Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Ballad Of Rick Wagoner

You know it's really got to suck when the President of the United States asks you to step down from your job. Can you imagine what that must feel like? Can you imagine how embarrassing that must be? Would you want to tell your grandchildren one day... "Son, I ran the largest automobile manufacturer in the United States and the president felt as though I ran it so bad that he had to fire me?" I would not want to be him. The "him" in question is 56 year old Chief Operating Officer of General Motors, Rick Wagoner.

Time and time again, GM’s Board of Directors reaffirmed its support for Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, even as the company piled up billions of dollars in losses and begged for government loans to stay alive. But, Wagoner is now a high-profile casualty of government intervention, forced out as part of the Obama administration’s sweeping last-ditch effort to save the century-old auto giant.

The company said in a statement early on Monday that Wagoner, who spent 32 years with GM working all over the world, has stepped down effective immediately. He was replaced by Fritz Henderson, the company’s Vice-Chairman and Chief Operating Officer. By all accounts, Wagoner made progress in fixing GM. While he was CEO, he cut its U.S. work force from 177,000 to roughly 92,000 today.

Wagoner also closed factories, shed the unprofitable Oldsmobile brand; globalized GM’s engineering, manufacturing, and design to save billions; and led resurgence in quality and performance of its long-neglected cars. In 2007, the company reached a landmark agreement with the United Auto Workers that shifted massive retiree health care costs to a union-run trust and ushered in a $14.00/hour wage for new hires, which is about half the hourly wage of a current laborer.

But critics, including many members of Congress, say Wagoner moved too slowly, failing to cut enough of the company’s huge health care and pension costs, and relying too long on high-profit pick-up trucks and SUVs as gas prices rose and the market shifted toward smaller vehicles. In the past four years, GM has piled up $82 billion in losses. Jeremy Anwyl, Chief Executive of the automotive website Edmunds.com, said that "Wagoner still had the company moving in the right direction but, was he moving fast enough or bold enough? Obviously, in light of what we know today, the answer would be no.”

While ousting Wagoner, the Obama administration made no management changes at Chrysler LLC, which also is getting government loans. Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli has only been in charge there since August 2007. David Cole, Chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, MI said Wagoner’s departure probably will have little impact on GM’s restructuring efforts because Henderson was the heir-apparent in GM’s succession plans.

So, I reiterate... it's got to suck being Rick Wagoner right about now but, on the other hand, he probably (and I really mean, more than likely) is going to walk away with a nice package that includes more liquid assets (ca$h money) than I or most of you can spend in a lifetime. In the same breath he can also tell his grandchildren, "Yeah, the President fired me but, I walked away with a knot. How do ya like me now?"

Monday, March 30, 2009

To Facebook With Love

I've been on Facebook for about two months now (kinda, sorta)...

Early in January, a young lady who I used to supervise in the Air Force found my name on one of those blast emails that a mutual friend sent out so, she contacted me. I hadn't seen her in five years... she left the Air Force right at the beginning of the second Gulf War. She had finished nursing school, gotten married, and had a baby. She always said that I was her favorite mentor and I helped her get promoted to Staff Seargent. She told me that she was on Facebook and she sent me instructions on how to set up my page. On January 17th 2009, I officially went on Facebook but, I promptly forgot that I had the page after that... I didn't write a profile, didn't upload a photo, didn't post anything, or nothing. Now, fast forward to two weeks ago...

While I was at work, I got an email from my wife with a link on it. I click on the link and see a beautiful photo of my wife's Facebook page. She had a detailed profile and several "friends" already. She had done in one day what I hadn't done in two months! I kept thinking to myself, "I've got two blogs... Do I need to get into something else?" Well, just like it was a nudge from my wife that started me to blogging, it was a nudge from her and my Air Force friend that got me into Facebook.

The next day, my wife and I uploaded a photo for me on my Facebook page, I completed my info/bio, and began sending out invites for "friends". Much to my delight and surprise, several of my cousins are on Facebook and they found me. People in Atlanta, Chicago, and elsewhere have found me. A young Hispanic guy that I also mentored in the Air Force found me and has given me an update on his life since we last saw each other.

Another thing that I'm glad about is that I've caught up with a lot of my fellow bloggers on Facebook (shout outs to Rich, 12Kyle , Eb The Celeb, Shelly Shell, The F$%k It List, Shai, Queen Of Her Castle, Nikki, and Southern Gal) and can keep up with them now, even on days when none of us are blogging.

By the way, my daughter, who has been on Facebook for sometime now, was not pleased. She jokingly said to me and my wife, "Y'all are too old to be on Facebook!" I keep wondering can Twitter be far behind? Believe it or not, my grandson is already on Twitter and has been for sometime-lol!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Proximidade Award

I'm tagged again! This time, I would like to say "thank you" to Jillian over at Sometimes I Feel Like A Blog... for giving me the Proximidade Award. After I read the criteria, I felt honored that she named me (my blog) as one of her recipients. Now, it's my turn to pass it on so, let's get to it...

Criteria: This blog invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time, and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. Check up on these writers!

Rules: This blog award should be given to 8 of your favorite bloggers and they, in turn, should pass it on to 8 of their favorite bloggers.

My 8 Favorite Bloggers (Blogs) are:

1. Eb The Celeb (Renaissance Black Woman)

2. 12Kyle (The 12th Planet)

3. Beautifully.Conjured.Up (Conjured Perceptions)

4. Thoughts Of A Southern Gal (One Good Reason...)

5. Mizrepresent (Miz's Write for Life)

6. The F%$k It List (The F$%k It List)

7. ShellyShell (A Work In Progress)

8. Jillian (Sometimes I Feel Like A Blog)

Honorable Mention:

1. Blu Jewel (Is It Just Me?)

2. Opinionated Diva (Divalicious Opinions)

3. Moanerplicity (Moaningmoanerplicities )

4. Zack (Go Zack)

5. The Original Glamazon (The Glamazon Chronicles)

6. SLC (Perspective)

7. Strongblkwoman (Tammy's Thoughts)

8. Qucifer (It's Q's World You Just Live In It!)

If you haven't been to any of these blogs, you should. Of course, there are many more that I could name but, these are not just the sites that I lounge on the most... these bloggers have become somewhat personal friends of mine too. They're all great sites!

Have fun! Smile

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Game Done Changed

I was sitting with two female co-workers of mine at "Happy Hour" not too long ago (I was there for the delicious barbecue winglets... for real!) At the time, one of my friends was going through a bad break up with a guy she had lived with for five years and I discussed him in another post. This is the guy who showed up at a Christmas party given by another one of my co-workers at their home and preceeded to drink every liquid available... then, he fell face-first onto the living room floor, embarrassing my friend to no end. His drinking was just one of the problems in their relationship, in addition to getting high and cheating. He admitted cheating on her during their entire relationship before he packed his things and left about two months ago.

I suggested that she not get into anything heavy right away and certainly not to let anybody live with her again unless a ring was involved. I told her that maybe she should just date, see what's out there, and not get serious. Both women looked at me like I had just spoken a foreign language and said to me, "Date? What do you mean by date?" I said that perhaps she should just go out to dinner, a movie, a game, or one of those Tyler Perryesque-type plays that she likes so much.

Both women laughed at me and one said, "You're so sweet but, you're a throwback Keith. You've obviously been married too long. Guys don't date nowadays... they want to hang out at your place and go to bed with you the next night, if they can. And, don't let them find out you got a house... then, they want to move in and I'm not about to go there anytime soon." The other woman said that a lot of guys she meets don't have a job, are way over 40 years old, and living with mom or some other woman who is taking care of them.

Here is my thing... I don't doubt that there are sorry guys like this on the street and I firmly agree with Lisa over at "Black Women, Blow The Trumpet!" that women should date quality men, regardless of race. So, why are these women just accepting this kind of thing? When did the game change?

Have I been off the "streets" that long? I didn't go near a women if I didn't have a job. Every woman, even the most easy-going and non-demanding woman, wants to be taken out sometime, wants flowers, or wants something, right? And, most guys knew that they had to "put in some time" before they could even think about sex. Let's just keep it real.

Here's what I think has happened... "studies", Essence Magazine, and talk shows are bombarding black women with statistics that say that black women outnumber black men who are "suitable for marriage" by six to one. A number of black men are in prison, a number of them are unemployed, and then there are those who are gay or on the down low. Subtract all of these men and you have the rest of us.

Women feel that since the pickings are so slim that they have to settle for so much less. It's a shame. You pay for the bad choices that you make, ladies. Just because a guy has a six figure job, his own house, and a nice car doesn't make him a good guy either. He can be just as much a bad choice as the guy with no job who is living with mom or some other woman and wants you to take care of him.

As my hair flippin' little sis Karrie B. says, "teach people how to treat you." Have some requirements, ladies. You have the power. If you don't require anything, you're not going to get much back. When you think of it, why should you? If I can walk all over you and still get to lay down beside you at the end of the day, why shouldn't I? By your inaction, you just told me it was okay.

The game really has changed... women were not seemingly so desperate when I was "on the street". Has it really gotten this bad? A lot of women will tell me it has but, I want to be optimistic. I tend to think that a lot of potentially good brothers just get overlooked because they don't have the flash or the swagger that attracts a lot of women.

I'm interested in everybody's thoughts on this matter.

(Special thanks to Zack, CareyCarey, Truth, and Lisa Vazquez for the inspiration for this post.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Write What You Know

When I was in college, I took a creative writing class and we were told to write a short story. I wrote a story about a family living in Harlem. Now, mind you, I had never been to Harlem before but, I had read so many novels by black writers that was set in Harlem that I thought I knew the place. When my assignment was given back to me, it had a grade of "C" on it. Of course, I protested the grade. In those days, I protested everything. If it rained too hard... I protested.

The professor gave me a side-eye and asked me where I was from. I said, "I'm from Philadelphia." He then asked me if I had ever been to New York City. I looked at him like he was crazy. I replied (like it was a forgone conclusion), "Of course I have." Then, he asked me if I had ever lived in Harlem and I told him no. He asked me if I'd even set foot in Harlem. Once again, I told him that I had not. Then, he took a deep breath and gave me one of those looks that I was accustomed to getting from adults and other authority figures back then. He asked me... "So, where are you from? (Didn't I just tell this guy I was from Philly?) I mean, what part of Philly are you from? Me, myself, I'm from South Philly. How 'bout you?"

I never pictured this guy to be from the same part of the world as myself but, once I listened to him talk, I could hear it... the accent. My grandfather used to tell me that he could tell if someone was from South Philly or another part of Philly by the way they talked because the accent was different. He taught me how to listen for it and I heard it in this guy. I responded, "West Philly". He said, "Then, why didn't you write about West Philly? The first rule of good writing is, write what you know."

Up until then, I didn't think anybody would care about my life, where I was from, etc. Then, I thought about all of the women, the things I'd been through, seen, or heard about in the streets, and as a result of that, I realized that I had a wealth of stories to tell, as this blog and my other blog can attest to. I was hard-headed though. I turned in another short story about the first gay heavyweight champion of the world and his trials and tribulations. The result was another "C". So, the professor asked me, "Are you gay?" I said... "No, of course not." Then, he said... "That's right, you're writing about something you know nothing about. What did I tell you? Write what you know."

Next, I turned in a short story called "Haywood". It was about a guy who returned from Vietnam to his West Philadelphia neighborhood with a heroin addiction. This was something I had seen quite a bit and I earned my first "A". I also turned in some poetry that was based on some personal pain I felt following one of my many break-ups and the result was another "A". I was on my way. This teacher, who I can never forget, also told me to live... to have experiences... and that the more experiences I had, the more I would have to write about. I have certainly done some living. I have done so much living that I can fill up two blogs on a daily basis.

So, every time I sit down at my computer to write, I think about my college professor's words... "write what you know" and it spurs me on. This thing called blogging has challenged me and others to create the new literature... to make this a new art form... to make history.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Something Necessary

I've had many memorable birthdays and then some that I don't remember (like my first three). On Tuesday, while I could tell you that I got blitzed and swung from the chandelier nekkid, I actually did something sobering. I finished packing up the last of my mother's furniture and belongings in her house.

My mom departed this life last year in May and her directive to me was to sell her house and split the proceeds with my brother. In her will, she had a list of what was to go to whom and what should go to Goodwill. My mother was so organized that sometimes it's hard to believe that we share the same gene pool.

She wrote her own obituary and the entire order of her funeral service several years before she actually left here. I used to always tell her, "Would you stop talking like this... it's ghoulish. You're gonna mess around and outlive everybody." She'd always say, "You never know." And, you don't.

It's almost been a year now and her house has finally been sold. The new owner is just days away from moving in so, Tuesday, I rented a truck and rode with my daughter's fiance to her home, where I was joined by my aunt and several of my cousins, who also rented vehicles. We packed up everything... it was a labor of love.

We laughed, joked, and did the somber work as a kind of tribute to her memory. Every year, my entire family used to have Christmas dinner at my parents house... uncles, aunts, cousins, and their spouses and children. We had polyannas, danced, sang, made home movies, the works. Of course, someone always got drunk and did or said something that we would laugh about for years. It was good times.

I got married at that house 20 years ago... right on the lawn. We had our wedding reception there too, on what seemed to be the hottest day of the year. I can't even watch the wedding video anymore... there's just too many people in it who are no longer here.

We ordered hoagies, steaks, and pizza and had a nice meal... all of us family members. I was especially glad that my daughter's fiance was there... it was kinda like his initiation into the family and, for the record, he fit in well. They loved him and put him right at ease.

When we were finished, all of the U-Haul trucks were filled, and we were ready to leave, I suppose it was fitting that I was the last one out of the house... the last one to lock the door. The house didn't seem the same empty. I wasn't saying goodbye to my mom... just a house, a place, and time.

This is not the birthday story that you'd expect from me, I know... but, it's still a birthday I will remember. A birthday in which I did something necessary.

(Thank you to everyone who stopped by on Tuesday to wish me a "Happy Birthday!")

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Better Living Through New Media

When I was a Communications/Journalism major, I could not foresee the future as it is now... if so, I would have been more excited about my craft.

My wife would tell you that she's about to kill me if I don't get rid of some of these magazines I have around this house. I'm still a big magazine reader. I subscribe to Vibe, GQ, Esquire, Jet, Essence, Details, Giant, Jazztimes, and Philly Sports. Every month, the mailman sends a flood of these magazines to my house and I read them and leave them laying around, much to my wife's dismay. Ever so often I have to bring a big green hefty trash bag up out of the basement and load all of my magazines into them to be dispersed and to make room for the next batch that are coming the next month. A lot of the magazines that I like (previously mentioned and others) have online sites. You have to pay to actually read the content so, I'll be reading my magazines a little while longer.

My books are the next matter. I have three bookshelves loaded with books and a number of older books I have purchased are in the basement. It has been "suggested" that I donate some of my older books to the Free Library or a book drive but, I can't part with my literary treasures. The last time I was at Borders book store, I was shown something called the "electronic book" by Sony. It is an electronic device that can "call up" the latest best seller from a website and enable you to read it while in transit, without actually having a paperback or hardback in your hands and you don't have to twirl pages. I don't know if that will actually catch on yet... I see it as unnecessary. Aren't we, as a society, leisurely (lazy) enough? Can't we just pick up a book and turn a page? But, maybe that's just me.

Did you notice, I didn't mention newspapers? If you haven't noticed, a lot of newspapers are going out of business around the country. This was happening before the present economic collapse. Much like magazines and books, I used to buy The Philadelphia Daily News religiously every morning. It was thirty-five cents... then, it went up to fifty cents... and a year later, it went up to seventy-five cents. I discovered that I could get my news for free on the internet from a number of sites... USA Today.com, CNN.com, Philly News.com (which is actually The Philadelphia Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer's online news service). So, why shell out seventy-five cents, right? Well, a lot of people are probably asking the same thing... which is why these papers have cut their staffs in half and have been concentrating more on their online services and the advertising that keeps them free. To make matters worse, all of the papers are taking a hit from "free" papers like Metro, which is at every transit station, and City Paper, an alternative and hip free newspaper that is on all of the college campuses in the city and also at every transit station.

I don't know what's happening right now but, there seems to be in a flux of new ideas and inventions just for the sake of invention flooding the market right now. Despite the availability of news on the internet, I still like the feel of actually thumbing through a newspaper every now and then and having the personal touch of news that was written by local reporters from my hometown about my hometown. I would hate to see all of these guys suddenly out of work. I will go on the line and say that by the end of this century, all news will be retrieved from the internet on computers and this will include magazines and books. You'll just put in your credit or debit card number, they'll take your cash, and you'll read whatever it is you want. It's practically that way already. We've already seen this with music. Can movies be that far behind?

So-called music stores are also becoming extinct. Will going to the movies join them? If so, will the newsstand and magazine rack also go the way of the dinosaur? I'm not trying to sound like an alarmist but, this future sounds and feels very empty to me. I'm not sure what to think about it but, I don't feel altogether good about it either.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grown Man Rambling

I have a birthday coming up in a few days (Tuesday to be exact) and today as I write this, I was doing something I rarely ever do. I was taking time to think and take stock of where I've been and where I am. I'm sure that most people don't do this. Who has the time, right?

One of the things I like about the blogs that I read is how personal and how introspective a lot of the posts are. I have read some incredibly raw and personal blog posts that have just blown my mind and made me want to tighten up my game. Unfortunately, for you the reader, you're not about to read one of them. This is just me riffing. This post came about because of two things that happened to me while I was driving today...

First, I offered a ride to a young lady I know who was waiting for the bus. I was on my way home after coming from the barber shop. Picking her up was a big mistake. She railed on and on about the break-up of her latest relationship the entire time I was driving. I hear this stuff everyday at work from different people. On any given Friday night, if I stop at a local establishment to get some food and hear a little music, women in my age bracket are complaining about how hard it is to find a "good man" out here. I don't doubt that and I feel for a lot of them.

It's just that, I don't feel like hearing it since I can't do anything to help them and anything resembling advice that I give them, almost always falls on deaf ears. She went on and on about how terrible this guy was and how the woman he is with is a "young strumpet" (her words) "who lets him do anything he wants to do." Finally, I said to her in as nice a way as I possibly could, "You know, you're sitting here fuming and foaming at the mouth over this guy and his new girlfriend and they are probably somewhere having a good time, not giving you a second thought. How pathetic is that and how pathetic are you? What you ought to do is get dressed up, go out, have yourself a good time, and not give them a second thought. At least, you would be even."

She didn't really want to hear it and she told me that it was easy for me to say that because "you've been married for like-forever". I told her that even when I wasn't married, I didn't fume over anyone too long. I usually found a way to have a good time and keep it pushing. She got out of my car and said to me rather snidely, "Oh gee, if everyone could be you." I didn't take it personally. In fact, I probably deserved it. This is another reason why I didn't feel like hearing it. She then said to me in parting, "I wish I could have been married as long as you have. You don't know how good you got it." Actually, I do.

Later, as the afternoon turned to nightfall, I drove to the gas station and my cell phone went off. It was a guy I know. From the background sounds, I could hear that he was in a club... a hip-hop club. The same club that the radio station I was listening to was broadcasting from. This guy, who is 50 years old (like myself), is in a club with women in their 20's and 30's, flirting and dancing with them. I know I sound like I'm hating but, I'll tell you all something that I said when I was 23 years old and partying pretty hard. I always said that when I got past 40, I was not going to be the "old man in the club", still chasing women the age of my children. Me and my friends used to laugh at people "that old" trying to hang with us and do what we were doing. One thing I didn't want to do was be the joke myself. In between 18 and 39 years of age, I represented as well as anyone in the game... I don't think I have anything to prove to myself or anybody else as far as that's concerned. I can close the book on that part of my life now.

I laughed and talked with him but, it was so loud in the club that I couldn't hear him and he couldn't hear me. I told him to have a good time and hung up. Don't get me wrong, I like to have a good time as much as the next person. I will go out to eat, go to spots where a live band is playing, and have a drink or two... but, I can't see myself hanging out with young ladies my daughter's age or younger and trying to hit on them on top of that. For one thing, I don't have to. Second, I really, really shouldn't, if you know what I mean? Third, I haven't a clue as to what kind of dances the young people are doing today. Wow, I even sound like I got my extreme "grown man" on. Did you just read that?

Right now, I'm just happy to be where I'm at, acting my age, and not having too much to complain about. That may not sound like much but, I know at least two people who might agree.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Weekend Joke

A friend sent me this in an email so, I thought I would share...

An overweight guy calls a company and orders their 5-day/10 lb. weight loss program. The next day, there was a knock on the door and there stands before him a voluptuous, athletic, 19 year old babe dressed in nothing but a pair of Nike running shoes and a sign around her neck.

She introduces herself as a representative of the weight loss company. The sign reads, "If you can catch me, you can have me. Without a second thought, he takes off after her. A few miles later, huffing and puffing, he finally gives up. The same girl shows up for the next four days and the same thing happens.

On the fifth day, he weighs himself and is delighted to find he has lost 10 lbs., as promised. He calls the company and orders their 5-day/20 lb. weight loss program. The next day, there was a knock at the door and there stands the most stunning, beautiful, sexy woman he has ever seen in his life. She is wearing nothing but Reebok running shoes and a sign around her neck that reads, "If you catch me you can have me." Well, he's out the door after her like a shot. This girl is in excellent shape and he does his best to catch her but, no such luck.

So, for the next four days, the same routine happens with him and he is gradually getting in better and better shape. Much to his delight, on the fifth day when he weighs himself and discovers that he has lost another 20 lbs., as promised. Then, he decides to go for broke and calls the company to order the 7-day/50 lb. weight loss program. The representative on the phone asks, "Are you sure? This is our most rigorous program.'' He replies, "Absolutely, I haven't felt this good in years."

The next day, there was a knock at the door and when he opens it, he finds a huge muscular guy standing there wearing nothing but pink running shoes and a sign around his neck that reads, "If I catch you, you're mine!" He lost 63 lbs. that week.

Weekend 2
Have a blessed weekend everybody!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Keith's Favorite Quotes

"True friends stab you in the front."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The A.I.G. Blues

This is a week for the blues, isn't it. This is my second post in two days dealing with the blues. Edward Liddy, the CEO of A.I.G. was certainly singing the blues today in a congressional hearing on Capital Hill. He is the face that will be paraded before congress and the American Public that will symbolize the greed, avarice, and utter arrogance of Corporate America. The long story made short is this...

This mope had to explain to congress and the American people why his company paid $165 million dollars in "Retention Bonuses" to its employees (some who, by the way, were no longer working for the company) and, at the same time, accepting bailout funds from the American taxpayers. Breaking it down in laymen's terms, that's like me coming to you late at night needing to borrow $ 20.00, which might be your last twenty until payday, while I'm holding $ 50.00 in my back pocket that you know nothing about.

These "Retention Bonuses" were made to some traders and executives whose risky financial behavior caused the company's near collapse. You understand, of course, that news of this has a lot of people justifiably upset. The president asked for legislation to give the government vast new powers over institutions like A.I.G. to protect the public. I can hear Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity now saying that we are being led down the road to socialism. The fact that these people have proven that they can't be trusted when given a free hand for close to twenty years and four presidential administrations prior to President Obama has just gotten by them. Three of these previous administrations were Republican and a Republican House and Senate watched over them.

For sure, Edward Liddy was on the hot seat today and he did the best impersonation of Elmer Fudd I've heard since Mel Blanc was living. Oh, he said that the American people have spoken and that A.I.G. has heard them loud and clear. He also said that some of the employees have even volunteered to give some of the money back. I doubt that they "volunteered". They were probably the lowest on the totem poll and were "told" that they had to give it back. I found the whole thing laughable myself.

The government is already overseeing banks and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) exercises some regulatory control over them. However, A.I.G. is not a bank... it's an insurance company and it is not subject to the same oversight that banks are. For that reason, President Obama will have to ask for a different kind of regulation.

Perhaps Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh are right... with the government close to nationalizing banks, insurance companies, the automobile industry, and let's see... who else did we bail out (?), one must wonder what happened to "free" enterprise? Sad to say... it's going the way of dinosaurs and public trust... extinction.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

To "Anonymous" With Nothing!

Once upon a time, I had only one blog... this one. It was new and for a few months, nobody knew who I was outside of a few family members and I got maybe one comment a day. I went for days and sometimes weeks without a single comment. All of us who have blogs went through this period.

I think around April of last year, I began to get some traffic and averaged around 6 comments on a good day. Today, I average about 20 comments a day and if I've written an exceptional post, I'll get about 30 comments. I love the traffic and the exchange of ideas. For that reason, I leave my blog open to not just people with Google accounts but, non-bloggers who wish to comment too. I have about 14 good friends who comment everyday on both of my blogs who do not have blogs themselves. If it wasn't for them, I might not get any comments at all sometimes. Herein lies the problem...

When you have a blog, it leaves you open to other people who do not always make their presence known. You see, the people who comment are not the only people who are reading your site. At any given time, any number of people could be reading but choosing not to comment. I read many blogs everyday and sometimes I just don't have time to comment (especially now, because I'm also on Facebook).

Public blogs like this attract a number of loons who can be so upsetting that they cause many of my fellow bloggers to wage holy wars of words with them in the comments section. I absolutely refuse to stoop to that level. I have two commentators who post under the name "Anonymous". One is a right-wing nut who seems to get annoyed every time I write anything positive or anything period about Barack Obama. He even told me that my blog should be renamed "Obama's Space" but, here is the funny thing... this person seems to comment the most on posts where I haven't mentioned Barack Obama at all.

I don't get it. This idiot seems to think he is cute when he leaves comments that say... "If John McCain was president, "this" wouldn't have happened. But, he's not president and this particular anonymous commentator hasn't realized that this is not his blog. I could disable the anonymous feature altogether but, I won't do that. Some of my readers have engaged this fool in "comment" battles... I don't intend to do that either. But, I do intend to exercise my option to delete his silly comments from now on.

Then, there is my second "anonymous" commentator. I suspect that this person is a female (at least, I hope they are, considering some of the things that are said). This is another person that likes to play on blogs. She comments mostly on my other blog... telling me how turned on a story or poem has made her and how she wants to throw her panties up in the sky or things like that. Most of my readers are amused by her comments (I sure hope you aren't a man) but, it's all getting to be a bit much. No matter what I write on that blog, I am always asked if a story or poem is going to have sex in it or something silly of that nature. From now on, her (or his) comments will be deleted too.

I've given both of you your 15 minutes of fame and I hope you've enjoyed this post. I don't intend to waste anymore time writing about you or allowing you to cut up on my blog. I'm not even going to tell you to go to someone else's blog. Nobody should have to put up with this kind of foolishness. From now on, when you come to my blog... Zap! You're gone baby, gone!

(This was a public service announcement from the Maverick of All Bloggers! )

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Deacon's Blues

In addition to being a part of the "Marriage Enrichment Ministry" (MEM) with my wife at church (you've seen a few of the date night posts where all of our married couples went out to dinner, bowling, movies, etc.), I also took part in the "Mighty Men's Ministry" (MMM) for a brief period. Essentially, this group was a think tank where brothers of all ages met to talk about issues that effect men. I know that the women reading this are laughing because you all know that it's close to impossible to get men to discuss anything with passion outside of sex and sports, right? The discussions we had spanned generations and while sex was part of the discussions, it wasn't what you might normally think. We discussed fatherhood, responsibility, community issues, marriage, relationships, and a number of other things.

I'm sorry to say that it has been a while since I've been to one of the meetings but, it was during the time when I was there that I saw the man I am going to write about today. I suppose he is living proof of how God can change lives. I thought of him today because I was driving past a particular trolley route that he and I made "famous" years ago. He had put on weight and had grown a beard but, I recognized him as soon as I saw him. He was a deacon in the church now, married, and had a little boy (about 3 years old) that he was playing with. This guy and I had history...

A long time ago, I went to a junior high school that everybody in the neighborhood nicknamed "The Gladiator School"... William Shoemaker Jr. High. It's a middle school now but, it was notorious because it sat in the middle of three warring gang turfs. You had the Hoopes Street gang on the side nearest to 52nd Street... the Boot Hill Gang (later known as the "Hilltop Hustlers" in the surrounding area) and the Moon Gang, which had been around when my mother was a little girl. This gang was bigger and more organized than the other two gangs combined. Although I was never in any gang, I lived on "real estate" that had just been claimed by the Moon Gang, much to the detriment of the "Hilltop Hustlers". My brother and I had to walk to school through these two foreign turfs and then had to finesse our way back home everyday. If we were lucky, we only got shook down for some cash. Other guys weren't so lucky,they got beat up, got articles of clothing jacked.

Despite the beard, I knew who the deacon was or rather, who he used to be. After one of the MMM sessions was over, I walked over to him and said, "Ronnie, is that you?" He turned, looked at me, squinted his eyes, and it appeared that he didn't know who I was. So, I said to him, "You don't remember me? We used to go to Shoemaker. You used to take my lunch money." Ronnie replied, "Man, I used to take a lot of people's money." He laughed and then, he stretched his hand out to shake mine. I shook his hand and then asked him again... "You still don't remember me, do you? I was one who didn't give you my money." He looked at me again and in his mind, I guess he imagined me thinner and without the moustache. Then, it hit him... "Oh my God! Keith! Keith! Man I heard you were dead!" he said and we embraced. I said... "Nah, that was the other Keith. I'm very much alive." There were at least two other "Keiths" in our neighborhood at any given time.

Ronnie was a fringe member of the "Hilltop Hustlers". Well, actually, he just hung with them. He really wasn't in the gang but, he terrorized those of us (like myself) who didn't have any gang affiliations (as if he did) or no one to have our backs. He would "ask" guys for their lunch money and if they didn't give it up, he made them jump up and down to see if he could hear change jiggling. If he caught you in a lie about having money, there was hell to pay. One day, I made him pay his fare to hell.

It was a Friday. I had saved my lunch money all week and I was going to treat myself to something after school. I didn't feel like giving up my cash on this day so, when school let out, I tried to slip down the avenue as quick as possible but, here came Ronnie and his cousin. I was with another boy named Greg and I told him, "When they get up close, let's run in two different directions because they can't catch us both." Well, that's just what we did... we broke out. Unfortunately for me, both guys ran after me and forgot about Greg.

Boys didn't wear their pants saggin' back then and were in much better shape than they are today. So, when something went down, we were prepared to "get in the wind." Back then, you always saw somebody running... either from the cops or gangs. It was better than watching track and field in the Olympics. You could look out your window on any given day and see somebody running. It's the Philly way!

Anyway, Ronnie picked up a brick and sailed it right past my head. I threw a bottle at him and it just missed him. This nonsense went on for a few minutes and then I just decided to run it out! Mind you, not one cop showed up the entire time our little guerilla warfare was going on! I had a two-parked-cars lead on both of them and I was very agile and adept at weaving in and out of parked cars. These two yokels were no match for my speed and I easily out ran both of them and hopped on the trolley. I looked out the back window and waved at them as the trolley pulled off down the street. But, guess what? These two fools kept coming. I couldn't believe it! My laughter quickly turned to panic when the trolley stopped!!! A delivery truck was blocking the trolley.

I ran to the door and just as Ronnie's cousin came up the trolley steps, I kicked him right in his stomach and darted off the trolley. So, I was out in the street... running again. We continued to play our game of bottles and bricks... kids were ducking for cover and we continued running and throwing whatever we could pick up and hurl at each other. Not one adult intervened either. These people were so used to seeing worse things on that avenue that this little brouhaha was nothing to them. Social novocaine at its beginnings, I guess.

After I got down the street, I realized that Ronnie was still coming. He was mad (as well as out of breath and out of bricks.) I reached into a nearby trash can and pulled out an empty bottle of Old English and cracked it against the wall. Then, I turned around, so they could see the jagged edge of the bottle, and headed toward Ronnie and his cousin. I really didn't want to give up my cash that day and Ronnie and his cousin got the message real quick. They turned and ran. I stood there, sweaty, heart racing, and scared myself. I don't know what I would have done if I had caught them because I was really bluffing with the bottle... but, neither one of them wanted to find out if I was or wasn't for real. Sometimes a good bluff works. This was one of those times.

Neither Ronnie nor his cousin ever bothered me again and after I left that school, I only saw them occasionally on the street as adults. Ronnie's cousin got shot to death in 1986 trying to hold up a liquor store. I never knew what happened to Ronnie until I saw him at church. It was hard to believe that this gentle man, who was playing with his son, was once the neighborhood terror. God really does change lives. I told Ronnie that I had gone to college, joined the military, was married myself with a family, and had just recently moved my membership to this church. He told me that he had been in prison a little while and after he got out, he turned his life around... he got married and found God.

It was funny... I walked away thinking of how we almost killed each other that day, just because we lived in different neighborhoods and adhered to some silly code of the streets. We could have been friends all this time but, such was the insanity of growing up male of any race in Philadelphia at the time. It's even worse now... people who might have been friends really do kill each other nowadays so, I guess we were lucky, depending on how you look at it. As I was driving along that trolley route, I had to laugh... thinking of that early spring day when two young men turned that route into a war zone.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

R.I.P. Spectrum

This past Friday night, a peice of my past died. I guess it is a piece of every Philadelphian of a certain age's past. The last sporting event was held at the Spectrum. It was a basketball game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers have been playing in the brand new Wachovia Center across the street for the last six or seven years and so have the Flyers, while the Spectrum has been mostly used for high school graduations, high school basketball games, and small civic events. It was announced last year that the Spectrum was going to be torn down. The Sixers decided to play one last game there on Friday night and to have members of the 1983 NBA World Championship team attend the building's send off.

None of the current Sixers was even born in 1967 when the Spectrum opened. Back then, it was billed as an "ultra-modern sports facility" for Philadelphia's relatively young basketball team. The Sixers came to Philadelphia in 1963 from Syracuse and I don't have any idea where they played ball before there was a Spectrum. The Spectrum is, in fact, all I know. I can't tell you how many times my father took my brother and I to basketball games there or, after I got older, how many times I went there with my friends to see the Sixers.

The one time I ever attended a hockey game, it was at the Spectrum. I may have been one of three Blacks in attendance and the other two might have been a cop and a concession stand worker. I'm kidding of course... there were actually five of us. I also saw a few concerts there too... Hall & Oates, Phyllis Hyman, New Edition, Bobby Brown, and the Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership Connection Tour in 1977. (If you want to go w-a-y back, my wife remembers going there to see the Jackson Five three years in row 1969-71.) The Spectrum was also featured in a few of the Rocky movies. Those were all good times that I'll never forget.

I was at an NBA World Championship game between who else... the Sixers and the Los Angeles Lakers (it seemed like it was always us against them) when I saw a young rookie named Earvin "Magic" Johnson for the first time. He played every position that night... guard, forward, and center (Kareem Abdul Jabbar was out with a sprained ankle). He scored 22 points and crushed the Sixers right in front of my eyes. Who knew that we were watching the beginning of greatness?

I can still remember the smell of the hot dogs, the over-salted soft pretzels, sodas, and beer splashing and spilling in between the seats. Those smells never leave you. I can remember the constant smell of Pine Sol in the restrooms... it seemed like they poured the entire bottle of Pine Sol in those restrooms back then.

The last time I was at the Spectrum was in 1989. It was a concert that featured a very young Heavy D. & the Boys, Guy, Al B. Sure, and a forgettable MC for you hip-hop historians... Father MC. The only reason I bring him up is because one of his background singers was a very young and still unknown Mary J. Blige. She was singing the hook to "Treat 'Em Like They Wanna Be Treated." I didn't know it was her at the time... I found out years later. She talked about it during an interview and said that she was the one singing the hook on that song. And, it was not just her... K-Ci and JoJo, (future members of Jodeci ) were also singing background for Father MC that night.

My Spectrum memories are many and I could go on and on... but, I think this will suffice. They are going to tear it down soon and with it will go one more monument from my past. I hear that the demolition will start this coming Friday. I don't think that I'll be the only Philadelphian shedding a tear on that day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Seven (7 Things I'm Rockin')

1. The Bible
Just like American Express, don't leave home without it.

2. Wedding Band
Designed and cut by Fred Doh, Jeweler, Philadelphia PA.

3. Movado Watch

4. Kenneth Cole Wallet
I have to say, of all of the Pollyanna gifts I've ever received, this remains my favorite.

5. LG c-e-110 Ultra Slim Cell Phone

6. Hugo Boss cologne and shower gel set

7. Nike Free Dynamic men's training shoe

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cereal Killah

Last week, I wrote a post about Terrell Owens being cut from the Dallas Cowboys and I mentioned that I was watching it on the news in a McDonald's. A few people took me to task for eating my breakfast in McDonald's. Never mind that this particular McDonald's is wi-fi compatible and has flat screen TV monitors all over it flashing CNN, Sportscenter, and MTV all day long, depending on what section you are sitting in.

In order to comply with those of you who were concerned about the future of my health, I decided to not only eat healthier breakfasts but, to eat somewhere other than Mickey D's. All of this week, I've been eating at "Milkboys Diner" (yes, that's what it's called). The diner was built the year before I was born and although it is clean, it does not have a flat screen TV, nor is it wifi-compatible. There is a TV in the diner but, it's going to need a digital converter soon. Here, I have been eating some healthy breakfast meals and I might add, meals that are throwbacks to my childhood. For instance...

Monday, I had an old childhood favorite... Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries, wheat toast, orange Juice, and coffee. My brother and I ate so much Cap'n Crunch cereal when we were children and up until our senior year of high school that I think we both swore off of it for close to 20 years. It still tastes good. I don't get why people said that it scratched the roof of their mouths... maybe they weren't eating it right.

Tuesday, I had Honey Nut Cheerios, wheat toast, orange juice, and coffee. I saw the character, Omar... the gay stick-up man from my favorite TV series of all time, "The Wire", jack a box of Honey Nut Cheerios from a store in one episode and I became a fan of the cereal ever since. It sures feels funny ordering cereal in a diner. I was so used to eating it at home when I was growing up.

Wednesday, I had Frosted Flakes w/ bananas and strawberries cut up in 'it. (Yeah, I had to buy the banana and the strawberries but, it was worth it... very healthy.) I had apple juice instead of orange juice, no toast, and a small cup of coffee. My blood pressure was 120/75, my weight was 220 lbs., and I've lost 7 lbs. in the past week. I am presently 20 lbs. off of my goal to weigh 200 lbs. by my birthday, which is in two weeks but, I knew that.

Today, I think I'll go with Apple Jacks... another one of my favorites from childhood. I can't go wrong with this one! Maybe, just maybe, I'll treat myself on Friday to some hot cereal... oatmeal or something of that sort. I think I've earned it.

There are some of you who may take issue with my choice of cereals. If so, that's too bad because I'm not eating Grape Nuts or anything like that... you can forget it. This is about as healthy as it's gonna get for me right now. As 12Kyle would say, "Belee dat!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

He Didn't Look Like The Type

Rhianna & Chris Brown

I wrote a post last year during Domestic Abuse Month (October) about an acquaintance of mine who cold-cocked his girlfriend right in front of me while we were riding in his car because she complimented me on my shirt. He viewed it as being "disrespectful" to him. He also told me that if I didn't like it, (which I didn't and I told him so) I could get out of the car too. I wound up having to take the bus, the El, and another bus home from my destination and so did the girl, who had a swollen face and a black eye.

I brought this back up because I've heard yet another story about Rhianna and Chris Brown today and why he beat her up. The point is, not only do I not care why he beat her up, there is no why he had to do it, as far as I'm concerned. I kept looking at his photo when the story first broke and remembering the guy I saw in the movie "This Christmas". I kept saying, "He doesn't look like the type." Then, I had to catch myself... just what does an abusive man look like?

My former friend who punched his girlfriend in the car we were riding in didn't look the type either. For one thing, he was short (about 5' 7"), had a cherub-like baby face (the kind old ladies like to pinch), and was of slight build. Yet, he terrorized his girlfriend. In my previous post, I talked about how he had knocked another of his girlfriends down a flight of stairs, which caused her to lose the child she was carrying. He was a vicious little guy and during the entire time I knew him, he and I had argued quite a bit but, he never raised his hand to strike me. I believe I gave him plenty more reason to do so than any of his girlfriends yet, the thought never came to his mind (which is why he's alive today).

The night he told me to get out of his car, after he hit the girl, I called him a punk and a few other unprintable things. Yet, he did nothing to me, except drive off. He even apologized (to me) a few days later. Which brings up one of my main theories about guys who beat on women. They almost never flex or get chest up with other guys. I have never seen a case of that yet. They terrorize women but, are as meek as a lamb with men. So, I call abusive men what they really are... bullies. (I was thinking of another word that begins with a "b" but, I'm a Christian now and I don't talk like that anymore. Y'all get my drift, right?)

A man should never put his hands on a woman. If you get that angry, walk away. The same strategy could be used when dealing with other men too... just walk away. Nowadays, that could save you from being shot or stabbed.

I am hearing that Chris Brown got a text message from his cougar of a manager, who he's been seeing since he was 16 years old. Rhianna allegedly got upset about it and tossed his BlackBerry and car keys out into the street. This is what led to the punching, biting, and scratching that now threatens to derail both of their careers and possibly land him in deep legal waters.

I don't know if this story is true or not but, of the many I have heard, this sounds the most credible and logical. It doesn't really matter. Of all of the stories I've heard, Chris Brown still was not justified in punching Rhianna. I have also heard that this is not the first time this has happened between them either... it was just the first time that Chris was caught! It wouldn't surprise me if that turned out to be true too... just like it doesn't surprise me that Rhianna has gone back to him.

My former friend's girlfriend eventually went back to him too but, she didn't stay long. A lot of these women go back to the abusive guy because they don't feel as though they have anywhere else to go. Their sense of self-worth has been stripped and they don't feel as though anyone else will want them. This is the little shell game that the abusive guy runs on these women. The truth is usually the reverse... he's the one who nobody will want!

The best thing to do when you're in a relationship and somebody hits you once is to leave and never return. Once it begins, there is no reason to think that it's not going to continue. I can't tell you how many times I have put on my cape and told someone this and they haven't listened... even made excuses as to why they were hit, like it was their fault. This is why I retired from the superhero business. My warnings fell on deaf ears.

I don't know Chris Brown or Rhianna and I don't pretend to know what happened that night in Hollywood. Unlike a lot of people, I'm not that invested in knowing either but, I did see the end result of what happened and regardless, Rhianna didn't deserve that... and she deserves better than what she's giving herself by continuing to be a part of it.

Related Post: Click here to see "Conspiracy of Silence" 10/09/08.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


ART: "Janazah" (Artist Unknown)

My co-worker's husband died suddenly early Friday morning. It was kinda weird because just the day before, she and I were talking and she said that he was sick. A person can be sick and there are several degrees of being sick. You can have a cold or the flu-kinda sick or you can be on your deathbed-kinda sick. She didn't say how sick he was and my mind didn't go there.

They had just gotten married on September 30th of last year and I recall her telling me that her husband had taken ill right around the Thanksgiving holidays. She was very depressed then. Around Christmas, I inquired about him again and her spirits were up because he was home and he appeared to be doing better. I was surprised to hear last month that he was back in the hospital again. I didn't inquire about his illness. We are friendly on the job and I would even go as far as to say we are somewhat friends... but, not friendly enough that I feel as though I could inquire that deeply about something like that. That may sound a bit harsh but, it is what it is... every relationship and every friendship is different.

Friday morning, when I didn't see my co-worker at the coffee shop, I figured that she just took the day off. I was saddened to hear that her new husband of five months had passed away. She waited a long time to find him and I do know that right after they got married and she returned from her honeymoon, I'd never seen her happier. They were both Muslim and in that religion's custom, the body can not be above ground over three sundowns so, his Janazah (funeral) service was held today. I attended with four of my other co-workers and it was the first time I'd been in a Mosque in over thirty years.

I knew the ceremony would be different from the Christian ceremony that I am accustomed to. First off, everyone must remove their shoes. One thing my mother always taught me in addition to bathing daily was to always wear clean underwear and socks. I have to thank her... I've always been fastidious like that and, Thank God, today was no different.

After removing our footwear, the men were ushered into a separate room, blocked by a glass partition. The women (including the widow) were seated in an adjoining room. The casket was in the room with us. The Iman said a prayer and all of the men got on their knees and kneeled with their faces to the floor.

The prayer was in Arabic so, I couldn't tell you what was said but, we kneeled and then we stood up a number of times before the prayer was through. Next, we stood in quiet meditation around the casket. In the quiet somberness, I heard someone crying softly... I believe it was the brother of the deceased. Several men walked over to him and put their arms around him. Then, there was nothing but a very peaceful quietness and the pall bears took the casket out the backdoor.

As we all dismissed, I walked over into the room where the women were and embraced my co-worker. I was politely told that I could not be in the room with the women and I quietly walked out into the street. It was a very quiet and efficient ceremony. It started on time and was over in 50 minutes. I wish all funerals and weddings could run that well. I stand and applaud these brothers and sisters in this mosque.

As I rode back to work in my co-worker's car, I was silent. I was thankful that I've had nearly twenty years to love and enjoy my spouse. I was sad that my co-worker only had five months and I thought about how life can be unfair to some people sometimes but, how we have to go on and how we have to savor every moment in our lives that is good. At times like this, these moments help us to keep going on.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

25 Writers Who Influenced Me

It's been a while but, I've been tagged again. It seems that Regina over at Regina's Family Seasons is under the impression that I like to read and she is absolutely right! I have been asked to name 25 writers who have influenced me and tag 25 people to do the same. (I don't know about tagging 25 people but, I'll do my best to name a few-lololol!)

Since I can remember, I have always loved to read. My grandfather used to read the newspaper to me and by the time I entered kindergarten, I could read a little bit. Books became my friends and by the list of writers below, you'll see that my tastes are quite eclectic.

25 writers who have influenced me are (in no particular order):

1. Chester Himes
2. James Baldwin
3. Richard Wright
4. Walter Mosley
5. Maya Angelou
6. Zora Neal Hurston
7. Terri McMillan
8. Diane McKinney-Whetstone
9. Omar Tyree
10. Juan Williams
11. Valerie Wilson Wesley
12. Zane
13. Bebe Moore Campbell
14. George L. Jackson
15. Eldridge Cleaver
16. Frantz Fanon
17. Jean Genet'
18. Tananarive Due
19. Eric Jerome Dickey
20. Nikki Giovanni
21. Donald Goines
22. William Shakespeare
23. Langston Hughes
24. Edgar Allan Poe
25. Alex Haley

My tag list for this endeavor is three bloggers... Enjoy!

1. Mizrepresent (Miz's Write For Life)

2. A.J. Brown (A.J. Brown)

3. Moanerplicity (Moaningmoanerplicities)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kiss Him Goodbye

This morning, I was in a rare McDonald's that had a flat screen TV and Sportscenter was on it. While enjoying my coffee and pancake platter with hash browns, I saw the news that Terrell Owens had been cut by the Dallas Cowboys. I have to say that I was surprised... especially, since I saw the owner, Jerry "360" Jones, in several interviews after my Eagles gave the Cowboys a beat down (that would've made Ike Turner rise up out of his grave and say, "Damn man, ease up!"), saying how much he loved T.O. All during that "controversy" late in the season when T.O accused quarterback Tony Romo of conspiring with the tight end, Whitten, to keep him from getting any passes, Jerry Jones stood behind T.O. Mr. 360 talked about how T.O. "just wanted to help the Cowboys win games."

I don't understand why people are now saying that he was too much of a distraction in the locker room. Really? Where have they been for the past ten years? You know I know... he played here for my Eagles during what I will admit was my very favorite year as a football fan in my life. He and Donavan McNabb were a perfect one-two punch on the field and together, the Eagles romped to a 13-3 record and waltzed to the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. T.O. came back from ankle surgery and played superb in what was unfortunately a losing, yet competitive effort. I believe that if that team had been kept together with just a little bit of tweaking in the off-season, they could have come back the next year and taken the Super Bowl... New England be damned.

I was proud to be an Eagles fan that year but, something about T.O. bothered me even then. It seemed like every week when we played somebody, T.O. had some kind of grievance against somebody on the opposing team. At first, I thought it was just a motivator. Michael Jordan used to use the slightest real or imagined slight from an opposing player to motivate himself so, I overlooked T.O.'s antics. He would appear in the papers here and slander an opposing defensive coach, offensive coordinator, or quarterback (Jeff Garcia, who he not so subtlely implied was homosexual). We were winning games so, I just filed it in the back of my mind.

Then, after the Super Bowl, he turned his antics inward. Once again, he not so subtlely suggested in the newspapers that Donovan McNabb didn't play up to par and when the game got tight, his stomach went south. Then, he asked the Eagles to restructure his contract and attempted to sit out training camp. After that, T.O. and former Eagle, Hugh Douglass, got into a fist fight in the locker room. Finally, the Eagles management decided that he was more trouble than he was worth and in one of the stupidest moves in football history, they traded him to our most hated rivals... the Dallas Cowboys. (In hindsight, maybe it wasn't so stupid.)

I predicted that the Dallas Cowboys would win the division with T.O. and take the Super Bowl the next year. They didn't... we took the division. The next year, there was the infamous Tony Romo-Jessica Simpson night in Tijuana and the fumble seen around the world in Seattle that effectively knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs.

This year, The Cowboys were built to win it all. It was said that they were "deep" and I believed it. In fact, I predicted that my Eagles would finish in the basement and that Dallas and New York would battle for the division. Then came the Whitten conspiracy and a surprising Eagles victory over the Cowboys. After three years with T.O., they haven't won a playoff game, let alone challenge for the Super Bowl.

Now, Terrell Owens has been given his walking papers and now, that makes three teams that he has burned his bridges with... the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys. And, it's four if you consider he was traded to Baltimore and refused to play for them, demanding to be traded to the Eagles, which he was, without running a down.

So, where will he go now? My bet is with the Raiders (that used to be my team back in the day). They have a history of taking in "bad boys" and ne'er do-wells. Baltimore might be willing to forgive and forget. Although, Ray Lewis won't take any of his male diva crap. Then, there's New England. Can you see them with T.O. and Randy Moss? N-O-T! Kansas City might want to dance. Then, there's New York... With Plax gone, they could use a wide receiver with T.O.'s talent. I would really be afraid if the Giants got him.

Somebody will take a chance on him. The man has talent, the man can still run with 4.4 speed, and the man is still in great physical shape. This reminds me of that girl... the one who you know will cheat on you and is just using you but, you go out with her anyway because... well, look at her!!! It's like the Bell Biv Devoe warning... never trust a big butt and a smile. Yet, the teams in the NFL will salivate at the thought of T.O. despite his record with the Niners, Eagles, and Cowboys because... well, look at him!!!

(Update: Terrell Owens has signed with the Buffalo Bills- 03/08/09)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Used To Be My Girl

I spotted her and her son in church a few Sundays ago but, I didn't get a chance to talk to her. I ran into her again at a busy intersection... her car had passed by mine in another lane and she waved. Busy traffic is not the place to talk or catch up so, I waved and kept going. Yesterday, we ran into each other in the supermarket and we finally had a chance to talk...

I'll call her Yvette W. and she was my girlfriend for a brief period of six months some years ago. She was maybe two women before I met my wife (I don't really remember... I've lost count now). She was one of the few women that didn't have any real drama behind her and I can't remember why we didn't stay together.

I met her after both of us had finished college and I remember that, out of all of us who were hanging out together (male and female), she was the only one who had a clear view of the future. She wanted to start her own business. We were all working at various underpaid jobs and then, we would go to Blueberry Hill on "three-for-one" night. We would bitch and complain about how our parents lied to us about America being the land of opportunity and if we stayed in school and kept out noses clean, we would inherit (at least) a decent middle class life. Not one of my fellow graduates was leading that lifestyle.

We were the "post civil rights generation"... we went to college in droves, graduated, and entered the world expecting to land that six figure salary. Indeed, America and the world we entered into in 1984 was a strange one. The economy was tanking... inflation and unemployment was rising. It sounds just like today but, I hear today is supposedly worse.We at least, got jobs somewhere. I don't know what kids are doing for money now of days.

Yvette W. was my complexion but, she had red hair and the prettiest hazel eyes you ever wanted to see. You could look into her eyes and see your future I used to say and that would crack her up. She was well-read and could hold a conversation about more than Prince's new album or how high she got the night before, which intrigued me. She had a blueprint of how her life was going to be and it was a practical one. Me? I was flying by the seat of my pants back then... I was out of college and working anywhere that could pay. It was as if I had given up ever being successful and was just "living for today". But, not Yvette W., which is why I know we didn't stay together. She was way too far ahead of me then. I wound up in the Air Force and I heard that she had gotten married and had a son while I was away.

In 1998, I ran into Yvette W. again. She was working as a receptionist for a doctor who was in the same building as my doctor was in. We talked and caught up... I found out that she had divorced, remarried again, and had a daughter. I'm pretty sure I told her that I was married and had a teenage daughter that was about to graduate high school. I know I must have told her but, she probably forgot.

Yesterday, Yvette W. lifted my left hand and studied my wedding band and proclaimed... "Keith, you got married!" She said this as though I'd just got married last week. I said to her... "Yvette, June will make twenty years that I've been married. I have a grown daughter and a grandson." She said, "Really? You never told me that you were married when I worked in the doctor's office." I told her, "I'm certain that I did."

She told me that she had been married twice and neither situation panned out. I saw her with her son in church but, I had never met her daughter. She said, "My son is in his first year of grad school and he's a Kappa man like you." I said, "I don't believe I've ever met your daughter." She replied, "That girl... if I don't kill her first, you may never meet her. She's a junior at Delaware State College. She broke my heart... she pledged Delta." (Yvette W. is an AKA.) We both laughed and I remarked that brother and sister were just keepin' it red and white.

I knew that Yvette W. no longer worked for the doctor so, I asked her where she was working. She said... "Remember, how I always said that I wanted to go into business for myself one day? Well, I finally did it. I finished Real Estate school after college and after working for a few firms, I opened up my own Real Estate office in Cheltenham (a Philadelphia suburb) a few years back. I have a staff of five people that work for me. It's nothin' big but, you know... it's something."

We talked about how funny it was that we both wound up becoming members of the same church. She then remarked, "You know what? I knew you were married. I saw you with your wife in church and in the car that time I passed you. Well, I... uh... knew you were in a relationship. You know how you used to be... you never could tell but, considering that I saw the two of you together a number of times, I figured she was more than just a girlfriend." I said... " Yes, she is definitely more than just a girlfriend." We both laughed.

Yvette W. told me that she was presently involved with a guy she met at church. She then said that, since they started seeing each other, she couldn't get him to come to church! We had a big laugh about it. I wished her well, and we went our separate ways after agreeing to keep in touch. I don't know how we are supposed to do that since we didn't exchange numbers. I guess we can do that when we see each other in church.

I was happy for Yvette W. She dreamed of starting her own business and she stuck to it. Despite the setbacks she had over the years with two failed marriages and raising two children, she had realized her dream. Maybe our parents didn't lie to us at all... they just didn't tell us how long it might take to realize our dreams or how much hardship we would have to endure.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


You know, far be it from me to give the Republican Party any advice. I doubt that they would take it from a radical leftist socialist like me. But, since I have been known to give unwanted advice anyway (just ask some of my friends), here it is and it's very simple. You do NOT want Rush Limbaugh listed as the head of the Republican Party! Not if you want to be taken seriously! He is an entertainer and not a very good one at that. Take him for what he is and move on.

Like Sarah Palin, I really don't wish to fill up space on my blog discussing this man another day. It's just that I found it laughable yesterday when I turned to three TV stations (CNN, MSNBC, FOX News) and I heard pundits referring to Rush Limbaugh, the radio talk show host and leading windbag, as the "Head of the Republican Party". I thought to myself, they couldn't be serious, could they? If people are ignoring them now and seeing them as a joke, they will lose further credibility if he is seen as the symbolic head of the conservative movement and the GOP.

I find this as silly as saying that Steve Harvey, Michael Baisden, Al Sharpton, or me for that matter, could be considered the symbolic leader of the Democratic Party. There are people who have spent four or more years in college and have worked in government and politics for many long, hard hours who are better suited for that title than any radio host, television personality, or blogger even. Do we all have opinions? Yes. Does our opinion influence a wide spectrum of people? Yes again. But, that's as far as it goes.

I was watching D.L. Hughley's show on CNN a few nights ago and he had Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele (who is also the first African-American to hold this post), on his show. He said that Rush Limbaugh was the head of the Republican Party and Michael Steele corrected him by saying... "No, he is not. He is an entertainer. I am the head of the Republican Party". The next day, Rush Limbaugh gave Michael Steele a tongue lashing on his radio show and between then and now, Michael Steele has backed up on his statement and issued some type of apology to Rush Limbaugh. Apology for what???

Not that I care... I really don't... but, it appears to me that a lot of Republicans fear this guy. A radio talk show host! He has an allegedly popular radio show and a lot of listeners (although, I suspect a lot less than he used to have). Still, I think that his listeners are a small minority that can no longer sway an election. Obviously, they can't because The House, The Senate, and The Big Seat are controlled by Democrats right now and it's already been proven that President Obama really doesn't need much (if any) Republican support to get any legislation passed.

What the Republicans should be doing is addressing alternative ways to get this country back on track economically. In other words, they should be talking about what the disenfranchised man on the street is talking about... employment, education, tax relief, the infra-structure, etc. Oh, but that is already being done by the other party and you guys never really were any good at connecting with what is really important.

Not too many people are worried about abortion, gay marriage, flag burning, or having their guns snatched away from them right now. It's going to be mighty hard to convince any guys who have lost their jobs in a factory or a man who just lost his farm that the rich fat cats shouldn't have to pay more taxes or that they should keep their jobs when they are responsible for the mess we are in. That's going to be a pretty hard sell at this point and 65% of the American people agree with me on that across the board, Rush... Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, etc. To paraphrase Jay-Z ,"Who you with?"

Rush is basically preaching to the choir... what's left of the choir he already had because I don't see his choir growing. I don't understand why these Republican guys are so afraid of him. He can't hurt them or help them at this point. But, I digress... that is their mess. I just thought I'd pass along a little unwanted advice to them.

This is why I'm the Maverick of All Bloggers... I even try to help my ideological adversaries from time to time. Now, what other blogger do you know will take time out to do that? Ain't I somethin' else?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Free To Be... Stupid

Exhibit A: The Book Display

Recently, there was a controversy concerning a book display in a Florida Barnes & Noble store, in which someone inserted a book about "monkeys" right in the middle of a group of books about our 44th President. And, this comes just a few weeks after the New York Post "monkey cartoon" incident. The spokesperson for Barnes & Noble said that they believe that, more than likely, a customer was the culprit in this case. I believe them. After the hue and cry over that cartoon, no business in their right mind is going to do something like that... but, some idiot customer who still can't get over the notion of a black president would.

Exhibit B: The Birth Certificate

Then, you have the numbskulls who are trying to say that Barack "Hussein" Obama, as they like to call him (with extra emphasis on "Hussein") to not so subtley infer that he is somehow related to the late Iraqi strongman, are saying that the president was not born in the United States and, therefore, is not the legitimate Commander in Chief. These idiots have even gotten two soldiers presently serving in Iraq to go along with this insanity. They are demanding that the president produce his birth certificate to prove that he's an American citizen.

I would get angry but, it's a free country and people are free to expouse any idiotic idea they choose, so long as they don't hurt anyone. These people certainly aren't hurting anyone other than their own image. There are important things to be concerned about right now and someone drawing a cartoon, placing a book in a book display, or demanding that the president produce his birth certificate aren't even distractions. They cause me to shake my head and chuckle a bit but, they will not distract me from the things that I am most concerned about.

Exhibit C: The Email

However, the Southern California mayor who shared an email with a black colleague that portrayed a field of watermelons on the white house lawn with the caption "No Easter Egg Hunt This Year" and then said that he "had no idea that the watermelons was a racial stereotype", will NOT get the benefit of the doubt from me. If he's telling the truth then, I think he should present HIS birth certificate and prove to me that HE is an American citizen.

There is no way that he lived in America for over 40 years and not been thorougly versed on all of the negative stereotypes heaped on not just African-Americans but, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, gays, and women. I could add the Irish, Italians, and Jews to the mix too. It's just part of growing up in this country... racially and culturally stereotyping other people.

We all do it. We all tell these kind of jokes when we are alone in our respective tribes and giggle together. When this ugliness gets out into the mainstream media for all to see, we then pretend to be shocked, appalled, and act as though this is the first time we are hearing or seeing this kind of thing. And, that is why this type of thing doesn't shock me, surprise me, and now... doesn't even get me angry. It's just more dirt that I'm going to brush off of my shoulders while keeping my eyes and ears open to what is really important and I advise every well-meaning American to do the same.

Exhibit D: The Radio Talk Show Host

And, to Rush Limbaugh: Thank you... your stupidity inspires me everyday to read more books and to continue to educate myself.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What I've Learned

1. Sometimes, letting go of a past hurt is easier said than done.

2. At the end of the day, a good hot meal and a nice hot bath goes a long way towards cooling you off and relieving stress. (Especially, after you've had a day when you just wanted to ring somebody's neck!)

3. I talk to God quite often and I'm pretty sure I've given Him some of His best laughs.

4. There's nothing like a recession to teach you what's really important in life.

5. Drinking a nice hot cup of coffee while watching the sunrise is indeed a liberating experience.

6. Every morning that I wake up with someone beside me is a blessing... many people sleep alone.

7. Marriage is, of course, a loving relationship but what a lot of people fail to realize is that it is also a business contract.

8. Good music, regardless of genre, is good today and will still be good 20 or 30 years down the road.

9. A little free-floating anxiety is good for you.

10. I would rather be a well-groomed man than a well-dressed man. (Take some time to think about what I just said.)


"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