Saturday, January 30, 2010

Well, my son will not be coming after all. Due to the snowstorm that apparently hit southern VA and the Carolinas much worse than it hit DC, Amtrak cancelled their service down there today. We'll just have to move it to next week. Meanwhile, I have two tickets to tonight's Wizards/Knicks game that I now need to sell. If you're interested, email me at

Friday, January 29, 2010

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm tired of writing. Between Hoops addict and my blog, I'm just tapped out. But my son's arrival (hopefully) and the wonderful shopping trip we'll be taking, should re-energize me at some point this weekend. My willingness to post videos of my favorite songs never dies though...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

So this weekend, my son will be in town to spend a little time with me. I really wanted him to stay until Tuesday (the day of the field trip I'll be chaperoning here in DC), but I was advised that he should travel with the rest of his classmates. I still may overrule that, but I need to give it some thought. But above and beyond that, there is a bigger issue at hand, and that is his wardrobe.

My son is in the midst of a growth spurt, which means all his glorious winter clothes that his mother and I had the foresight to purchase in October are now a bit snug. And even though the cold weather will only be around two more months at best, I don't want my son going to school dressed like Common in 2002. Now, the last time I got clothes for my son, he was very passive about the whole experience. He would choose a shirt here, a pair of slacks there, and maybe some jeans. The only part of the process he was adamant about, was the tennis shoes, which made my job easy. Not so much this time around.

My son is already lobbying for a certain type of clothes (I purposely forgot what kind he said), and he made a point to tell me that he knows what he wants. The only problem is at 12 years old, I'm not quite sure he's earned the right to have that much input. I know he's in jr. high, I know the pressure to be hip clothes-wise is great, but he's still going to school and I still feel like schools (whether they actively enforce it or not) should have a certain level of decorum. I feel a slight power struggle with my son coming on, and I recognize this, because my father and I went thru the same thing back in '87-88. I lost that power struggle badly. I think I should crush my son in the same fashion. Tastefully done of course.

Sadly, I dont even know how a 12 going on 13 year old should dress these days. A nice shirt and some slacks? A nice shirt and jeans? How baggy should the jeans be? Should they even wear jeans to school? I'm just clueless, and I only know how I WANT him to dress, but I don't know if that will be sufficient. The only thing that will NOT happen is the whole saggy, pants off your ass look. Even my son knows how juvenile that is..although curiously, men twice his age can't seem to grasp how asinine that looks.

I'm babbling horribly right now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My latest Wizards article entitled: We've Seen This Script Before
Ok so I got starstruck at two different points last night before the Lakers game, but it had nothing to do with any of the players. The first time was when Phil Jackson said, "How you doing?" to me as I walked by him in the Lakers' locker room. Me being the cool (not even close) fellow that I am I simply said, "Fine how are you?" and that was it. I've been watching Phil Jackson on television since I was in high school, mostly dealing with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls. Never in a million years did I think I'd ever be trading salutations with the man as an adult. Of course I wanted to tell him all this, but that's a huge no-no when you're wearing a media pass so I kept it moving.

By the way, I saw Kobe, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol, etc, but I gotta tell you, its hard getting starstruck over dudes who are around my age or younger. It just doesn't happen for me. Kareem? yes. In fact any player I grew up watching will get me excited in a heterosexual way..but players my age and younger? nope. I have respect for them, and I know they make much more money than I do, I just can't get too excited. That is also my rationale for not wearing a jersey of anyone my age or younger. I have two jersey in my possession. Randall Cunningham and Ahmad Rashad. And they are both old(er) and retired. I digress..

The second starstruck moment occurred at Lamar Odom's locker, but it wasn't him who had me speechless. I was surrounded by sports writers and journalists whose work I respect tremendously. To my left was Tony Kornheiser, to his left was Michael Wilbon, to my right was David Aldridge and to his right was Mike Wise. Now these names may not mean anything to you, but to me, they represent some of the best sports writing/reporting has to offer. And here they were talking to each other and Odom about the Yankees, the Mets, the Jets, the Giants and President Obama. I was supposed to be asking Odom questions as well, but I was just caught up in the moment with my mouth open.

There were other sports writers there, who did not seem starstruck at all, and God bless them. I was not as lucky, and initially I felt a little embarrassed, but after a good night's sleep and a bit of reflection, I have no regrets. The next time that happens, I'll know how to handle it. But last night, I just took it all in (that's what she said).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Interview with Rafer Alston
There are times when I'll be walking, running or sitting at my desk listening to a Michael Jackson song on my ipod, and when its over I'll be thinking, damn, is he really dead? Does that happen to anyone else, or is it just me?

Anyway I fought off my sickness today, I did my customary 3 mile run this morning while severely dehydrated, and now I'm back at work, and I will be able to see the Lakers tonight. If you are in sick, or close to it, allow me to share with you my home remedy:

1)Sleep until noon
2)Wake up, eat soup, drink Perrier
3)Write two articles for Hoops Addict
4)Talk on the phone with the person who edits your work, instead of actually writing
5)Sip Amaretto
6)Don't shower all day long until right before bed

Follow those six steps, and you'll be as good as new. And if you're having trouble sleeping, run out and buy Norah Jones' newest cd. I've been listening to it non-stop for the past few days because I like her, and I really have been trying to give it the benefit of the doubt...but it sucks. She's no longer a borderline jazz artist, she's just this weird mix of country and soft rock, and its just a drag to sit through. She's the now the female version of Will Downing, who is basically aural Ambien.

As you can see, my thoughts are all over the place this morning. Too much on my mind, and very little of it is blog worthy...except my co-worker;s inability to look me in the eye. What kind of man doesn't look another man in the eye when he's being talked to? What kind of sh*t is that? And he's a military man, which makes it that much more surprising. Isn't that in their code somewhere? Every time I talk to this assclown, he looks down, past me, and everywhere but in my eyes. This is the same guy who wears sweaters with no shirt on underneath though, so how much can I really expect from him?

Oh and Happy 58th Birthday Mommy! Based on our conversation this morning, I suspect you may have found your way to my blog. I hope you I don't offend you at all.

Ghostface, Method Man and Raekwon - Our Dreams

Monday, January 25, 2010

My article on Flip Saunders
I'm home sick today. I felt it coming on Saturday, and I have been trying to fight it off, but Sunday night it finally got to me, and this morning the sickness landed. I am off today, so I have 24 hours to recover, because tomorrow, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers come to town to play the Wizards, and there's no way I'm missing a chance to interview Phil Jackson, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, etc...

And now I'm going back to bed..

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My mother went to a basketball game last night in Cleveland, and she was inspired to write the following:

Don’t Know Much about Basketball:

A Tribute to My Son between His Birthday and Mine

Over the past two years, one of the joys of my life has been reading my sons blogs on Hoops Addict, the website where his sports commentary is published from time to time. I read every story, though I don’t know much about basketball. What I do know, I learned from attending his games when he played at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. Of course, I learned a bit before then from watching the New York Knicks when I was in undergraduate school at Barnard College of Columbia University. So I do know how the game is played and scored, but I have not followed various teams or players of any particular team as well as he has. I know stars, and now that I’m back home in Ohio, living in Beachwood, a suburb of Cleveland and living near my mom, who still lives in my hometown of Akron and talks about LeBron James as if he’s one of her own birth sons, I know who LeBron and Shaq are. That’s no big deal for most, but for me, it’s huge, since I don’t know as much about the Cavaliers as those who follow sports, teams, progress toward the play-offs, all-star games, and so on.

What I do know is my son is a phenomenal sports writer. What I do know is that he recently got an interview of a lifetime with Kareem Abdul Jabbar and made his dad, younger brother, and me so very proud. As an English professor by training, I know good writing when I see it, and my son can write! I always tell him so. I also tell him how proud I am of who he is, what he has accomplished, and how he carries himself as a human being. His 35th birthday on January 20th was an opportunity to remind him of all these things and to tell him how grateful I am that God smiled on me with such good sons. Rashad always reminds me that he is my firstborn, as if I don’t remember that glorious outcome of the nine-month privilege of carrying him in my womb!

Though his dad and I are no longer married after our 21-year marriage ended in divorce, we have at least reconciled as friends and that’s a good thing. We share pride in both of our sons. But because we are both writers ourselves, I know we have both taken extra pride in reading Rashad’s blogs and bearing witness to the payoff we get for his good upbringing and education. His undergraduate degree from Hampton University in English and Education has put him in good stead. Jamal writes music, so I guess it’s in my sons’ DNA to write!

I can say the same for myself. My undergraduate degree from Barnard in English and Education, coupled with two more degrees—one from New York University and a third from Case Western Reserve University, where I earned my Ph.D. in English, and where I now serve as Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity and where I hold a faculty appointment as a tenured full professor in the Department of English, have all put me in good stead as well. God has blessed me with professional opportunities that are over and above all I could have imagined and I am grateful.

What prompted all of this reflection, however, is not really Rashad’s birthday or my upcoming 58th one on January 26th. What really prompted this reflection is getting an invitation from one my classmates in Leadership Cleveland to join him and his colleagues for the Cavaliers’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. His corporation has a suite at the Q Arena, so the invitation included reserved parking, dinner, a seat in the suite, and the company of a few other LC classmates and some of his corporate partners. I tend to reserve weekends for errands, manicures, pedicures, driving to Akron to check on my mom and stepdad, and attending church, where I serve as a lay minister. To hear some folks’ analysis, I’m a workaholic with a boring life. To hear my friends tell it, I need to begin having a life. I don’t focus on what they say. I just try to take care of business and live so God will be pleased with my life.

But as I read the email reminder that I had not responded to the invitation from my LC classmate to go the Cavs game, it dawned on me that the beginning of a new decade and the approach of my birthday, was a good opportunity to begin thinking about how I could infuse a bit more enjoyment into my busy life. I’m a joyful person by nature and by way of my gratitude for God’s blessings over my life. I know I can also get in a rut, so I’m grateful that I decided to accept the invitation and check out a Cavs game. Going to my first game under these somewhat privileged circumstances made the decision that much more palatable. After I navigated my way to a parking space, through the screening at the arena, and through the madding crowd to our suite, I thought—what a neat way to go to a basketball game!

The entire experience was high drama for me. I was one of two black folks in this group and one of four women. Of the eight men, four of them were my LC classmates, so I did not feel like a stranger. The outing had a quasi-networking feel that I associate with my business and professional life, but it felt easy, comfortable and safe. All the men were married, except one, so there was no chance that this gathering would be anything but professional and respectable. What made it special is the series of rich conversations we had between enjoying all the good food—it was quite a spread—and talking about what it’s like living and working in Cleveland, being in Leadership Cleveland, and learning how we can contribute to solving the challenges our city and region are experiencing in recent months. Everyone was amazed I had lived here an entire year and had yet to go to a Cavs game. They felt they were all ambassadors to the land of the Cavaliers.

As I watched the fire come out of the sky as each Cavalier team player was introduced, I knew I was in for high drama. I’m so out of it, I was talking about remembering Earth Wind & Fire concerts with special effects. We all started dating ourselves about the 70s and 80s in the world of rock, pop, and R &B concerts where these special effects became the norm. But when you don’t get out much, all of this is a big deal again. I slipped, however, into what I enjoy—chatting with people to learn more about them and to share stories about life and living—when it dawned on me that the game had gotten close and the outcome was not so definite. I stopped talking to everyone and got nervous. I didn’t want the Cavs to lose on my birthday. My suitemates had insisted that I get a piece of chocolate mousse cake for my birthday, they sang “Happy Birthday” to me, and all was well. But when I looked up and discovered that the game was tied (I think at 95 to 95), I got nervous. I couldn’t talk. I almost couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want anyone to foul and I started getting angry about missed shots at the free throw line. I began pacing and then peering first at the screen and then down on the court itself. I didn’t know what to do to calm myself down, so I just glared at the time clock, hoping that time would be kind to the Cavs. It was. The final score of 100 to 99 was all she wrote! I hugged my friends and headed for the crowd to return to my car. I was a happy camper and I had just gotten an early birthday gift, not to mention a wonderful Saturday night outing.

No one will ever ask me to do a sports column. That’s fine. I don’t do sports writing. My son Rashad does that very well and he doesn’t need me, though I occasionally point out something I think he could have said or edited out or in, after the fact. He’s always appreciative. Still, he’s got the sports writing skills. I don’t know much about basketball. But what I do know is I love my son, I love life, and I love the way I felt connected to him in a very special way last night.

January 24, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Let's talk cards shall we? And this is not me making another attempt to slyly mention that I had a birthday two days ago, so that you bastards who forgot to show me love can do that now. That's simply not what Rashad is about. I'm about being humble and occasionally sliding the third person into the discussion. But I do want to talk about cards, and not just of the birthday variety.

I cannot lie, I judge people who buy me cards, put my name at the top, let Hallmark do the heavy lifting, and then sign their name at the bottom. I know they say its the thought that counts, and I know there are many people who don't even take the effort to buy cards, let alone just sign their name on them..I get all that. But you don't get a pass for reading someone else's words, buying them, and then passing them off as some sort of sincere gesture. I know a girl who did that for her college thesis, and it was called plagiarism (a bit of a stretch, but work with me).

Unless you're buying a card for a co-worker who you really don't like, but are obligated to get something for anyway, you should ideally buy a blank card. And if the spacious nature of a blank card is too intimidating for your unimaginative ass, then buy a card with just once blank side. Surely you can muster up a few passionate sentences of your own about the person you are spending $1.99 on right? That way when they read the card, they can see the words of Hallmark's finest on one side, and your words on the other. They may even compare and contrast the two statements. Its not as good as giving (insert your own numerical value)% and using all of your words, but it shows that you realize your limitations, yet you still chose to extend yourself a bit. Is that too hard? (that's what he said).

Again, I'm not just an ungrateful, snobby bastard here, because I practice what I preach. When I buy cards, I make sure they are of the blank variety, so I can ramble on and on about how important that person is to me. In fact, if you're reading this, and I've given you a card with cheesy Hallmark drivel strewn all about, it means that I don't really like you. But if I've given you a blank card with my sub par penmanship, and heartfelt words, you know that I place you in high regard.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So I'm on the elevator this morning, getting ready to travel from the first to the fifth floor, when I noticed someone running towards the door. Instead of being an a-hole, and feverishly pressing the "door close" button, I extended my hand, so that the door could not close until the gentleman could get on with me. Once he stepped in, he thanked me, said good morning, took a deep breath, and started taking off his hat and gloves. I pushed the floor I needed, and then I just sat there and enjoyed the ride. Once we got to the third floor, I guess he realized that I wasn't going to ask him what floor he needed and press the button for him, and the following exchange ensued

Him: Oh sh*t, I needed to go to the third floor
Me: *silence*
Him: Dude, you could have asked what floor I needed and pressed it for me
Me: Oh I just figured you were going to the fifth floor
Him: Its cool man, no big deal, its just that most people ask what floors need to be pressed but its cool
Me: Sorry about that man, but if you don't say anything, I'm assuming we're going the same place.

I stepped off the elevator, looked back at the gentleman to see if I had any parting shots or last words (he did not) and then I went on about my business. Now, I will readily admit that there are times when I purposely manipulate the variables around me so that I can provoke people and have something to write about later. Its a flaw of mine that seems to only get worse as my patience decreases and my level of irritability rises. I'm working on it though (no I'm not). But this was not one of those instances, and I think I am way in the right.

Elevators are no bigger than closets, which means it takes a minimal amount of effort for someone to extend their arm to the control panel, hit the button, and enjoy the ride. You know damn well when you get on the elevator that you have somewhere to go, so why not press the button. I am not an elevator operator (not that any thing's wrong with that), this is not Mad Men, and its not like you're a great big fat person who can't make their way to the buttons. But then after I don't press your buttons, you're going to get on your high horse and attempt to educate me with your version of what elevator etiquette should be? Get the f**k outta here.

That being said, if this had been a woman, I'd have automatically hit the floor, but that's different.

And finally, a friend of mine read my blog yesterday, and hinted that by listening to a Coltrane song, instead of Life's a Bitch by Nas, I was pulling a Wynton Marsalis (who trumpets his dislike for hip hop by trying to prove again and again that jazz is superior..which is true, but he can make that point without besmirching hip hop). Well this couldn't be further from the truth. I love Nas, I love rap, but I love jazz and I love Coltrane, and yesterday Coltrane fit my mood. I'm still in the tank for both genres.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Usually on my birthday, I play Nas' song "Life's A Bitch". He has a few lines in his verse about how much of a blessing it is waking up early on his birthday, and how he feels like a man not a boy, and he's reveling in the fact that God has created him. In fact from 1995 (when I turned 20) up until my 34th birthday, I would make it a point to play the song, recite the lyrics, and then go on with the rest of my day. Sounds harmless enough right?

Well this morning I decided that it may be time to go in a slightly different direction. As big of a Nas fan as I am, reciting lyrics to a song that has the chorus, "Life's a bitch and then you die, that's why we get high, 'cause you never know when you're gonna go" is just plain morbid. The Nas' verse I used to love is still good, as is the song in its entirety, but damn. Life is only a bitch when the Eagles lose, Michael Jackson dies before the damn "This Is It" concert, and its sub freezing in DC for 25 days straight with no debilitating snow in sight. Still, I'd rather think happier thoughts on the 35th anniversary of my birth.

So instead, I will play a song by a guy who has been dead for 43 years, used heroin, and died of liver cancer. Oh and by the way, he just happens to be one of the five greatest musicians to walk this fine Earth of ours. There are several versions of this song out there, but this is my favorite. It was recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island in 1963. You probably won't listen to the whole thing but you should.

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

There were two things that bothered me about the Wizards game yesterday, and neither one had anything to do with them winning.

First off, Nike sent some "MLK-day inspired shoes" to all of the players in the NBA (I assume players with non-Nike contracts didn't wear them). The shoes had traces of red, black and green in them, and the only assumption I can make is that Nike thought the colors of the Pan-African flag on shoes would honor MLK. Some of the Wizards players wore them, but I highly doubt they could make the connection between MLK and the flag--in fact one player said it didn't matter what the connection was, since the bigger point was that an effort was made.

Well it DOES matter to me that Nike took the the lazy route to celebrate MLK day. MLK day is about service, it's the about the sacrifices he made, it's about equality for everyone, and what the hell does that have to do with red, black and green. Actually, if I was asked to write a college paper about the red, the black and the green, as it relates to MLK, I could probably do it with a high degree of success, but it would be filled with bullshit, and I'd be stretching. If I was writing about Marcus Garvey, Kwame Ture, Public Enemy of the 80s or X-Clan, it would be right on the money. But Dr. King? Not so much. I think it was lazy of Nike to just throw some colors on there, and turn that day into a marketing ploy on the sly. I'm still doing research to see if they did more than that, but as of right now, I've found nothing.

The second annoying thing about MLK day was the halftime performance. There were 10 kids, ranging from ages 6 to about 13. All the kids were dressed in African garb, and four played the drums, while the other six women danced. It was actually pretty damn cute. The drums were on point, the dancers looked good, and I found myself getting into it. But seriously, what the hell does that have to do with MLK day? How do I know this was an MLK day inspired event? Because the announcer said, "And now, to celebrate MLK day..." to introduce them. Again, I love Africans (insert the some-of-my-good-friends line here), I love the dance, and I love the drums, and if this were February, I'd be more tolerant with this type of stretch. But its King day. Let the kids read a speech, or do a 5 minute play based on a sit-in, or ANYTHING with an iota of creativity. Its just lazy, and it makes me wonder who the hell signed off on this.

And now, the mighty X-Clan:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wizards vs Portland Game Notes
I had the following conversation at a bar this weekend with an obviously inebriated older white guy. I was simply trying to order drinks, but he had other ideas.

Him: Hey man what's going on my name is Bobby (extends a hand with bbq sauce on it)
Me: What's going Bobby? (extends a fist for a pound)
Him: You know, you look just like Eddie Murphy?
Me: What?
Him: Dude, you look just like Eddie Murphy?
Me: Did my wallet give me away?
Him: What?
Me: Never mind, If I look like Eddie Murphy, you look like Morgan Freeman
Him: Who the f**k is that?
Me: He's Eddie Murphy's father
Him: Oh wow, that means I look your father..
Me: Nice meeting you sir
Him(while trying to do the Eddie laugh): You too bro.

I gave this poor guy a pass because a)he smell like some kind of cheap beer and b)it was kind of humorous. But in my 34 years of walking this Earth, I have NEVER been compared to Eddie Murphy by man or woman..sober or drunk. I suppose that's compliment, but its mostly misguided.

I have a Wizards game to attend and cover in a few hours, and short of asking players about the significance of MLK day to them (which originally seemed like a good idea, now it seems trite) I am not sure how to "celebrate" the King holiday. Do I go do some type of service right after the game? Do I give more money to the struggling people in Haiti? Do I watch some of his rarer speeches? Do I get on twitter and facebook, and watch person after person get on their high horse about what I should be doing? I honestly don't know which of my options to tackle, but I feel bad for not having a game plan.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Before I got obsessed with my high school nemesis yesterday, I was going to write about a dream I had two nights ago, so allow me to do it now.

The dream started with me sitting at home watching television, and me getting a phone call from someone (now that I think about it, I don't remember who). The voice on the other end of the phone told me that a group of people were gathering at the gym to play a little pickup basketball, and he asked me to come down to join everyone. In real life, I have been meaning to get back in the gym to play ball, so in dream world, I was thinking, "Finally!" I went, changed clothes, grab towels and some bottled water and headed out the door.

When I arrived at the gym, I headed towards the locker room to put my coat and bag down, but I peeked in the gym first. I saw about 10 or 11 people shooting the basketball, joking around, and having fun, and naturally I got excited (pause). I went back in the locker room, put my stuff down and attempted to run back in the gym. But once I took two steps back in there, I realized that I was no longer in a gym setting, and things had changed drastically.

Instead of seeing basketballs, friends, and baskets, I saw crumbled buildings, dead bodies and people running around frantically. There was smoke all around, people were bleeding, and here I was looking like a clown with gym shorts, a shirt and a basketball in my hand. I knew I was in Haiti, and I knew I had to do something, but for the moment I was baffled as to how the hell I got in this place. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder, and asked me to help him out, and I ran down the street with him, and helped him pull a body out from the rubble. Then once that body was out, someone else tapped me and asked me to do the same. And then I woke up.

Of course when I woke up out of that dream, I freaked the hell out, and I realized that a)I needed to donate more money and possibly clothes to the struggling people in Haiti and b)I need to stop watching the coverage. I know its bad down there, and I know people are dead, sick, dying, thirsty, hungry etc. But I don't need to watch it everyday to bang that point home. And if I keep doing that, the dreams will continue, and motivation to help more won't always be the side effect..I may just flat out get depressed and go crazy. I remember during the Katrina coverage I just kept watching and watching, and then when it came to going through the seemingly small details of my own life, I had no motivation, I just felt badly. I know now that's not the way to go. You help out as much as you can, if you're into prayer you do that, if you want go down there to Haiti to help, then you do that too. But you don't sit around and be depressed. At least that's my take on the situation.

And THAT my friends is how you start off the weekend!

On a higher note, be sure to check out THIS STORY about a student meeting his teacher.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My latest article
This morning while I was getting dressed, Kareem Abdul Jabbar was on tv talking about coping with his illness, the Lakers and other stuff. About halfway through the interview, I was thinking to myself, hey, that's Kareem, and I interviewed him a month ago. Even now, it still feels like a surreal event.

Anyway, back in October I wrote this entry about someone I went to high school with, who I dislike a great deal. He had written an "article" that I thought was poorly written, and I took great delight in making fun of it. This was immature, vindictive, and it wasn't the shining example of me taking the high road the way Denny Green taught me to do but I did it anyway. Well yesterday, I stumbled upon a second article that was poorly written, and again, I am choosing to shun all traces of maturity.

The article is about one of my favorite bands, The Legendary Roots Crew, specifically about the "lead rapper" Black Thought. I attempted to read it, because I thought I may learn something, but instead I found myself annoyed at the comedy of errors. Allow me to break them down. And again, feel free to click here to see the article.

1)The first sentence is "Philly is home to lots of good music". That's like saying the Lakers have had lots of good players, or Michael Jordan has lots of money. Everyone knows that bullshit, the key is to frame it in a unique way, so that people know you'll be taking a different approach. But when you state the obvious in simplistic fashion, it makes the reader (me) think you're not very intelligent. Have some imagination man.

2) He lists one of The Roots' albums as "When Things Fall Apart", when in fact their cd is entitled "Things Fall Apart". That's an pretty big oversight on his part, considering The Roots specifically used that title to pay homage to Chinua Achebe's 1958 classic novel by the same name. There was no "When" anywhere in the title. That speaks to a lack of research done by the author.

3)He goes on to write the following sentence, "Most music fans instantly recognize the Drummer, ?uestLove because of his huge afro." The word "drummer" is randomly capitalized like its a state capital or the name of a cereal. As good of a drummer as Questlove is, there is no "D" attached to his profession, just a "d". And again, the author is attacked by a bad case of the "simples" by mentioning that Questlove has a huge afro..

4) He mentions in this article that The Roots are currently on a European tour. If by European tour, he means that they are in New York City every night performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, then yes, they are on a European tour. Again, a lack of research..and no mention of The Roots' gig with Jimmy Fallon is made ANYWHERE. How does that happen?

5)There are actually more than five errors, but I'm stopping after this because I'm annoyed. He mentions that the "new" Roots single is "Rising Up". The single came out in 2008, The Roots have a newer single called "How I Got Over" that came out in 2009, and the author's article is dated January 8, 2010. You do the math.

Now I'm sure someone smart out there will say, "Rashad, why are you tearing him down, why don't you help?" And after I told you to GFY, I'd tell you that I DID reach out to this guy after his first sham of an article. I told him there were errors and I offered to help him out by editing his work, but he shunned me. So I now I have free reign to rain on his error-filled parade.

Shoutout to my main man Teddy Pendergrass who passed away last night. I wish I could link a better video for this song, but this will have to do for now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Interview with New Orleans Hornets forward David West. He talks about Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Gilbert Arenas, and other topics...
Starting with my sophomore year in college (1993), I had a routine that I followed every weeknight. I would make sure all of my homework, flirting with girls and other mindless college activities were completed by 11:35, and then I would sit down and watch the first 25 minutes of David Letterman. Back then, I couldn't really stay up later than midnight, because my classes were wearing me the hell out (as opposed to now, when I can't sleep before midnight). So I'd make sure I stayed up long enough to catch Letterman's opening monologue, his Top 10 list, and maybe the first few minutes of his interview with his initial guest.

To me Letterman is a genius. Yes he reads the cue cards like a good boy, but he is not afraid to veer off and vamp on his own, and sometimes he appears to be even funnier when he does it. When he interviews his guests, he won't let you just come on and plug your product for 10-15 minutes, because he knows how boring that is. He keeps you off balance, he gently ribs if he likes you, and if he dislikes you, he'll try to make you look bad, but also give you a chance to get him right back (see Madonna's 1994 appearance or Joaquin Phoenix's appearance last year). The bottom line, Letterman conducts himself on his show, the way I would if I had a show..except I'd ditch Paul Shaffer, and lure The Roots away from Jimmy Fallon so they could be my house band.

I was so much in love with Letterman's shtick, that I had ZERO patience for anyone who liked Jay Leno's show. He wasn't funny (he's much better as a stand up comedian), his interviews may as well have been done on his knees, because he sucked up to everyone, without ever making life even a little difficult for his guests. The only redeeming quality about his show initially was that Branford Marsalis was the bandleader, and even he bailed after a few years, because he was tired of laughing at corny ass jokes (my own words, not his). The man who replaced Branford was Kevin Eubanks, and he is to Jay Leno what Robin Quivers is to Howard Stern. He laughs at things that aren't funny, and he just seems like he's along for the ride.

I say all this to say that I am delighted at the recent backlash that Leno is in the midst of, as a result of NBC's decision to move his show at Conan O'Brien's expense. Conan, like Leno, is legitimately funny, but because Leno's dumbed down brand of late night comedy has been the norm for so long, the viewing public slow to catch on, so his ratings aren't the best right now. NBC execs have conveniently short memories, and they forget that Letterman initially kicked the sh*t out of Leno from '93 to '95, and it took Leno awhile to get his footing. So I hope Leno drops from the late night scene completely, and goes back to stand up comedy, where he can poke fun at himself and everyone else. And yes this whole entry is completely biased and one sided.

The song you will see posted below had nothing to do with this entry. But this morning on my ipod, the song Marche Slave came on, and I remembered I used to play this song in my high school orchestra. The trumpet parts in particular were extremely difficult to learn, but I did it, and the song has always stuck with me as result.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yesterday, as I watched Mark McGwire admit something 10 years too late that everyone already knew, I found myself amused at his attempts not to cry. In fact, any time a man is on television or in public, and tries to stop himself from crying, its a humorous event. And no I'm not trying to be mean, but as you watch the steps unfurl before your eyes, you'll find it humorous too.

First there is the point where the person's eyes get real big, as if that will halt the tears in some way. Kids use this same tactic when they are tired, but they don't want their parents to make them go to bed quite yet. It doesn't work for them either. Second, there is the deep breath, and this is when things start to fall apart. Its a foregone conclusion that the tears are coming, but again, the deep breath is used as a buffer of sorts, but it doesn't work. Third, after the deep breath, there is a tendency for the eyes to go downwards, and that leads quickly into step four, which is a fake laugh/smile. This is when things start to get downright sad. In boxing, when a fighter smiles or laughs after getting hit, you know they are really hurt. And in the crying process, when a man starts the pseudo-laugh, you know the opening of the floodgates is not too far behind. After the laugh, you may see more deep breaths, manual eye widening and all that, but eventually the tears come.

I was a victim of this process back in May of 1994. My parents divorce had been final a few months, and my mother had finally gotten her new place up and running. As a result, she decided to have a housewarming party with her closest friends and family, and of course I was there (as were a couple of my boys). At one point during this housewarming, one of my mother's friends started a toast if you will, and everyone went around the room saying nice things about my mother and her triumph over the devastation the divorced caused. No problem there right? wrong..and wrong again.

Every damn body who spoke starting off by saying nice things about my mother, and then downing my father. At first I'm sure it was in the name of female empowerment, but after the 6th and 7th person starting slandering my father, I started to get irate. I know he and my mother had problems, but damn I was standing right there, and I was still very close to him. No one saw my anger festering at all, because if they had, they'd have skipped me when it came for me to talk. But they didn't, so when I was asked to speak, I congratulated my mother on her place and on her triumph and then it began.

I felt my voice quivering as I started to explain to this crowd of 30 or 40 folks that there was no need to slam my father's good name, and he was still my father. Then I took a deep breath, opened my eyes wide, and did the whole fake smile thing hoping that it would slow things down--but it did not. Eventually I started crying (which you never do in front of your boys) and I just left my mother's place altogether. My boys consoled me, and everything was eventually ok, but that was a pretty emotional moment for me.

Wow this went on way too long.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Starting back on January 1st, there was a rule put in effect in DC that says all bags are now five cents. Whether you go to a deli, the grocery store, a department store or the liquor store, they throw a five cent charge on there. The reason? The Anacostia River in D.C. is apparently littered with disposable bags, and this is designed to a)cut down on that and b)generate money to help clean the river. I support this 100%..but..

The five cents per bag charge annoys me, because it just promotes more talking between the customer and the cashier. Just now, I went and bought some Ritz crackers, some hummus and some cereal from the grocery store, and I had my headphones on my head. When I got to the cashier, I temporarily forgot about this rule, so I just nodded my head when I saw her mouth the words hello. Then I saw her trying to say something else to me, and I tried to ignore it, but when her mouth kept moving, it dawned on me that I actually had to listen. I paused my IPOD, took my headphones out, and she asked me if I wanted a bag, and I said yes. She assessed the items I had, decided I needed two bags, and added a 10 cents charge to my bill. I looked at her, looked at my items again, and I asked her to take 5 cents off ,and force all of my items into one bag. She looked at me and said sir, its only 5 cents, and I countered with, but I only have four items, so lets put it all in one bag. She rolled her eyes, but did what the hell I told her to do, and that was it.

Now, there are a few problems here..
1)That entire exchange extended the amount of time I should be talking in the grocery store. Like I said the cause is good, but damn...

2)Five cents is not a lot of money, but it annoys me that I am being charged for something that was free for so long. Why can't they just insist that everyone donate a dollar towards the Save-the-Anacostia-River fund. That works way better than five cents..

3)Who are these people throwing bags in the river? Can't we police the edges of the river the same way we police the US/Mexico border? We can just have dedicated citizens walk around the river 24/7, and tackle those individuals who violate the bags in the river rules.

Please forgive this nonsensical rant, i'm just perturbed. Plus the Eagles lost yesterday, so i'm frustrated.

Friday, January 08, 2010

I'll do something I rarely do in my blog, and follow up with something I mentioned yesterday. Just a few hours after I wrote the entry about wanting to be a chaperone for my son's Smithsonian field trip, his teacher got back to me and approved me to do just that. She said my son will be in group of people, and I will be in charge of watching over him and his group. The class will start at the Natural Museum of American History (which I can happily say I've taken him too already), and then if weather permits, they will visits monuments and other significant landmarks. I never had my parents oversee any of my field trips like this, so I can't draw on any real emotion of how my son may be feeling about my presence. But I'm young enough (in my mind) that I there isn't a total disconnect as far as how tenuous and delicate an on-the-brink-of-puberty son can have with his father--especially in front of his friends. The blog entry the morning after should be absolutely fantastic.

I got an email from my mother this morning, informing me that 1)there was a typo in the Gilbert Arenas story I wrote the other day and 2)her friend Lorraine from college had died. When she started going into greater detail about Lorraine, I realized that it was someone I met this past summer at Columbia University Alumni reception I attended. When I was living in Connecticut from 1984-87, Lorraine and her family used to live near my family, and I distinctly remember loud card games going down at their house. Once we left Connecticut, I never saw this woman again, until the aforemention reception.

When she saw me she was amazed how I had grown and how much I looked like my father, and she kept hugging me and then holding my shoulders. I was uncomfortable with that type of attention, and eventually I freed myself from her clutches, and that was the extent of our interaction. I had no idea she was fighting cancer, and I definitely had no clue that she'd be dead six months later. I'm not going to be dramatic here and type some b.s. about me wishing I had talked to her longer, because frankly, that's not how it was supposed to go. It was just an odd feeling to read that she was now dead of cancer.

It also reminds me of something my father said to me a few months back, when I inquired about his health. He said he was healthy and that he didn't feel or look old, but he still felt old for some reason. I asked him what he meant, and he said that several of the people he went to high school and college with had died of various diseases and ailments. He realized that he's at the age (he'll be 60 in August) where people start dying of those types of things, and it makes him feel old.

Ok this is just depressing, and its Friday. My apologies. So allow me to link a happy video from a late, great artist. Oh and if you can tell me what this man is saying betwen the :40 and :46 second mark, that would be terrific

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Yesterday around 3:45, I got a call from my son while I was still at work. I'll admit I was a bit alarmed, because we normally talk around 7 or 8 in the evening, not when he gets home from school. I dropped everything I was doing and proceeded to listen what the little man had on his mind.

The first thing he asked me (along with 400 other people) is if I had heard about what happened to Gilbert Arenas. I told him that I had just heard about IT, and I planned to write about it later, and he asked if he could see what I wrote and I said yes. Then he asked me why Arenas would bring a gun to the arena, and I did my best to explain that people (athletes, actors, politicians, teachers, parents) make dumb decisions sometimes, and they don't always have the best explanation to accompany their actions. He ended this part of the conversation by asking me if Arenas (who is my son's third favorite player behind Dwyane Wade and LeBron James)would go to jail and I said I did not know. He said Daddy I don't know if I can still root for Arenas, and I told him I understood, but I cautioned that he should wait until all the facts and details emerged before he made a final decision.

The second, and more uplifting item on my son's agenda, involves an upcoming field trip. My son informed me that his 7th grade social studies class will be coming to the Smithsonian in early February for a day trip. He called me because a)he wanted to see me while he's up here and b)his mother told him to call me for money for the trip, which I have no problems giving up. But I am going to take it a step further, and try to lobby his school to let me be a chaperon for the day. I've never had the pleasure of being a parental chaperon, and I think it would be great for many reasons..

1)I could see my son and embarrass the sh*t out of him the way my parents did to me
2) I could size up the boys and girls in his class (not like that Chris Hansen) and figure out who the bullies are, who the fast girls are, and who my son needs to be hanging out with. I can't do that from long distance, but this trip would allow it to happen
3)I could terrorize the kids, which is always a beautiful thing
4) I could make nice with all my son's teachers, so picking up the phone and telling me all about his good and bad exploits will be no problem for them at all. I need that option as a long distance parent

Can you tell I'm excited? Now if his teacher would just return my email, we could get this party rolling.

Oh, and don't forget to read my take on this Gilbert Arenas situation

And now, my favorite Loose Ends song EVER

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

My take on the Gilbert Arenas situation
The love affair is over.

Last February, I wrote this blog entry where I declared my undying love for Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap. I had abandoned it for a few years, but when I saw Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets using in the locker room after a Wizards game, I decided to jump back on the bandwagon. Since last February, I would say that I have used the soap 90% of the time (the other 10% of time I use this soap from the Grooming Lounge) with great results. The soap makes you feel clean, a little goes a long way, and I cannot stress enough how good it feels on the least the male ones, I don't know how Dr. Bronner's jives with the female equipment.

But lately the soap has turned on me. I guess the combination of the frigid temperatures and my frequent contact with chlorine (swimming has) my skin is dry all the time, and I suspect the Dr. Bronner's is the culprit. I don't remember this happening last year, but that's probably because I started using it in late February when the weather was starting to take a warm turn. This winter season in DC, we have endured a series of sub freezing temps that quite frankly would wreak havoc on any one's skin..Dr. Bronner's or not. But my skin in particular is taking a beating. I shower, I moisturize, and all that, but I still seem to be a tad bit too far on the ashy side for my taste.

As a result, I may have to put the tingly soap aside until we at least get 50 degree temperatures. Or my friend Faye can hurry up and send me her alleged anti-ash Rum and Cake products that can overpower the chlorine, the frigid temps, and the Dr. Bronner's. Whatever the solution is, I need it ASAP, because yesterday when I took my clothes off at the gym prior to getting in the pool, I was flat out embarrassed at the dryness of my skin. Luckily for me, no pervs were around to witness this tragedy.

The song/video below came out my freshman of college (1992) which is yet another reminder that I'm old(er). Biggie is dead, SuperCat hasn't been relevant since this video shoot wrapped up, and Puffy no longer tries to rap like he's the honorary fifth member of Onyx.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My lunch has my name on it today. My lady made my lunch last night and we are temporarily out of clear sandwich bags, so the only way to distinguish our respective lunches, was for her to put names on the aluminum foil. I haven't had my lunch marked in such a glorious way since I was middle school, when my mother put names on brown paper bags belonging to both me and my brother. I woke up this morning mad as hell because I overslept and didn't go swim, but when I reached into refrigerator and saw my name, I smiled (although the smile subsided when I stepped into this cold ass weather). Still, its the little things that get you through the day. Although now, I'm debating whether I should put this in the work refrigerator and risk being laughed at or clowned..

Entries like this make me wonder if the end is near for this blog, because I'm quite sure no one cares but me and my lady, but I wrote it anyway. And I have yet to hit send on this blog entry I've written on Gilbert Arenas, because I'm not sure I want to touch that issue just yet. I digress..

Talib Kweli and Mos Def reunited:

Monday, January 04, 2010

Yesterday's football games were boring for the most part, and the game I really wanted to see (Eagles/Cowboys) was not on in my area, because the powers-that-be thought it was more important for me to watch the meaningless Redskins/Chargers game (sorry jazzbrew). Because of this, I pretty much abandoned late afternoon/early evening football, and decided to read the Sunday version of the Washington Post (which I recently started getting delivered...again).

The articles in the paper ranged from the depressing to the asinine but overall it was a good read. I eventually made my way to the Metro section of the paper to learn of all the things going on locally. I typically skip this section, because this is where they discuss the murders and crimes that have gone down in my city, but I navigated my way through this section incident free..until I got to the last few pages.

The last few pages of the Metro section were filled with pictures, dates, and paragraphs having to do with people who either recently died or people who were "celebrating" their death date (I believe they are called obits), and it was just downright creepy. In these pictures I saw smiling faces, faces that looked like they had endured pain, and faces that only a mother could love, and honestly, I probably could have taken one or two of these, but to look at 30-40 dead faces on two different pages was too much. I said aloud to my lady, "Why do they even need to have this in the paper?". And I still don't have a good answer...Although I do remember when my grandmother was still alive, she'd look at the obits to see if someone she knew had died without her knowing and sometimes she'd clip the article out and save it..but in retrospect that was creepy too grandma. I can also remember reading the obits from time to time, and saying to myself, "Oh sh*t, he/she died?". But that's a moment I could stand to do without you know?

Perhaps I'm being insensitive..

Anyway, I have two shoutouts today. One, is to my main man Mike Jones, who lost his job when the Washington Times sports section was abruptly discontinued last week. He started his own website on Jan 1st, and since then has done A+ reporting on this Gilbert Arenas situation. My second shoutout is to my main man Sabin who is starting his new job today at our alma mater, THE Hampton University. Good luck to you sir.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

In about six hours, I will be heading down to the Verizon Center to cover the Wizards/Spurs contest. I want to focus on Tim Duncan coming to town, or Tony Parker and Manu being healthy, and I really want to hear Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wax poetic about any number of subjects, because he is a great talker. And I may actually be able to pull all of those things off (that's what she said).

But despite my attempts to focus on those items, the main reason there will be a massive media mess will have nothing to do with any of the things. They will all be there to discuss this Gilbert Arenas gun story, and it pisses me off. Instead of 10-15 media members fighting for quotes and interviews, there will now be at least 50 people who know NOTHING about the Spurs or the Wizards, they just want to sensationalize an issue that we STILL don't know the truth about. They will clog up the locker and media rooms with their clueless facial expressions, and I can already feel my annoyance level rising and rising. Its a good thing I didn't vow to have a better attitude in the new year, because that resolution would be long gone right about now..

Welcome to my fourth year of blogging!

And oh yeah, I need to buy a good camera, can anyone give me some recommendations? I think that may be my birthday present to myself

And now, I present to you, the first song I played in this new year. I've lost count of the number of times I've played it since then.