy-ass nerd trying to front, a new meme is needed regarding the word “thug.”

This meme should read:

Everyone wants to call themselves a thug,

Everyone wants to do what thugs do,

But nobody wants to deal with the consequences of being a thug.

So why all this about thugs? Because many in the black community – as well as the white, liberal progressives whose ideologies feed their hate – are screaming from the rooftops about the media’s use of the term “thug.” In their words, “thug” is the new “n-word,” making referring to someone as a “thug” a racist statement born of systemic white supremacy.

Truth be told, these social justice warrior types are right… but not in the way that they think they are.

“Thug” is the “new n-word” because, just like its predecessor, it’s a term that’s fine for use within a specific racial/social/economic group, but is equally forbidden for use by those outside said groups. In plain English, this means that it’s fine for thugs to call themselves and those within their social circle “thugs.” But if the word is used by a “non-thug” to describe a “thug” and/or his/her actions, it becomes a highly-politicized matter subject to a variety of ideology steeped in the alleged systematic racism that allegedly exists in power/non-power relationships, etc.

So to you non-thugs reading this, use this term at your own risk! The folks on Fox News are safe hiding in their TV station, but you lack such protections on the street or in the bar, etc. Therefore, if you use the word to describe someone or their actions, don’t be surprised if the suspected thug(s) does some thuggish shit to you, then label you a racist who refuses to own up to your own inherent racism and privilege.

And speaking of consequences, I’d like to get back to that portion of my fictional meme idea. Whether it’s prison or the cemetery – or simply being labelled a “thug” – there are repercussions to certain types of behavior that go against what’s generally expected in an orderly society. Sadly, this reality is rarely taken into consideration by would-be thugs until long after they’ve committed themselves to their act(s) of thuggery. By then, it’s too late; thus, I have a feeling this term is going to be around for a while.

So, with all that said, who’s up for creating the meme?

*As a quick side note, the dictionary definition of “thug” is “a violent person, especially a criminal.” The word has Indian origins, and was used to refer to members of a religious organization of robbers and assassins who waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travelers, in a ritually-prescribed manner. (Apologies to anyone of Indian descent who might follow the goddess Kali, but that is some straight up thug shit!)

So much bullshit packed into one, tiny little Internet meme…


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Chad  The wisdom of Internet memes, this time from the only-God-can-judge-me crowd.

Before I get started dismantling the faux wisdom of this meme, let me make a couple things perfectly clear. 1.) I am covered in tattoos. I have two half-sleeves, both chest panels and a backpiece covered in a variety of designs. 2.) I am not a Christian. Instead, I’m an Odinist, which means I honor Odin and the rest of the old, Northern European gods, such as Thor, Tyr, Freya, etc. With that out of the way, let me tell you why I think this meme is bullshit, for the most part.

I will acknowledge that there’s a kernel of truth to this meme. Yes, not everyone who has tattoos is a vicious killer or conniving criminal. And yes, all of know at least one person who piously attends church every Sunday yet somehow seems to miss the better message of what being a Christian/Jew/Muslim should be all about, and that’s love, acceptance, forgiveness of self and others, etc. That said, this amount of truth to the meme is an acorn compared to the towering oak tree of bullshit that it implies.

Now let’s look at the bad, of which there is a lot. Those who would share this meme are doing so in search of validation. Chances are, they’re tattooed and likely don’t go to church – which neither of things are bad – and they’re struggling with feelings of low self worth. (Hint: we all do this to varying degrees.) Thus, sharing this meme is their way of saying, “Despite my flaws, I’m a good person. Right?” And each like and/or comment from their like-minded tattooed friends acts as another brick added to the poster’s “self-esteem wall.”

Another problem with this meme: it’s thinly-disguised tribalism. What I mean by this is it basically draws a line in the sand between one “tribe” – tattooed people – and another “tribe” – non-tattooed people who attend church. This creates an us-against-them scenario where people are reduced to mere stereotype of what each “side” represents to the other. This robs people of their humanity, which is known as “othering,” as in people become reduced to something other than human. Example: Someone looking at a group of tattooed people and saying, “Look at those freaks over there! They’re not like us at all. They’re evil!”

Thing is, it works just as well in reverse: “Look at those lying sons of bitches with their hands together, pretending that they’re praying. Half of them will go home and beat their wives!” (Sound familiar?)

The bad news is that it’s hard to escape the “tribal mindset,” as it’s been ingrained in us since the dawn of our species. By trusting in and taking care of only our own “tribe,” our primitive ancestors ensured their survival. This same biological memory doesn’t serve us so well today, where our culture has moved from tribal to one of a diverse global village. Now, whenever we separate humanity into “tribes” that are diametrically opposed to each other, we create conflict where there needn’t be any. This can lead to atrocious acts committed upon members of the other “tribe” in the name of survival of one’s own. Example: How many Jews were killed by the Nazi regime because they believed Jews to be evil and a threat to Germany’s prosperity?

One more thing about the tribal mindset: seeing the world as us-against-them blinds our eyes to the wide range of diversity of thought that in which humankind actually presents itself. Example: how many tattooed people go to church? Likely more than you think, and they’re not all bad (or good) people. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it should not be ignored that many murderers, rapists and other criminals have tattoos, and  there are many people doing good things – ministry, healing, charity work, etc. – in the name of their chosen faiths.

Wow! I’ll bet you didn’t think a meme that says so little actually says so much!

Beware all ye who would create monsters…


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ugly1 Dear two people from my past,

All you have is hate… pure, unadulterated hate. You have distilled it into its crystalline essence then weaponized it against the masses. It’s your gift to the world, and you mass produce your hatred, implanting it into each new hateful offspring that shoots forth from your fetid loins. It is their birthmark as much as their birthright.

I now realize why you brought me into your lives. You craved a monster – needed it, even – and so where there wasn’t one, you created that which you desired. Because a slavering and hook-clawed beast roaming the perimeter is the one thing that keeps you from looking into the mirror and seeing the real monster, that one that resides there inside the silvery glass, staring back at you with hate-filled eyes that look like your own.

And so, like like the mad scientist locked away inside his lab, you used my flesh, my soul, to create me the image of the monstrosity you so desperately needed. And just like your hatred, this beast was your masterpiece. It was something so horrible, so monstrous, so vile, that whatever semblance of humanity it once had was long ago destroyed in your zeal to create it.

With me so conveniently fashioned in the image of your grotesque, you wove your tales of my horror in taverns. The simple-minded villagers, needing something to fear, someone to hate, swallowed your words like so many tankards of ale. And like the ale, your words wove their spell, twisting their minds until they took up their pitchforks and torches, shouting, “Kill the beast!”

You sit back laughing in your near-salacious glee, but do not rejoice too soon. There’s a monster on the loose, and it wants to return home. Soon, this creature will be at your doorstep and it will have grown too powerful to be stopped by your shield of hate and self-righteousness. This beast longs to rend you limb from bloody limb as you scream in pain at the injustice of it all.

But do not expect pity from a monster. Vicious creatures are incapable of such emotions. After all, I am as you’ve made me.

*Featured artwork by Steven Michael Pace of Flint, Michigan.

Internet social justice warriors are perfectly fine with their hatred and hypocrisy


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ISJW  This meme is exactly what’s wrong with Internet social justice warriors and their mentality. Right here, in black and white, they state that if you don’t think exactly the way that they do, then you are part of a “problem. My response: the only “problem” I’m part of is the one they’re creating in their head and projecting onto the world.

Rant over.

Finding closure after the death of my father…


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3Johns  At first, I didn’t want to write my father’s obituary. While I know he loved me and I loved him, our relationship was about as far from a “Brady Bunch” kind of vibe as you can get. Anyone who regularly reads this blog has likely picked up on that already. In the end, I’m glad that my mother insisted that I be the one to write my father’s obituary because it inadvertently allowed me to give my father the one thing I could never give him as a child: the validation he so desperately sought. Without realizing that it would, this simple act of capturing the essence of his life has afforded me a sense of closure that will surely help sustain me through the viewing and visitation this weekend. So, without any further ado, here is what I wrote in honor of my father:

The recent passing of John Ribner leaves his family grieving their tremendous loss, and the community bidding farewell to a loyal friend, supporter and mentor.

John Richard Ribner, age 76, died Monday, May 4, 2015, at his residence. Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Dolly; two sons: J.P. and wife Rosemary, and Ryan and wife, Aga; four grandchildren: Jorie Jukes, Jacob Esmay, Draco Esmay and Johnny Ribner; and three siblings: Theresa Ribner, Annabelle Ribner and Michael Ribner. John was preceded in death by his parents John and Mary (Gasca) Ribner, sisters Mary (Ribner) Kocaj, Margaret (Ribner) Hallead and Veronica Ribner.

John was born September 20, 1938, in New York City. As a young man growing up in the Yorkville section of Manhatten, he nurtured his love for sports, primarily stickball and baseball. His love for the game of basketball – a defining characteristic of his life – was inspired by watching Bob Cousy play for the Boston Celtics. This seminal moment inspired young John to tell his father that he wanted to play basketball, to which the senior Ribner replied, “If you’re going to do it, then be the best you can be.” John easily lived up to his father’s words.

From the courts in Harlem to Carl Shurz Park and beyond, the Big Apple served as the crucible where John forged his phenomenal skills. After playing for St. Anne’s Academy in New York City, he took his game to North Branch High School in North Branch Michigan, where he continued to set records during his awe-inspiring performances on the court. These skills earned him an athletic scholarship to Central Michigan University, where he continued his dedication to the game as one of CMU’s most-celebrated players.

While at college, John fell in love with an aspiring young teacher from Flint, Michigan named Dolly E. Mears. Shortly after graduating, the two married on August 6, 1966 at All Saints Catholic Church in Flint. They accepted teaching positions in the burgeoning Flint Community Schools system, where John taught at Fairview Elemenatry School, Holmes Junior High School, Whittier Junior High School and the Kennedy Center. An English teacher who was a voracious reader himself, he introduced many students to the joys of classic literature, inspiring many to become lovers of the written word, themselves.

During his noted career, John was awarded “Educator of the Year” by the Flint Board of Education in 1992, and was named “Educator of the Year” in 1993 by the Sales and Marketing Executives of Flint. He also was honored by Flint Youth Project’s 15th Annual Roast and Toast on September 23, 2009. His accomplishments were read to the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Dale Kildee. While these awards were prestigious, they pale in comparison to his greatest accomplishment as a teacher: the number of lives he touched, and the legacy of inspiration he’s left behind with the many students who’ve remained near and dear to his heart.

While John’s competitive basketball-playing days ceased after college, he nurtured a love for the sport in others. The court in his driveway on Jennings Road was the premiere destination for many young men who came as much to absorb his knowledge and experience as they did to shoot a game. In this capacity John truly shined, as the advice and help he offered transcended the game to offer some much-needed life advice to many. Needless to say, he’s remembered fondly by everyone who’s ever taken a shot on the old “titanium ten-footer.”

No recollection of John’s life would be complete without mention of his community service. He was a passionate believer in the concept of paying a “civic rent,” which he defined as giving back to the community. From raising an enormous amount of money for Baby Tabitha (a severly ill child in Pittsburgh) to providing Thanksgiving turkeys to hundreds of needy familes, John always led by example. In his latter years, he remained involved in the Westwood Heights school district, both as a board of education member and a comunity advocate.

John Ribner was truly an amazing person, and no amount of words can capture all the good he’s done or the number of people he inspired. What is undeniable is that his unique personality and infectious optimism always made an indelible impression upon everyone he met. This was evidenced by the outpouring of thoughts, rememberences and prayers his wife, sons and siblings have received within the days following his passing. The family wishes to extend their gratitude for everyone’s support during this most difficult time.

John’s family will be present to receive friends on Friday, May 8, 2015, from 3pm to 8 pm at Swartz Funeral Home in Flint. The funeral service will take place at 11am, Saturday, May 9, 2015, at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Flint. Friends may share a memory with the family at the funeral home or online at


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