Friday, October 31, 2008

Your Voting Experience

I've been reading several people's blog posts this week and they have been talking about voting early. I've also been hearing about early voting on The Steve Harvey Morning Show, The Michael Baisden Show, and Monique's radio show. I would love to be able to vote early and have it out of the way but, I'm afraid that we don't have early voting here where I live so, I have to vote on Tuesday, November 4th.

I live within walking distance of where I will be voting and I'm sure that like any other election day, I will be at the door when they open at 7:00am. I'm well known at my polling place because I vote in every election, whether it is monumental like this one or a simple one in the middle of the year for a judge or a city council member... that's just me. I'm around there with my steaming cup of Dunkin Donots Coffee and I'm voting.

I was commenting on the F%$k It List's blog earlier today and I told her that, since I anticipate long lines on Tuesday, I might take the day off and bring some fried chicken in a paper bag, a water bottle full of "Red Kool-Aid", and a mixed CD loaded with my favorite Public Enemy songs (to get me in the mood) so that I can relax while I wait to vote. (I know... that sounds so ghetto, doesn't it?) I was kidding of course but, why not make your voting experience as pleasant as it can be?

In all seriousness though, this is going to be a monumental day... a historic day. I do plan to wear some comfortable shoes and while I won't have fried chicken, a Public Enemy mixed cd, and such, I may just have that water bottle filled with "Red Kool-Aid" so I can sip while I wait in line for my turn to vote. I'm bringing a notepad too... who knows, I might see "Joe the Plumber" and get his autograph-lol!

Have a great weekend everybody!

And, don't forget to set your clocks back
on Sunday, November 2nd @ 2:00am!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The 11th Commandment

"Thou Shalt Not Gloat."

"But, We're Number One!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It's been 12 years last week since her suicide. I didn't really want to blog about her but, something about Kathy always made you take notice... always made you want to write and say something. That's how she was... expressive, dramatic, inspiring.

I was going to lunch yesterday and I saw a huge metal peace sign that had been constructed at the sight of her death. Someone had printed her many quotes and left flowers. I smiled... finally, 12 years after her death she is taken seriously. Wherever she is, Kathy would have liked that.

This is one of my more bizzarre life experiences. Kathy was not one of my ex-girlfriends. I met her the year after I got married. I can't even say we were friends. I never knew her real name until after her death and she never knew my last name.

I met Kathy in 1990 when I first began working at the university. I was walking across campus with a co-worker and I saw a throng of people crowded around the front of the library. Drama junkie that I am, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about so, I walked over to the crowd and worked my way to the front and there she was... all 5' 2" of her. This little petite Asian woman was standing and giving a rousing speech without a stitch of clothing on.

Usually, when I meet a woman, it takes awhile before I see them in their birthday suit. Standing beside her and holding up two placards were two long-haired white men and they didn't have on any clothes either. They were protesting the first Gulf War and George Bush (the first one, not Junior).

She talked about his involvement in the CIA and how he wanted the United States to go to war with Saddamn Hussein, a man who was once his ally and who he had armed himself. She warned of the very thing we are facing now... an agressive war with Iraq, supposedly in the interest of the American people but, really for the greedy interests of "the corporate-military elite". Twelve years after her death and she was right on the money. Mind you, she was saying this is the late summer of 1990.

Half of the people in the crowd came to laugh because these three people were naked but, if you listened closely to what she was saying, she was correct in her analysis. I didn't say anything to Kathy that day but, I would later see her again (when she had clothes on) and we would talk. I heard that she had once been a student at the university, was a brilliant Poli-Sci major, and then, one day she just dropped out... never to return. I don't know if that was true or not. She was surrounded by mystery. She had been in the forefront of several un-popular causes, like the movemant for world peace, the movemant to clean up the environment, amnesty for political prisoners around the world, divestation of funds from cruel African dictatorships, etc. (real far left stuff).

She supported herself by running a book store off campus that also had incense, top paper for "looseys" (handmade cigarettes or joints, if you were nasty), Greek stuff, paddles, t-shirts, etc. We would talk, discuss this book or that, methods of protest, etc. I found her to be quite intelligent. She was about eight years older than me but, you couldn't tell that by looking at her. She looked a lot younger than she actually was. Her musical taste ended somewhere in the 70's. She was into Bob Dylan... Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young... David Bowie... and such. The only black music she knew of was Sly & The Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Motown, and Stax. I always teased her and said she was trapped in a time warp.

Kathy cared about her causes and she would do anything to get attention.... from protesting naked to laying down at the foot of campus and blocking pedestrian traffic. I don't know what cause she was expousing on the afternoon of October 22, 1996 when she doused herself with gasoline and lit herself on fire. She went up in a blaze and fell into a bed of leaves. Do you know that on that day, me and some friends walked right by that fire from a distance? I had no idea that it was Kathy. I do remember everybody saying how bad it smelled (we were smelling burning flesh and just didn't know it). There was something eerie and just plain wrong about how high the flame burned that day.

I found out in the afternoon as I was getting ready to go home that Kathy had set herself on fire and killed herself. The final act of a public career that had never been taken seriously. I walked by the peace sign yesterday and saw her quotes, name, the year of her birth and death printed in big letters underneath them, and the beautiful flowers. It was all so peaceful. For a minute, I could almost see her standing there on the steps protesting something.

In Memory of Kathy C.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another American Tragedy

PHOTO: Jennifer Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson; nephew, Julian King; and
brother, Jason Hudson (not shown)... three recent victims of senseless violence.

I just finished writing a short story in which one of my characters shoots and kills another character. The narrator of the story said that the police were willing to believe a story that is somewhat suspect because, "It is just a case of black people killing other black people. There would be no public outcry... they were just glad to have a cleared case." I wrote this story the day after I heard the tragic news about actress-singer, Jennifer Hudson, who lost her mother, brother, and now I'm afraid, her 7 year old nephew to a shocking act of violence.

They were black and I'm sure when the perpetrator is captured, the person will turn out to be black too. I especially wrote that part of the story to demonstrate that black life is cheap. White people say it and know it... and black people, just in the way we treat each other, know it and believe it too. We are always so quick to pull a gun on each other, pull a knife on each other, or go to blows with each other... but, afraid to vote and to stand up for each other!

This wasn't really meant to be a post about the Jennifer Hudson tragedy... that's just one more instance in a series of black-on-black violence. Tragic as it is, this same scene was probably played out in New York, Detroit, Philly, Atlanta, DC, Baltimore, and several other American cities in somebody else's family over the weekend. I also heard an unconfirmed story that the murders in Jennifer's family were the result of a domestic dispute over a car. Whether it's true or not, black folks kill each other at alarming numbers over just about anything now of days.

As much as I loved the TV series "The Wire", I was always saddened at how cheap black life was, how many of the young black males on the show met their deaths tragically, and how killers like Wee Bey, Omar, and Chris Partlow were elevated to the status of "folk heroes" amongst some of my friends who watched the show. Some of them argued that Tony Soprano & Crew ended just as many white lives on "The Sopranos" as did the guys on the Wire but, I disagree. The body count was never as high as it was on shows like "Oz" and "The Wire". TV shows they may be but, in many ways they are a mirror of the very real violence that is so pervasive in America in general and, in particular, Black America.

At a time like this, when we could be on the verge of electing our first black president, we as a people and as individuals have still not evolved beyond our fears and mistrust of each other that dates back to slavery. We should be past this but, the self-hatred and self-loathing instilled in us after centuries of institutional racism has created fearful and mistrustful "little monsters" that actually embrace picking up the gun rather than seeking a non-violent or intelligent way to resolve a problem. In fact, to some people, what I'm saying here is just out of the question.

This is the mentality that is the root cause for Jennifer Hudson's family members' being killed. There is no justifiable reason you can give me for whatever happened in that house on Friday. And, there is certainly nothing anybody can tell me that would make me want to cut the perpetrator some slack for killing a 7 year old child. I don't want to hear that the person was "scared, in a panic, and just didn't think" or was "angry and one thing led to another". I'm just not in the mood to hear anymore excuses for senseless black-on-black violence.

I don't even know what I could say to Jennifer Hudson if I knew her personally because I can't imagine how I could deal with that kind of loss. I shouldn't have to imagine how I should deal with it... neither should she... and neither should any of you. So, I ask you... where is the love? Where is the love?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cell Phone Blues

Whatever did we do before the invention of the cell phone? I asked myself that this morning as I was driving around frantically trying to find my own. One of my co-workers has a Blackberry, a personal cell phone, and a TRIO provided by her job. I looked at her one day and said, "Dang, do you have enough communication gadgets?" She laughed as she packed her three toys in her pocketbook and said, "I have to have to have all three of these wherever I go. If I leave my house without one of them, it's like getting dressed and forgetting to put on my underwear." I laughed at that and remarked, "Is it really that serious?" She seemed to think so. Well, last night I discovered that it really is that serious.

If you read my last post, you know that I went to my cousin's engagement party in Maryland this weekend. My brother rented a cream-colored 2008 Ford 300 for the trip. I drove to Maryland and he drove back to Philly. We brought an extra person, my aunt, back with us. After my brother drove me to my car (which was parked in front of his house), my wife, my aunt, and I departed. I dropped my aunt off at her house and then, me and my wife went home. It was the end to a perfect day or so I thought...

As I walked in the house, I reached for my cell phone. I always check my messages when I get home because I have my phone on low or vibrate most of the time and I sometimes miss calls and messages. Guess what... my cell phone holder was there but, no cell phone. I thought, "Oh, it's on the porch somewhere." I used my wife's cell phone to call myself... nothing. I went out to my car with a flashlight and searched under the seats, in the trunk, etc. Nothing. I drove frantically around to my aunt's block thinking it was around there. Still nothing! Sadly, I came home.

You know what I did? I prayed. Yeah, God wants us to pray about everything, even the little stupid things we do that we feel we can handle and are too minor "to take up His time with." I sent up one of those "bullet prayers" that brother SLC talks about. Then, I called the lounge in Maryland. It was around 1:00am and there were still some people in the club cleaning up. They said that they hadn't found a cell phone.

I then called my brother and he looked in the car and didn't find it. I was beginning to think that I would have to go to my provider first thing in the morning and have them cancel my phone and get a new phone. I really didn't relish the hassle of having to do that plus, having to call all of my friends and ask them to e-mail me their phone numbers to load into my phone.

By now, it was about 2:00am so, do you know what I did? I sat down at my computer and started blogging. I went to "Escapades " and wrote the final two installments for my missing person's mystery, "Dead Man Walking" and "Love Is A Losing Game". It relaxed me and around 3:30am, I went to sleep. (What did we do before blogging?-lol)

All night long I thought about my cell phone and all of my phone numbers, unread text messages, and what have you. Obsessive-compulsive that I am, I got up at 8:00am, showered, put on some clothes, got in my car, and drove to my brother's house. And, there it was... my cell phone was lying in the grass in front of his house. He couldn't have seen it last night because it was dark and plus, it wasn't in the car, it was lying in the grass. Yes, God does answer prayers.

I wiped the morning dew off of it, called my wife to let her know that I had found it, and then proceeded to go and get some much needed coffee. What a fuss I made over a gadget... My friend didn't seem so funny now with her Trio, Blackberry, and cell phone fetish. Seems like it wasn't that long ago that the only way you could catch me was if I was at home or you saw me on the street. Times were so much simpler then...

(For Brother SLC, Sister Keisha "Kitten" Isaacs, Little Sis Shanita Waters, and Sister Stayce.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Engagement Party

Congratulations Yanni & Kennedy!

Yesterday, me and my wife along with my brother and his wife, braved the stormy weather on the East Coast and traveled to "The Loft Lounge" in Essex, MD to help my Cousin Yanni celebrate her engagement and meet her husband-to-be, Kennedy. Many other members of our family made the journey from Philly to Essex as well so, despite the "elements", my cousin had a large turnout and Kennedy (along with members of his family) received a warm reception from all of us. He is a very nice young man who hails from Zambia, Africa and the happy couple had the "look of love" all over their faces. It was a "par-tay" in every way and a good time was had by all. Fortunately, the weather was much kinder on the journey back to Philly so, everyone arrived home safely. God is good and we all knew that He would get us through the storm... one more time.

Check out that smile and that rock!

Yanni & Kennedy: May God continue to bless you as you make your way to the altar and beyond. Always keep Him in the mix so that, no matter what this thing called LIFE brings your way, you will have the inner peace and wisdom to know that everythang will be alright!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The "What If ?" Epiphany

Yesterday, I was feeling a little envious of someone who I felt was living the life that I had wanted for myself. I took time to think back to the point where I stopped trying to go in one direction and veered off into another. I was listening to two black women talk in the elevator today and it got me to thinking about our destinies and how we might want one thing but, in the long run, we find out that what we want might not be the best thing for us.

One of the women in the elevator remarked that she had been engaged to some guy... the other woman looked at her and said, "What? You and him? I couldn't see the two of you together." The woman telling the story said to her friend that at one time in her life, she couldn't see herself not being with this man. She ended her story with, "Girl, I'm soooo glad that I didn't marry that man. I would have been the most miserable woman on earth. He is horrible... but, you couldn't have told me that ten years ago. I thought the sun rose and set on that guy." I wasn't so much interested in her almost relationship as I was in what she had to say about God and/or fate taking them both in different directions.

What if, the life that I wanted for myself just wasn't suitable for me? What if I had gotten what I wanted then and found out that I made the wrong choice. I guess I'll never know but, it's quite possible that I'm in the best place for me... right here... right now. God can see the big picture... the part of the story that we can't see and maybe he sends us down different roads for reasons only He can know but, roads (just the same) that are best for us as individuals.

The woman in the elevator could have hooked up with that man and found out that he was a batterer or he didn't like her family or he liked dressing up in her clothes... who knows. At any rate, before she (and he) made what could have been the biggest mistake of their lives, fate steered them both in another direction.

So, I say that to say this: "You can't always get what you want... You can't always get what you want... You can't always get what you want... but, if you try sometimes, you get what you need." (Thanks to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for the lyrics.)

Have a blessed weekend everybody!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Life I Really Wanted

My major in college was journalism. For those of you who have peeped my profile, you know that I work in the field of education at a university in Development & Alumni Relations. It pays me a good salary. Over the years, I've been able to support a wife and a daughter, purchase a house, maintain an automobile, and eat three squares a day. Occasionally, I've been able to clothe myself and even have a little fun. In a nutshell, my life hasn't been bad over the past several years and if you were to ask my family, I don't think any of us have ever wanted for anything that we really needed. However, I am not living the life I really wanted to live though. Let me explain...

I had two loves, sports and music. When I was studying journalism, I had two career paths that I wanted to take: (1) I wanted to write for Sports Illustrated. I saw myself in the locker room with Jordan, taking notes after he hit the winning shot to take his sixth championship and send the Utah Jazz packing. (2) There was no VIBE Magazine or anything closely resembling it to cover black music in the 1980's so, I dreamed of writing for Rolling Stone, the hippest music magazine around at that time. When VIBE and the SOURCE finally did emerge in the 1990's, I was already married, a home owner, and working in a field completely different from what I studied for and wound up paying for (years and years of student loans).

I could've been covering Tupac, Biggie, (my homeboys) The Roots, Jill Scott, Jay-Z, and Nas at the beginning of their careers and getting free tickets to concerts, music seminars, and the whole nine. That was the life I dreamed about and that was the life I really wanted. Somewhere along the line, I must have just given up and stopped trying. I know that once out of college, I started sending my resumes everywhere and nowhere and I got nothing back. I hounded all of the local newspapers and television stations in the area. Nada. I also needed cash really quick because I had to start paying those "pesky" student loans back. I went into survival mode and did what I had to do to save my credit rating so that when and if I found someone to marry, I might have a shot at getting a house.

Let's just say LIFE got in the way and my entire focus went in a completely different direction. I continued to write for awhile... fiction, poetry, and even current events. I have several binders
with everything I wrote from a certain period in my life and then, I just stopped. The joy of writing just died for me. I figured that I wasn't going to make a living at it so, why bother.

Blogging (and by the way, this isn't another post about blogging), at least, rekindled my love of writing. I can see it because I'm writing a post for this blog everyday and then, rolling over to my other blog and knocking out a poem or a short story like it's nothing. And, I don't seem to be showing any signs of hitting that brick wall called "writers block" yet. This new medium seems to have given me part of the life I wanted.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying that I don't love the life I'm living. I'm happily married, got a family, and living the American dream (or at least, the Negro American dream). But, I'm not living the life I originally wanted for myself. Half of the people I went to college with are doing something completely different than what they set out to do as well. It just makes me wonder sometimes, why bother? Why can't we put off college until we at least have a realistic idea of what we can or might really do? Sometimes I feel like I wasted the government's money. (I know... I'm saying that now, right?)

How many of you out there have ever felt the way I'm feeling right now (i.e. that you're not living the life you originally envisioned for yourself)?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Colin Powell

Sunday morning, I was playing with my grandson and his trains in the living room. The television was on but, neither one of us was paying any attention to it. After all, we were about the serious business of laying tracks and connecting a station that his trains were going to run through. Then, I heard the announcer say, "When we return, former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, will weigh in with his choice for President." Now, that caught my attention.

I continued playing with my little man but, now I was anxiously trying to get through the very clever Viagra commercial where the man puts on a powder blue tux from (what I hope wasn't) his wedding day and then vainly attempts to carry his wife upstairs for a "romp in the hay." He wisely decides that he is no longer a twenty-something and Viagra or not, he'd better conserve what energy he has and just WALK up the stairs for that romp. I sang along with the commercial, "Viva... Viva... Viagraaaaaaaa..." (at least, the song was cool). There was another commercial about bloating but, I didn't really get into that one.

Then, came the face of the black man who I had secretly wanted to run for president many years ago. Colin Powell! Colin Powell is a man who I have always respected, even though I have cringed at his political association with this Bush administration. I have always thought of him as a good, decent man and a free thinker. Although, I lost a little respect for him when, while serving as Secretary of State under this president, he backed the lies and misconceptions put forth by the Bush Administration that led to this dreadful war in Iraq. I suspect that even he had a problem with what he was being asked to do and say and that this is why he eventually gave it up and walked away from it all in favor of being a private citizen.

Despite the fact that Colin Powell is a "moderate" Republican, he has gone on the record and said that he is supporting Barack Obama for president. I was pleased to hear this and I know it took a lot of courage for him to go against his party to take this stand. He mapped out some very good reasons why he was choosing Mr. Obama for president and none of his reasons had anything to do with race. (So, take that Rush Limbaugh!) They were clear cut and intelligent reasons that would have been "accepted" if he were white but, never the less, they were pooh-poohed by a few right wing pundits who speculated that the real reason he was supporting Obama was because they are both black.

I could do an entire post on how nutty and wrong that is but, I won't waste the effort. Colin Powell backed President Bush for re-election and nobody had a problem with that so, can't he back Barack Obama? I would have backed Powell for president, Republican or not, because I like the man and not just because he's black. Despite his missteps with both George W., his daddy (George, Sr.), and that crowd, Colin Powell has redeemed himself in my eyes with his announcement on Sunday morning.

Can you believe that after his announcement, they showed that same Viagra commercial that aired right before he made his announcement? Was that a subliminal suggestion about the present impotence of this nation and it's economy? Oh-Oh, there I go gettin' deep. Television news people don't get that deep. It probably was just a coincidence... just like Colin's brave choice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Black Boys Don't Read

One of my favorite writers is Omar Tyree. I own several of his novels and have been reading him since the early 1990's. I was driving to get some coffee this morning and he just happened to be on the radio. Of course, he was pitching his latest novel and discussing something close to my heart. The literacy or the presumed lack of it among young black males. He said that he was trying to write children's books aimed at black boys but, he was having trouble getting his publishers to back him. He said that the presumed notion of most publishers is that young African American males don't read and on this presumption alone, nothing was ever geared towards them.

This troubles me because I'm going to assume that little white boys equally don't like to read. They don't like to read what is put out there for them to read... which is nothing. What I'm saying is that males in general aren't catered to in the literary world at any age. Give them something to read that they are interested in when they are young and they will read. Once they start reading and begin to like it, they will gravitate to other things. This is not just black boys but, little white boys, Hispanic boys, Asian Boys, and what have you.

It angers me though that black boys (and in the larger sense black people) are labeled as non-readers. Part of this theory was destroyed years ago when authors like Omar Tyree, Terri McMillan, Bebe Moore Campbell, and Walter Mosley found a market in the black community for their early works that turned into ca$h money cows for publishing houses. My wife and I began reading and collecting books by African American authors around that same time.

My own love for reading came from both my mother and my grandfather. They read to me as a child and this made me want to read and enjoy going to libraries. It probably also led to me wanting to write my own stories. The first serious book that I read was the Autobiography of Malcolm X. I read it for "Negro History week" when I was in the 7th grade and read it again when I was a grown man, around the same time that Spike Lee made the movie with Denzel Washington of the same name. That book had a profound effect on me and it led me to read Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Eldridge Cleaver, and most of the writers of the Harlem Renaissance. I haven't stopped reading since.

I'm not saying that every black child, male or female, is going to read as much as I do but, they will read provided the material that is put in front of them is interesting and speaks to them. If they are going to go on to college and higher learning, reading is going to be a must so, they might as well begin at the formative ages.

I applaud authors like Omar Tyree because he wrote some children's books aimed at young black males and he told his interviewer that he was going to get them out there if he had to publish them himself. After all, that's how he got started. Do any of you remember an underground classic called "Fly Girl" that was set right here in Philadelphia, PA that got passed around from barber shop to hair salon back in the late eighties? That was Omar Tyree's first project and he sold it out of his car. By the time Simon & Schuster picked it up and published it in 1993, every black person of a certain age in Philly had already read it. Now, that's publishing hip-hop style.

Much respect for Brother Tyree for standing up for the next generation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Their New Public Image

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at a table with two associates of mine... (I'll call them) L. and T. We hadn't talked since December when both of these guys got married (one for the first time and the other for the second time). I ordered a New York Strip steak, a baked potato, and a Coke. My two buddies ordered Salmon Steaks and a round of Mojitos for all three of us. T., who is the father of a 23 year old daughter and a 27 year old son by two different women, had never married until last December. L. was the father of a 16 year old son from his first marriage and was now getting married for the second time.

Both of these guys were stone cold players. Over the years, I had watched them juggle a revolving door of women with ease. They rarely, if ever, got caught and all the while, they maintained long-standing relationships with one main lady. They finally married those "main ladies".

Both of their women were long-suffering girlfriends. They each knew or at least suspected what their men were doing but, kept silent and looked the other way. I can't imagine the embarrassment they must've felt over the years hearing people whisper behind their backs about their men being with this one or that one. Through it all though, they were stoic women who hung in there and from appearances, their stoicism paid off... they got their men.

While I cut my steak and began to chew, T. said to me, "Keith, looks like you were on to something all these years... being married and all. I'm so glad I got married." I looked at him and halfway jokingly said, "Oh, you are?" He kept talking while he was eating and said, "Yeah, man... I could no longer afford to be wining and dining all of these women. It's much easier being married. We can go dutch when we go out or we don't have to go out at all, you know?" L. joined in and said, "Man, you ain't never lied. I remember taking at least three girls out a week and you know my taste, man... I was dropping some heavy cash in a lot of the top spots downtown and that was taking a toll on my bank account. Now that I'm married, we go to Chilis or Friday's and call it a day."

I looked at both of them and then said, "So, y'all got married so you could eat at Chili's or Fridays and go Dutch, right?" They both looked at me, pointed, and started cracking up. T. said to L. "Man, I told you this guy missed his calling. He could be out there with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence." They both laughed so, I dropped this on them... "So, you're saying that you spent more money on your jump offs than you do your wives? That's what you're both saying, right?" The mood at the table changed and then, T. looked at me and said, "Naw man, I'm just talking about a lifestyle change brother, that's all." I retorted, "It seems as though you should treat your wife as good, if not better, than a jump off... that's all I'm saying."

T. looked at his watch and remembered that he had someone to meet. He asked for the check and just then, a beautiful young black woman with a Jamaican accent came in the restaurant. She came over to him and he whispered something in her ear. She smiled and walked outside. He left his money on the table, pointed at me, and said, "I gotta see a man about a horse brothers... we'll table this conversation for now." and he was out the door. The woman with the Jamaican accent was not his wife. I looked at L and said, "And, you have to be somewhere too, no doubt?" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Yeah, I'm supposed to meet some of my lodge brothers at this club over in Jersey." Within minutes, he was also gone.

I sat, finished my steak, and thought about both of these guys. They called themselves reformed players but, that was just for their new public image. Not a thing had changed about either of them. I wondered as I sat there if at my worst, I had ever been them. I hadn't... I had never been as smooth and adept at lying as I know they had to be to have been so "successful". Maybe I was hatin' because I couldn't be like them so, I pondered that thought too. Then, I said... "Nah. One thing I ain't and that's cheap." By the way, neither one of them left a tip.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

World Series Bound!!!

We're going to the World Series, baby!

Get your Ya-Ya's out!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

R.I.P. Levi Stubbs (1936-2008)

I just learned yesterday that Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of the Four Tops, passed away. He was 72 years old. If the Temptations was my favorite Motown group, The Four Tops had to be my second favorite. When I think of all of the great voices that Motown produced... Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Dennis Edwards, David Ruffin, Smokey Robinson not withstanding... the emotional, dramatic, and pleading voice of Levi Stubbs stood out above them all as the one that had the most profound effect on me.

The Four Tops

Motown records were dramatic because they all told wonderful stories of loves ups and downs and the backing band, the Funk Brothers, punctuated those stories so well that, listening to a Motown record was akin to watching a western or a detective movie. It was a very moving and emotional experience.

"Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)"

Levi Stubb's voice was tailor made for that sound. He had a man's man kind of voice and when he poured his heart out on my favorite Four Top's song, the wonderful Holland-Dozier-Holland masterpiece "Shake Me, Wake Me (When it's Over)", I'm telling you I felt a sense of fear and dread in my soul. It felt like I was being cheated on in a relationship myself... and I was all of 8 years old and hadn't been in a relationship yet!

There was nothing weak about Levi's voice and it has been silenced now... but, it will live on in the timeless recordings made by the Four Tops. I don't know what it is about this year... it seems like we are losing so many greats. Here was another great one.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Keith's Top 10 Favorite Places

1. Atlanta, Georgia
I can't remember having ever gone to the ATL and not having a great time. I love the Underground, Buckhead, Justin's, Keith Sweat's joint, and years ago, Dominique Wilkin's had a spot that I ate at once. (Hey, 12Kyle... is that spot still there?)

2. Miami, Florida
It's beautiful beaches and the blue (nearly see through) ocean water is enough... but, the hotels, stores, and the wild and crazy people on South Beach alone make it my second favorite city. Plus, my family originated in the South Florida area.

3. New York City, New York
Nuff said... It's the big apple, what's not to love?

4. London, England - U.K.
I've been there four times and it's really true... England swings like a pendulum do! I loved the "Soul" clubs in the Jamaican section called "Brittany" where I could hear Motown, Stax, and Philly International all night long mixed with a little reggae and some salsa. I ate at some really fine restaurants too.

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
I went there before I got married. This is a city where everything goes... a city of intrigue and suspense. I went to some nice bistros and rode a bike or scooter just about everywhere. I have one complaint... they eat fish at just about every meal. Yuck! It gives the term "Raw Like Sushi" a whole new meaning.

6. San Antonio, Texas
If we skip the fact that I did my boot camp there (Lackland Air Force Base) and just talk about the other times I visited San Antone, I had great times there. I had some of the best steak I ever tasted in my life there at a little place called "We Are Cooks." You buy the steak and you cook it yourself to your liking right there on a hot table. If you know how much I like steak, you know that I didn't want to leave. I was a little disappointed that the Alamo wasn't as large as I thought it should be. I rode the little boat through underground San Antonio six times. Yeah, I know... I'm a little kid at heart (most men are... I'm sure you ladies know that).

7. Denver, Colorado
Once I got adjusted to the altitude and the air quality, I got along quite well in Denver. I went to the Nuggets basketball games every chance I got, partied at a lot of clubs there, and got in for half price (military discount) most of the time.

8. Seattle, Washington
As soon as I got there, I wanted to see where Jimi Hendrix lived. Nobody who I was with knew. Kurt Cobain had just committed suicide that year... everybody knew where he lived and hung out though. I didn't mind... I was equally interested in him too. I drank a lot of coffee and wore my rain coat everywhere I went. It rained everyday I was there except the day before I left. I still loved it though... it was a very beautiful city.

9. Madrid, Spain
I saw my first bullfight right outside of this great city. I wish someone had told me in advance that they kill the bull after the bullfight is over. I wasn't ready for that. I had a great time here... the clubs stay open until daybreak. Here was a time that I wished I had paid more attention in Spanish class in high school. I couldn't understand a thing anyone was saying. One day, I was playing "Juicy" by The Notorious B.I.G. on somebody's boom box and these kids came by and they knew all of the words. I played NAS and Method Man and they knew that... they probably didn't know what it meant, just like I didn't know what they were saying... but, we bonded in that small moment. Apparently, the universal language of Hip-Hop.

10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Like Dorothy always said..."There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

Honorable Mention:

* Chicago, Illinois
I've only been to the "Windy City" one time (1999) but, I had the best oven-baked pizza known to man and the best Polish sausage imaginable. (Why does eating have so much to do with why I like a place?)

* Detroit, Michigan
I've only been to the "Motor City" once (2001) but, they know how to party there and I had a great time. Now, there... I can't remember what I ate (or if I ate) when I was there.

Q. What are some of your favorite places?


"Mommy, can I go to Timmy's blog and play?"

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