The driver's license they issued me a week before my last birthday that no longer allows be to board a domestic flight
On September 6, 2012, I went to renew my driver's license and that was The Beginning of A Nightmare. I turned in my old license early because ten years prior, while trying to board a domestic flight, my license had expired but they let me go and said, "No problem, this happens a lot." Remember, that was after the September 11th tragedies, when the nation's airports were still on high alert, but we were also still more like America, the country I was born in, land of the free, from sea to shining sea and all that stuff we used to hold dear - the country that taught civics in classes that I hear no longer exist.
It may sound like I'm straying but this will contextualize what follows.
After receiving my new license the woman casually says, "That's not good for domestic air travel" "What do you mean?," was my response as I was halfway out the door. I came back inside and she said, "You need to have two letters that were mailed to your home, and a social security card, as well as your old license to get a verified license."
She explained that six years ago a national law had been passed that becomes law by 2017, but Connecticut enacted it early. Really? I told her I haven't physically had my social security card since I was 13 years old, and I clearly remember one of the first things they told me was to put it in a safe place and not carry the card because I could lose it. It's exactly where I left it in 1963, but of course, like every other American I know the pertinent information, my number and my name. She told me, "Knowing isn't good enough, I'd have to show it to her." Of course I couldn't, so I asked, "What else could I do?" She said, "Get an original document that has my social security number printed on it." I told her okay and I'll see you in a few days. I was a little angry but on some level I understood.
I returned in a few days with my unverified driver's license, my passport, the document with my social security number, and the required two pieces of mail. She did some work on the computer and came back to me and said, "I can't proceed. The computer won't let me go forward." I asked, "What does that mean?" She explained that my social security information doesn't match their computer records and the program won't allow her to go to the next step in the process. After repeatedly questioning her she gave me the most information allowable, "You have two things that don't match on your social security information." I said, "This is easy because it happens all the time, they've misspelled one of my two names, either it says Niles with an s, or Rogers without a d?" She said, "That's one of the problems but there's an even bigger one!" I asked how big and she said, "I can't tell you."
At that point it gets semi-hostile and she said that I must go to the hospital where I was born and get a copy of my original birth certificate. I explained that I was given up for adoption at birth. When they recorded this birth I was called Baby Boy Goodman. I tell her, "There's no document with the name Rodgers on it but I've had a passport since I was 19 years old. The government agency that issued it required better documentation than my birth certificate, so shouldn't this be good enough?" "I'm sorry," she says, "but that's what you have to do!" At that point I didn't realize the hellish trip that I was about to embark upon.
I made the first part of this blog post a week ago because I thought there'd be a happy ending by now. Today is Thanksgiving Day and I'm in Las Vegas, Nevada visiting my mother. I travelled here with my unverified driver's license and a birth certificate. I had to apply for a Japanese work visa and had to submit my passport. As of now I'm Still in Limbo WTF?
Airline Departures Gate
Homeland Security Advisory Levels
7th Grade Civics Textbook - I'm talking Jr. High School
Select CT ID Program
I haven't had one of these in my hands since 13 - I did buy a copy of Elvis' Driver's License at Graceland
Here's the grave of a man named Niles Rodgers, a common misspelling of my name
Donald Trump's Birth Certificate - Well he's got one so he's American
When they recorded my birth I was Baby Boy Goodman
I showed up with my Passport I've had since touring with Sesame St. at 19 yrs old
Me and friends on the Sesame Street set
There was nothing I could do - I put on a happy face and went to the Dept of Vital records
The Street where the Dept of Vital records is is aptly nicknamed Ave Of The Strongest
Today I'm in Vegas visiting my mom but I was worried about being able to travel domestically without my passport
I'm Still in Limbo WTF?
My memoir, "Le Freak"
If you've read my biography Le Freak, you may remember that my maternal grandfather fled Georgia after he'd beaten a white man he'd caught raping his sister. Upon arriving in New Jersey, he saw a Goodman's Egg Noodle billboard outside the Holland Tunnel and appropriated the name believing that people would see him as a "good man." At the time he had no idea who Jewish people were and that Goodman was primarily a Jewish name.
In New York City the black and Jewish communities were closely aligned, especially because of working together in the garment business. My stepfather Bobby was Jewish, worked in the clothing business, and was best friends with my mother's friends as well as my biological father, Nile Rodgers. Bobby's surname was Glanzrock, and my mom's was Goodman.
Around her thirteenth birthday Mom had sex with Nile, and became pregnant. The school system pressured her into giving me up for adoption at birth. I became a ward of the state named Baby Boy Goodman. (Sounds like a blues guitarist.) Within a few months, my mother's maternal instinct got the better of her, she reclaimed me, and named me after my biological father Nile Rodgers.
On September 6, 2012, I went to renew my driver's license and that was The Beginning of A Nightmare.
(To be continued...)
Holland Tunnel to New Jersey circa early 50's
A shot from PBS's "The Jewish Americans" - Women working in the garment district
My aunt Midge and her brother Bobby a couple months after he'd married my mom - who took this picture
My father Nile had a garment district job moving clothing on racks called "Flying Jewish airplanes"
Me & Mom - She was 14 and I was a few months old before her maternal instinct got the better of her and she retrieved me from foster care
I'm finally two steps away of getting a simple driver's license that I can use as federal ID (the way it's been in America my entire life)
The driver's license they issued me a week before my last birthday that no longer allows be to board a domestic flight
Montreux Jazz CEO Claude Nobs was also my first European Tour Manager in 1978
This past summer I had the extreme pleasure of playing the Montreux Jazz Festival once again. They wanted to honor me but I wanted to honor the music that changed my life - dance music. I started out playing classical music as a child primarily, became a jazz session-player / club-date musician as a young adult - until I evolved into a dance music composer / producer / performer.
I named my all-night festival within a festival: FREAKOUT MONTREUX! The Evolution of Dance Music - and I used this night to tell the story of my personal evolution. Almost everyone on the program has played An Important Role In My Life.
DJ Scarlett Etienne, me, Johnny Marr Legendary Guitarist from The Smiths named his son after me, & Mark Ronson whom I've know since he was 5
Baltimore's Amazing Performance DJ Vocal Artist Ultra Naté
Grace Jones has changed my life in so many ways - I've also known her son Paulo (Beatboxer / Percussionist) since he was born
Me and Legendary Remixer DJ Dimitri from Paris who killed a CHIC Boxset a couple years back
Yazoo's iconic vocalist Alison Moyet leads us through Mark Ronson's version of Johnny's smash "Stop Me" by The Smiths
The FREAKOUT MONTREUX! Artists Autographed Guitar
R&B / Soul / Disco Pioneers Tavares
The supportive fans which allow me to live Lost In Music!
Taylor Dayne is all I need to say!
CHIC with Elly Jackson of La Roux
Disco Legend Marc Cerrone who was the labelmate of Sister Sledge when I did We Are Family
Explaining why I love vinyl in a BBC TV Special on vinyl recordings
I've just finished shooting a BBC TV Special on vinyl recordings. I still make vinyl recordings on every record that I can. I went into my basement and found some amazing recordings. Everything from my very first CHIC record all the way up to my current video game soundtracks. There's Nothing Like Vinyl.
On a vinyl recording I can tell where the breakdown comes by looking at the grooves on the disc
An original CHIC 12" Single test pressing in an Atlantic Disco promo sleeve
I got a little emotional recalling recording the first CHIC record with Luther Vandross, Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards
The video game Halo original soundtrack released by my company Sumthing Else Music Works
I always cut vinyl to get a bigger sound
Me getting ready to shoot a BBC TV Special on vinyl recordings - I had an amazing stack of records from my basement
David Bowie's "Let's Dance" picture disc Vinyl Album
My biggest selling vinyl album - Madonna's "Like A Virgin"
Sister Sledge's 12" single "He's The Greatest Dancer"
It's a week after hurricane Sandy struck the northeast coast of the USA
It's a week after hurricane Sandy struck the northeast coast of the USA. Though I'll have to do a lot of cleaning up and repairs, my home is relatively unscathed.
Today, I was asked by people whom I work with to come out to Staten Island, the 5th borough of New York City, to see their devastation first hand. What I saw was unbelievable. Boats, houses, trucks, and cars where thrown around like toy pieces. I can only imagine the nightly horror when it's cold and dark as this area is still without power.
I saw and heard about acts of sacrifice and overwhelming kindness as well as many stories of Heartbreak, Death and Destruction.
Though I'll have to do a lot of cleaning up and repairs, my home is relatively unscathed
Boats, houses, trucks, and cars where thrown around like toy pieces
I can only imagine the nightly horror when it's cold and dark as this area is still without power
There were many people like this woman giving out free food
Hurricane Sandy's winds and surge deposited these boats and debris here from a mile away
In this shot things look normal but if I turn the camera just inches there's destruction everywhere
A car that was dropped by mother nature on another
People lining up to get gasoline for their generators
This cute sculpture survived the storm
Here it is from another angle with a couple of boats tossed up on land behind it
She said, "All my life I've taken care of diplomats, now why can't somebody take care of me - I've just retired from my job at the UN"
It's Halloween night and Lower Manhattan is still blacked-out in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy
To say this has been an unusual week could be the understatement of the year. As I write this it's Halloween night and Lower Manhattan is still blacked-out in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, my assistant Sooze, has been trapped in her high-rise apartment building for the last two days because her lobby is underwater (she'll be rescued tomorrow).
I still have many friends stranded here from around the world because the airports are closed, and we were forced to reschedule our annual We Are Family Foundation gala. Three days later the Ballroom still has no electricity.
Though it's Halloween, which is usually festive and my ex-partner Bernard Edwards' birthday, I feel helpless because all the things I've just mentioned are beyond my control. I've accepted my situation and tried to make the best of it. At least the kids had a good Halloween Party in My Building.
Unprecedented flooding in New York City
A shot of New York's La Guardia Airport after hurricane Sandy
We were forced to reschedule our annual We Are Family Foundation gala
Halloween in my hood
Halloween in my building
Halloween in my building
Halloween in My Building
In the spirit of We Are Family, we welcome everyone...however, an uninvited guest named Hurricane Sandy decided to stop by and stay a while!
With the safety and security of everyone in mind, the We Are Family Foundation is RESCHEDULING the 2012 Celebration Gala scheduled for Monday, October 29, 2012 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC to the soonest possible date.
We will be in touch this week with our new date - we don't want you to miss the best party in town!
Many states have declared States of Emergency. Please take this storm seriously and take all precautions necessary to be safe. We look forward to seeing you very soon after Hurricane Sandy leaves town.
Onward & Upward!
We Are Family Foundation Team
Here's a behind-the-scenes rehearsal clip for last year's gala with CHIC, Q-Tip & GZA
Me & CHIC performing at last year's gala with Q-Tip and GZA
A CHIC and Elton John, gala performance
Me and Slash, gala performance
Me and Anita Baker, gala performance
On the red carpet with Joanna and Tony Bennett
Me, Steven Van Zandt and Jackson Browne, gala performance
The crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom
Classic CHIC Stage Rush!
A moving gala performance by Valerie Simpson
On the red carpet with Kate Pierson (The B-52s) and Jackson Browne
"We Are Family" A Musical Message for All
I'm busier than usual because I'm directly involved with a number of charitable commitments as well as my normal job. I started this blog because there are many people who, like myself, are struggling with cancer problems specifically, but hardships in general. Life is mainly hardship with moments of happiness.
I try and find good in the most difficult times so I can experience as much happiness as I can control. I try and think of working and giving as fun and rewarding.
I've traveled all around this world since I was a child and I've seen acts of kindness where you'd least expect to find them. People have a great ability to be kind. Regardless of whatever health issues I'm dealing with, my life is fun and rewarding. I've created many songs that have changed my life. "We Are Family" is even the inspiration for my own charitable foundation - and like the song, our programs have reached millions and what we've accomplished in the first eleven years humbles me.
The whole We Are Family Foundation team is working overtime on our upcoming gala. It will take place on Monday, October 29, 2012 at Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom. We're honoring a few visionary humanitarians: Sting and Trudie Styler, Jeni Stepanek, Ph. D., and Daniel Stern of Reservoir Capitol. Many of my friends will be performing. If the past can forecast the future, it will be A Night to Remember ».
Dora The Explorer producer Brown Johnson & me at Peter Gabriel's Witness Gala
I attended and performed with the Oscar nominated IMPACT Repertory Theatre, of which I'm a board member
I try and think of working and giving as fun and rewarding
The building of one of our We Are Family Foundation schools - People have a great ability to be kind
The completed WAFF school with students
Copy of original We Are Family leadsheet
WAFF and Court TV collaborated to produce "Empowering Children in the Aftermath of Hate" in 2002, a 30-minute special that won two Beacon Awards
TEDxTeen is another one of our WAFF programs
Teens from WAFF's Three Dot Dash program listen to presentations from Rachael Chang (Catchafire), Celeste Borttorff (Coca-Cola), Rose J. Flenorl (FedEx)
This almost sums us up in a nutshell because we also have fun
Sting & Trudie Styler WAFF 2012 Humanitarian Honorees
Mattie J.T. Stepanek and his mom Jeni - He was our first and she's our current WAFF Peacemaker Awardee
Daniel Stern President of the Film Society of Lincoln Center
Me and Sir Elton John performing with CHIC at a WAFF gala
Me, Little Steven and Jackson Browne at a WAFF gala
The B-52s at the WAFF gala last year
Me and Miss Piggy at a WAFF gala
Talk about dedication-there was a person inside this realistic looking sculpture all day!
Whenever I go for medical test I feel the gamut of emotions. I always have a certain amount of fear, despair, anger, caution, pain and stress, but I somehow get back to feeling hope, respect, patience, love and happiness. The different jobs I do assure me that inevitably I'll get back to appreciating life and people. This week my medical procedures were pleasantly interrupted by my duties as chairman of Sumthing Else Music Works, a company that specializes in video game soundtracks. I was part of a panel of composers who talked about the art of scoring video games. It took place at a huge sold-out event at the Jacob Javits Center: New York Comic-Con, the largest pop culture event on the East Coast.
We had a totally packed house and my SEMW staff worked really hard. Not only did the distinguished panel of composers lift my spirits, but there was so much happiness emanating from the dedicated patrons of New York Comic-Con.
Here's another shot so you can see that he moved
Some very talented video game composers at the Sumthing Else Music Works booth at New York Comic-Con
We had a totally packed house- We need our own Grammy Category PEOPLE!
This dudes attention to detail was amazing
I wonder if she had a pressing engagment
Cosplayers at NYCC
Dude posing with Halo's Master Chief at the Sumthing Booth
Peeps at the Sumthing Booth at New York Comic-Con
Solomon Grundy rolled up on me singing "Aw Freak Out! Le Freak C'est Chic."
A picture's worth a thousand words
Patrons of New York Comic-Con
Dude's going Gangnam Style