BADASS JOEY DAVIS – “Perhaps someone out there will see one of our photos and think to themselves if that old dude can do it so can I.” This conversation started on March 15th, 2018 on Over50Badasses.com . . Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop, Go head wit yo funk.
Joey could you please tell us young you are?
I’m 53 years old, born in 1964, the last year of the baby boomer generation.
What are your feelings about being on this planet for 53 years?
It’s a mixed bag because I didn’t start my adult journey with the tools most people start out with, I made every mistake imaginable, but at the same time I’ve ended up at a place in life where I am so grateful, happy, and content, that I can’t say I’d change a thing.
Getting “old” isn’t bad at all, I joke around with my adult daughters and tell them that after 50 I get to do things like wear a Hawaiian shirt with plaid shorts, order a foo-foo drink at a sports bar, and say mushy sensitive things without a care in the world.
I still giggle every time I get a haircut, when the barber tilts my head down and I’m looking at the black apron, the amount of gray hair contrasted against the apron where my dark hair once was almost invisible makes me realize just how quickly I’m aging.
If you don’t mind, could you please share why you didn’t have the tools most others have access too growing up?
Like many people who grow up in poverty I was raised by a single mother who never remarried. I didn’t have an older sibling (technically my sister is one year older), uncle, cousin, or any other adult model to learn from. My mother did the best she could with what she had considering she didn’t finish high school and also was without family support, but that meant she was often times working more than one minimum wage job and waitress nights for cash “under the table” at a local bar.
The instructions, structure, and life lessons my wife and I have instilled in our own daughters were never a part of my childhood, so I saw life as a crazy adventure, I was very much lost growing up, constantly observing and making my own choices, often times the wrong choice.
Where do you live?
I live in San Diego, my parents moved here from Nebraska when I was still in diapers. Although I can’t technically claim “native” status, I consider myself a San Diego native and absolutely love this city.
Why did your parents leave the heartland for the West Coast?
My mother and father were high school sweethearts, and if I remember the story correctly my father was one year ahead of my mother in school and after graduation he decided to join the Marine Corps, he was an orphan so he didn’t have too many post high school options. I think he took a few odd jobs but eventually opted to join the Marines. Boot Camp for my father was in San Diego, so my parents packed up and drove my sister and I out to San Diego, home to the largest Marine Boot Camp base in the US, it is also the place where I ran my first “Mud Run” (or any type of run for that matter) at the tender age of 40.
What do you do for a living?
I splice together fiber optic cables in manholes and on telephone poles for a large communications company.
They say being a parent is the hardest and the greatest job in the world, can you tell us about that?
I can honestly say that I never truly experienced the hard part because I had an incredible parenting partner in my wife of 27 years, we took on different roles that seemed to compliment the parenting task quite well, it was a natural balance for us. But if I had to pick the “hardest” part of parenting it is was the constant pressure I put on myself, I was so afraid of failing them. Looking back I can’t help but think about how hard it must be for a single mother, like my mother, to raise three children, and especially hard to do so in poverty without the help of a partner or family. The “greatest” part parenting is virtually everything, every second that went by, I never could have imagined the depth of love and pure joy parenting has given me, I love being a father, every stage of my three daughters lives has given me so many wonderful memories and blessings that I could easily fill a book.
Every day was an adventure I looked forward to, I was that crazy dad who took pictures of everything every day, to the point we have more than 250,000 digital images and videos of our lives (many are film photos I had to scan).
It doesn’t sound like you had a silver spoon childhood, what did you learn from that experience that helped shape who you are today?
I have a deep understanding of a lot of the issues that are front and center in politics today because I lived them, things like poverty, crime and violence, welfare (or as they call it today, entitlements), and the plight of Black and Hispanics. My neighborhood was very diverse, but my life was largely influenced by Black culture. I didn’t grow up listening to Rock n’ Roll, instead it was Stevie Wonder, Parliament/Funkadelic, the Commodores, the Gap Band, etc.
I learned that children are incredibly resilient, that the pressures of poverty are largely unnoticed by the individual child but the consequences are still there.
At 53 years old I’ve heard my share of childhood stories from coworkers and new friends, including many who DID grow up with that “silver spoon”, and I’d have to say that although my childhood was void of important and necessary instruction, it was rich in culture, diversity, and tightly bonded friendships that last to today. I’d dare say my childhood was far more fun from a child’s perspective than most childhood stories I’ve heard. We were running the streets from sun up to sun down in pursuit of adventure, endless hours swimming, playing pool, basketball, and making things in the wood shop at our local Boy’s Club. We played football in the street, stick ball, and sat around “basing” on each other, a term that describes the act of making fun of each other, we made fun of each other’s most sensitive and vulnerable insecurities, and learnt to laugh at things that today’s children are protected from and are unable to cope with.
Favorite Parliament/ funkadelic song and why?
Oh man that’s a hard one to answer, there are so many, but if I absolutely have to pick one it would be Aquaboogie. Aquaboogie is George Clinton and Bootsy Collins at their best, bringing what was called the p-funk, a kind of psychedelic funk with heavy baseline and oddly placed sounds that make it impossible to sit still. I remember hearing it at my neighbor’s house for first time when I was around 14 years old, and 40 years later it’s still a part of my workout song list and family BBQ’s, my three daughters even know the songs I grew up on and have them in their playlists too.
Basing is not a term I have heard before but I am certainly familiar with the fine art of making fun of each other. Why do you think a generation has lost the skill, humility and vulnerability that comes with that type of humor?
I’ve thought about this question a lot. We as parents have tried to remove the aspects of childhood that we deem harmful and end up removing the very processes that force adaptation and allow children to develop their individual coping mechanisms.
I know the issues have changed and today’s teens are in a new world, but I can’t help but wonder if we’ve done more harm than good in our effort to protect them.
250,000 digital images and videos. Why was it so imperative to document so much of the experience for you?
I have always been a very observant passenger in life, as a boy I would steal film from the grocery store to take pictures of my family and surroundings (something I’m not proud of). I remember the huge Life Magazine photo books at the library that seemed to freeze history and allowed me to experience something without actually being there myself and I wanted to do the same. I love to preserve moments exactly as they are, opting to take candid photos of family, friends and events more so than posed photos.
My adult life has been beyond anything I could have imagined, it has intensified my desire to preserve every moment in time, to tell our story and preserve it for my children so that they too will always be able to […]
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