Tuesday, June 30, 2009

To me, the story of Bernie Madoff is analogous to the story of Darth Vader. Vader started off as young Anakin Skywalker who was a good kid with a bad temper and personal demons. Madoff started off a promising businessman, whose decision making and savvy caused others to trust him with large sums of money. At some point, Skywalker's personal demons were too much for him to suppress, and he succumbed to the dark side of the Force(this may be too inside baseball for you, but I don't care) and eventually became Darth Vader. Madoff combined his smarts with the new found trust he had from others, and he methodically (and eventually recklessly) jilted numerous folks from all walks of life out of trust funds, savings, retirement, etc. When he sat in court yesterday, he may as well have been removing his mask.

At one point in Star Wars, Darth Vader's son, Luke, pleads for him to return to his good side, and eventually he does just that, and by doing so he eventually saved Luke's life. Why do I mention this??? I think Madoff still has some good in him, and even if he doesn't, he should made to tap into that good side, instead of just sitting in jail 10-15 years (falling just short of the 150 he was sentenced).

The man is clearly brilliant, even if he used that talent in a diabolical way. Why not tap into this man's head, get him on the economy recovery team, and use his powers for good, not evil. I mean sure it'll look bad on the PR side of things, but to quell that, you can send him back to jail after a hard day's work at the office. And he'd be re-paying his debt to society, by figuring out ways to inject to some human growth hormones into this never ending quagmire of an economy we seem to be stuck with right now. I think that would be a grand idea.

Plus the cold reality is that Madoff is 71, not 51. He's lived a good life at the expense of f**king people over, and I'm sure it was all worth it in his mind. The victims who are out of money, savings, retirement, and more will not get fair justice, they won't get their money back, they won't see Madoff fry in the electric chair, they'll get nothing but the satisfaction of knowing he was stopped, convicted and jailed....at age 71. So why not take a bit of solace in knowing he was being made to be part of a solution? That's just my take. I'd love to spend a week (out of jail, not in it) with Madoff to pick his brain, because I don't think he was sorry about a damn thing. He's sorry he got caught, but in his mind, when he started this Ponzi scheme, he was thinking..when and if I can get caught, I'll be old anyway so who cares. People like that make for fascinating feature writing....ok I'm rambling

Falling - Jamiroquai

Monday, June 29, 2009

Saturday morning, my lady and I went to the neighborhood pool, since it was a warm day. The pool opened at noon, and so she wanted to leave a little early, since it was highly likely that the nice day would bring hoards of people to the pool, and when we arrived she was exactly right. There were about 30 people already in line when we rolled up on the pool, and I immediately wanted to go home, but she talked me out of it. I bitched and moaned for a good 10 minutes, before I shut up, and just sat there resigned to my fate of waiting in line. Then I asked my lady how wrong I would be if I just walked up the front at noon, stepped in front of those people, and walked to the pool. My rationale? The pool hours say it opens at noon, I showed up at noon, not 11:30, so I get in first. She politely shot me down..fast forward to this morning.

This morning, I went to get blood drawn at a facility that opened at 8am. I rolled up on the building around 7:50, and there was already a line of about 30 people waiting outside the LabCorp entrance. I got comfortable in the 31st slot, and then I thought about the earlier conversation I had with my lady on Saturday about getting to the door when it opens as opposed to waiting. In my mind, I had nothing to lose. If it doesn't work, and I get yelled at, I'm a big boy and I can take it and go toe the back of the line.. But if it does work, I'm in and out of there with a quickness, and I can move on to my next doctor's appointment.

So when the LabCorp employees unlocked the door at 8am, I put my headphones on, mildly turned up the volume, and I walked to the front of the line. I heard some, "Hey what are you doings?", "I heard some, "hey, what the f**ks?", and one gentleman forcefully put his hand on my shoulder, but I stopped, looked him in the face, then looked at his hand on my shoulder, and he removed it and apologized (which was dumb, because I would have kept my hand there until I got an explanation). I walked in front of all but one person, and gave the nurse my paperwork, and she told me to come in the back to draw blood. This all happened in a matter of like 15 seconds too. The nurses didn't know I skipped in line, the people line were too shell shocked to really stop me, and I was out of there by 8:06am. As I walked past the line of people, I got called all kinds of names by whites, blacks, Hispanics, women and men. But I followed instructions, got to the door at the right time, and did my duty.

Nothing wrong with that right?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I Wanna Be Where You Are - The Roots featuring Erykah Badu
This entry lands in the could-not-make-it-up-if-I-tried department..

So I have just finished my 40 minute run, and I am walking towards my apartment when I notice a man petting a dog whose leash is tried around a parking meter. Nothing odd about that right? Let's delve deeper.

As I get closer I notice that the dog is wearing some type of shirt, and on both sides of the shirt, there are three messages in bold print. The first message said "Guide Dog", the second one said, "Do Not Pet", and the last one said, "Do Not Feed". And then I looked slightly to my left, and I saw this gentleman who clearly wasn't the owner. He was petting the dog, he was feeding the dog McDonalds hash browns, and he was saying, "Hey what's your name?" The dog, not having much of a mind of his own, was licking the food with reckless abandon and wagging his tail, because for this moment he had broken free from the clutches of his blind owner. Oh but that's not all my friends.

As I got closer to this man petting the guide dog, I noticed something hanging from his shorts, and I took one more look, then I said out loud, "Whoa Whoa!". The man was clearly going commando, and his beans(the frank stayed in) were hanging out of his shorts. I just shook my head and walked away, and then something else hit me. Why is a blind man in a store without his dog, and how the hell did he tie such a good knot around a parking meter. That is a quite a feat in and of itself. The whole scene reminded of me of those pictures in Highlights magazine when I was young. They'd show you a picture, and then ask you to find and circle all the things that were awry. If I had my camera with me, I'd have slapped that blind dog picture up on this blog, and given my readers a Sunday morning challenge. Not so much though.

Blood on the Dancefloor(remix) - Michael Jackson

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This MJ song was supposed to be on Thriller, but Quincy Jones cut it at the last minute. It was written by Michael Sembello, who also wrote "Maniac" from the Flashdance soundtrack. Wait what's that? You say you're sick of Michael Jackson songs and tributes? Kiss my black ass, he was favorite entertainer, and he was number two on my mancrush list, so cut me some slack.

Carousel - Michael Jackson
the video is corny, the song is not

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stevie Wonder singing "I Can't Help It", the song he wrote and produced for Michael Jackson
I was angry yesterday around 2:30. I had been sitting in the doctor's office for about 45 minutes and I had not been seen. I was only there to get the results of blood work, and I didn't understand why I had to sit for so long. I read my Bill Simmons article, I talked to my mother, and I was STILL sitting there waiting. Finally my doctor came in and told me that for some reason my liver enzymes were elevated, and I'd have to undergo more tests to figure out the cause. I was instantly paranoid, and I couldn't wait to get home to google the causes for such a thing.

Since I had to be at the Verizon Center by 6pm to cover the NBA draft, I didn't have much time to stop home, but I did anyway. I told my lady of new liver issues, we talked a bit, and when I sat down to google "liver enzymes", I peeked at my Twitter page, and I noticed that there were several mentions of Michael Jackson's cardiac arrest, but nothing was confirmed. Right before I left, CNN reported that he was in the hospital, but I didn't focus on it, because I had an NBA draft to cover.

On my way to the Verizon Center, I got numerous texts that told me MJ died, and I was in denial. I turned off my phone, and proceeded to immerse myself in draft related issues. I got interviews, audio, I hobnobbed with the media, and for a good 2-3 hours, I didn't think about MJ. It came up in passing, but there was a job to be done, and I did it.

From the moment I left work, until this very moment, I was just immersed in MJ. Tributes, videos, pictures of his stretcher, Jermaine's greasy ass on tv, just all MJ all the time, I was just sad. Not sad in the crying way, just sad that the source of my 30+ year man crush was taken so damn abruptly. Someone that big, shouldn't go that way, although I'm smart to know I don't dictate those terms.

You know what's really strange? As my brother mentioned to me about 10 minutes ago, two days ago I had just talked about how the Temptations passing away affected my father, and I wondered when and if I would have to deal with a death to a musical hero of mine. And here it is, and I don't know how to handle it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm sad. But I smile when I see this MJ:
My latest article on the Shaq trade.
The Roots - How I Got Over
So yesterday I am in the middle of a conversation with someone, when something came up that made me want to use some colorful language. I paused a bit, then I used f**k and s**t in the same sentence. I didn't stop to think how this person would receive it, or whether they would get offended, I just belted it out. Two seconds later, this person said to me, "Rashad you seem like an intelligent gentleman, with an extensive vocabulary, I don't know why you have to use language like that. That's the sign of a person with a limited use of the language?"

Oh really?

The first thing I wanted to say was "Oh yeah, well f**k you!!", but I decided to dig a little deeper. I said to her that I don't just seem intelligent, I am, and the tell tale sign that I am indeed intelligent is my ability to vacillate between thoughtful words and expletives. And then I ended with a "so f**k you", which didn't go over too well.

How dare she? There are times when you can utter the most eloquent, expletive free sentence in the world, and it can sound both beautiful and melodic. In the same token (as former Georgetown coach John Thompson always says) there are other instances when a curse word is vital to a sentence. It could be the placement of the word, the inflection with which the word is voiced, or the perfect combination of curse and regular words that make the sentence venomous, funny or both. I find it neither dumb nor lazy to use curse words, just a matter of personal preference. And as a friend of mine said, if she just politely asked me not to curse in front of her, I would have said no problem, and kept it moving.

By the way Cleveland fans, you can have LeBron, and you can add Shaquille O'Neal if you want to, you still aren't winning a title, and you still aren't beating the Wizards.

Also yesterday I recommend you go buy Kurt Elling's new cd. Today, I am offering a free download of a Wynton Marsalis cd. The music is from a Judith Jamison choreographed ballet named Here and Now, which was inspired by the late Flo Jo (who was on performance enhancing drugs, but that's another blog entry). Anyway, enjoy it, its excellent.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yesterday during the endless coverage of Ed McMahon's death, I heard an old quote from Frank Sinatra that struck me as poignant. Sinatra uttered the quote when he was still alive and so many other friends of his were passing away. The quote goes, "All my friends are leaving me."

Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post and ESPN voiced a similar sentiment on PTI yesterday, when he said that he grew up on Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson, and it was not only odd for their show to have been off the air for 17 years, but it was sad to see that two men who he had grown up with were now dead.

On a more personal note, I've heard my father talk about the original Temptations countless times, and how sad it is for him to know that four out of the five members are dead. Paul Williams committed suicide at age 34, David Ruffin died of drug overdose at age 50. Eddie Kendricks died of lung cancer at 52, and Melvin Franklin died of a brain seizure at 52. Otis Williams is the only living member at 68, and considering my father grew up with, lived and breathed the Temptations, he still gets emotional talking about them. He has all of their works on both cd and vinyl, he knows the words, he knows the dance steps, he knows the background vocals, the instruments..every damn thing, and as he says to me often, "Its hard to believe they are all gone Rashad..it just means I'm getting old too"

I guess as I get older this will happen to me too, and its sad when you think about it, but its the cycle of life. This is two depressing entries in a row..I promise I'm not depressed though..just reflecting that's all.

By the way, I recommend you go out and buy this new cd by Kurt Elling entitled, "Dedicated To You" Elling, and the fine band backing him, toured all over the country performing this cd, which was originally recorded by John Hartman and John Coltrane in 1963. I had the pleasure of going to see Elling perform this at the Kennedy Center, and it was excellent. Its nice relaxing music, and if you buy it you won't regret it. Here is what we call in the business, a tease:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When you see and read about accidents like the one here in DC last night during rush hour, a series of what-if questions and scenarios start to swim around in your mind. At least they did in mine. You think about how you were just on that exact train at that exact time two weeks ago, when you went to visit your old job. You think about how before the fire, you were on that exact route on your way home from work each and everyday. You think about how before you switched barbers, you were on that train every two weeks to get a haircut, and you'd complain about the leisurely pace of the barber. So all these hypothetical thoughts are in your head, and you feel blessed, lucky and appreciative, especially as you get phone calls, texts and emails from friends and family asking if you're ok, and you can actually respond with an emphatic yes.

But then you once you get over that, you sit and watch hours and hours of train wreck coverage, and all those blessed feelings turn to just amazement and horror. You see people just like you who were just trying to get home to loved ones, or home to watch sportscenter, or to the gym, or home to have sex with their spouse, and instead they were met with a tragic accident. It made me think of 9/11 in a way, because it seemed like every channel had coverage live from the scene, and it was driving me crazy. Eventually I turned to sports, and then re-watched Syriana with my lady to get away, but that's only temporary. There will be coverage all week. And on Thursday, I have to take the train in that direction to get to my doctor's office. I'm already thinking of alternative method.

I have a nice bow of an ending to put on this entry. This was just a post morning workout stream of consciousness...

Actually I can end on semi-happy note. The song you see below is one I used to wear out in college, as my main man Sabin can tell you. I don't know if Sabin ever learned the words or not by the way..Anyway, I couldn't find the song on itunes or anyhere else legal, but thanks to the wonderful phenomenon called youtube, the song lives. The singing by MC Brains is god awful, but Boyz II Men's background vocals in the beginning, eventually give way to them singing lead and ending the song..

Monday, June 22, 2009

My dreams of interviewing Kareem have been deferred for now. I made it all the way up to speaking with his publicist, who dismissed me as simply a blogger initially, then told me that Kareem is not doing any new interviews until the NBA starts up again in November. Initially I was pissed, and now I have some perspective about it all. When the fall arrives, and the season starts, I will be that much more prepared for an interview whether it be via phone or in person (I prefer the latter). In no way am I giving up on this..

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I've talked about my father numerous times on this blog, so no need to rehash yet another story. I love my dad, and I'll be spending part of this day with him. So what I thought I'd do is show a video of my favorite sports related Father's Day moment. A 21 year old Tiger Woods wins Masters, then makes a beeline to hug his dad

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The beauty of facebook and to a much lesser extent myspace and twitter, is that it allows you to reconnect with people who you have not seen or spoken to in 5, 10 or even 20 years. The annoying part about those sites is that you have to engage in substantive conversations with people you haven't spoke to or seen in 5, 10 or even 20 years. Its not that I'm a pompous ass who thinks anyone who has not spoken to me recently is beneath me, its just an arduous task to navigate through. Allow me to explain..

When you haven't seen someone in 5 years, it is much easier to break through the wall of small talk, and get to the meat of things. You aren't bogged down with the "What's been ups?" or the "What's goods?" or any of that. The questions are specific and to the point like, "Are you still dating so and so?" or "Do you still work at 7-11?". These are the types of questions that can easily segue into other conversations, and before you know it, three or four emails have been traded and you're all caught up and squared away. Once that common bond is met and the good feelings are reciprocated, you can go back to ignoring one another for 5 years.

When you haven't talked to someone since college, the challenge is much much greater. First off, in my case, its been 13 years since I received my degree, so there is large chasm between who I am now, and who I was when I walked off that graduation stage. So any attempt to fill that in is destined to fall short. But then on top of that, you have to play the "Do you still talk to __________ ?" game. Since this person already has limited knowledge of who you are and what you're about, they find solace in linking you with folks you hung out with when you were 22. Sometimes it segues into something else, but most times it stalls, and both parties are annoyed, and any attempt to get to know another fades into Bolivian . Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying its impossible to have a "normal" conversation, there are just a lot traps along the way.

The MOST difficult conversations to have, are with people you haven't spoken to since high school, jr high or middle school. Half the time I'm amazed these people even remember me, given how quiet and awkward I was in my youth. But once you get over the initial shock and excitement that someone you've "known" for so long is now back in your life, the conversation is just bad. "What's been up?" is too broad. "Have you talked to ______?" is too unreasonable. "How are parents and brother?" seems like a safe place to start, but given the amount of time that has elapsed since you've talked to this person, parents could be divorced and deceased and relationships with siblings could be strained. Its just a mine field man, and for someone like me who thinks, over thinks and over thinks again, it drives me crazy.

But I keep doing it. Why? When you finally wade through the b.s. and you settle into a comfort zone with that person, you realize that you can strike some common ground, you can learn, and whether you like it or not, this person is a small chapter in the larger book of life you continue to write. And yes that last line was corny.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I ran into "The Talker" this morning while I was in the pool. Just in case you are not familiar with "The Talker", allow me to give you a little background. The Talker is that man or woman, who talks out loud to no one in particular, hoping you will engage them for just a second, so they can return the favor for many more seconds. When you are as anti-social as I have become, you really can't afford not to diagnose these ass clowns quickly and efficiently, otherwise you will find yourself getting flummoxed and flustered.

Initially, while I was in the pool, I didn't know this guy was a talker. I just noticed that he had on a swimsuit reminiscent of the ones worn by the Olympic swimmers in the 2008 Olympics. It was tight, form fitting and designed for fast swimming, which is fine if you are actually comfortable with the suit. From the moment this guy walked in, he was clearly fighting with himself. In fact, he resembled Bill Bixby changing into the Incredible Hulk, and I did my best not to laugh..I just kept swimming.

But when he got in the pool next to me, the FIRST thing I heard him say was, "Goddamn this suit is so heavy, sh*t!" As much as I admired him starting and ending his sentence with profanity, I ignored him, because instantly I knew he was a talker. I quickly started swimming to other side of the pool and back, and we ended up on opposite ends. But still, I heard him say, "Man this is heavy..I had no clue". Mind you, there was one other swimmer and the lifeguard in the room, but they all knew he was a talker and they ignored him. Luckily for me, I only swam about 10 more minutes before my time was up, but while I was leaving the pool area, he could be seen trying to take the whole suit off, which was hilarious. At this point, he looked like Spiderman in black trying to break free. As I walked by I said, "Having a tough time huh?", and his face lit up ,and he was like, "Dude, this suit is a beast....." I heard him say other things, but I was out the door already..

I don't think I fully captured how funny that scene really was..sorry about that..

By the way, I am without a phone for now. I had organic, chicken soup in my some Tupperware in my bag yesterday, and it spilled everywhere, including into each and every crevice of my phone. I can turn my phone on, but the buttons don't work at all, which renders it useless. And, me being the genius that I am, I forgot to get insurance on the phone, which means if I want another G1, I will have to pay damn near $400. I took it to the cell phone repair shop briefly yesterday, and they said it would cost $250 to fix it, but they couldn't guarantee it would work like it did before, which is a waste of money. I spent the entire day feeling helpless and stupid. You never realize how dependent you are on your phone until its on injured reserve...

I'm rambling..but before I go, allow to link my favorite version of the Roots song, "You Got Me". It was live at the 930 Club here in DC back in 2002, and I just happened to be in attendance. It was an incredible, electric scene...The best part? The 5:36 mark when the beat switches

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The time is currently 6:15 am and I am sitting here at my laptop with my mesh running shorts on my ass, yellow running shirt on my back, and gray running shoes on my feet. I am all prepared for my 40 minute run, but unfortunately it is raining, thundering and lightning..again. This tropical, Miami-like weather is preventing me working out and continuing my quest to get svelte (I weighed in at 192 this morning, down from 216 in February). I don't know about anyone else, but when I get a great deal of momentum going on the workout front, and I've done it about 5-6 days in a row, when that 6th or 7th day comes, and I do nothing, a substantial wave of guilt encompasses me. Even though its completely ridiculous, I feel like the weight is going to come back overnight and I somehow am losing ground (but not weight) in my svelte race. Even as I am typing this, I have looked back out of the window at least 67 times to see if the rain, thunder and lightning and subsided enough for me to go out there run anyway (they have not). Does anyone else have these types of thoughts, or am I alone on the island of crazy once again?

Also, for those of you who are actually taking the time to buy father's day gifts, what are you putting them in? Are you wrapping them? Putting them in a gift bag? or is your gift coming in the form of only a card or a meal? Do you see my shameless attempt make this a call and response type of blog, 3 years after I initially started this blog as a bitter, supercilious man? Blame it on the lack of a workout.

By the way, supercilious is one of those words I had forgotten about until last night Seinfeld's episode, when Frank Costanza used it while describing Elaine. I was determined to fit it in (that's what he said).

(You Caught Me) Smilin' - Sly and the Family Stone

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Last summer I wrote several entries about a woman I shared an office with who annoyed me to no end. Her bodily functions were constantly invading my ears and nose, she hummed gospel songs all the time, she frequently took naps in the middle of the day, and she loudly stayed on the phone with her family members throughout the day. I'm a peaceful man at work, and I could not understand why my office mate didn't follow those same rules. Eventually one of my other co-workers left, and I was able to score my own office away from her, where I could be peaceful and quiet without any non work related distractions. And I was happy.

Yesterday morning, I found out that same co-worker died after at least a two year battle with cancer. I had no clue she was battling cancer when I initially started complaining about her, and once I found out I did my best to curtail my own selfishness, sometimes to no avail. Back in February she collapsed at home, and she had been in and out of the hospital since then. Her absence at work caused everyone else to take less time off, and work different hours, but we did it, because we figured she would be coming back. About a month ago, we received word that her health was improving, she was out of the hospital and getting around much better. Then yesterday she was gone, just like that.

My last memory of her was in February. Everyone was gone, and I was on my way out of the door, and she was working at her desk. I peeked my head in her office, and said, "Goodnight Cathy", and she said, "You're leaving me here all alone huh?", and I chuckled and kept walking, not wanting to make any small talk as I was trying to leave. I think that conversation, along with montages of all our interactions, played non-stop in my head yesterday, and even this morning while I swam. It just feels weird walking around an office knowing that someone who used to be there is now dead, and is no longer coming back...But that's life I guess..no pun intended.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My latest article with Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg.
I would like to dedicate this blog entry to those people who have piling on Michael Vick (and justifiably so I might add). But first, let me get this disclaimer out of the way. Vick was dead wrong for what he did, and in my biased opinion, he deserved every bit of punishment he got for throwing tens of thousands of dollars into killing and gambling with drugs. It speaks to a certain void in the intelligence department, that not even the good Lord that he's now calling upon can provide at this point. I mean we all have our moments but damn...

However to all of the people in and out of the sports community who are acting like this man is Charles Manson, I'd like to present to you the case of Dante Stallworth

Dante was coming back from a night out one night in March, when he struck and killed a pedestrian. His blood alcohol level that night was .126, when the legal limit in Florida is .08. He plead guilty yesterday, and the way I read the story is that he'll do SOME jail time, but nowhere close to the 15 years he could have done for this crime. I know this story is nestled in between the Lakers winning the title and other sports talk, but this is a big deal. This man got in a car legally drunk and struck and killed someone. But there's no outrage, there are no talk radio shows condemning him, and TMZ certainly is stalking him outside his house. Instead he'll quietly serve his time and slip back into the NFL.

I'm well aware he's nowhere near the star that Vick is, and I am (now) aware that dogs are way more valuable then people. But I just find this story way more disturbing. And I haven't even gotten to the story of Leonard Little, who is another football player. Big Leonard left a birthday party drunk in 1998, and struck and killed a pedestrian. He did 90 days in jail and community service, and then resumed his football career. Just six short years later, Little was arrested for driving drunk and speeding. He was magically acquitted of the drunk driving charge, and only charged a misdemeanor for speeding...and he was right back in the NFL shortly thereafter with little or no resistance.

But Vick is the only devil in sports right?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The combination of the fatigue, work hitting me from all angles, and me attempting to write yet another article for Hoops Addict had me not really wanting to write an entry about the conference I attended. Now I'm sitting here waiting for dinner to be ready, so I speak on the Blogs with Balls conference a bit.

When I arrived at the conference after a train ride I barely made, I walked into Stout NYC, and I noticed a bunch of writers with the same hungry look in their eyes that I have. Some had name tags, some were recording their every move with video cameras, and others were handing out business cards left and right. I handed out some cards, talked to people who looked inviting, talked with a few people I knew from DC.

Once the conference got started I learned how to use Twitter as a source of information, how to market a sports blog, how to advertise, what the regular media thinks about bloggers, and most importantly strategies on how to possibly get paid. I could name some of the panelists, but I am quite sure that no one who reads my blog would know them. Maybe Jeff Pearlman from Sports Illustrated or Dan Steinberg from the Washington Post but aside from them I doubt it. The larger point is this conference did a lot for validating my work on Hoops Addict. The articles, covering the Wizards, and busting my ass during basketball season and beyond is one thing. But talking and fraternizing with folks who like sports and writing as much as you do, is very refreshing and it has energized me.

I have some things that disappointed me about the conference, but I'll keep those to myself for now..One of the big highlights was the copious amounts of Guinness and finger foods the restaurant kept giving out. Great times!
I'm tired. It was a long weekend, and I have plenty of say, but not the energy with which to say it right now. Maybe later. I don't know why I even bothered writing this..

Friday, June 12, 2009

I don't feel like writing today, so let me explain where I'll be tomorrow because its pretty effing exciting to me. GQ and Guinness Stout are hosting a day long conference in the heart of New York City called Blogs with Balls. I will be attending this conference on behalf of Hoops Addict so that I can network with other sports bloggers and discuss ideas, strategies, and schmooze with other members of the media. The conference will be the MOST relaxed one I have ever attended, because it will be in this bar. I am extremely excited to not only learn whatever I need to learn for Hoops Addict, but I'm also looking to learn somethings for myself too. I'll have a full report on Sunday.

Illuminations - Alice Coltrane and Carlos Santana

Thursday, June 11, 2009

So last night I found that MTV's latest installment of the Real World will take place in Washington DC. Then shortly thereafter I learned that not only will it be in DC, but these wonderful God-fearing adults will be housed less than two blocks away from my house. I can literally see their house from mine. Now according to my new favorite website there are definitely some challenges and obstacles that have to be overcome before this is a true reality, but the prospect of them coming here is exciting to me.

Why is it exciting you may ask? It gives me the opportunity to do a few things. One, I could accidentally get on TV, which has always been a dream of mine. I have no desire to be a sportscaster, or a weatherman, or to do anything that will require me to be in front of the camera for any sustained period of time. That's just not my deal. But if I can be filmed walking across the street, or walking into my apartment or hanging in a bar where Real World punks are located, I'd be just as happy. I'd DVR my appearance, link it on my blog, and be as giddy as a schoolgirl. The second thing the presence of the Real World would allow me to do, is "accidentally" get into a fight with one of the male house members. Granted, I haven't watched the Real World consistently since 2001, but still, I can almost guarantee that there are two kids who will need to be beat up. They will be at one of my favorite bars, they will get loud or say something borderline racist, I will make sure to insert myself in the situation (that's what he said), I'll let them swing first, look to make sure the camera is watching, then beat his monkey ass, on the self defense tip.

This sounds very juvenile I know, but you should know by reading this blog, that my maturity level fluctuates like the stock market. We're at a low point right now.

And now, the Mighty Mos Def and the Legendary Roots Crew on Jimmy Fallon two nights ago...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Maxwell: Bad Habits
This post is all about God...

Why don't white actors, actresses and entertainers thank God after a performance or after they win an award? This always troubled me more than a little bit. They thank their wives, their husbands, their parents, their agents, their fans, but God gets snubbed. No one taps their chest twice, points to the sky, and thanks the big man upstairs. I've seen white athletes like Kurt Warner and Tim Tebow do it, but this seems to elude entertainers. Do they prefer to keep their faith private? Do they view God as a silent partner who only deserves back room praise? Or perhaps are they on that Bill Maher, and they don't believe in God at all? I don't know..

The other thing that bothers me is that athletes do not thank or praise God when they lose. Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic is a deeply religious man ,and he's very vocal about his faith and his relationship with the Lord. When he was a high school player coming into the NBA, he joked that he wanted to change the NBA logo to a cross. When he is interviewed after victories, Howard will temporarily ignore the question, praise God, then get back to answering what he was asked. Nothing wrong with that.

But when he loses, God, like Waldo and Carmen Sandiego is nowhere to be found..at least publicly. There's no thanks for helping get through this loss, there's no I guess God wasn't on my side tonight..nothing. When I mess up, I still thank God for guiding me through and giving me another learning experience, I want my athletes to do the same. After all they are role models.

Maysa - Simpatico

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

There are many different types of fear that can take a hold of you. Early in your life there is a fear of your parents, or a fear of a Michael Jackson poster, or the fear that you'll get embarrassed in school. As you get older there is a fear of failure, or the fear that comes with being a parent, and the fear maybe, just maybe, you aren't quite as smart as you thought you were. Or last night, while I watched this special on Minnie Riperton, I had this fear that I would die before I got a chance to accomplish everything on my "list"..which brings me to this morning's fear.

This morning as I prepared to go out for my 30-35 minute jog, both my lady and I thought we heard thunder, but when I looked outside it didn't look like rain. And in the summer months, you frequently hear thunder, but that's all it amounts to. Normally, I would turn on the Weather Channel to get an up-to-the-minute update, but it was 5:45am, and I was barely awake enough to run, let alone analyze a weather report. I threw on my shorts, my shoes and a shirt and I went outside to assess the the situation. On one side of the sky, the sun was out and I saw blue skies. On the other side of the sky, I saw dark clouds and I heard thunder in the distance. My meteorological instincts kicked in at the point, and I thought I had some time before any substantial downpour came. After all, usually when you have a split sky situation (rain on one side, sun on the other) you'll either have a brief downpour or nothing at all. I was wrong.

Just 8 minutes (or one IPOD song) into my run, not only did the rain come in buckets, but the lightning picked up, the thunder was louder, and I was terrified. I was only 8 minutes away from my house, but it felt like 8 miles. The lightning seemed like it was right in front of my face, the rain was causing flooding all around me, and the thunder was setting off car alarms left and right. At first I kept running towards home, but when some lightning got a little too close for comfort, I ran to shelter outside of a building. I wait about 5 minutes, and the rain didn't even come close to subsiding, and lightning and thunder was still come in full force. I didn't see ANYONE else running or walking on the sidewalk, just cars and trucks zooming by with their windshield wipers frantically going back and forth. After about 5-10 more minutes, I just said f**k it, and I ran full speed back to the apt. A couple times it felt like I was just missing getting his by lightning, but there was no way in hell I was going to stop running. I finally got to my apt, took my key out, stepped in the building, immediately thanked God, and got out of the wet clothes.

This may sound trivial or funny to you, and in due time I'm sure I'll laugh at my dumb ass decision, but that 15 minute experience had me scared as hell. I think I'll just go swimming the rest of the week.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Here I am back in April during my brief flag football career. I had yet to receive a jersey, but I'm on the burgundy team. I'm in pursuit of the ball carrier, it looks like I am going to make the "tackle" and then...

I got a little closer...

And then I whiffed
So I'm walking into work this morning, on a fairly busy sidewalk, when I noticed this gentleman in front of me smoking. Normally when someone is smoking on the sidewalk, I turn on the jets, and maneuver myself right by them. I find cigarette smoke pretty disgusting for the most part, but for some reason its even more disgusting at 8 in the morning. Cigars are fine in the afternoon or evening, but they make me nauseous (why isn't this word spelled "nautious") in the morning as well. I can take the smell of pipes any time, any place...

Anyway, as I am getting ready to move around the smoking gentleman, I get a better whiff of what it is he is smoking, and I realize that is not simply a cigarette. I take a deep second whiff, and I realize that what we have here is a Dr. Dre situation. Instead of zooming past this gentleman, I slowed down my walk, adjusted the headphones to my ipod, and proceeded to enjoy the moment for however long it lasted..which turned about to be about 7 minutes before we went in different directions. I was pretty effing amazed that this guy did not care that the sidewalk was crowded, cops on bike and and on foot were around, and someone easily could have snatched him up and arrested him. He was not homeless, disheveled or anything. He was dressed in business casual attire, he too had on an ipod, and oh by the way, he was getting lifted.

I noticed a couple people would walk by him, do a double take, and then have this look on their face that said, "Was he...did I just smell..hell I smelled..." It was a priceless moment, and I am so glad I could be a part of it. I don't condone his behavior or that act in general, but damn if it add a little moxie to an otherwise mundane Monday morning.

Oh and a brief update..I'm one step closer to interviewing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I can't say much on it right now, but stay tuned.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A little over a month ago, I called up the Washington Post and cut off my Sunday paper delivery. They were much to inconsistent with getting me my paper, and I thought I'd be better served with just waking up and going to purchase it my damn self, and I told the customer service representative exactly that. That whole next week they still kept trying to call me, and get me to change my mind, and I explained to them that my decision was final and I ended it with a GFY. But then a funny thing happened..

Like a woman who has been dumped, but is determined to get her man back, the Washington Post has kept delivering the Sunday paper. Its like that episode of Seinfeld when George got fired, but still kept showing up for work. For 5 consecutive Sundays, both my paper and those ever elusive inserts have arrived on time and in my lobby. Every Sunday I go to make that trip to the drug store to purchase the paper, and while I'm en route, I see the paper. I don't know whether I am supposed to call and say thank you, or call them back to get them to stop, or just ride it out..I think I'll ride it..that's what she said.

And now I'll go back to watch Roger Federer make history...

Friday, June 05, 2009

I hate to always view national and world events through sports analogies, but man sometimes it works so well. Take Obama's speech to the Muslim world yesterday. There is plenty of debate on how sincere he was, what his follow up will be, whether he should have been spent even one minute genuflecting the way he did, and whether it was manipulative in nature. And all of these are valid points that the right and the left will argue about for weeks to come. But what cannot be argued is that he set a tone, and sometimes as a leader that's all you have to do. Its akin to what Kevin Garnett would do sometimes.

When he was healthy last year, Garnett would have a menacing look on his face, he would punch his own teammates to pump them up, and he would try to agitate the opposing team by yelling in their ear. Other times when a play was over, and the opposing team would try to shoot a basket anyway, Garnett would jump and take that ball out of the air, so that the opposing team couldn't even get a free practice shot. This behavior would not guarantee a victory and it damn sure wasn't popular with other player and coaches around the NBA. But it set a tone, and it worked last year, because they won the title. We'll see how Obama fares.

Speaking of scowls and all that, during the Lakers blowout victory last night, the commentators kept commenting on Kobe Bryant's "mean" facial expressions and how determined he looked. I have an appreciation for Kobe's drive, his will, his game and all that, but come on man..Unlike Garnett who was able to inspire his teammates and somewhat get in the head of the opposing team by just a look, Kobe cannot do that. He intimidates through his game. That's it. AND, if I was playing against someone, it would bother me more if they kept smiling all the damn time. I'd be more likely to just pull them to the side, and slug them in the stomach. A scowl? I'd laugh and laugh and do my Bobby Knight game face impression (go to the 2:45 minute mark of the video). As an aside, for boxing fans, there was this guy named Dwight Muhammad Qawi who ALWAYS seemed to be smiling whether he was winning or losing the fight. I'm sure that drove his opponents crazy..I digress

If you haven't read my article please do. One of my writing heroes, Tony Kornheiser, said something that I vehemently disagreed with, and I wrote a rebuttal. I have no idea whether he'll ever see my article, but going against someone you look up to is NOT easy at all. So keep that in mind as you read...

All for Love - Bilal

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

This morning, me, my loofah and my Dr. Bronner's Almond soap were in the shower doing whatever it is that we do and listening to a mixtape I made. About 5 minutes in, 2pac's song, Ambitionz of a Ridah came on, and it instantly enhanced my shower experience (gotta be a better to say that). I had pep in my step, I was reciting the lyrics like I had written them, and even though the cleaning process was clearly over, I extended my shower until the entire song was completed. The song evoked that much emotion..in fact, the great Iron Mike Tyson used to come out of the locker room to that song during his fights in the mid 90s. So that got me to thinking, what are some good entrance songs?

A good entrance song to me has to be mildly profane without being gratuitous. It needs a bit of an edge to it, and it helps if you know the words, so you can mouth the lyrics upon your entrance. So without further ado, I will list my top 8 entrance songs in no specific order.

1)What We Do - Jay/Free/Beans

The sample is infections, the beat is hard hitting, and all 3 rappers bring their "A" game..plus its non stop rapping from start to finish. No pauses

2)Welcome to the Terrordome - Public Enemy

Chuck is rapping, the Bomb Squad was on top of their game, and this song literally makes you want you to hit someone in the face

3)Time 4 Sum Aksion - Redman
From the moment B-Real nasal voice sample comes in, to the time Redman stops rapping this song is just pure energy. This song provokes a quiet intensity...you nod your head, clap your hands, and tell yourself you're ready to get some bbq and get busy.

4)Lose Yourself - Eminem
I heard some describe this song as the best way to sum up a rappers feelings prior to a battle, and while I can't vouch for that firsthand, it sounds good enough to me. This is a song where the beat is alright, but the lyrics reel you in more. This came on while I was running last weekend, and instantly I felt like Usain Bolt

5)Get at me Dog - DMX
This is another song, where I am totally convinced that in the wrong hands (or ears) one good listen could inspire something violent. Luckily I am not crazy, despite what my url says...This song is all about setting an aggressive tone

6)Hit 'Em Up - 2pac
Ok this isn't really a good entrance song, but this is the song I play when I'm mad at someone, and I don't want to strangle the sh*t out of them. Listening to this song helps me calm down if that makes sense. If you've ever heard the song, you know that the first nine words pretty much set the tone..

7)75 Bars - The Roots
I think this is the newest song on the list. There's Questlove on drums, Tuba Gooding on Tuba and Black Thought rapping. There's no chorus, no singing, just intense rapping. If this was played prior to my entering the room, I think everyone would be scared of what was next.

8) Higher - Q-tip
This is the most festive of the song on my list. This song says I'm money, I'm ready to party, and I hope you are too

That's all I got. I'm sure there are more, but I'm drawing a blank..

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I'm not the nicest guy ever made, but I consider myself to be pretty damn friendly. I listen to my friends when I can, I call or text them on their birthdays, I hold the door for strangers, and I try to speak to my neighbors on a regular basis. Hell, I've even gotten a fresh new bottle of wine for one of my neighbors, and I'm not even upset that she hasn't invited us over to drink, despite promising to do so last year. But this morning, my patience and friendliness were tested in such a way, that I may revert to my crotchety, curmudgeon ways.

I switched things up this morning, and I went running instead of swimming. I don't know where YOU live, but where I live it is pretty damn humid, even at 6am when I left the house. I did almost a 35 minute run, and about 5 minutes in, I was sweating like this man in the 4th quarter. Still, I put my head down and powered through the run. After I finished, I was completely drenched, tired, and ready to come up to my apartment, and get hydrated, but before I went in my building I took the time to bring in the newspapers.

Now I am very sensitive about bringing in the newspapers that are thrown in front of my building. Someone was mysteriously stealing my Sunday Washington Post at one point, and eventually I had to cancel my subscription, because I was only seeing it every other Sunday. Other times I would have the paper and not the insert or vice versa. So for that reason, when I see a newspaper that needs to be brought in, I pick it up and put it on the table in my lobby. Pretty nice right?

This morning, as I am bringing in the 4 newspapers and stepping through the door, I see one of my neighbors walking towards me in the lobby. This is one of the neighbors who I do NOT speak to, but we've made eye contact in my building for a little over a year now. I know he knows who the hell I am. But when he saw that one of the four newspapers I am carrying towards the lobby table was his, he says excuse me that's mine, snatches the paper out of my hand, which causes the other 3 papers to fall, and he walks out in one swift movement. No excuse me, no good morning, no offer to pick up the papers the papers(Goodfellas reference) Now at this point, I'm so tired, all I can muster is a "What the f**k?" as he walks out of the door, so I'm mad at myself for that. Then the internal questions started..Does he not just not like me? Is he cranky? Is he crazy? Is he a just a great big fat person?

Right or wrong, tomorrow when I come in from swimming, his paper WILL come up missing. This is war.

Another Day - 4hero featuring Jill Scott

Monday, June 01, 2009

If you could, please take some time out of your busy Monday morning, and read this interview I conducted with Washington Times writer, Mike Jones.. Since things are slow on the basketball front in D.C., I decided to do a series of interviews with writers in this area, so the readers and me, can get to know them a bit better. Last week's interview was with Washington Post writer Michael Lee. I hope to do more in the coming weeks. Thank you for your time.