Friday, January 29, 2010

Sometimes I Forget That I'm Black Too!

I was watching President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech the night before last and it hit me... This is the President of the United States. A guy my age, a guy I might have sat next to in school. This is amazing! So, when Chris Matthews of MSNBC nearly bordered on becoming a candidate for the "Foot In Mouth Club" minuts later, I understood perfectly.

Chris Matthews said he "forgot Obama was black tonight for an hour. I said, wait a minute... He's an African-American guy in front of a bunch of other white people." Matthews was analyzing President Obama's first State of the Union speech when he commented.

He said... "I was trying to think about who he was tonight. It's interesting. He is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he's gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and past so much history, in just a year or two. I mean, it's something we don't even think about. I was watching, I said, wait a minute, he's an African American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And, here he is President of the United States and we've completely forgotten that tonight -- completely forgotten it."

Well, I certainly wasn't thinking about it... but, I know for a fact that some people in that very room were. I don't understand the controversy over what Chris Matthews said because I perfectly understand what he meant and I in no way take offense to it. Neither should anyone else. He merely stated what for him, a white man may have been the truth so, I'm good with it! He finally looked at Barack the way 33 million other African-Americans wish that white people would look at us. As human beings and not just as "Black", "African-American" , "Knee-Grows" or "Cullard". He saw him as a man who had accomplished much over a short period of time.

In a perfect world, maybe he and all of us... Latino, American Indian, Asian, etc. could just be viewed for our accomplishments and not our racial differences. I applaud Chris Matthews for admitting that he was able to do that, if only for that hour. This may surprise you but sometimes, I forget that I'm Black too! It's the strangest thing... and I do for days until I'm reminded by the good people of these United States.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Celebrities Help In Haiti Relief

The situation in Haiti still remains grave as I write this post. I would like to take the time to acknowledge and give big ups to some celebrities who are doing their part to help and are doing so in the right spirit and not trying to hype a new movie or project.

John Travolta has flown emergency supplies to Haiti. The "Grease" actor, who is a trained pilot, flew the specially-borrowed plane to the Caribbean nation's capital Port-au-Prince to help the 1.5 million people who are believed to be homeless in the capital following the earthquake.

Travolta flew in the Qantas Airline aircraft filled with ready-to-eat rations for survivors of the disaster with his wife Kelly Preston. Speaking on his return flight, the 55 year old actor said... "We have an ability and a responsibility to help make a difference." Last week, he said... "I have arranged for a plane to take down some volunteer ministers, supplies, and medics. I hope that inspires others as well. It's needed." Travolta is among a number of A-list celebrities to take action after the disaster struck.

Last week, George Clooney fronted a TV telethon to raise money for the Haiti relief effort, with celebrities including Wyclef John, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Jay -Z, Sting, U2, Reese Witherspoon, Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Cameron Diaz performing and taking phone donations totalling $58 million from the public.

Meanwhile, a charity single is being organized by music mogul Simon Cowell, of American Idol fame, with a host of singers including Rod Stewart, Cheryl Cole, Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue, and Robbie Williams recording REM's "Everybody Hurts".

A lot of times, media people and bloggers malign celebrities and make fun of their travails and personal failings... failings that we all have mind you, but aren't spotlighted in the news because most of us are not celebrities. I wanted to take this time to point out something positive that is being done by these same celebrities.

I can't speak for the people of Haiti, but as a human being and an inhabitant of this planet, let me personally say "thank you" to everybody that used your fame in a positive way to bring about aid to those people on that island in this time of need.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An Early Candidate for Foot in Mouth Competition

What is it about South Carolina politicians? You've got a governor who vanishes for a weekend.. we find out that he didn't just go for a run in the woods... he's ran to Argentina to be with another woman... you've got a state senator who yells out "You Lie!" at a nationally televised Presidential State of the Union meeting last year... and now, just when you think these elected officials can't embarrass themselves and their state anymore, you have this...

When things looked their darkest for Gov. Mark Sanford (when he was in danger of being impeached for running off to Argentina to see his mistress), his best insurance policy may well have been South Carolina's Lieutenant Governor, Andre Bauer.

Lawmakers knew if they removed Sanford, they would end up with Bauer, a fiercely ambitious Republican with a reputation for reckless and immature behavior. Now, Bauer has folks shaking their heads again after he likened government assistance to the poor to feeding stray animals. At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Bauer, who is running for governor in his own right now that Sanford is term-limited, said... "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman (and as it turns out, neither is he), but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that." Democrats and others railed at him.

"I am disgusted by these comments. They show an unbelievable lack of compassion toward the unemployed workers in our state who are hurting during these hard times," said state Sen. Vincent Sheheenen, a Democrat who is also running for governor. "His comments were immoral and out of line." South Carolina schools Superintendent Jim Rex, another Democratic candidate for governor, called Bauer's comments "reprehensible" and said he should apologize.

Bauer said Monday that he regrets his choice of words but that government should expect welfare recipients to try to better themselves. He wants to require them to take drug tests and attend parent-teacher conferences if they have children in school. And, there's nothing wrong with that but, he didn't say that. He could have and without the animal references, I wouldn't be writing this.

As a child of divorce who benefited from "free lunches" himself, Bauer insisted he wasn't bad-mouthing people who are laid-off from work in the recession or advocating taking food from children... but rather, emphasizing the need to break the cycle of dependency. Again, he could have said that without the metaphors, but he didn't.

"Do I wish I'd used a different metaphor? Of course I do," the 40 year old said. "I didn't intend to offend anyone." I'm sure you do wish you'd used a different metaphor... NOW, of course. Let's not pretend that his grandmother was not talking about African-Americans. She was. You know it and I know it. She lived in a time when saying something like that would not cause the uproar it does now. She lived in a time when a Black president was unthinkable. Well, thhat time is not now.

Don't get me wrong..I have nothing against the great state of South Carolina. I love Myrtle Beach... I even spent some time there when I was in the Air Force and I spent some great times in Columbia, SC. (And, in theory, I don't completely disagree with what his grandmother said... in theory. But, I know that when she said it, she wasn't talking about stray animals or white folk who happened to be on welfare.) But, I sure am perplexed with the officials people from this state elect to represent them and the things they do and say.

These people make them look like idiots. I'm going to tell you something my grandmother told me as a child... She said that "people usually get the type of leaders they deserve". So, what does that say? Just something to think on...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What The Hell?

This is the second installment of my new recurring post. I started this post just for things that make you scratch your head. I didn't make this up. I'm a pretty imaginative writer, as those of you who read my other blog, Escapades, probably know... but, I'm not this imaginative.

A 59-year-old dairy farmer in upstate New York has killed 51 cows in his Copake barn with a rifle and then shot himself dead. Dean Pierson was found dead by a neighboring farmer, who then called 911. A trooper who responded and came to the scene found the victim and 51 cows dead inside their milking stalls.

Only milking cows were killed. There were heifers (no smart remarks, please) and calves in the barn that were not shot. Investigators of the bizarre case have yet to determine the reason for the suicide and mass cow killing. Neighbors of Pierson later dug a large trench near the barn and buried the dead cows there. They did not want to comment on the incident, saying they leave it to the suicide victim's widow and the police to do the talking.

Yes, and if she can come up with a logical reason for this, I'd like to hear it. I'm still scratching my head!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Where Is The Tooth Fairy When You Need Her?

Yesterday morning, we got up, got our showers, got dressed, and I told my wife that I was going to go make a run for some coffee and pastries. I had been telling her about this awesome place called Pantera's out in Wynnewood for some time. I told her how good their fresh bread (cooked on the premises) was, along with their other pastries.

On this morning, I drove out to Panteras and got a bearclaw, cherry danish, and croissant with butter. I also got an english muffin with ham, egg, and cheese for my wife, a large tumbler of coffee, and some orange juice. The plan was, we were going to eat a light weight continental breakfast, listen to some John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins while vaccuming, wiping down the baseboards, and doing the laundry.

There's a joke that goes... "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans" and it still holds true. I was munching and sipping coffee, when I felt something foreign in my mouth that could have been a walnut from my bearclaw (or not) so, I spit it out into my hand. It was my tooth... one of the reconstructed teeth from the back of my mouth that was put there after my last root canal in 2006.

I called the emergency unit of the hospital that I use according to my health insurance plan. They told me that they didn't have a dentist on duty (it being Sunday and all) but I should come down anyway and be seen. They told me to make sure that I brought my photo ID, my insurance card, and a list of any and all medications I was taking. Good Deal.

So, I'm in the emergency room and I have to say, I was waited on faster than I thought I would be with this being Philadelphia and I being a "knee-grow". I was told upfront that I had to pay a $50.00 co-pay and that my provider would pay the rest. The rest? What rest? They hadn't done anything yet! After I paid, my blood pressure and temperature were taken and both were a little high. (I guess so... you just took $50.00 bucks from me!)

The doctor was nice so I didn't go off, the way I had planned to. She informed me that there was no dentist on-site and that I would have to go to the dental facility that did the original work tomorrow. Her assistant took an x-ray of my mouth, gave me something to wash my mouth out, and gave me a prescription for some penicilian to keep my mouth from getting infected any futher. My parking at the hospital was validated so my final cost was $5.00. The cost to get the penicillin prescription filled was also $5.00.

Today, I'm going to my dentist, who is right down the street from where I work, and I'll have to give them a $20.00 co-pay to see me. By the time you read this, the health care industry will have gotten a total of $80.00 from me already and they will not have done a thing for me yet! Do you see where I'm going with this? I'm insured! What would happen to some poor bastard without insurance? They'd be SOL! Several people have profited from me without a thing being done. Do you want to bet that I'm going to be hit with yet another partial payment after the reconstructive work is done?

Do you mean to tell me that any of you can read this and still not think that we've got a shell game going on as far as health care is concerned? This is a joke... a straight rip-off and these guys are no more than gangsters with suits on. Tony Soprano has more honor and integrity than the people in the health care game. At least, you know up front that he's a gangster!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

TO: My Grandson...

He is 4 years old today!
Love, Pop-Pop

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekend Humor

Okay, I just couldn't help but post this... it's too funny!

Five Rules For Men To Have A Happy Life

1. It's important to have a woman who helps at home, who cooks from time to time, cleans up, and has a job.

2. It's important to have a woman who can make you laugh.

3. It's important to have a woman whom you can trust and who doesn't lie to you.

4. It's important to have a woman who is good in bed and who likes to be with you.

5. It's very, very important that these four women do not know each other.

Signed, Tiger Woods

Have a good weekend everybody!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Get Down Or Lay Down!

Everyone is saying that Scott Brown's election to Teddy Kennedy's vacant senate seat spells disaster for President Obama's health care initiative and other Democratic platforms because it gives the Republicans the power to fillibuster any bill that comes up that they don't like. The truth is, they were going to do this regardless so, if I were the President, here is what I would begin doing...

I would rally my troops, explain to them what has been acomplished so far that is good, and make sure that unlike the Health care initiative (which most people didn't understand), I would get this message out to the public and in a big way. I would tell everybody around me not to panic and remind them that Scott Brown is just one person and he in no way can hold up the show by himself.

I would borrow a play from the Republican playbook and get people's minds off of health care for the time being. I'd talk about jobs, employment, and pledge that (for the next year, at least) the sole domestic focus will be on job creation. It’s already clear that the president will focus on this during his State of the Union address next Wednesday. The fact that this is regarded as news and a change of strategy proves the problem. The unemployment problem has deepened since he was sworn in exactly a year ago! So, it would behoove his administration to get on this right away.

I'd try to reduce the deficit. Create a real, substantive, and powerful deficit-reduction commission. Yeah, the days of Ronald Reagan (Thank God!) and Tip O’Neill are long gone but there is no reason not to try to recreate that part of it. Deficit reduction... most Americans do care about the country going bankrupt, even as they demand more benefits from government. That's soooo "American" of us, aint it?

I'd take a play from the Bill Clinton playbook and beat the Republicans at their own game. They seem to be trying to set themselves up as populists right now. So, Mr. President... be a real populist. You ran as an outsider even though many of us knew that, except for your race and your relative youth, you weren't really one. You were heavily credentialed and well-connected from the start, but that doesn't have to be an albotross. Use it to your advantage. Call in a few markers... THEY do it all the time.

I know that you're not really comfortable with that us-against-them rhetoric (or , at least, you like to cover it up with that smooth cool of yours) but that is the mood the American people are in right now, and understandably so. They’ve been screwed royally by the "Big Boys" in the corporate world and on Wall Street. So, Mr. President... you need to pick a real fight with some real enemies (try the brokers and the banks). Force the supposedly populist GOP Tea Partiers and tea baggers to go along or join the establishment of their own party. As we used to say in West Philly... "Either get down or lay down!"

And finally, getting back to health care... it's now become a disaster. You tried, but not hard enough. So, as much as I hate to say this, cut your losses, baby. Perhaps the best thing to do is to break the massive legislation into pieces and dare the Republicans to vote against the best parts of it, like the requirement that insurance companies permanently cover all patients. Let's see who blinks first!

There is clearly no referendum as the joyous Republicans think or a need to panic just yet. President Obama, you can still pull yourself and your party out of this... but you've got to act fast and decisively. Tell the Republicans simply to "Get Down with my program or lay down... in other more eloquent words "shut the f%@k up!" (Yeah, I said it!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Showdown In Old Mass

By the time you read this, the smoke may have cleared. If the last man standing is Republican Scott Brown, then President Obama's health care initiative and other things he will want to push through the senate may be in grave danger.

In a contest with major national implications, Massachusetts voters will choose a successor to The Late Senator Edward M. Kennedy in a surprisingly down-to-the-wire election that might be a referendum on President Barack Obama's sweeping health care overhaul and his first year in office.

A loss, or even a narrow victory, by once-favored Democrat Martha Coakley to insurgent Republican Scott Brown in this Democratic stronghold could signal big political problems for the president's party this fall when House, Senate, and gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot nationwide.

More immediately at stake is a critical 60th vote for Democrats to save their health care legislation and the rest of President Barack Obama's agenda. A 41st Republican in the 100-member Senate could allow the GOP to block the president's priorities with filibusters. Exactly what they have been wanting.

This election has transformed once reliably Democratic Massachusetts into a battleground state. One day shy of the first anniversary of President Obama's swearing-in, it played out amid a backdrop of animosity and resentment from voters over persistently high unemployment, industry bailouts, exploding federal budget deficits, and partisan wrangling over health care.

Days before the vote, White House advisers and other Democrats in Washington began making excuses for what they called "a poorly run campaign on Coakley's part". President Obama flew to Boston for last-minute personal campaigning on Sunday. Wall Street watched closely. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 116 points, and analysts attributed the increase to hopes the election would make it harder for President Obama to make his changes to health care.

This eased investor concerns that profits at companies such as insurers and drug makers would suffer. Across Massachusetts, voters who had been bombarded with phone calls and dizzied with non-stop campaign commercials for Coakley and Brown gave a fitting turnout, despite intermittent snow and rain statewide.

Boston reported twice the primary turnout among early voters, while in western Massachusetts, one in five registered voters in Longmeadow had shown up by 11 a.m. Secretary of State William Galvin predicted a turnout ranging from 1.6 million to 2.2 million, 40-55% of registered voters. The December 8th primary had a scant turnout of about 20%. As polls opened, Brown drove up to his polling place in Wrentham in the green pickup truck that came to symbolize his upstart, workmanlike campaign that in the past week pulled him into a surprise dead-heat in the polls. He is suddenly the populist everyman. (Don't make me laugh!)

"It would make everybody the 41st senator, and it would bring fairness and discussion back to the equation," the state senator said of a potential victory. He spent the rest of the day out of public view, crafting evening rally remarks that had the potential to be an early State of the Union speech for the national Republican Party. Amazing how republicans have the nerve to talk about this as "fairness". Fairness to who? The insurance companies and fat cats who already have adequate health care? Fairness to the lobbies they represent? Fairness to who? But, I digress...

Martha Coakley, stunned to see a double-digit lead evaporate in recent weeks, counted on labor unions and reawakened Democrats to turn out on her behalf and preserve a seat Kennedy and his brother, President John F. Kennedy, held for over 50 years. The senator died in August 2009 of brain cancer.

I hope the sleeping Democrats wake up and do something. As of this writing, the race is any one of theirs to win or to lose. What you, the citizen (the poor and desperate type that I'm talking to and for in the first place), have at stake is the change that you voted for the year before last being brought to a crawl. In the words of another recently-deceased Teddy (Teddy Pendergrass)... "Wake Up, Everybody!"
Post Script: As of this writing, The Republican candidate, Scott Brown has won the election. Teddy Kennedy is probably spinning in his grave!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MEM: Christmas in January

Christmas Dinner Dance 2009
Saturday, January 16, 2010

This annual Marriage Enrichment Ministry event was originally scheduled to take place in the month of December, but Philly was hit with its first major snow storm of the season (20+ inches), so it was postponed until January. This time, the dinner and time of fellowship was held in the church administraton building and, as always, the food was excellent... we've got some people who can really "throw down" in the kitchen! The Word from our Bishop, "How To Balance Church & Marriage", was a timely message and right on point. Other activities included couples games, a ticket-stub drawing (in which me and my wife won a prize), and the main event... dancing with the lights down low. It was a fun-filled romantic evening for couples of all ages and everyone had a great time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

R.I.P. Teddy Pendergrass

There was a song I liked by Harold Melvin & The Blues Notes called "I Miss You" that was out in the mid-seventies... the hey day of the "Philadelphia sound" in black music. This song was the story of a guy and girl who had broken up. The guy must have run into the girl again somewhere and he starts talking to her. First it was about the little things like "I got a job now", "I've stopped drinking", and "I ran into one of your girlfriends the other day and she told me you were doing alright"... and yada yada yada.

Eventually, the narrator begins baring his soul, telling the girl what is really on his mind, how much he misses her, and how he doesn't know what to do with himself since she's been gone. It was one of those vulnerable, honest, heart-ripping songs that aren't written anymore and can't be sung by these singers who are smart enough not to call themselves "soul singers." They refer to themselves as singers of "R& B", though I beg to differ.

One night, I was in the basement of one of my friend's house and we were drinking beer, listening to the radio and talking. "I Miss You" came on and I said... "Man, that Harold Melvin sang the hell out of that song!" It was then that my friend's mother overheard us and came down in the basement and said, "That ain't Harold singing the lead... that's the drummer, Theodore Pendergrass."

I said, "What, Who? Theodore Who?" She said, "I saw them perform at the Latin Casino and the guy that plays the drums sings all of the leads. Harold sings the background vocals with the other guys. It's Harold's group but I'm telling you, it's that Pendergrass dude that be singing all them leads." And, that was my introduction to Teddy Pendergrass. The last album he did with Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (and my personal favorite) was "To Be True" and sure enough the cover read... " Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, featuring Theodore Pendergrass. I loved his big booming voice. It reminded me of Marvin Junior, the lead singer of the Dells.

Two years later, Theodore, now christened "Teddy" Pendergrass, released his first solo album, which included the hit "I Don't Love You Anymore", and I loved it! I went out and bought it and his next four or five albums. I became a fan for life. I was even more delighted to find out that we shared the same astrological sign... his birthday being two days after my own.

I'm listening to his music and all of those great Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes records as I write this post. He died yesterday... another soul great gone. It seems like all of my favorites have passed on into that sweet peace beyond the clouds, but who have they left to carry on the torch? It remains to be seen. One thing is for certain... he has left a void. Him, Gerald Levert, Michael Jackson, Barry White, Curtis Mayfield, Luther Vandross, Issac Hayes, Rick James... They are all leaving here a little sooner than I would have liked.

I have my CDs and downloads to remind me of how great music was... what real soul music was! Thank you, Teddy... thanks for great music. Rest in peace!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pray For Haiti

By the time you read this, you all will heard about the horrific earthquake that took place in Haiti two days ago. I'm not going to go into the gory details but I'm going to pass on some information about how you can help.

The U.S. State Department Operations Center said Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti should call 1-888-407-4747. Due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording. "Our embassy is still in the early stages of contacting American citizens through our Warden Network", the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "Communications are very difficult within Haiti at this time."

For those interested in helping immediately, simply text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10.00 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.

Finally, the FBI urges people who are looking for ways to help with earthquake relief to be wary of solicitations that could be from scam artists.

Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or a good cause," the FBI said and they are passing along these tips:

1. Ignore unsolicited e-mails and do not click on links within those messages.

2. Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.

3. Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because the files may contain computer viruses. Open attachments only from know senders.

4. Decline to give personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.

5. Make contributions directly to known organizations, rather than relying on others who claim in emails that they will channel the donation to established groups.

It's unfortunate that we have individuals who try to take advantage of well-meaning people during a tragedy but, that's the world we live in today. What are you gonna do but use some common sense... mix it with your compassion.

Pray for these people, pray for those in the United States who have relatives and friends trapped over there as I write this, and pray for Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Lesson Of Coffee

I thought I would share this... it's a great analogy!

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was just tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as though as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. After about 20 minutes she turned off the burners.

Her mother fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl. She pulled out the eggs and placed them in a bowl. Then, she ladled out the coffee and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see." Her daughter replied, "Carrots, eggs, and coffee."

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. Her daughter did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked her daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?" Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity, boiling water! Each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg was fragile but its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt, become soft, and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same but on the inside am I tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to make you happy. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way.

The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Peace! (I hope you all got the message. It was deeper than just coffee.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Lack Of Knee-Grow Dialect

It just makes me shake my head... the number of politicians and snake oil salesman (I can't tell the difference between the two) who put their foot in their mouths now of days. The latest to do so is Democratic Senator Harry Reid.

Prominent Democrats defended Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Monday after a new book revealed racial remarks he made about Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. In a private conversation reported in the book, Reid described Obama as a "light-skinned negro with no negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." I shake my head because a sizable number of white people actually believe stuff like this. Reid apologized to President Obama on Saturday and the president issued a statement accepting the apology and saying the matter was closed. This is so like the President.

Speaking to reporters in Nevada, Reid acknowledged on Monday that he "could have used a better choice of words", (Ya Think?) noting that he has received phone calls of support from black lawmakers since the comment was publicized over the weekend. Probably because, regardless of how backward his remark sounded and was, it is after all the truth (kinda, sorta). We know that President Obama is polished, Harvard educated, and a little lighter than say me, for instance, was probably the only Black man who could have run for President in these United States at this time and had a punchers chance of winning.

President Obama does appear to be non-threatening to some whites. I don't know if it's his lack of "knee-grow dialect" or what? On the other hand, he is very threatening to other whites just because he is not 100% white. What are you going to do? Damned if you're light-skinned and double-damned if you're a cocoa brother.

Then, poor President Obama has some of his fellow African-Americans (just a few) who don't think he's black enough. Sometimes, I want to ask them just what does that mean and who sets the barometer? Does someone tell white people at any gamut that they're not white enough? We (knee-grows) need to cut that foolishness out, as Mrs. Florence used to say, and go somewhere and sit down.

I know... I should leave this alone. It's talk like that that got me named a "disgrace to the negro race" (I still have my trophy from 1967 in my bedroom). And, speaking of disgraces to the negro race, this year's nominee, Brother Michael Steele, weighed in with his two cents. In appearances on two Sunday television news programs, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele (at least, that's the rumor) compared Reid's predicament with the circumstances that led Senate Republican leader Trent Lott to step down from that post in 2002. Lott had spoken favorably of the 1948 segregationist presidential campaign of Strom Thurmond and, in spite of apologies for those remarks at Thurmond's 100th birthday, Lott was forced out as leader.

"There is this standard where the Democrats feel that they can say these things and apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it's racism," said Steele, who is black (again, that's the rumor). "It's either racist or it's not... and it's inappropriate, absolutely."

Believe it or not...I actually find myself agreeing with Mike Steele (I know, write the date on your calender) but only as a matter of fairness. I could also argue that in his defense, Reid was having a private conversation (at least, he thought he was) while Trent Lott said that at an open public forum.

Who knows? And, at this point, who cares? No matter what is done or not done with Reid, someone on both sides of the political spectrum is not going to be happy. I would be happy with an honest discussion and dialogue on race relations in America, once and for all. A knee-grow dialogue!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lead To Believe...

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..."
John 8:7

I was watching one of those end of the year shows about ''Celebrity Scandals" and to tell you the truth, it was mostly watching me. Television is great for the times when you just can't get to sleep. Of course, you can't talk about scandals nowadays unless you mention a certain golfer who is of the calabanese persuasion. (Funny, he looks black to me on the cover of this month's Vanity Fair, with his black knit skull cap on, baring his chest and a mean mug!) But, this isn't really a post about him. It's a post about one word really... and that word being, "betrayal".

You see, they were talking about Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Dr. J. and numerous other athletes and entertainers who found themselves involved in scandals and the one word I kept hearing people use was the word betrayal. People were saying that they were lead to believe that so-and-so was a wholesome family man with good values and it turns out that such-and-such is... what? Just like you and me?

I shake my head everytime I hear some sportscaster on television moralizing and pontificating about human nature and human virtue... two subjects that most of them are not qualified to talk about. If you ask me (and nobody did) sportscasters should stick to scores and stats and leave the moralizing to preachers and philosophers.

"The human heart is wicked... who can know it?", lamented Paul in the Bible. Who really knows any of these athletes, rappers, musicians, actors, politicians, etc? They come into the public spotlight and they are handled, told what to say, how to dress, and who to be associated with by a group of people who you never get to see or know. What you see on the television, talk shows, and other forms of media is purely packaged and put together by others. Sixty percent of it bares no semblance of reality... that's called public relations!

Some of the celebrities carefully create their own fantasy image too. You get their "represenative" and not the real person. The reason for this is because more than anything, they become a product. They have to get you to buy underwear, Ball Park franks, Gatorade, beer, watches, clothes, cologne, and what have you. They have to persuade you to eat in McDonalds, Wendys, or Burger King food (take your pick) and buy Wheaties, The Breakfast of Champions. In order for you to be persuaded to do so, you have to trust and, more importantly, believe in the person that is selling you the product.

So, I asked myself... Would I still buy Gillette razors and shaving cream (shilled by Tiger Woods) knowing that he cheated on his wife with 16 women or more? The answer is yes because I have to shave. It doesn't surprise me that there are some people who would stop buying this product because of that... they feel betrayed. Of course, they were lead to believe that he was one way and now that he is not, cannot patronize a product that he advertises. This kind of stupidity is why advertisers distance themselves from any celebrity that winds up in trouble.

Does a celebrity owe the public a life beyond reproach? A lot of advertisers would have you believe that they do. I am amazed at how connected we as the American public feel to these people... people we don't even know. We worship celebrities, more now than ever before. I thought that Tiger Woods, because of how he's been portrayed, was a squeaky clean, almost nerdy kinda guy. When I found out that he has been running with a number of women, I was kinda surprised at first (I didn't know the boy had that much game to him!) but then I thought, He's a young man. Why wouldn't he be chasing after women? He plays golf... he's not the Pope!

As I've pointed out before, many of the people (especially male sportscasters) attacking him are the biggest hypocrites. If they had his money, fame, and the opportunity, who is to say that they wouldn't be doing the same thing or worse? I find it amazing every night when I switch to any given channel and hear all of the pontificating and moralizing concerning one or two celebrities who have gotten themselves into some kind of trouble. It's as if the ones doing the moralizing have never done anything wrong themselves. Of course, they haven't lead anyone to believe
any different.

If I start with myself and name half-a-dozen people that I know, I can't tell you one of us who hasn't done something at sometime that could be considered scandalous, if we were in the public eye. The crimes run the gamut of lying, stealing, cheating, and what have you. Are we any different from people who just happen to be famous? Oh, but of course... we haven't lead anybody to believe...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Death of a Trailblazer

If you didn't grow up in Philadelphia in the 70's, the name of this man probably doesn't mean anything to you. Pennsylvania State Senator Hardy Williams died yesterday of complications related to Alzheimers disease. He was 78.

Hardy Williams was a trailblazing African-American politician. He was the first African-American to mount a credible campaign for mayor in Philadelphia back in 1971. Though he lost, Hardy Williams paved the way for others, including Wilson Goode, John Street, and Michael Nutter. He also organized the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, served five terms in the State House, then moved to the State Senate in 1982. When Hardy Williams retired in 1998, Mayor Nutter says, "Philadelphia lost a warrior." Indeed! I guess you had to have lived in our city in those days... it was right after the turbulent civil rights decade. The Vietnam War was still raging on and the civil war, that was the racial divide in America, was in full effect.

Former Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo was running for mayor on the Democratic ticket (he would later switch parties and become a Republican). Frank Rizzo had been a tough street cop. Before I was born, he was known as the "Cisco Kid" because he carried two six-shooters instead of the one service revolver most cops carried. In South Philly, where he walked the beat, he had been known to be particularly brutal to African-Americans in the area. There were several men of my parents generation who had confrontations with him back in the 50's. They were still talking about him by the time I came along and was old enough to understand.

In 1967, Rizzo sicked his dogs and some billy club weilding policemen on some predominately black demonstrators who were trying to integrate Girard College and this made him infamous. So Infamous that under Mayor James H. Tate, a Democrat, he was made Police Commisioner. So in 1971, when this same ex-street cop, ex-police comissioner decided to run for mayor on the Democratic ticket, in stepped Hardy Williams, who was a West Philly attorney at the time. Williams ran a very well managed independent campaign... a forerunner to the type of grass roots organizing that would later characterize W. Wilson Goode's campaign and yes, even Barack Obama's campaign.

Barack Obama, Micheal Nutter, and I were just children then... known only to our parents and relatives. This man, Hardy Williams, inspired the same kind of hope in Black Philadelphia that Barack Obama would later inspire in an entire nation. Everybody's parents were doing something to help get Hardy Williams elected. As kids, we were wearing Hardy Williams buttons and passing out flyers on 52nd Street. There was so much hope, anger, and fear of Rizzo. (I should note that Blacks hated this man, Frank Rizzo so much that when he ran for re-election, four years later most blacks voted for the Republican challenger.)

African-Americans make up 51% of the total population of Philadelphia today. Then, we made up about 39-40% of the population (this was before the great white flight to the suburbs). Hardy Williams lost the election. My mother, who hated Frank Rizzo with a passion back then, was particularly devestated. I remember I said to her right after the election... "Don't worry. One day when I'm old enough to vote, we gonna have a black mayor and things are going to be different." I would like to tell her that things are better now but they are not. Although, I did keep my promise... when I was old enough to vote, I did help usher in our first, second, and third black mayors. I have been less than enthused with all three, sorry to say, but I did keep my promise.

Hardy Williams went on to become a state senator and a "mover and shaker" in Philly politics. I would often run into him in the streets at various functions. When I heard that he passed yesterday, I felt a kind of sadness. Another monument of my past has now gone the way of the buffalo... another monument of this city's past has gone the way of the buffalo.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

And Bullets And Wizards And Scooby Dooby Doo

For some of you who are too young to know, the Washington Wizards used to be called the Washington Bullets... and before they were even in Washington, they were the Baltimore Bullets. I suppose the originator of the team just meant that these guys were faster than a speeding bullet.

A while ago, someone thought that it might not be such a good idea to call the team, the Washington "Bullets"... not with all of the gunfire in D.C.'s streets beyond the White House. They felt that that name "Bullets" shined a bad light on an already maligned city. I don't know who, but somebody came up with the new name, "Wizards"... and thus, the bad taste and connotations of the name "Bullets" was gone. Of course, bullets are still flying in D.C.'s streets (as they are in my city and probably in yours) but, at least when this Basketball team comes to town, you don't have to be reminded of it.

Last week, Gilbert Arenas and another player engaged in an act of pure macho stupidity that reminded me, once again, what this team used to be called. Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other during a Christmas Eve locker room argument over a gambling debt. Last week, the Wizards and Arenas acknowledged that Arenas had stored unloaded firearms in a container in his locker and the NBA said it was "looking into the situation."

It was during that investigation when the NBA was "looking" that a confrontation between Arenas and Crittenton was revealed, according to a Yahoo Sports report. The dispute stemmed from an "unspecified disagreement". Citing an anonymous source, it was reported on Friday's e, however, that the standoff was sparked when Crittenton became angry at Arenas for refusing to make good on a gambling debt. I know how he must've felt. I have friends who make "gentleman's'' wagers all the time and disappear when it's time to pay. I've been pissed too!

That prompted Arenas to draw his sidearm on Crittenton, who then grabbed his gun, league security sources told the newspapers. Asked by the newspapers about the confrontation, Arenas at first denied pulling a gun on Crittenton. First rule of bad P.R.-- Deny, Deny, Deny! Take notes,Tiger... wherever you are! Okay, that wasn't nice but, I digress...

The Washington Wizards (not to be confused with the Washington Bullets, mind you) on Friday afternoon released a statement regarding the alleged confrontation: "The Washington Wizards take this situation and the ongoing investigation very seriously. We are continuing to cooperate fully with the proper authorities and the NBA and will have no further comment at this time."

Arenas responded with a flurry of messages on Twitter, at times making light of the news but also making one tweet that read somewhat like a denial: "I understand this is serious, but if you ever met me, you know I don't do serious things. I'm a goof ball this story today don't sound goofy to me." (Unlike his writing, but oh yeah... it is of course, Twitter.)

Arenas later tweeted that he couldn't talk about the report the way he wanted to. He did not respond to a text message left by The Associated Press. A message left for Crittenton's agent also was not returned. Naturally.

Arenas may not play Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs because of soreness in his left knee, Wizards head coach Flip Saunders told The Washington Post on Friday. Saunders would not comment on the reported dispute between Arenas and Crittenton. Again, naturally!

At practice Friday afternoon, Arenas declined to answer questions about the allegations the New York Post and Yahoo Sports reported. However, he did address the reports of the allegations, telling local TV station WJLA: "I like the story, it's intriguing." (Yeah, maybe he really is indeed a goof ball.)

Then, in response to questions whether anything had taken place between him and Crittenton, Arenas said: "I don't know." "This is unprecedented in the history of sports," Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players' association, told the New York Post. "I've never heard of players pulling guns on each other in a locker room." It certainly didn't happen when the team was named "The Bullets".

Pending the outcome of the investigation, Arenas and Crittenton both could face fines or suspensions from the NBA. Commissioner David Stern has taken a strong stance on guns, saying in 2006: "We think this is an alarming subject, that although you'll read players saying how they feel safer with guns, in fact those guns actually make them less safe. And it's a real issue. "Yeah,
just ask Plaxico Burris.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What I've Learned

1. Everything is not going to happen the way I planned it to happen.

2. No one can protect you from embarrasment, but you can learn how to deal with it in your own special way.

3. I'm not the same man I was twenty years ago... and I shouldn't be.

4. Absolutes are limiting and I hate limits (self-imposed ones especially)!

5. We've got two wars going on simultaneously, we still haven't caught Osama Bin Laden, and the Palestinian situation has gotten worse. I'd like to know how all the Neo Conservatives can honestly say that under them, foreign policy was better and that the U.S. is safer?

6. Is there a difference between sex and love? Well, you aren't always sure as to whether or not you're in love but when you're having sex, you're pretty sure of it!

7. It's not until you stand up and fight for something that you realize just who you really are!

8. Depression is a luxury, I'm glad I can't afford.

9. A lot of people around me were getting high and I never saw any percentage in it. That was money I could use to buy some nice clothes or good food. I'm glad I felt that way... I ended up better than a lot of people that were around me.

10. I don't think I've ever been overpaid. However, I have been underpaid a lot.

11. People who get the most respect are the ones who know how to give respect.

12. If you're going to worry, then don't bother to pray. If you're going to pray, then don't worry!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The New Year's Theory

You know, it's crazy to be superstitious and even more insane to create your own superstitions. I don't know why, but I have long believed that whatever happens to me in the first 48 hours of the new year will be a forbearer on how the rest of the year goes.

One year, I got into a loud knock-down, drag-out argument with someone on New Year's Eve. The rest of that year, I was in one verbal conflict after another with various people and by the end of that year, I had ended a bad relationship with a girlfriend and had ended two toxic relationships with friends.

Then, there was the year that I slipped in some ice and fell down in the street on New Year's Day. There was a wet, five dollar bill stuck to the sole of my shoe and I was unemployed at the time. I got not one, but two jobs within a three month period of time that year and started a bank account for myself. Coincidence? Who can really know?

Another year, I was at a New Year's Eve party at one of my old college roommate's home. This party was rowdy and long and I was depressed because I had broken up with my girlfriend right before Christmas. I drank until I was good and soused and walked from his house to my house that night (his house was about 2-3 miles from my house). There, I fell to the floor and went to sleep in my hat and coat and stayed there until morning. You would think that beginning a new year like that would mean that I was going to either be in rehab or just have a crappy year right? Wrong. I met the woman I eventually wound up marrying four days later and had a great year so, go figure.

This New Year's Eve, my wife and I went to Watch Night Service at our church and came home to our living room ceiling leaking from the rain outside. I vented a little but my wife reminded me to be thankful for the fact that we have the means to take care of it now and several years ago, we might not have been in such a position. Then, I felt better. She has always been good about reminding me of the positives. So with that, what kind of year will I have? A wet one? (Just kidding!) One full of challenges but challenges that can be met and overcome? A reassuring one? I still don't know.

What I do know is I believe in God and so far, no matter what has befallen me, I have somehow survived and looked good doing it. So I say, bring it on. I'll be here...

Friday, January 1, 2010


"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