Thursday, November 20, 2014


There's a Baltimore connection to the Jada Pinkett Smith / Will Smith family, in that her stepfather is Warren Brown, a local attorney who pops up about this time every year with a gun buyback program aimed at lowering the gun ownership rate in Baltimore to a more manageable level, like 26 per person.

Jada graduated from high school here and headed west to fame and fortune, and she has been married to the former Fresh Prince since 1997, so you have to say their marriage seems to be working fine.  The union has produced two children: Jaden, male, 16 and an actor and musician, and Willow, female, 14, a musician who had a fairly big hit with "Whip My Hair" a couple of years back.

All of us who have lived past the age of 16 have been the same ages as these kids at one time, so maybe we should look back at our own teenage excesses of unformed ego and uninformed intelligence before we read this interview with the Smith children and judge them too harshly.

That aside, the interview is a fascinating look at how some people live and teach their children, and how movie stars confuse the roles they play with real life. Ronald Reagan, who had a career of sorts in politics after his movie-making days ended, told former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and writer, Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal that he himself had assisted personally at the liberation of the Nazi death camps.  A glance at the Reagan military record will tell you that if he did such a thing, it was a miracle to all involved, as he served his World War II time in the dangerous battleground known as Culver City, California.

And Will Smith himself has been known to say that he could be president (well, if Reagan could do it....) and a physicist and beat Mike Tyson in a fight.

You add in a healthy dose of Scientology and take the kids away from school, and here's what you hear from the kids:

Jaden: “The only way to change something is to shock it. If you want your muscles to grow, you have to shock them. If you want society to change, you have to shock them.”

Willow: “Breathing is meditation; life is a meditation. You have to breathe in order to live, so breathing is how you get in touch with the sacred space of your heart.”

Jaden: “School is not authentic because it ends … Kids who go to normal school are so teenagery, so angsty.”

Willow: “I went to school for one year. It was the best experience but the worst experience.”

On how they experience time out there in California:

Jaden: “If you are aware in a moment, one second can last a year. And if you are unaware, your whole childhood, your whole life can pass by in six seconds.”

Willow: “I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that’s how I know it doesn’t exist.”

We could go on all day, but you have to hear about their favorite novels:

Willow:  "There’re no novels that I like to read so I write my own novels, and then I read them again, and it’s the best thing."

Jaden: "Willow’s been writing her own novels since she was 6."

In a world where you can bend time to fit your will, and there are no novels worth reading, at least these children have learned that we all need to breathe.

My favorite part of The Fresh Prince on TV was always when Uncle Philip tossed DJ Jazzy Jeff headlong out the front door for saying foolish things.

Sometimes that's how we learn.

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