I Can’t Breathe: Poetic Memory of George Floyd

Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins, art by Shawn “SP” Perkins

Excuse me, but I can’t breathe

in the land of the free, home of the brave.

It’s a pandemic and jobs have been lost,

including my own.

Providing for my family is the goal

and spiritual divinity is the fundamental virtue of my throne.

Am I guilty, a threat, or innocent?

A black man in America

overshadowed by cognitive dissonance.

When the looting starts,

the shooting starts, says 45!

God is the source of all energy,

blessing the world with tranquility and serenity.

I loved my life,

I was a father of two

and developed profound friendships.

I enjoyed excelling in sports in Houston,

even picked up the mic a few times, aka “Big Floyd.”

Get to know my story and relinquish your fear,

I’m as human as you with a thirst for creativeness,

even in perilous times, I focus on noble causes. [Read more…]

2020 Ford Expedition Limited: Big and Bold

 

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

So you decided on an XXX-sized family SUV for the household’s comprehensive needs and activities. The main choices were the GMC Yukon Denali, Chevy Tahoe and Yukon, and the 2020 Ford Expedition Limited, which I just recently tested. The Yukon Denali is the best looking out of the bunch, but you were interested in the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine that packs quite a punch for a vehicle of this proportion. The mpg at 22 highway and 17 city were not bad at all, you thought, considering the weight and room for eight!

The 2020 Expedition is clean and not as clumsy in style as years prior. All of my guests were impressed with its commanding presence and confident demeanor. Everything about the SUV is big and bold down to the size of the cupholders. The cabin is comfortable and relaxing as my girls were lamping in the back like they were on vacation. The middle row seats split in three ways, so as the two outer positions replicate captain chairs. Fold both rows flat, and you will have enough storage to bring home a patio deck full of boxed furniture and supplies. Just in time for summer grilling was the plan. The 3rd row folds electronically, similar to the Lincoln SUVs. Ford officially dubs them Second-row 40/20/40 Power Folding Tip and Slide seats and PowerFold and Power Recline 60/40 third-row seat.

Running boards and grab handle on each front door helps you up into the vehicle, and a rotary shifter with various drive modes gets you going. My SUV featured Intelligent 4WD for roughing it through harsh weather or terrain, while the EcoBoost is paired to a smooth 10-speed SelectShift Automatic Transmission. I was impressed at its acceleration, even when the vehicle was weighted down. It’s hard to believe there is a V6 with 375-horsepower and 470 lb.-ft of torque under the lid. The steering adjustments are powered as well. The multimedia system comes in the form of SYNC 3 (not my favorite) with Enhanced Voice Recognition Communications, a wireless charging pad to keep the kids updated with juice, and an enjoyable 12-speaker B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen. My ride was also upgraded with the 360-Degree Camera with Split View. The Expedition’s leather seats were snug, but the black interior cabin was rather bland and uninspiring. Yet, you are going for convenience here like the Panoramic Vista Roof. Ford offers a choice of a King Ranch MAX if you want to drive in the high life.

My 2020 Ford Expedition Limited in Iconic Silver Metallic was blessed with the $2,035 FX4 Off-Road Package, so it felt assured when I loaded up the mountain bike to hit the trails. FX4 comes with the previously mentioned cameras for viewing your surroundings; 18” Magnetic-painted aluminum rims with massive Michelin Primacy A/T 275/65/R18 tires;  a 3.73 electronic limited-slip differentia; skid plates; the chrome-plated running boards; and a few more add-ons. For the price, this is a very generous offering!

MSRP for this model is $66,470 and totaled $72,455. The Expedition is perfect for adventurous families who love exploring with one another along with their nomadic gear. Camping anyone?

Toyota/Lexus Minority Owners Dealership Association to Sponsor National ‘COVID-19 Day of Service’ on May 22

The Toyota/Lexus Minority Owners Dealership Association (TLMODA) is working with The Salvation Army to fill the pantries of families in need during the coronavirus pandemic. On May 22, 2020, TLMODA Dealers and The Salvation Army will distribute more than 4,800 packages in 24 communities throughout the country.

“The coronavirus pandemic has left many families vulnerable and in a state of economic instability,” says TLMODA Board President Ed Fitzpatrick. “The COVID-19 Day of Service represents the TLMODA member’s collective compassion and responsibility to give back to the community.”

During TLMODA’s National COVID-19 Day of Service, Toyota and Lexus dealership staff will distribute grocery boxes of non-perishable items like boxes of cereal and canned goods to help feed a family of four, for a week. Items for the grocery boxes will be packed and assembled by local Salvation Army teams in accordance with safety guidelines from local, state and federal health officials.

The Salvation Army is helping identify families in need of food and instructing them to visit one of the participating Toyota or Lexus dealerships to pick up their grocery box. In order to maintain proper social distance protocols, boxes will be placed in the trunk of each family’s vehicle on a first-come, first-served basis until supplies are exhausted. All families must contact their local Salvation Army to qualify for a grocery box.

“Across the country, the economic impact of this pandemic continues to impact families, both those who were already experiencing the challenges of poverty, and some who are experiencing them for the first time,” said David Hudson, National Commander of The Salvation Army. “We are extremely grateful for the support of organizations like TLMODA so we can continue to meet the evolving needs of the most vulnerable.”

More information on the TLMODA ‘COVID-19 Day of Service’ can be found at TLMODA.org/day-

of-service/

TLMODA’s goal is to represent the needs of minority dealers within Toyota and Lexus. Any dealership which represents a minority group, based on 51 percent or more ownership, is invited to join as a dealer member. Some of the benefits available to dealer members include networking opportunities, mentoring support, collective representation within Toyota and Lexus, community involvement support, and development opportunities, among others.

Toyota Lexus Minority Owners Dealership Association (TLMODA) is a diverse dealer association focused on the growth and sustainability of Toyota and Lexus minority customers, and ethnic minority dealers. For more information, go to www.tlmoda.org.

[Read more…]

2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro CrewMax: Powerfully Authentic

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Sadly, the current state of humanity is living in fear, but the world needed to slow down to gain perspective on the pillars that matter most in life: family, health, and mindfulness. For me, purging and reducing unnecessary – or old- goods bring clarity to help focus on other essential tasks. With that, I decided to use the 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro CrewMax to clean up the yards, shed, and remake the garage into a garage gym. As well, I lent a hand to neighbors as they too were purging. So, let’s say that our local recycling center is now my best friend.

Aesthetically, the Tundra TRD Pro is a paragon of excellence with conspicuous TRD design statements. The pickup arrived in Incredible Hulk mode with its Army Green camo and TRD frame looking chiseled like Greek gods. The merits of the latest Tundra TRD Pro are intriguing. They include a black grille frame, a new hood scoop, revised springs, new shocks and rims, and suspension upgrades consisting of new TRD-tuned Fox 2.5” front and rear internal-bypass shocks, and an additional 1.5” of front wheel travel and 2” rear wheel travel from the springs.  The TRD dual exhaust system in black is pretty throaty, and the black-highlighted LED fog lights and headlights are TRD originals. You will see TRD bolstered all over and throughout the green-machined Tundra. Speaking of which, I initially would not have considered a green pickup truck, but I enjoyed this specific hue as well as everyone else who came into contact with it. [Read more…]

2020 Nissan Versa SR CVT: Rainbow Delight

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Small cars get the job done efficiently, economically, and conveniently. If you need to park in a micro space in the downtown area of your city, then done. If you require 35 to 40 highway mpg for long journeys, then done. And if your overall budget is less than $22,000, then done. You won’t be winning road races in this category, and your girlfriend will not be highly impressed on date night, but you will have a greater peace of mind knowing that essentialism can be achieved in a respected manner. Thus, the little 2020 Nissan Versa SR 4-door sedan provides the essentials for day-today human operations. [Read more…]

Humans: Slow Down, Read a Book, Respect Nature!

Thoughts by Kimatni D. Rawlins

I vividly recall cleaning yards in the hood of Camden, NJ starting at 8 years old with my cousin Vince. Now I can enjoy a few good books in the serenity of our Japanese garden which I designed after studying the Orient art form (contrast of stone and vegetation) and nourishing our grasses, bushes, shrubs and trees with the nutrients they need to grow strong while providing us with clean oxygen. They key is a strict fertilization schedule — especially in the fall and a slow release fertilizer early winter — aerating, water, and love!

This quarantine will be no problem for I and I, as the goal is to slow down, be still, observe, and value what the Most High has blessed us with while enjoying family more. Humans have lost focus and purpose in life which should not be centralized on rapid acceleration, incessant urbanization and development, robotic takeover, technology beyond imagination, etc etc.

Deforestation alone is literally killing us and the animal population while bringing deadly diseases and viruses into our domain. You’ve destroyed bats’ and other exotic creatures’ homes and now look. Humans have once again altered the ecosystem for the worse in exchange for more profits.

Like Robert “Nesta” Marley said, Simmer Down!

2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD: Small Ball

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The Houston Rockets are showing the basketball world that a big man in the middle is not required to compete. As long as the guards and forwards continue to drain threes and score off the dribble, then “small ball” will work in their favor. In another significant Texas town, Kia adopted the same game plan for the national press introduction of the 2021 adventure-ready Seltos, which is the polar opposite of the larger, distinguished Telluride. Being that the Korean automaker is the transportation face of the NBA, the meshing of the two philosophies works well.

Kia welcomed Fit Fathers and Automotive Rhythms to the second most populated city in the “Lone Star State” for a few days of testing, colonial culture experiences, and a bit of chilly, outdoorsy weather. San Antonio, located in south-central, was ideal for driving as it presented open and flat roads, highways, a mix of switchbacks, and rugged gravel trails to help me truly understand the dynamics of the entry-level SUV. I even performed some light off-roading in the Seltos so we now know it’s not just a pretty face. Christened after the Greek god Celtus, Kia positioned the Seltos between the energetic Soul and Sportage models. Marketing is targeting Generation Y consumers who range anywhere from 22 to 37 years old and demand connected technology as a lifestyle precept. The celestial name is pretty cool too. [Read more…]

2020 Chevy Blazer 3LT Leather AWD

Experienced by Kimatni D Rawlins

An icon has returned with a fashionable, refreshing outlook utilizing its mighty moniker and compelling reputation. I was especially devoted to the robust and resolute Blazers of the 1990s since the nostalgic hallmark left my young crew with many fond memories. Today, the latest generation of Chevy’s eminent SUV comes in the form of a crossover utility with grace and updated technologies to meet consumer’s trendy expectations.

The 2020 Chevy Blazer 3LT Leather AWD I was testing for the week rolled in the Automotive Rhythms driveway in a lively Red Hot hue outfitted with standard 18” Bright Silver Aluminum wheels and dual split exhaust tips. For more character and performance, larger 20″ Gloss Black rims are available on the AWD model, and the two-tone black body cladding, roof rails, bumper pieces, A, B, and C pillars, and the chiseled Blazer signature grille add the perfect balance of contrast and flair. The body-colored tailgate spoiler with a streak of black is an excellent design touch as well. Though, I would prefer Chevy’s tamed tones for this SUV such as grey, black, or white because a red of this illumination is characteristic of sports cars and smaller, playful vehicles like Kia Souls and MINIs. [Read more…]

2020 GMC Sierra 2500 Denali 4WD Crew Cab

GMC is on the ground floor making headways with the Sierra pickup, including the recent news of a collaboration with Harley-Davidson and Tuscany Motor to unleash a 250-model limited-edition Harley-Davidson branded GMC Sierra which is bad to the bone. Inspired by Harley’s famed Fat Boy model, expect over 65 edition-specific enhancements that make this unique, custom truck one of the toughest on the block.

Ironically, when the broadcast passed by my desk regarding H-D and GMC, I was currently testing the 2020 Sierra 2500 Denali 4WD Crew Cab with the all-powerful Duramax 6.6-liter V8 turbo diesel engine and Allison 10-speed automatic transmission. Quite naturally, I focused on heavy lifting, incorporating multiple roundtrip excursions to my local landscaping supply center for firewood and gravel loads. I also had to remove a few dead trees in the yard, which was easy work for the truck in comparison to its top-end capabilities. Additionally, my collegiate football mentees were home on winter break and needed work, so the four jumped inside the crew cab to join me and were amazed by the head and legroom in the rear. The new Sierra Heavy Duty features a longer wheelbase and a more domineering hood line in comparison to the model it replaces. [Read more…]

2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited: Beyond the Scope

An Arizona test drive for East Coast visitors like myself is always a welcoming reception during the winter Holiday season. Add in drive time behind the wheel of one of Hyundai’s new and innovative automobiles to navigate through town in, and the ante is upped trifold. Yes, the FWD 2020 Hyundai Sonata is smarter, assertive, and far more stunning than the model it replaces.

Lining up alongside the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Nissan Altima in competition, the Sonata is better suited to draw attention with its modern looks in addition to the value it has offered for so long. Hyundai lowered and widened the vehicle, increased its wheelbase, enlarged the wheel wells, enhanced the aerodynamics, and shortened the overhangs for an aggressive 3-dimensional look. But the main design focus was centered on the front fascia, which leaves the strongest impression on viewers. And one of the cooler features is the “Vortex Generators” atop the LED boomerang taillights, which reduces air turbulence along with the integrated trunk lip. These divots act as a spoiler to stabilize the Sonata at higher speeds. [Read more…]