Tuesday, September 30, 2008

That Is The Question


When Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980, he asked the American people if they felt as though they were better off now than they were four years before? Apparently, the majority of the American people didn't and they elected him president. It is now 2008.

In 1998, the cost of unleaded regular gas was $0.89 cents + 9/10 a gallon, unleaded plus was $1.03 a gallon, and unleaded premium was $1.13 a gallon. Today, unleaded regular gas averages about $4.03 a gallon in most places, unleaded plus averages $4.13 a gallon, and unleaded premium averages about $4.23 a gallon.

In 2000, when Bill Clinton left office, we had a surplus. Today, we have a historical deficit... we still had the Twin Towers in New York... New Orleans was still above sea level and had more residents... Wall Street was healthy... people were actually MAKING money... interest rates were the lowest they had been since the days when Beaver Cleaver was on television.

Well America, it's been eight years. How are you doing?

Monday, September 29, 2008

MEM Date Night: The Love Dare

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Saturday evening, me and my wife (along with more than 75 other couples) attended "Date Night" (dinner and a movie) as part of the Marriage Enrichment Ministry of our church. The evening started with a feast at Famous Dave's and concluded with the Christian movie "FIREPROOF" at the Riverview Theatre on Delaware Avenue in Philly. Needless to say, the food was great... it was a meal fit for a King and, of course, his Queen. After dinner, even more couples from our church joined us at the theatre and "packed the house" to see the movie so, there were far more people present than those shown in the photos below.

The movie is about a firefighter who lives by the old adage, "Never leave your partner behind"... but, at home, he lives by his own rules. After seven years of marriage, he and his wife are having so many arguments over jobs, finances, housework, and other outside interests that their marriage is in ruins. As the couple prepares for divorce, the firefighter's father challenges his son to commit to a 40-day experiment called "The Love Dare" to recapture his wife's heart and save his marriage. Everyone really enjoyed the movie and prayerfully, we all learned something from it. A good time was had by all and the evening was a success (that's me and my wife... top row, center).








Click here to learn more about "The Love Dare"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend Update

Last night, we went to see the new Spike Lee movie, "The Miracle at St. Anna". It is a World War II drama about four black soldiers caught behind enemy lines in a small town in Italy and their interactions with each other and the towns people. It's a fascinating human study about the horrors and inhumanity committed by both sides in war.

It also deals with the racism these black soldiers faced from the very people they were supposed to be fighting for and the Nazi's exploitation of it in their attempts to divide the American troops. They had a comic version of "Radio Free America" (that I called "Racist Free Europe") in the middle of the film that you just have to see to believe.

It is an incredible human story with very complex characters. This could possibly be the very best Spike Lee film ever. I've been a big fan since "She's Gotta Have It" and I've watched each film he's made since then get better and better. He has finally learned how to get out of his own way.

I'm glad he made this film and I'm equally glad he chided Clint Eastwood about not including any blacks in his two World War II films last year. My father and uncles fought in World War II and the Korean War. As a child, they thrilled me with stories of their time in the military and photos of all the many places they visited. Yet, if you look at all of the movies made about both of those wars, only "The Dirty Dozen" and "A Soldier's Story" shows any black soldiers.

John Wayne certainly didn't have any black troops and he must've fought in every U.S. war from The Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War in his movies. In spite of that, I found out that black soldiers fought in all of those wars. I guess Hollywood just forgot about us.


The Bridge: Cinema De Lux, Philadelphia PA

Is it me or are movies just too damn high? We went to a very beautiful movie complex called "The Bridge" here in Philly. It not only shows 12 movies at a time but, it has a restaurant and a lounge in the back with wide screen TVs and a DJ that spins the latest in Neo-Soul and Hip-Hop on Friday and Saturday Nights. It also has a screening room where you can sit while you're waiting for your movie to start and watch the previews of up and coming attractions.

So granted, this is a pretty hip ultra-modern establishment but, is that justification for charging $12.00 a ticket and $9.00 for parking? It hasn't been THAT long since I've been to the movies... just a few months. Where did these prices come from? All the more reason to appreciate cable and Netflix.


R.I.P. Paul Newman
January 26, 1925-September 26, 2008

While I'm on the subject of movies and such... I just heard that an icon of American cinema, Actor Paul Newman, has died after a long battle with cancer. We've lost a lot of icons this year (Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, George Carlin, Tim Russert, Ike Turner, etc.)

I'll always remember my favorite Paul Newman film, "Cool Hand Luke". It was made when I was 9 years old but, I didn't see it until I was about 35 years old on video. The tagline still remains with me to this day... "What we have here is a failure to communicate." Paul Newman never failed to communicate excellence on the silver screen. He will be missed.

Red Light, Green Light

On our way home ,we witnessed a horrific automobile crash. I was behind a young woman in a white 2008 Jetta (who had two small children in the back seat) and she ran a red light. A black Lexus SUV plowed into her and sent her car spinning, while it ran into the stoplight on the pavement.

Miraculously, nobody appeared to be seriously injured. There was glass everywhere and the Jetta was totaled. The SUV was bent up and airbags were going off all over the place. Some bystanders got the girl and her two kids out of the car and the guy driving the SUV came running over to her and screamed, "Didn't you know you ran a red light?" The girl who looked all of 23 years old said, "I did?" He just slapped his hands together and shook his head.

The man appeared to be fine... that is, until the police arrived. Then, you know how WE do... it's showtime! He appears to be faint and sits down near the traffic light. "Ohhh, I feel kind of faint... ohhh..." I'm standing across the street (with my little validated parking ticket) taking all of this in and scratching my head. An ambulance came and actually took him to the hospital. In the words of Bugs Bunny, "What a Jamolke."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

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Friday, September 26, 2008

School Daze (Back In Da Game)

I got the flu and I had it bad. I was so sick that I was on bed rest for two weeks and lost close to twenty pounds. A couple of my friends brought my work to me from my classes, as well as food. Neither Shelly nor Ice knew what had happened to me. I had seemingly dropped out of sight. Stevie Wonder kept me company during that time.

I hadn't been seen on campus but, I did talk to her roommate, Diane, on the phone who scolded me for not asking Shelly sooner. She was like "Damn, I gotta ride with that boring ass, stuck up wanna be a playa. Why didn't you make your move?" I said, "I'm sorry, I didn't know he was moving that fast" (which was really a lie, I knew). She said, "I told you. I told you not to wait. You could've asked her a week ago. Now, what are you gonna do?" I shrugged and said, "I don't know." I was out of ideas. I was just plain out.

Forever Came Today!

I was in the supermarket and I accidentally bumped into her and knocked some of her canned goods on the floor. I apologized, helped her pick them up, and introduced myself. She was gorgeous... her name was Debbie and she was a grad student. She was a good three years older than me but, that didn't deter or intimidate me. I was enthralled. I walked Debbie to her apartment and we sat and talked about everything. I felt more relaxed around Debbie than I had felt around any woman up until now...so relaxed that I didn't try to front. I told her my true age (any other time, any other girl and I would have lied).

I told her about my predicament and about Shelly, the AKA who I had all but blown it with now. She said that she didn't think my situation was that hopeless and that she would even help me get Shelly. I asked her how and she said, "I'll be your date for the night and besides, you can help me out too." I asked her how and she asked me if I knew a Kappa named, "Disco Dave". Of course, I knew Disco Dave... he was a graduate assistant who had affiliated himself with my chapter once we got ourselves established. We weren't buddies but, he was my frat brother and I knew him.

Debbie had it bad for Disco Dave and if he saw her with me, she reasoned maybe he wouldn't take her for granted... maybe he would pay her some attention and they could get together. I didn't really want to work against my frat brother but, I agreed to do it. Debbie said, "After all, us Red and Whites have to stick together." Debbie was a member of Delta Sigma Theta.

Like the prom, most people drove to the formal. If you didn't have a car, the school provided a ride on a yellow school bus (most of the blacks rode on the school bus). One of my frat brothers had a fit and said, "WE LOOK LIKE FOOLS, ALL DRESSED UP IN GOWNS AND TUXES AND RIDIN' ON A DAMN SCHOOL BUS. I AIN'T GOIN' OUT LIKE DAT! PEOPLE ARE GONNA BE LAUGHING AT US." I said to him, "Who is going to be laughing?" and he yelled out, "THE WHITE PEOPLE!" I just shook my head.

Lucky for us, Debbie had a car... I rode in the front with her and my frat brother and his date (also a Delta) rode in the back. Now, mind you... nobody had seen me in weeks and I didn't ride on the school bus so, when I walked in with a hot babe that nobody had ever seen before, heads turned and my frat brothers gave me dap. "Alright... way to get back in da game playa!" The other girls began whispering and even Shelly looked at me kind of surprised. I didn't look her way. I couldn't believe that I had pulled this off. (Really I didn't... God, fate, or something beyond me had just smiled on me, I suppose.)

Wishing On A Star

Disco Dave was there with some girl who got very drunk and vomited all over the back hallway. He was very embarrassed and I felt for him. (Well, not that much... just a little.) They had to put her in a cab and send her home. Disco Dave sat by himself the rest of the night. Debbie and I danced until we were drenched in sweat, sat at our table and laughed at everything and everybody, and had the best time together. The funny thing about it is, it wasn't fake... we clicked in a real way.

Late in the night, Shelly came over to my table and asked me if I was having a good time. I said that I was and I asked her if she was having a good time. She said, "NO! Oh my God... he's horrible and his hands keep going everywhere they are not supposed to go. He keeps trying to pull me into the hallway. I think he thinks he's going to get some after this thing is over but, I got news for him!" I didn't say anything.

Then, they played "Always and Forever" by Heatwave. Disco Dave came over and asked me if he could dance with Debbie and I said, "Oh, sure frat, go ahead, go ahead." I winked at Debbie and she smiled at me. I heard Shelly tell Ice, "No, take your hands off of my butt and get away from me!" Ice didn't take kindly to this, after all, he had spent $50.00 on her and he said as much. "You foul and you stuck up. I spent $50.00 on you! I hope they got a seat on the bus 'cause you ain't ridin' back with me." Now, of course, I guess you think I was gloating at this point. I wasn't (really, I wasn't... oh, okay... just a little bit).

Strangely enough, my mind was elsewhere. It was on Debbie... how nice she looked, how soft her body felt when I was slow dancing with her, and how lame Disco Dave's rap must have been. She shot him down. He stormed out of the hall and got in his car but it, wouldn't start. He came back and meekly asked Debbie if she had jumper cables. She did and she helped him get his car started... and then, he was gone. (See this is why I love black women, even when we brothers treat them bad, they still got our backs. I love all my sisters!) I wanted to say the Bugs Bunny line... "what a jamolke" but, lame or not, Disco Dave was my frat brother and I was loyal if not anything else. But, I know he must've felt bad about how his night turned out... not to mention being upstaged by one of his neophytes.

Shelly walked over to me and said, "You haven't danced with me all night." I said, "I didn't know that I could." She said, "We're still friends, aren't we?" I said, "Sure". They were playing "Wishing On A Star" by Rose Royce and we slow danced to it. Ice was not amused. He looked at me and smirked then, gave me the high sign. I looked at him and nodded. A sign of mutual respect... game well played but, game over. He wasn't done, he started talking to some other girl and was last seen walking with her to his car. I gotta hand it to him... he always recovered well.

As you can imagine, I was in hog heaven. I wound up with the best that Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta had to offer in one glorious night. That night, I had the best hand in the house. Debbie thanked me and said, "Go get your girl. At least one of us got what we wanted tonight." I told her that I was sorry that things didn't work out for her and Disco Dave but, she said that it was cool and maybe it just wasn't meant to be. She drove my other frat brother and her soror back to campus. Heaven forbid if "THE WHITE PEOPLE" would see him in a tux on a school bus!

I rode back to campus on the school bus. Shelly fell asleep in the seat next to mine. I covered her with my coat and put my arms around her. She didn't resist and she snuggled right up next to me. I looked up at the sky and silently screamed, "Thank You, God!" I was hyped and I couldn't hide it. Her roommate, Diane, looked over at us and winked. I winked back and as Ice Cube said, "All and all, it was a good day!"

Footnote: Fraternity & Sorority Shields (top-bottom): Delta Sigma Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and Omega Psi Phi.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

School Daze (The Spring Formal)

In keeping with the theme posts started by "Southern Gal" and "Pretty Circle Drawer", I've decided to share one of my fondest school memories with you (it being September and all). I've had my share of bad experiences with women but, not all of them were that way. This story had a happy ending (for me anyway).

Every spring, my college had something called a Spring Formal. It was the equivalent of a high school prom... guys got a tux, the girls got a gown, and there was a small fee (I think it was $50.00 per person). You took your date out to a nice hall in the neighboring township for a night of dancing and fine dining and, just like high school, you had to put your bid in early to get your date.

I began my "campaign" in January, as soon as the spring semester began. I began seeing a cute little AKA named Shelly around this time. We had a few classes together and at first, we began going to the library to study together... then, we would go to the student activity center for a burger and a cup of coffee after class. Then, I began stopping by her room, dropping by the laundry room in the basement of her dormitory, and going with her and her roommate into town to go shopping on weekends. My frat brother, "Hollywood", would often ask me, "Yo man, are you gettin' anywhere with that (meaning, had we had sex yet)"? I would always answer, "I'm close to breakin' through man" (which usually meant that I hadn't even kissed her yet!)

Into all of this intrigue came a Que named "Ice". He was one of the smoothest players in the game and it was generally known that, if he set his sights on a girl, she was as good as gone and everybody else could just forget about it. The brother was so cool, I often wondered why he wasn't a Kappa (his frat brothers did too). He just wasn't like the other Ques on the yard. He was real laid back and didn't speak above a whisper. I liked him and respected him as a person but, I wasn't afraid of him and I wasn't about to just hand over to him what I felt was mine. My uncle used to always say to me, "Somebody's gotta win... it might as well be you."

And, so began the long battle for this AKA girl... she and I would be coming back from class and I would see a pair of sunglasses drawn on the bulletin board of her door that said,"Hi baby, Ice was by to see you at 7:00 pm... later." He would bring her back from the movies and I would leave a message on her board that read, "Steak of K-A-PSI was by 2 say Hi" right under what he wrote. ("Steak" was just one of many silly nicknames that I would carry in a lifetime. I got it in middle school and brought it back in college for a season.)

I had an ally in Shelly's roommate, Diane, also an AKA. She said, "Personally, I think both of yall are wasting your time but Keith, I like you better than I do Ricky (Ice's government name). Diane never called either of us by our nicknames... she didn't believe in that. She said that she liked me because I came over and brought Pizza for everybody, I made them both laugh, and I didn't treat her like she didn't exist. On the other hand, Ice brought only himself and really really didn't like Diane. He treated her like a leper. He told me once... "Man, Diane won't leave the room... she just sits there the whole time. Does she leave when you come over?", he asked me. I said that I didn't mind her being there. He said, "You don't? Huh, well I most certainly do."

We had a weird competition going on, me and him. We both knew we were after the same girl. We both knew that one of us was going to surely lose and yet, we remained friends and had no visible animosity towards each other. He didn't come around her when he knew I was with her and I didn't come around her when I knew she was with him. It was a mutual respect. However, my frat brothers viewed this as competition and a chance to one up the Ques, as I'm sure his did too. You know, "Stick it to those Kappas", while her sorors thought the whole thing was funny. I overheard one of her sorors say, "You got these two guys, a Kappa and a Que, fighting over one of us... an AKA."

Did I tell you that Shelly and I shared the same birthday and the same birth hospital? Yeah, we were both born the same day, same year, and at the same hospital. I saw this as a sign that she ought to be with me. Ricky was a Scorpio and he had no business being with an Aries woman, I reasoned. So, on our birthday, I took her out for ice cream and I asked her to go to the Spring Formal with me. She looked at me and said, "Oh, you should have asked me that sooner... Ice already asked me about a week ago and I'm going with him." I was stunned but, I shouldn't have been. Now, I had no date, the formal was in six weeks, and any girl that I would have wanted to go with, had already been snatched up. It looked like I had played a losing hand. Then, something wonderful happened... I got sick!

(To be concluded tomorrow, I promise...)

Footnote: Fraternity & Sorority Shields (top-bottom): Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and Omega Psi Phi.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dumb De Dumb Dumb Dumb!


Last week, this country suffered a financial catastrophe. It is being said that this is the worse of its kind since the Great Depression of the 1930's. All of a sudden, people don't want to hear about pigs with lipstick on them... "Obama Waffles".... moose shooting' mamas... sex in kindergarten... how many houses and cars somebody owns... and how great a certain candidate looks in a red, white, and blue bikini toting a shotgun... and all of the other silly distractions that were starting to come up. Scared? You should be. Now, you realize that it's serious don't you? So, how did we get in this mess? I'm glad you asked. Here's what happened?

In 1999, Republican Senator Phil Gramm sponsored a deregulation bill (that was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton) that removed the traditional barriers between banks, brokerage firms, and insurance companies. What happened next was a surge in the trading of mortgage backed securities or complex financial deals that made a pile of money for the Wall Street folks. While they were lining their pockets, the price of your house was rising ten percent, twenty percent, thirty percent every year. Still with me? Check it out... as home prices begin to fall and mortgage foreclosures begin to rise, these heavily leveraged bets are collapsing all over the place and threatening the entire global balance of economy. You've been so involved with Britney Spears selection of (or no selection of) panties for the day that, all of that went right by you over the years but, you know who won American Idol last season, don't you?

Oh yeah, one other thing... Senator Phil Gramm had an advisor who helped him frame the deregulation bill. Do you know who it was? John McCain. Yup, he was the co-sponsor of that bill and now, he's telling you and I that he's going to clean up Washington and the way it does business. Give me a break! These Republicans talk about how they don't favor "big government" and how they want to get the "government off of your back" right? Now, they are using that same government to borrow money from other countries to bail out all of these financial institutions.

Do you see how complex this is to even explain? We can't afford to let these institutions go belly up because so much of the entire world's economy is tied up into this mess that, if they are not bailed out, it would cause an even worse economic disaster. So, when I hear people like "Henry" on the radio and realize how stupid he is, this is why it scares me that there are more like him who just don't understand and just don't want to understand how serious all of this really is now. Whoever you choose to vote for, it must be an informed vote, based on a clear and honest study of both candidates, their policies, and an intelligent look at what is in it for you the voter. We can't afford to be dumb...not in this election.

Tomorrow, I promise... I'll lighten up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Henry


So, I was listening to a radio talk show this afternoon and someone phones in who I'll call "Henry"... He tells the talk show host, "I'm a white Republican and I will be voting for John McCain. I'm not a racist. I work and socialize with a lot of black people. We debate the issues all the time and we have just agreed to disagree."

The talk show host asked him... "Okay Henry, why are you voting for John McCain? What policies of his do you think make him the viable candidate?" Henry said... "Well, I don't actually know about any of his policies. I haven't really heard him talk about any policies but, he is a Republican, I'm a Republican, my father was a Republican, and my grandfather was a Republican. More or less, that's what it comes down to for me."

The talk show host was exasperated (I was too) and he then attempted to connect with Henry from another angle. He said... "So, you haven't read anything about John McCain's views? No newspaper articles, no Magazines, or anything?" Henry replied... "No, I don't read all that serious stuff. I just read the sports and the comics the few times I do read the paper."

The talk show host then asked him about Barack Obama and he replied... "I just think he's a little too liberal, that's all. Me not voting for him has nothing to do with him being African-American."

The talk show host asked him was there anything specific about Barack Obama that he found objectionable and Henry answered..."Well, he's for universal health care." Then, the host said... "And, you're not?" Henry answered... "No, I'm not for any health care at all." Then, there was complete silence. (I'm scratching my head at this point.) Henry then back tracked and said, "I'm for going to the doctor but, the government shouldn't tell me when to go." (Okay, now I'm ready to turn the radio off at this point.)

The talk show host then ran down the educational backgrounds of all the candidates... Barack Obama graduated from Columbia with a BA in Political Science, minor in International Affairs, and got his J.D. from Harvard; Joe Biden got his BA in Political Science from Delaware State College and his J.D. from Syracuse University; John McCain finished 894th out of 899 students at the Naval Academy in Annapolis; while Sarah Palin attended five different colleges before she got her BA in Journalism.

The talk show host then asked Henry if he thought that the future leader of the free world should be "smarter" than the average citizen to which Henry said... "No, it doesn't matter if you're smart or not, as long as you care about this country."

The talk show host, still exasperated (so was I), said..."Come on, Henry. I know you are not that naive. Come on, Henry." Henry said, "Who says you have to be smart? George Bush was an average student and he is doing a pretty good job." (My head was hurting at this point and I turned to another radion station.)

Now, I know that Henry does not represent the average John McCain supporter. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and I'm sure that, in all fairness, there is probably an Obama supporter out there who may be equally as stupid but, at least, I didn't hear them on the radio today. There's an old quote that I've heard many times throughout my life and I know that it applies here...

Quote: "It is better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fresh Squeezed O.J.

When I was in high school, there was a guy we called "Crosswhite". Don't ask me why because I don't know... he wasn't mixed and he wasn't light-skinned. It was just one of those ridiculous nicknames that people have sometime. Anyway, Crosswhite introduced me to O.J. Simpson. He knew everything there was to know about O.J…. his number, birth date, place of birth, stats, you name it.

O.J. was playing for the Buffalo Bills when I was in high school and he was also in the Hertz Rent-A-Car commercials where he could be seen running through the airport. An old white lady used to yell, "Go O.J. Go!" I knew that he had won the Heisman Trophy a few years before and that, while he was breaking some of Jim Brown's records, his team had no chance of going to the Super Bowl and for me, that was all that counted back then.

Well, the years went by and unlike my friend "Crosswhite", I forgot all about O.J. until he popped up in a couple of silly movies like The "Naked Gun" in 1994 (which I loved because to date I've seen it six times). When O.J. was in the news again for a sensational double murder, you may not believe this but, I couldn't have cared less. Unlike the rest of the country, I was not mesmerized by the trial and had almost no opinion whatsoever as to whether he did it or not until a white guy (who I'll call Frank) that I worked with came along.

Frank was one of those white guys who really didn't like black people but, would hang around them... usually, because he was stuck in a job with them and didn't have a choice. We were all in the same Air Force Reserve Unit. At the time, the sisters in my unit vehemently defended O.J. They thought he was being framed and they felt that if he had killed a black woman, none of it would have been on the front page of any newspaper.

Frank felt it was his duty to tell these women that they were wrong and that, in fact, O.J. was guilty and that they were letting race cloud the issue. He would get very emotional about this and turn beat red. The sisters, for their part, would get just as emotional, and everyday like clockwork there they were in a heated discussion about O.J. Simpson.

We were in Norway that year and I think the locals must have looked at us like we were crazy. Here was this white man and these black women arguing. I am most dangerous when I am bored and having nothing better to do, I would bait him. We would all be in the chow hall and I would say out loud, "Hmmm, I think I'll ask them if they have any freshly squeezed O.J. today"... to which the brothers would break out in gales of laughter. Frank would explode into a frenzy... "You all are practicing reverse racism. O.J. is guilty as hell. A man and a woman have been murdered. This is not a race issue. O.J. doesn't even hang around people like you all... he hangs around WHITE WOMEN!"... he screamed in desperation.

Now, he did it... then, the brothers began arguing with him. "Oh, so that is what's really buggin' you ain't it. You are mad because the brother was with a white woman. Man, you are a racist!" And now, Frank and the entire black race was in a heated argument and I sat back and laughed at the entire thing. After all, I had started it and I never missed a chance to throw a dig at Frank.

On the plane ride home, I gave a couple of brothers some cartons of orange juice and told them to give them to him. "Hey man, no hard feelings. Sarge told us to give you these... some frozen O.J. hahaha..." I sat back, instigator that I was, and laughed my head off. Yes, I could be a real prick sometimes when I wanted to be and now that I think about it, Frank may have been right, partially. A man and a woman had been brutally murdered and in the lurid details of the homicide, all of that was forgotten. O.J. became a symbol of the flawed justice system, black oppression, and several other things that I know meant little or nothing to him.

Frank was right... up until the trial, O.J. was only seen with white women and rich white men. He was rarely ever seen with blacks and yet, black people and black women in particular, were his staunchest defenders. If you look at the case, his blood and DNA were everywhere it shouldn't have been. People have been executed with far less evidence. Frank said the O.J. "bought justice" for himself. Right again but, white people have been doing that for years and still do it. So, when O.J. was acquitted, it wasn't so much that black people were chearing for him (with the possible exception of my buddy "Crosswhite" who idolized the man)... they were cheering because a black person finally beat the system.

Think about Emmet Till who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for merely whistling at a white woman. The two guys who killed him admitted that they did it, the whole town knew that they did it, and an all white jury still acquitted them. You could kill a black man in Mississippi for years and you couldn't get a white jury to indict, let alone convict, a white man of murdering a black person. O.J. was collective payback for all of that.

Even though, in my heart, I knew that Frank was right, I couldn't agree with him and chose to tease him instead. He didn't understand the collective psyche of the black man and woman. Hell, that was just a few years after the Rodney King trial, in which three white police officers were acquitted of any wrong doing after being caught on tape beating an unarmed and subdued prisoner. I didn't give a damn about the injustice of O.J. being acquitted. I had witnessed more than my fair share of injustice committed against members of my own race in this country's history.

Which brings me to today... ironically enough, O.J. is on trial again in another state, before an all white jury for something stupid. Once again, I just don't care. I'm sorry, but the man just doesn't move me in that way. I don't know what white people will do if he gets acquitted( and Obama gets elected president too.) Lawd have mercy... some of them might just move to Canada. Me, I'm gonna drink a cup of fresh squeezed O.J.!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Would You Marry You?


On a lighter note, I've been pondering something for a long time and I decided to put this out there for the blogosphere. I wondered... if I could step inside of a woman's body, would I marry someone like me? So, I'm putting this question out there to all of you. If you took all of your positive and negative qualities and put them into someone else, could you marry that person? In other words, would you marry you ? You know how you are better than anyone!

This forum is now open for comments. If you're not yet married or even if you're divorced and thinking of getting married again, this is a good exercise to have with yourself. It's kinda like putting yourself in the other person's shoes for a minute. Would you marry you?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Race, Compared To What...

I was born and raised in West Philadelphia and from kindergarten to about the fifth grade, I went to predominately black schools and lived in a predominately black neighborhood. There were some white people in the area... a Jewish Deli at the corner of my block, all the cops were white, and most of my teachers were white too. The thing is... they were adults and larger than life.

There may have been three or four white kids in my elementary school. I believe I was about five or six years old the first time I actually saw a white kid my age and my size. I remember running my hand through his hair, rubbing his skin, and staring at him for a long time... finally, convinced that he was indeed human like me, I went on about my business.

When I got a little older, I began to notice that even the small amount of whites who were in my neighborhood started moving away. It was the 1960's and it was the era of the so called long hot summers of "Rap Brown, Rioting, and Aretha Franklin", as some newscaster eloquently put it. In 1968, I was pulled out of my black and safe elementary school, given some tokens for the elevated train (or the "El", as we call it here in Philly) and shipped off to a predominately white middle school in West Kensington. I guess that move was this city's attempt to intergrate the schools and for the first time, I was in a strange neighborhood that wasn't all black. Now, I was the one who was being stared at and it was my humanity that was in question. While I gave the white kid in my kindergarten class the benefit of the doubt, I was not so lucky.

It also was around this time that I was first called a "nigger" by kids no older than myself and by kids who were ironically enough, worse off than me economically. My parents and Bill Gates would never get mixed up (granted) but, some of these white kids came from homes with one parent, homes where there were three siblings fathered by three different men, and homes where both the mother and father had to work two or more jobs to make ends meet... just like the families in my neighborhood. Yet (and this has always amazed me), these were some of the most histrionically racist people you would ever want to meet.

Ironically enough, the white kids who were my friends lived in nice upper class neighborhoods where I could not be caught walking after a certain hour (and neither could the poor white kids from West Kensington). You would think that I, as a black kid from West Philly, and one of these poor white kids from West Kensington who have had so much in common would have bonded but, it just didn't happen. We fought each other from the 5th to the 8th grade and when the Puerto Ricans moved into the neighborhood, both of us fought alongside of and against them, depending on the nature of the dispute.

None of this stuff was political... we were ten years old. I didn't know Huey P. Newton from a Fig Newton at the time. We were just kids... doing what kids do and repeating what we heard older adults around us say about "them niggers", "them honkies", and "them spicaricans" (as they were sometimes referred to back then). It was terrible. We were all poor... we were all victims of the same system... and we just didn't know it.

Well, it is the same now as it ever was... poor whites will not unite with poor blacks and poor latins. They cling to the American flag, a false patriotism, the ridiculous notion of racial superiority, and they uphold the same man who's got his foot on all of our necks. I've been saying it and now, other people are saying the same thing too. This is the racism and fear that keeps Obama from having a double digit lead right now. Working class (but, presently unemployed) guys who believe that I took a job away from them (like affirmative action has been that good to me) are choosing to vote against their class interest.

Somebody told you a lie, my friend. You and me ought to put our differences aside and vote for our common economic interest. Except for skin color, we ain't much different. Martin Luther King, Jr. might not have said it like this and Barack Obama couldn't dream of saying what I'm saying right now but, come on... you KNOW what I'm saying is true. We need to set all of this race stuff aside and vote for our common interest. I can't say it any plainer than that.

I'm not running for election so, I can say it like I feel it... in black and white. So, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, and all of the rest who want to twist my words around can kick rocks because at the end of the day, they (and the masters they serve) fear the day that you and me, my white brothers, and our latino brothers sit down and have a beer together, open our eyes, and see them for who they really are.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

For the benefit of those who are too young to remember, the above image is the cover design from a classic album released in 1975 by the legendary group WAR (click on album image for more details).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama Blue


OBAMA BLUE DAY
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's time to represent!

This election season has remained too close for comfort and to close to call. We have 100,000 unregistered voters and millions who remain on the fence. Its time for us to come together, voice our unity, and make a difference.

On Tuesday, September 30, 2008 everyone is asked to do two things:

1) Wear the color blue

2) Register two voters

If you can't register two voters, talk to two people who may be on the fence or a McCain supporter and help them to understand the importance of becoming an Obama supporter.

Let's make Obama Blue Day a day of action...

Barack The Vote!

Please feel free to cut 'n' paste this information and use it in an email (or whatever) to spread the word to anyone and everyone who you feel may be interested in participating. Thank You!

Footnote: I received this information in a recent email.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Democratic Light


Now days, when I listen to John McCain or Sarah Palin speak, I often wonder who is the Democratic candidate and who is the Republican candidate? Both of them are talking about changing the way things are done in Washington, DC. Really? Wasn't Barack Obama saying that through most of the campaign? What gives?

When Sarah Palin says (as she did yesterday) that deregulation is the cause of our present financial collapse and that if elected, SHE is going to change the way things are done. Getting ahead of yourself missy...YOU are going to change something? I have to ask myself... just what does she and John McCain plan to change? It is the sitting president and his administration of THEIR party that they are talking about changing?

If Barack Obama positions himself as the outsider who wants to bring change to Capital Hill, I can at least understand it... he's a junior senator and he's from the party that is not presently in power. But, McCain and Palin are from the party that IS in power, the party that IS responsible for this mess that we presently find ourselves in. So, who are they? Are McCain and Palin true Republicans? Are they Independents? Are they really diet Democrats? They can't run on the record of this past administration.

McCain knows that America is in a mess... he and Palin both know people are hurting and that thinking people can't possibly want any more of this. Understanding that, McCain and Palin have to separate themselves from their own party... they have to try to sell snake oil to the people once again and appear more Democratic than the Democrats. Prop Joe and Stringer Bell of "The Wire" would be proud of this effort.

Bill Clinton sold the public a little "Republican Light" during his administration when he was in trouble in the polls. The difference is, he was already in the White House and he did it just enough for it not to be too painful to his voting base. He was a very smart politician... smarter than these two. If McCain and Palin can pull this off, it will only be because they are smarter than the people who fall for this and vote for them and that is not only an insult to the American people, but a frightening state of affairs to boot!

Footnote: I got the campaign button in a recent email.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The "Crusades"



vs



Official Websites

Well, the doctor gave me a clean bill of health today. This means that I'll live for at least another five years until I have to go through one of these procedures again. With that said, I decided that I should at least write some type of post for today so, here it is...

I just bought the longest Italian hoagie (without mayonnaise, mind you) they could make in this area, a bag of potato chips (no salt... hey, I'm trying to eat healthy), and a couple of sodas for tonight. The Philadelphia Eagles play the dreaded Dallas Cowboys. (Sorry Eb!) Anybody born and raised in Philly knows that this is kin to The Great Crusades. This is good (Philadelphia) vs. evil (Dallas).

I'll be back again tomorrow making the world safe for democracy and true love... but tonight, it's Monday Night Football baby... it can't get much better than this!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Last Block Party


I was driving around Saturday and noticed that some neighborhoods were STILL having block parties. Labor Day was two weeks ago and summer has "unofficially" ended (even though, there are technically a few weeks left). Apparently, somebody forgot to tell that to the residents of certain West Philadelphia neighborhoods.

I don't know if they do this in the ATL, Chicago, or Houston but, people in New York City and New Jersey know what I'm talking about... several cars or SUV's will park in back of each other and close off both ends of the block so that no traffic can get through. There is always someone on the block that has the largest speakers in the world in their possession... (speakers that couldn't possibly be played in their homes so, they must be saved for just this occasion.) These speakers are hooked up to a sound system and a DJ (or two) who rocks the block with the most current sounds of the day.

Several families had grills going and the smell of hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, and barbecued chicken wafts through the air. There were several tables set up with a variety of barbecue sauces (some homemade, some store bought) and crowds of people were on different porches eating potato salad, macaroni salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, and did I mention ribs and chicken? It sounds like I was actually at a block party doesn't it? I was... right around the corner from me.

Unfortunately, every block I have ever lived on in my life has been the jivest block in history. No organization... no block club... thus, no block party. I always had to go to somebody else's block party and that still holds true today. I've lived on my present block for 15 years and we never had a block party.

I had a friend... his name was Keith also but, we called him "Baldy". He and I were once masters at "crashing" block parties. We did it in much the same way Tupac Shakur and Joe Torry did it in the movie "Poetic Justice". We would ingratiate ourselves with one person on the block who had too much to drink or smoked a little too much weed and that was our "in" to an afternoon of dancing, eating, talking to girls, and just having fun. And, believe it or not, we were rarely challenged. If we were, we would simply say, "Man, we lived on this block back in the day... this is like a homecoming!"

Considering we were barely in our twenties, how far back could "back in the day" possibly have been? I'm surprised that nobody bothered to take it any further. Surely somebody lived on that block long enough to know that neither one of us ever lived there. Mostly though, nobody really cared... we weren't troublemakers and the more people, the merrier. A good time was had by all.

I'm way too old to play those kind of games now so, I just walked on the block. Most of the people in my general area know who I am and that I live in the vicinity. I went to that block party with no problem. I contributed to a debate about whether the Eagles are going to beat the Cowboys this coming Monday and polished off some ribs, a hamburger, and a hot dog. I listened to the wack DJ try to mix some music and even tossed him a fake compliment.

My New York and New Jersey folk know how skilled a DJ had to be back at the dawn of hip-hop. He or she was playing the popular jams of the day... adding break beats and rhymes to a record and blending it right into another record, while being challenged by another DJ doing the same thing right down the street... all to the crowds approval. This is how hip-hop got started. This guy wasn't even in their league but, I suppose, he was okay for today.

Oh well, I partied like a condemned death row prisoner yesterday... I've got to fast again today.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Funny Thing About Love


I was on Eb The Celeb's blog a few nights ago and I heard this song by Beyonce called "Settle 4 You" about how the protagonist knew that her guy was cheating and would probably cheat again but, she was still going to stay by his side and willingly be his fool. A bit overdramatic? A bit unrealistic? I think not. I know people who (yeah, you got it) do just that... settle.

I thought about a close female friend of mine who is currently sharing "her man" with his wife and how we had a few not so nice words because I told her she was being foul and that I couldn't respect her anymore. I didn't really mean that... she's still my friend... and today we tried to talk about it. She said, "I know he loves his wife but, he loves me too." I didn't say anything this time and I didn't try to talk her out of what she was doing... I just listened.

She is too far gone at this point and nothing I can say now will convince her otherwise. I told her that when this goes bad (and it will), she's going to need a friend and to give me a call. She said she understood and that she probably would. We laughed about that and other things for the first time since we had stopped talking, which was about a month ago. It's a funny thing about love... lovers come and go but, friends last for a lifetime.

I wrote a poem called "Do What You Gotta Do" about this situation and it's on my other blog, "Escapades" (some of you have read it already). So, I won't go into her situation anymore. The thing is, a lot of us could find someone just for us if we would get out of our own way. If we would just sit back, think of what we want, and lay it on the line when we finally meet someone who we "think" we would like.

I often wonder what do people talk about when they are dating? Obviously, not the important things such as... likes, dislikes, goals, dreams, etc. I imagine that we send our "representative" to the table and not our real self. So, by the time we meet the "real" woman or she meets the "real" man, we are already in it too deep to turn around. We are surprised and the last thing a person needs is a surprise when their heart is locked in already.

Funny thing about love... it creeps up on you before you meet the real person. You fall in love with their "representative" who convinces you to settle and you do. The real person comes along and you just have to accept what you have because now, you're in love.

Funny thing about love...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Reprieve


You won't believe this but my procedure (colonoscopy) was cancelled. Shortly after I wrote my last post, the doctor called me and said that he would have to reschedule me for this coming Monday. The reason for this is because they feel it would be better if this procedure is performed in a hospital, rather than an out-patient clinic.

After getting this news, you know what I did, right? I went to a place here in Philly called "Big Daddy's Southern Cuisine" (i.e. soul food) and ordered some smothered turkey wings, collard greens, and potato salad, and a big glass of Lemonade! It took me little or no time to polish all of that off and I was still wiping the gravy off my lips when I spotted a nice delectable slice of sweet potato pie... but, I didn't get it. I wasn't about to press my luck... after all, gluttony is a sin. So, I got in the car, came home, and began preparing dinner... a jambalaya casserole. While that was in the oven, it gave me an idea for a short story, "Mabel Mixes It Up", which I wrote and placed on my other blog, "Escapades".

I spent the next half hour on EB the Celeb's blog, listening to cool music... a nice ending to my day. I still got a little gravy on my cheek!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eating Again


I wasn't going to blog about this but, I'm home from work today and I've got nothing else to do so, here goes...

I'm having a medical procedure done tomorrow known as a colonoscopy so, I have to fast for 24 hours before the procedure. I'm told that African American males over 40 should have one of these done annually. (If this is TMI... skip this and read my next post. I'll understand.) I'm not going to get into all of the specifics but, basically I'm not allowed to eat. Funny thing is... now that I "can't" eat, all I can think about is FOOD!

I woke up and turned on the Television this morning to catch the news and what is the first thing I see? A commercial for IHOP! I check my blog to see if my last post got any comments and there's the photo of a roast beef sandwich on the post.

I got in my car, drove to the gas station, filled my tank, got my car washed and detailed, and then bought the only things I am allowed to have... Gatorade (yuck), bottled water, apple juice and lemonade flavored Kool-Aid. (I can’t even have cherry flavored Kool-Aid!)

I called my doctor and asked him, "Doc, can't I have a light breakfast?" (I was gonna go to I-Hop and eat everything in sight.) He laughed and said, "No, you can't eat anything today... just clear liquids and/or maybe a light broth" (yuck again, I hate broth). Then, the doctor paused... "Look, it's early... you can have ONE cup of coffee but, that's it."

So, I went to Dunkin Donuts and got a large coffee. The donuts on the counter seemed to be calling my name... I looked around and I saw a guy that looked just like me in a red silk suit, with red gators on. He said, "Go on Keith... get just one donut. It's 8:00 in the mornin' and your procedure ain't 'til tomorrow. Who's gonna know? Go on... eat that donut, baby. Ain't nobody gonna know." Then, I saw another guy who looked like me in a white linen suit with some white alligator sandals on and some shades (like Kanye West) who said to me, "Come on brother, let's get out of here. He let you have the coffee. Now, don't mess this up. Don't listen to that cat in the red suit... a red suit? How jive is that?" I was just about to leave when the guy in the red suit said to me, "Don't listen to him. Who wears a white suit after Labor Day anyway?" The guy in the white suit said, "This is Rocawear brother. Deal with it... you so yesterday with that."

While they were arguing over after life fashion ... (Hey, even my angels and devils got style! Don't they?) I left the store with just the one cup of coffee, my clear beverages, and went home.

So, here I am... blogging, lurking, and surfing... and trying to get my mind off of tomorrow. By the time you read this, I will be eating again. I will be killing some food. Choi!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Next Time Someone Breaks Your Heart


I saw her today in the building I work in... the last person who actually broke my heart. Oh, this was what my parents would have called an "old flame", I suppose. We were, to coin another of their phrases, "pretty hot and heavy" at one time... although, you'd never know it by today's meeting. We barely acknowledged each other and it's been awhile since we've seen each other.

I recall that we broke up a week before Christmas. It was really over something silly (break ups usually are, especially when you're a twenty-something). She had a history of standing me up when we were supposed to go somewhere or do something. She stood me up on what was supposed to be our first date. She called later with a lame excuse, long after I had given up and gone to sleep.

After a while, I felt like the woman in the relationship. I was the one waiting by the phone for somebody that might or might not call. On this particular night, (it was the 80's) "Dynasty" was on... she never missed an episode of Blake Carrington's adventures and she made me watch it too when I would come by her house. She imagined herself as a black Joan Collins. I was no Blake (as she often would remind me) nor did I want to be.

We had made plans to go out. I went to her house and we watched Dynasty and "Knots Landing" (another show that I could take or leave... now, if it had been Miami Vice or Crime Story, I could have gotten behind that). I was already mad that I had to wait through these two shows but then, after Knots Landing went off, she yawns and decides that she doesn't want to go out after all.

If this was anybody else with a different track record and under different circumstances, I probably wouldn't have gotten mad but, for some reason, I exploded... this was the straw that broke the camel's back. Even she was surprised at how mad I was... her eyes got as big as saucers. I pointed at her and said, "You know, one day I'm going to find me somebody who will give me the kind of relationship I want and when I do... you and me are gonna be history... done." She was inititially afraid then, she got her courage up and said, "Yeah, right... like YOU could do that..." and she began laughing. The laughter only made me more angry and my voice got louder.

One of her drunken nephews stumbled into the living room... he was about two or three years younger than me and he said, "Hey man, watch your tone of voice with my aunt." I looked at him menacingly and said, "Stay out of grown folks business, junior." Nobody in the neighborhood took him serious and this attempt of his at flexing was mildly humorous to both me and his aunt. We both looked at him in disbelief for a moment... then, he threw his hands up as if to say, "Well I tried" and walked away.

I said all I had to say and left her house in a huff. I had done this before and (always) after a few days, whether she was wrong or not, I would always come back. I'm pretty sure she thought that I'd get over it this time too but, a funny thing happened on my way out. I ran into a girl who lived across the street who had been observing us from the beginning. She said to me, "You seem like a nice guy. Why do you waste your time with her? She is such a Prima Donna. You could do a lot better." She always said that to me. Yes, she was hatin' big time and not because she wanted me... she didn't. She just hated my girlfriend... a hatred that went back to their high school days.

I was in pretty bad spirits and I told her about the argument we had. She asked me, "Well, where were you going to go?" I told her that we were going to get something to eat and then go to a movie. It was too late for a movie by that time... it was nearly midnight. (Remember this is Philly, not New York. If it was New York, we could've found a movie.) She said, "Well, we can still go get something to eat." I looked at her and asked, "We?" She said, "Sure, I'll go with you." So, we got on the bus (yes, the bus... few of us had cars or drivers licenses then but, at that time, I didn't have either) and rode downtown.

We actually found a spot to eat that was open and serving a lot of people. I had one of the best roast beef and cheese sandwiches ever and some hot chocolate with the marshmallows on top. This person, who is still a close friend of mine today, helped me get over a broken heart and helped me make a decision that would affect the rest of my life. She said, "Don't go back to her if she's treating you like that... you can do bad alone. If you can't get what you want in a relationship, keep looking until you find her but, why keep goin' down the same old path and getting the same results over and over again. It's like running on a treadmill, Keith. Stop the madness....Change it up baby."

My friend, who was five years my junior, had spoken the words of a poet and changed the flow of my life. I thanked her, paid our bill, and rode back home with her. My girl saw us coming back together and saw me walk her to her door. I looked right in her face, smirked, and walked down the street. When I got home there was a message on my answering machine that said, "Oh, so I'm supposed to be jealous? I don't care!" Famous last words... that would be the last time she would see me in that capacity.

Christmas came and Christmas left. New Year's came and went... and nothing. Four days after the new year, I met another girl in a video store... her name was Rosalyn and we've been together ever since. I believe she gave me the type of relationship I was looking for and I believe what I said to that last girl rang true, even though I didn't know it when I was saying it.

The next time someone breaks your heart... let 'em go... because the one who just might heal your heart could be right around the corner.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Activists


Last week, during the hatefest that was the Republican National Convention, Governor Sarah Palin made a snide remark about community organizers and activists. She said, "I guess being the mayor of a small town has a lot in common with being a community organizer... except that you actually have responsibilities."

I was listening and wondering where she was going with this statement. One really doesn't have anything at all to do with the other but, the people in this crowd cheered loudly when she said it. I think if she had said "boogie oogie oogie..." they would have cheered. What really scares me is that a majority of people who think like this just may elect the next president.

I know Governor Palin will never see my blog but, if she could, I'd like to explain to her that yes, being a mayor carries a lot of responsibility. A mayor is an elected official who carries the responsibility of serving the needs of those who voted he or she in office. Now, let me talk about activists and community organizers. These people often go unnoticed... they are nameless and faceless voices in the wind yet, voices that have inspired great movements.

Governor Palin, I am an activist. I write and I speak to people around me, I get them to thinking, I get them to arguing... sometimes with me... but, I get folks thinking just the same. You may never know my name but, what I write and what I say may inspire some great leader who will take the ball from there and run with it and affect some type of change.

Here is a famous example of one of those community organizers and activists that you talk about... Rosa Parks. Have you ever heard of her? She wasn't a politician. She certainly was never a small town mayor like yourself but, her one moment of activism organized and galvanized a community in her small town of Birmingham, AL. Thanks to her activism, I could possibly sit next to you at a table and eat moose, if that was my thing. I don't have to eat moose in the "colored section".

Rosa Parks wasn't the first Black woman who refused to move out of her seat for a white person. At the time of her arrest, she was an active member of the NAACP. She had been talking to her fellow maids, cabbie, and domestic workers for months about integration. She willingly and purposely allowed herself to become a symbol of the growing discontent in her community. Her arrest caught the attention of an unknown 26 year old Baptist minister named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was also one of those "community organizers" and "activists" (with "no real responsibility") that you mocked, and the modern civil rights movement was born.

See Governor Palin, it doesn't take a famous person and it certainly doesn't take a politician to make change. Great movements are usually sparked by little people and small voices... nameless and faceless community organizers and activists who have the courage and the moxy to say, "Enough" or "Something ought to be done about this." These people usually inspire a charismatic leader who leads the charge, who becomes a "name", and gets the credit for a movement that was started with these unsung heroes... the community organizers... the activists. These are people who take responsibility, Governor Palin... they take responsibility for themselves and the people around them.

It was these same "community organizers" and "activists" that inspired the people in thirteen small colonies to overthrow an oppressive British government and become these very United States of America. Read your history Governor Palin, it's all there.

If I were you Governor Palin, I wouldn't be so quick to mock these people... they also inspire people to vote... thinking people... the kind that won't vote for people like you.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

She's Not 49 Anymore!

Celebrating 50 Years!

On September 4th my wife, Rosalyn, finally joined me and turned the corner of being 50 years old. I turned that corner on March 24th and, over the past several months, she has never missed an opportunity to jokingly remind me that she was only 49 years old... but, would always follow it up by saying that she couldn't wait to join me so we could officially begin "growing old together".

We decided to hold off on the birthday celebration until the weekend and unfortunately, Hurricane Hanna pretty much made up our minds that it would have to be Sunday because she dropped a ton of rain on Philly all during the day on Saturday. So, after church today, we had a delicious meal at the "California Pizza Kitchen", the same place I celebrated my birthday. (For the benefit of those who didn't know me then, click here to see the photos). Our grandson has a cold right now and wasn't the usual life of the party that we have come to expect but, he was a little trooper and managed to get through the meal just fine.

Our kind waiter took the photos while we all enjoyed the birthday meal... I should have taken his name so that he could be credited as the guest photographer. My wife usually takes most of the family photos that appear on this blog (and my daughter has contributed some from time to time too). She assisted me with the initial set-up for this blog and works behind the scenes as my "post editor" and "spell checker". She is also the one who searches for just the right image or graphic to compliment my posts.

Anyway, for all that she does for this blog and in the lives of this family in general, this one's for her... Love, Keith (Tasha and The Booga Wooga too!)




Saturday, September 6, 2008

Music & Movies Notes


What I'm gonna be listening to...


1. "The Way I See It" by Raphael Saddiq

(I've been a fan since he was in Toni, Tony, Tone. This is his most ambitious solo project yet. A retro Motown and Stax grooveathon that features Stevie Wonder and an assortment of other guest musicians. Yes that's right... live musicians. Today that's the exception... it once was the rule.)

2. "Fearless" by Jazmine Sullivan

(Well, regular readers of this blog know that I'm loving Jazmine Sullivan right about now. From the Lauryn Hill like "Need You Bad" to my favorite "Bust Your Windows"... got it right that time, EB... to a new cut I heard called "Lions, Tigers & Bears". It doesn't get any better than this.)

3. "Something Else" by Robin Thicke

(I'll buy this based on the single "Magic " alone. It reminds me of something I might have rocked to in the 70's.)

4. "Love & Life" by Eric Benet

(Anybody that was married to Halle Berry must have been a hell of a singer, got to love him.)

5. George Clinton & His Gangstas of Love

(Who doesn't love P-Funk? Hip-Hop is the bastard stepchild of The Funk... This is a covers CD. I usually don't buy covers CDs but, George Clinton has lined up Sly Stone, Carlos Santana, El Debarge, and Bootsy Collins! It's just too many icons there for me to ignore.)


Movies I Need To See...


1. Dark Knight

(No, I know I'm the only one on the planet who has not seen this movie...I'm going to get to it!)

2. The Family That Preys

(Support black cinema... nuff said.)

3.Tropic Thunder

(Yeah, yeah... I know I blogged about this earlier and I know that I'm not too cool with seeing white actors in blackface but, some of my BLACK friends tell me that it's very funny and not what I think it is so, they've asked me to have an open mind about it. Okay, so I will already.)

4. Traitor

(Got to see anything with my man, Don Cheadle, in it... he's the truth.)

5. Burn After Reading

(George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and an all star cast... looks like they are having the time of their lives. A fun movie for unfun times.)


That's all I got!

SmileyCentral.com

"Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself"

A Glimpse of What Might Have Been...

As most of you know, Michael Jackson recently celebrated his 50th birthday on August 28th. Shortly around that time, I received an email with a computer generated photo (above) of what Michael may have looked like now at age 50 without the years of endless plastic surgery.

Over the years, I have seen other projected images of what Michael may have looked like without plastic surgery but, many of them only mocked and made fun of his present (or even past) appearance at the time they were done. For some reason, this is the first one I've seen that is actually believable. If you notice, there are even traces of the so-called hereditary skin pigmentation problem that he FEARED would plague him one day and subsequently led to all of the plastic surgery in the first place.

Michael still claims to this day that the skin pigmentation problem runs in his family yet, none of the other Jackson children appear to have it (at least, not to my knowledge). However, some of them wear so much make-up, who can really be sure?



I remember all too well what Michael looked like back in 1968 when he was just a 10 year old little black boy (above left) from Gary, IN and his star was shining so bright, singing lead for The Jackson Five. I was exactly 10 years old myself at the time. (1958 was a phenominal year as far as births go, myself included-lol!) I don't know about you but, I would much rather have the computer generated Michael than the one we have now (above right) because it is very conceivable that the computer image is very close to being "right on target". But, here again... who can really be sure?

Don't get me wrong... Michael will always have a place in my heart because, no matter how hard I try, I just can't forget that little boy who meant so much to me all those long years ago. He (and his brothers) was living a life that most little black boys could only dream about at the time. And, for those of you who can't understand that, all I can say is... I guess, you just had to be there and experience that time period for yourself. In the 1980's, the world crowned him "The King of Pop" and his success was off the charts... but for those of us who "knew him when", we had the once in a lifetime experience of seeing the true essence of Michael long before "that title" was ever bestowed upon him and the privilege of telling our children about him years later, after we grew up.

On those days when I struggle with who (or what) Michael has become, my memory of that little black boy who sang his lil' heart out never fails me and always comes to the rescue. Every once in a while, my wife and I still listen to our Jackson Five records. (That's right... we still have them and a turntable to boot! But, we've also got some CDs, okay-lol?) All you have to do is listen to "Who's Lovin' You", "Never Can Say Goodbye", "Got To Be There" (just to name a few)... and all of the adult madness of his later years just fades away. But, for those who don't have those early memories of him and the records, tapes, CDs, or whatever to fall back on, all they can see is who (or what) they think he is now and that is really sad.

I can't help but wonder sometimes, if Michael has any regrets? And, if he had it to do all over again... which face would HE choose? What happened to the little black boy that I once knew? Where did he go? We all have to grow up sometime and, in that sense, he is no different than anyone else. But, in his case, I fear that little black boy is within him somewhere... and HE is still full of fear and trapped behind the face that we see today and make fun of from time to time. If you dare to look deeper, you can still see "little" Michael in his eyes... the one thing about his face that hasn't been changed or mutilated.

So, what was it (the plastic surgery) all for and what problem (real or imagined) did it solve for him? I'm not really sure but, I guess FEAR can really mess you up sometimes, can't it (or should I say, if you let it)?

* * * * * * * * * * * *

P.S. Happy Belated 50th Birthday, Michael... from someone "who knew you when..." and can still remember who you really are to me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Blackout


Last night, I was watching the New York Giants play the Washington Redskins. Thankfully, it was a good alternative to watching the hatefest and self-congratulatory backslapping that had become known as the Republican National Convention. Then, all of a suddenit happened... there was complete nothingness. The air conditioner, television, and lights went off and I found myself in the middle of a blackout. (Actually, the lights went off first or at least that's what I noticed first. A psychological study could be done as to what people notice going off first during a blackout.)

In the middle room, both computers went off and I had both of my blogs up so that I could write some posts during halftime. The house was dark and quiet... my wife, daughter, and grandson were home too but they (like me) were wandering around and trying to make the best of the situation.

In the driveway behind my house I could hear the voices of several angry men. Apparently, they were sitting on their decks watching the football game too! (I know they weren't that upset because they could no longer view the Republican National Convention! "Aww man, I don't believe this ish... I'm missin' John McCain's speech. Ah know, right?")

In the meantime, my wife (and probably several other people) called PECO, our electric supplier and, of course, they said what they always say when something like this happens... "We are aware of the problem and we will have someone out there as soon as possible." Which really means, "We'll get to it when we get to it."

My daughter was on her cell phone talking to someone and my grandson seemed totally oblivious to all of the darkness. The joy and innocence of children (and, especially toddlers) is amazing to watch at times. They are too young to be attached to electronic appliances/devices of any kind. There was still just a slither of daylight left so, I took him outside for a while. He was happy to just run from one end of the patio landing to the other end, over and over again.

My cell phone was recharging and with the electric off, there really wasn't any charging going on. To make matters worse, only one phone in the house was working... the one in our basement. It was from the days of old when a phone did not need electricity to function. (Remember them? If you don't, you know the rule... I don't want to hear about!) The other four phones in the house are all cordless and the bases need electricity for recharging, etc. Thank God for the old "Ma Bell" phone in the basement!

Because the entire neighborhood (and several surrounding areas) were in the dark, it seemed like a good time to just sit outside on the steps. It was a stifling hot night and with nothing else to do, everybody came outside, sat on their steps, and did something revolutionary... we actually talked each other! Of course, we all complained about the power being off but then, we all just talked in general.

Well, you know me... social animal that I am, I walked from block to dark block talking to groups of people sitting on steps with nothing else to do but talk. Surprisingly enough, everybody was very receptive and I didn't detect any attitudes. It turned out to be a great time to reconnect with people I see everyday but, I'm usually too busy to talk to or just don't choose to talk to for whatever reason.

Finally, the power came back on but unfortunately, it was long after the game was over. I know that the Giants won but, I don't know the score. So, 12 Kyle and Eb the Celeb... if you're out there lurking, could you tell me the final score-lololol! . I believe I was on Karrie B.'s blog just before I starting watching the football game and I didn't get a chance to read anybody else's posts last night. So, I'll get around to that sometime today or tonight.

Right now and as of this writing, it's 3:19am and I couldn't sleep. I think I'm ready to go back to bed now so, I bid you goodnight (or should I say good morning).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What We Owe


A decidedly right wing conservative pundit said recently that Barack Obama doesn't owe the "old guard" civil rights establishment anything and suggested that perhaps, people like Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton were jealous of his success. Of course, this was a slap at Rev. Jackson's recent remarks, a slap at Rev. Sharpton, and some of the older civil rights folks. I'm writing this post for some of the younger black bloggers who don't know about these people because they weren't born yet. Don't believe the hype and don't let anyone, especially white right wing conservatives, lead you down that road because it just isn't true. We are divided enough as a race by our own devices.

I know that Rev. Jackson has his ego problems and has recently been suffering from "puttin' his foot in his mouthitis", as well as having fathered a child out of wedlock. And, Rev. Sharpton can sometimes seem like a caricature of himself but, let us not forget that these two men, along with Andrew Young, John Lewis, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., A. Phillip Randolph, Fannie Lew Hamer, and so many others I cannot name... marched, went to jail, sat in, sat out, integrated lunch counters, and faced the lash and terror of the Ku Klux Klan and the "White Citizens Councils" all across the south so that we could sit at a computer keyboard, blog from our laptops and I-phones, or what have you in the comforts of our homes (and for some of us, in neighborhoods where we wouldn't have been allowed to live in just a generation before).

YES, Obama does owe them and I want to make this perfectly clear... HE never said that he didn't owe them... that was said by other people... white right wing conservatives and some young blacks who never knew them. If it wasn't for those civil rights pioneers, Barack Obama would not be the Democratic nominee for anything. Did you know that black delegates weren't even allowed to sit at either party's national convention at one time? I know that a lot of young people don't know it because they weren't around to know it. But, the right wingers know it... the pundits that appear on Hitler's News Channel (Fox News) know that without the strides that these people made, none of us living today would have any semblance of the life we live now.

The civil rights activists and leaders of the past stood up for us when we couldn't stand for ourselves and it is an injustice to let the ill-spoken words of a few people (once again) divide Black America by saying that they are not owed anything. We owe them EVERYTHING and certainly a lot more than we owe some Fox News pundit and people who think like them.

(I dedicate this post to the black youth of America... and to their fathers. Let us now criticize the unjust with our vote. It's time to unseat the emperor!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sarah, Seriously Now...

I've got to laugh... I just can't contain myself at this point. John McCain has made what I first thought was a really savy move (see my "Next Move" post) but, what I now believe to be a miscalculation that may put Barack Obama in the double digits. The miscalculation being Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin. (Before I go on, let me say that is what I love about blogging... we keep each other up to date with not only the news in the world and in our lives but also, in our minds.)

What was I thinking the other day, saying that this was a "power move" and congratulating McCain on a game well played. I must have been really tired. Here is a woman that he picked to be his running mate, who he had only met once before and even then, it was only a 15 minute conversation at best. Does that sound like good judgement to you? If so, I have some lakefront property in Chicago to sell you! I've known guys that took more time to get to know hookers than he took to get to know the person who could very well be "a heartbeat away from being president" of the United States (to further use a cliche I keep hearing).

I wonder if Mr. McCain knew of Palin's extreme viewpoints? Here's one... that no sex education should be taught in school at all. Is it any wonder that her 17 year old daughter is pregnant without being married? Maybe she could have used some sex education. I know... that seems like a low blow but, let me tell you... If this had been one of Barack Obama's daughters... FOX NEWS would have been all over it. Who's a "babymama" now? Wasn't that the term used so crudely and disrespectfully to refer to Michelle Obama? Michelle Obama, who is Barack's wife and the legitimate (if you must use such terminology) mother of both his daughters? She didn't deserve that.

The scumbags on the "right wing" love to dish it out but, they cry like little hurt puppies when it comes back at them. Why should I have any mercy on them? I should be even meaner than I plan to be but, I'm above that. Sike! No, I'm not. If John McCain and his people had done a little more research on Palin (I believe it's called vetting and I confess, I never heard this term used before this election), they could have avoided even this much controversy.

Palin is being investigated in her home state for accepting good ol' kickbacks (the very thing she campaigned against). Outside of being the mayor of a small town, she has only been governor for two years. Two years... yet, some woman on CNN last night had the nerve to say that, "Sarah Palin has more experience than Barack Obama and Joe Biden put together." And, that statement ended my night on CNN... I was going to try and watch the Republican National Convention but, I couldn't after that... I only need one fairy tale to put me to sleep at night.

You know, this race is tight and nearly a dead heat but, by adding Sarah Palin to the ticket, McCain may have given Barack Obama the lead he needed. But, for the life of me, what I can't understand is this... John McCain had the Republican nomination sowed up back in February of this year. He had the good fortune to be able to sit back while Hillary and Barack slugged it out. Do you mean to tell me that in all that time, he couldn't have made a more informed decision about who his vice presidential candidate was going to be? Something like this... is bound to get out!




KEEPING THE FAITH: RANDOM PRAYERS "ON THE DOWNLOAD"
























































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



































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