Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Good Writing

I don't rememeber having a favorite book when I was growing up... although I read alot, there wasn't anything that stood out. In all honesty it wasn't until I was a teenager when I got my hands on three books that I found something that I really liked. The first one was called "Bloods" by Wallace Terry, and the other was 'Pimp: The Story of my Life by Iceberg Slim", and of course "The Autobiography of Malcolm X".

Other than that I read magazines.

I'll never forget my journalism teacher Bill Parks telling us "If your going to write, you gotta read, and read the good stuff..."

That is a statement that has perplexed me for years.

What is the good stuff?

I've tried to read all kinds of different authors, but in the end you know what, I can't get into it, because to me, it's just layers and layers of language that doesn't speak to me. Maybe it's a cultural thing. I remember this guy I used to work with a long time ago named William Lo, I used to go on and on about Malcolm X's books, one day I showed it to him, and after one page he said, "This is garbage, this is awful."

I couldn't understand how he could say such a thing. After all, it was the best thing I had ever read.

He pulled out one of his favorite books - don't ask me what it was, I can't remember, but he read a little bit of it out loud. I couldn't understand what in the hell the writer was saying. It was English, but he went into too many descriptions and poetic like language that it didn't appeal to me.

I use that example because I believe that writing - like music, is an art, what is trash to me may possibly be beautiful to you. I like Fela Ransom Kuti, you might like Justin Timberlake. My God may be your devil. I was clearly over 25 years old before I could appreciate Jimi Hendrix, hell I'm damn near 40 now and don't have the slightest bit of appreciation for Bob Dylan. I hate his voice.

All that to say if you like what you read then it's good writing. If it speaks to you and resonates with you - it's good.

The Real World

This season of HBO's ground breaking series“The Wire” was good but slower than usual. Don’t get me wrong though I’m still a fan of the show, but they took too long building the story up this year.

For instance, the Major Crimes Unit, which is the crew of cops that bug the drug dealers and all that other stuff, was just re-instated, and this is the second to last episode of the season! That’s too long, that’s what…15 episodes to sit through before the shit hits the fan. I love the show, but I can see why people with short attention spans don’t.

But pushing my gripes aside, it is one of the best written shows out there. The things that happen to these kids are truly sad. I’m not sure whose story is sadder, but the one that stands out with me is the kid Namon, whose father Wee Bey was in the first season of ‘The Wire”, as one of Avon Barksdale’s soldiers. Bey was a cold-hearted killer – loyal to the end, but was a stone cold soldier. This season his wife is trying to push their 14 year old son to follow in his fathers footsteps, but there’s one problem: The kid ain’t cut out for the game like that. He doesn’t have that kind of heart, which would be a good thing in a different environment. In a better setting he’d have access to more positive role models so that a kid like that could possibly blossom.

After being busted for drug possession his mother tells him, “Motherfucker you mean to tell me, you ain’t got the heart for Baby Lock up? Nigga, I’ve kept your ass in NIKE since you was a baby. You gonna get out there and push that package…”

That is a shocking thing to see and hear on television. But not in the Baltimore of “The Wire”.

It’s a place where kids who snitch pay the price, drug addicted parents sell their groceries for a hit, drug addicted families steal each others clothes – and sell them, school systems warehouse kids who can’t read and do math, crooked cops steal, lie and harass citizens, city hall is over wrought with corrupt politicians who are more interested in protecting their own interests versus those of their constituents, teachers are forced to teach the path test versus real meaningful lessons and drug dealers employ neighbor kids who feel they have no other options.

That’s the world of “The Wire” the real world.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Do You Remember OJ?

Of all of the most popular cases of the last thirty to forty years the Manson family trial, Rodney King, the Menendez Brothers and Paula Jones vs. President Bill Clinton, there was nothing that could surpass one case: The OJ Simpson murder trial. It was truly the trial of the century.

To a person of 17 or 18 years old today, the significance of the case, but more so the verdict probably has no meaning to them. I can dare say that like that day in November of 1963, very few Americans can forget where they were the day of the OJ Simpson verdict.

I know I won’t.

Word came out that the verdict was going to be announced at 10:00 am. This was a case that some of everyone had an opinion about. I remember being on a bus when I asked a chick “So what do you think of the OJ trial so far?” The next thing I knew everybody on the bus had an opinion, it was the damnest thing I had ever seen.

If you wanted to see two people argue in the mid 90’s all you had to do was invoke the name of OJ Simpson and then kick back and watch the battles begin. I worked at the James River Corp. and every morning these two guys named Charlie and Ted would go toe to toe over the case.

But what was the big deal about OJ?

In his heyday Orenthal James Simpson was one of the most recognizable figures of his era. He was a football star, a movie star, a sportscaster and if you didn’t know him for all of those things then you probably saw him on TV commercials running through airports for Hertz Rent a car.

He was the first black athlete to truly transcend race. He was polished, intelligent, articulate, good looking and knew how to present himself. He was accepted into circles that the average black athlete couldn’t get into.

And he had his pick of white women.

So here it is 1994 Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson Brown were found dead in her walkway.

The media reports said, “OJ Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend have been found murdered.” No one suspected OJ of anything at that point. But as the days went by, media speculation began to grow as to who could’ve committed these murders. And then slowly, very slowly you started to hear OJ’s name mentioned one too many times. And then all fingers started pointing directly his way.

Everybody had a theory as to how and why OJ would kill his wife and her friend. One guy said, "Hey man, I hear he was paying thousands of dollars a month in child support. That alone would be reason enough for me to kill her." Another guy said, "OJ saw Nicole having sex with one of his home boys...hell I'd wanna kill her too!"

And I can't forget the infamous scuba diving suit that OJ was supposed to have worn during the murders. Like someone is gonna miss a big black guy in a scuba diving suit?

Yeah right.

When the announcement was made that OJ Simpson was a fugitive the world went into shock. Because after all, if you run, you must be guilty, right? Hours later TV cameras picked up OJ in the infamous white Bronco in the slow speed chase down the 405 freeway. Every station in America tuned into that slow speed chase! Hell, they interrupted the NBA finals to follow the chase.

As the months went by speculation went back and forth as to whether Simpson was innocent or guilty.

But there was one day in the trial that will always stand out with me. From the very beginning I thought he was guilty, but when he tried that glove on…hmmmm…it doesn’t fit.

The late Johnny Cochran said it best: “If it doesn’t fit – you must acquit!”

That resonated with me, because that was the only physical evidence they really had, the bloody glove and the drops of blood in the Bronco.

So there it was October 3rd 1995 at 10:00. The TV cameras were zeroed in on the courtroom clock. I worked on the third floor at 300 Lakeside Dr. There was a TV in my break area. I had no idea until that day as to how many people in that building knew that there was a TV in my break area. Everyone came running in.

Judge Lance Ito took the stand and had the jurors led into the court. Turns out the jurors had only deliberated for three hours the day before. There was a sense that if the verdict went the wrong way that the shit was going to hit the fan.

OJ was asked to stand and fact the jury before the verdict was read. I bet he could’ve shit in his pants at that moment.

The counts were read: Not guilty on all counts.

There was shock all over the country

Damn near everyone in my break room cheered. Those that didn’t cheer were upset.

The same scene was played out all over the country.

For years the debate would rage: How did OJ get off?

Now OJ is releasing a book called “If I Did it…” in which he doesn’t admit guilt but he says, “Nobody knows this case like I do. I’m going to tell you a story that you’ve never heard before.”

His publisher Judith Regan considers this book a confession.

What on Earth would make this man who has denied any knowledge or involvement in those murders write something like this now? Maybe he’s toying with us. Or maybe he really did do it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Good Man Ain't Too Hard To Find

With all of the talk about disintegrating Black families I figured that I'd drop my two cents in.

Ok, it is apparent that Black men are missing in action, hell, Stevie Wonder can see that. There are some statistics that say 1 in every 4 is in jail and there are others that say something like 1 in every 4 is on the 'dl' or just out right gay. I don't know if I believe those statistics or not. For the sake of this article - I don't.

Statistics aside, let's cut to the chase, these statistics are bought up whenever the subject of single Black women is raised. Black women say they can't find a good brother because way too many of us are either in jail, on the dl, out of work, or with a white woman.

Hmmmmm...there are 24 million African Americans in this country, for arguments sake let's just say there are something like 12 million Black men. Okay, there are somewhere near 2 million people incarcerated in some kind of penal institution; last I heard there were something like 400-600 thousand brothers doing time. Big number but not a nail in the coffin.

So that leaves something over 11 million Black men. Ok, now for the gay thing...If we believe the whole 1 in every 4 thing that means go walk to the corner, pick out 4 brothers and tell them your conducting a test. Tell them to be honest, ask them the following questions: Are you a homosexual? Are you now or have you ever been a homosexual? Have you ever engaged in sexual activity with another man?

Without a doubt there are a whole lot of dudes out there sneaking around with other dudes. I don't know the number but let's just say there are somewhere near a million brothers who are engaging in either bi-sexual or homosexual relations.

That leaves 10 million men may be more, may be less.

Now, brothers with white women...I can't front about that one, a whole lot of my boys are with white girls. I think just about every dude I came up with is married to either a white woman or someone who isn't Black.

I don't know how it happened.

All I can tell you is that my wife is Black. I wanted someone who shared the same culture that I do. Alot of these cats notice the difference on holidays when there is something not exactly right about their cornbread. They ask for sweet potato pie and get - well, it's close. Collard greens? Oh no, them niggas ain't gettin' the collards cooked in fatback or like my wife does with smoked turkey. And Charles Brown and King Pleasure are not playing in the background when they go visit in-laws.

So no number will be given let's just say it's alot.

All of this to say there are about 8 to 9 million available black men - and if you tally in the statistics of Black women in jail (which is high and getting higher, but not as high as brothers) and bi-sexual/lesbian women (my money says the numbers would be about the same) the numbers of available black women and available black men are somewhere near each other. Now what tips the scale is inter-racial dating/marriage.

But still. My bone of contention with the 'I can't find a good Black man' crowd is with all of the available brothers left, you all have your asses on your shoulders. Alot of women have their eyes glued to Essence magazine and have soap opera like fantasies of what romance and relationships should be like. If their honest, a whole lot of sisters are buying into the 'Essence Magazine/Shemar Moore ideal image of Black men, that when a good man does come along they turn him away because 'he isn't what I'm looking for.'

And when you ask them what they are looking for they say things that are so off the wall, you have to wonder what planet their from. "I want somebody that makes a hundred grand a year, and drives this kind of car, and vacations here, and can cook, and will massage my back and is buffed and blah, blah, blah..." And let's just say they do come across a brother like that, well, unless your ass is off the hook and you too are balling out of control like he is - you ain't nuttin' but another ass to tap.

The funny thing is is that there is often another brother who occasionally calls and asks her out, he's a nice guy but she don't want him cause he doesn't fit that soap opera conceived image in her head. She shits on him and puts him off and puts him off, meanwhile in the loneliness of her house she's griping about how she can't find anybody...

Wow. Like Flavor Flav would say: 'Woooooooow!'

Alot of women under 40 will not give a brother in the post office a shot. Nor a bus driver. Or a sanitiation worker. Or anyone else who isn't 'on their level'. And it's a shame because these dudes may know how to make them happy - in and out of bed. But nope they want that twisted fantasy in their minds. Shame. Damn shame.

See what happens is once they get to 40 they start looking around and getting desperate - and its then that they want a regular dude because they don't want to be lonely. They see that they ain't got it goin' on like they did when they were 25.


All that time they spent chasing losers and now they want a good man. I feel you. I guess you wake up and learn when you do right?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Republican and Die

Anyone who believes that voting Republican will make them safer is a fool.

Believe it or not, we are in more danger now than at any time prior to September 11th 2001. With the recent verdict to hang Sadaam Hussein and all, please believe, in the end, it spells trouble for us. Not only that, but killing Sadaam further infuriates the Sunni’s, and it will not help to bring that country closer together.

In fact it will drive them further apart.

Just last week a report came out that said ‘Iraq is on the brink of chaos’. When translated into plain English, it means: We can’t handle this shit anymore.

In all honesty though, and this is from a guy who is against the war, we have to stay there and finish the job. What does that mean finish the job? I dunno. But I know it means we are going to be there a long ass time. I mean real long. Like Korea long. In case you don’t know long that is, let’s put it like this. We fought the Korean War way back in the 50’s and we still have troops over there now; 50 years later!

Before we invaded Iraq Colin Powell warned President Retard, ‘If you break it; you own it.’

President Retard and the
Evil Sith Lord said, “No problem, not a problem, we’ll be done over there in …what…90 days, ya think?’

Look where we are now.

I remember when the
Evil Sith Lord went on Larry King and said, “the Iraqi’s can’t wait for us to get there. They will be dancing in the streets, singing songs and throwing chocolates at the feet of our soldiers.” I guess the words ‘chocolates’ and ‘bombs’ got twisted in translation somehow….ooops!

And oh yeah, he said we’d be looked at as ‘liberators’. Hmmmm…then why are we called ‘infidels’ and ‘invaders’? I guess those words got lost in translation too.

We have to stay there because there are terrorists there now – they weren’t there before, but they are there now. Those guys that are fighting against us over there are getting some of the best kind of training – on the job training. And you can’t beat on the job training. Instruction goes something like this: ‘Hey Bashid, go blow up that tank of Americans with that empty soda can.’

The terrorists are more Westernized than you think. Don’t be surprised if they come up with books that are packaged with special mix tapes and DVD’s like “How to Rid Your Country of Fat, Lazy Americans in Four Years (I Did it and So Can You)’ and ‘Ridding the World of Infidels One American at a Time’. They will be able to write guerilla warfare manuals pretty soon. And what do you think they are going to do with all of that on the job training, huh?

They are going to bring their asses over here that’s what. They don’t fight wars and shit like we do. They have their own timetable and shit; those dudes may hang out here for a few years before they do anything.

Anyone who falls for Karl Rove’s election year distraction plan deserves what they get. What is Rove’s distraction plan you ask? The one that says to harp on issues like gay marriage and family values.

Ok, ok, ok you’ve read my blog, you know I ain’t for gay marriage, but let’s be real here. What do gay marriages have to do with what’s currently going on now? Na da. Not a got damn thing. It is a distraction from the real issues: a fucked up foreign policy, a stagnant economy, a dismal education agenda, their idiotic fumbling of Hurricane Katrina and a war we can’t win.

I’ll tell you what, if gay guys want the same misery as married straight guys, go ahead. It’s your sanity. You’re stupid if you do it, look at all of the straight divorce rates…and you want that kind of misery too? Well, may God help ya.

I’m no presidential historian, but I can safely say that, at least in my lifetime (when I got here Nixon was boss) George Bush, Jr. is the absolute worse president this nation has ever seen. Clinton was the smartest; Bush One (his dad) knew how to corral the troops; Ford – hell he wasn’t around long enough to matter – he was like a caretaker or something while the real president was away; Carter was the most caring; Nixon was the toughest – and the scariest, while Reagan was a really skilled politician.

This guy we have now. Ok let’s see, he is shrewd and strong-willed, however on top of that is retarded. He sees nothing but what he sees and knows nothing beyond what he learned 25 years ago. There is a saying: “God protects fools and babies…” Well, may God help any idiot that votes Republican.