Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Seven (7 Things I'm Not Feelin' Right Now)

1. From now until Christmas, I'm not going to be able to find a parking space at any mall. No explanation needed.

2. If I do find a parking space, chances are I will forget where I parked when I come out of the mall. This was the subject of an episode of "Seinfeld". Trust me, it really happens.

3. I'm not feeling Beyonce or Kanye's new CDs right now. Who stole the soul? After several listens, I'm sure that both CDs will grow on me but right now, I'm wishin' that I only downloaded the one or two tracks I actually find bareable on both CDs (not a good sign).

4. People who want to talk while in the bathroom at work. This is a place for serious contemplation... whatever you have to say to me can really wait. Seriously, it can wait.

5. People who talk on their cell phones while they are on the toilet in a public bathroom. I already meet enough certifiable schizophrenics in the course of a day. When I hear a one-way conversation coming from a bathroom stall, must I fear that I'm in the presence of yet another one?

6. People who kiss their dogs in the mouth and let their dogs eat off of the same plates that they use. The eeeeeeeeew factor is already in on this one and I shouldn't have to explain this any further. (Thanks 12Kyle... I jacked this one from you.)

7. People with bad breath (yuck mouf) who insist on getting right up in my face to talk. Whoa chief, back it up about a mile. Back it up and jump!

Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you got a chuckle out of this one!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Musings

I would like to thank everybody in my blog family for all of the kind comments you left me yesterday... they really were appreciated. I wasn't going to do a post today but hey, blogging is like crack... you just can't stop.

I had a pretty good Thanksgiving. My wife, daughter, grandson, and I ate Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law's house. I also watched two very uncompetitive football games (Tennessee Titans vs. Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys vs. the Seattle Seahawks) and fielded calls from two of my boys who for some odd reason, bet against their common sense and lost a lot of money on that Tennessee Titans football game. Who did they think was going to win? Detroit? No disrespect to the people in Motown but, the Lions are 0-11... 0-12 now. I wouldn't bet against Dallas right now either, even though I stopped watching the game. The Cowboys were up 21-3 when I stopped watching. Somewhere, Eb the Celeb has a big grin on that pretty face of hers-lol.

As I write this, the little man is sleeping on the couch in the living room. He saw some of his cousins today and they had a good time running and playing all over the house so, he was good and tired when we got home. I love to see little kids wear themselves out playing. All of that energy makes me envious-lol. Just kidding! My wife and daughter are watching a movie and I'm here doing what I find most relaxing now of days... blogging, writing, and what have you. You may find this hard to believe but, I'm hungry again. I'm actually contemplating running up to Popeye's around the corner. On Thanksgiving night... yeah, I know. I'm extra like that sometimes.

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving. I tried to visit as many sites as I could to wish you all a happy holiday but, if I missed your blog, please charge it to my head and not my heart.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful & Thoughtful

I'm sitting here in the quiet thinking... always a dangerous thing. On November 30th, it will be six months to the day that my mother left this existence and my father died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2002. So, this will be the first Thanksgiving that I will spend without either of my parents... as an orphan, so to speak.

Everyone around me has been saying that it's "going to be weird" but, I'm not feeling weird, surprisingly enough. I'm not feeling anything except barren and empty. I thought that a great sadness would overcome me around this time but, it has not... just the emptyness. I'm not even trying to understand it... I'm just accepting it for what it is.

I'm not setting out to write a depressing post because I've always been about hope... the hope for a better tomorrow, corny as that may sound. I can almost hear my uncle's words of encouragement to me after some past disappointment saying, "Don't worry, sport (that was his nickname for me). Tomorrow is another day and another chance to get it right." And, his most famous saying, "Somebody's gotta win, sport... it might as well be you." I can't tell you how many times those words and the words of my grandparents have come back from the grave and inspired me to pick myself up, brush myself off, and get back into the race.

Well, they're all gone now... all of the people who were instrumental in my growing up and becoming but, I carry them with me. Their words of encouragement, their words that made me laugh, their advice that kept old self-destructive me from well, self-destructing. I'm thankful for their lives because they enriched my life and maybe they are no longer here because I don't need them in that way anymore. I can stand on my own two feet now and be whoever I'm meant to be because of them and I'm thankful for that. They saved my life... they made my life.

I have a daughter and she has a little boy. I hope that what I say and what I'm doing will have the same meaning to them one day when I'm gone... and, that they will be thankful and thoughtful too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Lingerie Display

Several weeks ago, I was sitting in a restaurant called "Mikeys" enjoying one of their delicious burgers with my friend (I'll call him) G. He is the principal at a local charter school and while at work, he is nothing short of terrifying to his young students. They snap to attention when he comes down the hallway with his yardstick. They don't know the guy that I know "outside" the school, who is anything but terrifying to me.

Anyway, we were discussing Obama's chances of winning this election, the Phillies going back to the World Series, and why the Eagles are sucking so bad this season, when a former co-worker of mine (I'll call her) R.D. walked in the place. I hadn't seen her in a year and I motioned for her to come and join us. Upon joining us, she told us about a side business that she and her husband were launching. (I hate it when people do that... pitch their business to me when I'm in a chill out mood and just want to know how they are doing in general.)

She told me that her sister is some kind of fashion designer in New York. (Figures, don't it?) Her sister has been designing lingerie and has found a manufacturer and some sponsors. R.D. and her husband had a little money to spare (God bless 'em in these days and times) that they have invested in her little venture called "Candy's Panties" (or something along that line). She said that she was having a "Lingerie Display" on the coming Friday and that we should check it out and bring some friends (later, there would be some dispute as to whether she said "friends" or "wives"). She said there would be food and beverages, and there would have to be a $ 20.00 donation.

My friend G.'s eyes lit up at the mention of Lingerie and Display. Right off the bat, he's thinking of models and/or strippers. She gave me the address in the East Oak Lane section of the city where the event was to occur... it was the annex of a church. I had some reservations so, I told him that this might not be what he thought it was... I said, "It's in a church, man... a church. Nobody's gonna be modeling sexy lingerie in a church." G. said, "Man, look... it's the annex of a church, not the actual sanctuary. I wonder if she's gonna have like, you know... ex-strippers up in there modeling that stuff?" I protested, "Nah, man. It's not that kind of party and besides, she's not like that... she's married and a Christian woman." He said, "Hmmmph, I remember her back in the day." I said, "You are talkin' twenty-five years ago and people change." He said, "Yeah... well Friday, you'll see. She might even be up there droppin' it like it's hot." I said, "I seriously doubt that."

My common sense was telling me that we misunderstood what R.D. said but, a part of me (the stupid part) wondered if just maybe, just maybe... they might have women modeling this lingerie. If G. was right, this was after all a church annex and not the sanctuary. That Friday after work, I couldn't wait... instead of going to my regular haunts or going home, I rocketed out to the expressway and then Roosevelt Boulevard (I don't even like driving on Roosevelt Boulevard beause it has six lanes of traffic on both sides.) The church, which I will not name, is a pretty liberal and hip church. It's non-denominational and one of the few that allows openly gay people to worship, right along side straight people. The congregation is mixed with Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and a sprinkling of Asians. They operate a relief kitchen for the homeless and they give out pamphlets to prostitutes about protecting themselves from HIV and other STDS... a practice that actually got them attacked by certain segments for "going too far with street advocation."

When I got to the church annex, there was about 75- 80 ladies there and around 150 men. G. had told his brother and his brother had brought all of the guys from his job and they had told their friends. I just kept shaking my head... I didn't know what they expected to see. First off, let me say that the food was incredible... fried chicken, fried fish, string beans, macaroni & cheese, potato salad, and candied yams. The food was worth the $ 20.00 donation alone. R.D. was there and she was wearing a pretty tight black mini dress and some black high heels. G. looked at me, pointed at her, and said "See!" I said, "See what?" He said, "Look how short that dress is? She's probably gonna model too." I said, "Ah man, you're crazy. She is not."

The men were yelling and clapping as though they were at a football game and when the lights dimmed and R.D. took the stage, the roar got louder. She calmed them down and then quietly said, "I want to thank you all for coming and supporting us. And now, what you've all been waiting for... the display. If you see something you like, just take it off of the models and take it to the front counter where you can purchase it and take it home to your wife or girlfriend." G. roared, "WHAT??? What kind of freaky mess is this???" I protested, "Man, it can't be what you think?" He said, "You just heard what she said. We gonna snatch it off one of the models. They are about to get naked up in here!" Then, R.D. pulled the curtain and there were hundreds of pieces of lingerie... babydolls, bras, panties, bustiers, garters, etc. on MANNEQUINS!

You could have heard a pin drop in there. It was as if all of the air had been sucked out of the room. Within an hour, the women outnumbered the men again. Most of the rowdy guys were out of there... but, not before they made another plate of food, covered it with another plate, and wrapped it in some tin foil (for their wives and/or girlfiends, of course). "You idiot... I told you this wasn't what you thought." I said to G., who was speechless for the first time that night. R.D. came over to us and said, "Where are your wives?" I said, "My wife is at home." She said, "I told you to bring your wives." I said, "No... you said to bring your friends." (At least, this is what I thought I heard.) She said, "You guys didn't bring your wives because you thought you were going to see some live models up in here didn't you? Get real... in a church? Y'all is trippin'!" Then, she walked away laughing.

G. looked like his best friend had just died. It's been almost two months now and I haven't seen or heard from him. He'll get over it. And, as for me... I'm not mad because I got a good meal. I didn't buy any lingerie but, I ate well and there is never anything wrong with that!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fav Five Scribblers

Well, it seems that I've been tagged again-lol! This time, I would like to say "thank you" to another fellow blogger known as OG, The Original Glamazon over at The Glamazon Chronicles for naming me as one of her fav five scribblers and passing this award on to me.

Playing it forward:

In turn, I would like to name my fav five scribblers (along with a couple of honorable mentions) and pass this award on to them so that they can keep the love flowing.

1. Moanerplicity (Moaningmoanerplicities)
Simply one of the most fabulous writers in the game.

2. Don (Minus the Bars)
The writer who makes me want to step my game up. I hope he gets back in the game soon.

3. Mizrepresent (Wildflower II)
She gave me the inspiration to take blogging into a whole 'nother direction.

4. The Karrie B (The Karrie B)
She's such a hair flippin' chick who says all the things I can't say in a raw, imaginative, and fresh way.

5. OG, The Original Glamazon (The Glamazon Chronicles)
She is another blogger who inspires me to go to another level.

Honorable mentions:

* Dr. Torrance "All-Mi-Ti" Stephens (Raw Dawg Buffalo)
All day, everyday (24/7)... if you have to ask, you obviously haven't read his blog.

* The Field Negro (The Field Negro)
For always stayin' in the field and keepin' it politically real.

Smile Congratulations, enjoy, and have fun!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Seven (7 Random Facts About Me)

1. I have actually met two U.S. Presidents: Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, I didn't vote for either one of them.

2. Before I met my wife, there was another girl that I asked to marry me and she told me "No". Today, she has yet to marry and she has told me that now she wishes she had taken me up on my offer. Unfortunately for her, even if I was single now, I doubt that I would marry her. I'm just so past that moment with her.

3. As a small child, I often dreamed that one day I would rule the world.

4. When I was in the 5th grade, a love note that I wrote to a girl in my class was intercepted. It read... "If Hitler fell in love, then why my dear can't we?" My Jewish teacher didn't find it at all amusing but, she told my grandmother (who was mortified) that I had an "interesting imagination" and that it was an indication that I had some kind of untapped talent. After all these years, I'm still trying to figure out what that talent is...

5. I was stopped by the police three times in one day on the same street because I fit the description of someone who was snatching purses. They eventually caught the suspect, who was about an inch shorter and outweighed me by a good 20 pounds but, he was an African-American male about my age.

6. Pancakes is my favorite breakfast food.

7. When I first met my wife, the first thing I noticed about her was her big pretty eyes. You thought I was going to say something else, didn't you? Shame on you!

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Electoral Dysfunction

In Missouri, they finally finished counting the votes. It appears that Senator John McCain has won that state. He picked up a few more Electoral College votes, which brings his total to 157, and you need 270 to win. Barack Obama still has a comfortable lead of 350. It's been three weeks... I don't think today's announcement will make any difference to the outcome of the presidential election.

In Minnesota (the state that gave us Jessie "The Body" Ventura, former wrestler turned actor, as governor), Democrat and former SNL comedian, Al Franken, and Republican challenger, Norm Coleman, are still locked in a very real election contest and the results could decide if Barack Obama has a filibuster proof house and senate. If Al Franken wins, the Democrats will have 60 seats and two Independents who will side with them. This means that he has a better chance to pass his policies than Bill Clinton did when he took office and was forced to battle tooth and nail with a Republican controlled house and senate. It is a miracle that he was able to achieve what he did in his eight years in office.

The battle in Minnesota has been the source of jokes nationwide, but now it really is important. Only 215 votes, 0.5 % of the state's population, stand between the two and they are leaning toward Republican, Norm Coleman's favor. Today during the recount, they have recovered 100 more votes for Al Franken, which makes this an even closer race.

A few weeks ago, I did a post in which I was telling folks that their vote does count. If this doesn't prove what I was saying, I don't know what will. 100 votes... 100 people. And, I was at a lingerie demonstration a few weeks ago and there were more men than that there yelling and screaming. (We'll discuss why I was there at a later date... maybe another blog post... maybe not at all.) The point I'm making is that so few people can make a very big difference. They can make a campaign that seems like a national joke suddenly mean a whole lot more in the larger scheme of things.

You matter people. We all matter. We all make a difference. That's not some cliched rah-rah sentiment... it's just the truth.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"UBER!" (Synonymn For "SUPER!")

I would like to take this opportunity to say "thank you" to a fellow blogger known as Shorty over at Securityville for nominating Keith's Space as one of her 5 recipients for the Uber Amazing Blog Award.

The award is given to sites that:

* inspire you
* make you smile and laugh
* give amazing information
* are a great read
* have an amazing design
* and/or any other reason that makes them Uber Amazing!

Playing it forward:

It's always nice to know that your blog is being read and recognized so, I humbly accept this award. But, it is also important to read and recognize others so, with that thought in mind, I would like to nominate the following 5 blogs (bloggers) as my recipients of the Uber Amazing Blog Award:

1. The Glamazon Chronicles (OG, The Original Glamazon)

2. Go Zack (Zack)

3. Miz's Write For Life (Mizrepresent)

4. 12th Planet (12Kyle)

5. Renaissance Black Woman (Eb The Celeb)

All of the above criteria (and so much more) would describe your blogs and the contributions that each of you make to the blogosphere through your writing. It is my hope that all of you will receive this award in the spirit in which it is given and "play it forward" to other bloggers as well, so we can share as much love and support for one another as possible (maybe y'all can hit some of the others that I missed).

The rules for the award are as follows:

1. Put the logo (award image) on your blog or in a post.

2. Nominate at least 5 blogs that you feel are Uber Amazing!

3. Let them know that they have received the Uber Amazing Blog Award by commenting on their blog.

4. Share the love by linking to this post and the person you received the award from.

Smile Congratulations, enjoy, and have fun!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Lions & Tigers & Bears!"

A woman in my building at my work, who was one of the rare McCain-Palin supporters, said today that she was afraid and doesn't feel as secure now that Barack Obama will be president. Mind you, she said this in front of me and not my bi-racial friend, "Jimmy". She said that his race had nothing to do with it and she was certain that he is a fine man who will govern as best he can. So, I asked her what was she afraid of? She said that his "youth and inexperience" is what worried her about with him.

She said that was the only deciding factor in whether she cast her vote his way or McCain's way. I assured her that she had nothing to worry about. I said to her... "He's 47 years old, not 27 years old." I reminded her that John F. Kennedy was 45 years old when he entered the White House and he did just fine. Bill Clinton was also 47 years old when he entered the White House and, despite the sex scandals, he left the country in pretty good shape. I don't know if that made her feel a little bit better or not.

She is scared... NOW she's scared! Well, I was scared too. Do you want to know when I was scared? I'm glad you asked. I was scared in 2000, around this time, when they pulled off that farce that they called an election and allowed this man, George W. Bush, to become president by a Supreme Court vote. I was scared after believing that we got bamboozled and the election process was really flawed... that the fix was in from now on and maybe I was wasting my time voting in the first place, if this was going to be the way things were done. I was scared knowing this man was now president and rumored not to be the brightest bulb on the tree in the first place.

I was terrified when he appointed an attorney general who was judged by the people of his own state to be so abhorrent that they would rather vote for a recently deceased man, rather than him. I got scared when The Mosad (the Israeli version of the Secret Service) and German Intelligence (not to mention our own FBI) told his administration all during the summer of 2001 that there were certain individuals in Florida that needed watching because they were taking flying lessons but, not learning how to land. I was horrified to learn that he and his administration chose to do nothing and then on September 11, 2001, all hell broke loose! And, guess what? The same individuals that we were warned about turned out to be the 911 terrorists... their pictures were in the newspapers the very next morning. Somebody knew who they were, right?

Furthermore, I got real scared when they came out with the Patriot Act and started shredding the constitution at will. I got scared when we opened up Guantanamo Bay and started holding suspected terrorists in custody without due process of law for months on end. I was scared when instead of directing all of our energy towards getting Osama Bin Laden and the folks that made all of this happen, this president started beating the drums for a war in Iraq... a country we had already beaten 12 years before and had surrounded by our ships and posed no danger to us. We were told that they had weapons of mass destruction and they posed a danger to the world. We've been over there since 2003 and nobody has yet to find a weapon of mass destruction of any kind.

Then, there was Katrina and how I saw people standing on roofs, wading through flooded streets, and the government agency that was supposed to help them, (which was headed by one of our president's college buddies who couldn't find a birthday cake in a bakery) was no where to be found. Now, we have the bank failures, the near financial collapse of the U.S. economy, and the possible bailout of three big automobile makers. If this hasn't frightened everybody then, I don't know what can. If this is an example of mature and experienced leadership then, I'm really afraid!

After all of that... this woman is afraid NOW??? She was willing to vote for four more years of THAT??? Please!!! I would have rathered she said that she didn't vote for Barack because he's black... at least, that I could understand. I'm not scared of lions and tigers and bears but, I've been scared during the Bush Administration!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fine Tuning

I don't know what it is but, music has been inspiring a lot of my writing these past few days. I heard a golden oldie this morning... Lauryn Hill's "Ex Factor". Remember that? It got me to thinking about women... all of the women of my past and how they made me the man I'm still becoming. That's a mouthful ain't it? This isn't a post about any one woman but, about all of you and how I thought I had you figured out. You see...

Over the course of a lifetime, I made hundreds of mistakes in my relationships. These gaffes were partially the reason they didn't work out. After each failed relationship, I would ask myself if I had learned anything. Sometimes, I actually did learn something and then other times, it was quite evident that I didn't because I would usually make the same mistake again that I made in the last relationship. But, during those quiet times when I managed to step outside of myself and actually take stock of what I did wrong, the warning signs that I would have seen (if I'd been looking) helped me develop a program... a program of fine tuning.

I would often console myself by saying, "I'm gettin' closer to who I need to be. Next time, I won't do such and such... next time, I'll do this or that... next time, I'll have this or incorporate that." It didn't matter because, for all of my fine tuning, nobody was fine tuning my choices so, whatever deficiencies I was working on within myself, I was still finding myself attracted to superficial and high maintenance women who I could not afford financially or emotionally. My brother, on the other hand, always dated the type of girls that I (and my mother) wished that I could be dating... smart, self-confident women who weren't bad on the eyes either.

I remember asking him why it seemed that I always brought the drama while he managed to avoid it. (He wouldn't have as much to blog about as I do here... at least, not as far as his relationships are concerned.) He would always say, "I don't attract drama because I don't have time for it. When you have other things to do, you don't have time to be bothered with it. When I see drama coming, I run as fast as I can." This is why, when I met my wife and she was drama-free and I was nearly as fine tuned as I could be at the time, I couldn't understand it. (She had her own drama but, it didn't involve me or us). I wanted to make sure that if she indeed was "the one" so to speak, that I at least would be in a position to be successful.

Now, what is successful in a relationship or marriage? What is? Everybody wants and thinks they are going to be successful. I figure, successful is anything that's going to last and work. In the months before I got married, I talked to a number of divorced women about what didn't work in their marriages. They told me that one thing was, their husbands couldn't be trusted with the money. They spent it all and lights went out, water stopped running, and phones went off... and, in one case, they both wound up out in the street because they lost their home.

I resolved to always make sure that the bills were paid on time. I have a pretty practical wife so, we practically split everything down the middle and in 19 years of marriage, nothing has ever been cut off or threatened to be cut off. To my knowledge, we haven't missed a payment on anything (knock on wood). The other thing these women said went wrong was, their husbands had "wanderlust"... they couldn't keep their eyes and other body parts off of and out of other women. As much as I love women, I said that I would never cheat and so far, after 19 years of marriage I haven't done that either.

But, the main thing they said that ended their marriages was the lack of appreciation and simple acknowledgement for their spouses. This, I'm afraid, is the hardest one... the one that slips by all of us in the day-to-day raising of children, paying the bills, living, and hustling. You see, I couldn't fine tune that because I hadn't lived enough to understand that I had to do that yet. I didn't even understand that total concept until after I had been married for a while... that it's nice to tell your wife she looks good (other than, of course, when it's time for sex)... it's okay to hold a hand... and, it's okay to say thank you. It's also great to have someone to lie down next to you after the world has beat the crap out of you. Even if that's all they can do to help you, it's still nice to have that. It would be even nicer to say that once in awhile.

So, in closing, this is my way of saying "thanks” for all of that. I'm still working on that fine tuning. I'm almost there. I'm almost who I'm striving to be...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Channeling Marvin

Friday night, I was driving home... I heard his song and the lyrics moved me. It moved me that they were written when I was 13 years old, before I was old enough to fight in any war. Here I am now at age 50, having gotten out of the Air Force 3 years ago (when I was 47 years old), after having served for 22 years. I just barely escaped two wars... two wars going on at the same time, mind you.

I just had a beer with an old Air Force buddy of mine who had just returned to Philly after serving a year in Afghanistan. I asked him if he was going anywhere else. He said that he was in the process of getting out too... we called it "dropping papers." He said that he had given his country 25 of his best years, including two in the desert (he had been in Iraq the year before) and he felt that was enough. I couldn't argue with him and there was Marvin's words from his album, "What's Goin' On?"...

"Hey baby, what'cha know good?
I'm just gettin' back, but you knew I would
War is hell, when will it end?
When will people start gettin' together again?
Are things really gettin' better like the newspaper said?
What else is new my friend besides what I read?
Can't find no work, can't find no job my friend
Money is tighter than it's ever been...
Say man, I just don't understand
What's goin' on across this land.
Ah, what's happenin' brother?
Oh yeah, what's happenin' my man?
Are they still gettin' down where we used to go and dance?
Will our ball club win the pennant? Do you think they have a chance?
And tell me friend,
How in the world have you been?
Tell me what's out and I want to know what's in..
What's the deal man, what's happenin'?
What's happenin' brother?
Ah, What's happenin' my man?
Ah, What's happenin' brother?
What's been shakin' up and down the line?
I want to know because I'm slightly behind the times.

"What's Happening Brother" by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx
1971 Copyright by Jobette Music, Inc.

We nearly had that same conversation, word for word. It was eerie, almost... and then, as I was driving home, I turned the radio on and there was Marvin... singing that song. It's funny, how it's a different war, fought by a different generation and yet, despite all of that, people, their needs, and concerns remain the same. I hope my friend gets out while he's still in one piece and before he is called to return to that desert.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Seven (7 Things I'm Feeling Right Now)

1. Movado Watches
My wife bought me a Movado watch for Christmas a few years back and this remains my favorite watch.

2. Enterprise Car Rental
Anybody who reads my stories on "Escapades" knows that I love to drive and that all of my characters drive great cars. Big ups to the Enterprise car rental office in my neighborhood... they not only have reasonable rates (half price on the weekends) but, the best cars and an exclusive deal with the BMW dealership in the next township over, which means I have a shot at renting one of the new ones at anytime. My actual car is 13 years old so, Enterprise is a great escape for me at times. The customer service is great and they even drive me home or to wherever my car is parked when I return their cars.

3. IHOP - West Philly
The one in my neighborhood, where I get great service. I know all the waiters, waitresses, and cooks there and they know how to keep a two-year old occupied, unlike another IHOP I went to out in the suburbs (see my post "Pancake Flip!" for details).

4. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue for Men
I like to smell good when I'm out and about or when I'm just with my wifey. I discovered this cologne this summer and I've been hooked on it ever since.

5. The Boondocks
Still the best political satire out there today for my money. I loved the comic strip and I love the cartoon.

My favorite site for entertainment news in the neo-soul and hip-hop world.

7. Naked Chocolate Cafe - West Philly 24/7
Hot and hip new coffee shop with cupcakes, chocolates of all kinds, muffins (fresh baked at that!), and an assortment of cookies. The "maverick" of all bloggers really loves this spot in the morning, with its Cuban coffee.
Have a great weekend everybody!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Deal Breaker

Okay, it's Friday so I wanted to do something light. I have heard a lot of stories from women and a few guys of horrible first dates. I was having lunch inside yesterday because it was raining and a couple of my co-workers and I were talking about something they called a "Deal Breaker". It's the one thing a person might do that would make you say... "Nah, I don't think I'll ever go out with this person or I'll never sleep with this person." It's usually something that has to do with hygiene or the lack of it. Here is my story of one such deal breaker. After all these years, I'd almost forgotten about this incident. Check it out...

I was a junior in college and I had just moved off campus and into town. I had my first apartment and I was living with one of my frat brothers... the one that freaked out at the thought of going to the spring formal on a school bus because of what "THE WHITE PEOPLE" would think of us. He had these two girls from campus who came by our apartment all the time... I'll call them Vonnie and Camay. They seemed like the best of friends but, something about them always seemed a little off kilter. You know, like maybe they weren't as chummy as they appeared to be. Both were nice looking girls, petite, and about the same dress size so, as a result, they often wore each other's clothes. A blouse here, a pair of pants there, a skirt, or what have you.

It seemed that every time I came to my apartment from class, one or both of them was there. I asked my frat brother which one of them he was interested in and he told me neither. My next question was... "Well, why are they always over here?" He explained that the three of them were friends and they were all just kickin' it. Cool. They got high together, studied together, stayed up all night playing cards, and watched TV. I was kind of attracted to Camay so, I started staying up with them talking to her and eventually wound up going back to campus with her to her room. It was close to homecoming that year and Earth ,Wind & Fire (EWF) came to our college for homecoming. We had people coming up from Lincoln, Cheyney, Millersville, West Chester, and Pitt to see them. It was the biggest thing going. Camay and I were supposed to go see them and that morning, we were in her room together. I helped her take a big bag of her laundry down to the basement where the washers and dryers were.

When we got back to her room she said... "Oh, my God... I had so much laundry to do that I don't have any clean bras or panties left." I said to her, "Well, the concert ain't for five hours... your clothes will be finished by then." She said, "Oh I'm not folding any clothes today... I'll just see what Vonnie has in her drawer." I was floored! In total amazement I said, "Hey, what did you say?" She said just as nonchalantly... "Oh, we always wear each other's clothes... she's like my sister." I said, "Yeah... clothes are one thing but, underwear is kind of private. You all don't always do this, do you?" I asked. She said... "Well, I haven't gone this far before but, this is an emergency. Don't you want me to have clean drawers on when we go to see Earth, Wind & Fire?" I was skeeved, but I played it cool. I said to her, "I don't think she'd appreciate it if you did something like that. Don't go in her things." Camay just looked at me and smirked, "It's not like I'm not gonna wash them." I was completely turned off. Any attraction I might have had for this girl just went straight out of the window. I sat there in amazement as she went through the other girl's panty drawer, as though I wasn't in the room. I don't care how close they were. Nobody is that close, nor should they be. Feel me?

If nothing else, I was a man of my word so, I did take her to the Earth,Wind & Fire concert. She had on a nice tight pair of jeans with the zippers up the legs and a bright blouse. All I could think about the entire time was her underwear... whether it was hers or her roommate's. When she asked me to slow dance while EWF was singing "Reasons", I kept thinking about that so, I couldn't even get into the dance. I was just completely turned off. After the dance, she asked me if I wanted to go up to her room and I declined. I told her that I was tired. I went back to the apartment and, for once, it was empty so I watched television the rest of the night. I couldn't bring myself to tell my frat brother. I didn't know what he'd think. I didn't have to wait too long to find out.

The next morning he came home and told me... "Keith... man, you won't believe this... those two girls got into a big fight last night. Did you know that Camay wore a pair of Vonnie's draws to the concert last night! Hahahahahahaha! Oh man... Vonnie hit the ceilin' and kicked her butt! Man, it took about three people to break that up. Hahahahahahahahahaha! That's some low down, backwater, backwoods crap right there. I told Vonnie about always lettin' Camay wear her clothes. I told her it was gonna get deep one day... I told her!"

He kept on laughing and he called a couple of guys to tell them about it. I finally told him that I had been over in the room with her and saw her do it. I didn't actually see her do it but, I saw her pull them out and heard her say what her intentions were. He laughed even harder. Ice, the Que, used to go with her and he told me, "Man, I always thought she was "common" like that, that's why I had to cut her loose. Keith, I sure hope you didn't sleep with her." I never answered the question. I felt sick to my stomach just thinking about it. One thing I did know... there was no way I could be involved with her ever again.

The friendship between Vonnie and Camay was over and the two never roomed together again. Even though Camay washed, dried, and ironed the underwear, Vonnie never accepted them back... she told her she could keep them. Camay never understood what all the fuss was about and never thought that she did anything wrong. Most of the people that heard about it, looked at her and laughed behind her back. She just never got it.

It has been said that back in those days, when it came to women, I didn't have any standards but, here was proof that I did. This was my "deal breaker". Does anybody out there have any type of behaviors or actions that are "Deal Breakers" when dating? I would love to hear about them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

His Victory Too!

Last week, when Barack Obama won the presidential election, there was another man who teared up (I'll call him "Jimmy"). He was crying for a very different reason. You see, he and Barack Obama have something in common. This is Jimmy's story...

Jimmy was born in the south in 1955. His mother, like Barack's, was a white woman. She was married to an abusive, drunken lout of a man who was so low on the social totem poll that even the local Ku Klux Klan (KKK) didn't want him (and that was pretty low). After one too many beatings, his mother wandered out into the night and found herself on the local military base near the town. Here she met a kind African-American G.I. who struck up a conversation with her, bought her a few drinks, applied ice to her swollen cheekbone, and offered a bit of kindness to her wounded psyche.

They began a very, very secretive relationship. Their relationship had to be secret at this time... it was 1954 America and, if discovered, they both could have been killed. After a few months, she decided to return to her husband. She and the G.I. probably figured that sneaking around just wasn't worth the risks to both of them. She had a problem though... she was pregnant! She carried the baby to term and Jimmy was born in May of 1955.

At first, she tried to pawn the baby off as her husband's child but, after a few years and some pretty ugly stares, it became apparent that this child not only wasn't her husband's but, also wasn't the same race as her husband. Scared to death of what would happen to both of them if discovered, the husband went along with the ruse and tried to raise the child as if it was his own son. This didn't fool or set too well with the local KKK, who burned a cross on their front lawn and told Jimmy's "father" that unless they got rid of that "mongrel", they would burn down his house with him and his wife in it.

Since Jimmy's birth, his mother had given birth to a baby girl in 1958 and another boy in 1960. He didn't want to lose his home and his biological children over some child that not only wasn't his but, was some nigger's child on top of that so, he ordered Jimmy's mom to take him away. He was seven years old when he and his Mom got on a bus and traveled to Philadelphia, where he was put up for adoption. He was adopted by an African-American couple who promised that they would take good care of him. His mother tearfully said goodbye to him and boarded the bus back to the south.

Jimmy would never understand why his mother abandoned him, why he was being separated from his brother and sister, and why he would now have to call these strange new people "Mom and Dad". Although black, Jimmy's skin was fair enough and his hair texture fine enough for him to "pass" for white at times. Sometimes you could look at him and tell he was black but, there were certain times you could look at him and think for a slight second that he was white. As a result, white people would often say things around him that they wouldn't say around somebody like me, who is quite obviously black. I told him that what he has is great because he has gotten to see the world from both perspectives, white and black. There are times when I'm quite envious.

For instance, last week on election day, two white people were talking about Barack Obama within an earshot of Jimmy and one of them said, "Well, it looks like Obama is going to win this thing." and the other one said, "Yeah, I know. Well, at least he's half white... he's not, you know?" They had no idea that Jimmy is an African-American. I'm one hundred percent certain that they never would have uttered that in front of me. He was incensed but, I told him not to be because we all say stupid and wrong things when we are in our separate tribes that we won't repeat in mixed company so, I told him to let it ride.

It makes me wonder sometimes if that is the real reason that Obama got a 61% white vote... because, "at least he's half white... he's not, you know?" Who knows? I can't pretend to know what goes on in the minds of people. Maybe one day, when Leroy Jackson is elected president, all doubts will be taken out of my mind.

The good news is Jimmy was reunited with his white birth mother and his white half-brother and half-sister. He found them when he was in his thirties, still living in the same town. His mother's abusive husband had since died and they welcomed him with open arms. He still takes care of his adoptive African-American mother and his adoptive father died a few years ago. When Barack Obama won the election last week, I know that I teared up a little... but, Jimmy teared up too because Barack's victory was his victory too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Drama-Free Relationships

Can we drama-proof our relationships? This is a question I have pondered after reading a number of blog posts and listening to a lot of my male and female friends speak on the subject. Sometimes, I wonder if some of us want the drama or just need the drama.

Before I met my wife of 19 years, I took a breather for a hot minute and took stock of all of my previous relationships. In every last one of them, somebody lied or misrepresented themselves in some way which led to a lot of non-sense and unnecessary stress of some type. Why do we lie to each other in these relationships? Well, let's look at it...

Women lie to themselves all the time. A lot of times, they know the type of guy they have after the first few conversations. They know who and what he is... they have chance after chance to ask certain questions about this guy and time and time again, they don't. After a lot of relationships end, I have often asked the woman, "How come you didn't know such and such? What did you all talk about when you were dating?" I usually get a shrug, the bent head, and the averted eyes.

Women are afraid to ask questions that matter and afraid to set standards because they fear that the man is going to leave them if they do. Ladies, let me let you in on a little secret... If a man really wants you, he's not going anywhere. There is not too much you can do to run him away. Now, if a man's primary motive when he comes across you is just to "get some", then maybe he will run if challenged... but then again, you don't want that kind of guy anyway, do you?

Now, men lie too but, not in the way you ladies might think. We know from the minute we first meet you and get to know you a little bit if you're "the one" or just "one of the ones"... feel me? We know if we want to hang around for the long haul or if it's just a sex thing but, we aren't going to tell you that and do you know why? Because a lot of us feel, if we are that honest and upfront with you all, you are not going to go for it and, in most cases, that's true. So, a lot of us pretend to be someone who we're really not so that we can get what we want and you ladies let us, just so you can say, "Ah got a man and you don't. How do ya like me now?" Here's a case in point...

A guy I knew (who I'll call Juan) was seeing this girl for about three months. He told her that he occasionally saw other women and that he didn't see their relationship as an exclusive one yet but, it had the potential to be that one day. I know what some of you ladies are thinking... Bull, right? Wrong, he was absolutely serious. His girl said, "Well, if you're seeing other women, then I guess I need to be seeing other men and I think I will." He said that he really didn't want her seeing other men but, in light of what he was doing, he understood and wouldn't stand in her way but, he would still like to see her from time to time.

Strange as that relationship sounds, it worked out. No following anyone around... no hurt feelings if someone came back and reported that they saw Juan with another woman... no nothing. They eventually got married. I don't know if he still "sees other women" but, they had a very drama-free and open courtship. Now, why can't we all do that? I can't lie... I couldn't be that upfront myself but, it's a wonderful example of how relationships could be drama-free and actually work.
My marriage is the only drama-free relationship that I have ever been a part of in my life. Why is that? I couldn't tell you. God just looked down at a fool and had mercy on him, I suppose.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hi Hater!

In order to understand the nature of hate, you have to know what it's like to be a hater. In the course of a lifetime, all of us (if we are honest) have been a hater. A great majority of us have been victimized by haters but, at least one or two times, we have been guilty of the same thing ourselves... (again, if we are honest).

When I use the term "hate", I'm basically talking about jealousy and envy and I believe that it's impossible to have never felt these two strong emotions for something or someone. I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about how I was envious of someone who was living the life I had always wanted for myself. This was a mild form of "hate" without the maliciousness... it was more an envious type of thing. One of the Ten Commandments tells us that we should not covet, meaning simply that you shouldn't want something that is not yours. However, the lines get blurred a lot of times. Here is an example of wanting something that is no longer yours...

I was involved with a young lady once who abruptly (I thought) broke off our relationship. I don't think we had stopped seeing each other a good week before I saw her with another guy... a guy who I had been pretty cool with and who knew that I was seeing this young lady. I made my self sick with the hateration that I spread. I said some of the nastiest things about the girl, who I professed to love just a few weeks before, and I saved my most vilest comments for the guy, who had been considered a friend or at least, cool with me before I saw him with the girl. I talked to anyone who would listen about how "corny" the guy was, how she would never be happy with him, and how he would never do the things I did for her. For a week, I was consumed with their lives... so consumed that I didn't have a life of my own anymore. I was too caught up in what they were doing.

See that's the thing about haters... they are so worried about the object of their hate that they can't enjoy life and they can't get anything of their own going on. In many cases, the object of their hate is not even aware that they feel this way and, if they are aware... if they are smart... they don't concern themselves with it and the hater is the one wasting his or her time in the end.

A friend of mine at the time, "Loose Goose", (Okay, you can stop laughing... that actually was his nickname... a great reason why you should just say no to drugs.) was sitting in his car with me one night. He was smoking a big fat turbo joint yet, talking and making a lot of sense. I was going on and on about the girl and the guy and he said simply, "Man, you are blowin' my high and if you got high, you'd understand what I was talking about." He said that too but, the main thing he said was, "All this energy you're spendin' worryin' about them, you could be puttin' towards findin' a new girl 'cause neither one of them look like they care about you right now."

That was one of those truths that was so real, it couldn't be argued. Once I looked at it that way, I stopped getting myself so worked up. I stopped focusing on my broken heart and my wounded pride and started focusing on doing something to make myself feel better. Once I found some joy in my own life, my hateration ended and I was able to move on.

That's the thing about hate, it can literally make you physically sick and it's never worth the energy that people put into it. I have read about people going to work the day after the election and getting evil stares and gritting teeth from McCain-Palin supporters. Why? What was a minute of that going to get any of them? It's an election... it's not the end of the world. Their lives are not going to change that much too soon. If anything, they ought to be saying, "thank you" but, that's another topic for another blog post.

Since I've been a hater, I understand the logic of the hater somewhat or, at least, the point of view for the moment. I choose not to be a hater... it's so counter-productive. Instead, I've chosen to view the world through the eyes of love and hope. As a result, I feel so much better. Don't hate... Cooperate!

Monday, November 10, 2008

King Of Cheese Steaks

A few days ago, this man (who I can't name here for legal reasons) who runs a steak and hoagie shop in West Philly that I patronize, told me that his great-grandfather was the "King of Cheese Steaks." A strange boast, but okay, if he wants to say that... It's fine with me... It's not like I haven't heard it before.

I have always come into his establishment around lunch time or on a Saturday afternoon and have ordered my personal favorite, a cheese steak hoagie. He uses that thick Italian bread, slathers mayonnaise across the top, spreads lettuce across it, drapes freshly cut tomatoes, raw onions, and pickles across it, and then adds the chopped-up steak with Cheese Whiz melted on it to the mix. If you live in this area, you'll find that this is the norm for most of these type establishments.

While I was sitting there waiting, the man's great-grandson (who is about my age) confided to me that his great-grandfather actually invented what has become a Philadelphia staple... the steak sandwich. Of course, I thought... he must be kidding. You can go to any neighborhood in North, South, or West Philadelphia, Roxborough, Manayunk, Mt Airy, or Germantown and find a neighborhood steak and hoagie shop... they will tell you the same thing useless they are Asian, Greek, or Black (because then, they know that you know they are lying).

If you venture to South Street, you'll find places like GENO's, Jim's Steaks, and Pat Oliveri's House of Steaks that will brag that they make the best cheese steaks in Philadelphia and their owner is the true"King of Cheese Steaks". This is all debatable. So, I asked this guy to tell me the story of how his great-grandfather invented the steak sandwich and this is what he said.

He told me that his great-grandfather, an Italian immigrant, had a hot dog stand down near the docks, which is now known as "Penn's Landing". Several other men had hot dog stands down there, competing for the dollars of the longshoremen, bricklayers, etc. His great-grandfather needed something to give his stand an edge over the other hot dog stands so, he brought some steaks with him one day, cut them up a little bit, and tossed them on his grill. He cooked the chopped up steak and tossed it onto a hoagie roll. The smell of the steak brought some curious customers over to his hot dog stand and voila! The steak sandwich was born! A little later, he melted some sharp cheese, added that to his steak sandwich and thus, the cheese steak was born.

Of course, this is a preposterous story and very much like the one Pat Oliveri III (of Pat's House of Steaks) told me once. Needless to say, I think I believe Pat Oliveri. I don't believe that this guy's great-grandfather invented the cheese steak but, I do believe that "somebody" probably invented the cheese steak the way the told it and the story just got passed around and embellished over time. Like the fish story about the fish that got away, the fish gets bigger each time the story is retold.

Don't get me wrong... it's a great story to hear while you're munching on a cheese steak, some french fries, and drinking a Coke. Of course, these are all of the things that you're not supposed to be eating because, unlike when you were 17 years old and reed thin, you're not reed thin now and the weight will stay on you and make you ashamed to look at yourself in the mirror sometimes. (At age 17, I was 6' 1+1/2" and 146 pounds... today, I'm about 215 pounds.)
Anyway, I asked the man who was telling me this story why his great-grandfather didn't go and get a patent? Why is the family still working in the three steak shops that they owned and, more importantly, why they all weren't swimming in dough right about now? Then, he told me another preposterous story about how his great-grandfather was basically swindled out of his "invention" by the owner of one of the steak shops I mentioned above. Not Likely.

Hmmm, this story is still suspect... but, still a great story to hear when you're eating and not thinking about health and weight issues. So, who really invented the cheese steak sandwich? Who is really the "King of Cheese Steaks"? I don't know... but, I'd love to thank him/her for a great eating idea.
(Can anyone from the Baltimore-DC area tell me about your famous Pit Beef sandwich? Believe it or not, I actually came close to having one when I attended my cousin's engagement party a few weeks ago but, the food was catered so, I didn't have the pleasure. I'd love to hear about it. Holla back!)
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Update: After completing this post, a funny thing happened when I did the image search for a cheese steak... I actually stumbled upon the true history of the cheese steak and it looks like Pat was telling the truth!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New Obama Website

Throughout the Presidential Transition Project, this website will be your source for the latest news, events, and announcements so that you can follow the setting up of the Obama Administration. And just as this historic campaign was, from the beginning, about you, the transition process will offer you opportunities to participate in redefining our government. Come back often as we define new programs and possibilities to engage and be part of this administration.

(This website was launched a few days after the presidential election, in addition to the previous Obama-Biden campaign website already in existence. The above descriptor is an excerpt from the new website. Stop by, check it out, spread the word, and stay informed. You can click on the screenshot or text link underneath to get there.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Election Week Playlist

I told another blogger (I believe it was The F%$k it List) that I might take an I-Pod filled with music to the polls with me to get me "in a voting mood". Well, I didn't... but, if I had done that, here is what I would have loaded...

1. "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke
You gotta ask why? This has been playing all week, everywhere I've gone in reference to this election.

2. "What's Goin' On?" by Marvin Gaye
This is another song that I've been hearing all week and one that applies. I'd like to ask all of those disappointed McCain supporters who booed at his concession speech, "Hey haters, what's goin' on?"

3. "Party For Your Right To Fight" by Public Enemy
This little known Public Enemy song is what I played on my discman, just as I was getting ready to go to the polls to vote. It got me hyped. (It's on the CD, "It takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.")

4. "If You're Out There" by John Legend
It's the last song on his new cd, "Evolver", and it's a beautiful tribute to the Obama campaign and the promise of a new day in America.

5. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" by Jay Z
This says it all. The right-wingers threw everything but the kitchen sink at my man Obama and he proved to be cooler than crushed ice. He just smiled and brushed the dirt off of his shoulder. (He's a much better man than I!)

6. "You Can Have Whatever You Like" by T.I.
This one has nothing to do with politics. I just like it, that's all. Somebody was playing it in their car while I was in line at the polls and I kinda sorta danced with these girls younger than my daughter (yet, old enough to vote) who were in the line.

7. "Ball of Confusion" by The Temptations
You gotta ask?

8. "WAR" by Edwin Starr
Enuff said on this one.

9. "I know I Can" by NAS
One of the most inspiring hip-hop songs I've ever heard.

10. "Chocolate City" by Parliament
"Gainin' on ya!" because now, DC truly is Chocolate City... Three Musketeers anybody?

Democrat Donkey

Have a great weekend people!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Into The Night

After work yesterday, my wife and I went to a mini-mall to return some clothes she had purchased the day before for our grandson. Apparently, the sizes were wrong and she was exchanging them for the correct size. After she finished exchanging the clothes, we decided to walk over to a nearby Wendy's and grab a bite to eat. Here of late, every fast food spot I go into is a haven for bums and this one was no different. A young man who didn't look as though he had his first shave yet, propositioned me for some "spare change to buy a sandwich" almost as soon as I stepped in the line.

Lately, I've had a soft spot for the homeless and the destitute so, I reached in my pocket and gave him four quarters. As I handed him the quarters, I noticed that he already had a couple of dollars crumpled up into his hands. That was okay, because the cheapest burger in Wendy's is about $ 3.67 plus tax so, I know that a dollar wasn't going to buy him anything. I could halfway appreciate that he was hustling for a meal but, the young man didn't stay in line. He walked to the back of the store, faced the window, and appeared to be counting his money. It was then that my wife said to me, "You know he's not going to buy a sandwich with your money, don't you? But, that's okay... the Lord will bless you anyway because he knows your heart was in the right place."

The young man then approached a woman coming in the store with the same line he used on me. She looked at him as though he was out of his mind and kept walking. I'm sure his pride, his ego, and sense of manhood was wounded being blown off like that so to cover it up, he laughed a loud maniacal laugh as though it didn't really bother him... the laugh of black psychosis in its beginning stages. He came back in the store and approached another patron who, like me, let go of a buck or two. Now satisfied with his take for the night, he then left the Wendy's and crossed the traffic filled boulevard into the night.

My wife and I wondered aloud just what is going to happen to young men like him in the coming years. I said to her that he is going to die on the streets. Bleak, it is, but not hard to see. I don't know his story. I don't know anything about him. But, it was not hard to figure out by the way he moved, the gait, the shake, and the constant moving that he was a substance abuser and he was collecting money, not to eat, but to go and cop. I had seen his type before and a part of me knew who and what he was the minute I first saw him in the line. Perhaps, my wife didn't recognize the signs but, she hasn't been where I've been and hasn't known the type of people I've known.

This guy could possibly be like so many young men I know... a high school drop out and he certainly didn't look like he was working anywhere. He was the kind that is out on the corner early in the morning and still out there when the working folks come home, having done absolutely nothing with their day and having done the same thing today that he did yesterday... nothing.

I'm letting my imagination run wild here because I don't know that... he could've been home from college and bumming money for books for next semester too, I really don't know. But, do you think he would've been that jittery over Freshman Statistics or English Lit? I just thought briefly about yesterday and Obama, who achieved greatness despite all of the odds against him. I also thought about Malcolm X, Dr. King, and other great men. Then, I thought about this young guy who I don't know and who disappeared into the night... seemingly hopeless and futureless. I felt a sadness like I haven't felt in a very long time.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Day After A Miracle

Wednesday, November 5, 2008: I woke up around 7:30am and the first thing I did was grab the remote on my nightstand and turn on the television. There he was... smiling with that photogenic smile and standing next to his wife, Michelle, with their two daughters in between them. He gave his speech to a throng of people from seemingly all walks of life and all different races. It wasn't a dream... it was true. He really was the President of the United States of America. I didn't just dream this... I really did witness a miracle the night before.

Barack Obama, a man who is only three years younger than I am... a guy I might have played with or might have sat in a class with. A guy of my generation and age bracket who was the new President of these United States. He is also the first African-American President of the United States. I liked the way this sounds and I savored the moment.

I went to my computer, brought up my blog, and read all of the touching replies to my last two posts. I then went around the blogosphere, commenting and reading everybody's reactions to what just happened. History. I flipped through the channels... CNN, MSNBC, The Today Show, etc. and listened to mostly glowing reviews of the new president and watched scenes of people partying and jumping for joy. These scenes were played out all over the country, of course, but also in places like Kenya, London, Ireland, and Japan... this was unbelievable and I kept hearing people say, "I never thought I'd see this day."

I never thought that I would see this day either. I thought that the first black president would come from my grandson's generation. I had even written off my 27 year old daughter's generation... still too many racists around, I reasoned. I figured that by the time my grandson grew up, most of the hardline racists would be dead and on the wane. Well guess what? That time is now. The people of this country just proved it to me. Those crowds of Whites, Latinos, Blacks, Asians, and Native Americans proved to me that a lot of those old tired racist ideals are on the wane, even now. (The rest of the crazys can go crawl back into their holes now.)

I'm only sorry that my grandparents and both of my parents are no longer living to see this day. There was no way my grandfather, who had to leave the south immediately after he commited the unforgivable sin of having an altercation with a white man in 1917, could conceive of a moment like this. His reality was one of a south where Jim Crow was king and lynching was a national past time. Where southern journalists didn't just say the "n" word... they wrote nigger in their newspapers whenever they felt like it.

My mother, father, and their siblings inherited this same intolerant and racist America... yet, lived to see the Civil Rights movement, the abolishment of segregation, and the establishment of constitutional protection of our basic human rights. My parents lived to see the election of black mayors, senators, congressmen, and governors. They didn't, however, live to see this... a man, who could easily have been one of their children, become the President of the United States.

I know that they died knowing that I would live in a better country than the one they were born into but, WOW... they couldn't have conceived this moment. I hope that wherever they are, they are two stepping on the clouds in celebration, because baby, I'm doin' a two step right now!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The 44th President of the United States of America!

YES WE DID!!!!!!!!!!!

The Results Of Benign Neglect

Today, I will go to vote. Some people will choose not to vote. Some people will argue that the conditions in the black community have deteriorated to a point where neither Barack Obama or John McCain's presidency will matter. I'm going to surprise everyone here by saying that I agree but, not without explanation. Let's take a look at how we got to this point...

On this day, in the very neighborhood I live in, I have more to fear from someone who looks like me than I do some chucklehead in a white sheet or who wears jackboots and masturbates to posters of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun. In my community, teen pregnancy and the high school drop out rate runs high, as well as the unemployment rate that has created a generation of hopelessness and apathy.

The apathy and black psychosis that sprung from this comes from people... black people who always seemed to have an excuse for not voting in many elections past and who allowed jackleg politician after politician, (black and white politicians, mind you) to get elected and not be held accountable for what they said they would do. The end result of this is decades of not being respected and not getting any services delivered to our community. No money to the inner city
schools, not enough police protection in our communities, no incentives for colleges and local universities to extend financial aid to inner city youth for schloarships, no lowering of property taxes for first-time home owners or availability of home loans, etc. I'm just giving examples of
how our own apathy led to politicians from both parties ignoring the black community and I am laying this at the feet of the black community.

For years, politicians of both parties knew that we weren't going to come out to vote if it rained or, if they weren't running a black candidate, or if we didn't feel as though this were our country, or any of the other nonsense and excuse-making we as a people have been guilty of. Why should they respect you, since they know you're not going to vote anyway and they know that they can do or not do anything they damn well choose because all you are going to do is bitch and moan and maybe march downtown to protest it? They don't care because they know that black people also have short memories too. We will allow them to come to a few churches, eat some fried chicken, lie about knowing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and everything will be cool. They can get re-elected and spend four more years of doing nothing and our neighborhoods suffer.

It's funny... I go out into the suburbs and I don't see voter registration drives. Do you know why? Because nobody has to tell white people to vote. They come out in droves and they let their elected officials hear it loud and clear when they make a mis-step. They write letters, make phone calls, and send e-mails. They don't care if you came to their church or not... they don't care if you and Ronald Reagan were in a movie together back in the day. They want results for what is ailing them right here, right now and in most cases... they get action.

But, in the Black community, we have to have voter registration drives. We have to explain to some that their right to vote was hard fought for and should not be taken for granted. We have to tell others that this is their country too and that their vote matters, just as much as anybody else's. And, we still have the cynics amongst us who sharply criticize the government and politicians but don't vote. To quote James Brown, that's just "Talkin' loud and sayin' nothin'."

This is not about Barack Obama or John McCain. This is about making the powers that be respect the black vote. For the first time in years, black folk are hopeful, registering in record numbers, and you can best believe that somebody is taking note of this somewhere. I know that right now, voting and political talk is the "in" thing amongst us but, I must stress that we not let it end tomorrow. If we want to be taken seriously, we've got to start today, (no matter who wins) holding politicians responsible for what they say they are going to do.

Neither presidential candidate is a savior and regardless of who wins, your life is not going to be much different for a long time. That will depend on how fast whoever wins gets to changing policies and how much these policies are going to effect how you and I are living. It is in your best interest to stay involved, read newspapers, magazines, blogs, and to continue to voice your opinions through e-mails, letters, phone calls, etc. after the election has been decided.

In closing I'll say this... your benign neglect and their benign neglect means that nothing will ever change. Aren't you tired of nothing ever changing? Then, do something. To quote James Brown again, "Get up, get into it, get involved!"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Your Vote Does Matter!

Some years ago, there was a brilliant PBS Television mini-series called "Eyes On The Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965." The series has a companion book that came along with it, filled with photographs and commentary about that period in American history and those heroic black people who took to the streets, got arrested, got beaten, and in some cases got killed trying to get equal rights and, more importantly, voting rights for blacks and all racial and ethnic minorities in this country.

I wish I had a copy of this book for all of those people who feel as though their vote doesn't matter. It certainly mattered to somebody. If your vote didn't matter, nobody would have been murdered to make sure that you were too scared to vote. If your vote didn't matter, then that travesty in Florida in the year 2000 would have never been attempted. Clearly your vote does matter... it matters a lot.

Photo #2: Medgar Evers Funeral

In particular, when I read about Mississippi and how hard they resisted voting rights for African-Americans. Much to my surprise, I learned that African-Americans actually out numbered whites in many of the counties in parts of Mississippi and, if allowed to vote, they could have voted all of those redneck sheriffs and the white "Citizen's Council" members out of power. This is why the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and the white "Citizen's Council" fought so hard, even resorting to murder, to run the large African-American population away from the polls. Your vote does matter... it mattered to somebody if they were willing to bomb churches, snatch three guys (Photo #1: Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner) off the street and murder them, burn people's houses down, and assassinate two NAACP leaders (Photo #2: Medgar Evers and Photo #3: Vernon Dahmer).

Photo #3: Vernon Dahmer's Home Firebombed

As I leaf through this book and look at the photos of all those brave people... black and white, young and old... who risked their lives riding into foreign territory so that I could vote, it fills me with both pride and gratitude. I know that I wrote a post something like this before but, I can't stress enough how important it is that your voice be heard by tomorrow. I know that some people have already voted and I applaud them. I am most certainly going to vote tomorrow because I'm an American citizen, it's my right to vote, and it's the way to make my opinion heard. I can rage on and on on this blog and that's cool... but, my vote will most definitely make my opinion known and go toward exacting that change.

People are afraid of change. They are afraid of the masses of free people having some say in their government... that's why they fight so hard to crush any dissent. There is a fellow blogger now being held under virtual house arrest in Nigeria because he has dared challenge the position of that country's government. Here we are... able to assemble freely, vote, and blog... and some of us don't want to take advantage of that opportunity.

Vote tomorrow. Freedom ain't free. There are several people lying in their graves now who might still be alive and who gave their lives so that all of us could vote. If you don't do it for any other reason, do it for them. They gave so much and it's an insult to their memories not to vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Old Betsy

1970 Ford Fairlane

2008 Lexus

My frat brother, JD, had a 1970 Ford Fairlane when we were in college. I don't care if it was winter or summer... he would put the key in the ignition, start that car up, and have to wait about ten minutes before it would kick in gear and we could actually go anywhere. When he turned the ignition off, the car would stutter and shake from side to side for a minute before actually shutting down. JD was one of two brothers on my pledge line that had a car back then.

Many guys refer to their cars by women's names (at least they did in the late 70's and early 80's) and he always referred to his car as "Old Betsy". He'd say, "Don't worry about "Old Betsy"... she'll make the trip." And, she did..."Old Betsy" got us through 15 mad crazy weeks of pledging. She also got me and JD up and down the highways of Central Pennsylvania through Southeastern Pennsylvania and back many, many times.

Of course, you know us being guys, we clowned JD about his car every chance we got and some of the jokes were so cruel that even I... with my no car, no drivers license having self, had to laugh. JD would always retort, "That's alright, y'all rode in my car, didn't you?" He was right. When we needed to make a food run, it was "Old Betsy" that took us into town and back. When we wanted to visit another campus because there was either a party or someone had pledges, it was "Old Betsy" that drove us, sometimes six or seven deep to our destination.

My other frat brother, "Hollywood" had a Red Firebird and he wasn't as free with his car. You had to be wearing a skirt to ride with him. JD told me once, "That's alright brother, one day when I have my MBA. I'm gonna be living large and y'all won't be laughing at what I'll be pushin' then." So, let's flash forward to now...

JD made good on his promise. He got his MBA and has a cushy job for the federal government. He is married to a beautiful AKA sister who also has an MBA and is doing pretty good for herself. I went to visit them a couple of weeks ago. They are one of only three black couples that live in a cul de sac in a tony part of the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. They have a gorgeous home and in their garage, they have matching black Lexuses. His has the Kappa Alpha Psi plate on the back and hers has the Alpha Kappa Alpha plate on the back. This is the only way you can tell the difference between the two cars.

Well, sitting out in front of their home in that neighborhood is... you guessed it... "Old Betsy". He still has that car and he said that he had it completely rehabbed... new engine, new everything... and it runs like a charm. I asked him why he still had that car after all these years and he said something profound... "That was my first car, good brother (he always calls me that) and it's a reminder to me of where I was in case I ever get a big head and think I'm more than what I actually am. Keeping this car, keeps me humble and I always want to remember to be that... humble."

And, I always want to remember the lesson he just taught me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Phillies "Parade Of Champions"

On Friday, October 31st, the fans came from near (inner city and surrounding suburbs) and far (New Jersey and Delaware) to celebrate and participate in what looked to be one of the largest parades in Philadelphia history. These photos in no way do justice to the number of people who came to Center City and lined the streets, perched on windowsills, and climbed on rooftops just to (in some cases, depending on where you were) merely catch a glimpse of our "Fightin' Phils" champions and that World Series trophy.

The parade was scheduled to begin at 12:00pm but, people were heading into Center City all morning to claim a piece of the sidewalk along the parade route as their own. It began at 20th & Market Streets with a slow cruise to City Hall, a turn onto South Broad Street, and it ended at the Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies. When they got to the ball park 100,000 more fans were waiting there to greet and receive them as well. It was rumored that so many people traveled into the city from the suburbs to see the parade, our regional rail system had to stop taking them inbound around 1:00pm so they could begin to prepare the trains for the outbound commute.

It wasn't a very productive day for the few diehard "workaholics" who stayed in their offices and tried to get a little work done while all the pandemonium was going on outside. Some of them eventually gave up and tried to come out onto the street to join the festivities. By that time, imagine their surprise when they discovered that there were so many people lining the sidewalks, they couldn't even get out of the door of their office building! On Thursday evening, it was declared on the news that schools would (in fact) be open on Friday, with the exception of ten schools that were located along the parade route. Of course, parents were encouraged to send their kids to school. (Yeah, right!) Scores of school-aged children, along with their parents, and teenagers were out 'n' about so, there wasn't much going on in the classrooms either... but, things were exactly as they should've been.

No, yesterday was special. It was intended to be a day set aside for a grateful city to take pause and honor the team who not only took us to the mountain but, finally climbed over it and brought home a championship. Many years have gone by since the Phillies won their last championship back in 1980, which was their first and only championship prior to this one. It was the year before our daughter was born and she is now 27 years old with a 2+1/2 year old child of her own... that's how long its been. Philadelphia is a city that was hungry for a championship (any championship), we FINALLY got one, and we celebrated big time!

So, please excuse us if we didn't show up for work or go to school yesterday... the work and lesson plans aren't going anywhere and will still be there waiting for all of us on Monday morning. But, THIS only happens when it happens and you've got to seige the moment when it does... right then, right there, or it is gone forever. This was definitely the type of event that you want to experience at least once in your lifetime and be able to tell your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (if you're truly blessed)... "I WAS THERE!"

It was estimated that 2 million people attended the parade.


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

Click on image to enlarge for reading

Click on image to enlarge for reading

Click on image to enlarge for reading